2009-12-19

The 200 Best Songs of the Decade: 100-51

And now we enter the top 100 of the best songs of the 2000s. Click on the files to download the ones you like, or tune in tomorrow for a special link to download all 200.

In the meantime, let’s get singing!

100. Boys in the Hood – Dynamite Hack (2000)

White emo-esque boys covering old school rap songs seem almost commonplace by now (for shame!) but Dynamite Hack did it first(ish) and probably best. They pay tribute to the song and maintain a sense of common timing, which is hard to pull off in a song.

99. My Happy Ending – Avril Lavigne (2004)

As far as the angry punk rock side of Avril goes, this chart-topper is where she excelled. The vitriol is palpable, and it’s even better when that comes in the form of a sing-along.

98. Groovejet – Spiller (2000)

“Groovejet” is as close to disco as you will find this decade. Originally created as an instrumental track, Sophie Ellis-Bextor was asked to contribute lyrics to the tune to make it radio-friendly – and friendly it is… to just about everyone!

97. Can’t Get You out of My Head – Kylie Minogue (2001)

Who would have guessed that the singer of “The Locomotion” would become a critical darling with some kick ass songs? Sultry yet energetic, Minogue proves she’s got the chops and the charisma to be a star.

96. What’s Golden – Jurassic 5 (2002)

If there’s such a thing as alternative-rap (sorry, I’m not well versed), “What’s Golden” would be the prime example. Jurassic 5 has a unique approach to music: hip-hop that rocks.

95. Faded – Soul Decision (2000)

Soul Decision is the only boy band to crack the top 100, probably in part due to the fact that I didn’t realize they were a boy band when the song was originally released… they’re Canadian, so I made excuses for them. There’s no need to excuse this fun song, however.

94. With Arms Outstretched – Rilo Kiley (2002)

Here’s a second song by this talented band. I love the slow build of this song, from a solitary gentle voice to a full chorus-ed clap-along sing-along.

93. I Try – Macy Gray (2000)

I’ve branded a few artists on this countdown with having a “unique” voice. Generally when I say that, I still mean good; however, Gray may be the first that I’ll openly say her voice is unique in a simply diplomatic sense. “I Try” has a real messy quality to it, but I can’t help but be entranced.

92. Like Eating Glass – Bloc Party (2005)

The members of Bloc Party are solid musicians who lay down great songs. I’m especially keen to the busy instrumentation of this song, which conveys a sense of urgency.

91. Thank You – Dido (2001)

Dido’s not the only artist to try the sweet-girl-with-a-sweet-voice shtick, but she is one of the few to take such a song to #1 on the charts. Don’t let the overwhelming prettiness throw you – it’s also catchy enough to jump in your head and never leave.

90. Not Tonight – Tegan & Sara (2002)

Tegan & Sara have their music down to a science: write short, simple yet biting songs that are heavy on the harmonies, then record. This song is precisely that – why mess with a good thing?

89. Tipsy – J-Kwon (2004)

In parts, I wouldn’t like this song: a teenage singer advocating underage drinking, slow rapping, counting used as lyrics… However, the sum of its parts is truly genius, even if accidentally so. Sometimes, an artist has got to be youthful to capture that essence.

88. A Kick in the Teeth – Fischerspooner (2005)

Another song with a slow build, “A Kick in the Teeth” ultimately pays off in dividends. The song runs the gamut from sedated to full on dance party.

87. Take Control – Amerie (2006)

This song proves why Amerie deserves to be a superstar. The guitar riff is hot and her vocals are nothing short of fierce. I’m all about this track.

86. Audience of One – Cold War Kids (2009)

This stunning song, “Audience of One,” is the lead track from Cold War Kids’s upcoming EP. It makes me want to start banging on a piano to accompany it.

85. Soldier Girl – The Polyphonic Spree (2002)

No other band’s music is guaranteed to make me smile faster. “Soldier Girl” isn’t just good, it’s hypnotizing. By the end, you’ll not only be dancing, you’ll be marching to the beat.

84. I Turn My Camera on – Spoon (2005)

Springy and silly, this song is quintessential Spoon music. It makes me want t roll around in ecstasy – or on it.

83. Valerie – Mark Ronson & Amy Winehouse (2007)

Winehouse’s voice practically lends itself to big band accompaniment, so credit to Ronson for actually putting that together. This recording might be Winehouse’s singularly most impressive vocal performance to date.

82. Paper Bag – Fiona Apple (2000)

“Paper Bag” is a standout track on her 1999 album “When the Pawn…”, but wasn’t officially released as a single until 2000. This song works on so many levels, so I’d suggest just taking a dive into her depth. (That’s not supposed to sound dirty, it just does.)

81. Otherside – The Red Hot Chili Peppers (2000)

On the other hand, I suspect “Otherside” is supposed to sound dirty. It always seems to be one lyric away from one big anal sex joke. That doesn’t detract (perhaps it enhances?) the quality of this song. The music is deliberately harsh and complements the
raw emotion of the vocals.

80. Hands Down – Dashboard Confessional (2003)

“Hands Down” is a full rollercoaster, taking us through highs and lows. Whenever it climaxes at the chorus, so do I.

79. Whenever Wherever – Shakira (2001)

It contains what might be the funniest lyric in pop music of the decade: “Lucky that my breasts are small and humble so you don’t confuse them with mountains.” The fact that you can forget that she uttered something so laughable with ten seconds when she hits the chorus is a testament to the song.

78. Fists Up – The Blow (2006)

The Blow exudes cute, and this song demonstrates her abilities – and cuteness, of course. I feel a little more empowered with each of her uncharacteristically firm cries of “Fists up!”

77. Rad – Smoosh (2004)

Two young girls (though they must be full-grown teenagers by now!) wrote/performed “Rad.” It’s juvenile (which is to be expected when preteens write a song), but that doesn’t make it anything short of great. I certainly wasn’t doing anything this amazing at their age.

76. Heaven – DJ Sammy & Yanou (2002)

Making a techno cover of a Bryan Adams ballad from the 80s seems like nine kinds of awful, but they pulled it off. Even if its not proficiently a great song, I love it.

75. Soft Pyramids – Q and Not U (2002)

It takes a couple of listens before you can decipher the words they are spelling, and even then it doesn’t necessarily add up. That’s okay, though, ultimately the song seems to be a spazz-attack and one worth joining them on.

74. Crazy – Gnarls Barkley (2006)

Easily one of the most memorable and popular songs of the decade. Gnarls Barkley legitimately sounds a little crazy here – and that sounds good!

73. Let Go – Frou Frou (2002)

It’s popularity revived by the Garden State soundtrack, “Let Go” lives up to its lyric, “there’s beauty in the breakdown.” Subsequently, Frou Frou adopted the name Imogen Heap and recorded other good music this decade.

72. Landed – Ben Folds (2005)

Ben Folds gives it his all while describing a failed relationship. Maybe it’s about his breakup with the Five?

71. Crazy – K-Ci & Jojo (2001)

Gnarls Barkley might have had the more famous “Crazy,” but this song earns my slight preference. K-Ci & Jojo soar with a emotion-packed R&B power ballad.

70. The District Sleeps Alone Tonight – The Postal Service (2003)

Again, no one makes heartache quite as listenable as the Postal Service. At the time of its release, there was nothing musically like it.

69. Work It – Missy Elliott (2002)

Throughout an outstanding career with about a dozen hits, “Work It” still stands out at Elliott’s masterpiece. She’s got the rap talent and, more importantly, the wit.

68. Move Along – The All-American Rejects (2006)

Crescendoing all the way to loud-loud-loud, the All-American Rejects made a fun song, demonstrating that even the best alternative music has a little pop in it.

67. Flake – Jack Johnson (2002)

And here started a career of wuss rock. I couldn’t hang with Johnson’s similar-sounding follow-ups, but his debut single pulled me in.

66. Hotel Song – Regina Spektor (2006)

That Spektor is equally as adorable singing the lyric “I have dreams of orca whales and owls” as “a little bag of cocaine” is a testament to what a joyful singer she is. I put this song on repeat sometimes because I don’t want the fun to end.

65. Mrs. Stephen Rudy – Mark McGuinn (2001)

Although my country music knowledge is limited, when I heard this song on the radio, I immediately had to find out the artist and obtain a copy. In some ways, this song has every stereotype I hold about the genre: vocals with a twang, vague misogyny, a ludicrous love story, and a character sitting on a porch. Still, I unapologetically love it.

64. Seed 2.0 – The Roots (2003)

The lyrics describe the act of cheating and impregnating, yet it still comes across as a sweet song. I’m pretty sure the lyrics are actually a metaphor for creating unpopular music. Indeed, you can’t pinpoint what genre this song fits into, which is precisely why it’s special.

63. Why Part 2 – Collective Soul (2000)

“Why” has a significantly harsher edge than most songs you might know from Collective Soul’s 90s repertoire. Angry and amazing, I can never resist joining it at the chorus.

62. Zero – The Yeah Yeah Yeahs (2009)

I’m pleased to discover that The Yeah Yeah Yeahs still have it! Surely, this is their best single since “Maps” (which you just might see later in the countdown...)

61. Over My Head – The Fray (2006)

In some ways this song fits the mold for most pop-rock hits, but the chorus is killer and unrelentingly catchy.

60. Bad Romance – Lady Gaga (2009)

When this song came out, I didn’t want to like it. I didn’t want to admit I was becoming a Lady Gaga fan. Nevertheless, I was entranced by the beautifully psychotic video for this song and amidst my dozens of consecutive views, I went gaga for the song as well.

59. My Eyes – Travis (2007)

With a steady, underrated career, Travis gives his most soulful performance with “My Eyes.”

58. Tears Dry on Their Own – Amy Winehouse (2007)

A sassy song for a sassy voice. At points, Winehouse’s voice rings like a trumpet – how does she do it?

57. Walcott – Vampire Weekend (2008)

The rapid piano introduction sets the tone and makes me wish I could travel to Cape Cod with Vampire Weekend. I’ll settle for listening to this song often.

56. My Girls – Animal Collective (2009)

With an immense build-up and multiple layers, it’s impossible to not get caught up in the majesty of this song. It’s almost a six minute song, yet Animal Collective still puts me in a trance for the entire duration.

55. Party Hard – Andrew WK (2001)

Look, I don’t generally listen to music this hard, and I could really do without the blood shtick, but Andrew WK have created magic with this song. True to the title, it makes me want to party – and it makes me want to party HARD. You don’t have to be predisposed to moshing and head-banging to find yourself doing it as this song plays.

54. Try Again – Aaliyah (2000)

Aaliyah had a vocal talent that didn’t require her songs to be heavily produced to be good, but she was fortunate enough to be taken care of by the industry to make her songs great. The hooks and samples behind her in this one are the ones that hits are made of.

53. Before I Knew – Basia Bulat (2007)

Clocking in at just over a minute, this is the shortest song on the countdown, and perhaps the prettiest. “Before I Knew” demonstrates that quality music need not be more than a ukulele, a heartfelt voice, and some handclaps.

52. Barcelona Loves You – I’m from Barcelona (2006)

If you get a chance to see I’m from Barcelona perform live, go for it – they’re nutty in the best way. This song is so amusing, I feel like I’m playing, that I’m actually participating in the music. You’ll feel it, too.

51. Party Up – DMX (2000)

In spite of the excessive cussing, boasting, and threats of violence, “Party Up” is an extremely likable song. You don’t have to like rap music to recognize this as a stand-out.

Stop back tomorrow for the cream of the crop, the best 50 songs of the decade.

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