“Play The Hits!” Volume Three: 2003

Ryan Jones, Editor-in-Chief

You already know what time it is. That’s right, it’s time for another edition of everyone’s least favorite installment, “Play The Hits!” The reviews have been pouring in! They’ve all been bad.

Last week, we took a deep dive into 1993 at a pretty subpar top five. Good news for this week, “I’m Too Sexy” had faded into obscurity by 2003, the year we’ll be looking at this week. Team Britney or JT? 50 Cent got shot how many times? We’ve got a lot to get into this week, so without further adieu, let’s take a look at the top five from Feb. 18, 2003.


5. Cry Me A River – Justin Timberlake

The #FreeBritney movement has been picking up a lot of traction online, and the singer’s story is not complete without mentioning Justin Timberlake and this song. After leaving N*S*Y*N*C, Timberlake started off his solo career with the legendary album “Justified.” “Cry Me A River” was the biggest hit from the album, peaking at number three on the Billboard Hot 100. The song is a diss/breakup record aimed at Spears, in which Timberlake trashes Spears. As if Timberlake wasn’t petty enough, in the music video for “Cry Me A River,” he films himself having sex with another woman in his ex-girlfriend’s house. Looking back on this feud, Timberlake really took things a step too far with this, but this song makes it all worth it. The man behind this song, along with many of Timberlake’s other hits, is producer Timberland. He crafted a genius background for Timberlake’s vocals, combining sounds from gospel to Arabic. While it’s hard to support Timberlake’s side of the argument, it’s easy to find yourself singing along with the catchy chorus.


4. Bump, Bump, Bump – B2K & P. Diddy

This song…is a certified bop. The Spanish guitar that riffs throughout the song that accompanies the simple drum beat is the staple piece of most good songs from this era. The vocals leave you wanting a little more, in my opinion, as B2K never delivers much emotion in his singing. That’s not a knock on his voice, it definitely sounds good on this one. The chorus is what everyone comes for this on. “Bump, bump bump,” as the strings deliver a similar melody make it instantly recognizable. P. Diddy delivers adlibs the ENTIRE SONG which get to be a little too much after a while, but he also drops a great verse on it, so all is forgiven.

3. Mesmerize – Ja Rule featuring Ashanti

Ja Rule and Ashanti were one of music’s best duets in the early 2000’s, and this song only further proved that. “Mesmerize” marked the fourth top-ten hit for the duet. The song samples from a Dianna Ross/Marvin Gaye song, which is the best icing on the cake you can ask for. Ashanti’s vocals sound great here and Ja Rule does his job as well. The strings accompanying the song honestly sound a bit out of place for the song, but it’s a product of 2003, so I understand. Ja Rule is a legend in rap, but Ashanti left him in the dirt with this song. Ja Rule’s voice is certainly recognizable in the chorus, though I’m not sure that’s a good thing. He raps about it being “a man’s world” and how much of a player is, which apparently was a very romantic sentiment in 2003. The best part about the song is the video, which parodies Greece. Check it out if you get the time.

2. In Da Club – 50 Cent

This album stands as a piece of hip-hop history. Prior to “Get Rich or Die Tryin'”‘s release, 50 Cent was shot nine times in Queens, New York. He went on to get signed by Eminem, then released this masterpiece in 2002. 50 Cent discusses some pretty dark storylines on the album, so “In Da Club” is truly an outlier. Despite its different subject matter, this song was a hit from the start.”Go shorty, it’s your birthday,” is a phrase we’ve all probably heard too much by now, but there’s no denying how great the song is. Listening to the beat bang through your headphones makes you walk a little different. Honestly, it’s the best part of the song. You can take the lyrics at face value, it’s time for a celebration. The fact that the song is so applicable to every day life definitely helped it maintain such extended success, but the beat on it is what wins it for me.


1.All I Have – Jennifer Lopez featuring LL Cool J

The number one spot on our list is a very deserving one. The song samples Debra Laws’ “Very Special,” which Jennifer Lopez sings in the style of. Lopez’ voice is worthy of the cover, for sure. LL Cool J was already a little past his rapping prime at this point, but he raps some sentimental bars that actually fit really well.

In “All I Have,” Lopez sings about how she will be leaving her lover after he had been unfaithful. LL Cool J is trying to get her back in the song through his adlibs and verse.

It’s nothing insanely complex, but “All I Have” is a sweet sounding R&B ballad that’s my personal favorite from J-Lo.

Another note I learned while researching for this week, this is J-Lo’s last number one hit? How is that possible?