160. “Island In The Sun” Weezer (2001)
Weezer easily extended their career into the new millennium with one of their most accessible singles to date, “Island In The Sun.” The track is guiltlessly light and fluffy with a bouncy guitar riff and simplistic hook that build into a roaring chorus. It’s the kind of song that really proves why the band have always been so undeniably cool while still finding ways to pump out popular tunes.
159. “Without Me” Eminem (2002)
Upon the release of “Without Me” and his subsequent The Eminem Show album, Eminem was already one of the most loved and loathed rappers in the business. At the time, there was no one more controversial, intriguing, yet undeniably talented and the single played into that in a big way. With a dancy bassline and lyrics that both poke fun at and embrace his public persona, Slim Shady walked away with one killer track.
158. “This Love” Maroon 5 (2002)
Maroon 5’s “This Love” was easily one of pop rock’s crowning moments of the 2000s. The song was equal parts dance, funk, rock, and soul with a shiny pop coating that made it impossible for radio to ignore. In fact, it was so appealing that Adam Levine’s PG-13 lyrics pretty much went over everybody’s head. The track is so much more than just top-40 gold, it’s the kind of song that will hold up for generations.
157. “Roses” Outkast (2003)
The first half of the 2000s was saturated with Outkast’s brilliance, and their last big one, “Roses,” was an undeniable highlight. The song, lifted from their iconic Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, sat on the latter disc (André’s) actually features both members. With a simultaneously a futuristic and throwback R&B sound, the six minute epic is so smooth that its more ridiculous moments come off as completely normal.
156. “Hey Baby” No Doubt featuring Bounty Killer (2001)
No Doubt already had a decade under their belt when “Hey Baby” was released. Having covered everything from ska and punk to pop rock, this time around, Gwen Stefani and Co. folded dancehall into the mix. The song is a booming, innuendo-filled anthem with a memorable verse from Bounty Killer injected right in the middle. The end result was unlike anyone else on the radio at the time, which, of course, helped it become a massive hit.
155. “Before He Cheats” Carrie Underwood (2006)
American Idol hasn’t had many actual success stories, but Carrie Underwood is one of the few exceptions. Her 2006 hit “Before He Cheats” not only landed her an enormous country hit, but successfully crossed her over to pop radio. With Carrie’s enormous voice ripping through a sturdy wall of guitar and fiddle, every time it seems impossible for the song to escalate, it does. It’s also one of the greatest revenge songs…ever.
154. “White Flag” Dido (2003)
Dido has proven time and time again she knows how to deliver a proper trip hop ballad, but none have quite soared to the heights of “White Flag.” The song pairs her warm, fragile vocals with an array of strings that lay soothingly over a subtle beat and guitar. It’s the kind of track that no matter what part you get lost in, it’s going to be a beautiful experience, and that is not an easy feat.
153. “Empire State Of Mind” Jay-Z featuring Alicia Keys (2009)
No matter how famous and legendary Jay-Z seems at any given time, he always manages to grow himself into something bigger. All the way at the end of the decade, after countless hits and iconic tracks, “Empire State Of Mind” became his first #1 as a lead artist. With a stellar chorus belted out by Alicia Keys, the song acts as an anthem for New York City that somehow managed to empower the entire world.
152. “Sugar, We’re Going Down” Fall Out Boy (2005)
Fall Out Boy were one of the most “pop” things to ever happen to pop punk, and it was “Sugar, We’re Going Down” that set those wheels in motion. There’s nothing subtle or small about the song, with an incredible trademark Patrick Stump belt working its way through a powerhouse of guitars and drums. However, it’s the anthemic catchiness of the song that makes it such a standout, yet it never once feels like they were trying to be popular.
151. “Chasing Cars” Snow Patrol (2006)
Every now and then a song comes around that just captivates everyone, and in 2006 that honor belonged to Snow Patrol. Their “Chasing Cars” became everyone’s favorite romantic alternative rock song almost instantaneously thanks to it’s poignant lyrics and tear-jerking climax. Throw on top of that a sweet and memorable melody and a simple guitar riff and you have yourself a brilliant hit.
150. “Imitation Of Life” R.E.M. (2001)
After being the biggest thing to happen to alternative rock in the 80s and the biggest mainstream thing to happen to it in the 90s, R.E.M. had nothing they needed to prove in the 2000s. Nonetheless, they still decided to make great music and their 2001 hit “Imitation Of Love” was a brilliant addition to their catalog. The song is, simply, like taking a bite of the best piece of candy in the store; there’s just something cartoon-like and magical about it.
149. “Time Is Running Out” Muse (2003)
What has always made Muse stick out from the pack is just how big they can make their songs. Their 2003 single “Time Is Running Out” is more or less a masterclass in that. The verses are so playfully subdued that it’s immediately obvious the song is going to explode, but when the bridge revs up into the chorus and Matt Bellamy starts to wail, the ride is so much bigger than even imaginable.
148. “Apologize” Timbaland featuring OneRepublic (2007)
Producer Timbaland craftily monopolized the 2000s, having made such a name for himself that simply adding his name as a feature on a song was enough to secure a hit. His reworking of OneRepublic’s debut single “Apologize” was so monumental, though, that he walked away with the lead credit. The song is another brilliant pairing of rock and hip hop that showcases not only Timbaland’s brilliant production, but both Ryan Tedder’s skills as a songwriter and a frontman.
147. “Heartless” Kanye West (2008)
Kanye West has never failed to re-excite hip hop in a big way, and his 2008 hit “Heartless” was one of his finest moments. With forgivable, yet copious amounts of autotune and a surprisingly sparse amount of instrumentation, the track plays heavily into the “less is more” notion, which is a well-timed contrast to much of his previous work. Somehow, at the end of the song, there’s a general sense that something monumental just took place.
146. “You Belong With Me” Taylor Swift (2009)
Taylor Swift quickly grew into and embraced her role as America’s reigning sweetheart, but when she unleashed “You Belong With Me” on us, there was no denying that she was much more than just a cute country star. The song is undeniably crafted for the pop market, but it’s the fact that the obvious and simple lyrics are so damn relatable to the point that they seem like poetry that makes it a classic.
145. “Lose Control” Missy Elliott featuring Ciara and Fatman Scoop (2005)
“Lose Control” is easily one of Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliott’s most audacious records to date. The song is a frenzied hip hop whirlwind of beats and samples with a strange structure that brings Ciara and Fatman Scoop onboard to add to the madness. When it’s all over, you’re literally left gasping for air. Does it work flawlessly? Absolutely. Honestly, she probably doesn’t even know how to make an uninteresting song.
144. “Dance With My Father” Luther Vandross (2003)
Very few have voices good enough to be uttered in the same sentence with Luther Vandross. Before his untimely death in 2005, he was able to sneak out one last classic in the form of “Dance With My Father.” The track is an emotional ballad co-written with Richard Marx, that is able to remain sweet and touching without ever crossing over into “cheesefest” territory. It’s takes a legend like Luther Vandross to pull this track off, and he did so in a touching way.
143. “Harder To Breathe” Maroon 5 (2002)
Before Maroon 5 were megastars, they decided to take a swing and simply being rock stars with their debut single “Harder To Breathe.” With Adam Levine playing (and winning) a game of “how many lyrics can I fit into a short space,” the track is immediately assertive and convincingly positions them as a rock band in a way they’ve yet to replicate. Still, it’s as catchy and radio-ready as anything else in their catalog.
142. “Ooh La La” Goldfrapp (2005)
British dance pop duo Goldfrapp have been renowned for their glam style and addicting synth tunes, with “Ooh La La” being the clear pinnacle. The song lifts heavily from Norman Greenbaum’s “Spirit In The Sky,” but in a way that reads far more as a reference than a copy and ends up driving the song. Add to that a series of roaring synths and sultry vocals from Alison Goldfrapp and you’ve got yourself one sexy dance number.
141. “In The End” Linkin Park (2001)
When “In The End” hit radio, there was nothing out there quite like it. Every possible sound that was popular at the time was fuzed together and rolled out in one song…and every part is just as memorable as the next. With a swirling piano line, electronic nuances, rap verses, and metal choruses, Linkin Park cover so many difference bases and the fact that they made it work can only result in one of the greatest songs of the decade.