Friday, December 4, 2009

The 100 Singles Of The Decade: 40-31

40. Queens Of The Stone Age
No One Knows

[Interscope, 2002]

Josh Homme finally delivers the monster hit everyone knew QOTSA had in ‘em, a stomping elephant of a riff that tramples every lesser band in its path.

39. Amerie
1 Thing

[Columbia, 2005]

Naysayers pegged Amerie’s career highlight as “Crazy In Love Part 2,” but it’s so much more than that. Over a dirt-simple loop that repeats into infinity, our girl keeps amping the energy level, until “1 Thing” feels as giddy and blissful as infatuation itself.

38. The Rapture
House Of Jealous Lovers

[DFA, 2002]

“Dancepunk” was a sub-genre that connected about as well as “electroclash,” but a handful of glorious singles managed to escape, none better than The Rapture’s first—and probably last—stab at greatness. And it’s all here: DFA production. Snotty guitars. Indie energy. And cowbell… glorious cowbell.

37. Justin Timberlake
Cry Me A River

[Jive, 2002]

The moment when JT stopped being the curly ‘Fro-ed kid from N*SYNC—and a Michael Jackson wanna-be—and turned into master of the pop culture world as we know it. Hard to believe this song was released at a time when it was unclear who would soar higher, Justin or Britney. Sorry, Brit: Game, set, match.

36. The Walkmen
The Rat

[Record Collection, 2004]

Brookyln almost-were’s release the last great single of the “garage-rock” era to critical acclaim and not much else, yet its essential DNA—passionate frustration channeled via driving tempos—would resurface in bands like the Arcade Fire before the year was even finished. Even now, this four minutes of barely-controlled fury still astonishes.

35. Gorillaz
Clint Eastwood

[Parlophone, 2000]

Weird cartoons singing vaguely creepy electro that has nothing at all to do with Dirty Harry? A surefire recipe for disaster instead became one of the unexpected highlights of 2001, with Damon, Del, and Dan collaborating to produce something genuinely, willfully original.

34. Coldplay

[Parlophone, 2003]

Once the piano arpeggios started, it was all over: Coldplay went from being an Anglophile’s best-kept secret to the band that everyone—Jay-Z, The Sopranos, your mom—loved. “Clocks” works because its mass acceptance always felt organic, never calculated, as if millions suddenly came around, all at once. Coldplay might’ve written better songs, but they never captured the zeitgeist so perfectly again.

33. John Legend
Ordinary People

[Sony, 2005]

The Atlanta native is a talent, no question, but only once has he delivered said talent to the masses in such pure, uncut form. For all of’s efforts to destroy music as we know it, give him credit: his production on this song strips everything to the bone, resulting in arguably the finest R&B smash this decade.

32. Brand New

[Interscope, 2007]

Not just the most mature single ever released by a former pop-punk band, but possibly the best song about religious confusion since the glory days of U2. Europe embraced it; America chose “Jesus Take The Wheel” instead. Draw your own conclusions.

31. The White Stripes
Seven Nation Army

[XL, 2003]

Jack White might be a shameless recycler, but damn if he doesn’t know a good riff when he hears one. And this riff, more than any other, made the duo’s legacy, so heavy and simple even Meg White’s drumming couldn’t screw it up.

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