The 200 Best Songs of the 2000s - Page 11 (2023)

  • Record Collection, 2004

The 200 Best Songs of the 2000s - Page 11 (1)

  • The Walkmen

“The Rat”


Somebody is pissed, somebody else is reeling from remorse, and everybody’s going full throttle on what has become the signature Walkmen hyperjam. Hamilton Leithauser, unhinged even on a good day, just flies right off the handle and the rest of the band doesn’t slack for a second. Forget secret weapons; everything’s out in the open here and all the more dangerous for it. And Bows & Arrows ain’t the half of it: This is a St. Valentine’s Day Massacre of relentless drums, bass, and guitar. It all comes together with the whiz-bang aplomb of a Scorsese picture– of course remorse is all that’s left when it’s over. Even so, “The Rat” doesn’t need a context or backstory or string of descriptive metaphors to completely knock you over. It’s a headrush of a song that succeeds entirely on its own merits, like the ultimate emo anthem for an alternate dimension where girls don’t exist (sorry, ladies), music is a form of violence, and emo actually means raw, unbridled emotion and nothing more. –Matthew Solarski

Listen: The Walkmen: “The Rat”

  • Jive/BMG, 2002

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  • R. Kelly

“Ignition (Remix)”


You have to work very hard indeed to sound this casual. “Ignition (Remix)” is a lazy, buzzed collage of a night on the town put together with a craftsman’s eye. The same trick– making meticulous detail sound almost improvised– is what made “Trapped in the Closet” so shockingly successful and replayable. Here R. Kelly isn’t telling a story so much as throwing out images, but the template is similar: a chassis of easy-rolling steppers’ music that can respond to the slightest change in the singer’s mood.

Not a phrase is wasted: When the Mountain Goats’ John Darnielle started a message board thread on 100 reasons for this song’s greatness, every single fraction of “Ignition (Remix)” got its own nomination (and the list went well beyond 100). Personal favorites– the cork-and-glasses onomatopoeia of “Cris-tal poppin’”; the five table-rapping beats that summon the chorus; and, inevitably, “bounce bounce bounce bounce bounce.” Every decade brings us songs whose purpose is simply to bottle the feeling of the best night out it’s possible to enjoy. Call it a service to history: if, as seems likely, future generations judge the 00s as an era of bubble-fuelled idiocy, we will at least be able to point to “Ignition (Remix)” and say, “Yes, but just hear how great it felt.” –Tom Ewing

Listen: R. Kelly: “Ignition (Remix)”

  • DFA/Mute, 2008

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  • Hercules and Love Affair



It goes without saying that “Blind” captivates any dancefloor. The real story is that Hercules and Love Affair’s Andrew Butler should be applauded for anticipating just how brilliant a disco diva Antony could be, and how physically tactile his quavering voice might sound in a club setting. “As a child I knew that the stars could only get brighter,” he sighs, and rarely before has innocence lost seemed so tragic. “Blind” doesn’t mourn the loss of childhood, but childhood’s dreams of a future in which lasting and meaningful connections might be forged. You dance in response because there is nothing else worth doing, and no other way to understand others that will work any better. A bleak vision, and yet it feels of a piece with all of dance music’s finest expressions of hopeless, unrequited devotion. “Blind” pays homage to this legacy of disco and primitive house, but also offers its own tremulous rejoinder, “What if I don’t just feel alone tonight, but every night?” In doing so, it doesn’t introduce existential angst to the dancefloor so much as reveal how its creeping fear was always already there.. –Tim Finney

Listen: Hercules and Love Affair: “Blind”

  • 679, 2004

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  • Annie



A few great records were made this decade about the memory of dancing: In this one the dance is a stand-in for everything joyful and special about a lost moment. With its urgent builds, “Heartbeat” wills that dance to start again; with her serene delivery, Annie knows that it can’t really. An Internet sensation before that meant much actual success, for most of the 00s Annie made ginger attempts to step from being “our” pop star to being everyone’s. The subsequent success of Robyn and M.I.A. suggests this was no pipe-dream, but since most of Annie’s best songs from “Chewing Gum” to “Anthonio” are exercises in beguiling diffidence it’s not wholly surprising she never managed it.

And it hardly matters: hit-laden or not, very few catalogues contain anything as bewitching as “Heartbeat”, a piece of disco handicraft as intimate as it is giddy. Annie’s final verse, taken quiet and half-spoken as the song peaks, is like eavesdropping on a secret wish. As soon as she finishes it the song blows out like a birthday candle. “I won’t forget.” Stardom be damned, neither will we. –Tom Ewing

Listen: Annie: “Heartbeat”

  • DFA, 2002

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  • The Rapture

“House of Jealous Lovers”


For a lot of people, “House of Jealous Lovers” was so inextricable from a time (2002) and a place (New York City) that by the time it saw an official album release, it was seen as a hell of a wake for the dance-punk movement that came and went with a speed that was pretty impressive even for indie sub-genres. Me, I didn’t know about any of that shit. In October 2003, I was in a Georgia college town while struggling with an iffy Internet connection– I bought Echoes on a recommendation and played Track 6 on a damn near continuous loop and had to find out who the hell these guys were. I can’t be the only one.

However emblematic it is of its DFA-led scene or whatever, sweet Jesus, what a song. All those lame bandwagon acts, the failure of this scene to catch on commercially– the Rapture don’t need to answer for any of that. You need no investment in its importance to find infinite pleasure in that bassline and Luke Jenner’s fearlessly off-key hooks. Even the cowbell hasn’t gotten old. Point being, I can’t imagine ever hearing “House of Jealous Lovers” without wondering if we maybe should give this dance-punk thing another shot, like, right now. –Ian Cohen

Listen: The Rapture: “House of Jealous Lovers”

  • Rabid/Mute, 2002

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  • The Knife



No matter which iteration of “Heartbeats” you may prefer – the original recording from Deep Cuts, the dance remix by Rex the Dog, the achingly sentimental arrangement from the Silent Shout live disc, or even the cover versions by José González and the Scala choir– the essence of the song is always the same. The tune is strangely immutable, as if no interpretation, however radical, could possibly upset its precise balance of desire and nostalgia. As malleable as “Heartbeats” may be, it is best heard sung by Karin Dreijer Andersson, who invests her cryptic lyrics about a brief, intense love affair with a passion and vulnerability seemingly at odds with her metallic, otherworldly tone. Andersson’s words suggest as much pleasure as pain, but her voice lingers in between, where lust and terror overlap in a moment of profound intimacy.

Though the chorus suggests a deep sense of loss and regret, the emphasis is placed on the fleeting connection, which is presented as a sort of magical inevitability. Indeed, there is magic in every note of the song, manifesting itself just as much in the melody as in specific details, such as the subtle decay in the neon-hued synth tones of the original, or the cavernous spaces separating the arpeggiated notes of the live arrangement. Whether performed plaintively or joyously, each version of “Heartbeats” is a miracle in its own right, highlighting a different aspect of the same incredible, life-affirming experience. –Matthew Perpetua

Listen: The Knife: “Heartbeats”

  • Roc-A-Fella, 2003

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  • Jay-Z

“99 Problems”


With respect to “Hard Knock Life” or “I.Z.Z.O.”, this was Jay-Z’s complete crossover moment, the single that catapulted him out of hip-hop superstardom into everyone’s vernacular. In retrospect, it sounds very much like he knows it; listen to the way his hushed lines at the beginning build into something more sure-footed over time. By the outro, he’s beaming in the direction of producer Rick Rubin, as if the song’s hugeness is now a foregone conclusion. To be fair, Jay-Z pretty much always sounds like he’s attending his own coronation, but in the context of “99 Problems”’s stadium-huge guitar inhalations and exhalations, that exuberance feels especially infectious.

And don’t forget the context. Before Jay-Z and Beyoncé were officially a thing, they spent months playing coy with the media. Speculation reached boiling point with the serendipitously-aligned releases of a blatant affirmation in the form of “Crazy in Love” and a blatant denial in the form of “99 Problems”. Of course, everyone knew the story by then, but the fact that this played out the way it did (i.e. with two monstrous singles, the other of which he featured on, playing call and response at the top of the charts) is as much a testament to Jigga’s PR savviness as anything else; you don’t reach this level on music alone. –Mark Pytlik

Listen: Jay-Z: “99 Problems”

  • DFA, 2002

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  • LCD Soundsystem

“Losing My Edge”


If the songs on this list were chosen solely by how they captured the zeitgeist in independent music, “Losing My Edge” would be an easy #1. The most audacious debut single of the 00s, "Losing My Edge" captured the anxiety of trying to use your taste in music as a badge of cool in the era when all music is available to anyone who can afford a broadband connection. Over a beat borrowed from Killing Joke’s “Change”, James Murphy alternates a lament about being eclipsed by "The kids coming up from behind" with tall tales of early encounters with Can, Suicide, Captain Beefheart, and other icons of hipster scum. The worst thing about this new generation of interlopers? “They’re actually really nice,” Murphy says, which makes them even more difficult to hate.

But while he laid out the essential facts of music fandom in our age and also articulated the central absurdity of forming a band in a time of such excess (What do you do when everything has been done?), Murphy then managed to transcend it all. Yep, we’re fucked: there’s nothing new under the sun, and unlike the kids, we don’t have the advantage of not knowing. So what next, then? You go for it, make music anyway, and do it so well that no one cares what you actually know and whom you’re borrowing from. Which is what he did the rest of the decade. –Mark Richardson

Listen: LCD Soundsystem: “Losing My Edge”

  • LaFace/Arista, 2003

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  • OutKast

“Hey Ya!”


What’s cooler than being cool? How about ebullient songs about life-cracking misery? Those are pretty cool. How about lyrics so sharp that nearly every line in them becomes a catchphrase? And hard funk grooves in weird power-pop time signatures? And presentations of black male sexuality that basically come down to being really clever and funny? Those are cool also. Actually, you know what was really cool? You remember the moment in the fall of 2003 when “Hey Ya!” came out and it sounded like André 3000 had cracked the code and made a record that sounded like everything on the radio and nothing anyone had heard before, and it seemed like the walls between rock and R&B and hip-hop were about to topple and from then on there would just be this enormous pool of popular music that everyone could swim around in? And then there was the equally brilliant paradigm-smashing video for it, and then after that somebody did that “A Charlie Brown Christmas” cut-up video that’s still funny more than five years later? And we all thought that OutKast had come into their true power and had a million more amazing hits in front of them, and didn’t notice that they’d basically already broken up even though to this day they keep insisting that they’re a going concern despite the fact that they don’t tour together and barely appear on each other’s records? God, that was cool. Ice cold. –Douglas Wolk

Listen: OutKast: “Hey Ya!”

  • Downtown/Warner, 2005

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  • Gnarls Barkley



Any successful artistic collaboration is going to rely to some degree on serendipity, but Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy” seems an especially uncanny intersection of timing and talent. Though the partnership between producer Danger Mouse– fresh off the success of The Grey Album, his Jay-Z/Beatles mash-up– and Goodie Mob rapper/soulman Cee-Lo Green seemed like an intriguing match-up from the start, it hardly seemed like a recipe for an instantaneous worldwide smash hit. Yet from the time it first appeared on the group’s website, “Crazy” became the virtual definition of a viral hit single, eventually becoming the first song to reach #1 on the UK charts solely through download sales.

Perhaps the song’s immediate commercial success is a reflection of the spontaneity with which it was recorded. In a 2006 interview, Danger Mouse told Pitchfork that Cee-Lo’s entire vocal for the song had been recorded on the first take, a claim that might seem outlandish if “Crazy” didn’t sound quite so vibrant and alive. Based on a sample from a vintage spaghetti western soundtrack, Danger Mouse’s production is spare and compact, giving Green all the space he needs to fully inhabit the song. And it remains a joy to hear the way Green seizes the moment, his spirited vocal managing to sound both exuberant and wistful, and it quickly becomes clear that other artists might spend a career in the studio and never capture a similar moment of such casual magic. –Matthew Murphy

Listen: Gnarls Barkley: “Crazy”

  • Merge, 2004

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  • Arcade Fire

“Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)”


Funeral is a great record top-to-bottom, and it really does work brilliantly as an album, with its interludes, recurring themes, and consistently affecting songs. But sometimes it’s just too intense to absorb all it once, and at times like this, you can just play just the album’s opening track, “Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)”, which encapsulates everything great about the record in one five-minute slab of yearning.

“Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)” is a fantasy of teenage escape, imagining a world without parents and adult sadness, in a town buried in snow with tunnels connecting two of the characters. The lyrics paint a surreal and compelling picture, but there’s just as much meaning in the crack of Win Butler’s voice, who is bound so tightly with angst that his singing just sort of escapes in yelping waves. There’s the resonance of the piano, sounding like a creaky old upright playing 100 years ago. And there’s the song’s ecstatic build, all the voices and instruments– and there are a lot of them– joined together in a communal sing-along that both celebrates and mourns. It’s all just so much, man, that sometimes five minutes is all you can take. So "Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)" is there for you, until next time. –Mark Richardson

Listen: Arcade Fire: “Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)”

  • Domino, 2009

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  • Animal Collective

“My Girls”


Leaked in late 2008, right in the middle of an ongoing economic meltdown, “My Girls” was perfectly of its moment, decrying materialism for simpler joys: “I don’t need to seem like I care about material things like social status/ I just want four walls and adobe slabs for my girls!” They don’t sing those lines; they exclaim them amid a whirl of synth beeps and sine waves that started from chaos and coalesced into an exuberant stomp.

It may be a strangely sentimental point for an indie group with avant-noise roots to make, but it also signaled another sea change in a decade full of them for Animal Collective. If previously they donned masks and adopted nicknames to hide their identities, coming across as way too esoteric to play to the rafters, on “My Girls” the band step forward as pop stars of their own making, managing the impossible feat of straddling so many different audiences: indie nerds, jambanders, your parents. They could end up being Phish or Arcade Fire or maybe both, but this song is the key to their future: effervescent, heartfelt, inventive, original, and gutsy enough to suggest that we don’t need a stable economy to be rich. –Stephen M. Deusner

Listen: Animal Collective: “My Girls”

  • Capitol, 2000

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  • Radiohead



I’m pretty certain when Paul Lansky was composing his primitive computer piece, “Mild und Leise” in 1973, he didn’t reckon that 27 years later four chords from that work would cause thousands of listeners to spend the succeeding decade spontaneously breaking out in chills whenever they encountered them. Superficially, "Idioteque" is just another of Radiohead’s miraculous efforts on Kid A to harness the power and strangeness of several decades’ worth of experimental music and recontextualize it inside of a four- or five-minute “rock” song by a multi-platinum band with tremendous melodic gifts and a spectrally majestic singer.

Yet somehow, “Idioteque” has always stood apart, inevitably eliciting greater screams when introduced in concert than any other song that isn’t a long-forgotten, heavily-fetishized B-side. Despite originating from the birth pangs of the technological revolution, “Idioteque” remains one of Radiohead’s most forward-feeling songs, thanks to its abstracted drum patterns and assorted spritzing gadgetry. Perhaps above all else, it captures the philosophical essence of Radiohead– oblique existentialist lyrics that nonetheless unmistakably suggest confusion, helplessness and menace, wedded to a song structure that similarly refuses to offer solace, comfort or explanation. –Joshua Love

Listen: Radiohead: “Idioteque”

  • Elektra, 2001

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  • Missy Elliott

“Get Ur Freak On”


“For those of you who hated,” Missy taunted at the beginning of “Lick Shots”, “you only made us more creative.” By that standard, the song that followed it on Miss E... So Addictive must’ve meant that her and Timbaland were the most-loathed artists of 2001. Eight years after it hit the top ten of Billboard’s Hot 100, “Get Ur Freak On” still sounds like an audaciously leftfield stroke of genius, a song that succeeded wildly in its goal to push futurism, global style, and flat-out hyper-manic absurdity to equally lofty heights. Timbaland’s flair for the accessibly exotic reached its peak here with his bhangra-meets-jungle beat and 50s B-movie sci-fi synths, replacing the stagger-step trap breaks of drum’n’bass with a burbling tabla and subsequently creating a uniquely slippery dance track that bumps hard without a single kick drum.

Missy makes a hell of a case for herself as one of the era’s all-time great hip-hop surrealists with her performance here, turning on a dime from sing-song chanting to left-field cartoon opera notes or unhinged screams, all with a voice that’s somewhere between coyly sexy, tear-the-club-up cocky and Spike Jones chaotic. Reclaiming the word “bitch” as a synonym for badass, turning the vocal non-sequitur into an art and big-upping the kind of game-changing otherness that “got the radio shook like we got a gun,” “Get Ur Freak On” has long since established itself as an integral part of the evolution of pop music in the 21st Century– but don’t hold your breath waiting for the day it’ll sound ordinary. –Nate Patrin

Listen: Missy Elliott: “Get Ur Freak On”

  • Interscope, 2003

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  • Yeah Yeah Yeahs



Part of what made “Maps” so disarming was that nothing the Yeah Yeah Yeahs had recorded, up to that point in their then-short career, even hinted that their hall-of-fame single would also be one of the most tender ballads of the decade. Suddenly the jagged art-punk and Karen O’s beer and bile-fueled sneer was put on pause. And in their place was a swooning plea for a lover to reconsider leaving, set to chiming guitar.

Which is not to say the song fails to, you know, rock the fuck out at the appropriate moments. “Ballad” here means intent more than form. Guitarist Nick Zinner’s feedback-charged bridge is epic and somehow tasteful. It’s noisy without harassing the ears, and abetted by drummer Brian Chase’s charging cymbals.

But O is the real star, the semi-obscure concerns of her verses obviated by the most emotionally naked chorus in a long time. When her voice rises, nearly cracking on “wait, they don’t love you like I love you” before that bridge, you don’t even need to be a native English speaker to catch the last-ditch longing she’s unashamedly revealing in public. And if you think that kind of transparency is easy to pull off without tipping into drivel, there’s decades of failed pop to prove you wrong. –Jess Harvell

Listen: Yeah Yeah Yeahs: “Maps”

  • Virgin, 2000

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  • Daft Punk

“One More Time”


A pool filled with cotton candy Jelly Belly’s at a 10-year-old’s birthday bash. The most drunk-uncle moment at your cousin’s wedding. A dozen cartoon kittens flipping their tails double-time with the boom. Winning both "The $10,000 Pyramid" and "Jeopardy!" on the same day. Aliens touching down on earth only to give every man, woman, and child their own ghettoblaster. This song sounds like many things. It is not prudent. But it is wise. Because– remember– it’s called "One More Time". Not "Forever" or "Infinity" or "17 More Times". This is it. There is an end. The feelings will wear off. But not before the beautifully faceless Romanthony gurgles his way into your chest, knees, brain. Not before Daft Punk distill 25 years of pop and house into five and a half minutes of first-time joy. Not before you lose any and all sense, breath, scream, beg, cry, break, heal, pump, kick, and beam wider than your mouth knows. So keep repeating because you won’t last. "One More Time", of course, will. –Ryan Dombal

Listen: Daft Punk: “One More Time”

  • Columbia/Sony, 2003

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  • Beyoncé

“Crazy in Love” [ft. Jay-Z]


If someone told you that the sheet music for “Crazy in Love” was just a lot of exclamation points on a staff, you would believe them, right? From its first moments on til the end, its enormous beats and blaring fanfare pummel everything its path like a brutal force of nature, leaving us all with a clear choice to either turn away or submit to its indomitable power. It’s fitting that this sound would be the basis of Beyoncé Knowles breakthrough hit, as it is the ideal showcase for the singer’s forthright persona and her gift for vocal performances that manage an improbable balance of poised professionalism and feral emoting.

Amazingly, “Crazy in Love” isn’t even Knowles at full blast– she comes much harder on later hits such as “Get Me Bodied” and “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)”– but the sheer force of her presence is enough to overshadow a strong cameo appearance by the freakishly charismatic Jay-Z and nearly erase the memory of her former bandmates in Destiny’s Child. She was no stranger to stardom before “Crazy In Love,” but after its blockbuster success, there was no question that Beyoncé had arrived as the definitive female R&B singer of her era, and had become the clear successor to a lineage of superstars including Mary J. Blige, Mariah Carey, Janet Jackson, Whitney Houston, Donna Summer, and Diana Ross. –Matthew Perpetua

Listen: Beyoncé: “Crazy in Love” [ft. Jay-Z]

  • XL/Interscope, 2007

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  • M.I.A.

“Paper Planes (Diplo Remix)” [ft. Bun B and Rich Boy]


M.I.A.’s “Paper Planes” united people like few other songs this decade, suggesting that given the right synergy of personality, topicality, and marketing, something like a mass audience could still gather around even the unlikeliest of phenomena. Riding the wave of Barack Obama’s outsider popularity, “Paper Planes” felt unusually relevant for pop music in the age of “American Idol”. Here was another outsider, this one a Sri Lankan Tamil raised in London who won over listeners with global-minded beats and revolutionary chic. The third single off her second album, Kala, “Paper Planes” rode from its hipster dance-music niche into broader consciousness on the back of the trailer to Pineapple Express, then made an extended cameo in Slumdog Millionaire, the Oscar-winning film that was the late-2000s’ other great border-hopping underdog story.

The song alone is stunning enough, with its skanking sample of the Clash’s “Straight to Hell”, its cash registers and gunshots, its chorus. Every sound tells a story, and every sound bled perfectly at a time of war(s), economic crisis, and a global hunger for change. Artists from Built to Spill to 50 Cent covered or remixed it; T.I. and Jay-Z sampled the song for their “Swagger Like Us” (which, going to No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100, missed M.I.A.’s “Paper Planes” chart peak by one point). The song’s viral spread– appropriate, given the border-hopping lyrics and the backdrop of global flu pandemic scares that M.I.A. referenced on her “Bird Flu”– makes it hard to identify any one version as the definitive one, which only testifies to its status as a kind of cultural fact. Push vs. shove however, we’ve always been partial to this one, where Diplo fills in the song’s few cracks with verses by Bun B and Rich Boy. –Philip Sherburne

Listen: M.I.A.: “Paper Planes (Diplo Remix)” [ft. Bun B and Rich Boy]

  • DFA/EMI, 2007

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  • LCD Soundsystem

“All My Friends”


James Murphy started the decade chastising indie rock for becoming a name-dropping echo chamber of the same tired influences milked again and again. Boy, good thing that’s all changed, huh? But Murphy still did us all a service by eroding indie’s senseless aversion to dance music, using his DFA label and LCD Soundsystem to inject a cocktail of synths and syncopation that the scene has permanently assimilated. Helpfully, after complaining in “Yeah” that “everybody keeps on talking about it, nobody’s getting it done,” Murphy took his own advice and started (mostly) showing rather than telling.

On “All My Friends”, Murphy is no longer worried about losing his edge– he’s not even looking for it any more. There’s a Pink Floyd reference, for Pete’s sake. And while the song’s skeletal structure may be virtually unchanged from the steady build of the band’s first singles, the ingredients have been reshuffled: Instead of building off a drum beat, the core of the song is a jumbled piano loop that sounds discordant and uncomfortable until it’s surrounded by a steadily growing army of percussion and the happiest guitar riff Murphy’s ever allowed. By the end, the piano has become euphoric and confident without changing a lick, a neat thematic trick to accompany Murphy’s bittersweet lyrical acceptance of growing old. “All My Friends” survives the high-wire act of growing mature without getting boring, which just might be the lesson Prof. Murphy can teach his peers in the next decade. –Rob Mitchum

Listen: LCD Soundsystem: “All My Friends”

  • LaFace/Arista, 2000

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  • OutKast



So you’ve spent the past five days clicking through pages of this countdown only to find out that the best single of the 2000s was released just 10 months into the decade. (To the ensuing nine or so years of music: thanks for showing up.) And that it’s the very same song that topped Pitchfork’s Best Songs of 2000-2004 list from five years ago. Now you know how your parents feel when they tune into a long-weekend classic-rock radio countdown for the inevitable valedictory spin of “Stairway to Heaven”.

But really, do we have any other choice? “B.O.B.” is not just the song of the decade– it is the decade. Appropriately, the contemporary hip-hop act most in tune with the Afro-Futurist philosophies of Sun Ra, George Clinton, and Afrika Bambaataa, wound up effectively crafting a fast-forwarded highlight-reel prophecy of what the next 10 years held in store. The title– aka “Bombs Over Baghdad”, a phrase that sounded oddly anachronistic in 2000, sadly ubiquitous two and a half years later– is only the start of it. In “B.O.B”’s booty-bass blitzkrieg, we hear an obliteration of the boundaries separating hip-hop, metal, and electro, setting the stage for a decade of dance/rock crossovers. We hear a bloodthirsty gospel choir inaugurating a presidential administration of warmongering evangelicals. We hear André 3000 and Big Boi fire off a synapse-bursting stream of ripped-from-the-headlines buzzwords (“Cure for cancer/ Cure for AIDS”), personal anecdotes (“Got a son on the way by the name of Bamboo”) and product placements (“Yo quiero Taco Bell”) that read like the world’s first Twitter feed. We hear four minutes of utter fucking chaos yielding to a joyously optimistic denouement (a point reinforced by the Stankonia cover’s re-imagination of the American flag, which anticipates a White House set to be painted black).

Of course, there is a downside of being ahead of your time– upon its release, “B.O.B.” didn’t even dent the Billboard Hot 100, and merely peaked at No. 69 on the Hip-Hop/R&B Chart. But unlike OutKast’s subsequent number one singles (“Ms. Jackson” and “Hey Ya”) “B.O.B.” is too disorienting and exhausting an experience to ever succumb to over-saturation, and its majesty has never been diminished by ironic cover versions from cred-hungry rock bands. Because even after a decade that’s seen the act of copying music become as easy as a mouse-click, and the process of performing simplified for toy video-game guitars, the future-shocked ferocity “B.O.B.” is something that just cannot be duplicated. –Stuart Berman

Listen: OutKast: “B.O.B.”

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