BMOWP’s 100 Favorite Songs of 2K
I’ve listened to music for a long time.
We all have.
In the long time I’ve been listening to music, one thing has stayed constant: my favorite songs sound different from your favorite songs. The notes land in our ears with different expectations. Tastes differ. Qualities change. And, much like we never know exactly how color looks in the eyes of another, music isn’t analogous between listeners.
Still, we insist on ranking them. The top this. The best that. The essential whatever.
Which is why I wanted to look at things differently. These aren’t the top 100 songs of the 2000s (a decade that ended a month ago, granted). But they are my favorite 100 songs of the 2000s. They display my taste, showing how those notes landed on MY ears and what my expectations were.
With that disclaimer, a few more ground rules. I did not allow for more than three songs per artist, hopefully saving you from 50+ Modest Mouse and Cursive songs. I did not allow covers to be counted, knocking Jose Gonzalez’s “Heartbeats” and Ben Folds’ “Bitches Ain’t Shit” off the list. And I present the list in three parts for brevity’s sake: 100-51 are simply listed; 50-21 come with a brief statement; 20-1 arrive with full reasoning and the track itself.
To hear all of the 100 songs (minus five that weren’t supported), check out the Black Marks on Wood Pulp 100 Favorite Songs of 2K playlist at Lala.com.
This is how I saw the decade in music. Enjoy.
The Really Good Songs: #100-51
100. “Who Could Win A Rabbit” – Animal Collective, Sung Tongs (2004)
99. “Oceanbound” – 764-HERO, Nobody Knows This Is Everywhere (2002)
98. “Until 6pm” – Office, Q & A (2005)
97. “It Was There That I Saw You” – …And You Will Know Us By The Trail of the Dead, Source Tags & Codes (2002)
96. “The Crystal Lake” – Grandaddy, The Sophtware Slump (2000)
95. “Don’t Panic” – Coldplay, Parachutes (2000)
94. “Skinny Love” – Bon Iver, For Emma, Forever Ago (2007)
93. “Heavy Metal Drummer” – Wilco, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (2002)
92. “Last Night” – The Strokes, Is This It? (2000)
91. “Quality Control” – Jurassic 5, Quality Control (2000)
90. “Daft Punk Is Playing At My House” – LCD Soundsystem, LCD Soundsystem (2005)
89. “California” – Phantom Planet, The Guest (2002)
88. “Album Of The Year” – The Good Life, Album Of The Year (2004)
87. “When The Sun Goes Down” – Arctic Monkeys, Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not (2006)
86. “You Are A Runner And I Am My Father’s Son” – Wolf Parade, Apologies To The Queen Mary (2005)
85. “Choked And Separated” – Hot Water Music, A Flight And A Crash (2001)
84. “Mind The Gap” – The Soundtrack of Our Lives, Behind The Music (2001)
83. “Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots Pt. 1” – The Flaming Lips, Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots (2002)
82. “What Else Would You Have Me Be” – Lucero, Rebels, Rogues & Sworn Brothers (2006)
81. “Singer Songwriter” – Okkervil River, The Stand-Ins (2008)
80. “A Praise Chorus” – Jimmy Eat World, Bleed American (2001)
79. “(Drawing) Rings Around The World” – Super Furry Animals, Rings Around The World (2001)
78. “Dear God (sincerely M.O.F.)” – Monsters Of Folk, Monsters of Folk (2009)
77. “Take Your Mama” – Scissor Sisters, Scissor Sisters (2004)
76. “Black River Killer” – Blitzen Trapper, Furr (2008)
75. “I Am A Man Of Constant Sorrow” – The Soggy Bottom Boys, O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2002)
74. “Oxford Comma” – Vampire Weekend, Vampire Weekend (2008)
73. “When The Night Turns Cold” – Tobias Fröberg , Somewhere In The City (2006)
72. “Section 12 (Hold Me Now)” – The Polyphonic Spree, Together We’re Heavy (2004)
71. “Lukewarm” – New End Original, Thriller (2001)
70. “I Will Possess Your Heart” – Death Cab For Cutie, Narrow Stairs (2008)
69. “Even If You Don’t” – Ween, White Pepper (2000)
68. “Young Folks (w/ Victoria Bergsman)” – Peter, Bjorn and John, Writer’s Block (2006)
67. “Punkrocker (w/Iggy Pop)” – Teddybears, Soft Machine (2006)
66. “Avantcore” – Busdriver, Fear of a Black Tangent (2005)
65. “The D in Detroit” – The Anniversary, Designing a Nervous Breakdown (2000)
64. “Sixteen Military Wives” – The Decemberists, Picaresque (2005)
63. “Calm Americans” – Elliott, False Cathedrals (2000)
62. “Oxygen” – Willy Mason, Where The Humans Eat (2006)
61. “Black Swan” – Thom Yorke, The Eraser (2006)
60. “The Deeper In” – Drive-By Truckers, Decoration Day (2003)
59. “Mothership, Mothership, Do You Read Me?” – Cursive, Burst and Bloom [EP] (2002)
58. “Paper Planes” – M.I.A, Kala (2007)
57. “Two Weeks” – Grizzly Bear, Veckatimest (2009)
56. “The Way We Get By” – Spoon, Kill The Moonlight (2002)
55. “So Soon” – Seven Storey Mountain, Based On A True Story (2000)
54. “Oh, Angelina” – The Impossibles, Return (2000)
53. “Fidelity” – Regina Spektor, Begin To Hope (2006)
52. “Long Distance Call” – Phoenix, It’s Never Been Like That (2006)
51. “Hey Ya!” – Outkast, Speakerboxxx / The Love Below (2003)
The Better Songs: #50-21
50. “From A Balance Beam” – Bright Eyes, Lifted Or The Story Is In The Soil, Keep Your Ear To The Ground (2003)
My first Bright Eyes experience, in which I realized he wasn’t simply a Dashboard Confessional knockoff.
49. “Sea Legs” – The Shins, Wincing The Night Away (2007)
I didn’t care at all about The Shins until this song hit heavy rotation. Sorry, Garden State.
48. “Diamonds From Sierra Leone (Remix) (Feat. Jay-Z)” – Kanye West, Late Registration (2005)
An extended version that adds one of my favorite Jay-Z performances.
47. “Garden Of Simple” – Ani DiFranco, Reveling: Reckoning (Disc 1) (2001)
Most of my favorite Ani stuff is from before 2000. Then again, “Garden of Simple” could easily have been on Little Plastic Castle.
46. “Kids” – MGMT, Oracular Spectacular (2008)
You know, there are four songs from this album that I love equally. This one represents the lot.
45. “Since I Left You” – The Avalanches, Since I Left You (2000)
Not one to rock the “electronic” movement, I always loved The Avalanches as solid background music.
44. “Non Photo-Blue” – Pinback, Summer In Abaddon (2004)
“Hey, this sounds like a raw version of Modest Mouse,” I thought at the time. I was wrong, but the song stuck with me.
43. “Hotel Yorba” – The White Stripes, White Blood Cells (2001)
The whole album, really. For as much as I like them, The White Stripes are an album-based band to me, and therefore didn’t make much of a showing here.
42. “Oh My God” – Kaiser Chiefs, Employment (2005)
Lily Allen’s cover is also really good. But remember? No covers, dude.
41. “Come on! Feel the Illinoise!” – Sufjan Stevens, Illinois (2005)
For some, it’s “Casimir Pulaski Day,” while others choose “Chicago.” I always liked this song.
40. “Wake Up” – The Arcade Fire, Funeral (2004)
I grew to love this song not so much for the album version, but for this fantastic live “Neon Bible/Wake Up” video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-5XK-2Ufd4
39. “Idioteque” – Radiohead, Kid A (2000)
The best song off of Radiohead’s third-best album, but since it was the best album they released in the 2000s it automatically made everyone’s #1 spot.
38. “This Year” – The Mountain Goats, The Sunset Tree (2005)
Childhood angst, booze, video games, learning to drive, and the world vs. John Darnielle.
37. “Rough Gem” – Islands, Return to the Sea (2006)
A constant Left of Center standard, “Rough Gem” was infectious enough to make it onto several “Springtime Mix” CDs.
36. “The Trench” – Chuck Ragan, Gold Country (2009)
Formerly of Hot Water Music, Chuck takes the energy of the punk arena and funnels it into his acoustic guitar.
35. “If You Could Save Yourself (You’d Save Us All)” – Ween, Quebec (2003)
Ween’s been down more than it’s been up since the turn of last decade, but sometimes they’d cook up brilliance.
34. “If The Brakeman Turns My Way” – Bright Eyes, Cassadaga (2007)
To those who would rather listen to “I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning,” I have to respectfully disagree. That album doesn’t have this song.
33. “Fred Jones, Part 2” – Ben Folds, Rockin’ The Suburbs (2001)
About Schmidt has nothing on Ben Folds’ tale of an old man whose industry has passed him by.
32. “The Funeral” – Band of Horses, Everything All The Time (2006)
Haunting? Yes. Awesome? You bet.
31. “Vaka” – Sigur Rós, ( ) (2002)
I still remember hearing this for the first time in the radio booth at KCFS, my mouth agape.
30. “Guns and Cigarettes” – Atmosphere, Lucy Ford: The Atmosphere EP’s (2000)
My official introduction to the idea of indie hip-hop. That he hails from Minneapolis was an added benefit.
29. “All Nightmare Long” – Metallica, Death Magnetic (2008)
Corey at 15 years old approves of the inclusion of this song on the list. And, oh man, it’s fun on Guitar Hero.
28. “There Goes The Fear” – Doves, The Last Broadcast (2002)
Brit pop, except without all of that stupid Oasis/Blur cheekiness. So, I guess, not Brit pop at all.
27. “10001110101” – Clutch, Robot Hive: Exodus (2005)
I saw Clutch once at The Pomp Room in Sioux Falls. They opened for Marilyn Manson. I don’t know which is weirder – that Clutch opened for MM or that MM played at a dive bar.
26. “Girl” – Beck, Guero (2005)
Still stands as my favorite cell phone ring for Kerrie.
25. “Delicate” – Damien Rice, O (2003)
Great chorus, though it hasn’t aged well. It was in the top 20 of my favorite songs of all time just a few years ago.
24. “A Fond Farwell” – Elliott Smith, From A Basement On The Hill (2004)
A post-death release that hauntingly predicted his own suicide. Also: beautiful.
23. “Artificial Light” – Rainer Maria, A Better Version of Me (2000)
The jangly open. The fantastic opening beat. The iconic emo-when-emo-still-ruled voice of Caithlin De Marrais. I keep thinking I should have bumped this song higher.
22. “Always Coming Back Home To You” – Atmosphere, Seven’s Travels (2003)
He talks about MPLS as home, but the second “hidden” song mentions my life’s two home bases: Sioux Falls and St. Cloud.
21. “Barnacles” – Ugly Casanova, Sharpen Your Teeth (2002)
I feel fortunate that I can add this song. It’s like I got to cheat and add an extra Modest Mouse song.
The Absolute Best Songs, Hands Down: #20-1
20. “Stronger” – Kanye West, Graduation (2007)
I didn’t know shit about Daft Punk – still don’t, to tell you the truth – but I do know they make for a hell of a backing track for The Artist Now Reviled as Kanye West. That Kanye West landed two songs in this list isn’t a testament to his talent as much as his ability to adapt to different genres. He sounds bored, and the idea that anyone can be bored while rapping is so foreign to me that it’s endearing. I know. Weird, huh?
19. “Spitting Venom” – Modest Mouse, We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank (2007)
Modest Mouse had two “Best Albums Ever” in a row: The Lonesome Crowded West and my personal favorite The Moon and Antarctica. Then, they embraced popular radio and wrote good albums that disappointed only because two “Best Albums Ever” preceded them. Oh, but wait. Here’s something awesome: “Spitting Venom,” a callback to the long, rambling, stonerific Modest Mouse epics of old. And suddenly, just like that, I had something that reminded me of those “Best Albums Ever.”
18. “Trouble” – Ray LaMontagne, Trouble (2003)
If only because of a sultry voice and a look that betrayed his Bonnaroo sensibilities, I spent a good few months wondering just how much more awesome a person’s image could get. Here’s Ray LaMontagne (a name I still can’t help but pronounce incorrectly), mountain man ruggedness mixed with a soulful sound you’d expect from the gravel washed backwoods of Tennessee, and he’s got this song about heartbreak and hard times and all of that. And even though I sometimes hear about it and think of that commercial with the dog who wants to hide his bone where no one can find it, it’s still a great song.
17. “Two” – The Antlers, Hospice (2009)
I started compiling this list in November, which is to say I had narrowed the songs down to about 300 and had begun the process of sniping them off, one by one. Then I found Hospice, causing me to wonder aloud if it’s okay to catapult an album to greatness after only a month of listening. In this case, yes – The Antlers provide the soundtrack to an agonizing death that is both beautiful and introspective, and this song serves as a sing-along, head-nod, brilliantly worded highpoint. The most difficult part was ranking it, and I surprised even myself by landing it this high.
16. “Rebellion (Lies)” – The Arcade Fire, Funeral (2004)
So, you remember back in 2004, when The Arcade Fire suddenly blew up all over the indie rock landscape and they were hailed as the greatest band ever and a lot of “Best Albums Of All Time Ever” lists had them a lot higher than they should have been (because, let’s be honest, Funeral is a fantastic album but it has a long way to go to beat out even The Beatles’ worst albums) and then you kinda got burned out on them – not because they were mainstream but because they had absolutely saturated the scene? That was me, too. Except, after a year or two of ignoring them, I listened to some of their songs in preparation for this list. And they’re good. REAL GOOD.
15. “Crazy” – Gnarls Barkley, St. Elsewhere (2006)
Dude, that guy was in the Goodie Mob? And the other guy did the Grey Album? So, let me get this straight – two underground-as-underground-gets guys get together and record the first song to ever hit #1 on the charts via mp3 download? Let’s say another thing about how unlikely – and awesome – it was that “Crazy” became as big as it did: my boss used to whistle it as he was getting ready for meetings. Fifty years old. Whistling Gnarls Barkley. Because not only was it accessible, it was catchy as all hell and doubly as inspired.
14. “Trusty Chords” – Hot Water Music, Caution (2002)
Hot Water Music loves its music and its whiskey, and that love combines on this song: hangovers, hating where you are and a few great guitar chords. As a play-pretend Jameson fan (because, let’s be honest, I can’t drink whiskey without cringing and, really, that doesn’t seem like a productive way to enjoy alcohol) I love the constant references.
13. “The District Sleeps Alone Tonight” – The Postal Service, Give Up (2002) The bleeps and bloops of technology enveloping the scaled back tone of early Death Cab for Cutie. Well, naturally, I suppose – this IS the voice of Death Cab. And though other parts of this album were co-opted by long-haired hippies in UPS commercials, the album (quickly becoming dated, but in a good way) still has one of the best opening songs on record. At the time, it seemed so foreign. Now, it just seems awesome.
12. “The Mountain” – Mason Jennings, Birds Flying Away (2000)
The scene: First Avenue in Minneapolis. The show: Modest Mouse, shortly after “Float On” became a major hit and the kids from Kidz Bop sang it and it ended up in a Ford commercial. The opening act: Mason Jennings, Minneapolis legend and acoustic triviality to a room filled with anxious Modest Mouse fans. The song: His first of the night, a seemingly mellow number with a groove that erupted into a frenzy by the end. “The Mountain.” I’ve been a fan ever since.
11. “Late” – Ben Folds, Songs For Silverman (2005)
“This song is for a friend of mine, Elliot Smith.” It was an Augustana College-sponsored Ben Folds concert at the Washington Pavilion in Sioux Falls, and it was one of the most tender moments I’ve seen at a live show. Still, today, the song – and, naturally, Ben Folds’ treacly piano lines – make for a powerful and memorable song about a friend. A friend who just so happened to specialize in soul-bearing songs himself.
10. “Sierra” – Cursive, The Ugly Organ (2003)
I learned of the name “Sierra” from this song. But, no, my daughter’s not named after the song. After all, the song – about Tim Kasher’s fictitious yet probably very auto-biographical protagonist’s realization that he’s ready to settle down if only his significant other hadn’t already gotten married and had a child with someone else – is a little dark for little Sierra’s disposition. That being said, it’s a song steeped in the Cursive brand of pain: anger, realization, and too-late repentance.
9. “Daylight” – Aesop Rock, Labor Days (2001)
The top rated hip-hop track on this list isn’t so much a song as it’s a chronicle of amazing rhymes and fast-paced chaos. Case in point: even with the words in front of me, I quickly abandoned the idea of performing this song at Hip-Hop Karaoke. Not with those turns of phrase, the words fitting together perfectly but still so angled they cause instant confusion. An amazing track, and even more great when coupled with its bizarro version, “Night Light.”
8. “Pints of Guinness Make You Strong” – Against Me!, The Acoustic EP (2001)
An acoustic version of one of Against Me!’s most anthemic songs, “Pints of Guinness Make You Strong” combines sing-along lyrics with an unrelenting acoustic lick. Pints of Guinness? Makes sense: there are few songs that make me want to head to the nearest pub, and this is one of them. One part sad story, one part drinking anthem, one part awesome, uncategorizable punk-hybrid, it’s proof that acoustic songs most likely outperform their electric counterparts.
7. “Life Like Weeds” – Modest Mouse, The Moon And Antarctica (2000)
For a while, this was the #1 song on my list. It’s the most epic song from my favorite all time album, and it best sums up the album’s apparent theme: “The Meaning of Life According to Modest Mouse.” And then I played my list to Kerrie. And about halfway through the song, she looked at me and said, “Really? This is number one?” Despite my own doubts leading up to the song, I thought I had made the right choice. It took another voice to prove that, while it may be one of the better Modest Mouse songs, it’s not even the most defining song on the album, let along the entire decade. So it fell six spots. Rick Dees would be proud.
6. “Crawl” – Alkaline Trio, From Here To Infirmary (2001)
They can’t write an album anymore that sounds anything like this. Alkaline Trio, that is – former emo-punk pioneers and drinking champions, currently slumming the big time with forgettable pop punk. “Crawl” is from the end of the “Alkaline Trio has an edge” era, before they slicked up the sound, started wearing suits and generally forgot the music that made them who they are. Regardless of what they are now, “Crawl” is a masterpiece in punk.
5. “The Radiator Hums” – Cursive, Domestica (2000)
I honestly didn’t even realize this album was released in 2000. Like The Moon and Antarctica, Domestica rocked at the beginning of the century and has continued to shine. If I’d have ranked all of my favorite albums and not just ONE of them, it would have been #2. I think. That being said, “The Radiator Hums” is a bright spot on an otherwise dark album, though the lyrics continue the same brutalness that comes from Tim Kasher’s typical “marital strife” prose.
4. “The Underdog” – Spoon, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga (2007)
It begins with a flurry of acoustic guitar and continues on as my favorite song of the second half of this decade – really, my favorite song of the Vilhauers’ Sirius Satellite Radio era. While Spoon always stood off to the side as a respected but not fully embraced band – I loved a lot of their stuff, but never chose to listen to them, if you know what I mean – “The Underdog” pushed them into “trusted to always be good” category.
3. “The Frequency” – Jets To Brazil, Perfecting Loneliness (2002)
Oh, man. I don’t even know how to explain this song. It’s epic, it’s filled with fantastic lyrics, it’s Jets To Brazil’s greatest creation, and it’s generally unknown. Which is disappointing. Because it’s simply wonderful.
2. “3rd Planet” – Modest Mouse, The Moon And Antarctica (2000)
We all have that one album that, even though we don’t listen to it every day, instantly brings back a flood of memories, the first notes rushing into our brains with nostalgia and wonderment and an appreciation for great music. And from the first notes of 3rd Planet, the first song on my favorite album of all time forever and ever amen, those memories flood in. So, yeah, it’s only #2 because it has the audacity of being released at the same time as #1. Too bad, Modest Mouse. You lose.
1. “Cursing Concrete” – Rumbleseat, …Is Dead (2005)
Simple, raw and powerful. It’s the type of song that makes me want to learn guitar. To be in a band so I can cover it. It’s the song I want played at my funeral. Really. And that’s about as much of a recommendation as I can muster.