10. “My Girls” – Animal Collective: When millions of people were losing their jobs/homes/lots of money, Panda Bear sang “I don’t care for fancy things…I just want four walls and adobe slabs for my girls”—maybe that’s just a coincidence. After making a really weird album about hallucinogenic drugs, Animal Collective surprised everybody and made a CD full of genuinely fun pop songs. The synths, the samples, the vocals, and the African inspired drum beats all combine to make an experience that’s trying to communicate how much one guy (Panda Bear) really loves his wife and daughter (his girls). What traditional clay housing has to do with it is anybody’s guess.
If you’ve never heard of it, check it out here: “My Girls”
9. “PDA” – Interpol: Interpol, one of the poster-bands for the New York music scene and the post-punk revival as they dropped their dark debut Turn on the Bright Lights back in 2002, drew many comparisons to Joy Division, and of course when listening to “PDA” it can be seen why. It is a song that clearly exemplifies Interpol’s style and how it was their own, not a imitation; a throbbing bass line and harmonizing guitars, complete with Paul Bank’s baritone voice. By listening to “PDA”, one can see the influence Interpol, as well as the rest of the New York music scene at this time, had on much of the music that was to come later in the decade.
If you’ve never heard of it, check it out here: “PDA”
8. “Take Me Out” – Franz Ferdinand: Perhaps the catchiest riff to come out of England in the past decade, Franz Ferdinand’s “Take Me Out” along with their stellar self-titled debut record spawned another portion of brit-pop rock. Bands like Franz Ferdinand helped lead the way for other English bands such as Bloc Party and Arctic Monkeys. The song shifts from a forward speaking intro of “So if you’re lonely/you know I’m here waiting for you”, as the first verse takes off into a stop-time section into the foot-stomping chorus that we’ve all come to know and love. The tension and buildup of the intro exploding into Franz Ferdinand’s anthem to this day can’t help but make you sing along.
If you’ve never heard of it, check it out here: “Take Me Out”
7. “Seven Nation Army” – The White Stripes: From the first note of that droning bass riff (which is actually an acoustic guitar tuned real low), the White Stripes establish what it means to play rock music in a badass guitar + drums duo. Jack sings some cryptic lyrics and plays a wicked solo. Meg keeps a steady bass drum pounding through each verse. It’s tense, it’s moody, and it shows off all the things that make the White Stripes one of the best bands of the decade.
If you’ve never heard of it, check it out here: “Seven Nation Army”
6. “One More Time” – Daft Punk: If there’s anyone who can distill absolute and total happiness into dance music, it’s Daft Punk. The whirling melody, the raging lyrics, and the jumping beat swirl around so well you might fall into dancing vortex. Halfway through, the song breaks down so you can catch your breath and admire how much these two French dudes dressed as robots can do with such minimalistic compositions—then it builds back up and you’ve probably forgotten everything else except how much fun you’re having.
If you’ve never heard of it, check it out here: “One More Time”
5. “Last Nite” – The Strokes: Tom Petty ripoff? Even though the band admitted they were “inspired” by TP’s “American Girl” as the intro riff, this song couldn’t be more original. The Strokes broke out of the New York underground with their stellar debut Is This It, which surrounds “Last Nite” by numerous other incredible tracks. This track stands out however because of its revival of the garage rock scene and as lead singer Julian Casablancas replies to his girl with “Oh little girl, I don’t care no more, I know this for sure, I’m walkin’ out that door”, we can’t help but beg him to stay.
If you’ve never heard of it, check it out here: “Last Nite”
4. “Wolf Like Me” – TV On the Radio: There’s only one thing a song this intense can be about—sex. The blaring horns, the electric guitars, and the visceral lyrics will set your “mind aflame” and “show you what all that howl is for”. Tunde Adebimpe sings like a jazz poet, and Kyp Malone’s guitar work is furiously methodical. It’s hard to make a song that sounds this great, but by the end hopefully TVotR inspired a few people to recreate the inspiration.
If you’ve never heard of it, check it out here: “Wolf Like Me”
3. “Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)” – Arcade Fire: When Funeral opens with the first thirty seconds of “Neighborhood #1,” it becomes evident just how much emotion is going to be packed into the album. Throughout the song, the sincerity of Win Butler’s voice and the music, which Arcade Fire presents, pulls at the part of the heart that recognizes beauty and gives you shivers when you hear music that really makes you feel. This is what has made Arcade Fire such a staple of this decade in music. The Montreal band was able to craft music that truly spoke to its listeners, and reminded us of the subtle honesty and beauty that music can posses.
If you’ve never heard of it, check it out here: “Neighborhood #1”
2. “99 Problems” – Jay-Z: A rap anthem that could seemingly move mountains. Wait, it can’t actually do that? Jay-Z’s The Black Album dropped in 2003 right before his “retirement” (who believed him anyways?) and lit the music world on fire with his Rick Rubin produced track, “99 Problems”. The rock ‘n’ roll beat mixed with Jay’s free flow. This wasn’t just any ordinary rap single, however. This was a game changer. This was the buzzer beater. The home run in the bottom of the 9th. The massiveness of this crossover rock-hip hop song created a wave unlike any other during the decade, and you couldn’t help but throw your diamond up for it.
If you’ve never heard of it, check it out here: “99 Problems”
1. “Idioteque” – Radiohead: What impending tragedy is Thom Yorke so worried about!? Was he afraid Kid A wouldn’t live up to the critical praise of OK Computer? Was he freaking out about the inevitable collapse of the record industry or did he know about all the really awful things this decade had in store (9/11, Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the 2004 Tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, The Stock Market Crash of 2008, Glenn Beck ad infinitum). Whatever it was, “Idioteque” certainly articulates the fears of “The Information Age” best–with an ominous melody, nervous ticks of synthesizers, and Yorke wailing lyrics like “We’re not scare mongering/This is really happening” there must be good reason to fear something. And if you’re not afraid, at least think about how weird it is that Kid A predicted most of the important stuff “the aughts” forced us to come to terms with (musically or otherwise) It begs the age old question: does art imitate life, or does life imitate Radiohead?
If you’ve never heard of it, check it out here: “Idioteque”