Ted’s Top 50 Songs of the 2000s

Originally posted December 31, 2009

This has been the hardest of all my lists to put together. With the death of Top 40 radio and of music on MTV, it’s become harder and harder to recapture the rush of discovering a great pop song; what used to happen every couple of weeks now only comes a few times a year. On such a limited supply, it’s hard not to OD on the few knockouts when they do come around. I can still appreciate all the songs on this list, but I can’t pretend I still love them the way I did when I first discovered them.

While this list includes my most ephemeral pleasures, it’s also got more explicit political content than any of my other lists. Notoriously, filmmakers had enormous difficulty crafting their outrage into compelling narrative in this decade. The most successful commentaries were oblique: Guillermo del Toro’s fantasy, Alphonso Cuaron’s and Ron Moore’s science fiction. The one great novel I read about the oil wars, Gary Shteyngart’s Absurdistan, was, well, absurd, in the tradition of Dr. Strangelove and Slaughterhouse-Five. But the single is all about raw emotion, and as John Lydon taught us, anger is an energy. “George Bush Doesn’t Care About Black People,” “Windowsill,” “Let’s Impeach the President,” and “A Punch-Up at a Wedding” moved me in a way few love songs could in this infuriating decade. And bittersweet tracks like “Crazy,” “All My Friends,” “Handshake Drugs,” and even the sneaky-dark “Hey Ya!” took on extra poignancy.

Does that mean we’ll now start hearing more of the music of hope? (Maybe the cast of Glee’s revelatory cover of “Dont Stop Believin‘”?) Or of diminished expections for piecemeal reform and timetables for withdrawal? (Yet more Black Eyed Peas singles?) I dunno – I can’t figure out this pop moment. I approve in theory of Lady Gaga, but can’t say she does much for me in practice. I’m still waiting for the next pop revolultion to match hiphop in the 1980s and grunge in the 1990s, but maybe there just is no more center for the margins to storm; after all, these days indie darlings crack the Billboard charts with regularity, and Li’l Wayne went from mixtapes to platinum faster than I could keep up. I can’t say that’s a bad thing.
1 “Crazy,” Gnarls Barkley
2 “Hey Ya!” Outkast
3 “Portions for Foxes,” Rilo Kiley
4 “Crazy in Love,” Beyonce with Jay-Z
5 “Do You Realize?” The Flaming Lips
6 “Maps,” Yeah Yeah Yeahs
7 “All My Friends,” LCD Soundsystem
8 “Cavity,” Stew
9 “Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy,” Big & Rich
10 “Ignition (Remix),” R. Kelly
11 “Handshake Drugs,” Wilco
12 “George Bush Doesn’t Care About Black People,” The Legendary K.O.
13 “A Stroke of Genius,” Freelance Hellraiser
14 “Danger! High Voltage,” Electric Six
15 “The District Sleeps Tonight,” The Postal Service
16 “Hurt,” Johnny Cash
17 “Don’t Stop Believin’,” The Cast of Glee
18 “Paper Planes,” M.I.A.
19 “Over and Over,” Nely with Tim McGraw
20 “Windowsill,” Arcade Fire
21 “A Punch Up at a Wedding,” Radiohead
22 “Let’s Impeach the President,” Neil Young
23 “Sk8ter Boi,” Avril Lavigne
24 “I’m Losing My Edge,” LCD Soundsystem
25 “Stan,” Eminem
26 “B.O.B.,” Outkast
27 “1 Thing,” Amerie
28 “Tom Sawyer,” The Bad Plus
29 “Stupid Boy,” Keith Urban
30 “99 Problems/Helter Skelter,” Danger Mouse with Jay-Z and the Beatles
31 “Time to Pretend,” MGMT
32 “Take Me Out,” Franz Ferdinand
33 “Milkshake,” Kelis
34 “Clocks,” Coldplay
35 “Go,” Common
36 “Dance Till We’re High,” The Fireman
37 “I Need More Love,” Robert Randolph
38 “Get Ur Freak On,” Missy Elliott
39 “Oops (Oh My),” Tweet
40 “Bootylicious,” Destiny’s Child
41 “In My Pocket,” Mandy Moore
42 “Don’t Tell Me,” Madonna
43 “The Thong Song,” Sisquo
44 “La La,” Ashlee Simpson
45 “Southern Point,” Grizzly Bear
46 “Strange Overtones,” David Byrne & Brian Eno
47 “Tex Hooper,” Norm McDonald
48 “Umbrella,” Rihanna
49 “Lovestoned/I Think She Knows,” Justin Timberlake
50 “When I Get You Alone,” Thicke

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