220px-Incubus_-_Morning_ViewIncubus – “Nice To Know You” – (2001)

Morning View was Incubus’s biggest album in terms of sales, and probably, hits. This was the first track, and the second single. It reached the top ten on both the Modern Rock and Mainstream Rock charts.

51CmB1+M35L.jpgB.B. King – “Merry Christmas Baby” – (2001)

Yes, this is the same “Merry Christmas Baby” that Bruce Springsteen made famous. Except that it’s different. Instead of that upbeat E. Street Band thing he had going on, B.B. King made it his own, in that familiar bluesy way.

Staind_Break_the_CycleStaind – Epiphany – 2001

Much like Linkin Park’s Hybrid Theory from last week, Staind’s Break The Cycle seemingly had every track released as a single. “Epiphany” actually was a single, the fifth (and final), having been released in August 2002 – nearly a full year and a half after the album came out. It’s more of a ballad than a hard rock song with a fairly slow tempo and general acoustic-ness. Also, I just has an epiphany: that’s a tree on the album cover. I always thought it was a tornado.

John Mellencamp feat. India.Arie – “Peaceful World” – (2001)

One of the purveyors of musical Americana had this minor hit in the aftermath of 9/11. The song was actually around prior to the attacks, but it really picked up steam afterwards – although it never officially charted, bubbling under at #104. Also, Mellencamp’s face is way too airbrushed on that album cover. Right?

Eve feat. Gwen Stefani – “Let Me Blow Ya Mind” – (2001)

The original purpose of this whole duet thing was to do duets and not songs that use the word “featuring” in the artist line. But there are just so many duets from the 1980s that I am quickly running out of those from the 1990s and, especially, 2000s to feature alongside them. I picked this song because I really liked it when it came out and, as I’m listening to it now, still enjoy it. The song is actually pretty good and it won the inaugural Grammy for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration. It also reached #2 on the Hot 100.

Christina Aguilera, Lil’ Kim, Mya, & Pink – “Lady Marmalade” – (2001)

Four big female stars (plus Missy Elliott introducing them in the music video) came together for Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge to record this cover of Patti LaBelle’s 1974 hit. It was a Hot 100 #1 and #1 all over the world. It was a big song 13 years ago (wow) known as much for its then-risqué video as for anything about the song musically. Yes, this one is slightly more than a “duet.”

Kid Rock feat. Sheryl Crow – “Picture” – (2001)

Statistically, this is Sheryl Crow’s second most-successful single in the U.S. Betcha didn’t know that. It was a top five hit on the Hot 100 – Kid Rock’s highest charting single ever. It’s a country rock duet that went mainstream – even flying up the Adult Contemporary chart. It was co-written by both performers and Rock also did a more country version with Allison Moorer. Yes, this song technically has “featuring” and not “and” in the artist line but it’s about as close to a duet in the classical definition as the 2000s has given us.

Aaron Lewis & Fred Durst – “Outside” – (2000)

Fred Durst was a big deal in 1999 and 2000. Limp Bizkit was huge and they did this little (okay it was huge) tour called “The Family Values Tour” with Korn, Orgy, Primus, Ja Rule, Method Man & Redman, DMX, Filter, The Crystal Method, and a little known band called Staind. That was the 1999 lineup and it was huge. “Outside” (which would later become a hit for Staind – a band led by Aaron Lewis and promoted and produced by Durst) was first performed live and acoustically in Biloxi, Mississippi in 1999 by Aaron Lewis featuring backing vocals by Durst. Some of the lyrics were made up on the spot. Radio stations started playing the acoustic version and it ended up at #56 on the Hot 100 in 2001. Later that year, Staind released Break the Cycle – which was a monumental album (in popularity). This song, for me, marked a transition from the bubblegum pop of 1999/2000 and the more rock-oriented days of 2001 and on.

Fredro Starr & Jill Scott – “Shining Through” – (2001)

This song was done as the theme for the movie Save the Last Dance (there was also a version released on Fredro Starr’s 2001 album Firestarr). This soundtrack was a multi-platinum seller with a number of really big pop songs on it. There were others that got more airplay but this is actually a pretty good song as Jill Scott’s voice is as awesome as ever.

Rob Zombie & Ozzy Osbourne – “Iron Head” – (2001)

Well this is a non-tradition duet (both Rob Zombie and Ozzy Osbourne would probably beat you to near death with a guitar if you called this a “duet”). Whatever – it’s two musicians and vocalists joining forces for one song and the word “featured” is not in the artist line. Originally, Zombie was going to record this solo after working with Ozzy on it but he felt it lacked that special touch so he invited Ozzy to sing on it as well. Something different and a little heavier for your Friday. (Oh crap, I forgot this would be posted on Valentine’s Day – I guess I coulda went with something a little more romantic, eh?)

John Mayer – “3×5” – (2001)

Here’s another great song from John Mayer’s debut album. Say what you want about him or his behavior, songs, etc. now – he wrote some damn fine pop music back in 2001. This song didn’t even actually make the cut of the original release but was added when it had its major-label re-release. It’s really good. I love this album. I’ll probably end up featuring almost every track individually on this site.

John Mayer – “Neon” – (2001)

Room for Squares is a great album. Just about every song is a winner and this is one of the best. This was the early, more pop-focused John Mayer so it’s upbeat yet soft. This was never a single, but knowing how well the singles did from his first album, I have little doubt this would’ve been a solid adult contemporary hit back about 2002. This is one of my favorite songs of his.

Rob Zombie – “Feel So Numb” – (2001)

I used to be a big Rob Zombie fan. Can’t quite explain why now. I couldn’t even tell you when the last album was that he released. For all I know, this was it (just checked, it isn’t). This album only had one official single, yet I seem to have half the album. This was a “promotional single” that I definitely recall hearing on rock radio a little over 10 years ago. I think the reason I like his music is that, for being hard rock, most songs seem to usually have a cool groove to them. Yeah, his lyrical delivery is more akin to yelling than singing, but the songs all feature some cool element in them.

#4 – Cake – “Short Skirt/Long Jacket” – (2001)

Cake has some of the coolest album art of any band. It’s consistently cool. And so are their album titles. They’ve had their hits over the years but this is far and away the best of them. It later became famous as the (instrumental) theme song for the awesome TV series Chuck. It’s also my ringtone. What’s great about this song? Let’s start with the lyrics: they’re brilliant. I can’t say more without listing them all right here (“She’s trading her MG for a white Chrysler LeBaron” – seriously? I love that). Then there’s that Cake signature sound: flat lyric delivery backed up by bass and brass. Bass and brass: it’s the gateway to the musical part of my heart. One of the best songs ever.

#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.

#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.

#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.

#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.

#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.

#36 – Michael Jackson – “You Rock My World” – (2001)

This was Michael Jackson’s final big single. It was released as a single in 2001 and it’s so good that it is hard to fathom how he didn’t have a big hit after this. Also, “Thriller,” and its video, put Michael on the map for some people. Well the video for this song is pretty impressive too. It’s a 13-minute mini-movie featuring Chris Tucker (whose career basically subsists of this and some movies with Jackie Chan), Michael Madsen, Billy Drago and Marlon flippin’ Brando. Brando! Also, the video is completely awesome, featuring a cool set, awesome suits and badass dancing from the King of Pop (which, some of it, reminds me of Jim Carrey in The Mask). None of this should take away from the song though. Michael’s career had this sort of progression that the later in it he got, the more his songs featured this little pop of his voice (sort of like a hard “dah” sound). This song has a lot of that sound. Plus, a great beat, and wonderful instrumentation. It was nominated for a Grammy for Best Pop Vocal Performance (Jackson’s first since 1997). And it was a Top 10 hit on the Hot 100. This stands as one of my favorite Michael Jackson songs of all time, which might seem weird, but it’s true. It reminds me of both his mid-1990s stuff (which was really good) and some stuff from the 1980s (which is high praise).

#37 – Shaggy feat. Rayvon – “Angel” – (2000)

Released as a single in the early part of 2001, “Angel” – based on the clothing worn in the music video – very easily could have come out in the late-1990s. It was Shaggy’s second #1 single. Unfortunately, we have not heard from Shaggy since. This song samples a Juice Newton song (“Angel of the Morning” – more or less where the chorus comes from here) as well as the bass line from Steve Miller’s “The Joker.” Unlike his previous #1, this song is much nicer and more acceptable to most people.

#38 – Weezer – “Island in the Sun” – (2001)

This is my favorite Weezer song – which might sound ridiculous to hard-core Weezer fans, but whatever, I don’t care. This wasn’t even supposed to be on the album. The producer (who happened to be Ric Ocasek from The Cars) fought for it and it turned into a radio-friendly single and Weezer’s biggest hit to date outside the U.S. It’s light and fun and… breezy (I guess is the word I’m searching for). And the music video is awesome for those who like “cute” – it’s full of puppies playing with baby chimps and other animals. Anyway, best Weezer song.

#42 – Michael Andrews & Gary Jules – “Mad World” – (2001)

This is how to cover a song and make it your own. Originally done by Tears for Fears in 1982, it was transformed from New Wave/Synthpop into hauntingly beautiful by film score composer Michael Andrews and musician Gary Jules for the movie Donnie Darko. The only instruments are a piano and a cello. The vocals are haunting, really – there’s no other word for it. The sadness of the lyrics are evoked perfectly. It was a huge hit in some countries – a #1 in the U.K. and Portugal. It’s infinitely better than the original.

#43 – Aerosmith – “Jaded” – (2001)

Aerosmith has had more comebacks than just about any band I can think of. Prior to this song, Aerosmith’s last big hit (which was huge) was “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing” – prior to that, it was 1994 since their last Top 40 smash. Just Push Play was the second or third or fourth or fifth coming of the band. It was a song that was perfect for the times, released as a single in December of 2000 – the 90s were still drawing to a close but things were changing but hadn’t changed drastically, yet. Interesting observation: what differentiated an adult contemporary hit (this song) from a pop hit in 2000 was that the video for this song received more airplay on VH1 than MTV.

#45 – Mary J. Blige – “Family Affair” – (2001)

Here’s the biggest song of Mary J.’s career. It’s a chart topper that still receives occasional airplay. What’s interesting is that it doesn’t sample anything – unlike many recent #1 hits. The beat is actually by Dr. Dre, among others. The lyrics are intelligible and they let you know that she wants you to have “no more drama in your life.” Also, the use of “percolating” has always stood out to me and this song is all I think of when I hear the word.