Category Archives: top 30 songs of the decade

Top 30 songs of the decade (2000-2009): Part 6 of 6

#5 “Lua” Bright Eyes (2004)

“And I know you have a heavy heart / I can feel it when we kiss / so many men stronger than me / have thrown their backs out tryin’ to lift it.”

The misery of young love is wasted on the young.

#4 “Kim” Eminem (2000)

“Get a grip, Marshall!” Ok, so maybe I’m a sick bastard for choosing this, but when I first heard this chilling, gruesomely brutal “song”, I’d never heard anything like it before and I haven’t heard anything like it since. It’s in a category of its own. When the biggest selling artist of the decade was at the top of his game he had the wordplay of Bob Dylan and the “wear my life/psychic pain on my sleeve” honesty of John Lennon or Kurt Cobain – and it was very exciting.

“Then there’s the way that, when Eminem murders his wife (in the most honestly unnerving six minutes in ’00s music), he’s neither a badass avenger nor a cartoon psycho, but a pathetic, insecure wreck, sodden with the same bile that’s probably welled up in you sometime–and yes, you feel for him, and no, you don’t want to be him. This album is a gorgeous mirror that only shows your worst side: the most honest practical joke ever played.” Theon Weber

#3 “Sawdust & Diamonds” Joanna Newsom (2006)

“…and it is terribly good to carry water and chop wood…and though our bodies recoil from the grip of the soil…but what was yours and mine appears to be a sandcastle that the gibbering wave takes…”

I was once asked by an Associate Professor of English if I wanted to contribute anything to a book about Joanna Newsom. I didn’t end up giving him anything. I find it hard enough just to give you a couple of sentences of commentary on this song. I feel that it would cheapen it.

Just listen to the master.

#2 “Do You Realize??” Flaming Lips (2002)

A pretty close to perfect pop song that captures the immense fragility, joy and sadness of life in just under 3 and a half minutes.

#1 “Seven Nation Army” White Stripes (2003)

It has been reported that Jack White wrote the riff to this song in 2001 at a sound check before a show at The Corner Hotel in Richmond – a gig that I attended! They opened for Trans Am and I can’t say that I predicted that they would conquer the world, but they did.

This may not be my favourite or the best song of the decade but Jack White was certainly The Rock God of the decade. Everything he touched turned to rock n’ roll gold: De Stijl, White Blood Cells, Elephant, Get Behind Me Satan, Icky Thump, Broken Boy Soldiers, Consolers of the Lonely, Horehound – that’s 8 great albums. Like the Ramones and Nirvana before them, The White Stripes grinded rock music back to its basic elements at a moment when we needed it the most.

Rock on.

Top 30 songs of the decade (2000-2009): Part 5 of 6

#10 “Jesus, Etc.” Wilco (2002)

When I hear this song, and others from the Yankee Hotel Foxtrot album (such as War on War and Ashes of Americal Flags), I sometimes think of the events of September 11th, 2001. “Tall buildings shake/voices escape, singing sad, sad songs.” But apparently the album was finished and planned to be released on this date. I guess a great artist will hold up an antenna and capture the times of the near past, present and future.

Everything Wilco did this decade was suberb.

#9 “I Fought In A War” Belle And Sebastian (2000)

B & S are often and accurately described as twee but their songs almost always have a dark undercurrent. This is from the wonderfully titled album “Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like A Peasant.”

#8 “Guess I’m Doin’ Fine” Beck (2002)

This is for all those who think that Beck is all ironic and jokey and not a serious songwriter.

A paramount break-up song.

#7 “The Crystal Lake” Grandaddy (2000)

With a touch of the Flaming Lips, a sprinkle of Mercury Rev, a dash of Neil Young and a pinch of the Pixies, Grandaddy heralded in the digital dawn of the new millenium finer than any other.

My sister introduced me to the keyboard player of Grandaddy in a Modesto bar. I told him how much I liked The Sophtware Slump album. He said, “Thanks, man”.

#6 “Maps” Yeah Yeah Yeahs (2003)

Initially voted the least likely to survive the hype, Yeah Yeah Yeahs turned into one of the most substantial bands of the decade and this song was the indicator. They have an exceptional singer and live performer, an extraordinary drummer and a remarkable guitarist.

Oh, and that was another trend of the naughties: bass players were optional. The White Stripes, The Black Keys, Sleator Kinney, The Mess Hall, and The Yeah Yeah Yeahs all survived quite well without one.

Top 30 songs of the decade (2000-2009): Part 4 of 6

#15 “Come On Feel The Illinoize” Sufjan Stevens (2005)

This song is dazzling – a staggeringly ambitious, lushly orchestrated big-top extravaganza. Sufjan Stevens once claimed that he’d release an album for all 50 states of the U.S. Right now his total is holding steady at two.

A person who aims at nothing is sure to hit it.

#14 “Son Of Sam” Elliott Smith (2000)

The most tragic, sad (and disturbingly violent) rock death of the decade was (no, not Michael Jackson) that of fragile singer-songwriter, Elliott Smith.

This song has the ambitious arrangement, inventive production touches and strong melody of a great late-era Beatles tune.

#13 “You Know I’m No Good” Amy Winehouse (2006)

Can you imagine what it would be like to have the paparazzi standing outside your house, 24-7? Perhaps not, but it would probably make you want to smoke crack. This song, with its touches of jazz, soul, R&B and hip-hop beats is sexy, soulful, honest, self-deprecating and full of sexual longing. She may never record another album, but her place as one of the best singers of the decade is firmly supplanted here. She is the real deal.

#12 “Godless” Dandy Warhols (2000)

The Dandy Warhols suitably rebelled against grunge’s anti-rock star myth. But unlike most bands who concentrate on looking and acting “cool as”, they didn’t forget to make some great music along the way.

#11 “The Revelator” Gillian Welch (2001)

What does it mean to be making this “American primitive” music in the hyper-technologised 21st Century (yes, I’m looking at you, C.W. Stoneking!)? Is it a denial, or a blessed respite from the insanely disembodied touch-screen world we all now inhabit?

Think about it, dude.

Top 30 songs of the decade (2000-2009): Part 3 of 6

#20 “Bird flu” M.I.A. (2006)

One of the most important and subversive artists to come out of this decade was Sri Lankan-born London art student, Maya Arulpragasam. But it’s not the political and gender insurgencies that I love about this song – it’s the onslaught of percussion and the loop of an agitated chicken squawk. When asked why she chose “Bird Flu” as the song’s title, M.I.A. has responded, “Because this beat gon kill everyone!”

#19 “Parting Gift” Fiona Apple (2005)

“I opened my eyes while I was kissing you once (more than once) / and you looked as sincere as a dog / just as sincere as a dog does / when it’s the food on your lips with which it’s in love”.

#18 “Off You” Breeders (2002)

Kim Deal makes creating genius music seem so easy. There’s always a strong sense of melody in her songs and this one is very touching and mysterious with just a sprinkle of creepiness and unease to keep you on your toes.

#17 “Elbows” Darren Hanlon (2006)

This is a song by my favourite Australian singer-songwriter of the decade about brushing shoulders with a “beautiful actress” on a dancefloor, “We only touched elbows, felt our bones clank together / and then the moment was over in a falling feather / an accident, sure, but it happened, I’ll wrangle / our elbows did touch, our arms at right angles.” Drummer Bree Van Ryke is a little-known national treasure.

#16 “Troubled Waters” Cat Power (2000)

This is the most moving vocal performance of the decade.

Top 30 songs of the decade (2000-2009): Part 2 of 6

#25 “15 Feet Of Pure White Snow” Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds (2000)

“Where is Mona?! She’s long gone.” Sometimes I prefer the literal meaning of songs rather than the metaphorical interpretation i.e. this is about an avalanche rather than cocaine.

Look out for Jarvis Cocker, Noah Taylor, and Jason Donavan in the wonderfully insane video clip.

#24 “Jezebel” The Drones (2006)

This song by Australia’s best band of the decade is a nervous, tough apocalyptic epistolary love song that moves from airborne cancers to nuclear rain, cruise missiles, infanticide, vanity, calamity, civil war, Daniel Pearl and climaxes with a toll of crashing drums and feedback.

As far as world events go, the noughties were pretty horrendous (When Leonard Cohen predicted in the 90s “I’ve seen the future: it is murder” he wasn’t kidding) and this song certainly reflected that. 

#23 “Pyramid Song” Radiohead (2001)

The internet debates as to what time signature this is in have raged for years and I hope they continue to do so for a long time to come.

This band has potential. If they put their head down and tail up, maybe get some positive reviews here and there, they could really go places.

#22 “Cinder and Smoke” Iron and Wine (2004)

Samuel Beam is apparently married with four daughters so it’s not surprising that his songs have that quiet, whisper-in-your-ear quality. Any louder and he’d wake the little bubbies.

#21 “There Is No Such Place” Augie March (2000)

I’ve always had bad experiences with this band live. Glenn Richards is always a complete curmudgeon on stage. Wikipedia confirms this: “Augie March’s live performances have regularly failed to live up to the quality of their recorded work.” Anyway – the positive: as you can hear in this instance, the quality of Augie March’s recorded work has, at times, reached great heights.

This video is dedicated to keyboardist Rob Dawson who died in a car accident on January 2, 2001.

Top 30 songs of the decade (2000-2009): Part 1 of 6

Firstly, I’d like to note that I am a member of Generation X. I say this because many of the bands that have made an impact on me came out of the 90s e.g. hearing “Smells Like Teen Spirit” (on the charts!) for the first time or seeing You Am I live during my first week at Uni.  This is not to say that “things aren’t as good as they used to be” (though in my head this may be the case). It’s just that it’s often the music that makes an impact on you in your late teens/early 20s that stay with you.  Nostalgia, I guess they call it. But now it’s time for some Noughtstalgia. I have done my best to keep this list contemporary and not include too many relics from the 90s in the list, but there are a lot of bands (e.g. Animal Collective, Panda Bear, Grizzly Bear – basically any band with an animal in the title. And I am not a member of the religion that is Radiohead) loved by Gen Y that I just don’t get and I’m probably not supposed to.

There are those who say that compiling lists like this is foolish and you can’t place a numerical value on music, etc. etc. and I understand this view. But the order of these songs have not been painstakingly assembled and it’s not overly important. It’s actually not so much about the songs either, though I think they are all awesome. The focus is more about the artists that have impressed me this decade (that happen to have embeddable videos online for the songs that I like).

So here are 30 songs that I like that have been released (not necessarily as singles) in the last 10 years. Think of it as a mix tape that I have compiled for your (ok, mainly my) listening pleasure.

Oh, Dang! I forgot Bob Dylan! And Sonic Youth..and…Arcade Fire…and..


#30 “Someday” The Strokes (2002)

It has been uncool to like this rich pretty boy band.  But The Strokes were the first band to break into the mainstream as part of the turn-of-the-millennium garage rock revival trend and as the decade ends, they are getting recognised for this. And if you twisted my arm really violently, I’d even admit to liking them.

This video clip features Slash. Slash is cool. Isn’t he?

#29 “Tiger Mountain Peasant Song” Fleet Foxes (2008)

This song muses on mortality with an ethereal melody and vocal that is pure and peaceful. I wish them all the best for their “difficult second album.”

The cover art to their debut album is of the 1559 painting Netherlandish Proverbs by Pieter Bruegel the Elder. Beat that for retro.

#28 “Pass The Hatchet, I Think I’m Goodkind” Yo La Tengo (2006)

There’s nothing like a raucous, 10-minute, 3-piece jam to open an album. Especially when that album is a double album called “I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your Ass.”

We should never take Yo La Tengo for granted.

#27 “Some Summers They Drop Like Flys” Dirty Three (2000)

Horse Stories is great and the instrumental concept album Ocean Songs is even better. But Whatever You Love, You Are was this Melbourne band’s finest effort at combining spontaneous raw emotion with well-crafted melodies. The distinctly Aussie-titled Some Summers They Drop Like Flys is a good example of this.

This video gives you a hint of how great they are live.

#26 “Change Is Hard” She & Him (2008)

Dear God. Please help. I’m under the spell of Zooey Deschanel. Her eyes make me melt. I hear her sing and I turn to liquid. Please cure me of this relentless affliction. Love, Simon.