Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Best Songs of the Decade: 100-76

The end of arbitrarily determined time frames means it's time for lists! Olé! My former bosses at The A.V. Club did a Best Albums of the Decade list, but in the era of the iPod, best albums aren't the entirety of music. Hell, my #1 song wasn't even released on a traditional album.

My criteria here are generally subjectively how I feel about the songs now, although there are some songs that I'm not so keen on now, but still felt needed to be on the list, and some weight was given to what I'll pretentiously call "cultural impact" although that really means popularity.

See also:

The Best Songs of the Decade: 75-51
The Best Songs of the Decade: 50-26
The Best Songs of the Decade: 25-1
The 10 Best Albums of the Decade

Without further ado, the list:

100. "Who Taught You To Live Like That?" - Sloan
Canadian power-pop band Sloan is one of those fun-sounding groups where the members all switch instruments for different songs. In practice, this makes them fairly inconsistent, but when they're on, they're really on.

99. "Sensual Seduction" - Snoop Dogg
A couple of weeks ago, my sister was trying to argue that autotune was the worst thing ever to happen to music. Sorry, sister dearest, but while Puff Daddy still needs to atone for his crimes, autotune makes pop songs like this. Also, how great is it to see that Snoop "bitches ain't shit" Dogg is now making songs dedicated to the female orgasm? Aww, he's all grown up now.

98. "Sovay" - Andrew Bird
Andrew Bird whistles. This is what he's known for. Hey, it works.

97. "California Dreamer" - Wolf Parade
I'm not sure if it's my expanding musical vocabulary, or just something I'm intrigued by, but I've noticed a trend of responses to famous songs by modern artists. This response to "California Dreamin'" may be inflated in my head thanks to the original's prevalence in Chungking Express, but hey, still a great song.

96. "Sari" - Nellie McKay
Nellie McKay's debut album, Get Away From Me, showed hints of a fascinating talent, and helped trigger the chanteuse explosion of the later part of the decade. Unfortunately, she seems to have tilted towards musical comedy-style songs instead of bizarrely marvelous gems like this.

95. "Benzi Box" - Dangermouse & MF Doom ft. Cee-Lo
Dangerdoom's The Mouse and the Mask was a wonderful gateway into hip-hop for white nerds who liked Adult Swim. This may be the best track on the album, thanks largely to the smooth chorus provided by Cee-Lo - who later teamed up with Dangermouse in Gnarls Barkley and took over the world.

94. "Bring the Pain" - Missy Elliot ft. Method Man
The Wu-Tang Clan opened the decade on top of the hip-hop world, and you couldn't throw a stone without finding their influence somewhere, anywhere. Missy Elliot's interpolation of Method Man's earlier song of the same name brought together Missy's danceable hip-hop with Meth's grittier Wu-Tang past with excellent results.

93. "Tooken Back" - Ghostface Killah ft. Jacki-O
The Wu-Tang Clan went into a swift decline as the decade progressed (culminating the in death of Old Dirty Bastard), with critical and popular support dissolving. The main exception to this general trend was Ghostface Killah, whose stellar solo albums kept the Wu-Tang name alive as something other than a punchline. 2004's Pretty Toney Album was a bit of a foray into pop over hardcore, leading to this silly, touching, and catchy-as-hell song.

92. "I Might Be Wrong" - Radiohead
Hey, it's the first Radiohead track on the list!

91. "PJ & Rooster" - Outkast
Hey, it's the first Outkast track on the list!

90. "Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)" - The Arcade Fire
I like to describe my tastes in modern rock music as leaning towards shouty-girl pop-punk over fuzzy whiny boy indie rock. That said, full credit to the fuzzy whiny boy rockers in The Arcade Fire. This is a good stuff.

89. "Galang" - M.I.A.
Though her second album made the massive mainstream splash, M.I.A.'s debut showed more than flashes of the superstar-in-the-making, particularly on this track.

88. "Let It Ride" - Ryan Adams
There are a handful of critically acclaimed, fairly popular indie rockers who have single songs I love, even as I can't get into the rest of their catalog. This excellent country/rocker about youthful alienation and rebellion is that song for Ryan Adams. See also - "Bukowski" by Modest Mouse.

87. "Lose Yourself" - Eminem
Remember in 2001, when Eminem and Britney Spears were the biggest pop stars in the universe? They both managed to increase their hit quotient with songs in the short term, but the long term? Yeesh.

86. "Devil's Dance Floor" - Flogging Molly
I don't feel qualified to write much about it, but I kinda like the Irish-punk musical movement. I really, really like this particular example of it.

85. "Animal Rap" - Jedi Mind Tricks ft. Kool G Rap
In an alternate dimension of my own imagining, hip-hop gets its samples not from 70's soul or 80's pop or 90's rock, but from the giants of classical music. Jedi Mind Tricks arrived in our dimension from that place, and gave us songs like this.

84. "Oslo In The Summertime" - Of Montreal
I've heard Of Montreal compared most accurately to David Bowie, in that their music is comprised primarily of catchy little pop songs, but the subject matter and personas adapted are far, well, weirder than other catchy little pop songs, although the comparison does a good job of describing the feel of the music more than the sound. This song will get stuck in your head. Sorry. Ba b-b-b-ba ba ba-ba.

83. "Side to Side" - Blackalicious ft. Lateef & Pigeon John
Blackalicious' Blazing Arrow was one of the best hip-hop albums of the decade, and its follow-up, The Craft, was mostly a disappointment. I only say "mostly" largely because of this comedically catchy, eminently danceable tale of the drawbacks of club hook-ups.

82. "Blue Magic" - Jay-Z
I kind of feel bad about a relative lack of Jay-Z on the list. He has great songs, and he'd certainly be in the running for Artist of the Decade. But by-and-large, he seems, like the Beatles, to do consistently good-to-great songs more than mediocre-to-excellent as most others do. And that's not a bad thing at all - just means fewer-than-expected songs on lists like these.

81. "Radio Nowhere" - Bruce Springsteen
80. "Magic" - Bruce Springsteen
The Boss had something of a career renaissance, focused primarily on his 2007 album Magic. The first track, "Radio Nowhere," demonstrated just how much he can still rock. But perhaps more impressive is the sense of weariness and sadness in "Magic," despite its ostensible happy subject matter of magic tricks. (It also always makes me think of Gob from Arrested Development, and that's not a bad thing.)

79. "Old White Lincoln" - The Gaslight Anthem
Speaking of Bruce, here's a group of young men from Jersey who seem to enjoy his music. I've heard them described as what might happen if Springsteen had gone up to CBGBs and hung out with The Ramones, and I really can't argue that that's either false or a bad thing.

78. "Tell a Story" - Rhymefest
Rhymefest's infectious humor, sense of storytelling, combination of arrogance and humility, and Chicago sneer bring to mind his occasional collaborator, Kanye West, but without the narcissism. That he hasn't become a star may seem baffling, but perhaps not as much when you realize that he's been delaying his second album for the last two years.

77. "Smart Went Crazy" - Atmosphere
Atmosphere got most of their notice as the progenitors of the terribly-named subgenre "emo-rap" early in the decade, but their fifth album, You Can't Imagine How Much Fun We're Having, may be their best. This dense, catchy song is one of several standouts from the second half of the album.

76. "Move Your Feet" - Junior Senior
It does what it says. Truth in song-labeling.

No comments: