080. “By The Way” Red Hot Chili Peppers (2002)
When the Red Hot Chili Peppers brilliantly led their By The Way album project with its bold and wild title track, I’m not sure anyone knew what to do with it (other than love it.) The song embraces their simple, melodic side and then instantaneously squashes it with their acclaimed frenzied funk rock before finding a middle ground to ride it all out. For every reason there’s every been to love the Chili Peppers, “By The Way” takes it to a bigger level.
079. “Waiting On The World To Change” John Mayer (2006)
Throughout the decade, John Mayer masterfully went from harmless guitar-weilding pop star to soft rock god all before reaching the perfect happy medium with his single “Waiting On The World To Change.” Borrowing more than just a little from The Impressions’ “People Get Ready,” the song is a soulful, bluesy track that was catchy enough to welcomed on pop radio, but still felt cool enough to find a place with the rock crowd.
078. “Video” India.Arie (2001)
India.Arie’s debut, Acoustic Soul might just be the most appropriately titled album of the decade. Her triumphant first single, “Video” lives and breathes just that description as an acoustic guitar dazzles underneath an effortless and understated soulful vocal. The self-love anthem never manages to cross over to preachy or cheesy, but instead makes the listener genuinely feel like India.Arie is more than good with herself. It’s beautiful.
077. “Feel Good Inc.” Gorillaz featuring De La Soul (2005)
Despite being portrayed by cartoons, Gorillaz is indeed a very real band. Released smack dab in the middle of the decade, their single “Feel Good Inc.” acted as a sort of mile marker. With a funky bassline that paired perfectly with an alt rock delivery, danceable beat, and two memorable verses from De La Soul (of all rap groups past their prime,) the track encompassed everything that music was in the 2000s and poured into a perfect pop mold.
076. “Best Of You” Foo Fighters (2005)
The Foo Fighters have never been afraid of being a proper rock band. Without ever showing the slightest sign of trying to be popular or get noticed, they’ve always just let their music speak for itself. Letting “Best Of You” speak for itself just so happened to have earned them a hit. The song sweetly roars in such an unforgiving way that the aching melody shines and all of the peaks and valleys become that much more effective.
075. “The Seed (2.0.)” The Roots featuring Cody Chesnutt (2002)
“The Seed (2.0)” is the kind of timeless jam that is almost to good to believe. It’s a rock song at the very core, but The Roots add appropriately portioned flares of hip hop, soul and psychedelic to cover the entire spectrum. The most undeniable highlight of the track is just how real it sounds. While most of their peers (if you can even consider them having many) sound so processed, this song is as tight and authentic as it gets.
074. “I Will Possess Your Heart” Death Cab For Cutie (2008)
Death Cab For Cutie’s “I Will Possess Your Heart” takes the concept of “long song” and completely turns it on its head. Literally the entire first half of the 8 and a half minute epic is an instrumental, riffing off the musical motifs that drive the sweet and melodic second. While either part could stand alone and hold up beautifully, when you listen to the whole song from start to finish, it’s an unparalleled experience.
073. “The Real Slim Shady” Eminem (2000)
Eminem, as an artist, was a hard pill to swallow initially. Not many people understood his audacious, sarcastic, and fearless lyrics, so when it came time to tackle the new millennium, Em decided to embrace his perception and toy with us that much more in “The Real Slim Shady.” With hilariously shocking verses that build up into the masterfully addicting chorus, the track leaves him with the last laugh because, let’s be honest, we were all singing along.
072. “No One Knows” Queens Of The Stone Age (2002)
Queens Of The Stone Age triumphantly graced us with one the decade’s greatest riffs on their hard rock anthem “No One Knows.” Walking the tightrope between metal and melody-driven rock, the track goes hard, but somehow maintains a soft, yearning quality that simultaneously makes it both accessible and terrifying. The song is so stacked in all the right places, though, that no matter what, you’re going to be left feeling something…and loving it.
071. “Untitled (How Does It Feel?)” D’Angelo (2000)
The 2000s had no better baby-maker than D’Angelo’s “Untitled (How Does It Feel?).” The 7 minute, velvety, soulful, sexy jam is one of the greatest things to happen to modern R&B. Clearly channeling his inner-Prince in a more-than-obvious way, D’Angelo managed to paint a scene that leaves us all sexually frustrated, but musically satisfied nonetheless. The climax at the end trumps any and every non-musical orgasm achievable anyway.
070. “Can’t Stand Me Now” The Libertines (2004)
The Libertines were just about the rowdiest rockers of the new millennium, but, damn, did they know how to craft a song. Their greatest single came in the form of “Can’t Stand Me Now,” a surprisingly polished tune for how raw and chaotic it actually is. The track is undeniable anthem that never caves in from being overcomplicated or trying too hard, and in a strange way, the guitars come together to create something rather beautiful.
069. “Banquet” Bloc Party (2005)
Released on Bloc Party’s debut album, Silent Alarm, “Banquet” was the kind of song that seemed to stop the world. Bringing dance rock into the new millennium, the track has a fervor in its instrumentation that provides incentive to move, but it never steps outside of its comfortable rock and roll box. The chorus is achingly jubilant, but becomes too candy-coated or draining; it manages to pull us in, but keep us guessing.
068. “By Your Side” Sade (2000)
It seems that with every new Sade release, the wait for their next one is even longer. When the group released their 2000 Lovers Rock album, it had been 8 years since their last, but boy was that wait worth it. The lead single, “By Your Side” is a romantic slice of heaven. A reflective, soulful track with an acoustic vibe, it is so instrumentally simple and smooth that her vocals get to be the star of the show, despite how understated they are.
067. “Ch-Check It Out” Beastie Boys (2004)
By 2004, we all knew the importance of the Beastie Boys, and we were all stoked that after a 5-year hiatus, we were gifted some new music. “Ch-Check It Out” felt like a comeback of sorts, and it was as glorious as anyone could have hoped for. With a frenzied hip hop beat paired with blaring horn samples, the backdrop is perfect for the trio to trade off verse after verse and leave us one hell of an addicting hook.
066. “Mr. Brightside” The Killers (2003)
Despite not going on to be a huge hit until a year later, The Killers’ first single “Mr. Brightside” is one of the finest debut tracks in rock history. With an incredible pop sensibility that wraps itself around an oozing arpeggiated guitar riff, authoritative lead vocal, and synthesized nuances the song made us all feel cool for liking it (and we all liked it.) The chorus is so anthemic and enormous that it’s almost enough to lift you off the ground.
065. “Viva La Vida” Coldplay (2008)
By the time Coldplay was ready to release their forth album, the painfully long titled Viva La Vida or Death And All His Friends, they were the biggest band in the world. When they unleashed the title track (well, the first title track) on the world, everything else seemed to stop for a fleeting moment so everyone could focus on it. Driven by a bold string progression, lamenting lyrics, and a sing-a-long melody, “Viva La Vida” is one of the greatest concert anthems of all time.
064. “Milkshake” Kelis (2003)
Kelis’ “Milkshake” is one of the sneakiest pop hits t0 ever exist. With a hook that had everyone singing along, the song is an obvious sexual euphemism that managed to go over so many heads. For those who go it, the track became that much better. The sleazy, electro-hip hop track has everything necessary for an awesome track in its own right, though. It’s stripped down as far as it could go and somehow manages to sound almost over-complicated.
063. “Bad Romance” Lady Gaga (2009)
After the enormous hits from her debut album, Lady Gaga quickly followed up with the flawless not-quite-album-not-quite-EP The Fame Monster. Kicking off the project with one of the most breathtaking dance pop records of the past 30 years, “Bad Romance,” it became abundantly clear that she was no one trick pony or fleeting fad. The song is spot on lyrically, but it’s the amount of hooks she was able to cram in there that makes it an unbelievably perfect pop tune.
062. “One Mic” Nas (2001)
When hip hop is at its most earnest and fragile, it has the ability to change the world. Nas’ “One Mic” was the kind of song that does so little to make an enormous impact. Borrowing from Phil Collins’ “In The Air Tonight,” the track creates an atmosphere that pairs strikingly well with the lyrics. Each verse crescendos into a chilling climax all before dropping off suddenly to let the immortal phrase, “All I need is one mic” sizzle into our souls.
061. “’03 Bonnie & Clyde” Jay-Z featuring Beyoncé (2002)
And this is where it all began. The power couple, both actually and musically, that is Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter and Beyoncé Knowles was born via one of the decade’s most captivating collaborations. “’03 Bonnie & Clyde,” featured on Jay’s The Blueprint 2, sees Beyoncé stepping out of Destiny’s Child and laying the groundwork for her solo career. With a stellar Prince interpolation and a little flamenco flair, the track was the start to something beautiful.