The Best Singles of the ’00s

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Best Singles of the 00s

your body’s over me

20. TV on the Radio – “Staring at the Sun”
(2004; Touch & Go)

“Staring at the Sun” is a song that, fittingly, burns a hole in whatever it comes in contact with. It’s a head-turner, a traffic-stopper, the kind of track that makes people put whatever they are doing on hold and find out what it’s called and who is responsible for it. Like a lot of great music, it is emotional in an indeterminate way, the enigmatic lyrics piling up over the bassy throb, Tunde Adebimpe’s gruff vocals curling into Kyp Malone’s ethereal falsetto to create an atmosphere that activates and explodes the words intoned. Genres are brought to mind in the same moment they are reduced to ash, named things giving way to something mysterious and mesmerizing. – Tyler Parks

I hear that you and your band have sold your guitars and bought turntables.
I hear that you and your band have sold your turntables and bought guitars.

19. LCD Soundsystem – “Losing My Edge”
(2002; DFA)

Hipsterism may be all about ridicule but occasionally it’s nice to be called on your own bullshit. James Murphy practically invented the former and still made a “Howl” for the reverse record-snob, not that he exempted himself or anything. Recited rills of obnoxious data being the creed, it was up to Murphy to write the perfect vengeance for when we get a little sick of ourselves—or of the one friend who never shuts the fuck up. That Murphy’s such a reference himself obviously makes it funnier in retrospect. But we wouldn’t still be talking about “Losing My Edge” if there weren’t so much groove there; any more bass and it might drop dead. In LCD Soundsystem, at least, we actually do know what we really want. – Anthony Strain

Sometimes we remember bedrooms, and our parents’ bedrooms, and the bedrooms of our friends

18. Arcade Fire – “Neighbordhood #1 (Tunnels)”
(2004; Merge)

As much as I love “Haiti,” “Crown of Love,” “Rebellion (Lies)” and “Neighborhood #3 (Power Out),” “Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)” is my favorite track from the landmark Funeral. There’s no way this Arcade Fire album wasn’t going to reach a lofty position in our decade album review. The only nagging question that remained was where Funeral’s singles would fall. “Tunnels” is a song of youth’s innocence, of adolescent love, and nostalgia. It is also one of the biggest instrumental and energy buildups of the decade. Various melodies or lyrics can equally get stuck in your head and just make you want to listen to the whole song as soon as you can. It’s fairly ballsy to open an album with a track as strong as “Tunnels,” but few albums are as ballsy as Funeral. – Terrance Terich

shake it like a Polaroid picture

17. Outkast – “Hey Ya!”
(2003; LaFace)

Andre 3000’s “Hey Ya!” burst on to the scene as the partnered single to Big Boi’s “The Way You Move,” in September of 2003, with its frenetic tempo and ’60s sunshine style orchestration. The lighthearted instrumentation belies the gravity of the wordplay, which details a relationship on the fritz despite social pressures to keep it afloat, as well as the sincerely musical complexity of the chord progression and time signature. Incorporating elements of jangly folk rock and grooving funk, Andre 3000 displays his dexterity as both a musician and a songwriter. The lyrics are incredibly astute, providing a biting social commentary of the popular perception of love as infallible and the intransient quality that relationships are traditionally supposed to live up to; “If what they say is nothing is forever/ then what makes love the exception.” The song, which graciously provided the world with the saying, “shake it like a Polaroid picture,” will forever remain a cultural landmark for historians of the ’00s. – Ryan Agnew

Can’t you hear me? I’m pounding on your door!

16. The Walkmen – “The Rat”

(2004; Record Collection)

On more than one occasion, I’ve seen two dudes, at least three Pabst Blue Ribbons each into the evening, losing their shit and high-fiving each other after the ignition of the blazing opening chord of “The Rat.” I can’t say I blame them; of all the great rock songs to be released in the ’00s, few come close to this one’s level of sheer power and visceral impact. Truthfully, however, it’s something of a rarity in The Walkmen’s discography. They certainly rock out when it suits them, but more often than not, Hamilton Leithauser’s merciless lyrics are undercut with subtler, frequently more graceful arrangements. Not this time—the band is fired up, with amplifiers cranked nearly to the point of blowing out. And Leithauser sounds pissed: “You’ve got a nerve to be asking a favor…you’ve got a nerve to be calling my number!” He’s been known to throw a few lyrical daggers in his time, but “The Rat” takes it to a dangerous level. Yet there’s a thrilling catharsis to it, a release that any beer-drunk dude or fan of kick-ass rock `n’ roll in general can take comfort in. And after four minutes, the rage slows, the blood pressure drops, and the demons have been exorcised. For now… – Jeff Terich

Everyone you know someday will die

15. Flaming Lips – “Do You Realize??”
(2002; Warner Bros.)

Despite more than a quarter century under their belt as a band, the Flaming Lips have always openly fought in their music to keep a steady footing between the wildly experimental and complexly melodic. If anything, it’s kept them sharp, often innovative and wary of resting on their veteran laurels. Last year’s Embryonic was many things – sometimes mind-blowing, other times awkwardly ambitious – not the least of which was a reminder of that precarious balance. In many ways, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots is, perhaps, the band’s best marriage of the two, and “Do You Realize??” among the most palatial examples of that. Epic in scope, tenderly executed and unapologetically introspective, the song tempers the Flaming Lips’ more frantic tendencies and gives them a sturdy enough platform to be more sentimental than they’ve ever dared. The result is nothing less than stellar. – Dustin Allen

Hey man, what’s your problem?

14. Panda Bear – “Bro’s”
(2006; Paw Tracks)

The centerpiece of one of the decade’s defining albums, “Bro’s” is a sprawling psychedelic journey through narrow cobbled streets, up and down steep hillsides, calling out to and reflecting the lazy glory of a Lisbon summer. Sampling Cat Stevens, The Tornados, and Dominik Eulberg (among other sources), Noah Lennox manages to make something unique in both shape and quality, an anthem to the joyful deliriums of the everyday. Arthur Rimbaud wrote something to the effect that eternity is the sea run off with the sun, and this is just the feeling that “Bro’s” radiates, wave after wave, as it pulls one ever deeper into its cycling, labyrinthine depths. – Tyler Parks

There was nothing to fear, nothing to doubt

13. Radiohead – “Pyramid Song”
(2001; Parlophone)

The song that Thom Yorke once proclaimed, “the best thing we’ve committed to tape, ever.” Originally titled “Egyptian Song,” “Pyramid” has similarities to another classic song, for the opening lyrics are eerily similar to “Swing Low Sweet Chariot.” Even though it was inspired by Divine Comedy and The Book of The Dead, to my ears, “Pyramid” has a similar story structure to Kate Chopin’s “The Awakening.” At the end of the story, the main protagonist walks inside the water to face her mortality. The lyrical theme, however, reminds me of something that Val Kilmer’s characterization of Jim Morrison said in the film version of The Doors: “When you die the pain’s over, there’s nothing more to fear.” At the end, Yorke sings “There’s nothing to fear, nothing to doubt.” It’s as if the speaker in the song has accepted his fate and his final breath before jumping in the river. It’s hard to hear “Pyramid Song” and not think of the last moments of Jeff Buckley before he dived and drowned inside the Mississippi River. Makes you wonder if he felt fear or doubt before the end. One of the most memorable songs in the whole Radiohead canon, this extraordinary melody is one that will haunt you for years to come. – Adrian Cepeda

Baby doll I recognize, that you’re a hideous thing inside

12. TV on the Radio – “Wolf Like Me”
(2006; 4AD)

Given TV on the Radio’s impressive track record, by the time Return to Cookie Mountain hit in 2006, it’s not much of a surprise the Brooklyn fringe rockers could churn out something as monumental as “Wolf Like Me.” But if early fist-pumpers like “Staring at the Sun” proved the once newbie band a force to contend with, this track topped every expectation for its volatile sonics courtesy of Dave Sitek, breakneck twin vocals from Tunde Adebimpe and Kyp Malone, and sheer liberation of band dynamics, milking every bit of untapped potential that remained. Where TV on the Radio can sometimes sound more eclectic or intellectually challenging than inviting, “Wolf Like Me” offers an intensely lush palate of sounds, exacting as they’re wont to do, but passionately charged. It’s not too much to say these guys can turn another one out as phenomenal as this further on, but “Wolf Like Me” sets quite a bar. – Dustin Allen

I’m just a crosshair / I’m just a shot, then we can die.

11. Franz Ferdinand – “Take Me Out”
(2004; Domino)

Looking back at 2004, it was a staggering year for indie music. When Franz Ferdinand’s fervent debut came in as Treble’s fifth best album of the year, it showed how strong the field really was. But “Take Me Out” is something exceptional. It’s almost three songs in one. It starts with the building intro, the one that starts, “And if you’re lonely…,” then thunders into a driving riff that leads into yet another stinging riff that is the meat of the song. This is the part with the recognizable chorus. Then the third part comes with the bridge of “I know I won’t be leaving here.” Then the whole thing cycles through all over again. It’s a post-punk riff lover’s dream. At the time, it seemed that Franz Ferdinand could do anything, even revive color schemes that the Padres and Astros couldn’t pull off. “Take Me Out” was the first warning shot of what was to come, and I just realized how insensitive that metaphor was considering the band’s name. Too soon? – Terrance Terich

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