July 2013

#48 – Madonna – “Music” – (2000)

Well this was about the end of the era where Madonna was making music that I really gave a crap about. It was a #1 hit everywhere – the U.S., the U.K., and all over Europe and Australia. The video, for whatever reason, features Ali G. The song is electropop and was a big hit on the dance chart. Madonna has leaned that way since – toward club music, that is – and hasn’t had near the success – as this crossed over quite successfully onto pop radio where her later hits stayed mostly in the clubs. I want to say “everyone’s career has to flame out sometime” but she is the queen of comebacks. So we’ll see.

#49 – Oasis – “Lyla” – (2005)

This is my favorite Oasis song that didn’t come out in the 1990s. It was the first single from Don’t Believe the Truth and it was a U.K. #1. All I really have to say about it is that it’s a really good example of that British alternative rock sound that Oasis has mastered better than just about anybody. Love it.

#50 – Warren Zevon – “Keep Me in Your Heart” – (2003)

If you’ve never delved into Warren Zevon’s music, you’re missing out. It’s usually pretty witty, upbeat and fun. Then there’s this song. It’s the final track from what he knew would be his final album. Asbestos exposure caused a terminal form of lung cancer and when he was diagnosed, Warren chose not to do chemotherapy. Instead, he started on a final album and this song was his goodbye song to life. If you ever get the opportunity to watch the Late Show episode where Zevon was Letterman’s only guest for the entire episode, watch it. The album was full of guest stars and won a Grammy. This is a really good song – more so when you know it’s back story.

#51 – Usher feat. Lil Jon & Ludacris – “Yeah!” – (2004)

Some people might rank this as the best song of the decade – it’s definitely one of the songs with the most staying power. It still gets regular radio airplay and is a staple of weddings and dances. It’s Usher’s most popular song, easily, and one of his best. And you have to love Lil Jon in the background (this was recorded and released at the height of Lil Jon’s brief bought with fame) just screaming “Yeah.” Ludacris adds a little more to the song (even though both featured artists have their own verse). And this song is why I refer to Usher as “Ursher.” It was a U.S. #1 – and also #1 in: U.K., Switzerland, Norway, New Zealand, Netherlands, Ireland, Hungary, Germany, France, Denmark, Canada, Belgium, Austria and Australia. Which is pretty good. So why is it at #51? I can’t put my finger on it, but I just haven’t always been sold on it. It’s super catchy, but there are better songs out there.

#52 – John Mayer – “Your Body is a Wonderland” – (2001)

John Mayer has changed styles and looks a few times over the years but what hasn’t changed is A: his ability to play the guitar and B: that he’s actually a really good songwriter. This was Mayer’s second single from Room for Squares – his breakout album. The singles were released in 2002 and after his first single took off, this was released and it was even bigger. A big A/C hit, it peaked at #18 on the Hot 100 and remains one of his best songs. People mock his vocals a lot – and this song contributes heavily to that – but it’s a really good song, I don’t care what you say. And it should probably be much higher on this list.

#53 – Lupe Fiasco feat. Jill Scott – “Daydreamin’” – (2006)

This song is beautiful. It’s heavy on the sampling, but Jill Scott’s voice is so soothing. Lupe Fiasco, of whom I am not really a fan, is the weakest part… I mean, his rapping is okay – at best – but it’s the music and the chorus that really makes this so good. Okay, I should give him more credit. Listen to it and decide for yourself.

#54 – Bon Jovi – “It’s My Life” – (2000)

The 1990s were dark days for Bon Jovi. Jon tried to maintain the big hair years through non-big hair years. For whatever reason, they were able to re-capture the magic in 2000 with this song – which was pretty big, even if it only charted at #33 in the U.S. (it was a big Adult Contemporary hit, too). In some ways, the song is like an updated version of “Livin’ on a Prayer” – same theme, Richie uses the talk box, Tommy and Gina are both mentioned again. It really is like an updated Bon Jovi for the new Millennium

#55 – OK Go – “Here It Goes Again” – (2005)

YouTube was launched to the public in November of 2005. It just so happened that a no-name alternative rock band from Chicago called OK Go had just recorded a new album and shot a music video for it featuring the band performing a synchronized dance on a series of treadmills in one continuous take. It’s one of the coolest music videos ever and it put this band on the map. Without the timing of YouTube, you would have never heard this song. But everyone has seen the video – it received tens of millions of views over the course of the years (and multiple postings). It should be in the YouTube Hall of Fame, if such a thing were to exist. The song is okay, but it transcends the music aspect and is the poster-child for “Going Viral” and all of that (and unfortunately for the band, it has pigeon-holed them into creating outlandish videos that overshadow their music). This song was a turning point in the decade.

#56 – M.I.A. – “Paper Planes” – (2007)

M.I.A. isn’t a household name but this song made waves back in 2008 when it was featured in the movie Slumdog Millionaire – quite brilliantly at that. M.I.A. is of Sri Lankan descent but was born and raised in London. The song is a hip-hop tune with dance elements and it was nominated for Record of the Year at the Grammys. For most people, this is the only song they know of from M.I.A. The song is good enough that its appearance in film should’ve opened M.I.A. to a larger audience, but it hasn’t – not yet anyway.

#57 – The White Stripes – “Seven Nation Army” – (2003)

This is easily one of the top rock songs of the decade – that riff that plays throughout the whole song is instantly recognizable. It won a Grammy for Best Rock Song and topped the Modern Rock chart. It’s the best-known song of the group’s career. I really don’t know what else to say about it other than “that riff!” It’s just that good.

#58 – Gwen Stefani feat. Akon – “The Sweet Escape” – (2006)

Gwen Stefani has come a long way from her ska roots. This track was from her second solo album and you can argue about what styles this song dives into but you have to agree that it’s just straight-up pop. It hit #2 on the Hot 100 but was (and still is) a mainstay in the Adult Contemporary realm. What shines here are not only Gwen’s vocals, but Akon’s “Woohoo, yeehoo”s that punctuate the song. Akon is featured on the song, but that’s all he does (besides co-write it). Everyone knows that part, even if they don’t know the song.

#59 – Jay-Z – “I Just Wanna Love U (Give It 2 Me)” – (2000)

While the Eminem song from yesterday was a favorite of pop radio and TRL, hip-hop like this song wasn’t as easy to come by (not that it was hard). It wasn’t being spoon fed to us by MTV like it should’ve been, because it’s awesome. Uncredited on the chorus is Pharrell whose “I’m a hustla baby – I just want you to know” is not only a highlight of this song but a highlight in hip-hop vocals in the past 20 years. This is one of the catchiest Jay-Z songs ever and it has that early-2000s beat and corresponding video that makes it perfect to listen to outside on a sunny day (preferably on a beach or at a party).

#60 – Eminem – “The Real Slim Shady” – (2000)

Eminem entered the mainstream music world in 1999 with “My Name Is” but it was with this single that he really established who Slim Shady really is. Much like many of Eminem’s early songs, he takes shots at many people and is kind of “offensive for offensives sake” – but it’s highly entertaining. The songs are catchy, the lyrics witty and sometimes hilarious. This was a big hit – #1 in many countries and #4 in the U.S. Watch the video and listen to the lyrics. I miss fun Eminem (as opposed to angry Eminem – which is awesome but not as fun). This is one of my favorite songs of his.

#61 – Nirvana – “You Know You’re Right” – (2002)

Whaaat? A song from Nirvana released in 2002? Yep, and it was a big deal when it happened, too. This song was written in 1993 (and recorded in January of 1994) – one of the last known songs written by Kurt Cobain and the final song the band recorded. It existed for years as a bootlegged live version but it was locked away because Courtney Love kept suing Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic over how it should be released. And she won – the song was released on a single-disc, self-titled greatest hits album in 2002. It topped both American rock charts and hit #45 on the Hot 100. It’s weird to think how things would’ve been different had this come out in 1994 on another Nirvana album. Cobain’s death derailed an entire genre of music, for better or worse. If you think about the grunge/post-grunge songs you know from 1994 and 1995, they don’t sound like this at all. The course of music history could’ve (and very probably would’ve) been very different had Kurt stayed around a while longer. But at least we finally have this track. Who knows what else time will release to us.

#62 – Modest Mouse – “Float On” – (2004)

This Grammy-nominated tune from Modest Mouse was a Modern Rock #1 and it’s one of my favorite rock (or indie rock) tracks from the decade. The opening lyrics: “I backed my car into a cop car the other day – well he just drove sometimes life’s okay” sets the tone for the song, which is pretty happy. The guitar riff is also really catchy. I dig it.

#63 – Peter Bjorn and John feat. Victoria Bergsman – “Young Folks” – (2006)

Swedish indie pop band Peter Bjorn and John (no punctuation) released this, their first single, in August of 2006. YouTube was new and MySpace was still kinda-thriving and this made the rounds there rather successfully. In mid-2007 it was picked up on American indie radio stations and, while it didn’t really chart, it still became rather well known. The whistling is really catchy and it’s how most people recognize the song. I’m gonna be honest though: I haven’t heard about Peter Bjorn and John since. But I don’t listen to indie radio, so I wouldn’t really know anyway.

#64 – Justin Timberlake – “Rock Your Body” – (2002)

As a Millennial, I witnesses music like this from inside the target demographic. And something weird happened around this time. This wasn’t necessarily the rule, but what I saw was that around 1999/2000 – the boy bands and girl groups and rock bands all had their own audiences. Girls loved NSYNC and boys thought Britney was hot but wouldn’t admit to liking her music – they preferred dumb, hard rock – because it was “music.” Well this was JT’s first solo album and this track was a solid hit (top five in the U.S.). But guys still wouldn’t admit to liking the music – this was just another NSYNC member who would have a brief solo career and disappear like Nick Lachey. Anyone who thought that about Timberlake was dead wrong (obviously) and his music has become more and more impressive as his career progresses. There will always be those who refuse to admit his talent – but he has a lot of it and this was just the start of him being able to showcase it.

#65 – Nine Days – “Absolutely (Story of a Girl)” – (2000)

Here’s a big hit from the turn of the Millennium. It reached #6 on the Hot 100 and would be Nine Days’ biggest claim to fame (yes, they would have another minor yet before fading away). There were a lot of songs like this that came out in 2000 – “alternative” rock (which would be called “pop” today) from one-off bands that are really good songs. There are a number of them on this list. I want more of them to keep coming out, but I know they won’t. It sucks.

#66 – Nelly Furtado feat. Timbaland – “Promiscuous” – (2006)

Let’s start with the fact that Timbaland ruled 2006. He produced everything that mattered that year. Then there was his complete reinvention of Nelly Furtado – quirky Canadian singer/songwriter turned R&B sex symbol. Whaaat? She’s always been attractive but someone came in and “slutted” her up a bit and it resulted in a #1 hit on the Hot 100. The lyrics consist of an insanely catchy duet with a clear delivery which makes them easy to memorize – which always helps popularity. Timbaland is very good in this as well. It kind of still stands as the highlight of Nelly Furtado’s makeover.

#67 – MGMT – “Electric Feel” – (2008)

I listed this as having been released in 2008 (when the CD came out) vs. 2007 when it was released digitally. These distinctions are important to me. Anyway, MGMT, purveyors of psychedelic synthpop had their biggest hit up to this point with this song (the next song would top it, as this was only their second single). I don’t really know what to say other than that this is one of those songs that just has a feel to it (an electric feel, perhaps?). It’s a great groove and a great song.

#68 – Missy Elliott feat. Ludacris – “Gossip Folks” – (2002)

This is my favorite song by Missy. It hit #8 on the Hot 100 but I know I hated it when it came out, as popular as it was. When I hear the song, the first thing I think of is the music video which takes place in a school and has some elaborate dancing and matching Adidas track suits. Then there’s the “lyrics.” The chorus is roughly this (which I lifted off another website as it is impossible to translate from the song):

Milzee gilzot silzomebilzody plilzays dilzouble gilzood
My gizzirl!
Brillzing her izzin!
Izzo kizzay!
Izzall rizzight…
Izzo kizzay!
Izzall rizzight! Nizzow wizzee wilzzo-izzo-zee!

Right. I think this is Ludacris’ only appearance on this list, too.

#69 – Matchbox Twenty – “How Far We’ve Come” – (2007)

Exile on Mainstream – while a play on the Rolling Stones’ classic album Exile on Main St. – was essentially a greatest hits album from Matchbox Twenty. It featured 11 of their biggest this and six new songs. This was the top of the new songs and a big hit single for the band, who hadn’t released new material in five years. The song could’ve been released on any of the band’s previous albums – that’s how Matchbox Twenty it is (unlike their newer stuff which sounds like Rob Thomas solo stuff). It peaked at #3 on the Adult Contemporary Chart, hitting #11 on the Hot 100. It’s awesome.

#70 – Los Lonely Boys – “Heaven” – (2004)

Los Lonely Boys is a trio from Texas that performs their own unique style of music. It’s a blend of Tejano, country, blues and rock. And this song exemplifies that combination. This was their debut single, which is pretty amazing, and they’ve yet to top it. It hit #16 on the Hot 100. It’s got some Spanish lyrics and you can almost feel Texas oozing through the song.