2009-12-17

The 200 Best Songs of the Decade: 200-151

At the decade near a close, I’m taking the opportunity to look back at my favorite music of the decade, specifically my 200 favorite songs of the 00s. Over the next four days, I’ll be posting the best tunes in installments, so be sure to keep checking back. Each song will have a playable/downloadable track to listen to, or you can wait until the conclusion, when I’ll include a link to download all 200 at once. Let the countdown begin!

Kevin’s Favorite 200 Songs of the Decade: 200-151



200. A Better Son/Daughter – Rilo Kiley (2002)

What happens when you combine two former child stars, Jenny Lewis (Troop Beverly Hills) and Blake Sennett (Salute Your Shorts and Boy Meets World)? You get Rilo Kiley, one of my favorite bands of the 00s.

199. I Need Some Fine Wine and You, You Need to Be Nicer – The Cardigans (2005)

Sure, you might not have even heard of the Cardigans since the 90s, but they still regularly produce good music, including this song, whose title is clever if not concise.

198. Goodbye Earl – The Dixie Chicks (2000)

Forget speaking out about President Bush, the Dixie Chicks first tested their first amendment rights with this song about domestic abuse and justifiable homicide. The country folks loved this controversial statement, and so do I. Killing has never sounded so fun.

197. Laura – Scissor Sisters (2003)

I’ve never really gotten into the Scissor Sisters phenomenon, but I like the playful lyrics of “Laura” accompanied by a springy keyboard. I’d like to hope that one day I will threaten to leave a relationship with the words, “This’ll be the last time I ever do your hair.”

196. Young Folks – Peter, Bjorn, and John (2006)

The indy song that brought whistling back in vogue. Seriously, people had stopped whistling. An even better song by this band will appear later on the chart.

195. Big Pimpin’ – Jay-Z (2000)

This song is the first of many appearances by Jay-Z on this countdown. “Big Pimpin’” is a good one, but he’s just getting started…

194. Somebody – Bonnie McKee (2004)

Speaking of knockout voices, Bonnie McKee’s got one, too. This song, with its soul and crescendos, could be the definition of a power ballad. The fact that it sounds almost exactly like Jewel in her heyday doesn’t hurt either.

193. Tane Mahuta – The Ruby Suns (2008)

I have no idea what they’re singing, but it’s too fun to matter. Mixing impressive instrumentals and finely blended voices, I’m taken to a happy place with each listen.

192. Everything – Fefe Dobson (2004)

During my sophomore year of college, I became enamored with this teenaged Canadian songstress. Lyrically strong and superiorly talented to just about each one of her teenybopper counterparts, I will still proudly declare myself a fan even though no one remembers her.

191. Feel Good Inc. – Gorillaz (2005)

There are a number of good Gorillaz’s tracks that could have made the list (Clint Eastwood, Dare, Dirty Harry, etc.) but “Feel Good Inc.”, arguably the most popular song,

190. Unwritten – Natasha Bedingfield (2006)

I first heard/liked this song well before it was released to radio and connected to it as a writer. The lyrics are hokey, but this is overcome by the best use of a church choir since Madonna’s “Like a Prayer.”

189. Tonight – Hard-Fi (2007)

Truthfully, I don’t know much of anything about this band, but I can’t help but sing along to “Tonight” every time I hear it.

188. Haunted – Poe (2000)

A powerful voice with a spooky composition, Poe lives up to her literary namesake.

187. Look What You’ve Done – Jet (2004)

Though Jet knows how to rock, my favorite of the band’s singles is the slowest one, “Look What You’ve Done.” You can actually feel the sadness in the lyrics, which is quite a feat when one of your other hits is “Cold Hard Bitch.”

186. Simple Kind of Life – No Doubt (2000)

Though there are plenty of overrated ones, “Simple Kind of Life” is probably the most underrated No Doubt song ever. It’s only the second song that Gwen Stefani wrote by herself; she puts her emotions on the line, and the disparity is palpable.

185. Forgot About Dre – Dr. Dre & Eminem (2000)

Rap collaborations are a dime a dozen, but this is one of the few that I took the time to learn all of the words to. Being as fast as it is, this required serious practice on my part. In short, this song is cooler than I ever was.

184. The First Day of My Life – Bright Eyes (2005)

The thing with whiny emo bands like Bright Eyes is that I can never stand to listen to a whole album of their work. However, I am emo enough to connect to a single song. I pull this one out from time to time and it actually stops me from cutting myself!

183. Heartbeat – Annie (2005)

Though Annie never had a mainstream American following, her infectious sugary dance tunes have made her an international success. She’s pop for people who are too cool for pop.

182. Basic Space – The xx (2009)

If you’re like me, you like music with a male and female vocal combining into a singular piece. If you’re like me, you also have four penises. Uhhh, but let’s just focus on the first statement: this song is the mellow jam.

181. No More – 3LW (2001)

Nearly a decade later, I still can’t forget the rapping of Three Little Women (hence 3LW) despite my better efforts. Total guilty pleasure track.

180. My Doorbell – The White Stripes (2005)

Meg White gets a lot of flack for being a sub-par drummer, but it’s precisely the percussion in this song that makes it my favorite by the White Stripes. That, and the ridiculously simple chorus – when you gonna ring it, when you gonna ring it?

179. Don’t Know Why – Norah Jones (2002)

With undeniable vocal talent, it’s the song that your parents love even more than you do. Perhaps it’s to my own detriment that I never much pursued her as an artist after this remarkable debut single, but I figure that while one lullaby is sweet, a slew of them is a snooze.

178. Telling Stories – Tracy Chapman (2000)

Chapman had a big hit in the 80s with “Fast Car” and the 90s with “Give Me One Reason” and… well, “Telling Stories” wasn’t really a big hit or anything, but if you have some pre-existing Chapman love, it will surely carry over to this deep tune.

177. Whatever You Like – T.I. (2008)

Since I’m not naturally inclined toward hip-hop music, a song of that genre generally has to win me over before I download it and put it into my normal rotation. “Whatever You Like” is fun and interweaves good verses with a catchy chorus. T.I. has remarkable crossover appeal.

176. Animal I Have Become – Three Days Grace (2006)

My musical tastes don’t skew too hard, but “Animal I Have Become” is sure to lead to hoarse voices and skinned knees when listened to properly. You know, when I mosh and scream along to it alone in my room. Just kidding, I don’t actually do that… maybe.

175. Me And U – Cassie (2006)

Cassie’s a one-hit-wonder, but this song oozes sex. The closest music has come to filling the void created by Aaliyah’s premature death.

174. These Are the Fables – The New Pornographers (2005)

“These Are the Fables” is a fairly gentle song until it reaches the breakdown, where it takes a welcomed, more intense turn. I love the epic stories that The New Pornographers consistently create.

173. American Boy – Estelle & Kanye West (2008)

Combine a peppy beat, Estelle’s effervescence, and a Kanye rap that lacks pretension, and you’ve got a winning formula. Estelle turned an international affair into an international smash.

172. Follow Through – Gavin DeGraw (2005)

As far as male singer/songwriters with a guitar that sound kind of like John Mayer but aren’t nearly as douche-y go, DeGraw is my favorite.

171. Run to Your Grave – The Mae Shi (2008)

After a long career, this song marks the beginning of fun Mae Shi music, a greatly welcomed transition if I say so myself. It’s a scream-along, clap-along tune; the lyrics will have you fearing for your life.

170. Ghosts Are Good Company – Bishop Allen (2003)

One of my favorite bands, Bishop Allen, has quite a diverse repertoire. They’ve matured a lot as musicians, refining their sound into something quite impressive. That said, I still have a soft spot for their early recordings that strongly featured simplicity, silliness, and harmonies, as evident in “Ghosts Are Good Company.”

169. So Fresh and So Clean – Outkast (2001)

Fierce, clever rap verses complete with one of the smoothest choruses of the decade. When Outkast declares toward the conclusion “We are the coolest motherfuckers on the planet” it’s superfluous – this song has already demonstrated it.

168. Someday – The Strokes (2001)

The Strokes took the scene by storm in 2001 and it’s a song like “Someday” that demonstrates why the popularity, at least initially, was founded. With strong guitar riffs and a unique vocal performance, I’m pulled in, even if the charm borders on asshole-ish.

167. Club Action remix – Yo Majesty (2006)

The catchy chorus, which consists of little more than “Fuck that shit,” is problematic. Back in my teaching days, the song would get stuck in my head and I would find myself singing the lyrics quietly in close proximity to children. I like it anyway, perhaps even moreso after someone mashed it up with an Enya song – that’s just hilarious.

166. Toxic – Britney Spears (2004)

Say what you will about Britney, but she puts out some bona fide hits. Sure, she’s pretty hit or miss, but this has hit written all over it. Pure vitriol set to a killer dance beat.

165. Let’s Talk about Spaceships – Say Hi to Your Mom (2004)

I like this subdued track, as well as its sentiment. Sometimes there’s some obvious tension that is too heavy to discuss, so it’s best to change the subject to something else – like spaceships!

164. Chicago – Sufjan Stevens (2005)

“Chicago” falls just short of being a full-on masterpiece. With a wealth of elements, Sufjan clearly has carefully constructed a song of epic proportions and an anthem not just for the city of Chicago, but the human struggle. (Well then YOU try writing about Sufjan Stevens without sounding pretentious!)

163. Say It Right – Nelly Furtado (2006)

While mainstream radio fell for the sell-out of a song “Promiscuous,” I much preferred this subsequent single “Say It Right.” Whereas “Promiscuous” was a gimmick, this is well-produced and a quality example of music.

162. I’m Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How to Dance with You – Black Kids (2008)

There’s no need for the chorus to plead the listener to “dance! dance! dance!” because it’s irresistible when listening to the song. The lyrics’ gender ambiguity is an added bonus.

161. Gossip Folks – Missy Elliott (2002)

There’s so much going on in this song, it’s hard to pick it apart. What could easily add up to just a lot of noise, instead results in a youthful romp led by Missy.

160. We Throw Parties, You Throw Knives – Los Campesinos! (2007)

One of the shortest songs on this list, “We Throw Parties, You Throw Knives” is a poppy pacifist anthem that inexplicably culminates in a list of Halloween costumes. If that doesn’t sound awesome, I’ve got nothing for ya.

159. What Would You Do – City High (2001)

Straight up, the main reason I like “What Would You Do” is because I find it amusingly over-the-top. Urban life is hard, and this song is determined to mention every cliché to drive that point home: prostitution, incarceration, poverty, drugs, stripping, rape, baby daddy drama, etc. All of these subjects are, of course, handled delicately with an danceable backing track. Enjoy it for what it is.

158. Walking with a Ghost – Tegan & Sara (2005)

Though I initially dismissed this tune as being annoyingly repetitive, I came to realize the simplicity is a large part of the song’s charm. These queer sisters know how to write a catchy ditty.

157. Say My Name – Destiny’s Child (2000)

Before she broke out on her own, Beyonce and an ever-changing cast of group-mates were all the rage. “Say My Name” show’s the band’s full range, from sweet to harsh, it one tightly-packed song.

156. I Write Sins Not Tragedies – Panic at the Disco (2006)

Even if it’s not entirely clear what’s unfolding in the lyrics, I give “I Write Sins Not Trageidies” credit for having a compelling narrative arc. The bouncy composition sets the mood for a sort of warped circus, while phrases like the “groom’s bride is a whore” and “goddamn door” add to the tension.

155. No Matta What – Toya (2002)

Though Toya had way more success with “I Do,” her largely ignored second single is the real jam. This is the optimal song for bouncing to in your car en route to a party.

154. Fight Test – The Flaming Lips (2003)

The Flaming Lips might be the quintessential hippie mood music. “Fight Test” has a certain mellowed pizzazz that’ll make your head sway just so.

153. Applejacks – The Triangles (2006)

“Applejacks” would be a phenomenal sing-along song, if only anyone had ever heard of it before. There’s still time, however, download it and you’ll be singing in no time. Guaranteed to put a smile on your face.

152. Nobody’s Home – Avril Lavigne (2004)

Avril might have hit it biggest with “Complicated” and “Sk8r Boi” (let’s not even talk about the latter one), but I don’t care for that crap. The reason I would call myself an Avril fan is based on her rock-edged ballads like “Nobody’s Home.” Forget her reputation, she sure knows how to pen a song.

151. Viva la Vida – Coldplay (2008)

Oh, Coldplay. Long after they’ve become the symbol for sell-out rock-n-roll, they use songs like “Viva la Vida” to prove they can still put out music that is inventive and contagious. Go pick on someone who deserves it more, like Nickelback, hipsters.

Opinions and comments welcome – come back tomorrow for numbers 150-101.

1 comment:

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