The Decade: A Retrospective The Best Songs 40-26

"Can't Get You Out Of My Head"
Kylie Minogue

Kylie Minogue was a washed-up has-been before she unleashed "Can't Get You Out Of My Head" on the world. It topped the charts across the globe and even crash landed in the top ten in the U.S. Written in part by pop genius Cathy Dennis, the track follows the tried and true method of endless repetition, but somehow it manages to do it better than anyone else. "La la la" was such an obvious hook, but no one ever thought to use it over a flawless sleek dance beat in such a way that the world couldn't get it out of its collective head.

"Jesus Walks"
Kanye West
The College Dropout (2004)

Rapping over military drums and what sounds like a choir of soldiers, Kanye West opens up about religion in "Jesus Walks". Comparing needing Jesus to Kathie Lee needing Regis might seem blasphemous to some, but Kanye sells it with a convincing devoted tone. "I wanna talk to God but I'm afraid because we ain't spoken in so long," he confesses. Despite Ye's line about radio not playing his record because it was about God, it was embraced by radio programmers and fans alike.

"Electric Feel"
Oracular Spectacular (2008)

MGMT's Oracular Spectacular wowed critics and several of its tracks landed at the tops of end of the year lists in 2008. "Electric Feel" is the psychedelic indie-electro champ of the bunch, grabbing Bee Gees falsettos and laid back post-punk rock to create a shocking ode to electric love. The tune has an almost primal sound to it, like a ritual tribal dance a band of lost boys would sing while marching around a fire in Lord of the Flies or something.

"Black Sweat"
3121 (2006)

Like Prince's other great songs, "Black Sweat" lacks a bass line. Prince instead relies solely on a drum machine, a high pitched synthesizer, and his voice to create this jam oozing with funk. "Black Sweat" is able to reference songs like "When Doves Cry" and "Kiss" without sounding like a cheap rewrite. Speaking of rewriting, all he needed to do was change the word "black" to "red" or "blue", and maybe he could have gotten major airtime on Gatorade commercials.

"Take Me Out"
Franz Ferdinand
Franz Ferdinand (2004)

Is Franz Ferdinand lead singer Alex Kapranos singing about getting hit on or getting shot in "Take Me Out", or both? The band managed to put out a song other post-punk revival bands only wish they could write. The fast first verse of the song gives way to a slower, although much more rocked out chorus. The two parts of the song, each with different rhythms, work together perfectly, to create an intoxicating indie masterpiece.

"No Good Advice"
Girls Aloud
Sound of the Underground (2003)

Following the success of "Sound of the Underground", the Girls Aloud needed a follow-up smash to prove they weren't a flash in the pan. "No Good Advice" didn't sound like the song a girl group would record, its attitude, lyrics, melody, and snarling surf guitar sounded more like a 1970s punk song. Its a song about defiance. Written by Xenomania in response to losing a deal with a record company, it served as a manifesto for the Aloud who proved they could make it as the decade's most important girl group without "good advice" from naysayers.

Parachutes (2000)

"Yellow" was the song that made Coldplay, and its easy to hear why, the song is beautiful, and hopelessly romantic. The narrative of writing a song for someone makes it a modern "Your Song". "Yellow" gave Coldplay their first top ten hit, broke them in America, and propelled Parachutes to wins at the Grammys (Best Alternative Album) and the Brits (Best British Album). The tune has been covered countless times, and that's not even counting all the wooing boyfriends singing it on a clear starry night.

Confessions (2004)

"Yeah!" is a party anthem that could only be made in the decade of the ringtone. Honestly, have you ever heard a song play from so many phones (either the real track or the MIDI version) as you did Usher's biggest hit in 2004? This ultimate party jam sounds as fresh as it did when it was first released, and it brought crunk to the masses and is the single best mispronunciation of an artists name in music history (Ursher has got the smack to make your bootie go...)

"Hung Up"
Confessions on a Dancefloor (2005)

Madonna had the first flop album of her career with American Life, a divisive folk album that raged against war and Bush-era America. Ironically, Madonna took a page out of W.'s playbook by pandering to her base and returning to the dancefloor with "Hung Up". Teaming up with producer Stuart Price and sampling ABBA, the Queen of Pop made her last great pop song. It wasn't long before she would try pandering to middle America by hooking up with Justin.

"99 Problems"
The Black Album (2004)

Ten months before Jay-Z dropped the rap-rock bomb that was "99 Problems", Hova featured on his future wive's "Crazy In Love". I wonder how Beyonce felt about Jay's lyrics? "If you having girl problems I feel bad for you son, I got 99 problems but a bitch ain't one," he raps. His rap about being pulled over by a cop (You was doing 55 in a carrying a weapon on you? I know a lot of you are) is one of the best statements on racism hip-hop has produced.

"Never Win"
Odyssey (2005)

This group of electro-clash revivalists take early 80s synth and filtered it through early 00s art-rock to create "Never Win". The track has the pulsing synth lines, the video game-like beeps during the bridge, and the careless guitar strumming, but it also has a bite to it, ensuring no one ever mistakes it for vapid.

Tasty (2003)

Kelis' "Milkshake" is a dizzying sonic assault courtesy of N.E.R.D.'s minimalist production. Popular music has had its share of sexual innuendos, but few are as adventurous as this tune with Kelis demanding payment to teach how she makes milkshakes that not only bring the boys to the yard, but are better than yours (damn right). A synth-funk masterpiece.

"Apply Some Pressure"
Maximo Park
A Certain Trigger (2005)

Maximo Park had the unfortunate timing of arriving to the new-wave/post-punk revival after the likes of Kasabian and Bloc Party had already made splashy well-hyped debuts thanks to the British rock press. "Apply Some Pressure" deserves a place in the pantheon of songs. The adrenaline heavy track benefits from machine gun drums and wiry guitar that lives up to its title.

Amy Winehouse
Version (2006)

BBC's Radio 1 Live Lounge show has become a perennial favorite for bloggers. The radio show features artists performing a hit of their own as well as covering another song which immediately hits the web and improves the search engine optimization of whatever blog posts it. The most famous song to spring from the show is Amy Winehouse's cover of the Zuton's "Valerie". The fact that Winehouse is singing about a woman is a moot point in this bouncy danceable retro-flashback.

"Never Let Me Down"
Kanye West
The College Dropout (2004)

Kanye West has come to be known more for his pop songs and controversial outburts, but his greatest moments are his goosebump inducing singles that pull at your heartstrings. "Never Let Me Down" is Ye's statement on love. Teaming up with Jay-Z and J. Ivy, he made the most emotional song of his career. It strays from Jay-Z's massive ego to Kanye's grandfather's battle with racism to the kind of love that inspires fierce loyalty.


Anonymous said...

It's good to see Jay Z and Kanye getting some love. Both of the songs on this segment of the list are the definition of good hip hop.

hun*ter said...

You can add OutKast to that list too. Between the three of them, they pushed the boundaries of hip-hop and made it accessible to people who weren't interested in it before.

AmyLovesYou!! said...

OutKast for sure-Kanye is so a joke...and J-zay some good works-love his new song Empire state of mind.

Anonymous said...

Kanye, Jay Z, Outkast, the Roots, Mos Def are all overrated.

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