Looks like it's my turn today so here goes nothing. Selecting these was an interesting process. I'll try to explain why I picked each (at least a little) and why it deserves a spot here. Ordering these was really hard, and doesn't mean all that much. They all kick ass and putting one over the other was tough. Any who, here we go:
10: "Rock Star-Poser" by N.E.R.D. (2002)
How awesome this song is seems to be justification enough for me, but it was also the coming out party of Pharrell, who had already (and continues to) influence music by being an insanely talented producer. He has produced hits for a wide array of artists, from Britney Spears ("I'm a Slave 4 U") to Ludacris ("Southern Hospitality").
9: "15 Step" by Radiohead (2007)
When Radiohead decided to release "In Rainbows" on their website for however much you wanted to pay for it, without major label support, I figured the album probably represented a drop-off in quality. Then, once I picked it up for $1 on the interweb and played the first song ("15 step"), I immediately knew how wrong I was. This song has some of the coolest percussion I have ever heard, and Thom Yorke's hectic vocals work perfectly throughout. Plus, their internet release marked a major transition in how music will be distributed in the years to come.
8. "Cry Me a River" by Justin Timberlake (2002)
As the boy band craze died down, I don't think many people expected some one to emerge from that fad and become the voice of pop music in the 2000's. With "Cry Me a River", JT did just that, thrusting himself to solo stardom with this song. It also began a long-lasting and productive partnership with producer Timbaland that would make more fantastic music as the decade progressed.
7. "Violet Hill" by Coldplay (2008)
Love it or hate (and most of the people reading this will hate it), these guys owned this decade. They won 7 Grammy's and sold over 50 million records, and they deserve a spot on this list. Why this song? Well frankly I just love it, and it should get more credit in the "best Coldplay songs" discussion.
6. "Crazy" by Gnarls Barkley (2006)
The unlikely pairing of Danger Mouse and Cee-lo brought us one of the most pleasant surprises of the decade. Cee-Lo's vocals are shockingly soulful and on point, and the beat Danger Mouse laid down accents the haunting, poignant lyrics perfectly.
"Come on now who do you, who do you, who do you think you are? Hahaha Bless your soul... You really think your in control?"
5. "International Player's Anthem" by UGK ft. Outkast (2007)
This is just well constructed, well performed hip-hop at it's finest. Andre 3000 opens this song with one of the coolest verses I have ever heard with nothing but horns and gospel singing backing him up and gets you ready for a ridiculously satisfying beat drop. Not all that much else to say, everyone involved with this song killed it and I love it.
"Then I CC'd every girl that I'd see see 'round town"
4."All These Things That I've Done" by The Killers (2005)
Brandon Flowers not only looks fantastic with a hipster mustache, dude can write a song too. Not much more to say about this one really, except it has the coolest ending on the list. Bringing in gospel backgrounds while repeatedly chanting "I got soul but I'm not a soldier"? Talk to me.
3. "Ordinary People" by John Legend (2005)
In a time where synth and loud hip-hop and R&B beats reigned, John Legend knew he was good enough to not need any of that stuff. He sat down on his piano, played it beautifully, and recorded this song. The heights it reached are pretty remarkable when you consider how different it is from everything else attaining commercial success at the time. The lyrics are my favorite part of the song because they capture the uncertainty of real relationships. Legend doesn't reach any conclusions in the song. If anything he is acknowledging that he has no idea what's going to happen, and that is both refreshingly honest and easy to relate to.
2. "All Falls Down" by Kanye West (2004)
I liked "Through the Wire" and all, but this was when I knew this Kanye West character was the real deal. Syleena Johnson fills the hooky chorus with soul and Kanye absolutely demolishes the verses. Plus, any rap song with acoustic guitar and the line "Couldn't afford a car so she named her daughter Alexis" in it deserves some love.
1. "Umbrella" by Rihanna ft. Jay-z (2007)
I can just imagine my future children turning on a "2000's" satellite radio station to listen to some oldies their dad loved and hearing this song. No chorus was as singable, as memorable as this one, and Rihanna's so-cool-it's-almost-casual voice has never been used so perfectly. Throw in Jay-Z and you have an absolute monster of a song. The ridiculous number of covers it spawned is a great indication of just how important this song was to the decade. Plus, my son is totally going to nail the opening Jay-Z verse from the backseat...