My Top 300 Songs of the 2000s – 170-161

Today I continue my ongoing feature showcasing my personal picks for the best songs of the past decade, posting ten songs at a time.

170. Dwight Yoakam – Give Back the Key to My Heart

No question the 80’s and 90’s were the prime years for Yoakam in terms of success, but after having his turn at the spotlight, he ventured deep into the crossroads realm, taking a more traditional approach to his brand of honkey-tonk.  While most dug deeper into the cinematic country-pop Nashville world, Dwight stayed around Hollywood, acting and making indie records.  One of the highlights of his work this past decade is this Doug Sahm cover, recorded for the Imus Ranch Record in 2008; it’s just good ol’ DY doing what he does best.

Dwight Yoakam – Give Back the Key to My Heart

169. The Helio Sequence – Keep Your Eyes Ahead

Because of the indie pop explosion in 2007, the Helio Sequence tend to get lumped in with other emerging bands at that time, like superiors Band of Horses and Rogue Wave.  Now, in 2010, it seems the group’s breakthrough is nothing more than a footnote in a burgeoning sound, quickly forgotten and shelved.  It would have helped the group’s cause if the album, which has the same name as this song, its highlight first single, would have been stronger.  So yes, it’s a footnote, but a remarkable one.

168. Air – Surfing On a Rocket

It appears, from their recent output, Air will never top Talkie Walkie.  The album had a distinct mood and sound many have tried to recapture, including Air themselves, but have failed to duplicate.  “Surfing…” is a perfect track for headphones on a dark, late-night flight into a well-lit city, preferably if you’re in the window seat.  Even on the ground, though, it makes you feel like you’re flying.

167. The Shins – Kissing the Lipless

Handclaps and a “whoo!” start off this number, the track which opens the Shins’ second, and best, album Chutes Too Narrow.  It’s a great, upbeat introduction to a renewed band, one that has abandoned the lo-fi punch of their debut and fully formed into a legitimate, important group.  Perhaps it went to their heads when Zach Braff decided they could change your life.  Maybe they shrugged it off and just wanted better production for their perfect pop.  Either way, the stakes were raised after “Kissing the Lipless” even more.

166. The Dodos – Fools

The Dodos are a testament to the Shins’ influence throughout the decade; by the time Visiter was released, this sound was approachable enough for beer commercials.  But the Dodos aren’t merely imitators – they took the acoustic-based, melody-laden blueprint and took it a step further with hook-filled harmony and unique percussion.  Not to mention jangly, loud guitar breaks, as is best captured on this standout track.  As the progression continues, we can already see the Dodos bringing their own influence to new greats like Local Natives.

165. Cadence Weapon – Limited Edition OJ Slammer

Video game noises, an 80’s-lifted shuffling beat, and an awkward flow make this track an immediate ear-grabber from Cadence’s Afterparty Babies.  The track’s chorus is even more confusing, featuring repeated lines, samples, and intense scratching.  But don’t be frightened by his off-putting flow and music, especially when he’s yelling convincingly, “I’m not a monster, I just do what I have to get rich!”

Cadence Weapon – Limited Edition OJ Slammer

164. MGMT – Electric Feel

Let us reminisce to a time when this emerging group was wowing us with their songwriting chops and unique electronic instrumentation.  It wasn’t that long ago….like 2008.  The horse-trot rhythm and buzzy synth of “Electric Feel” introduced the world to a crew who would become one of the biggest sleeper star groups of the latter half of the decade.  Unfortunately they would experiment with form and forget about content on their second disc, but the brilliance of Oracular Spectacular and its bright spots still remains.

163. Missy Elliot – One Minute Man

Timbaland and Missy might easily be the best rap/production duo in the history of hip-hop.  Her flow was designed for his trademark, infectious, and utterly strange beat-making.  And it doesn’t hurt when you recruit Ludacris for a verse, whose descriptions always steal the show.  Timbaland does so much with what sounds like so little, and Elliot gives one of her finest singing performances ever.

162. Neon Indian – Deadbeat Summer

For many, this was the first we heard from Alan Palomo’s post-Ghosthustler chillwave project, and it fit perfect for my lazy June evenings.  The chugging guitars, the soft, spacey beats, and the wavering melody keep the track in the same feel as the lyrics, which describe an uneventful season at its most bored and lethargic. Deadbeat summer is apt.

161. !!! – Must Be the Moon

There’s too many things that make this a career highlight for !!! (pronounced “Chk Chk Chk”).  The stomp-along kickdrum, the groovy P-Funk bass line, the hilarious tale of a one-night stand, and the relatable chorus, asking, “Ain’t you ever had it happen to you?/Then you go home too soon” all come together nicely, but it’s that instrumental break at the end (the start-stop break around the 3:55 mark, especially) that make this one a timeless banger – it will be around for as long as there are unsuccessful hookups at dance clubs.

!!! – Must Be The Moon

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