Critics create and debate "best of" lists as their main occupation. But I'm not sure it works for music. Unlike film or TV which require plots, characters and narrative, there are no basics about what makes a good song. With such freedom and subjectivity, the words "best" or "top" should honestly be zapped from any fair-minded music article.

In that spirit, I've been creating my own annual mix of favorite songs (which also makes a handy holiday gift for friends.) No further express or implied claims about their merit.

Working at VH1, I'm fortunate to listen to way too much music. These are the songs in 2004 with which I had a meaningful relationship - deciphering the lyrics, humming on the subway home and cuing up repeatedly. This mix is posted at Apple's iTunes music store or you can listen for free (once, I believe) at Rhapsody.

Float On Modest Mouse Good News for People Who Love Bad News
The feel good hit about not feeling bad. Echt alt-rock.
The Rules Ben Kweller On My Way
From my favorite record of 2004, this one had multiple singles. No idea why this record isn't in everyone's home. Buy the album here.
Garbage Day The Ike Reilly Assassination Sparkle In The Finish
Former doorman is as masterful a lyrical storyteller as any rapper. Dylanesqe but you can dance to it.
Section 12 (Hold Me Now) Polyphonic Spree Together We're Heavy
A 32 member band is its own rock opera.
Just A Ride Jem Finally Woken
Never thought I'd enjoy trip hop.
Toxic Britney Spears In the Zone
Never thought I'd enjoy a Britney song unironically.
Portland, Oregon Lorretta Lynn Van Lear Rose
Lynn had Jack White of the White Stripes produce this spirited cut.
Ain't That Pretty At All Pixies Enjoy Every Sandwich
This Warren Zevon cover commemorates his passing as well as celebrates the Pixies' reunion.
Straight Street The Fiery Furnaces Blueberry Boat
Brother/sister/Brooklyn strange/weird/wonderful.
Dreams TV On The Radio Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes
Another far-out NYC band that reminds me of my prog rock youth.
December 4 Danger Mouse Grey Album
DJ illegally combines Beatles "White Album" with Jay-Z's "Black Album" which becomes an Internet sensation. Find it via greytuesday.org
Over and Over Nelly and Tim McGraw Suit
Nelly never got enough credit for his innovations like this rare rap-country duet.
C'mon C'mon The Von Bondies Pawn Shoppe Heart
Straight ahead garage-rocker by Detroit combo.
Bullet And A Target Citizen Cope The Clarence Greenwood Recordings
A year later, wish I had put "Son's Gonna Rise" on instead but this one works too.
Take Me Out Franz Ferdinand Franz Ferdinand
Two songs in one!
Goodnight Moon Shivaree Kill Bill #2
Kinda of a cheat since it's originally a 1999 song but I first heard it during Kill Bill #2 and now I can't think of 2004 without it.