My Top 300 Songs of the 2000s – 20-11

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

20. The Postal Service – Such Great Heights

My favorite Ben Gibbard album is Give Up, even amongst all those great early Death Cab masterpieces. Before the twee synth became commonplace, Gibbard took it to every first-generation iPod, car commercial, and teen soap montage (I’m looking at you, The O.C.). And of course, he did so with this song, still as beautiful as I remember it back on WOXY-FM my sophomore year of high school.

19. At the Drive In – Pattern Against User

Sure, “One Armed Scissor” is awesome; it did, after all, make this list a few spots back. But the track that kept me coming back to Relationship of Command long after the group had called it quits for their mediocre/terrible projects (Mars Volta and Sparta, respectively) was this one – a burst of melody in the chorus, a spaced-out bridge, and furious verses in between. I still crank this one on long road trips.

18. Rage Against the Machine – Microphone Fiend

Rakim’s “Microphone Fiend” was the opening cover Rage picked for Renegades, their album consisting of other people’s songs, and their only studio release this last decade. Actually, as of this post, and probably forever, it’s the last studio release for the band, period. And even as the group was dealing with inner turmoil leading to their breakup, they could still bring energy to tracks they didn’t even write. Tom Morello’s riffs are A+ here, and Zach de la Rocha’s ease of flow and vocal buildup give the song a new rage – pun intended – the original never thought possible.

17. TV On the Radio – Wolf Like Me

As is evidence on the new, not-as-great Nine Types of Light, this group’s darker days might be behind them, but let us reflect on TV On the Radio’s best track, and perhaps their darkest. And that’s not a coincidence; when the Brooklyn crew builds to a creepy crescendo so infectious you can’t help but dance to words you don’t fully understand other than that crazy hook (“God I like it”), well, that wasn’t an accident.

16. Outkast – B.O.B.

As I mentioned earlier this week, and as Pitchfork pointed out in their list of best-ofs for this past decade, this song unintentionally became somewhat of a theme song for the past ten years. Of course, upon its release, we were not incorrectly invading Iraq, nor were we engaged in the War on Terror, nor were we in any sort of financial chaos and economic meltdown. Yet the song’s chaotic vibe, and its sheer staying power due to being completely awesome, made “Bombs Over Baghdad” fit very well with the exacerbation of the 2000s.

15. The New Pornographers – All For Swinging You Around

High school is a weird time, but I was probably the weirdest in my small town, who opted to stay at home and watch MTV’s Subterranean rather than go out to a countryside kegger that would inevitably be busted by the local sheriff. That was the night when I discovered the New Pornographers and this upbeat, incredibly catchy song, accompanied by the coolest video featuring jump roping I’ve ever seen.

14. System of a Down – Chop Suey!

It’s long been forgotten now, but in the summer of 2001, this song propelled to the top of the Modern Rock chart, only to plummet after the Clear Channel radio censorship post 9/11. But for those of us who weren’t so damn lyrically sensitive in those undeniably frightening times, this song, and the rest of Toxicity, was a great soundtrack for my anger at an unknown enemy, in one of the most transformative, and confusing times of my life – my freshmen year in high school. Much like the Deftones, System was being lumped in with bands of the time who weren’t doing things nearly as cool as they were. And like wine vs. beer, some things get thrown out after the expiration date, and some get better with age.

13. Air – Cherry Blossom Girl

I suppose if someone were to ask me to pick an album that made me realize that music, for me, was more than a pastime, an album that took me to another place when I listened to it for the first time, that made me discover a state of euphoria no substance ever could, (keep in mind no one would ever ask me this, but whatever) I would say Talkie Walkie by Air. And the highlight “Cherry Blossom Girl.” It’s hard to write in words how I feel when I listen to this, but the experience is likely otherworldly. Driving home in the dark after purchasing this album, I discovered at the impressionable age of 16, music was more than just a free-time thing for me. It was potent stuff.

12. Andrew W.K. – She Is Beautiful

I adore Andrew W.K.’s party-hard stance and optimistic swagger, and I Get Wet is still one of my favorite party-time albums, but “She Is Beautiful” has more sentimental value, if only for young-and-dumb, nostalgic purposes. It was on the first mixtape I ever made for a girl – I guess I was 14 or something – and it stuck. Every time I hear this song, I think of that girl, my first heartbreak, and how incredibly long ago that was. It feels like another lifetime.

The Strokes – 12:51

I’m sure I’ve told everyone this, but Room On Fire is unbeatable, it’s an impeccable album, near flawless, and this, the first single, made me fall in love with the Strokes like I hadn’t before. Is This It was great, but nothing so beautifully melodic, so slacker, so nonchalant, so rock’n’roll had been churned out by this New York band until this song, and the album that came with it, was released. Sadly, it’s a reminder of a crew who today are making music way past their peak. Some things just can’t be beaten.

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