Monday, December 14, 2009

Best of the 2000s: Songs

Ready for the 2,000th Best of the Decade list?

In music, the 2000s could not - and did not - live up to the high standards of the 1990s. That doesn't mean there weren't some great songs. Below I'll list my favorite songs of the past 10 years. Be prepared for me to miss something. I did a list of Best Comedies and forgot Arrested Development. Epic FAIL! Also, my tastes in music aren't the most eclectic in the world. I know that. Live with it.

And if this were Rolling Stone, I'd put Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen all over this list. They're legends, I get it, but how relevant has their new music been this decade? Not much in my eyes. Another thing ... if this were Rolling Stone you'd see 10,000 comments below crying "Where's The Comatorium Emporian of Wounder Seals? Their debut album "Whispering the Heart" is the best of all time!! You sell out!"

With that out of the way, here are my Best Songs of the 2000s.

15. World Wide Suicide - Pearl Jam: Again, if Rolling Stone can put Bruce and Bob on their lists, I can include PJ. They came back to life in 2006 with their eponymous album and this was the first single. A rollicking song that brought back angry Eddie Vedder as he rants against George Bush and the war in Iraq. "Tell you to pray/while the devil's on their shoulder." The guy writes great lyrics and it was nice to see him dip back in the well of angst one last time.

14. Soul Meets Body - Death Cab For Cutie: Not much to say except this is one great melody. A great, great, great melody. "I know our filthy hands can wash one another / and not one speck will remain." "If the silence takes you / then I hope it takes me too." Oh, those boys in Death Cab! They're so sensitive! Every now and then they produce a very good tune as well.

13. Ocean Breathes Salty - Modest Mouse: Another song dealing with death and the afterlife. While "Float On" was the big hit off their album "Good News for People Who Love Bad News," this is the best song. Far and away. My favorite line: "You wasted life, why wouldn't you waste death?"

12. Bedshaped - Keane: Did you hear? Keane is a rock band without guitars. It's true. This song, moody and atmospheric, almost seems as if it's rising to heaven. I don't know how to write about music like Jeff Schaible, so I hope that makes sense. Here's my take: Great song. Fun to listen to. It's good. I like it.

11. Cochise - Audioslave: I remember first hearing this song and wondering how Chris Cornell and the remaining members of Rage Against the Machine would sound and not being disappointed. While some never accepted this band, their first album holds up well, beginning with this ear-scratching opener. When I'm pumping iron in the gym, I like to put this on the ol' iPod. A great workout song.

10. 1901 - Phoenix: I can't stop playing this song. I just can't. It's so damn catchy and original. The lyrics are vaguely historical and the music very modern and electronic, but not too electronic. They performed on Letterman and this song sounded exactly the same live. It was amazing. Who knew the French could rock out? And yes, I first heard this on the car commercial. I'm not proud of it, but that's what happened. All that matters is I found it. And now I can't stop replaying it.

9. Take Me Out - Franz Ferdinand: Sometimes when pitchers are yanked, you can hear this song blaring in the stadium. It doesn't have anything to do with baseball, but the title is a perfect, if accidental, fit. This guitar lick that starts at 55 seconds is the best of the decade. Impossible not to remember.

8. Beautiful Day - U2: A sentimental choice. They played this song during halftime of the Pats-Rams Super Bowl and from then on it became the soundtrack to all the highlights chronicling that momentous game and that shocking season. This is standard U2 fare, but any song that immediately turns my mind to that season gets a place on this list.

7. 3 Libras - A Perfect Circle: Melancholy. Sad. Sorta beautiful. Not what you usually expect from the lead singer of Tool, but then this was not Tool. A violin and soft guitar lead to a powerful chorus where he repeats "You don't see me." Appropriate, since this song came out during my high school years. A really solid song that the decade has forgotten. That should never happen to song as great as this one.

6. The Widow - The Mars Volta: My musical tastes don't align much with The Mars Volta and their prog-rock, but they cut a very radio-friendly tune here. Echoing Led Zeppelin, The Widow contains a fantastic chorus and a great guitar solo and freaky lyrics to go with them. I don't think this ever received huge air play, which I'll never understand. This should have been on of the biggest rock hits of the decade.

5. Banquet - Bloc Party: A very enigmatic song, but entirely original and catchy like you wouldn't believe. Those British rock bands know how to write great 3-minute tunes that burrow into your brain. "Turning away from the light / Becoming adult / Turning into my soul." No idea what this means. Who cares? I know I love a song that whenever it comes on my iPod shuffle, I never EVER press fast-forward. This is one of those songs.

4. Seven Nation Army - The White Stripes: One of the best rifts in rock history. I'm not kidding. Even the Grammys couldn't ignore this song. Famous for not having a bassist, The White Stripes create a rift that sounds like bass, but Wikipedia tells me the sound is actually a semi-acoustic guitar run through an octave pedal. Wikipedia also informs me Jack White used to call the Salvation Army the Seven Nation Army. Thanks, Wikipedia. And thank you, White Stripes. You even have soccer and college crowds singing this song in stadiums.

3. Change (In the House of Flies) - Deftones: This might be the oldest song on the list, all the way from the Year 2000. Some songs rock and some songs ROCK. This one ROCKS. I can't imagine what it must be like to hear live. It has to be ear-splitting, with Chino Moreno screaming his lungs into shards and the guitars and drums blasting away. The lyrics mean nothing to me. It's just one of those songs that make you want to turn up your speaker to 11 so all your neighbors can bang on the ceiling with their broomsticks for you stop.

2. All These Things I've Done - The Killers: Could easily be No. 1. It starts with a single keyboard note and then the organ sounds and Brandon Flowers appears and then the drums and then the rolling guitar lifts you off. The Killers know how to build up a song (see Jenny was a Friend of Mine). What starts a slow soliloquy turns into a sing-along and, most famously, a church choir singing the lyrics The Killers are most famous for: "I got soul, but I'm not a soldier." This song has it all. And it's perfect. I wouldn't change a thing, a single note.

1. Clocks - Coldplay: I wrestled with this one. Clocks wins out because I've never heard a song quite like it. I'm a sucker for great piano rifts and this might be one of the best I've ever heard in a pop/rock/alternative song. The lyrics generally allude to time winding down ("Confusion never stops / closing walls and ticking clocks"), but as with most of the entries on the list, the words pale in comparison to the arrangement. Dreamy and trance-like, the piano, the repetitive drum and the muted guitar flow together on a cloud of melancholy. (How's that for a Rolling Stone-esque sentence?) If I could ever learn one instrument and one song on that instrument, I would learn this one. Imagine just plopping down on any piano and letting this rift go ... I'd be the coolest person in the room.

I bet you have many problems with this list. Please, be my guest and do your own. I'm feeling kind of lonely in the blog world lately. What's keeping you away? Jobs? Relationships? Please.

I'll be back soon with my Best Albums of the 2000s. There will be more buzz for this than the final season of Lost.

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    What do I have to do to get you to recognize the brilliance of the Arctic Monkeys?

    When the Sun Goes Down would be on my list.

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