The countdown is complete!!
100. Radiohead, How to Disappear Completely, Kid A
The opening line " That there, that's not me," has always struck me as a pretty funny line, but the underlying tone of the song is anything but funny. This person appears as though he's thrilled that no one notices him, but is that the case? He could potentially be faking it. Maybe the years of isolation have turned him into a person who loves not being recognized, or even acknowledged. Who could live this way though? That's why the song is so upsetting to me. In the end though, the instruments do as much for the overall dreadful, upsetting vibe as the lyrics do. Iit just seems like this person has no hold over his own life, and that might be the saddest thing of all. A haunting song that sees Radiohead at their most somber best.
99. Sade, No Ordinary Love
Sade as an entertainer has always been a resilient one, unafraid to move to a beat different from other contemporary artists, and this song specifically calls to the heartache of modern day love. It’s difficult for sure, and throughout the song you can hear her gorgeous, textured voice begging to be given the same love she consistently gives out. The beat is mid-tempo sensuous at Sade’s best, but underneath the beauty of the music lies a love that’s not given back to her in the way she deserves, and that’s what makes the song so evocatively beautiful.
98. the Avalanches, Frontier Psychiatrist, Since I Left You
One of the best bands to ever make only a single album, Austrailia’s own The Avalanches created a perfect album, but this song in particular, “Frontier Psychiatrist,” was the explosion that the band needed to get recognized. It’s thumping, and easily to dance to, even while it’s amazing and strange. That’s where the bands exemplary sampling techniques come in. The song weaves and bobs in various ways that makes it hard to form one concise feeling, but in that way it somehow makes the song even more imaginative and memorable.
97. Black Sabbath, Children of the Grave
From the second I heard this song it stayed with me. It’s easily one of the heaviest songs I’ve ever heard, and to this day you can feel the inspiration it had for many rockers growing up. Where to begin really… The drums by Bill Ward are spot on, and they ramble and thrive on in perfect anticipation of the forth coming vocals, while the vocals themselves exude a tale in which the future of the world fights valiantly to overthrow the evils in the world and allow the time in which “Love Comes Flowing Through.” “Children of the Grave,” is also an example of how Tony Iommi is god. The guitar work is effortlessly cool and moving, and as an entity, I truly believe Black Sabbath was never better than on this track. The song is landmark and well orchestrated, and rocks you to the core. There are certain songs that make you want to bounce, and “Children of the Grave” is very easily on the best examples of that element. I could listen to this thumping rocker all day and never get tired of, but I’ll let you have some too.
96. Wu Tang Clan, Triumph, Wu Tang Forever
I’m not as big of a fan as I used to be, but this is still one of the most badass songs this group of influential rappers ever created. Used as the calling card for the group's second album, this song see’s all nine of the members spitting brutally fast lyrics throughout the tracks six minutes. Everyone really brings their best here, but not surprisingly, it’s Raekwon the Chef and Ghostface Killah who steal the show. That’s not to say the others are phoning it in, far from it fact, but those two have always been the best rappers in the Clan, and in this track they elevate the song to amazing heights
95. Animal Collective, In the Flowers, Merriweather Post Pavilion
The soft, but bubbling opening to the song portends the explosion that will soon envelop us, but initially it’s peacefully calm. On “In The Flowers,” Animal Collective pull us into the world of MPP in a subtle, easy going way, only to surprise us around the two and a half minute mark with a bomb of musical color, and key strokes that make everything in the world good for this moment only. Its one of the best opening songs ever on a record, and it lays the groundwork for the band’s most glorious collection of songs to date.
94. Pearl Jam, Given to Fly, Yield
Overwhelmingly optimistic once you get through the rough parts. It’s quite a beautiful song musically, and along with Vedder’s deep, soaring voice, it really brings you to a place where everything is right in the world. The song exemplified so much of what life is really like(Darkness, murder, power, love and optimism), that II can’t help but think that life is supposed to be experiences, and not to be ruined by pleasing other people, or how much money you have in the bank. Living is what happens when you’re busy trying to figure out what’s next.
93. Slayer, Raining Blood, Reign in Blood
There’s no better Slayer song than the masterpiece that is “Raining Blood.” The song begins with darkness, thunder, and imposing evil. Then, all hell breaks loose when the guitar begins, and before long, the whole band is running for it’s musical life to a pace that would make most bands half their age call it quits. I was fortunate enough to have seen this band quite a few times, and this is always the highlight. They’ve even been known to rain blood over the stage from time to time. What i wouldn’t give to see that. The song, even when not discussing the band directly, is mentioned as one of the best heavy metal tracks of all time. For me, it’s up there with Metallica’s “One” as one of the greatest metal tracks of the eighties, and for good reason.
92. The Cure, Burn, Crow Soundtrack
Since the first listen, I’ve been devoted to this song. The movie is still great, and the song is easily one of the highlights of this often overlooked soundtrack. At their Voodoo Music Experience performance, this band performed “Burn” for the first time ever. That is a big deal in itself, but when bands play songs that are over 10 years, going on nearly twenty years old, that is a big deal. For a fan of both the film, and the song, it was the highlight of their whole set.From the opening notes of the whistle, to the deliberate drumming, this is the perfect choice for this list. It’s not a Cure song you hear mentioned often, but it really should be. Even after probably two hundred listens throughout my life, I still love it, and if you haven’t heard it and are a fan of the band, I suggest you check it out. You’re going to love this song
91. Faith No More, Ashes to Ashes, Album of the Year
Everything About this song is simply epic. The guitars are lush, on point, and exacting in their methods, while Patton’s voice is at his low pitched, and soaring best. “Smiling with the Mouth of the Ocean” unleashes a force of emotions the band rarely hits, and while the song is a reflective song full of good bye memories and missed chances, it’s Patton’s voice that is the main selling point. Don’t get me wrong, the drums, and especially guitar(That Solo man omg) are the waves pulling Patton into the force of the track. The whole song is simply incredible, and everytime I hear it I’m reminded why I love it so much.
90. Bon Iver, Holocene, Bon Iver
The gentle guitar strums over a quiet lake, early in the morn. This is one of the best qualities Justin Vernon is able to employ in his role as Bon Iver. Many songs have this similar element and feeling to it, but “Holocene,” off his brilliant second album, stands out among his best. His passionate, soft spoken voice is able to bring all the pain and honesty through with little effort, but the song just get’s better as it progresses and more instruments show up to add layers. It’s a reminder of how much the song is beautiful thing, as also how everything has a purpose and a pace to it.
89. Nine Inch Nails, Right Where It Belongs, With Teeth
On this not amazing album, this song is easily one of the big take aways. Reznor has long closed albums with slower, more ballad worthy songs, but “Right Where it Belongs” stands up against “Hurt,” among the best of the slower tracks, and should be regarded as such. This is a song about fixing what’s broken, but also of being unsure what is going right and wrong. He also uses metaphor brilliantly here when discussing “hiding in the trees.” He wants to fix the problem, but he’s unable to fully do it because he is part of the problem.
88. Pantera, Suicide Note Pt. 1, The Great Southern Trendkill
One of the most damning personal songs in the band's catalog is also one of the most honest and poetic tracks they ever created. It’s the first, and much slower section to a two part struggle, and in all of it’s moments it’s played to great effect. Anselmo’s tired voice trying to find solace, and Darrell Abbott’s distant, wandering guitar playing only help to bring the song to a painful place, but sometimes true beauty in song can only be measured in the depth of pain they’re discussing. It’s certainly through here.
87. Jane Siberry, It Can’t Rain All the Time, Crow Soundtrack
One of my favorite movies of all time, “The Crow” is made that much better by it’s unreal soundtrack. This song, still the only song I’ve ever heard by Siberry, isn’t only the backbone of the movie, but it’s the lovely reminder that love never dies. Her voice, even after all these years still has a way of bringing peace of mind to me, and that when you know a song is an important one. There’s no way to judge how many times I’ve listened to this wonderful song, but it never lost its potency and because of that, it takes a spot on this list.
86. Dr. Dre, Nuthin’ But a ‘G’ THang, the Chronic
These two men, Dr. Dre and Snoop Doggy Dogg, double handedly changed the landscape of rap music forever. This song is fucking perfect. The verses provided by Snoop, paired with the beat that makes you want to continually have your hands in the air, make it utterly memorable. There’s simply not enough good things to say about this song. Songs like this are the reason Dr. Dre gets a pass on making another album even slightly quickly. If the new music is even half as good as this, all these new rappers are gonna have to bow down.
85. The Rolling Stones, Under My Thumb
It’s funky song no doubt, and a reminder of just how great this band is. I mean seriously, they’re the fucking Stones man. They have tons of amazing songs, but for my money there are few that stand up to “Under My Thumb.” The melody in the song has this jingle quality you don’t hear often in today’s popular music choices, but maybe that’s a good thing. The Rolling Stones are on the Mount Rushmore of Rock n Roll, and it’s because of the effort they put into their music, but also the incalculable influence they had on decades worth of aspiring musicians.
84. Beyonce, Single Ladies,
I attempt to not be completely in love with Queen Bee, but when songs as amazing as this show up in the world, it’s damn hard. The bounce to the song is excellent, and she’s able to take a singular feeling of rejection and make it into a very well known power song. That’s true strength. Also, when you’re able to turn a slap in the face into a victory lap of independence and importance, it’s cool. Few artists are able to pull that off, but Beyonce is able to do it here with ease. She’s the Queen for a reason, some of which has to do with this song, but also with the easy as hell to watch music video.
83. Refused, New Noise, The Shape of Punk to Come
The placement of this song is an interesting choice for sure, but hey it happens. To put it mildly, this song, and then the full album, changed how I saw music. The blistering guitar opening, coupled with the brief electronic segway, make for an instantly recognizable song that sets the body into a state of frenetic energy that is hard to back away from. The Refused main one of the most important underground bands of the 90’s and on tracks like “New Noise,” from the untouchable “The Shape of Punk to Come,” they prove why they still remain so important.
82. Lana Del Rey, Summertime Sadness, Born to Die
The song starts with a picture that paints itself on a beach, at dusk, as our heroine is breathing uneasily as her love abandones her. The music is driven and plays an important tode to the Sadness in the song, but obviously, the star of the show is Del Rey, who wanders the coast of loneliness and tragedy in a thinly veiled representation of what it means to be cool in a careless, not interested way. Does she want to be cool, or is being miserable simply in this season? It’s hard to say, but the song is great, and overcomes these major obstacles.
81. Queens of the Stone Age, Little Sister, Lullabies to Paralyze
Such a great song, that I never knew what is was exactly about until years later. Apparently it’s about incest, and I guess that’s cool. I now imagine this song is from the point of view of Jaime Lannister towards his sister Cersei, but that’s likely not true. Either way though, the swagger, musicianship, and overall in your face playing make this song memorable, and of course, that performance on SNL with Will Ferrell and the cowbells only helps to make it even more enjoyable.
80. Arcade Fire, My Body is a Cage, Neon Bible
Win's voice comes out, and the sadness is not only palpable, but it's as if his life depends getting these emotions out. The whole theme of the album really comes into extremely clear view here too. The choral atmosphere, along with the chamber music and organ makes the song thick. The explosion following this is also a big jolt. This song is ripe for use, and to my knowledge, it's been used perfectly twice in regards to other mediums. First, the trailer for “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” but more importantly, there's a video of this song being used to compliment the film “Once Upon a Time in the West.” I've still never seen the film, but this combination of music and film is one of the coolest things I've ever seen in my life. It perfectly draws the tension out, and the symbolism in the song, not to mention the dark tone of the film. The key to the power of the song though, is Butler's unique and simply amazing voice, and in the fleeting moments of “Neon Bible,” it's those things that really make the journey of the album worthwhile.
79. R.E.M., Losing My Religion, Out of Time
One of my earliest memories of MTV was the year this amazing act won Video of the Year. It may not mean much these days, but once upon a time that station cared about showcasing newer, more eclectic music. R.E.M., without a doubt, deserved the recognition. This song boils with religious and emotional undertones throughout, but in that narrative it finds not only it's humanity but it’s wholehearted emotion. Stipe’s voice when he belts the chorus is nothing if not wanting. There’s a reason this band was an influence of Radiohead. They had the thought and musicianship to pull off a truly revolutionary song.
78. The Beatles, Eleanor Rigby,
The song is the best example of storytelling they ever did. The listener often wonders if the main character is a sympathetic person or not. I still can't decide, even after twenty years of listening. It's an incredibly sad song, but the tale is worth telling. The thought of being “being buried along with her name” resonates with everyone. I often wonder what It would be like to be the only person at a funeral, and obviously it's very dark and dreary. Having said that, it's one of my favorite songs, even if the thought of dying alone is at the core of the song.
77. At the Drive In, Invalid Litter Dept. Relationship of Command
While not a big hit at the time, from the moment I heard this song from the El Paso’s legendary At the Drive In, I knew this was a huge moment for the band. The guitar usage is textured to absurd yet perfect standards, and Omar’s vocals as they vocally scribble themes across the musical landscape capture what the band is truly best at. Let’s also not forget the epic as all fuck break down nearing the finish. It’s remarkable to say the least, and it proves a band can be at it’s best even when they shouldn’t quit.
76. Stone Temple Pilots, Interstate Love Song, Purple
For better or worse, this seminal post grunge act has largely been forgotten, but what's the worse thing about it is the fact that they made some incredible music. Between the musicianship of the DeLeo’s and Weiland's vocals, this song especially was a wonderful addition to modern 90’s rock. It’s a story best told on the Interstate, with the wind in your hair, and thoughts of mistakes long since drifted away. In the end though, that makes the song so great. It’s a band rocking to what it knows best, and not caring about what they don’t know.
75. Bon Iver, Skinny Love, For Emma, Forever Ago
The lonely guitar strumming a despondent cord, this song is one that captures pain in a naked, unmistakable way. Vernon’s voice shows signs of remorse, and of not having the patience. He’s begging a person for someone who can’t help anymore. The metaphor of “I’ll be Holding all the tickets and you’ll holding all the finds” is brilliant. He’s giving his all to the subject matter, but she’s not giving anything in return. This song is off of an album full of real world truths about the complexities of a relationship, but it’s still one of the prettiest tracks I’ve ever heard.
74. The National, Terrible Love, High Violet
The first song off of the album, and it sets the pace for the rest of the record. It’s just a bad ass song that opens with a flourish of singing by Berninger and color brought to you by the remaining band members. It’s lush, and poignant, and has a lot of emotional weight to it. I have little idea of what it’s actually about, but this is truly a song that just stays with you, and in my case, there’s no other song by this band that resonates so much in my soul. The last rambles by Berninger of “ It takes an ocean not to break” showcase a strong person who is trying very, very hard to stay afloat in a world where it’s hard to understand. But in the end, that’s why it’s so important to stay positive. You can’t let it get you down, or you’re a goner.
73. Mastodon, Blood and Thunder, Leviathan
Among the benchmarks in this bands career, “Leviathan” is certainly high up there, but his song is a huge piece to the puzzle. The entirety of the record is brilliantly heavy, but “Blood and Thunder” is the pinnacle of the record. The way Troy Sanders bellows the title, not to mention the soaring quality of the overall track really make it fit into the fury of the Moby Dick inspired world, and while you would never want to be in the world for real, you feel completely at peace with the violence of a massive whale and the ocean as you rock out to this classic track.
72. The Cure, Fascination Street. Disintegration
So many of their songs have a storytelling quality without actually telling a story, and this is the song that best exemplifies that. I imagine a smoky street, slight rain coming down. Picture Times Square in the 80’s, at the heart and center of its seediness and shadowy underbelly. On “Fascination Street,” things are always interesting, but never reach good times. The bass parts through the song are very important to the overall cautiousness of the song. You can also sense the desperation in Smith’s vocals, and it really ties the song together. What I like most about the song is its ability to keep going through wall after wall of pure sound, adding and subtracting layers as the machine sees fit.
71. Modest Mouse. Float On, Good News for People who like Bad News
This song, easily the biggest number by the band, lands here. It’s always been a masterful song, and even though it sometimes makes little sense lyrically, it’s the jolliness of the instrumentation that truly make the song a happy go lucky song worth enjoying. While the band was a decently known band before this record and song, it’s “Float On” that gave them a much deserved bigger audience. One of the best things about the success of this song is the fact that Modest Mouse got the recognition they deserved while not changing their approach to music.
70. Nirvana, Drain You, From the Muddy Banks of the Whiskah
While this song really is great on “Nevermind,” for some reason the live version has always hit me in a much more profound way. Perhaps it’s picturing the song in a live setting, or maybe it’s something about the unbridled passion the band seems to be delivering. Everything presented on the track pummels into submission, but it’s the drums by Grohl and Cobain’s screeching and howling voice that make the song so potent. Let’s also not neglect to mention the buildup and eventual onslaught that takes us over the bridge into the climactic explosion of this unbelievable track.
69. Staind, For You, Break the Cycle
Laugh all you want, but this goddamn song right here really helped me through my early twenties, and this band as a whole was instrumental in me learning a lot about myself. Out of the ashes of Nu Metal, Staind was a band that not only discussed turmoil and disillusionment, but they also tackled actual life issues outside of being angry at your parents for no reason whatsoever. Aaron Lewis’ voice is still one of the more unique in rock music, and the power of the track is unavoidable. There’s a reason this band was so big for a little bit. They fit in well to the times, and they were able to give the by then tired scene a little extra strength.
68. The White Stripes, We’re going to Be Friends, White Blood Cells
One of the coolest images from any White Stripes video is the entirety of this video. Jack softly playing guitar and regaling us with the memorable days of school as an adolescent, while Meg peacefully sleeps on the couch next to him. Beyond that though, the song is simple and beautiful in the way many of their songs tend to be, but there’s a gorgeous naivety to it that profoundly displays what it’s like in the simpler years of your life where the only thing you want to do is explore the world with your new favorite person in the world, who you just happened to meet that same day.
67. Interpol, NYC, Turn on the Bright Lights
If “Turn on the Bright Lights” is the anthem for late night wandering in a big city, then undoubtedly “NYC,” the third track on the record, is the single flickering light as you find new parts of the city you’ve never witnessed before. It’s hauntingly cold, and the echo effects that the band uses to make Banks’ voice seem distant only add to the ambience of the entire track. The line “I know you’ve supported me for a long time, but somehow I’m not impressed,” is a line that makes me think of the selfishness of people, but even more the sleeping cities that people occupy at night. There’s so much to witness and experience, and sometimes you need to do it in the dark. If you do, find yourself a bike, and witness the city you live in at two a.m. through the eyes of this masterful track.
66. TV on the Radio, Wolf Like Me, Return to Cookie Mountain
Probably one of the best uses of a song I've ever seen in a tv show was during the firehouse drama “Rescue Me” where the episode closed with Denis Leary's character sprinting down the street with this song noisily breaking barriers behind him. Beyond the usage in the show, it's an incredible song. For a band who does slower, more textured songs, this track is urgent, angry, and even more textured than the vast majority of their other works. It's a selection full of dancing motives, and the lyrics are some of the most concise to date. It's not as subtle and metaphorical as other tracks, but here it really works. The song at once seems to be very much about transforming into a beast, and in a sense it is. The beast though is probably not a werewolf though. I think the beast in question is humanity's need to feed on the less capable, and how it's shaping our world to be a ruthless ugly place. Hopefully it's not too late, we can stop ourselves from “Howling Forever.”
65. Faith No More, Midlife Crisis, Angel Dust
“Midlife Crisis” takes our heart with a track that exemplifies all of the versatility in one fail swoop. The opening drums are reminiscent of bongo’s, and Patton’s early husky whispers soon give way to the normal soaring nature of singing he provides so well. This song wasn’t a huge hit when released, but for the life of me I can’t figure it out. It’s a driving nature and the momentum it builds throughout is better than most everything that was on the radio at the time, and although the keyboard, sample section of the track might have turned some casual fans away, it’s that that made me realize not only the intelligence of the song itself but also of the band. Although I haven’t had a “Midlife Crisis” yet, I hope that it goes down as easy as this song fills me ears and my heart. Seriously, if you haven’t heard this song, stop what you’re doing and find it.
64. The Killers, All These Things That I’ve Done, Hot Fuss
Any of the well known songs off this record had a very good chance to end up on this massive list, but it’s the crooning, soaring “All These Things That I’ve Done” that ended up here. Brandon Flowers basically makes the song his from the opening, and what he’s able to do with the piano and his soft, remorseful voice speaks to the power of the band, even if people don’t really think they’re that important. Most of the record is super hip and catchy, but this is heartfelt in the best, most pure way possible.
63. Kanye West, Can’t Tell Me Nothing, Graduation
“Wait til I get my money right” is the absolute perfect opening to the song, and within seconds you find yourself bending your knees with hands in the hair swaying to the beats. This song is a clear portrayal, I think, of how West sees himself in everyday life. He completely recognizes how the public sees him, and he's aware of his transgression in the very public eye, but you get the impression that for one, he doesn't give a fuck, but also that his mind is so set on the finished product of his music, that anything else is of little importance. The female “oh oh oh” highlighted through the song is likewise a great little added moment in the song that brings out the brilliance of this man to be albe to mix and add touches here and there that most others wouldn't think of.
62. Neutral Milk Hotel, Oh Comely, In the Aeroplane Over the Sea
Has there ever been a band that commands so much respect from such a initially short career? I’m not sure, but with this record, NMH was album to transcend the modern rock of the time and make an album that is still being recognized for it’s brilliance. On the eight track of the album, “Oh Comely” winds and careens through musical slopes and chilling scenery, all highlighted by the otherworldly voice and vision of the astonishing Jeff Mangum. It’s a deliberate song with an even more persistent pace, but it's wonderful to experience, especially in a live setting with thousands of other people singing the words along with you.
61. Nico, These Days
Songs used in films are meant to highlight a scene in a way no other song could for whatever particular mood they’re trying to sell, and it’s not an easy thing. However, this track’s usage in the modern classic “The Royal Tenenbaums” remains one of the best usages of music in film that I’ve ever seen. Her voice is deep and wary, but it’s an affecting song that is able to draw you in. I picture a colder but clear winter day, where the mistakes of the previous days, maybe months come through and expose themselves, and you’re left with nothing but cold facts, and the memories of what once was.
60. Muse, Map of the Problematique, Black Holes & Revelations
While Muse hasn’t made a good record since this 2006 journey, this song is still full of epic themes. Consisting of everything from brotherhood to fighting against the problems of an isolated public controlled by various governments. The drums are signature here, and they bring out an elegantly pulsating effect that heightens everything in the song. Matt Bellamy’s voice often reaches his crooning crescendo, but it really hits as the song hits full stride around the two minute part. When he belts out “Why Can’t we see when we bleed we bleed the same,” and the tension and sense of loss is palpable. It’s one of the better songs they ever crafted, and it earns it’s spot on this list.
59. The Beatles, Golden Slumbers/ Carry That Weight/ The End, Abbey Road
I'm well aware that there are technically more than three parts to this medley, but since these are three tracks played together the one time I've seen a Beatle live I'm using these. “Golden Slumbers” is an effective soothing song, and it's only made better with the honesty that seems ever present in McCartney's voice. It's a wonderful lullaby, and it perfectly starts the multi-tiered song. The song part, “Carry That Weight” has the momentum to move a mountain, and thematically, it does so with ease. The horns are excellent, and the rehashed lyrics add a nice touch to making this a perfect track. Yet again, seeing this live and singing along with eight thousand was profound and something I will never forget. “The End” finds us and is even more kickass than the previous song, and rockets this song to levels never before realized. The constant drum pace by Starr is balls to the walls awesome, and all in all, every member overplayed their hand to exceptionally high standards. The song has few lyrics, but they count for everything. If you aren't aware of the final lyrics of this song, search them out, because it's one of the most perfect sentences ever in music.
58. The Rolling Stones, Gimme Shelter
Only a few artists appear more than once on this year, and all of those are simply warranted, whether it be from my love, or the fact that their perfect songs. “Gimme Shelter” is an iconic song, and while it’s a little bit behind the midway point of our list, it’s a classic that has galvanized people for decades. The guitars by Richards are almost transcendent, and Jagger’s voice and swagger stick to every aspect of the song. You could probably walk up to anyone born in the last twenty years and they’d at least know this song by name. It’s that good. It fits with many worlds, which is why it’s so easy to love. Seen this used in the opening of “The Departed?” It even works there, like it would, because of course it does,
57. Gorillaz, Clint Eastwood, Gorillaz
This is still probably the “band's” best known song, and there’s good reason for it. When this song, and the video that accompanied it came out, it’s type hadn’t been seen in a very long time, maybe ever. The thumping of the beat, the lyrics from Albarn and Deltron, everything just works. Let’s back to the amazing video though. The animation is spooky and top notch, with a very 80’s esque tone. For some reason it always reminded me of something Michael Jackson would have done, but alas, Damon Albarn and company did it. This album, as well as the song came out of nowhere, but it launched a giant band that for many defined the alternative and weirdness of diversity in the early aughts.
56. Bjork, Bachelorette, Homogenic
This song is so amazing in every way that’s hard to pinpoint just one area where it excels in brilliance. First, the music is fits in a post apocalyptic world that sees the skies turn to ash and the slow beat bubbling over a dark world. I’ve always only ever witnessed the song in this context musically. But the lyrics do something different. While the instrumentation is dark and mischievous, the lyrics are a struggle and full of love. All throughout the track, you see examples of her and her partner, and their need for the other. “Love is a Two Way Dream” is an absolute flawless example of the shared love among partners in crime, and with gorgeous blossoming love can come heartache and difficulty. The song is full of epic imagery, and this is without a doubt her strongest track to date. The strength behind her voice is precise and you feel as though she’s not only giving it her all for the power of the song, but also for the strength of her love for her partner. It’s a remarkable song, and one that speaks to the epic scope and feeling of being in love.
55. No Doubt, Don’t Speak, Tragic Kingdom
Quite simply, this was one of the single biggest songs of the whole decade. It was inescapable, but in the best way possible. I myself had never been opened up to ska, so this was the closest I ever got. The band though, isn’t only a ska band. They slightly went the route of Blondie, in the way that they made a few different albums with opposing feelings and vibes, but if this song hadn’t been the massively known hit it became they may not have ever gotten that chance. Stefani’s emotions are much more clear and to the point than most other artists, and it’s refreshing, even today. She’s not mincing words, and she can’t because she doesn’t have time. As a listener, I feel like if she doesn’t get her feelings out to the person she’s trying to express herself to, she’ll be unable to get through her own grief. If you know the backstory, you also know the origins of this song are completely autobiographical, and that adds a whole new spin to this incredibly personal, tragic story.
54. Metallica, Master Of Puppets, Master of Puppets
Never have I seen a better usage of a song in a film than this in “Old School.” The song is super serious, but in the film it’s perfectly used for comedy. You just don’t see it coming, which is what makes the “kidnapping” sequence so hilarious. The overall song though, is more than a little fucked up, and it’s commanding you to tread lightly, and make sure not to piss off whoever your boss in life is. You don’t want them playing with your existence. They hold the strings, and they call the shots. Beyond all of that though, the middle section of the song is a lovely, well-played slower part. It’s a sandwich made of black bread, with a little bit of sunlight in the middle, and then guess what? You’re back in prison suffering at the hands of your master, and hoping for a reprieve that you’re not ever going to get.
53. Soundgarden, My Wave, Superunknown
For some reason I had forgotten that this song was actually a Soundgarden song, and that in fact, I loved it. Again, to the point of redundancy, the guitars are epic and loud, and overall, the song is just so so solid. The lyrics are defiant and deliberate in the way that some of their other tunes simply aren't. Also, the title of the song always makes me think of a horrible video of the 90's that would see Chris Cornell surfing a wave and singing at the same time. Thank god they didn't opt for that treatment. Either way, it's a full throttle song and it's built without effort from the ground up. Really a gem.
52. Nine Inch Nails, Just Like You Imagined, the Fragile
Among some of the best tracks on this great record, “Just Like You Imagined” manages to hold it’s own with a bombastic rush of heaviness and depth that any old school fan of the band is sure to love. It opens by slowly building up the whirlwind, but then the deliberate drums kick in, and you’re off on an instrumental journey few bands are able to match. It’s a testament to how well organized and focused Reznor is, and the way it combines everything from drumming to synthesizers, and even sporadic piano make it even better. It even manages to be an instrumental song while not. One lone scream comes in at the end of the song, but it hardly ruins the song. Instead, it brings everything into perfect harmony and wraps it up in a tense, tight bow of aggression.
51. Rage Against the Machine, Revolver, Evil Empire
I’ve loved this song since the very first time I heard it, and when I heard about their reunion at Coachella 2007, this was the first song I went for. It’s so jamming and rocking it’s impossible not to get into. The vocals are quieter at first, but it serves the purpose of the backing music. It perfectly builds stress in the right spots, until it’s time for a release. The release comes in the form of the amped up chorus, with chanting taking over slowly. The song gradually also gets more intense as it goes from verse to chorus, and back again. The image of fields without fences has to be one of the most beautiful and tranquil things ever in a song by this band, but before you know it, that tranquility is gone again and replaced by immediate urgency and anger.
50. Michael Jackson, Thriller, Thriller
While this song is without a doubt his best known song, the video also changed everything. Before “Thriller” hit our ears and our eyes no one knew things like this could exist, especially in video form. That's why he captured everyone’s attention so well. One could argue that the Beatles are the most important band of all time but what Jackson did almost single-handedly is staggering. Apparently as a young boy I wore out multiple tapes and records because I couldn't get enough of the whole album but this song is especially important. The song, full of haunting beats and an incredible melody, is a classic in every way it can be. All the Music world owes him a debt of gratitude, and it's very likely that we're never going to be in a world where don’t know about this perfect song. .
49. R.E.M., Orange Crush
If you think about bands that had consistently brilliant outputs for most of their careers, you’d be hard pressed to not mention R.E.M. By 1988, the band was already on their sixth album, and with the introduction of “Green,” came the first single “Orange Crush.” It’s track that stubborn in its beat, and all around the song works in a thumping, determined sort of way. Stipe’s voice is also solid here, and represents the enduring nature of the song.They continued making thought provoking,politically and socially conscious music for years and years after this, but this song stands among the best in the catalog.
48. Live, Lightning Crashes, Throwing Copper
Few songs have been as popular in the halls of 90’s rock radio as this song off their phenomenal debut album. The opening of the guitar mildly strumming about, in juxtaposition of Ed Kowalczyk’s soft crooning make the solid memorable from the initial moments, and the way the other elements of the band slowly come into focus show a depth and understanding of pacing that much of their brethren during that period simply didn’t understand. It’s almost impossible to not get swept up in the song when it builds in the way it does, and it makes belting the vocals near the conclusion even more cathartic and enjoyable.
47. Queens of the Stone Age, Fairweather Friends, ... Like Clockwork
This might be the newest song on this entire list, and if you’d heard this song, you hopefully understand why it’s on this list. When Joshua Homme, Dave Grohl, Trent Reznor, and Elton John are all on a song, it tends to be memorable. Simply put, they all gave their best on this song, and it quickly became not only one of their most incendiary, perfect songs, it became my favorite track on the entire record, which is saying a lot since the whole album is memorable. Homme’s vocals scorch, John’s piano playing comes at you like a bar out of hell, and the remaining members help to secure the song in as brilliant of away as possible.
46. Jay-Z, 99 Problems, the Black Album
Lately I’ve been thinking i’m pretty over the whole Jay Z thing, but this song is still a classic track and one of the best rap songs of the last twenty years without a doubt. The beat is absolutely insane and pummeling in a way that many songs can’t stand up to. Carter’s lyrics are also hilariously rebellious, but the also convey the very real truth of black men, guilty or not being mistreated by various law enforcement types. Also, the “Wouldn’t bust a grape in a fruit fight” is one of the best lines in any song ever. He may not be making music this good anymore, but “99 Problems” stands as his crowning achievement.
45. Mr. Bungle, Retrovertigo, California
This song is a triumph in many ways, but in the most obvious way, it’s a triumph of the elegant strength that is Mike Patton’s powerful voice. The song opens with a textured, simple arrangement that enable Patton’s voice to squeak out like sunshine coming through the clouds. Mr. Bungle might not be well known for lovely, powerful tracks, but on “Retrovertigo,” they really shine. All of the instrumentation here is well thought out and produced accordingly. I don’t mention this as much as I should maybe, but production quality really goes a long way in the constructive process of a song, and here Trevor Dunn(who’s also responsible for the lyrics), really knocks it out of the park.
44. Queen, We Are the Champions
Is there a more perfect band to sing along to? I can’t think of another one off the top on my head that can bring everyone together so easily, but there’s a reason why people love this band. May’s guitar shines, but the true star of the band was never anyone but Freddie Mercury. His bravado, confidence, and unbridled passion for the music and words he’s belting out make him one of the most beloved musicians of all time. I mean, think for a second how many people have raised their fists in the skies during sporting events and belted this song out after their team wins? Hundreds of thousands, maybe millions. Queen’s “We are the Champions” above all else remains the song for ultimate victory, and I doubt another song will ever be able to top it.
43. Arcade Fire, Wake Up, Funeral
One of most anthemic, triumphant songs I’ve ever heard finds us just after the midway point of the list. Everything soars here, quite simply. The guitar riff at the outset sets the pace, then the drums add a little bit of force to it, but then the real magic happens when the iconic chant occurs nearing the thirty second mark. The songs on the album speak to the truths of life, and that all things must come to an end, but I think “Wake Up” stands up as a reminder that sometimes life is dismal, but it’s the unfortunate events that truly make us a better people. It’s also a sobering look at the world we live in, and how important it is to stay positive as “our hearts get torn up.”
42. Radiohead, Weird Fishes/Arpeggi, In Rainbows
The drum sets the groove, sexy tone right away, but this song isn't sexy at all. Perhaps the feel and vibe of the song are, but the lyrics are pretty fucking sad and thought provoking. Thom Yorke is one of those singers who can make you feel anything he wants when he wants. The background vocals as the music picks up get to me everytime. These dudes know how to perfectly mix a song. "Everybody leaves if they get the chance," is a punch to the stomach that struggles with the realization that life isn't always going to be good, but somehow you have to keep going, keep trying to figure out the puzzle.
41. Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Y Control, Fever to Tell
This song always makes me think of a early sunshine fire in the sky, and with the brilliance of Nick’s guitar, it’s easy to witness the start to a day that might see the world engulfed in flames. That’s not to say this is an overly aggressive track, but the imagery of dawn and the pinks and purples that come to our sky has always gone hand in hand with me when thinking about the number one. The lyrics are determined and on a clear path of knowledge, but the song is only so great because of the ability of all three parts of the band to marry themselves perfectly to the others.
40. Pink Floyd, the Trial, The Wall
This one might surprise some people, but it’s always been one of my favorite of all time, standing among the band's best. What the operatic, judgmental nature the song's instrumentation is geared to isn’t completely in line with the other narrative styles prevalent on “The Wall,” but it plays to the center character, and his frail mind trying to break free, all the while being told he shouldn’t have normal human emotions. The juxtaposition of the classical vibe of “The Trial,” mixed with the over the top rock and roll moments of the record do a great job of keeping things fresh and unique, even as we stumble towards the inevitable conclusion of “The Wall” being dismantled and taken around.
39. Daft Punk, One More Time, Discovery
It’s been sampled repeatedly by lesser dj’s, and used in a variety of ways. All of these ways only help to cement DP’s legacy not only as an important band in any genre, but as purveyors of the perfect electronic beat. Even if you don’t know who Daft Punk is, you’ve heard this song. The vocals bring a level of positivity to the table in ways you can’t measure, and overall the song is a celebration of the process of life, and taking every day as it comes, and making the most of all of it, good or bad. The jingles throughout, coupled with the soft tones and energetic horns make the song one of the best dance tracks ever, and it will still be being played for years after we’re all dead and gone. We’re gonna celebrate!
38. Gorillaz, Fire Coming Out of the Monkey’s Head, Demon Days
Certain songs aren’t even really songs, but rather lavish tales that perfectly tell a short, but detailed and polished story. Add in the narrative from the cantankerous Dennis hopper, and you have an incredible song that almost no one mentions. The plot, revolving around the “mountain called monkey,” “Happy folk,” and shadowy figures. Told in the way of a parable about the excess and debt that comes with that excess have always fascinated my mind, but it’s not just the story about the onslaught of the Monkey that fills my mind with wonder. The chill, jamaican vibe that infuses the song together is wondrous, and in that complete package, it’s able to excel.
37. Johnny Cash, Hurt, American IV: The Man Comes Around
Even Trent Reznor admitted that after hearing this song Cash had stolen the song from him, and if you hear it you can understand why. J.R.’s version is so sad, and beautiful you almost forget the nin version. Thats alright in the context too. Cash makes it his own by using a guitar and turning it into a more country version of the song, and his voice is unparalleled in the honesty and sadness it expels. To make even more of the case, the video, featuring an elderly Cash recounting his successes and failures, make the song even more of a reminder of how fucking incredible an artist Johnny Cash was, and how we all owe an enormous debt of gratitude to this man for sticking to his guns and never forcing himself to do things artistically that may have not sat well with him. Rest in peace, Man in Black. Thanks for all the amazing songs.
36. Mazzy Star, Fade Into You, So Tonight That I May Sleep
Sadly, this band, which consists of Hope Sandoval, David Roback, and Kendra Smith never got the recognition they deserved, but this song is a classic among 90’s alternative rock, and for good reason. The slow burning nature of the song, which was featured in the pinnacle scene of the teen comedy “Angus,” haunts every inch of the space it finds itself confined to, and the guitar parts paint a picture of a barren western landscape where the days are slow, and things are more pure. Mazzy Star holds an intriguing spot where most people wouldn’t know the name offhand, but they likely heard this lovely song at some point, especially if they came up listening to alternative music.
35. Elton John, Tiny Dancer
Another classic kicks off today’s list. Elton John is up there with the all time greats, and for very clear reason, this song has become not only a big part of my life, but for millions of others. The song opens with his signature piano playing, while the emotion of his voice is gorgeous and innocent. The instrumental parts of the song calmly provide the background we need, but the real shine in the song is the gradual elevation of emotions that john uses. Everybody remembers the scene from “Almost Famous,” in which the disjointed band and their allies are joined once again through the power of belting the song. People love that scene because people have done exactly that, and it’s a perfect moment captured.
34. Beastie Boys, Intergalactic, Hello Nasty
For years, I never knew the opening of the song was just a robot saying “Intergalactic, Another dimension,” but when I realized I felt like an idiot. The song itself is just a masterpiece, and after being gone for so long, it was a huge relief that they came back and showed everyone that they were still in fact, awesome. That’s why it takes the number thirty-four spot on our list. I heard this song in high school, and while I had enjoyed them before, this song is the one I attribute to me discovering all forms of hip hop and rap music. It’s has so much power in it, between the mega beats and the killer vocals, this song really does have everything, and without being turned on to this, it’s difficult to say if I would have ever given rap a chance.
33. Portishead, Roads, Dummy
It's a really sad song, but it's pain is also it's beauty. The whole feel of the song is dreary, but sometimes those are the songs that can bring the most beauty. Pain, and sadness are a part of this world, and understanding that makes the happy moments worth fighting for. To this day the plot, and utter hopelessness of the song, and the pain behind Beth's voice still bring tears to my eyes. Without sadness, and loss, nothing would be special. I'm reminded of listening to this with my grandmother, Audrey. She quite liked this song one time she heard it played in my car, and that always has stayed with me. She left this world, but at least the memory will never escape. That's the ultimate message I get from this song. Memories last forever.
32. Daft Punk, Digital Love, Discovery
Even if I don’t find my soul mate, I’d more than likely still love this song, The feeling of warmth and love flutter all over the song, and the lovely and cute lyrics only make it better. The band hardly has any songs that are this straightforward and wordy, but that’s what sets the song apart from the others. While other songs have minimal lyrics, “Digital Love” has plenty, and it only helps the song reach deeper. This song will be part of my life forever, even if certain memories tied to it have lost their potency. The explosion of sound at the climax brings the track to a height it hadn’t reached, and propels it to the gorgeous ending it deserves. “Digital Love” remains the band's best track, and for anyone who is in love with someone, an example of why “Music Sounds better with You.”
31. Neutral Milk Hotel, Holland 1945, In the Aeroplane Over the Sea
Probably not the most surprising on the list, but it’s one of the best songs I’ve ever heard in my life. What this band from a small town in Louisiana managed to do is the story of an indie Cinderella themed epic. The music is more upbeat, but the pain behind the lyrics is clear. It’s World War 2, people are scared, and the song, and the whole album, is a love song not only to Anne Frank, but to times when the lives of people were less complicated. It’s quick, to the point, and it’s one of the reasons this band is still talked about today. One of the best indie rock bands of all time. If you don’t know them you should. You really should.
30. Sigur Ros, Saeglopur, Takk…
I pick this song because for the months leading up to the Bonnaroo 2008 trip, my then lady and I couldn't go a day without this song playing in our house. The song is a perfect build up of everything at which the band excels. The vocals are ethereal and strong, and the pounding of the drums bring the tightly knit arrangements into perfect symmetry. It also happens to be a jam on all levels of epic. Many of the songs on Takk are like this, but the way “Saeglopur” evolves and marinates in sound is the highlight of not only the record itself, but also the band overall. It also works because it gets so dense, but suddenly, the band is able to drop it back down and refocus it in a way that only Sigur Ros is capable of.
29. Deftones, Passenger, White Pony
I'm surprised how many people don't pick up on the connection between this song and Be Quiet and Drive. To me it seems obvious. I can't help but think it's a companion piece. Maybe this song is from the point of view of the other person in the car, or the Passenger as you will. I'm sure it's not meant to be a storyline, but two songs on back to back albums about the explorations of driving? Seems a little bit too obvious to ignore. The imagery in use here is amazing. They perfectly capture what's happening in the song. From beginning to end, it's just an incredible ride. I wish the Deftones were more of the band to try frequent collaborations, but this set the bar pretty damn high.
28. Rage Against the Machine, Wake Up, Rage Against the Machine
Not only the perfect rage song, but also the perfect song for someone who’s frustrated in their life. It’s just so fucking good. It just makes me wanna bounce and rock out every time I hear it. It has everything you could want in a song by this band. It has strength, it has power and it’s an example of going after what you believe is right. It’s also a lesson to everyone living in their own world that what we need is unity. Rocha is literally begging us to explain to him what he has to do to wake us up from our self-imposed ignorance when it comes to dealing with the world. Also it’s refreshing to see that there was once upon a time where big corporate record labels saw the value in bringing bands to the main stream that weren’t just there taking up space, but also in taking on projects that were as thought-provoking and meaningful as the message brought forward by this group of like-minded individuals who were sick of sitting idly by. Just ask yourself: “How long? Not long, because what you reap is what you sow.”
27. Soundgarden, the Day I Tried to Live, Superunknown
Literally since the day I heard this song, it became one of my favorite all time songs. This is Soundgarden at their ultimate best. We haven't really mentioned bassist Ben Shepherd yet, but the bass work this time goes so well with the overall song it deserves to be acknowledged. Also, I'm not in tune with musical instruments, but it's always great when you can hear one full sound instead of hearing only certain elements. That's what makes a great band. Especially here when they meld and create something so tightly woven that even if one part was missing, the whole song wouldn't be nearly as good. All of it works, which is why it's my all time favorite Soundgarden song.
26. the Flaming Lips, Do You Realize??, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots
The song has now become a huge hit, but truthfully, it’s a damn good song. It’s one that is able to capture the warmth that love brings about, but also the honesty that everyone’s time on Earth will eventually end. The track has a slight science fiction vibe to it(similar to other tracks on the record), but it also feels extremely human. The way the bells and effects come bursting through the song really make it seem like a new and wondrous world has landed at your feet, and Coyne’s voice is scratchy and beautiful in a way only his is capable of. This song changed the trajectory of the band upon it’s release, and it’s well deserved. One of the most honest, and beautiful songs of our time, it’s a song that is loved far and wide.
25. Pearl Jam, Black, Ten
One of their darkest songs, but as you can see from the placement on this list, it’s one of my favorites. This song is emotional in so many ways. The song has so much sadness and desperation in it, but it still brings out pure raw emotions that ultimately make it a priceless song. Quite simply it has so much symbolism you’d think the creator of El Topo and Holy Mountain wrote this shit, but alas he didn’t. All joking aside, this song is one of the best I’ve ever heard in my entire life, and still to this day it’s emotional. Hearing it for the first time last month was easily one of the best single concert experiences of my entire life. If you haven’t yet heard this song, please track it down. It’s the emotional core of not only that album, but the core of the band.
24. U2, With or Without You, the Joshua Tree
The tortuously slow buildup of this track is still one of the best things I’ve ever heard. This band may not be what they used to, but dammit if this song isn’t perfect I don’t know what is. The raw emotion, feelings of helplessness, and all the good and bad that come with any relationship are beautifully portrayed here. By the time you reach the explosion of emotion at the end, you’ve completely forgot about the buildup, and then you will know the song has overtaken your soul. Like I mentioned before, this band isn’t what it was when they made this brilliant record, but when you hear Bono’s voice swoon desperately for an uncertain conclusion, your heart is there with him, and you wish for the best.
23. Foo Fighters, Everlong, The Colour and the Shape
There are few times in music where the awesome quality of the song is matched perfectly by the greatness of the music video, but “Everlong” is one of the rare moments. The video is full of majesty, and while it's a bit silly, to me it's one of the most original videos of the last twenty years. Getting to the song though, it's completely amazing in almost every way possible. The brooding but quickly guitar opening, giving way to the initially subdued lyrics, paints a perfect picture of a happy, loving relationship. As a person who has shared incredible moments with the people I love, I can't help but smile when I think of that. The chorus is also very easy to sing along to, which I think makes it even easier to allow yourself to be taken captive by it. This remains a song that I'll always crank up and scream the lyrics to, simply because it's a fucking amazing track, and when a song this unreal and magical appears, it doesn't do it justice to just quietly hum and sing along to it. A powerful song needs to be met with a powerful reaction, and every time I've seen it performed live, it's been met with the kind of love that only comes from a song being truly great.
22. Smashing Pumpkins, Today, Siamese Dream
They may have started to wane as the 90’s drew to a close, but there was once a time when the original Pumpkins were simply incredible. Especially on “Siamese Dream.” Even more especially on this track, “Today.” From the very first time I heard the opening guitar notes, and the overall nostalgic lyrics, it was like I was transported to a different world. It was easily my favorite song period for years and years, and even if I hear it today, I still take the time to enjoy. All of the band really delivers a potent, classic alternative track. Corgan, Chamberlin, Iha, and Wretzky all bring something simple and pure to the song, and in the end, that’s why maybe the band worked so well, until Corgan officially took over and axed everyone.
21. the Beatles, Yesterday, Help!
To this day a song that brings tears to my eyes. It's an uncompromising view of the world, and ultimately that's what makes it more personal and honest. People often feel overwhelmed, neglected, and not good enough. It's the human condition. The guitars add a level of thoughtfulness to the track and in the end it makes more of an impact than if the song had been performed by a full band. Yet again, the slight orchestral part makes a world of difference. You feel the pain of the main character, and you want to help him. But you can't. People make mistakes, and they must figure it out for themselves. The conclusion though, to me at least, is that mistakes are made, and before you can move on and pick up the pieces you have to come to terms with the consequences and resolve to either fix it or move on.
20. Radiohead, Fake Plastic Trees, the Bends
Always a favorite of mine. Its tenderness and compassion always had a lasting effect on me. Everything for me changed though when I saw them at Lollapalooza. The end of the set was nearing, and the song started. Behind them however, very light, soft fireworks built up (We found out later the fireworks were from a Cubs game ). As the song progressed, the explosions got more intense and by the time the big ending hit, we were singing, and marveling at the unprepared perfection of the situation. There's not a lot in the world that beats crying in a field, singing a song you've loved for years and being surrounded by 100,00 people who feel the same.
19. Pink Floyd, Wish You Were Here, Wish You Were Here
Now we’re getting into some serious heavy hitters. At Number 19, Pink Floyd’s dedicated track to the one and only Syd Barrett. The story I’ve heard is that Barrett showed up at the studio, hardly recognizable, and his manic, drug induced state so devastated the band, and especially Roger Waters, that this song was written as a kind of living eulogy for the once brilliant man. Listening to the song(and the whole record for that matter), you can feel the sense of lost and hurt the band felt during this period. The guitar is gentle and quiet, and the vocals provide the needed hurt to bring out the pure soul of the song. It’s one of the most well known and beautiful songs of our time, and it absolutely deserves to be,
18. the Beatles, Let It Be, Let It Be
My grandmother hated rock music. Hated it. But for some reason anytime I played this for her, she loved it, and would happily sit in the car as it played. That's one of the most prevalent memories I have regarding this song. Like I said at the start of this countdown, everyone has their own favorites from this band, but for my soul, there is no better track ever recorded by this band than “Let It Be.” it's a song about remembrance, understanding,and accepting the things you can't change. The Bonnaroo McCartney show was life changing enough, but hearing thousands of people sing this song, and with the memory of my grandmother fresh in my head, it really did constitute an out of body experience. It's the most perfect song among many perfect songs, and on this day, and most days, it's the best Beatles song I ever had the pleasure to experience.
17. Metallica, One,...And Justice For All
For me, this is the one that started it all. I owe my love for this band initially almost exclusively to the moment I discovered this song. The story of a veteran who is left in terrible shape, is a shocking, but sad reminder of the ravages of war, and how many people come home in worse shape than they left. I’m not sure if any of the members in this band were ever in the armed forces, but the song perfectly describes what I imagine the suffering of war to be like after the ashes have settled. The verses are shocking, and extremely dark. Our narrator is in almost literal hell. He can’t see, can’t walk, has less limbs than he left for war with, and all he wants is to be left to die. He’s a shell of himself, and the music brings everything into the sad, but often true light. The breakdown at the end is as technical as it is brutal, and for a band who have made a career out of morbid tales, this is the epicenter and capital of bone crushing force and sadness. It’s the best metal song of the decade, it’s most likely in the top 3 best metal songs of all time, and as we near the end of the countdown, it arrives at number
16. Weezer, Only In Dreams, the Blue Album
A truly epic song that brings the conclusion of the album to a dramatic climax. I’ve never paid much attention to the lyrics, besides the fact that it seems to be another song about things of love and a whimsical nature. For me the song remains a mythical type of creation. It somehow feels different than any other song they’ve written as a band, and that’s probably why I like it so much. I imagine a couple under beautiful trees at night, being enveloped by tiny lights overheard, slowly holding each other, as if to say “ Let’s not allow this night to end.” Meanwhile, the bass line keeping the pace perfectly, while the drums and guitar slowly maneuver to something explosive and thick at the end of the song. When you hear Rivers Cuomo screaming “Only in dreams,” you realize this song is almost too perfect to exist, and it’s not meant to be heard too often, because it wouldn’t be good, because then it would be normal and not special.
15. Etta James, At Last
What is it about this song that so brings people together? Maybe it’s James’ sultry, inviting voice, or maybe it’s the classically trained orchestra in the background. In the end, it’s neither in particular. It’s both. The voice and instrumentation both help to catapult each other to a perfect elevation. This song, like many on this near its ending list has major sentimental value. Apart from being played on our wedding day, guests were given a cd of our favorite songs, and wouldn’t you know it, this made the cut. It’s the ultimate love song, and it truly encapsulates the spirit of finding someone, and knowing that they are yours, and you are theirs, “At Last”
14. Radiohead, Pyramid Song, Amnesiac
Never have i been so captivated by a music video before, or since. It's calming, majestic and haunting. Everything the song ultimately is. It’s a rare thing for something in space and time to sync up so vividly and ambiently wonderful, but this song does so with ease. I mean, when you watch this clip, and you see the lone diver visiting subterranean worlds enveloped by liquid, you can’t take your eyes off it. But, let’s also mention this otherworldly track. When the album first came out, this song instantly struck a chord with me. For years upbeat was the name of the game for me, but this song did, and still does fill me with joy, and a sense of knowledge that human beings are capable of amazing things. The textural components work well with Selway’s casually precise drumming, and Yorke’s wandering, unsure voice provide even more depth to this new world. It’s eye catching, in every sort of way, and that’s why I love it.
The highest ranking hip hop song shouldn’t really be a surprise. This song from the ATLiens isn’t only their best, but it might be the song of the 2000’s. Released in that distant, long ago year(2000), the song has a twinkle at the start, but before long it’s bass heavy and fantastic. There isn't a better song to throw down to, and it leaves you breathless from dancing. That’s the trick to it. You can’t breathe, and your body is giving up, but the power of music and fun is compelling you to keep going. It’s almost as if Father Merrin is telling you “The Power of Rap compells you.” You have to give major props to Andre and Big Boi. With “Stankonia” they had arrived in the mainstream rap game, and among the heavy hitters of the time, they rise to be better than them. Sure many people consider the likes of Eminem and Jay Z to be better, and while they aren’t as well known as those two, is there any band or artist in their genre except Kanye who's done more for the furtherment of thought provoking rap music? Certainly Em and Jay aren’t. Outkast’s “B.O.B.” is the rap song above all others, trust.
12. Enya, Only Time
This one is probably the most surprising on the list, but if you know me, and my sister, you know how much this track means to us. For some reason, it’s always really spoken to us, and she’s the one person I think of first when I hear this track. Enya gets far too much shit if you ask me, but she’s made transcendent, atmospherically rich music for so long that it’s kinda become her trademark. She has tons of great songs, but “Only Time” is easily her best and most recognizable. It’s a gift to the world when you can close your eyes, smile, and feel a sense of accomplishment, and reflect on all the good you’ve done in your life. For me, this song gives me that.
11. Tool, Third Eye, Aenima
“Think for yourself, question authority,” might be the motto of the band. While this song hasn't been played a lot at the shows I've attended, I've heard that phrase quite a few times. The opening, provided by Tim Leary, basically sets the stage for the most epic, mind melting song in their catalog. This song has more loops and turns than an episode of “LOST.” It also happens to have a persistence that doesn’t quit for the entire fourteen minutes of the song. Seeing this song live, and especially as the show opener is just insane. Most bands don't have the nerve to open a two hour show with the longest song they plan to play that night, but Tool do it without missing a beat. Adam Jones' guitars, to me at least, have always reminded me a little bit of something you'd hear in an Egyptian science fiction movie. Speaking on the topic of mixing, and making sure that every part is central is something no one except maybe Radiohead does better than Tool. They understand the lyrics are the not the overwhelming plot point of the song. Everything you hear is meant to induce emotions. Sure the lyric helps, but all parts are equally valuable. With more than five minutes left, the song takes yet another turn. It goes from ominous foreshadowing to the welcoming of a love thought lost perhaps. Then another turn down a spiraling rabbit hole. Imploring us to open our eyes may or may not have something to do with the opening dialogue on the track. Humans aren't meant to be conditioned by rules. We are too great of a people. Life without boundaries is the most ultimate gift anyone can achieve, yet at times it's those very rules of society that help us to stay safe. Then another, even uglier turn, this time with the intense drums of Carey while Keenan proclaims “ Prying open my third eye,” as the song comes to a final, full circle resting place.
10. U2, One, Achtung Baby
This song creeps in much in the way another classic U2 song “With or Without you” does. It’s the story of two hearts becoming one and slowly killing all the joy surrounding them. Bono has such a gift for concealing pain in his voice, until he can’t hold it in anymore, and on “One” he does it brilliantly. I’m rarely moved by a song by this band, but maybe if they made songs this good more often I’d be more moved. The line “You ask me to enter and then you make me crawl” is one of the most brutal, honest portrayals of love you’re likely to find in any genre. This song not only reminds us what they’re capable of, but gives them a pass on the band they’ve since become.
9. Radiohead, Idioteque. Kid A
This song, but the whole album especially was the first time I think most people realized that not only could Electronic music make it in the mainstream, but it could also be intelligent and thought provoking. Sure, people have always loved Electronic music, but obviously Aphex Twin and the Chemical Brothers weren't selling out stadiums left and right, at least not in the States. This song also proved that as a band, Radiohead could do anything and pull it off. If OK Computer is the best album of the 1990's, then surely this album, which is better, and probably the best they've done, is the best album of the 2000's.
8. Sigur Ros, Hoppipolla, Takk…
This song, right here, is my fucking jam. There's not a better song in the world to put everything in perspective. Just listening to it brings back memories. Some are good, others are unavoidable. This was the song I listened to immediately upon hearing about the passing of my Grandmother, and it was essential in allowing myself to grieve and and understand that this part of life was necessary. Some moments are amazing though. While seeing them at Bonnaroo, this song was easily the most inspirational of the whole set. There was a point during the song that I became aware of the effect the music was having on me, and how I was thrilled to be not only alive, but experiencing this with my then partner. I also remember realizing that my mouth was completely open from the sheer force of the show, and I instantly felt better when I looked around and other people had the same awestruck reaction as I did.
7. Weezer, Say It Ain’t So, the Blue Album
Probably among their most well known songs, and it’s for a damn good reason. The majority of the album is fun and down to earth, but this song is a verbal “heartbreaker” in every way. We wouldn’t fully see the pain and depth presented on this song until the next album, but the sadness is real. I never found out if the basis of the song has an actual backstory, but I think it works so well because everyone has felt pushed aside, forgotten and used in their lives. It’s never a good feeling, but hearing a song you can relate to is often a powerful song. The song is both anthematic and depressing, and that’s no easy feat. The guitar work at the end of the song ties in perfectly, and the very last lines of the song remind us of sorrow we’ve all felt.
6. Nine Inch Nails, We’re In This Together, the Fragile
This album suffered from what I call the Pinkerton effect. It's a brilliant album, but for the more casual fans wanting a Downward Spiral 2, it simply wasn't enough. Having said that, the Fragile builds on the sounds and technologies of TDS and goes further. For one, this song is one the first times we hear anything even remotely positive and reassuring. It's not a mellow song, but it accomplishes its tasks. I've probably heard this song two thousand or so times, and it still makes me smile and giddy like a child. It overshadows all of the other songs on the album, yet still it's one of the least played songs in the NIN live catalogue. Years ago I remember an interview where TR said it was the best song he ever wrote, and he knew he couldn't do it justice in concert, so he let it be. Maybe one of these days I can stop spending endless amounts of money seeing them live. But first, I must have my WITT live.
5. Talking Heads, Once in a Lifetime
The Talking Heads managed to fill a gap that no one knew how to fill. By far the best “Alternative” band of the 80’s, this quirky group of oddballs found a way to bring the world together with their strange sounds, and exposed people all over to different sounds, and in doing so, helped to influence countless bands to go in uncharted territory and experiment and make new sounds not yet heard. The song doesn’t even sound like it belongs among the best of any particular area, and in that skills lies the brilliance of what the band was. Byrne and company were able to construct an overall sound that fits everywhere, and nowhere. Maybe that’s why people are still obsessively in love with the Talking Heads. This track truly is a “Once in a Lifetime” song, and everyone deserves to hear it.
4. LCD Soundsystem, My Friends, Sound of Silver
What is it about this song? Really, I want to know. James Murphy is likely one of the most innovative musicians of the aughts, and with the birth of this song, he solidified his mark on Indie music. Whatever that means today. The song is without a question the song of the decade, and if you listen close it’s hard not to agree. The elevating keyboard notes, over the brilliantly weaving percussional elements reel in the nature of the track. Even better though is the walkthrough of a glimpse of a night that’s provided with Murphy’s engaging look into the rearview mirror of life. The song is just so insanely classic and perfect that it’s hard to not sit down and realize how special it is. Everything he says is something we as a people can relate to. For my money, some of the best, most life affirming advice I’ve ever gotten from a song is “I Wouldn’t trade one stupid decision, for another five years of life.” It works well because it’s true. A stupid choice doesn’t have to be a bad one. I think that’s what he means here. You can have your cake and eat it to. Life is meant to be experienced, and it’s meant to be exhilarating. That’s my thankful take away from this mind blowing track.
3. Tool, Lateralus, Lateralus
This is easily the best Tool song ever made, and a perfect representation of the album. It has every awesome aspect of the album in one perfect, thought out space of time. The lyrics describe the opening of a world to a baby, or perhaps, a rebirth of an older soul. This is where the “Saturn Return” comes into play. MJK has mentioned in interviews about learning from your mistakes and evolving. The song can also have dual meanings, much like people can have different personalities in different environments. It's described as the opening of a LSD trip, where bright colors slowly make themselves known. Now, everyone who is a Tool fan should be aware of how important Justin Chancellor is, but this is the song where he easily shines the most. Now, one of the most interesting things about this song is the time signatures. I'm no musician, but I think most hardcore music fans can recognize the brilliance. The weirdest thing about this song however, is how the signatures, and the lyrics were both thought of separately and without mutual knowledge from the two key participants. In an interview Keenan goes on to explain while he was writing the theme of spiral's turning in on themselves stuck out and brought a clear focus not only to the song, but the band's feelings at the time. Here's where it gets really intriguing though. The original name of the song was 9-8-7, for the weird time signatures, but then the band realized that 987 was the 16th number in the Fibonacci sequence, which also shares interests with the “ Golden Spiral.” I hope that doesn't confuse you. In other words, there are lyrical and musical reasons why this is the most important, and strongest Tool Song. The positivity of the song is worth noting. It's imploring us to live every day to the fullest, and maybe, to always try to expand your knowledge, one way or another.
2. Queen & David Bowie, Under Pressure
So yeah. I have no idea what to say about this, except that it has two of the biggest powerhouses in music at the time working together on a song. It’s just plain awesome. The beat is great, the lyrics are superb, and the buildup to the absolute insane last half is unquestionably brilliant. Queen was always great, and will live in our memory forever, and Bowie will never die, thus this song is a time capsule for how awesome it once was, and will never be again. Getting back to the song though. it’s impossible to resist. The bravado of the opening, as well as the force of nature that is Freddie Mercury makes the song a triumphant of life, and easily one of the most recognizable songs ever recorded. What they manage to do is “Give Love” to everyone who shares in this song. It’s a favorite of nearly everyone I know, and why shouldn’t it be? The song is fucking amazing. “This is ourselves.”
1.Queen, Bohemian Rhapsody
And finally, we came to one. This song is majestic in ways no other song is. Let’s start at the beginning. The vocals at the entrance, melancholy and joined, layered in ways that songs weren’t even done in at the time. But then, on top of everything else, Mercury belting out the story of a person near the end of his rope, and his desperate plea for his mother to “Carry On” and not get swept up in his abysmal choices. This early section keeps building momentum, both in spirit and musicianship, but by the three minute mark, shit goes crazy. The harmonizing elements come in, and then the classic scene from “Wayne’s World” is in full effect. That movie while amazing on it’s own, certainly had an impact on the newer generations, most of which had likely never heard that song. Next up though, let’s talk about many times you’ve joined in sing alongs during this track. I know I have, and I’m willing to beat most people who have shared this song with others have too. Which brings me to the last thing I’ll say as part of the “My Top 100 songs of All Time.” During the night of my wedding, as people with sparklers made a path way for my wife and I, this song began playing, and surrounded by all the people we love, we shared in this amazing sing along, to maybe the best song I’ve ever heard in my life. It’s because of song’s like this, and moments like that, that everytime I hear this song, I smile.
Thank you for reading, I’ll see you soon.
Landon Murray is a published writer and an avid lover of music, books and films. He's also a lover of the New Orleans Saints. He was born in 1982 and has a chainsaw tattoo on his arm.
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