My Top 300 Songs of the 2000s – 190-181

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

190. Pete Yorn – For Nancy

There’s no getting around it: musicforthemorningafter is a masterpiece and by far Yorn’s finest hour.  And “For Nancy,” the breakthrough single for the Jersey-born musician, is the finest song off that disc.  A tale of love lost that’s parts optimistic, parts well-wishing, and parts purely bitter, every confusing emotion associated with a breakup is laid out plain here.  That’s always been a specialty of Yorn’s – no confusion, no abstraction, just a straightforward, “it is what it is” approach, musically and lyrically.  Here, when wishing the best/worst for an ex, it reminds me of another great American songwriter.  Don’t think twice, it’s alright, indeed.

189. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Art Star

Karen O’s giddy, off-key “doo-doos” are gratingly placed after a band freak-out consisting of cymbal crashing and that signature shriek from indie rock’s weirdest lady in charge.  I find “Art Star” to be a perfect introductory track to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.  All the elements are here – loud noise-punk, a catchy pop aesthetic underneath, and a wild ringleader conducting the raucous ceremony.  For the rest of us, it’s a great reminder that this band weren’t always trying to sound like a Blondie rip-off.

188. Animal Collective – My Girls

I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: Merriweather Post Pavilion finally showed an experimental group growing and maturing into something simultaneously brilliant and accessible.  The classics are usually ones both critics and the masses can agree on, and it’s safe to say this album fits that category, arguably becoming one of the most seminal and influential discs of the new post-millennial era. “My Girls” is the first single and perfect example of Animal Collective hitting their stride – scratch that, suavely moonwalking into their stride.

187. Dr. Octagon – Trees

Dr. Doom, Kool Keith, and Dr. Octagon all have one thing in common – they are all the same person.  Good to store in the ol’ memory bank for that intense family game of Indie Rap Trivial Pursuit twenty years from now, sure, but also important – Dr. Octagon is Kool Keith’s innovative, unorthodox, and, in this case, environmentally conscious and overtly political, alter-ego.  This is one I would bump on a regular basis while playing DJ on KTXT.

186. Johnny Cash – God’s Gonna Cut You Down

The American Recordings sessions have all been consistently somber, crisp, honest, and thoughtful.  Rick Rubin’s collaboration with the Man in Black will forever be stamped as some of the finest work from both parties.  And as we’ve witnessed with Soundgarden, Depeche Mode, and Nine Inch Nails songs, Johnny was the most poignant when he was making someone else’s words his own.  Here, it’s not a multi-platinum grunge or industrial act, but an old-time spiritual beautifully capturing Cash’s fear and respect for his creator.

185. Crystal Castles – Courtship Dating

There have been a lot of groups that specialize in what I like to call “spooky club jams,” but none as polarizing as Crystal Castles.  Take “Courtship Dating,” the unequivocal highlight from the duo’s self-titled debut – the infectious synth lines and pulsating beats are surrounded by a quavering melody, looped shrieks, and buried vocals that sound like they were recorded from the bottom of a well.  Spooky doesn’t really do it justice – it’s a party jam and a terrifying listen all at the same time.

184. The Futureheads – Meantime

The self-titled debut from these Brits packed quite a punch; say what you will about their works afterward, but that first album really showed a band more than capable of cranking out frenetic, unique, and undeniably catchy three-minute punk tracks.  “Meantime” is one of the best – there are too many hooks to count in the verses, and then the choppy refrain shows up to add a little more sweetness to the product.

183. Cassie – Me and You

Cassie Ventura and I were both born in August 1986, but it sure didn’t feel that way the first time I saw this video.  She’s just so much….woman.  And while the video is undoubtedly sexual, and the lyrics are a blatant come-on, the delivery is subtle, a slight deadpan with no frills.  There’s already so much here to take in, and the song is strong all by itself, that Cassie’s decision to lay off with Mariah Carey-esque techniques give the song a coy, erotic quality.  Her casual approach makes you want her even more.

182. Thrift Store Cowboys – Days We Remember

The one-two-three trot of this Flamenco beauty sounds like nothing Lubbock’s finest had done before, or since.  An automatic live favorite, the quick strumming, the earnest plead from Daniel Fluitt’s pining heart, and those handclap interludes all join together to form one hell of a track.  “Days We Remember” marks a new beginning for Thrift Store Cowboys, a time when a small-town alt-country crew decided to become something sharper and cinematic.

181. Andrew WK – I Get Wet

The title track from Andrew WK’s debut was aptly titled – the album as a whole is a sweat-producing fist-pumper, no doubt.  But this song all by itself will burn some calories.  It has all of Andrew’s signature moves – the piano plunking, the techno-punk background, the overtly sexual and all-thrills lyrics, and layered female vocals make the track explode in your face, just the way WK likes it.

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