Top 50 Songs of the Decade

December 14, 2009

I posted my list of my top 11 albums of the decade, and now we have arrived at that more specific indicator at greatness– the songs. Most publications have put their album lists out after the songs, seemingly because the albums list is more dramatic, but I disagree– these songs, taken as a whole, tell the story of my life these past ten years. The ups, the downs, the neutrals, the ecstasy-like nights, and the hyper-depression evenings. All of it is summed up by these tracks.

I’ll roll out the list in the next 5 days– ten songs each day. Every song will be available for streaming, and the occasional track I’ll throw up to download. There’s no rhyme or reason for which songs I post to download– those I think most of you don’t have, and should have, will be included. (Though really, if you’re human, if you have feelings, if you have a soul, you should have all of these tracks.)

My favorite lists are those that help me discover new gems, and I hope you all find something you love in this, something you haven’t heard before.

Without further ado, I present my favorite tracks of the 00’s

Click below to see the full list


50. Sufjan Stevens – “Chicago”

I have a weak spot– songs about cities. And Sufjan’s enchanting ode about driving to the windy city is no exception. Chimes, xylophones, soft snares rattling, vocal harmonizing– this song has the ABC’s of every indie jam. But it’s his trademark sincere voice chanting “all things go” that turns what would be a standard joint into something magical and at times, seemingly divine.


49. The Strokes – “What Ever Happened”

Sure, maybe their debut album was really the beginning of the mainstream-ization of indie music. And I’ll never argue that “Last Night” isn’t one of the all-time feel good songs. But the second time around, The Strokes nailed it with this banger. When the dramatic and suspenseful intro breaks into the “I wanna be forgotten” cry, it’s game over. Julian Casablancas’ raspy voice was made for this tune.


48. The Streets – “Dry Your Eyes” [download]

I said it before, but if I ever meet Mike Skinner, I will wrap my arms around him and give him a big, big hug. For one, he tells a story of heartbreak so accurately and with so much poignancy that it’s impossible not to have a surge of emotional unbalance swell inside of you. His spoken word recount of losing the love of his life is like reading a Nick Hornby novel, full of precise details and real responses, mixed with cutting humor and unfortunate irony. This is the sound every heart makes when a girl inevitably stomps all over it.


47. Flosstradamus – “Overnight Star (Twista vs. Sigur Ros)” [download]

Mashups were all the rage in the middle of the decade. Girl Talk popularized it with his style of ultra-glitch ADD inspired party albums. But for me, nothing compares to two full songs, side by side, creating something entirely new. Jens Lekman once said it best– “The beauty of the collage technique is that you’re using sounds that have never met and were never supposed to meet. You introduce them to each other, at first they’re a bit shy, clumsy, staring at their shoes. But you can sense there’s something there. So you cut and paste a little bit and by the end of the song you can spot them in the corner, holding hands. The magic is in the mistakes, the scratches and dust from the vinylrecord, the echo from something that happened a few bars ago and most importantly the new context in which they are placed.” There has never been a mashup that has worked so successfully in creating a completley new song. With Flosstradamus’ midas touch, they have created a sum unmeasurably greater than its two parts.


46. Stars – “Set Yourself on Fire”

From the Canadian elite label Arts and Crafts comes Stars, a band as full of member as ideas. The 10+ musicians take the stage and whip out epic and powerfully emotive indie anthems. “Your Ex-Lover is Dead” shows the band in its rawest form, a dialoge between two ex’s accidentally reuniting. But in “Set Yourself on Fire,” the band charges on at light speed after hearing the engines start with “Let’s roll.” A reflective and energized ballad, not in any form you’ve heard before.


45. Sébastian Tellier – “La Ritournelle (Mr. Dan’s Magic Wand Mix)” [download]

French sleaze-bags are not necessarily a dime a dozen, but this sex-obsessed Parisian has a PHD in seduction. The original form of “La Ritournelle” is a 7 minute long hook-up staple, but Mr. Dan cuts the song down to its more basic elements, keeping everything we loved about the original groove intact. Throw this on next time you’re trying to seduce– watch what happens (you’ll probably get laughed at).


44. Modest Mouse – “The World at Large”

The mice had their breakout hit on the same album this song appears on, but “Float On” has become a bit tired. Issac Brock’s voice is the real instrument on this gentle swirl. A bass kicks in every now and then, and we’re graced with some “ba ba ba ba ba ba ba bahhhs” that always help increase the lovability. It’s peaceful, serene, simple, and nearly perfect.


43. Little Boots – “Stuck on Repeat”

There are few things on this planet that slay me as much as a hot girl dj (no, Uffie is not hot. Not even a little). Little Boots takes the cake with her looks, her style, and holy hell, her jams. “Stuck on Repeat” from the EP version, was the first we ever heard from the knob-twisting lady, and unquestionably her best. The bass drops, and it’s a lesson in the power of repetition. She says she’s stuck on repeat? Well guess what Little Boots, so are we.


42. The Decemberists – “The Crane Wife 3

Colin Meloy’s nasal croon isn’t for everyone, but it’s hard to deny that his particular aesthetic works near perfectly here. Working off a simple guitar line and nearly-nonexistent drum pattern, he captures our attention of this tale, lifted from an ancient Japanese anecdote. The Decemberists aren’t doing anything new here– rather they’re perfecting the form of an exhausted and worn-0ut approach.


41. UGK – “Intl’ Players Anthem (I Choose You) (Ft. Andree 3000)” [download]

It was Pimp C’s swan song before his untimely death, but the real fire behind this track is Andre 3000’s a cappella intro that just could be my favorite verse of the decade (we’ll save that list for another time). But boom, the bass hits, and Bun B and Pimp C do their dose of spit-fire lyricism, all of which samples Willie Hutch’s brilliant “I Choose You.” When all of these phenomenal ingredients are fused effortlessly together, what we have here, is a hip-hop anthem we never want to end.


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  1. dooo-oooooo-dles


  3. really dug this… i cheated by jumping to 10-1, but found myself working backwards as these tracks both reminded me of what i’ve forgotten and exposed me to something new. good work

  4. nice work dude. called it on rebellion (lies)

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