I’ve had this space for five years now, and i thought it would be a great time to take on another very big project. So here it is! The Top 100 songs since 2000. This will run in sections of ten, much like “My Top 100 songs of all Time” did a few years ago. Every new submission will provide ten new selections until we get to the number one choice.
This list has been made with an acute eye towards not just songs that have latched onto my conscious mind, but also huge hits from bands I normally don’t write about, and some more obscure songs that are still incredible and worth listening to. Over the course of these next ten entries, you’ll find 100 songs shared between 74 different bands and artists. There will be plenty of collaborations around artists, and some very noteworthy tracks to appease most music fans.. This was one of the most difficult lists I’ve ever done, just based on scope, but while I’m sure there will be plenty of disagreements among people reading this, nearly all of these songs have solid meaning and a true shine in how great they are. I hope everyone enjoys. Please share, comment, anything meaningful. I’ll be posting the links on the facebook page so feel free to check in to see when the next ten will be published. Enjoy!
DANCING ON MY OWN, BODY TALK
This isn’t a name you hear too often these days, but there was a time when Robyn was steadily gaining notoriety in the electronic dance world. This song is one of the main reasons for it. The rhythm pulls you in, and it’s the perfect late night addition to a full on dance party, preferably at a dark, dingy club with bodies pushing up against each other. It’s not your typical dance song about no cares, and the pain in her voice is obvious, but it’s a masterfully produced song, and for the reason, it opens our countdown.
99. CHILDISH GAMBINO
Obviously there was a thought regarding “This Is America” taking a spot on this, but while that song is incredible, i wanted to give it more time to soak into the musical atmosphere. “Bonfire” though is no slouch, and up until this album was released Gambino hadn’t gotten the acknowledgment he rightfully desired. The beat taking up the back end of the song is gangster as you can get, and the lyrics are second to none. The world play is ruthless, and Gambino, or Glover, is able to throw major shade in multiple directions while still touching on the nerdy symbology that was so helpful to him during his early releases.
KNIGHTS OF CYDONIA, BLACK HOLES AND REVELATIONS
For me this was the first Muse record were I wasn’t completely sold, but certain songs hit it out of the park and remind us that this band can be as triumphantly awesome as any other arena band. The science fiction opening amid a western set background complete with horses makes you feel like a cross between “Fistful of Dollars” and “2001:A Space Odyssey,” but maybe this strange mix is what makes the track so memorable. The instrumentation is well executed, and while the lyrics aren’t mindblowing, the scope of the song itself leaves little to be desired. Definitely worthy of it’s spot on this list.
97. JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE
CRY ME A RIVER, JUSTIFIED
This list will have many humongous hits, and we kick it off early in the countdown with the first true classic that Timberlake delivered throughout the course of his still extremely successful solo career. Rumor has it(or maybe it’s truth by now) that his long ago ex, a particularly “Toxic” queen had ended the relationship by cheating on him. I have no idea if this is true or the rightful inspiration behind the song, but it fits the narrative. The song tingles with regret and heartbreak, and JT’s crooning style is a perfect way to explain the sorrow behind the entire track.
BILLIE HOLIDAY, EXQUISITE CORPSE
This is a band that still hasn’t gotten as much recognition as they should, but for the people who are aware of the mighty four piece that comprises Warpaint, you get it. “Billie Holiday” is a gradual song that features all four woman using the training to built a song that never accelerates in terms of being aggressive, but rather reminds the listener of a being drowned in a slow lull of emotion. In terms of vocal harmonization, Warpaint slays and can do it without effort. It’s probably their best song and it’s a reminder for all the uninitiated that if you haven’t check out this band, you’re missing out.
95. WASHED OUT
FEEL IT ALL AROUND, LIFE OF LEISURE
Most people will recognize this song more for the popular play on the hipster show that it lends it music to, but in reality this is just a great track from chillwave pioneer Washed Out. Under the W.O. moniker, Ernest Weatherly Greene Jr. has managed to make a ton of great music, but the casual breeze that “Feel It All Around” elicits in the top of the pile in terms of letting you forgot your worries, even if it’s just for the duration of the song. The lyrics are minimal, but this song excels at enveloping you in a sound all its own.
TONGUE TIED, NEVER TRUST A HAPPY SONG
There’s two major time periods for Grouplove, led on vocals by Christian and Hannah: The period before “Tongue Tied” came out and the massive success that followed once this song blew up. It’s one of the best alternative songs in recent memory, and its ability to suck you in is one of the biggest reasons. This track was never not going to launch the band to more fame, and if you listen to it it's easy to see why. It’s fun, free spirited and with the help of Andrew and the other Christian, the band was able to make the next fame leap up the coveted ladder of stardom.
Now, more often than not, singles are not a truly fair representation of a band. They are meant to draw in people who otherwise would not go out and buy an album. As with everything, Tool also does this differently. It’s a really awesome song, and the video is both creepy and fascinating to watch. While making this album, the band was at a breaking point. It’s been documented that they just weren’t seeing eye to eye. Maynard Keenan went and wrote the lyrics for this song about this tension within the camp, and while I don’t know for sure if it was a turning point, anyone who has ever been through a difficult situation can understand the tension, or the schism within the band. You see, a band isn’t just fun. Creating anything is difficult. Creating things with other creative beings is very difficult. Four people, four brains working differently, and four opinions that everyone else has to take into account. I imagine that can get messy. Keenan screaming at the end “ I know the pieces fit,” sounds negative, but it’s not. In the end it works because making the best album of your career isn’t supposed to be easy going
92. THE SHINS
CARING IS CREEPY, OH, INVERTED WORLD
Nearly a decade ago I was likely to not care about this band, but one of their great gifts of my former partner was exposing me to music I likely wouldn’t have tried. One of the big takeaways was the James Mercer led The Shins. “Caring is Creepy,” is a reminder of how dark the lyrics of the band can be while not doing that even remotely in instrumental aspects. I only think about how that juxtaposition helps the band stay unique, and it’s something Mercer and his Shins do very well. The song has a sort of whimsy to it, and with the vocals displayed throughout, it’s easy to enjoy the song for it’s duration.
91. RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS
BY THE WAY, BY THE WAY
I am not a huge fan of this band. Most of the time i find the lyrics to obvious and simplistic, but for some reason I can still love this song. It’s one of the most obvious best. The drumming by Chad Smith, and of course the incredible guitar work by Frusciante help deliver a classic track, and for once Kiedis isn’t writing a song about the band's homestate. The beats throughout “By the Way” are immediate, fun and in your face in a way that the band should embrace more. The vocal harmony during the bridges are also great. Basically it’s an easy song to sing along to, and more often than not that's what casual music fans are drawn to.
90. NINE INCH NAILS
SURVIVALISM, YEAR ZERO
Trent Reznor as nine inch nails hasn’t gotten as much attention from the massive musical world later in his career as he should, but on “Year Zero” he not only made an incredible album that belongs in the best nin discussion, but the world he created, bleeds right into what our country is dealing with now: An oppressive government determined to curtail rights for everyone. “Survivalism” is an angry, perfectly mixed song with antagonistic lyrics, but on the backs of people who believe in resisting. This whole album is massively unsettling in terms of how truly it portrays corruption and intolerance, and while the album is nearly a decade old, the fear that we’re verging on a form “Survivalism” remains more true than it ever was during the Bush years, when this anthem was created.
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 humorous. 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. It 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, and their best.
88. CAGE THE ELEPHANT
AIN'T NO REST FOR THE WICKED, CAGE THE ELEPHANT
This band, led by Schultz, has so many goddamn hits, or just great songs in general that it was hard to pick one, but at the end of the day, there just “Ain’t no rest for the Wicked,” which is why this unnerving but open song makes it to the list. The tales being spewed forth are a stark reminder that people everywhere do what they think they need to do to survive. The word play is spectacular and full of swagger, and it’s a fun song while still managing to be a song that’s not particularly lighthearted. It’s an out and out anthem, and that's why it shows itself on the list at number 88.
AQUEOUS TRANSMISSION, MORNING VIEW
More than likely this is the most unlike Incubus Incubus track the band ever recorded, but it’s also the best. The Asian mood flows gorgeously through the opening minutes, and quietly, patiently, Brandon Boyd’s voice emerges. This is the best storytelling the band has ever done, and the world creating technique’s they employ here leave you wishing you could experience it for yourself. Certainly the main character is alone at the moment, but where exactly is the river taking him? One might assume he’s being led by the water to his beloved, and while you might be right, nature sometimes has its own course for us, so we can never be sure. while this album is likely my favorite, it’s this record closing song that brings it to a place it hadn’t yet reached in the previous twelve tracks. “Aqueous Transmission” remains Incubus’ most compelling, unique track.
86. PHARRELL WILLIAMS
Williams get a tad bit of hate from the more snooty music listeners, but he’s crafted a career full of memorable songs that broadly appeal to various fans from different walks of life. “Happy,” his anthem from a few summers ago is a perfect example. Most times his music is fun and lively enough enough to not have to be some inspirational moment, and frankly, it’s just an easy track to dance to and lose yourself to. It’s not gonna reinvent the wheel, but it’s hard not to enjoy yourself during this track.
85. BASEMENT JAXX
WHERE’S YOUR HEAD AT, ROOTY
Basement Jaxx never really gets the respect of the vast majority of dance music fans, but with this amazing track off the even more amazing “Rooty” song, they make an argument for one of the best EDM style songs over the last 25 years. It’s a mindlessly fun song that can envelop you in the spirit of the moment. BJ has been casually dropping great albums and songs alike since for over twenty years, and even though they have much got as close to mainstream success with “Where’s Your Head At” early on, the duo is still worth researching and exploring.
84. TAME IMPALA
FEELS LIKE WE ONLY GO BACKWARDS, LONERISM
For many people, this was the song where they suddenly became aware of the majestic mode of storytelling that Impala lays out. The dinging opening, the lush overlaid guitars and bass, and the minimal but effectiveness of the drumming all make the song one of the best by the band. When Parker bellows the chorus, and various other sections you can grasp and understand the weariness permanent in the song structure. So many of their songs go hand in hand with raw emotion, of guilt, second thoughts, and other feelings that it eventually becomes your song too. It’s amazing, and it’s a song that still gets all the love it deserves.
83. FOO FIGHTERS
BEST OF YOU, IN YOUR HONOR
This song is a fucking force of nature. Relationships are incredibly hard, and life is hard also.The song, which tells the story of a couple whose lives are increasingly at odds with the foundation they once nourished. While it's not a super optimistic song, it's one of their best and most solidly well written songs. When I do these lists, I try not to pick the most well known songs, but there are times you simply can't avoid it. Songs like this are both amazingly wonderful and very well regarded, and there's a reason for it. The Foo Fighters have the uncanny ability to relate to real life troubles. One reason for that, I think is because they never lost sight of why they were in the game. That what makes them still so awesome after so long. When a band loves what they’re doing, it's extremely obvious. And for the Foo's, it's obvious.
82. BEACH HOUSE
From the opening of the bells to the hazy beats surrounding the track, “Myth” stands as not only the best opening song in the band’s catalog, but also as the Number One song in Beach House’s arsenal. It winds down a lonely road as the stars fill the atmosphere amid a dying blue sky. Alex provides perfect ambiance for Legrand’s haunting voice, while at the same time making sure that everything is tightly arranged and perfectly contrasting in the way the hopefulness of the music intertwines with the uncertainty of Victoria’s voice.
81. BRUNO MARS
LOCKED OUT OF HEAVEN, UNORTHODOX JUKEBOX
On one hand I really want to dislike Mars, but on the other hand it’s somewhat impossible to deny that the man knows how to make a memorable song. I never really understand just how nuanced and filthy this song is until a few listens, but yes even a song about fucking up and being denied sex by your lady can be turned into a massive hit that has almost limitless appeal to fans far and wide. He might not be the next Michael Jackson or something, but the man is a superstar in his own right, and it’s for that reason this track is included on the list.
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.
BREATHE ME,THE SMALL ONE
I still don’t completely understand why multiple albums into her career she chose the route of hiding her face, but that point is mostly moot when you consider some of the best contributions to the music world. Most folks came to know this song during the phenomenal finale of the show “Six Feet Under,” yet while the scene that is music served to elevate was incredible, heartbreaking and poignant, it was that much more powerful because of this gorgeously heartbroken and wonderful song. With the music and th swaying beats behind her silky, forlorn voice, the song was destined to become a classic, and an early reminder that she truly had the gift of movement in music.
78. CAMERA OBSCURA
LLOYD, I’M READY TO BE HEARTBROKEN, LET'S GET OUT OF THIS COUNTRY
I hoped this band would blow up, but it never really happened. Either way, “Lloyd I’m Ready to be Heartbroken” is a song in which the airy vibes of the music play hand in hand in the juxtaposition of a song that strives to be hopeful but ends up being more like reality than most are comfortable with. It’s very honest in it’s fear of feeling helpless when it comes to love and what lies around the corner, but it’s a pretty song that is able to jump back and forth and latch itself on to the listener. Definitely a band worth checking out.
MOVEMENT, LCD SOUNDSYSTEM EDIT
Ah yes, the bands one true punk song. ‘Movement’ is everything is claims to be. The synth starts with purpose and intensity, and James’ hurried, increasing aggressive vocals only add to the tensions waiting to get ripped apart with not hurting, but more dancing. It’s a track that inspires you to hoist fits in the air and lose your mind for a small amount of time. It’s also shorter than most LCD songs, so it doesn’t feel overly long. It gets to the point fast, and shows you how to rock even faster.
76. MACKLEMORE & RYAN LEWIS w/ MARY LAMBERT
SAME LOVE, THE HEIST
These guys careers have been pretty hit or miss since the smash that was “The Heist,” but that in no way discounts the abundance of hits they managed to pack into this album. “Same Love,” without a doubt is the crowning jewel and a true “Woke” moment in hip hop. The delivery of the lyrics is crucial here, and the duo, joined by the harmoniously beautiful voice of Lambert propel the song in a painful, yet gorgeous way. The distance between rappers who are open with homosexuality and not is a pretty wide divide, but with this track I’d like to think more people are changing their minds.
75. THE AVALANCHES
SINCE I LEFT YOU, SINCE I LEFT YOU
From the first moments of the seminal album, the Australian troupe known as the Avalanches changed the way music was informed and created. The album in itself is a winding road of samples and lush contextual piece of music that's as welcoming as it is challenging for music fans. The opening title track, paints pictures of a free spirit Imagine yourself being free on the ocean, with the wind in your, leaving all your regrets behind, and you’ll get the meaning of “Since I Left You.”
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 track 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. 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.
ISLAND IN THE SUN, GREEN ALBUM
One of my favorite memories in life was seeing this band for the first time. One of my best friends and I went to Houston to see them, and it was probably one of the best days of my life. For this song in particular, Cuomo came out into the crowd and played this song surrounded by the crowd. To be probably 50 yards from him seeing this played on his acoustic guitar remains one of the coolest things I’ve ever been a part of at a show. The song itself is lovely, and fits in nicely with Weezer’s brand of easy going hits that flow off your tongue.
ON MELANCHOLY HILL, PLASTIC BEACH
One of the most excitable elements of this “band” is how seemingly effortless they’re able to subvert genre and mingle various forms of sounds into one collective experience. The band, at the time of this record, had successfully and brilliantly made three albums that were as amazing as they mesmerizing to music fans. “On Melancholy Hill,” featuring a leisurely beat throughout the track and soft, soothing vocals(even if they are bittersweet and reminiscent) is a perfect reminder that the band can be wondrous, honest, and joyful all in the same breathe. It’s hard not to smile during this song.
71. ST. VINCENT
DIGITAL WITNESS, ST. VINCENT
The trumpets, alongside the buoyancy of the opening moments tell you a lot of what you can expect from this fun filled track, but there’s much under the surface that only shows itself upon multiple listens. It’s one of the best tracks on the self titled album, but it also showed that Clark has nearly no problem balancing different style in the same track. It has a very danceable quality to it, but it’s also pushes the bounds of what alternative rock could be, if you can even call it that. This song has been a popular stand out among myself and the people i know, but in the end it deserves it’s number two spot because it’s just a great fucking song. It’s energetic in tone, upfront in attitude, and dishonest in no way shape or form. At the end of the day, it’s an artist trying something outside of her comfort zone, and truly coming into her own as an artist worth watching, and loving.
70. KATY PERRY
FIREWORK, TEENAGE DREAM
Katy Perry’s career has been sort of a mixed back with misfires and massive hits, but when she focuses her energy on doing what she’s always done best(Easy going, uplifting pop), she’s excelled. That’s basically what “Firework” is for her. It launched her to big arena’s and becoming even more of a household name. The song itself is amazing, and for people who struggle to find themselves, it serves as a wake up call to improve everything you want. It’s a cliche message among glittery pop music for sure, but there’s something undeniable about the energy and uplifting nature of the song, which is why it makes the list at number 70.
69. COURTNEY BARNETT
PEDESTRIAN AT BEST, SOMETIMES I SIT AND THINK, SOMETIMES I JUST SIT EDIT
Sometimes you just know, and when I heard this song the first few times I knew this was my number one song of the year. Barnett swept the indie music scene with a brilliant record full of spunk and attitude and on the album's best track she wraps all the sarcasm and bravado into one nicely tied bow. The lyrics are utterly brilliant and flow with the urgency of a busy person word vomiting as she urgently tries to get her message out. The rhyme scheme is magnanimous and bitter, unrelenting even. She reaches into the heart of anger and resentment with no line of sight. When Barnett growls about “Pedestals and disappointing You,” you feel the bruises of a damaged relationships, but even if Barnett is in the wrong here, you don’t really care because the song is so fucking catchy.
68. THE NATIONAL
FAKE EMPIRE, BOXER
This is the first song I ever heard from the Ohio tear inducers, and it’s easy to see why I was drawn to it. So often in “ballads” the message is rough at the start, but gradually it brightens up. That doesn’t really happen here. The piano and the very low key guitar playing help to make the song more intimate, while still bringing in every member of the band. The song was used as an anthem of sorts for our former President Obama, and while we’re currently living in a very real “Fake Empire,” this song can give us hope that the dawn is coming, eventually.
67. RUN THE JEWELS
OH MY DARLING DON’T CRY, RUN THE JEWELS 2
One of, if not the most awe inspiring Hip Hop group of the last ten years finally enters the countdown. With RTJ, El-P and the insurmountable Killer Mike have opened up a world where the tracks are less about the typical swagger associated with rap music, and more about the ugly underbelly of our society. It’s violent, poetic and unflinching in the realities it spews out. The back and forth between Mikey and Jamie are incredible, and with “Oh My Darling, Don’t Cry” RJT launches a fire into the air that serves as a warning call to all.
66. JIMMY EAT WORLD
THE MIDDLE, BLEED AMERICAN
I recently saw this band for the first time, and honestly I was blown away. The amount of great songs this act has had me forgetting that sadly they aren’t nearly as popular as the were when this came out. I can easily remember when this song was inescapable and mind-blowingly good. In fact, it’s still as good as you remember. It’s not blowing up the world in terms of changing the musical landscape, but it’s a fun, high energy song that’s easy to sing along to. It’s also a very powerful song with a strong message of never denying what’s truly in your heart, and how to take the good with the bad. Everyone is stuck in “The Middle,” and we’re all just trying our best to keep the positivity going.
65. ED SHEERAN
Still being of two minds about his art as a whole, and trying to figure out how he got to be as huge as he is, it’s easy to downplay his current status in music. Having said that, after you listen to “Photograph” it becomes obvious what has made him a standout star. The vocals presented here are softly delivered and never rush to the point. The instrumentations surrounding him grow behind his brokenhearted lyrics, and once the song meets the closing moments, Sheeran has begrudgingly nurtured even a person like myself into falling for his amazing musicianship. It’s a gorgeous song that we can all relate to, which is why it works so well. To open up the wounds and let them heal you to have to share, and that's what Ed does here, to magnificent effect.
64. DJ SHADOW w/ RUN THE JEWELS
NOBODY SPEAK, THE MOUNTAIN WILL FALL
To hear shadow say it there was no other person or group of people better to provide vocals over this track, and well, he was absolutely correct. Hearing El & Mike rap over this song makes it impossible to imagine anyone doing anything even half as good as what they brought to the table. From the jangle of the opening beats to the powerful, confrontational styling from Run the Jewels, “Don’t Speak” is a giant fuck you to all the naysayers and also to the people who would have you think you must abide by their set of rules. Also referencing our next President in such a deliberate and insulting way is a treasure I wish most artists had the balls to present to the world. Easily the best song in the year of it's release, “Don’t Speak” is the track that many others in the rap world will be compared to for some time.
Grimes might be a weird lady, but what’s she’s done with her career so far has to be admired. For many, it all started with the pulsating beats and swaying vocals of the modern classic “Oblivion.” Initially this song wasn’t even part of the countdown, but edits are meant to be made, and it ends up at number 63 on the countdown. The song has qualities that make it easy to forget your problems, and while she has maintained a solid discography that grows in quality and musicianship with every release, it might have never happened if the music world hadn’t encountered “Oblivion” early on.
PLUG IN BABY, ORIGIN OF SYMMETRY
Muse might be more hit or miss these days, but with their bombastic first album they emerged as one of the most exciting new bands around. “Plug in Baby,” after all these years is still fucking amazing, and a true anthem for all to beckon to. The guitar work is second to none, and Bellamy’s vocals echo the narrative of a virtual reality world, while later interviews with the band pulled away from the initial concept. The chorus in itself is engaging and and thought provoking, and initially made the world look up and notice this strange Muse that was approaching to inspire change in a corrupt systems mechanics and allow to rock out in a big way.
CHANDELIER, 1000 FORMS OF FEAR
We’ve all seen Sia on the countdown early on, but this is the song that shattered all expectations of what she was in her early career. The vocals are mixed in an emotional kind of way that both assert the technology of the time, but also build on the core of the song itself. With “Chandelier” she broke out in a huge way, and suddenly her obscured face was on display and letting the music speak for itself. Even after the thousandth listen the song is a force of nature, and it introduced her to the larger world of music that likely had never heard of her before this track came to conquer all of pop music, even though she’s essentially redefined what can be accessible in the pop music world.
60. THE POSTAL SERVICE
SUCH GREAT HEIGHTS, GIVE UP
According to my partner, two camps exist for which band has done this better. On one hand is the original by Iron & Wine, but when it comes to this listener and obvious list, the Postal Service project featuring Dntel and Ben Gibbard of Death Cab fame, there’s only one choice. The electronic elements of the song are mesmerizing and never overdone, while Gibbard's voice melts with the natural spirit he’s cultivated since his early days of music making. It’s a dreamy track, one that features an elegant section of synths and harmonies, and once the vocals float up to your ears, it’s game over.
59. THE NATIONAL
VANDERLYLE CRYBABY GEEKS, HIGH VIOLET
For the record let me just state that High Violet is so far the best album of this band’s career. It’s basically perfect. It’s the magnum opus of this band. This song, the final and climactic anthem of this album, is as powerful as it is confusing. Music doesn’t always have to be explainable though. It’s better to let the audience decide what the song is about, and enjoy the song from their own perspective. That’s what I love about the National. They aren’t quite the Inception of the music world, but so much is unexplainable and it still works. I always think of the Katherine Dunn book “Geek Love” and how those characters are vile, unlikable, and are all just trying to eek out a decent, comfortable life surrounded by all the shit and vomit of the world in which they were created. Now it’s likely no one else has made that connection, but that’s OK, because everyone in the world draws from different events.
58. WHITE STRIPES
SEVEN NATION ARMY, ELEPHANT
I still remember the moment my old friend and I first listened to this record. Of course, the now classic “Seven Nation Army” had already been blowing up the FM frequencies, but it’s the powerful opening this track gives to the album that truly makes “Elephant” even better. With Meg on drums and principal songwriter Jack White laying down grooves and a blues infused guitar part, this song catapults the listener to a type of rock that become hugely popular and anthemic, even though that maybe wasn’t the intent. It’s still one of their best overall songs, and well these days, for better or worse, it’s used far and wide at sporting event. I can’t say for sure how the White Stripes feel about that, but I’m sure it garnered them more fans than they expected when they started out in a room in Detroit.
57. JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE
MY LOVE, FUTURESEX/LOVESOUNDS
With the poppy, yet groundbreaking “FutureSex” album, Timberlake went from former boy band star to mega hyped, gifted Adult Pop star. One of the big reasons for this gigantic shift in his influence in music is “My Love,” produced and featuring Timbaland. The song is sassy, and jubilant, like a fun laughter filled embrace with that awesome friend of yours. But there lies a tale of two songs within “My Love.” The instrumentals are fun, while the lyrics and vocals are suavely produced and laid down. It’s a passionate song in the end about the vulnerability of love. With a concept like that, where everyone can relate to it, this was always meant to be a hit, and well it is.
56. RIHANNA & JAY Z
UMBRELLA, GOOD GIRL GONE BAD
I’m of the thinking that Rihanna is best when she features on other artists tracks, but there’s no way in hell you can’t say this is a great song that is loved far and wide. Her voice is like silk on the Jay Z featured “Umbrella,” and the unity pronounced throughout the song make you happy that people can feel that connection to another human being. The beats are expertly done also, with the way the cymbals crash keeping time until the gorgeous voice and the rousing chorus join us to remember the good and bad times alike, and to remind ourselves that we all someone who would let us under their “Umbrella” in our time and need.
MIDNIGHT CITY, HURRY UP WE’RE DREAMING
Anthony Gonzales at the forefront of M83 started out as pioneering electronic bashed soundwave with lush vocals overlaid, and while his most recent output was mostly forgettable, “Midnight City” is a guaranteed classic for the Pitchfork generation. The slightly robotic vocals are there sure, but what they really do is set up a windfall for the spacious, wonderfully balanced yet nearly vocalless chorus. Not many bands can get that type of job done, but the danceable quality exuded on “City” makes it that much easier to forget the world and celebrate existence for the duration of the song. Easily their best song, and it makes the countdown right before the halfway point at number 55.
54. SNOW PATROL
CHASING CARS, EYES OPEN
Oh goodness, here we go with the song that catapulted teary eyes everywhere when it was used on Grey’s Anatomy. That being said, the song is just as good as you remember it, and it’s a little sappy, yes, but there’s so much strength behind the message and words that are being pronounced by Gary Lightbody. The truth is that Snow Patrol has and continues to be a solidly great rock band that at least on this side of the world doesn’t get enough recognition. I can be anywhere and think about this track and be overcome with love and compassion for my partner. I have a feeling many people feel that emotion. I’m a huge wear your heart on your sleeve type guy, and with this song it become easier for myself and many others to not feel ashamed or embarrassed or whatever else in proclaiming that this song perfectly encapsulates how we feel about our partners.
53. MISSY ELLIOTT
WORK IT, UNDER CONSTRUCTION
Now it’s time for a extremely different type of song about how to celebrate your partner and their respective bodies. Elliott during this time was just starting to become a reliable female hip hop star, which to be frank we could still use more of. The song is filthier than many of her male contemporaries, but it’s less about being slutty or anything else. What the song ultimately is exclaiming is the enduring power of the female mind in the form of sexually fueled hip hop. The beat is fantastic, and obviously her lyrics are enough to make sure everyone takes note. It’s a wonderful party song that is full of female empowerment and for that reason it makes the list.
THE MOTHER WE SHARE, THE BONES OF WHAT YOU BELIEVE
The glasgow electronic trio burst onto the music scene just a few shorts yearsx ago, but all it took was “The mother We Share” for the band to become the next big thing. Lauren’s harmonies intertwined with the dark yet hopeful electronic variations make for a energizing song that’s easy to sing along to and get swallowed up with. I think this band has done was well as they have because of how well manufactured the synth and production are with her pillowy but forceful voice. This, the lead off track from their amazing debut has everything you want in this genre, and it’s still a force to be reckoned with as they move on to their third record.
51. DAFT PUNK
DIGITAL LOVE, DISCOVERY
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 tracks have minimal lyrics, “Digital Love” has plenty, and it only helps the song reach deeper. 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 bands best track, and for anyone who is in love with someone, an example of why “Music Sounds better with You.”
50. LCD SOUNDSYSTEM
DAFT PUNK IS PLAYING AT MY HOUSE, LCD SOUNDSYSTEM
In your face from moment one, ‘Daft Punk is Playing at my House,’ manages to be everything you need to know from LCD and Daft Punk. it manages to sound like both bands without much effort or hackery. It has that DP beat to it, and even though it’s not electronically oriented to a high degree, it feels like something the Robots would produce, or at least play at random moments. I also have to say I can’t think of any band saluting someone else on a track so obviously. Wouldn’t you be nervous if you knew your favorite didn’t like the song you made to profess your love?
ROLLING IN THE DEEP, 21
Everyone can remember when “Rolling in the Deep” launched like an asteroid in the music world. You basically had to be trying to ignore the mammoth swell of power and hurt to not recognize the energy, heart and soul that the English musician conjured up during the song. Songs that have staying power usually have that power because of a certain amount of relatability that listeners can find something worthwhile in, and this one right here has it in spades. Her voice is gorgeous and fierce in a wonderful duality, and while the rest of the smash album is amazing, this is still the song that makes everyone try to do their best Adele impersonation.
48. FOO FIGHTERS
TIMES LIKE THESE, ONE BY ONE
I was hearing this song a lot during a severely tricky time in my life, and as cheesy as it is, it really did help me to learn to not get overwhelmed and sucked down by negativity. The positivity bleeding through the entire song serves as a great indicator that life goes on, even when we think we don't want it to. When this song reached me, it relayed all the pain, fear and torment I was going through and made it more bearable and easier to deal with. You can tell also that the song is genuinely powerful to the band. It helps when you can tell the band believes in what is coming through the speakers, and without a doubt, you can feel it here. Next time you're struggling, try to think about something good, and soon enough, things will seem better.
47. DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE
I WILL FOLLOW YOU INTO THE DARK, PLANS
There are times in one’s life where nothing feels right, but for those times there are always songs that bring you a sense of closure and peace. This is that song for me. It could be about a romantic relationship, or a friendship that has weathered storms, or it could be about a family member who’s left your world to join the other. For me it’s a little bit of all three. I’m reminded how amazing it is to share your life with someone who understands you perfectly, and who will always be there. It’s also about the loss my grandmother, who was a shining light in me for the first three decades of my life, who unfortunately had to exit this world. People come and go in life, in varying stages of importance, but for everyone who gives something to someone, you get value in love and meaningful gifts in every day of life. “ I Will Follow You in the dark” is a testament to the struggles of life and also to the joy in finding people who complete you and who will always take the leap and will happily follow you in the dark, hand in hand, just as they joined you in life.
46. ANDREW W.K.
PARTY HARD, I GET WET
Like seriously, there was no way this cathartic song couldn’t make the list. From the second WK smashed his face and entered the music game, his number one goal was to always party, in a variety of ways. “Party Hard,” which lands at 46 on this countdown, is his mission statement for a still on going career that is as optimistic and honest as any other song on this list. The guitar work is in your face, the vocals soar and react to a cruel world bent on the concept of no fun all work. These ideas are quickly dismissed as AWK and company implore you to be free, loving and of course to never forget valuable moments in which you can “Party Hard.”
45. THE SHINS
NEW SLANG, OH, INVERTED WORLD
Whether or not this band would have ever gotten as well known if not for “Garden State,” is a debate that will never be able to be answered in a concrete way. However, I’d like to think that the strength of the track is more of a reason than the film the song was used for. The tambourine flickering in the tune, matched by a lush dreamy guitar sound draws you in to a quiet yet gorgeous place while Mercer’s voice mellowly purs through the main speakers, and enters your subconscious. I’ve probably heard “New Slang” hundreds of times and it still gives me butterflies of happiness to be in a world that can make something so dreamy.
44. SNOOP DOGG & PHARRELL WILLIAMS
DROP IT LIKE ITS HOT, R&G(RHYTHM & GANSTA): THE MASTERPIECE
Over twenty years Snoop Dogg was merely a protege of a famous doctor, but with his effortless style of flow he's become a literal juggernaut in the hip hop world. Countless hits later, he embarked on a voyage with another musical innovator Williams to contribute and create a song that makes the booties shake, or in blatant terms, drops it like its hot. It’s an easy song to enjoy, and while the message of the song is both fun and fearful at times, “Drop it like It’s Hot” is a masterfully fun song that most people can enjoy and get behind. It was a massive hit upon its arrival, and remains so today.
43. KANYE WEST, GOLD DIGGER, LATE REGISTRATION
Before we talk about the potency of the track itself, it must be mentioned how ironic it is at who this impeccable artist is married to. Now, easily she's one of the hottest women on earth, and has done amazing things in her business, but I can't be the only one who finds the relationship a bit perplexing, especially considering this song and the tone it has. On to the song though, it was a giant smash, and with the chorus “She ain't messin' with no broke niggas,” Kanye as a force to be reckoned with had arrived. Seriously, do you remember how insanely popular this song was? The Ray Charles sample is also as vital to the song as the lyrical content is. It makes the song, and the inclusion of Jamie Foxx in the video was excellent. The lyrics here though are really the highlight. This fucking dude from Chicago with Polo's and a backpack showed up and murdered everyone with an album, and in less than three years he was the king of hip hop, a trophy I think he still has.
42. QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE
GO WITH THE FLOW, SONGS FOR THE DEAF
Quite possibly the song that took this band to the next level. The record itself is a masterpiece, and many of the songs are intensely brilliant, but “Go with the Flow” is the easy winner of the whole album. The track starts at 70 MPH and doesn’t slow down even remotely throughout its three minutes and seven seconds duration. Troy Van Leeuwen's keyboard and guitar playing are inescapable and relentless, while Grohl's drumming and precision take the track to totally new level, one which the band hadn’t reach to before. Not only is this the best track of the entire record, it’s also the best song the band has in their arsenal, and one we’re likely to be enjoying for many many years.
41. RUN THE JEWELS w/ ZACK DE LA ROCHA
CLOSE YOUR EYES(AND COUNT TO FUCK), RUN THE JEWELS 2
Something RTJ has done nearly perfectly over the course of their three albums has been vocalizing cultural disharmony and lending a voice to the voiceless, all while using references of the science fiction entertainment world to propel their message in a way that opens eyes and stands as a reminder of injustice. Naturally, the addition of Rage Against the Machine vocalist de la Rocha adds fuel to an already massive fire. The way the three of game subvert the elements of frustration and cold but sad truths of the world work excessively well in the effort to portray a world that is hard, unflinching and the reality that sometimes even even the brightest, most diligently good people get fucked by whatever big man is lurking over them.
40. JAY-Z w/ ALICIA KEYS
EMPIRE STATE OF MIND, THE BLUEPRINT 3
Truthfully I had never heard the song until the VMA’s, and while this was a very last minute addition to the list, it’s involvement is justified. On a song about what is widely considered one of the most fantastic places on Earth. Hova remains on the top of his game, all the while using his trademark honesty and humility to produce a song about perseverance and strength. NYC is all of those things, and with the bellowing, strong voice of Keys banging out the chorus it’s easy to envelope yourself in an “Empire State of Mind.” The city is incredible, gigantic and mystifying all in the same breathe, yet the song manages to do it justice in its mission. I will say it’s very New York to boast about how great your city is, but it’s justifiable, to a certain extent.
39. THE KNIFE
HEARTBEATS, DEEP CUTS
Anybody else still long for the days of mind-bendingly lush electronic that doesn’t have a bass drop inserted somewhere in it? Well sadly for us the Knife is no more, thus ending one of the most eclectic runs of albums any group in the world of Electronic music ever enjoyed. This classic track served as the calling card for a song that conveyed far more ingenuity than people in that realm were used to. The brother and sister duo of Karin and Olof were able to stay hidden behind creepy masks, never compromise their artistry for the big pay off, and remain one of the most exciting projects for people like me in the last 15 years. “Heartbeats” still touches all the best notes, and for that reason is starts off the 30’s.
38. THE WEEKND
CAN’T FEEL MY FACE, BEAUTY BEHIND THE MADNESS
As the Weeknd, Abel Tesfaye, has redefined sexually fueled R&B for a new generation, but with “Can’t Feel My Face,” he took it to the next level. Mixing elements of drug use with a word play style that plays to sexual undertones as it does intoxication of substances, he embraces the mood and composes a song full of desire and rhythmic beats that you can get lost in. His voice is as silky and seductive here, much like his other songs, but with a (needed) lack of spoken word the song is able to eclipse his previous works, which earns it a spot at number 38 on the Top 100 Songs since 2000 countdown.
37. TV ON THE RADIO
WOLF LIKE ME, RETURN TO COOKIE MONSTER
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 seems to be very much about transforming into a beast, and in a sense it is. The beast 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.
LOSE YOURSELF, 8 MILE
Oh Marshall, here we go. Eminem has skirted controversy gleefully since breaking out in the late 90’s, and plenty of his songs have been called offensive, insensitive and downright filthy. However, he’s at his best when he uses his personal history to build a song that is as thoughtful as it is meaningful. Probably the best part of the film 8 Mile is the ending “Battle” section, where Em obliterates his music adversaries. This song stands as the pinnacle of what he’s able to do lyrically. There’s no clever lyrics dissing on celebrities. Instead, it serves as not only the cornerstone for the film itself, but as the best song in his vast, sometime hit or miss repertoire. This proves his versatility in lyricism, and it’s still an anthem all these years after it’s release.
L.E.S. ARTISTES. SANTIGOLD
Since debuting with this track off her self titled album, it was obvious she was an artist that was worthy of our time. When Santigold talks about her hopes “that it’ll be worth what I give up,” you sense her reservations and uncertainty about taking on the task at hand. It’s almost as if it’s a self imposed mission statement to herself to insure she never strays from what she wants to accomplish as an artist. The instrumentation behind the vocals shimmers with an energy which enables vocal harmony and a great mix up in terms of what can be accomplished in whatever musical genre she happens to be in. It’s not straight hip hop, or alternative rock or anything else. It’s all Santigold, and that means she doesn’t have to be any one thing to succeed.
34. JAY Z
IZZO (H.O.V.A.), THE BLUEPRINT
Another blockbuster from Mr. Carter finds its way to the Top 100. The combustible yet relaxing rhythm behind one of his many mega hits is irresistible, and because of that it’s still one of the best rap songs of the last 20 years. Z’s free flow style also jumps around between hardships and highlights to create a song that’s as freeweilding and it is feracious. He’s always been a master of vocals and rapping, but with this seminal summer classic he retook the throne from the contemporaries of the day. It’s just a fun song that's perfect for a beautiful day spent outside frankly. The subject matter might not be cheery throughout, but it’s status as an amazing song is set in stone, at least to this writer here.
33. ARCADE FIRE
SPRAWL II(MOUNTAINS BEYOND MOUNTAINS), THE SUBURBS
Sometimes in a bands career, said group is able to latch onto a feeling or emotion that transcend their unique sound.. “Sprawl II(Mountains Beyond Mountains)” not only reaches nearly to the top of the pile of retrospective and emotion, but it helps to tie all the themes running rampant on “The Suburbs” into one spectacular and beautiful bow. Regine’s voice again shines through, but through it all the songs success lies not just with her gorgeous rendition of a monotonous life, but in fact with all the members of the band who excel at writing music that people can relate to. That idea of “We can never get away from the Sprawl” is a real, complicated feeling that many people have with their hometowns, whether or not the grow up in “The Suburbs,” but it’s in that moment you realize the world is one big Sprawl, and over Mountain lies the potential to exist a Sprawl that’s perfectly weird in the exact way we are, and we can make the best of what the world has to offer.
32. SIGUR ROS
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. Back 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 wife. 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. The magnitude of the song, even though the words aren't even words, makes the song all the better.
31. FRANK OCEAN
PYRAMIDS, CHANNEL ORANGE
This song is amazing for the record. I just wish his brilliant output wasn’t so all over the place in terms of release. “Pyramids,” frankly is the song that put his name in the upper echelon of singer songwriters who veer more to the slow jam R&B/ hip hop style he’s known for. The song, at a whopping nine minutes, starts as an engaging modern sultry stunner, with beats that illuminate a late night journey into seduction. Ocean’s voice is crisp and outfront, but then at some point the track takes a sudden left turn, and he somehow steps up his game to move effortlessly into the even slower fog. While the first section is more engaging in terms of beats while the vocals are more slow and elegant, the second half sees a brilliant juxtaposition where his vocals are more honed in and immediate(although not by a great length) but the musical elements are much slower and romantic. It’s a great song that’s able to keep the listener engaged for the entirety of it’s runtime, and it seems Ocean breaking ground on full engagement of his audience.