200. “Love Song” Sara Bareilles (2007)
Sara Bareilles may not have had a long relationship with Top 40 radio, but her debut was a real gem. “Love Song” had all of the elements of a perfect, non-threatening pop song, namely an insanely catchy melody, all laid on top of a clunking piano part. With the perfect blend of sassy and bubbly, it’s no surprise it cut through the pack.
199. “Whenever, Wherever” Shakira (2001)
Colombian icon Shakira’s first English crossover, “Whenever, Wherever,” was so much more than a glorious Latin-infused pop tune, it was a statement. Between the whirlwind of instruments, addictive hooks, and infectious energy, the fact that everything came together in such an authentic way totally made it a killer. It’s so delirious that the dodgy lyrics are completely forgivable.
198. “How To Save A Life” The Fray (2005)
The Fray found a niché in that weird limbo between “cool rock” and “bland pop” fairly instantaneously, but the title track to their debut album, How To Save A Life, pushed them just a little bit closer to the former. The song has one of not only the sweetest melodies the genre offered up in the 2000s, but the lyrics are pretty damn sweet, too. “How To Save A Life” is a song that is really difficult to not like.
197. “So What” Pink (2008)
Pink has never been shy about distancing herself from her bubblegum peers, and her 2008 hit “So What,” quite possibly one of the ballsiest breakup songs pop music has ever seen, was no exception. Nothing about the song is subtle, and despite relying heavily on an annoying bratty melody, the track is so damn catchy that it actually works like a charm on all counts.
196. “If I Ain’t Got You” Alicia Keys (2003)
There was a striking lack of beautiful love songs in the 2000s, especially compared to the 90s, but singer-songwriter Alicia Keys kept the style in check with her “If I Ain’t Got You.” The song is so much more than textbook romantic, it has soul wrapped in a gut-wrenchingly sincere delivery that resonates in a big way. It’s really no wonder the song went on to be such a big hit.
195. “I’m Like A Bird” Nelly Furtado (2000)
Before Nelly Furtado hooked up with Timbaland and got all “promiscuous,” she was a folksy, soulful pop star, guitar in hand. Her debut single, “I’m Like A Bird” put her on the map in a big way thanks to its authentic tightrope walk between “hippie” and “pop.” Add to that a memorable melody, and she had all she needed for an awesome tune.
194. “Disturbia” Rihanna (2008)
Rihanna may have more hits than pretty much all of her peers, but very few have lived up to the standard that “Disturbia” set. The track is so much more than just a standard dance pop tune; it’s dark, haunting, and delirious, but at the same time, it’s strangely uplifting and nonthreatening. There are so many hooks in “Disturbia” that it never really seems to grow old.
193. “A Thousand Miles” Vanessa Carlton (2002)
Every so often, a song comes around that every preteen-to-teenage girl swears by. In the early parts of the decade, newcomer Vanessa Carlton unleashed “A Thousand Miles” on the world, and the rest is really history. Between that unforgettable (but brilliant) piano line, soaring strings, and perfectly melodic lyrics, there’s very little that isn’t worth noting about the song.
192. “Emerge” Fischerspooner (2001)
New York dance duo Fischerspooner took electronica to a really cool, dark place with their single “Emerge.” Bridging the gap between rock and electronica in a way 80s new wave hadn’t really done, it packs so much punch for doing so little. The track has an amazing underground feel to it, yet somehow manages to sound ripe for radio, and it was always a no-brainer that the club scene would eat it up.
191. “Don’t Tell Me” Madonna (2000)
Madonna is the undeniable Queen of Reinvention, and despite her many incarnations, I’m not sure anyone was ready for Cowgirl Madonna. Her Music album featured an interesting juxtaposition of electro and country, and her single “Don’t Tell Me” was its opus. That track is easily one of her finest works, featuring a stop-and-go acoustic guitar laid over a trip-hop beat, but it’s her earnest lyrics that truly make it magical.
190. “Shut Up and Let Me Go” The Ting Tings (2008)
After the annoying curse that was “That’s Not My Name,” we were all ready to thank the Ting Tings for visiting and politely ask them not to come back. Luckily, their follow up, “Shut Up And Let Me Go” redeemed themselves. The perfect blend of dance and punk, the track is simply based around an infectious guitar riff, roaring bass, and dancy drums that simply come together to make something big.
189. “Underneath It All” No Doubt featuring Lady Saw (2001)
By the time the 2000s were in full swing, No Doubt were bonafide superstars and their reggae-lite hit “Underneath It All” was their crowning jewel. What starts out sounding like a parody of itself ends up turning into a beautiful track that calls upon Gwen Stefani’s sappy side. Surprisingly, though, the song’s greatest moment doesn’t even come from the band itself, but featured guest Lady Saw, whose verse is smart, rejuvenating, and all around epic.
188. “You Rock My World” Michael Jackson (2001)
Whereas Michael Jackson spent most of the 2000s dealing with his personal life, the King of Pop still managed to crank out one final classic in the form of “You Rock My World.” With a funky bassline, soulful groove, and delicate vocal, the song is so masterfully infectious and timelessly smooth and that it has certainly earned its place in his unparalleled collection of hits.
187. “Drops Of Jupiter (Tell Me)” Train (2001)
No matter how many stops in Hitsville Train makes, “Drops Of Jupiter” will always be their anthem, The track is more or less a love song, poetically delivered by Pat Monahan on top of a grand landscape of strings and piano. The track never seems to get lost in its own grandeur, but instead feeds on its momentous beauty. Every time it just doesn’t seem any possible for the song to get any bigger, it does, yet somehow never goes too far.
186. “Crystal” New Order (2001)
New Order are undeniable legends of the 80s, but after a strangely relatively-absent 90s, it was the new millennium that offered them one more opportunity to show us what they got. Going in a far more rock and roll direction than their classic new wave sound, “Crystal” instantly became an effortlessly authoritative classic. The familiar roar of Peter Hook’s legendary bass made the track feel like home, but it never turns into an 80s-rehash. Thank God.
185. “I Kissed A Girl” Katy Perry (2008)
Before subliminally corrupting the PG-crowd, Katy Perry put a track out that couldn’t be missed. Sure, “I Kissed A Girl” wasn’t nearly as shocking and she probably wanted, but it’s still a great tune. Harking back to 80s New Wave, the song sits nicely between dance and rock, but remains deliciously pop throughout. With piercing guitars, thunderous electro bass, and struggling vocal, it actually sounds like Ms. Perry has some cool in her.
184. “Just Like A Pill” Pink (2001)
In stark contrast to her “no shits given” side, Pink has always been willing to bring her sensitive, emotional side to the table, rounding her out as an artist. “Just Like A Pill” is easily one of her greatest moments, taking us to a emotionally dark place, but remaining uplifting and anthemic enough to work for pop radio. Surprisingly, it’s the track that makes her badass persona believable.
183. “If I Were A Boy” Beyoncé (2008)
A powerful R&B ballad, Beyoncé’s “If I Were A Boy” showcases her effortless vocal control and belting expertise, all layered on top of a simple soulful, folky instrumental track. The amount of power she conjures up by doing so little certainly lends to her talent, but it makes the track mindblowingly brilliant. By the end of the song, there’s really no way to deny that she was the decade’s juggernaut.
182. “I Write Sins Not Tragedies” Panic! At The Disco (2005)
Panic! At The Disco rose to fame right when pop punk officially became acceptable for top-40 radio, and boy did they capitalize on it, despite only sneaking in for one real zinger. Incorporating strings into the mix (bordering on Baroque pop,) “I Write Sins Not Tragedies” is a compact little bundle of dynamite that explodes with all sorts of dramatics and emotion, but throws in more than a pinch of “pop” to make it unavoidable.
181. “Simple Kind Of Life” No Doubt (2000)
To this day, No Doubt’s “Simple Kind Of Life” remains as underrated as its parent album, Return Of Saturn. The track is uncharacteristically somber and delicate for the band, yet it manages to pack so much punch. Gwen Stefani’s earnest lyrics completely drive the track, but intertwined with a simple guitar strum and strangely emotive drums, and they have themselves a masterpiece.