10 Years, 100 Songs: Intro & #200-181
Posted by Andrew Unterberger on May 22, 2009
(Note: Blu Cantrell will not actually be appearing on this list)
In case you didn’t notice, the decade is over. Like, done. As in, a little over seven months from now, we’ll be into the 2010s. Crazy, isn’t it? It feels like just yesterday that we were making jokes about hanging chads and Hollow Man, and now we have to start gearing up for the 10th Anniversary Deluxe Reissue of Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water. Maybe it’s just because of all that millennial/Y2K nonsense last time we switched decades, but I felt like I was preparing for the end of the 1990s since 1996. Now, the decade is winding down, and we still haven’t even really figured out what we’re going to refer to it as (though I imagine consensus we’ll go with the “oughties,” just because that’ll give us the added opportunity to further label them the “Naughty Oughties,” regardless of whether or not that descriptor is actually applicable). It just feels a little bit too soon.
What it’s never too soon for, though, is a big fucking countdown to commemorate the lord’s decade coming to a close. You might have noticed things being a bit slow around here recently, and while I’d like to pretend that my jetsetting lifestyle has cost me priceless minutes in front of the computer, truth of the matter is that I’m still staring at screens for the majority of my life, now occcasionally even getting paid to do so. What I’ve been lacking for more is in the inspiration front (blame the NBA playoffs, perhaps) and since nothing gets me back on track like a large-scale list project, I figured it might be time to provide my definitive take on / gushing love letter to the rich, heady subject of the pop music of the 2000s.
So, how to crystalize the decade in 100 songs? Well, it’s hard to say exactly what qualifications I used to come up with this list–they’re not necessarily the most important songs or biggest hits of the decade, though the great majority of ’em were either popular or significant in some way. And they’re not necessarily my favorites or my picks for the best songs, though I certainly love ’em all and would defend them to anyone. Basically, its a countdown of the songs that I think best define the decade (or the good parts, at least), and the ones that I think I’ll most look back on ten-twenty years from now when trying to come up with a mental picture of what this decade was like for pop music. Or, if you don’t buy any of that, fine, then they’re 100 unordered songs that I happen to like and want to write about.
Of course, 100 songs isn’t really enough to properly cover 120 months’ worth of quality tunes, so I’ve extended the list to 200, the first half of which I’ll be running through 20 at a time in significantly more abbreviated form, before I start the full one-at-a-time entries–which, lord willing, I will be finished with before the calendar reads 2010.
#200. t.A.t.U. – “Not Gonna Get Us” 10.0 for concept…maybe like an 8.2 for execution. This was as close to perfect as it got, certainly.
#199. MIMS – “This is Why I’m Hot” Accurate enough for as long as it lasted. I don’t know if MIMS should be credited or berated for not following this up with any number of sequel songs, however. “This is Why I’m Cool As Well”? “That Was Why I Was Hot, This is Why I’m on Fire”? “Still Hot After All These Years”? Still has seven months to go, I guess.
#198. OK Go – “Here It Goes Again“ You know, the song was pretty good too.
#197. Tweet – “Oops (Oh My)“ The inspiration for several awkward mock-stripteases at my high school’s talent shows, and also for a surprisingly good Ladytron cover. Plus, hip-hop videos that take place in ice palaces are always awesome.
#196. Norah Jones – “Don’t Know Why“ Maybe the mellowest, least imposing song to ever hit pop music (and its many meaningless award shows) with tsunami force. I dunno, I like it.
#195. Elvis Presley vs. Junkie XL – “A Little Less Conversation” The rebirth of The King, and/or the final nail in the big beat coffin. As far as junky dance music more fit for GAP commercials than dancefloors, it narrowly edges out The Wiseguys’ “Start the Commotion” and the Fatboy Slim remix of Groove Armada’s “I See You Baby“.
#194. Los Campensinos – “You! Me! Dancing!” There were a good number of indie-pop songs written about dancing in the 2000s. I’m pretty sure this was the only one that wasn’t even slightly terrible.
#193. N.O.R.E. – “Nothin’” You know the Neptunes had a pretty good decade when a classic like this is maybe their seventh-highest rater on my list. Also notable for (presumably) being the only hip-hop song in history to reference both Creed and Smash Mouth.
#192. Nickelback – “Figured You Out” Yes, they were assholes. But I maintain that they deserve points for just how little they attempted to disguise that fact.
#191. Akon – “Right Now (Na Na Na Na)” No question that Akon’s biggest contribution to 00s pop were the “WOOOOOO-OOOO….YEEEEE-OOOOOO!!!“s he provided Gwen Stefani for “The Sweet Escape,” but as far as solo efforts go, this was certainly the most delightful of his late-decade offensive barrage.
#190. Annie – “Chewing Gum” Hard to count the number of female pop stars in this country whose career Annie was far more deserving of. Better luck next decade, girl.
#189. E-40 f/ Keak da Sneak – “Tell Me When to Go” For a few months, Bay Area was supposed to be the next big thing in hip-hop. Feel like this song was more than enough for me.
#188. Fabolous – “Young’n“ Considering that Fabolous was never anything more than a replacement-level rapper, he ended up on an impressive number of decent hit songs. First was best, though, with the call-and-response hook, the subway-set video (always a good idea, guys), and the foreshadowing of the ringtone-rap era by about half a decade. WOOO WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
#187. Jonas Brothers – “S.O.S.” For one of the biggest pop phenomenons of the decade, the Jonas Brothers have left surprisingly few enduring crossover hits–Fabian and Leif Garrett can relate, no doubt. “Burnin’ Up” might be the closest, but this song is a little better, short and sweet and with just the right amount of synth. While we’re here, though, shoutouts as well to Aly & AJ’s “Potential Breakup Song” and Miley Cyrus’s “7 Things.”
#186. KT Tunstall – “Black Horse & Cherry Tree“ Dared to play the guitar in an era when all her other pasty VH1-approved compatriots were sitting behind pianos, much to the delight of Grey’s Anatomy viewers and American Idol contestants. Of course she’d been big in the UK forever, they’re probably thrilled to have dumped her on us. Let this be a lesson to you, kids–getting Sophie Muller to do your video is a very solid first step towards transcontinental domination.
#185. Scissor Sisters – “I Don’t Feel Like Dancin'” If it had been on their first album–before everyone who didn’t already hate them got sick to death of them–it could’ve been huge. As was, still their finest, least cringe-worthy moment by some distance.
#184. Hot Hot Heat – “Bandages” Yelpy, repetitive nonsense, but who doesn’t love a good organ hook? My roommate’s sister allegedly once pissed herself out of excitement at a Hot Hot Heat show, somehow that seems infinitely more embarrassing than doing so at a Kajagoogoo or Dead or Alive concert would have been twenty years earlier.
#183. Five for Fighting – “Superman” The 00s turned out to be a pretty decent decade for self-pity, and Five for Fighting got them off to a hell of a start. Took me years to be able to even listen to it, but it seems quaintly charming to me now. Are they Canadian? They must be Canadian, right?
#182. Liam Lynch – “United States of Whatever“ The last gasp of the slacker generation, courtesy of the guy who was in some capacity responsible for Sifl & Oly. I haven’t listened to it in about seven years, so if it somehow stopped being funny somewhere along the line, please don’t tell me.
#181. Peter Bjorn & John – “Young Folks” In 2006 and into 2007, “Young Folks” was the little indie single that could, coming from humble beginnings to eventually get sampled by Kanye West, covered by Nena (yes, that Nena) and tapped by Josh Schwartz to introduce Gossip Girl to the world. Personally I think the song’s out of mysteries after the first minute, but a truly great whistle hook will scratch its way to the surface every time.