Thursday, December 31, 2009

Retrospecticus: 100 Favorite Songs of the Decade, #40-21

Low Resolution celebrates the end of the Double-Oh Decade with an inventory of my 100 favorite songs of the last ten years. As ever, take these rankings with a grain of salt and the smug knowledge that I don't know anything about music.

[Previously: #100-81; 80-61; 60-41]

#40. No Doubt -- "Ex-Girlfriend"
Another bass line I could bounce around inside forever. The decade had barely yawned itself into being before No Doubt kicked off their sophomore album with Gwen Stefani's fire-engine-red hairdo getting all the headlines, and this bullet train of pop pouting sadly getting overlooked. Not even a weak breakdown can do much harm -- not when the band roars back the way they do.

#39. Mary J. Blige -- "Family Affair"
Here's Mary again, and while she's still celebratin' no more drama in her life, with "Family Affair," she took it unapologetically to the dance floor. And she brought her Space Thesaurus! Beyond how addictive this beat is -- and IT IS -- I have to give it up for the turns of phrase that quickly became a part of my life. Crunk, for one thing. Hateration. Holleration. "In this dancery." Leave your situations at the door, people. Get it percolatin'.

#38. Arcade Fire -- "Wake Up"
I've come to Arcade Fire late, but they're one of the more exciting musical discoveries of the decade, for sure. This song was actually my first exposure to the band, and I resisted giving it its due on this countdown because -- oh, the shame -- I first heard it in the Where the Wild Things Are trailer. But fuck that, this is a brilliant, joyful, rousing song no matter where I first heard it.

#37. Jay Z / Linkin Park -- "Numb / Encore"
I'd credit this collaboration with putting a nail in the coffin of rap-rock, but honestly, that body was cold by the time Jay and the boys from Linkin Park tried this collaboration. And what it turned out to be was a homegrown mashup -- probably no different in concept than dozens of club-generated tracks. But the fact that this arose organically, and that it included shared studio space and human give-and-take, gives this uncannily perfect integration of these two songs an added cache.

Click below for #s 36-21...

#36. Something Corporate -- "Konstantine"
I've said it before, and maybe about this very song, that I have a definite weakness for teenage hyper-emotion (don't make me say, "emo," I won't do it) and drama and hyperbole. Which makes me more susceptible than most to the nearly ten-minute long "Konstantine," a song that is about nothing more serious than a breakup. And nothing more devastating. Despite my sarcasm-based deflector shields, I'd say give this song a try. The repetitive simplicity of the piano-based first third lulls you into the half-dozen whispers and crescendos and echoes -- it really does deliver an experience like being caught inside your own head with your most plaintive self.

#35. Sigur Ros -- "Hoppipolla"
You guys don't know the shame spiral I embarked upon after including this song. Starting with the pretention of including a Sigur Ros song when I don't really listen to Sigur Ros, though I fell in love with "Hopipolla" harder than almost any song this decade, but I was introduced to it through a viral video of all awful things, though I guess that's kind of a statement on our times, as is the fact of the song showing up in the Children of Men trailer, and that was awesome enough to win my little trailer tournament, oh but also it was in the Earth trailer and that was mawkish and manipulative and HOLY GOD. Stop it. I love this song. It picks me up and lifts my eyes to the horizon and above and makes me think of parades and ghosts and flying and Iceland. For four and a half minutes, I'm transported. I can find something else to feel bad about.

#34. Ryan Adams -- "Oh My Sweet Carolina"
I like my Ryan Adams songs the same way I like my coffee: wistful and sad. (What's that? Man, you're drinking the wrong coffee.) And, in this case, harmonizing with Emmylou Harris and reminiscing about home, and the roads that lead to and from there.

#33. The Dandy Warhols -- "Bohemian Like You"
I'm still a little surprised the Dandies didn't become much bigger stars than they did. And they became pretty big stars. But after they hit with this hop-around party anthem, I'm surprised they didn't become The Killers.

#32. Christina Aguilera -- "Dirrty"
One of my favorite image-management decisions of the last decade was when Christina came back with her second album, after about two years of Christina v. Britney "who's the whoriest?" debates, and just totally knocked the whole issue off the table, probably by bumping said table with her assless chaps. The Xtina era grossed a lot of people out, but you couldn't get me out of this muck if you tried.

#31. Kanye West -- "Gold Digger"
You know a record has to be good to make me like Jamie Foxx once again cashing in on his Ray Charles impersonation. But you try being the asshole pretending like he doesn't want to sing along. The thing about Kanye is that we're often laughing with him, only he's not laughing. I have no doubt this was supposed to be a scathing recrimination for starfucking women, but he can't help being so goddamn clever that I can't help smiling. "He'll leave yo' ass for a white girl" may have been the best punchline of the decade.

#30. Eve f/ Gwen Stefani -- "Let Me Blow Ya Mind"
Oh my GOD, you guys, I can't take it when this song comes on. Between Eve's swagger and Gwen's creeping backup, I defy you to find four minutes where two chicks were cooler.

#29. Gnarls Barkley -- "Crazy"
Rolling Stone nailed it when they named "Crazy" their #1 song of the decade: nobody wasn't crushing madly on this song when it first dropped. You can feel it, when everybody in the world seems to be on the same wavelength about a song. It's fleeting, but it's powerful.

#28. All-American Rejects -- "The Last Song"
Here's another intensely personal entry for me. Have you ever had a really terrible job -- wow, dumb question. Okay, remember when you had a really terrible job? And you'd do whatever to distract yourself from the day-to-day brutalization of your spirit? Enter the All-American Rejects in the autumn of 2003 with this anthem about making your last petulant goodbyes to everything that never appreciated you. I'll stand behind it as a song, too, swelling strings standing in for the bridge and all.

#27. New Pornographers -- "Use It"
Indie darlings aren't supposed to have songs this catchy. They're certainly not supposed to have you bouncing around in your seat like a three-year-old. "Use It" makes me feel like all six or twelve or however the hell many New Pornographers there are are pushing me out my front door; the harmonic wind in my sails.

#26. Lady Gaga -- "Bad Romance"
Sliding in just as the decade was expiring, Lady Gaga made her place in popular culture permanent with this song (and its attendant video), an absolutely addictive piece of bombastic pop that not one person in the entire universe could even pretend to deny.

#25. The Weepies -- "World Spins Madly On"
So, so, so simple. But that simplicity is no shortcut. It actually puts the lyrics and the vocals on very stark display, and it says a lot about the Weepies -- and of this song in particular -- that it holds up so well.

#24. Junior Senior -- "Move Your Feet"
You heard the Junior Senior. Move those feet. The phrase "sonic explosion" doesn't really mean much when you break it down, but it's the best way I can describe everything that's going on here. They're throwing every bleep and bloop, every Jackson 5-sounding vocal, horns and a backbeat and everything from turning the floor into a bed of hot coals -- motion at any cost. It's total bliss.

#23. Pink -- "U + Ur Hand"
I think I did a double-take the first time I heard this. Like, a double-take with my ears. "You and your hand, did she say?" Not that such a juvenile sentiment is so outrageous or anything, but couched in such addictive power dance-pop, it feels like a sneak attack. The whole song is pure smart-assed kiss-off, but it's also incredibly evocative of a certain type of interaction with a certain type of guy in a certain type of club. Like the lady says, if this song is about you, "You know who you are."

#22. Kate Nash -- "Foundations"
Half mod-era party girl, half brassy barmaid, Kate Nash packs a whole lot of personality into her peppy, poppy, supremely danceable music. "Foundations" takes on the last gasps of a bad relationship with a sparkling, almost conversational lyrical style. Great beats and great wit follows.

#21. Missy Elliott -- "Get Your Freak On"
We already loved Missy. She was supa dupa fly; she was a bitch. Not sure if we knew she was a genius, though. Tag-teaming with Timbaland, Missy bleeped and blooped and holla'd, speeding up, slowing down, circling back to the beginning again, all on the decade's most awesomely elliptical dance track.


JAM said...

Is someone compiling a playlist of all of these?

Stephanie said...

In the words of Nick & Norah, you are my musical soulmate.

I'd forgotten how much I loved "Ex-Girlfriend" - wonder how Gavin Rossdale feels about that song now?

Joe Reid said...

Being Gavin Rossdale, I would hope he's feeling himself. (Gross. But true.)

JAM: Definitely compile a playlist! I would love that!

NicksFlickPicks said...

This list is totally its own dancery. Love it.

Stephanie said...

Space Thesaurus! Hee!

JAM said...

I'm on it!

Nora said...

The wife and I regularly drop "oh, there's no hateration in this dancery" into regular conversation. God bless Mary.