Posted by: Dave on December 30, 2009 at 3:00 pm

8MileSndtrk.jpgSeveral of the songs listed below were massive popular hits. Others reached much smaller, niche audiences. Regardless, the commercial success of these tracks was a non-factor when considering their stature as the decade’s elite recordings. Instead, as always, I factored in originality, composition/arrangement/production, lyrics, catchiness/memorability, energy and emotion. And I focused primarily on rock, hip-hop, metal, pop, electro/dance, r&b and alternative country.

Here are my picks for the Top 100 Songs of the ‘00s. Click here to sample or buy the iTunes iMix.*

1. Eminem “Lose Yourself” 8 Mile Soundtrack (Interscope, 2002)

8 Mile (Eminem’s feature film debut as an actor) was above average, but the ubiquitous and stellar lead single from the soundtrack made you think the film was phenomenal. Eminem channeled a far more accessible and universally likeable character on “Lose Yourself” than he did with his Slim Shady persona. This more positive and uplifting narrative was borderline cheesy—especially for such a hardcore rapper—but the fiery passion that builds throughout each verse and chorus is undeniable. By verse three, if you’re not completely caught up in the emotional crescendo, you’ve either never had to overcome any adversity or never had to seize a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

2. At the Drive-In “One Armed Scissor” Relationship of Command (Grand Royal, 2000)

At the Drive-In’s music mixed visceral aggression, progressive ambition and hook-filled melodies. The seminal rockers influenced thousands of bands and spawned The Mars Volta and Sparta when they prematurely imploded in 2001. With five entries on this list (between At the Drive-In and The Mars Volta), this was their greatest moment. The “verses” defy pop song structure convention—none of the three pre-chorus sections are repeated, each sounds completely different from the other, and only one sounds like a verse. Though this irregular setup could be disorienting to the listener, the explosive, rally-cry chorus makes sure you never lose your way.

3. Outkast (Andre 3000) “Hey Ya!” The Love Below (Arista/La Face, 2003)

Try to remember how insanely catchy and creative this track was the first 25 times you heard it. Overexposure then—you heard it literally everywhere—and now—it remains a dance party/wedding staple—continues to try and tarnish its legacy. But the reason “Hey Ya!” became so massive is because it’s a true original. It was so clever and infectious that it made old white people think they loved a freakishly experimental and often sex-crazed hip-hop duo.

4. Eminem “The Real Slim Shady” The Marshall Mathers LP (Interscope, 2000)

Eminem had already introduced himself in 1999 with “My Name Is” and The Slim Shady LP. But he took his Slim Shady persona and his unparalleled rhyming skills to lofty new heights on The Marshall Mathers LP in 2000, defying hip-hop’s color barrier in the process. The songwriting, vocal performances and production are so strong on The Marshall Mathers LP that four of its tracks appear in the top 50 of this list. The pinnacle was the highly entertaining, all-time classic anthem “The Real Slim Shady.”

5. The Mars Volta “L’Via L’Viaquez” Frances the Mute (Universal, 2005)

With At the Drive-In, Cedric Bixler-Zavala and Omar Rodriguez-Lopez firmly shoved the creative boundaries of aggressive rock music. With The Mars Volta, they destroyed those boundaries and often forgot they ever existed. But when Cedric’s wicked, soaring vocals and Omar’s guitar wizardry align properly, they achieve superhuman feats. This 12-minute journey alternates between mindblowing prog rock (mostly sung in Spanish) and creepy salsa (sung in English). The resulting sounds can’t be explained with mere words—they must be heard to be believed.

6. The New Pornographers “Mass Romantic” Mass Romantic (Matador, 2000)

When it came to sweet, multi-part-harmony pop tunes with an indie rock edge, no one did it better than The New Pornographers in the ‘00s. And the tracks that showcased Neko Case’s powerful pipes added a pleasing female dimension to the otherwise male-dominated vocals. The hip-shaking boogie of “Mass Romantic” was their finest moment.

7. Sleater-Kinney “One Beat” One Beat (Kill Rock Stars, 2002)

An irregular, tribal beat. Hypnotically minimal and jagged guitar lines. Polyphonic yelping and floating vocal lines. Powerful crescendos. A tangible tension that builds continuously. “One Beat” is essentially an indie rock séance, a powerful out-of-body experience.

8. Kanye West “Jesus Walks” The College Dropout (Roc-A-Fella, 2004)

Mainstream hip-hop creativity was in need of a serious jolt in 2004—especially with Eminem entering a lengthy hiatus—and Kanye West rose to the occasion on his debut The College Dropout. The album’s best track was simultaneously militant and spiritual, and found Kanye openly challenging hip-hop conventions. The result was a powerful, thought-provoking tour-de-force that introduced him to the masses.

9. Nas “What Goes Around” Stillmatic (Ill Will/Columbia, 2002)

With his first two albums in the mid-‘90s, Nas established himself as one of hip-hop’s most gifted MCs. But by the end of the decade, his music was starting to lose its way. He re-emerged in the ‘00s as one of the most dependable and capable lyricists, attacking a variety of political and social issues. His greatest performance—of many, many great performances—was “What Goes Around.”

10. The Mars Volta “The Widow” Frances the Mute (Universal, 2005)

Cedric-Bixler-Zavala demonstrated more melodic ability than most aggressive rock vocalists during his time with At the Drive-In. But his vocal prowess reached shocking new levels with The Mars Volta. Simultaneously tender and eerie, on this jaw-dropping ballad he lets it all hang out.

11. Eminem “The Way I Am ” The Marshall Mathers LP (Interscope, 2000)

12. Jay-Z – I Just Wanna Luv U (Give it 2 Me)” The Dynasty: Roc La Familia (Roc-A-Fella, 2000)

13. The Decemberists “The Wanting Comes in Waves/Repaid” The Hazards of Love (Capitol, 2009)

14. Aesop Rock “No Regrets” Labor Days (Definitive Jux, 2001)

15. Outkast (Big Boi) “Bowtie” Speakerboxxx (Arista/La Face, 2003)

16. R. Kelly “Ignition (Remix)” Chocolate Factory (Jive, 2003)

17. Bright Eyes “Bowl of Oranges” Lifted or The Story Is In the Soil, Keep Your Ear To The Ground (Saddle Creek, 2002)

18. Shout Out Louds “Very Loud” Howl Howl Gaff Gaff (Capitol, 2005)

19. Fugazi “Cashout” The Argument (Dischord, 2001)

20. Destiny’s Child “Independent Women, Pt. 1 ” Charlie’s Angels Soundtrack (Columbia, 2000)

21. AFI “The Leaving Song Pt. II” Sing the Sorrow (Dreamworks, 2003)

22. System of A Down “Deer Dance” Toxicity (American/Sony, 2001)

23. Common “The Corner” Be (Geffen, 2005)

24. Queens of the Stone Age “No One Knows” Songs for the Deaf (Interscope, 2002)

25. The Killers “Mr. Brightside” Hot Fuss (Island, 2004)

26. Kanye West “We Don’t Care” The College Dropout (Roc-A-Fella, 2004)

27. Eminem “Stan” The Marshall Mathers LP (Interscope, 2000)

28. Ted Leo & The Pharmacists “The High Party” Hearts of Oak (Lookout!, 2003)

29. AFI “Bleed Black” Sing the Sorrow (Dreamworks, 2003)

30. DMX “Who We Be” The Great Depression (Def Jam, 2001)

31. Gorillaz “Clint Eastwood” Gorillaz (Virgin, 2001)

32. Devin the Dude featuring Snoop Dogg & Andre 3000 “What A Job” Waitin’ To Inhale (Rap-A-Lot, 2007)

33. Jay-Z “So Ghetto ” Vol. 3: Life and Times of S. Carter (Roc-A-Fella, 2000)

34. Amy Winehouse “You Know I’m No Good” Back to Black (Republic, 2007)

35. Green Day “Jesus of Suburbia” American Idiot (Reprise, 2004)

36. The New Pornographers “It’s Only Divine Right” Electric Version (Matador, 2003)

37. Kanye West “Gold Digger” Late Registration (Roc-A-Fella, 2005)

38. Drive-By Truckers “Outfit” Decoration Day (New West, 2003)

39. My Chemical Romance “To the End” Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge (Reprise, 2004)

40. Dead Prez “They Schools” Let’s Get Free (Relativity, 2000)

41. Eminem “Drug Ballad” The Marshall Mathers LP (Interscope, 2000)

42. Flo Rida featuring T-Pain “Low” Mail On Sunday/Step Up 2 The Streets Soundtrack (Atlantic, 2008)

43. Bright Eyes “We Are Nowhere and It’s Now” I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning (Saddle Creek, 2005)

44. At the Drive-In “Arcarsenal” Relationship of Command (Grand Royal, 2000)

45. Chemical Brothers “Come With Us” Come With Us (Astralwerks, 2002)

46. Lady Gaga “Bad Romance” The Fame Monster (Interscope, 2009)

47. Stephen Malkmus “Pencil Rot” Face the Truth (Matador, 2005)

48. Linkin Park “One Step Closer” Hybrid Theory (Warner Brothers, 2000)

49. Nas “Heaven” God’s Son (Columbia, 2003)

50. Gnarls Barkley “Crazy” St. Elsewhere (Downtown, 2006)

51. Usher featuring Lil Jon & Ludacris “Yeah!” Confessions (La Face/Arista, 2004)

52. The Perceptionists “Black Dialogue” Black Dialogue (Definitive Jux, 2005)

53. Interpol “Evil” Antics (Matador, 2004)

54. Black Ice “The Ugly Show” The Death of Willie Lynch (Koch, 2006)

55. Bright Eyes “Landlocked Blues” I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning (Saddle Creek, 2005)

56. AFI “This Celluloid Dream” Sing the Sorrow (Dreamworks, 2003)

57. Wilco “Jesus Etc.” Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (Nonesuch, 2002)

58. Nas “My Country” Stillmatic (Ill Will/Columbia, 2002)

59. D12 featuring Eminem “Purple Pills” Devil’s Night (Shady/Interscope, 2001)

60. Franz Ferdinand “Jacqueline” Franz Ferdinand (Domino, 2004)

61. Abandon Jalopy “Speed Bumps” Mercy (Stank Face Laboratories, 2002)

62. The Mooney Suzuki “Alive & Amplified” Alive & Amplified (Red Ink/Columbia, 2004)

63. Mr. Lif “Home of the Brave” Emergency Rations EP (Definitive Jux, 2002)

64. Karen O and the Kids “All Is Love” Where the Wild Things Are Soundtrack (Interscope, 2009)

65. Fiona Apple “Tymps (Sick in the Head Song)” Extraordinary Machine (Epic, 2005)

66. Matisyahu “Youth” Youth (Epic/JDub, 2006)

67. Queens of the Stone Age “The Lost Art of Keeping A Secret” Rated R (Interscope, 2000)

68. The Mars Volta “Goliath” The Bedlam In Goliath (Universal, 2008)

69. Oakley Hall “No Dreams” I’ll Follow You (Merge, 2007)

70. Mya “Case of the Ex ” Fear of Flying (Interscope, 2000)

71. Bright Eyes “If the Brakeman Turns My Way” Cassadaga (Saddle Creek, 2007)

72. The Veils “The Tide That Left and Never Came Back” The Runaway Found (Rough Trade, 2004)

73. Outkast “B.O.B.” Stankonia (La Face, 2000)

74. Cypress Hill “You Can’t Get the Best of Me” Skull & Bones (Columbia, 2000)

75. The White Stripes “Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground” White Blood Cells (Sympathy for the Record Industry, 2001)

76. Dixie Chicks “Not Ready To Make Nice” Taking the Long Way (Open Wide/Columbia, 2006)

77. My Chemical Romance “Thank You for the Venom” Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge (Reprise, 2004)

78. DMX “What’s My Name ” …And Then There Was X (Def Jam, 2000)

79. Rihanna “Disturbia” Good Girl Gone Bad: Reloaded (Island/Def Jam, 2008)

80. The Killers “Somebody Told Me” Hot Fuss (Island, 2004)

81. The Decemberists “The Engine Driver” Picaresque (Kill Rock Stars, 2005)

82. Missy Elliot “Get Ur Freak On” Miss E…So Addictive (Elektra, 2001)

83. Justin Timberlake “Cry Me a River” Justified (Jive, 2002)

84. Electric Six “Danger! High Voltage” Fire (XL/Beggars, 2003)

85. Avril Lavigne “Complicated” Let Go (Arista, 2002)

86. Conor Oberst “I Don’t Want To Die (In the Hospital)” Conor Oberst (Merge, 2008)

87. The Strokes “New York City Cops” Is This It (RCA, 2001)

88. Jane’s Addiction “The Riches” Strays (Capitol, 2003)

89. Erykah Badu “…& On” Mama’s Gun (Motown, 2000)

90. The Living End “Uncle Harry” Roll On (Warner Brothers, 2001)

91. Aimee Mann “Momentum ” Magnolia Soundtrack (Reprise, 2000)

92. Ghostface Killah featuring Raekwon “Kilo” Fishscale (Def Jam, 2006)

93. Brother Ali “The Travelers” Us (Rhymesayers, 2009)

94. Chrisette Michelle “Fragile” Epiphany (Def Jam, 2009)

95. My Morning Jacket “Thank You Too!” Evil Urges (ATO, 2008)

96. K’Naan featuring Mos Def and Chali 2na “America” Troubadour (A&M/Octone, 2009)

97. 50 Cent featuring Lloyd Banks, Prodigy, Spider Loc & Mase “I Don’t Know Officer” Get Rich or Die Tryin’ Soundtrack (G Unit/Interscope, 2005)

98. Shakira “She Wolf” She Wolf (Epic, 2009)

99. Rainer Maria “Ears Ring” Long Knives Drawn (Polyvinyl, 2003)

100. Dizzee Rascal featuring UGK “Where’s Da G’s” Maths & English (Definitive Jux, 2008)

*Note: Unfortunately 1/3 of the songs on this iTunes iMix are missing due to an iTunes glitch. This iMix will get you started if you’re interested in having this playlist, and you can add the rest of the songs separately using the iTunes Store.

One Response to “Top 100 Songs of the ’00s”

  1. New Music Nation » Blog Archive » Top 100 Albums of the ’00s Says:

    […] Notably, no hip-hop artist appears on this list more than once. The genre was far more successful than rock when it comes to sales, radio play and producing quality songs (see my Top 100 Songs of the ‘00s). And Kanye West, Dead Prez, Eminem, Outkast, 50 Cent, Jay-Z, K-Os, Nas, T.I. and several others each dropped one stellar album. But none of them could quite muster a second top-tier, full-length release. […]

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