My Top 300 Songs of the 2000s – 30-21

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

30. Johnny Cash – Hurt

Some artists are so talented they have the capability to make a cover song sound like their very own creation.  The Beatles, Tom Waits, and, most recently, Lissie, come to mind.  But no one did it like the Man In Black.  Johnny took Soundgarden’s grunge-ridden “Rusty Cage” and made it a Wild West, gun slinging, outlaw affair.  And then he took Nine Inch Nails’ haunting, spooky “Hurt” and turned it into a somber deathbed lamentation.

29. Band of Horses – Ode to LRC

There are many lines in this song that strike an emotional chord with me, particularly the ones describing the overwhelming feeling one gets when cruising through a small town.  Growing up in one, I can attest that everyone will “look you in the eye” and “wave as you drive by.” I suppose ignorance is bliss, because that universal friendliness that surrounds you in a small town really does make you think “the world is such a wonderful place.”

28. Kings of Leon – King of the Rodeo

Before they were Southern rock’s U2, Kings of Leon were a band I was proud to love, particularly while listening to Aha Shake Heartbreak, which is still their best album.  There’s a lot going on in this two-and-a-half minute stomper.  The dueling guitars, the punchy bass line, the lightning-fast chorus….there’s barely any percussion here, yet the song rolls like a barreling train.

27. OPM – Heaven Is a Halfpipe

I suppose if I were a skater boi, I would want this track played at my funeral. My high school skater buddy Eric once said he wanted just that; I just dug this track….a lot, like most of OPM’s only album.  I guess even at an early age, the mixture of spirituality, profanity, drug references (“Jesus packing my bong”), and that So-Cal punk/hiphop hybrid sound really appealed to me (I was also a huge 311 fan at the time, I recollect).  And every once in a while, usually on a road trip, I will blare this sucker.

26. Jurassic 5 – What’s Golden

By the time Power In Numbers dropped, the Five knew who their audience was, what image they were perceived to be, and what kind of style they were supposed to drop.  The thing was, they were damn good at it.  The kings of the throwback, the old skool, etc. – the J5 MCs dropped bragging wit alongside slick scratches, sampling, and bumping 80’s beats.  And by the time Chali 2na refers to himself as the “verbal Herman Munster,” you’ll be hooked on “What’s Golden,” by far their best song.

25. One Wolf – H(A)Unted

Daniel Markham dropped the self-titled debut for his new project One Wolf in 2006.  The lyrics had always been introspective, the country tinge had always been there, but there was something new here.  The mood was darker, the sound more personal, the feeling more….Lubbock.  Markham had gone from straightforward alt-country to the desolation we all experience by being trapped.  And it’s never more evident than on this, the album’s highlight and one of Markham’s finest songs.

24. Deftones – Change (In the House of Flies)

Even as “Change” made its way up the Modern Rock charts of 2000, everyone knew there was something inherently different about this group being lumped in with the nu-metal fad of the time, as there had always been.  Simply put, the Deftones had reached the creative peak of the sound they had been working on, and never at a better time – White Pony was a huge success, and the eerie track “Change” was, and still is, the band’s biggest hit.

23. The Cool Kids – Mikey Rocks

While we patiently wait for When Fish Ride Bicycles, indie rap’s Detox/Chinese Democracy, let’s look back at The Bake Sale, the near-flawless introduction to Chi-Town’s newest sensation, Chuck Inglish and Mikey.  The latter had his own trunk-rattling theme song, and it is by far my favorite Cool Kids track.

22. Flaming Lips – Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Pt. 1

The Lips had been working to transform their undeniable weirdness into something more space-age and beautiful, and the pinnacle of that transformation occurred a few tracks into the album of the same name as this song.  There’s no doubt “Yoshimi” is 100% Wayne Coyne and Co. but, much like the other notable track “Do You Realize,” the Oklahoma crew had taken their long strange trip to new songwriting depths.

21. The Darkness – I Believe In a Thing Called Love

A tongue-in-cheek homage to hair metal and Queen, the Darkness had a brief but spectacular run.  This, their breakthrough single, was all at once hilarious, endearing, bombastic, and fucking shred-tastic rock’n’roll.  Sure, they were pure novelty, but to deny the talent here is obtuse.  If the Darkness reminded us of anything (and they were designed to remind us of many things), it’s the plain and simple fact that immensely talented musicians didn’t always have to take themselves so damn seriously all the time.

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