My Top 300 Songs of the 2000s – 80-71

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

80. The White Stripes – Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground

The opening track from White Blood Cells squeals to life, Jack White’s guitar screeching into a staple new-blues riff before Meg pounds in and all hell breaks loose.  For many, it would be the first we would hear from this Detroit duo, and first impressions have a lasting impact.  Jack and Meg needn’t worry – they certainly got our attention.

79. Air – Universal Traveler

Have I mentioned how much I love Talkie Walkie?  I feel like I’ve said this before, but, seriously, take your iPod or Walkman or whatever, drive to a secluded area, get out and put this on, and just stare at the stars.  It will change your life for the better.  As if “Universal Traveler” isn’t enough of an example at how beautiful this album is.  When you’re feeling down, listen to the words….you too, have many friends who will care for you.  You exciting, spontaneous free spirit, you!

78. Cut Copy – Lights and Music (Boys Noize Happy Birthday Remix)

Like every year, I happen to miss out on an amazing album, and only discover it months later when rummaging through old downloads and year-end lists from blogs and publications.  My oversight for 2008 was In Ghost Colours.  Man, what a great little dance album.  The song that introduced me to my mistake, however, was actually this remix – I had already cranked the Boys Noize album for months, so I was all over this one.  Thanks, house music.  You make life better.

77. Thrift Store Cowboys – Dirtied Your Knees

Lubbock, Texas, is known for its desolation, backwoods conservatism, and boredom-induced drinking.  But it’s also known for these guys – the soundtrack to flatlands, late nights in dingy dive bars, and self-discovery.  TSC’s unique brand of alternative, cinematic Americana is a must-listen soundscape of West Texas brilliance.  And if the Cowboys are the Beatles of Lubbock, “Dirtied Your Knees” is the “I Want to Hold Your Hand.”  Start here, folks, and you won’t look back.

76. UGK – International Players Anthem (I Choose You) (feat. Outkast)

Best. Karaoke. Song. Ever.  RIP Pimp C, who has the best verse in this song, no competition.  “Yo’ bitch chose me, you ain’t a pimp, you a fairy.” Big Boi shines too, even chopped and screwed – “Ask, ask Paul McCartney/The lawyers couldn’t stop me.”

75. Justin Timberlake – My Love (feat. T.I.)

Timbaland’s last great production hurrah was FutureSex/LoveSounds in 2006, and the crowning achievement is “My Love,” featuring acapella beat-boxing, bass-bass-snare stomping, and all alongside that sultry JT falsetto.  And T.I.’s verse is lightning fast, clever, and….well….oh so sexy.

74. Ben Folds – The Luckiest

Let’s put aside the fact that Ben Folds is on his fourth wife and just soak in the timeless, straightforward, “grow old with you” theme of this beautiful love song.  “What if I’d been born fifty years before you…” Folds ponders.  There’s no symbolic poetry, no metaphors, just an observation, a realization from an everyman that he truly loves the one he’s with…”more than I have ever found a way to say to you.”  By the final chorus, if you’re not crying, you are heartless.

73. The Thermals – Now We Can See

All the Thermals glory is here – the sing-along “oh-way-oh-woah,” the clanging, optimistic power chords, and those strikingly deep, reflective lyrics.  For music so simple and fun, the accompanying words sure make you think a lot.  “Now We Can See” ties in with the concept of the album of the same name, told by a person who has recently died.  The fear of death is gone, the burdens, desires, and responsibilities of the world have passed, and Hutch Harris declares, “What do we need?  We don’t need nothing, nothing at all.”

72. At the Drive In – One Armed Scissor

While we have the always-terrible Sparta and the deteriorating Mars Volta to tide us over until the reunion, there’s nothing quite like blaring Relationship of Command in your car on your way to class, which is what I did for about half of this last semester.  The track that introduced me to this El Paso powerhouse, “One Armed Scissor” is a relentless fury of screaming, dueling, wah-wah-ing guitars, and pure energy.  This shit never gets old.

71. The Roots – The Seed 2.0

Sure, now they’re a super cool house band for Jimmy Fallon, and they recently rocked out with John Legend and a bunch of other cool people for the super cool Jon Stewart/Stepehn Colbert Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear.  But remember when they were merely a super cool rap group?  Remember Phrenology?  Remember how awesome this song was/is?  Refresh your memory.  Then turn on NBC and watch them play on Late Night.  Because Fallon’s gotten a lot better since you last tuned in.  Seriously.

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