My Top 300 Songs of the 2000s – 100-91

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

100. Peter Bjorn and John – Young Folks

From that catchy whistling to the shaking maracas, how could this song not have been a huge hit?  I knew it was gonna be everywhere the first time I heard it.  I’m a sucker for the boy-girl conversation songs (Johnny and June’s “Jackson” is probably my all-time favorite, and “Paradise By the Dashboard Light” is up there as well), and “Young Folks” is no exception.  It’s a percussive, melodic “I Got You Babe” for the iPod generation.

99. The Octopus Project – Truck

Austin’s finest electro-instrumental group is a thrill to watch live, all decked out in suits and ties and skirts and riling up the crowd without saying a word.  While “Music Is Happiness” and “Porno Disaster” were my introduction to the group, “Truck” is the dance-punk brilliance Octopus Project is known for.  A spastic hop-ready rhythm alongside wailing guitars, pounding drums, and that infectious keyboard line make this a modern Austin classic.

98. Cam’ron – Hey Ma

The first verse is laid-back, sexy, and damn funny.  The piano line shines above the beat the way a soulful gospel song does on Sunday morning.  But it’s that call-and-response chorus – if you got it, let’s do it.  Taking a ride, getting it on, getting high, whatever you wanna do tonight baby, I’m down.  Cam’ron is one of the under-appreciated rappers of his time, and “Hey Ma” is his finest three minutes.

97. The Rapture – House of Jealous Lovers

“House of Jealous Lovers” is an important song.  Not just because it introduced the world to the Rapture, who frankly haven’t made anything as catchy as this song since.  No, this track is vital to the progression of dance music and the New York scene in the 2000s.  It revealed that deep in the heart of the Big Apple, there was a rowdy, cowbell-led, dance punk movement emerging, ready to take hipsters’ hips by storm.  Simply screaming and grooving is all you need sometimes.  Shake Down!

96. Basement Jaxx – Where’s Your Head At?

This England dance crew has done nothing but be awesome for the past decade, releasing house hits and infusing the clubs with new influences and styles.  Their influence on today’s scene is evident, so apparent it’s hard to imagine a time when they weren’t part of the mainstream dance consciousness.  But there was a time – let’s call it the “pre-Where’s Your Head At” era.  Dance music wasn’t always this exciting.  And bonus points for the crazy, band-member-heads-on-monkeys music video.

95. Atmosphere – Musical Chairs

My favorite Atmosphere song is a oft-overlooked cut from an oft-overlooked album, 2005’s You Can’t Imagine How Much Fun We’re Having.  While most cite Seven’s Travels or God Loves Ugly (which are both incredible albums), Slug and Ant’s fourth proper LP contains this bumping gem.  The rhymes are signature Slug, commentary on the horrors of life and society from a Midwest point of view.  Then it all breaks down for that sweet little beatbox interlude.

94. Arcade Fire – Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)

Everybody knows Funeral rules.  Everybody knows Arcade Fire is an amazing group who don’t generally write bad songs.  And everybody knows Win Butler is kind of Bono-ish and pretentious.  “Neighborhood #3” was my first taste of the group, way back in 2004.  I initially didn’t see what all the fuss was about.  But like OK Computer and all those brilliant albums before it, Funeral, and this song, grew on me like a fungus.  It’s that chorus guitar line, man.

93. Amerie – One Thing

The best thing I think I’ve read about this track was the bit written for Pitchfork’s Best of Decade list, describing the entire song as the “break down” – the best part of any other song is the entirety of this song.  I’m paraphrasing poorly, of course, but it’s easy to imagine when you listen: imagine someone yelling “Break it down!” and all hell breaking loose at any given moment in this track, and it works.  And Amerie is so intimidatingly beautiful.  The video makes me swoon every time.

92. Deftones – Feiticiera

The opening track from Deftones’ most successful disc White Pony is a fury of down-tuned guitars up until Chino declares in his unmistakable croon, “Fuck! I’m drunk but I’m on my knees.”  For many, it was a loud first impression; the Sacramento crew were finally getting the popular recognition they deserved, albeit alongside inferior nu-metal groups.  Still, the mix of metal dirge mixed with Moreno’s sweet singing stood out amongst all the power chord noise.

91. Britney Spears – Toxic

Spears the snake handler and Catholic school girl weren’t nearly as hot as Spears the flight attendant.  Let it be known.  And her best song features impeccable production – violins, clanging guitars, a thumping beat, and Britney’s dreamy falsetto keep it all together and the kids hopping.

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