140. “Black Horse & The Cherry Tree” KT Tunstall (2005)
Scottish singer-songwriter KT Tunstall took the world by storm with her inexplicably good “Black Horse & The Cherry Tree.” Between the simplistic bluesy beat, mesmerizing guitar riff, and catchy “woohoo” hook, the song has all of the elements of a perfect pop song. However, it’s the singer’s unrelenting ability to maintain her “indie cool” that makes it so guiltless and memorable.
139. “No One” Alicia Keys (2007)
When Alicia Keys gets it right, she really gets it right. Her smooth, soulful pop tunes were standouts of the decade, and her impeccable “No One” is one of her greatest achievements. The track is a romantically emotional belter with an uplifting melody that brilliantly walks the tightrope between completely addicting and borderline predictable. It’s the kind of “home cooking” Alicia Keys song that is impossible not to feel good about.
138. “Daughters” John Mayer (2003)
John Mayer was the king of singer-songwriters in the 2000s from his bubbly pop tunes dazzling with his musty and sultry voice to his guitar-heavy epics that bring out his more daring, bluesy side. Still, no one was quite ready for his simple, acoustic ballad, “Daughters” upon its arrival. The song moves with an easy-to-follow melody that brings out a “full-circle” set of lyrics that beckon a sing-a-long upon every listen.
137. “Independent Women Part 1” Destiny’s Child (2000)
When Destiny’s Child finally landed on their classic trio of Michelle Williams, Kelly Rowland, and, oh yeah, Beyoncé Knowles, the ladies released their statement-of-a-single “Independent Women,” lifted from the Charlie’s Angels soundtrack. The song is a mid-tempo, dancy, R&B ball of sass that so seamlessly moves from one hook to the next that the movie references don’t even seem to stick out.
136. “Live Your Life” T.I. featuring Rihanna (2008)
When you put hit-machines T.I. and Rihanna on a track together, it’s a no-brainer than the result is going to be, you guessed it, a hit. Upon listening to “Live Your Life,” though, it’s clear that the pair managed to actually crank something pretty remarkable out. Aside from any empowering lyrics or booming beats, it’s the fact that they interpolated “Numa Numa” in a way that didn’t sound ridiculous that makes it so awesome.
135. “Run” Snow Patrol (2003)
Snow Patrol was consistently able to set themselves aside from their peers with their chilling alternative ballads. Their finest achievement came in the form of 2003’s “Run,” lifted from their third album, Final Straw. The track builds into a haunting chorus that really finds away to awaken every goosebump on your body, and still holds the integrity of a strikingly beautiful indie rock anthem.
134. “I’m Yours” Jason Mraz (2008)
Jason Mraz was the true trailblazer of “hippie pop” in the 2000s with his guitar in hand and scat-tastic hooks. Without a doubt his most successful effort, “I’m Yours,” is also one of his finest. It’s the kind of song that only comes around every so often and actually gets noticed for its undeniable likability. With a bubbly acoustic guitar, disgustingly catchy melody, and all-around ingenious romanticism, the track just ends up appealing to everybody.
133. “Little Lion Man” Mumford & Sons (2009)
It may have taken a little while before Mumford & Sons found full-fledged commercial success, but before they were as big as it gets, they were just four guys making pop-oriented folk-rock. Their debut single “Little Lion Man,” to date, remains their finest effort with its simplistic instrumentation that manages to pack a bombastic energy. Add to that a set of confusing lyrics and over-the-top backing vocals, and you’ve got yourself an awesome song.
132. “Izzo (H.O.V.A.)” Jay-Z (2001)
Very few artists can make a fantastic song out of a personal anthem that doesn’t contain any real words in the title. Jay-Z is among that elite group. Between a completely un-clichéd sample of the Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back” and a set of autobiographical lyrics that take us through the whole Story of Hov, it’s really how radio-friendly and catchy it is that makes it such a noteworthy effort in his enviable catalog of music.
131. “Sound Of The Underground” Girls Aloud (2002)
Very few know Girls Aloud outside of their native UK, but the quintet are bonafide superstars there. Regardless, their debut single “Sound Of The Underground” was easily one of the 2000’s greatest pop moments. The song calls upon everything from dance to surf rock to create a strangely successful urban-flaired tune that has just enough sleaze to make you feel naughty without having to hide it.
130. “Hate To Say I Told You So” The Hives (2000)
The Hives let the world know they had arrived in a big way with their debut single “Hate To Say I Told You So.” The Swedish rockers pay musical homage to everyone from the Kinks to the Sex Pistols to help them create their energetic epic. There’s an authentic raw “garage” sound to the record, but it’s so perfectly tight that it’s no wonder people found a way to latch onto it… despite most not even noticing it until 2 years later.
129. “Dani California” Red Hot Chili Peppers (2006)
The Red Hot Chili Peppers are undeniable rock gods, and they really took the bull that was the 2000s by the horns and refused to stop cranking out classics upon classics. Mid-decade the group really hit their stride with one of their biggest hits to date, “Dani California.” The song brings them back to their funk rock roots, but this time sees an appropriate-for-the-title West Coast laid-back groove that makes it beyond enjoyable to listen to.
128. “Valerie” Mark Ronson featuring Amy Winehouse (2007)
Take an already awesome Zutons song, up the tempo, add a healthy dose of horns, and a replace the lead vocals with Amy Winehouse and you’ve got yourself a force to be reckoned with. The way Mark Ronson transformed “Valerie” is almost not fair to the original. To have the incomparable Ms. Winehouse wail through the lyrics while a soulful, bass-tastic instrumental arrangement plays really leaves no space left for anything else.
127. “Boulevard Of Broken Dreams” Green Day (2004)
Fully embracing their “punk rock icon” status and promptly chucking it out the window, Green Day showed us their more “epic” soft side with their hit “Boulevard Of Broken Dreams.” The song may not have the same simplicity of “Good Riddance,” but it still manages to capture a similar emotional punch. With an anthemic melody and earnest lyrics, the track is one of rock’s more beautiful moments of the decade.
126. “Irreplaceable” Beyoncé (2006)
When Beyoncé fully brings out the sass, the end result is always going to be something fierce. Instead of the usual wild R&B beats that rip under her “no shits given” lyrics, “Irreplaceable” brings out the acoustic guitar and takes things down a notch. In a strange way, the end result ends up being more effective. With brilliant one-liner after brilliant one-liner and a never ending series of hooks, the song is one of her most flawlessly executed to date.
125. “What You Waiting For?” Gwen Stefani (2004)
With previous collaborations with Moby and Eve, it was clear that Gwen Stefani had more to offer than her No Doubt output, but I’m not sure anyone was really ready for “What You Waiting For?” The track fully embraces the new wave era of the 80s in a way that was just a little bit ahead of its time. With a brilliant electric guitar that roars on top of a bed of dance beats and synths, it’s that Gwen did the whole “pop” thing on her terms that makes it incredible.
124. “Bring Me To Life” Evanescence featuring Paul McCoy (2003)
When newcomers Evanescence released “Bring Me To Life,” there was nothing else on the radio like it. The track was as heavy as anything modern metal had to offer, but with a beautiful arrangement of strings and lead singer Amy Lee’s outstanding vocals, there’s this delicate and vulnerable side that simultaneously drives it. When all of the elements come together, it ends up being one of rock’s standout moments of the new millennium.
123. “1234” Feist (2007)
Canadian songstress Feist went from zero to hero in the blink of an iPod commercial thanks to a prominent feature of her single “1234.” What was always going to be an amazing indie anthem ended up doubling as a radio-accepted pop hit, but the sweet and lightweight tune never managed to step outside of its “cool.” There’s a childlike nursery rhyme likability to the track that just makes you feel good whenever its on.
122. “American Boy” Estelle featuring Kanye West (2008)
Sometimes the stars just align at the right time and a brilliant pop song is born to shine the world over; cue Estelle’s “American Boy.” The song was produced by Black Eyed Peas frontman will.i.am, but in a way that wildly overshadowed any of his B.E.P. or solo work, and, of course, throw a verse or two from Kanye West on there and you’ve got a winner. Estelle herself carries the dancy R&B track, though, with her barely-in-tune delivery that somehow really works.
121. “Need You Now” Lady Antebellum (2009)
Country music rarely gets its due on the pop charts, but Lady Antebellum’s “yeah I’ve definitely been there” ballad, “Need You Now” left no way to prevent it from crossing over. While it fully made its splash in the following decade, the rumbles began mid-09 and it was immediately heralded as a classic. The country ballad has that depressing relatable quality the genre is known for, but it has a melody so sweet that it really manages to hit home.