Top 40 at 40: 2002 – 2011

I’m turning 40 this month! To help deal with celebrate that, I’ve built a playlist containing 40 of my favorite songs, each one representing a year in my life. I limited myself to one song per artist/band, for the sake of variety. And, I’m including YouTube videos so that, dear readers, you can listen to the songs for yourselves!

I’ll be breaking this into four chunks of 10 years at a time, because I don’t want to overwhelm anybody with 40 songs at once. This is part 3! Come back tomorrow for part 4!

2002: Interstate Love Song by Stone Temple Pilots

Well here’s a big “cheat.” Interstate Love Song is from STP’s 1994 album, Purple. But it’s one of my favorite songs ever, and it had to be on the list. Plus, it was in 2002 that I went on a big, summer, interstate road trip with two of my friends, from Arizona to Massachusetts. A week up, a week in the Bay State, and a week back to the desert. I recall we had stops in Albuquerque, New Mexico; Joplin, Missouri; Cleveland, Ohio, and a couple of other places both on the way up and back. We ate at the largest McDonald’s in the world, which was cool, but the food was still McDonald’s food.

I injured my knee in April, and ended up having to get it surgically repaired in November. The friends with whom I went on the trip moved to California about a month after we returned. So, despite the huge summer road trip that was a ton of fun, the year also had some sad bits. That made the melancholy sound of the song also rather appropriate.

2003: We Can by Ted Poney and Tony Harnell

In late 2003, Sega released Sonic Heroes, a game that focused on playing as a three-character team, using all of their abilities in tandem to beating the game. Each team had their own theme, and Team Sonic’s “We Can” was the perfect theme for my 2003.

I spent the first half of the year laid up on the couch recovering from my knee surgery, which ended up in me finally leaving Blockbuster Video. I had to take the 2002-2003 year off from college, and between those two things ending, that left me with a lot of free time. And it was during this time that Brandon Mayo and I started working on Hawk & Croc, with the first strip debuting on March 01.

I received a lot of love and support from both a handful of older friends, as well as some newer ones that I had known for less than a year (more on them with the next song). Togetherness was very much the theme of 2003. As the song says, “together, we are so much stronger than any else could be on their own. So much better than alone.”

2004: Hey Ya! by OutKast/Obadiah Parker

Mat Weddle was a friend from Blockbuster, and in 2002 I was taking a religious studies class in college. I knew Mat played in the band at his church, so when a class assignment was to go to a Christian service, I thought it would be fun to see my buddy’s band play at his church’s new Saturday night service. What was supposed to be a one-time thing ended up with me going to various events and studies at that church for a very long time. 2004 was the time that I started getting involved past just showing up upon occasion.

Meanwhile, Hey Ya! by hip-hop duo OutKast was undoubtedly THE party hit of 2004. One night, Mat and the rest of the band Obadiah Parker busted out this acoustic cover, and I was just blown away. This version of the song ended up becoming a local radio hit, featured on the Howard Stern Show, got covered on episode of Scrubs (a cover of a cover!), and even ended up as a question on Jeopardy!. And Obadiah Parker has hit #1 on the iTunes Singer-Songwriter sales charts at least a couple of times over the years.

To me, though, despite the musical career he’s had, Mat’s always gonna be my favorite person to work alongside at Blockbuster. I’m truly happy for his success.

2005: Feel Good, Inc., by The Gorillaz

After doing some freelancing work for the company in later 2004, I was hired by WorqSmart, a local database consulting firm, to become their in-house graphic designer at the start of 2005. I’d taken just a few design courses in college at the time, but fortunately, I wasn’t being asked to make anything TOO intricate at first. I worked there three days a week, and kept going to college the other two weekdays, and spent my nights and weekends making Hawk & Croc. It was a pretty full schedule, but after the mess that was 2001 and the rough patches of 2002, I finally felt like my life was getting on track. I did, in fact, feel good.

2005 was the year that I got my first iPod. With my entire music collection suddenly at my fingertips at all times, it was the last year kept up with what was going on with the radio. So from here on out on the list, I have little to no idea how popular any of the songs I’m going to include ever were; They’re just tunes that I like.

2006: All-Time Lows by Hellogoodbye

The title isn’t why I picked this song, the upbeat, fun tempo of the song is just very representative of how 2006 went for me. I moved out for the first time, although circumstances out of my control meant I had to move back home about six months later. But that was okay! I had my design job, I had fun continuing going to college for graphic design, and even though we took a break on Hawk & Croc for most of the year, things were, overall, pretty positive.

2007: Grow Up by Mega Ran

Despite all the good in my life durint the mid-2000s, looking back on that time period now, I realize there were definitely still thoughts and mentalities from childhood I hadn’t let go of quite yet. I still needed to grow up a little. And that’s why this track by hip-hop artist Mega Ran is the perfect song for my 2007.

2008: Rock Me Sexy Jesus by The Ralph Sall Experience feat. Phoebe Strole & Skylar Astin

2008 was a HUGE transition year for me. I moved out again, and my family opened up a comic book store! Somewhere in the middle of all that, I saw Hamlet 2, which is an incredibly underrated irreverant comedy starring Steve Coogan as a down-on-his-luck drama teacher in Tucson, Arizona, who decides to write a sequel to Shakespeare’s Hamlet. And this musical number is from the middle of the play.


I’m sure I could say something about faith and starting a new business venture, and beginning new chapters in life, but whatever. This song both celebrates and lampoons belief in God at the same time, and I think we could all stand to think that way a little bit more in life; Respect things that are important, but maybe don’t take ourselves too seriously.

2009: Panic Switch by Silversun Pickups

Things went from a few years of being pretty great to kind of awful, and it was all due to an economic downturn that was 100% out of my control. “Panic Switch,” indeed.

Brandon and I had ended Hawk & Croc in 2008 (or so we thought), so I threw most of my attention this year into making Comic Zone as successful as I possibly could, including taking time off from college.

Some days at the store, I turned on the radio to keep up with popular music again for the first time in a few years, to try and make the place more inviting for customers. The Silversun Pickups were one of the bands on the radio a lot that year, and this track ended up becoming one of my favorites of the year.

2010: Black Sheep by “The Clast At Demonhead”/Metric feat. Brie Larson

Over the summer of 2010, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, the film adaptation of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim comics, and its associated media, was one of the high points of the year for me, and this tune by the fictional band The Clash at Demonhead (named after an NES game I need to review at some point) really captured me. Turns out it was actually an unreleased song by the band Metric, who were one of my other favorite 2009 radio bands.

Actress Brie Larson, who played singer Envy Adams in the film, re-recorded the vocals for the film version of the song. Larson ended up playing the titular role in Captain Marvel several years later, so this song hits several of my interests. Plus, y’know, it’s pretty cool.

2011: Cinema (Skrillex Remix) by Benny Benassi ft. Gary Go

Dubtep artist Skrillex popped up onto my radar with his song Equinox (First of the Year), and then his theme for Reptile as part of the Mortal Kombat 9 marketing blitz. But it’s his remix of Cinema by Benny Benassi that really caught my ear.

And there goes my 20s. Join me tomorrow for my 30s, full of a bunch of songs you’ve probably never heard of!

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