September 2013

#5 – The Shins – “New Slang” – (2001)

I’ll admit: if it weren’t for Zach Braff, I wouldn’t know this song. It was featured in an episode of Scrubs (where he had some influence on the show’s musical choices) and in his film Garden State – where it was featured rather heavily as Natalie Portman’s character even says “this song will change your life.” Life changing, I don’t know – but I do know that it made a significant impact on me when I really got into it. The music is relatively simple (I hear a tambourine) and the lyrics are intelligible and harmonious and nice. The right song for the right time.

#6 – OutKast – “B.O.B.” – (2000)

This was the first OutKast song I ever head (sheltered, I know) and I didn’t care for it immediately. But boy has it grown on me. Andre 3000’s vocals are insane (and so are Big Boi’s). “B.O.B” stands for “Bombs Over Baghdad” which, at the time, was probably referencing earlier bombings of Iraq but were quite the forbearer of bad news. Anyway, the video: it’s full of weird colors and Big Boi wearing a Cincinnati Reds jersey. But what’s really great here (aside from the killer vocals) is the mixture of the drum & bass nature of the music with rap and gospel-esque vocals. The best OutKast song ever in my opinion.

#7 – Rage Against the Machine – “Renegades of Funk” – (2000)

I love this song. It’s a cover of a 1983 single by Afrika Bambaataa – but this version has Tom Morello killing it and a sweet bass line. And the vocals are awesome – as is normally the case with Rage songs. Eventually there will be a “Top Rock Songs of the 00s” countdown and this would have been #1 on that list, so keep that in mind whenever that list comes about. Wikipedia lists the genre of this song as “Funk Metal” which sounds awesome and I couldn’t name another song that would fall under that category.

#8 – Lily Allen – “Smile” – (2006)

“Smile” was Lily Allen’s first single and biggest hit. It has a catchy, bouncing beat and sassy, cheeky lyrics delivered in a even-toned voice. The chorus “At worst I feel bad for a while, then I just smile” is easy to pick up. It was a #1 in the U.K. – rightfully so as Lily Allen was a huge star around the time this came out and a kind of musical darling of London (perhaps that’s overstating it a little). Anyway, this is one of the best examples of this decade’s sound.

#9 – Coldplay – “Clocks” – (2002)

I think we can all agree that Coldplay is one of the biggest bands (if not the biggest band) of the 2000s (and going). I can’t believe this song is 11 years old. It has some of the catchiest and melodious piano hooks ever. A Rush of Blood to the Head is among the greatest albums of the decade and this is the best song on the album. It’s one of Coldplay’s signature songs – mostly because of that piano hook. It wasn’t a huge hit (never hit #1 anywhere) but it did win a Grammy for Record of the Year.

#10 – Daft Punk – “One More Time” – (2001)

Whoops. I messed up. I already featured the song “Harder Better Faster Stronger” as part of my “Songs from Trips to Europe” list. I don’t like featuring songs twice, but had I not put it so high up on this list, I would’ve just replaced it with something else, which is what I’ve now tried to do. “One More Time” was a bigger hit anyway at the time. It might not be “Top Ten Songs of the Decade” great but it’s pretty good. If you’re taking this list that seriously, move this one back to the 70s and move everything else up a little. That’s what I get for not doing my homework.

#11 – Eve 6 – “Here’s to the Night” – (2000)

If you had any sort of graduation during the 2000s, then chances are this song either made you depressed or happy or both. This is a bittersweet song about moving on written in a happy time in world history. It’s one of the band’s signature songs. I’m not going to say much about it, but it’s really good.

#12 – Kylie Minogue – “Can’t Get You Out of My Head” – (2001)

This was a #1 all over Europe (and Australia/New Zealand) and rightfully so – everything about it scream “Euro dance pop.” It was a top ten in the U.S. and is just all around one of the biggest songs of the decade. It has become Kylie’s signature song – which is a unique thing because it happened on her eighth studio album. That’s a long time to wait to establish a signature song. That “la la la” hook will grab you and pull you in to the song. It’s catchy and it’s good.

#13 – soulDecision feat. Thrust – “Faded” – (2000)

Whoa! A boy band at #13? Are you serious? Yes. This is one of my favorite songs from the 1999/2000 era. I know every word. This is my example of “a song I like slipping past the criteria of greatness.” But greatness is subjective. I think this song is catchier than just about anything else ever. It’s a song everyone has forgotten about and overlooks from back in the day when boy bands ruled. It was a #1 in Canada and hit #66 on the Hot 100. Just consider everyone lucky I didn’t put this in the top 10.

#14 – Robert Plant & Allison Krauss – “Killing the Blues” – (2007)

I know I said that the top 20 or so songs were all major hits and really obvious, big-time players in the “Top Songs” arena… well this is my one exception. It was not a big radio hit. It did win a Grammy and I remember watching the Grammy ceremony that night on TV – I was ecstatic that this collaborative album – Raising Sand – won Album of the Year. Let’s take a step back and look at how bizarre this is: Robert Plant, lead singer of Led Zeppelin, teams up with Allison Krauss – a vocalist and fiddle player known for her bluegrass and country music and they – with the brilliant help of T-Bone Burnett – produce a folk rock album with heavy emphasis on Americana. The likelihood of these things working out? A million to one. But this is that one and it is amazing. This is my favorite song from the album. Give it a try.

#15 – John Mayer – “No Such Thing” – (2001)

John Mayer has had some good songs over the years but this was the first and it’s still among my favorites of his. It hit #13 on the Hot 100 and still receives regular radio airplay. I remember when I first heard it (out of town, of course – it took an extra few months before radio stations where I live to pick up new music). I remember thinking: this is good, upbeat, clean music with a very original vocal delivery. Room for Squares is one of the best albums of the decade and this is arguably the best song on it. But more importantly, it launched the career of one of – like him personally or not – the best musicians we have right now.

#16 – U2 – “Beautiful Day” – (2000)

Man, I remember when this song came out. It was everywhere. Want a taste of 1999/2000 British culture? Watch the video. The video wouldn’t go away back in 2000 and 2001. I think it probably aired on VH1 at least eight times a day. I’ve always been a come and go U2 fan and I loathed this song when it was fresh but love it now. It’s one of their biggest hits and the sound is more reminiscent of The Joshua Tree than any of that weird crap they did in the 90s. It won three Grammys and was a #1 in just about every European country where Bono is actually closest to the god that he thinks he is. It’s some of their best work.

#17 – Norah Jones – “Don’t Know Why” – (2002)

If you haven’t noticed, we’re into the heavy hitters now. This was Norah Jones’ first successful single and it was a cover. She is incredibly talented and has an amazing voice – this won her three Grammys including Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Female Pop Vocal. She’s obviously popular in jazzier circles, but this song let every Top 40 radio listener in America experience her talent and know that she is a musical force to be reckoned with. I know the original mission of this site was to help you find songs you may have forgotten about (or overlooked) but I find it impossible that anyone could have forgotten this song.

#18 – Gnarls Barkley – “Crazy” – (2006)

This is another one of those songs that many people would’ve put at #1 on this list. I think it’s near-amazing, but not quite and I was never a fan of it when it came out. Cee Lo Green (the vocalist here and half of Gnarls Barkley) has gone on to be much more famous outside this song but this is what put him on most people’s maps (he was in Goodie Mob back in the 90s). It hit #2 in the U.S. and has appeared everywhere and won a Grammy. This is easily one of the biggest songs of the decade by arguably a one-hit wonder.

#19 – Corinne Bailey Rae – “Put Your Records On” – (2006)

English singer-songwriter Corinne Bailey Rae popped onto the scene with this song in 2006. Unfortunately, radio-bound Americans haven’t heard anything from her since. But that doesn’t take away from the stellar-ness of this song. It got her nominated for three Grammys including Best New Artist – which she lost to Carrie Underwood. It didn’t hit #1 anywhere and didn’t make much noise on the U.S. charts but it was a worldwide hit and if you’re lucky you might catch it on the radio here and there.

#20 – Nelly – “Country Grammar (Hot Shit)” – (2000)

“Hmmmm… I’m going down down baby…” This was Nelly’s first single and it’s always remained one of his best. It wasn’t his biggest hit – it peaked at #7 on the Hot 100 (he’s has #1s since). The lyrical structure of the song almost resembles a clapping song – a weird thing for a rapper to burst onto the scene with. “Shimmy shimmy cocoa what. Listen to it pound. Light it up and take a puff, pass it to me now.”

#21 – Alicia Keys – “Fallin’” – (2001)

Here is proof that this list doesn’t just consist of my favorite songs from the 2000s (I mean, that’s part of it but not always the case). Why? Because I don’t really care for this song – never have. But I understand that it is great and that it signaled the arrival of a major talent (there was a small, unintentional, joke in that sentence which I’ll explain: the album this track was on is called Songs in A Minor and I said “a major”… nevermind). Anyway, this song blew a lot of people away because here’s this beautiful girl belting out these fantastic lyrics – and she’s rocking her own piano! So why don’t I like it? While I’ve softened to it over time, I think there is something deep down in me that resents this song because of its timing. It was right about this time that a shift occurred that music started moving away from its carefree 90s sound to a more serious one. When this popped up on TRL, it was all over for the 90s.

#22 – Gorillaz – “Feel Good Inc.” – (2005)

Bet you didn’t think Gorillaz would be on this list twice, did you? This is my favorite song from them and it was their highest charting single they’ve had. There’s this hip-hop type beat underneath this song but the opening lyrics are almost whispered in a monotone voice. Then there’s the chorus about windmills. Then there’s a rap. This song is all over the place. But it’s so infectious that it is irresistible. It’s an awesome, feel good song (see what I did there?).

#23 – OutKast – “Hey Ya!” – (2003)

This is one of a handful of songs on this list that, were this not my list, could easily be sitting at #1. It’s easily one of the biggest songs of the decade, even though I liked OutKast’s other big single from this weird double/split album better. Speakerboxxx/The Love Below was an album by OutKast – but it was essentially two albums. Big Boi had Speakerboxxx and Andre 3000 had The Love Below. They did their own thing without alienating their fans and making them think they were breaking up. This was a #1 on the Hot 100 and is known for its infectious beat and chorus – and Mr. 3000’s advice that you “shake it like a Polaroid picture.” I have come to appreciate this song much more than I did when it was new.

#24 – Matchbox Twenty – “Mad Season” – (2000)

Hey, it’s Rob Thomas again! To me, this is like the “Real World” of the 2000s. This album (which shares its name with the song) had bigger hits – two of them if I’m remember correctly – but I think this is the finest single from the album – and the most “Matchbox Twenty.” They are all signature songs of the band, but there’s something about this one I just like more – maybe it’s that it sounds more like something from Yourself or Someone Like You.

#25 – Damien Rice – “9 Crimes” – (2006)

Damien Rice can write a haunting effing song. This song definitely hits that mark and so did his previous album. The music is minimalistic, for the most part, and the lyrics start off very soft and remain relatively soft – but they definitely build as the song goes on. The music actually sounds orchestral – which goes a long way to making this a beautiful song.