Thursday, October 29, 2009

200 Greatest Tracks of the Decade (100-76)

I like how my post shook out yesterday. Sure it was a little time-consuming, but I've got oodles of it. I tried to spare you from drowning in video clips or slogging through Pitchforkian rambling reviews, and I think I was able to do that. This is where the list gets juicy and the gloves come off. Rankings! Hide the women and children! I'll try and keep things terse, but suffice to say I'll probably be going into a bit more detail from now on concerning what makes these songs so remarkable to me.

100. Bright Eyes-Lover I Don't Have to Love (2002)

Starting with a keyboard part that would make Raffi proud, a drum beat shakes you back to your senses and Conor's shaky voice pulls you down this Emo-before-Emo detailing of a night in the city. Conor is has always been a strong lyricist, but his best songs are those which showcase his voice, allowing it crack and yelp naturally, leaving the listener no doubt as to his sincerity.

99. Lady Gaga-Poker Face (2009)

Sounding like "Barbie Girl" reincarnated, Poker Face beats you down with its enthusiasm and endless hooks. The bassline is fantastic, heck, even the bridge gets stuck in your head, and don't get me started on the chorus. The only thing I could do without is the creepy man's voice in the background. Other than that, it is pure pop perfection.

98. Spoon-Paper Tiger (2002)

Spoon are masters of simplicity and repetition. Just as I Turn My Camera On was built on a kick drum and a bassline, Paper Tiger features clapping drumsticks, a flapping loop, and two electric guitar notes for most of the track, until other parts begin to flutter in and out to great effect. Scary sounds creeping behind Britt Daniels as he promises to "be there with you when you turn out the light"

97. Arctic Monkeys-Fluorescent Adolescent (2008)

While the other Arctic Monkeys song I reviewed (Mardy Bum) was quaint, delicate and resigned, Fluorescent Adolescent is what makes the Arctic Monkeys so fun and successful. While most bands which toy with breakneck songs and hooks struggle to impart any sort of lasting lyrical impression, the Arctic Monkeys excel at both. Vicious hooks, harsh lyrics, hearty riffs. I mean, these lyrics could bring you to tears in a folk-song, instead the Arctic Monkeys would rather just have some fun.

Everything's in order in a black hole
Nothing seems as pretty as the past though
That Bloody Mary's lacking in Tabasco
Remember when he used to be a rascal?

96. The Lonely Island-Lazy Sunday (Feat. Chris Parnell) (2006)

While The Lonely Island's other tracks may have a more lasting impact or cultural significance, this is the one that started the whole thing on SNL. Two white dudes, rapping about their trivial errands, and absolutely hysterical. They've certainly increased their budget since, but they've yet to write lines funnier than these gems:

You can call us Aaron Burr, 
From the way we're droppin' Hamiltons

Now quiet in the theater or it's gonna get tragic.
We're about to get taken to a dream world of magic

95. TTC-Dans Le Club (2005)

While French Hip-hop may sound like an oxymoron, TTC does some pretty darn innovative stuff. Granted, I have no idea what they are saying, but I can recognize a good chorus and some great deliveries in any language. No this is not a joke.

94. Das Racist- Combination Pizza Hut And Taco Bell (Wallpaper. RMX) (2009)

While I may come to loathe the song for the very reason I love it right now, Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell is the America's Funniest Home Videos of indie music. Stupid, derivative, but you can't. stop. watching.

93. Broken Social Scene-KC Accidental (2002)

Broken Social Scene has a lot of members/instruments, and they'll be damned if they don't use every single one of them in every song. What starts as a guitar howl becomes completely buried with noise and a frantic drumbeat. It briefly comes up for air with some beautiful strings and vocals before being dragged back down to the murky depths of noise.

92. Feist-The Park (2008)

A vulnerable soprano and a twangy guitar is all you need people. Feist hums her adorable hums, whispers her verses, and has no fear in holding a note until her voice cracks, and I am there with her, hanging on every single word. I get chills every single time she belts the last few notes. One of the saddest songs and saddest lyrics I've ever heard:

Sadness so real that it populates
The city and leaves you homeless again
Steam from a cup and snow on the path
The seasons have changed from the present to past

91. Clipse-Dirty Money (2006)

The best rap songs don't need gimmicky beats or guest verses. The best songs just have fantastic wordplay, a nice hook and a simple beat to hold it all together. Clipse excels at this.

We could trip tuition, you could be the vixen
You could front for ya girlfriends, I ain't trippin'
You done got you a rapper, I see ya vision
And one of the best too, that's ambition
You could tell me bout ya day, I pretend I listen
And you ain't gotta love me, just be convincin'

90. Gorillaz-Feel Good Inc. (2005)

As soon as you hear the maniacal laugh, you understand what you are in for. An irresistable bassline and some cutesy vocals are piped in and then, seeming out of nowhere, De La Soul hijacks the song and absolutely destroys it. What was once a lazy rock song, become a Hulk of a crossover hit that feels like riding a rollercoaster in the dark.

89. Daft Punk-One More Time (2001)

Sometimes I'm a little too hard on Daft Punk. I want them to be like Justice and leap frantically from sample to sample and change up the tempo to make the ride a little more fun. This is a symptom of my short attention span. Anyone who listens to One More Time and says that it needs a Justice-y breakdown or is too long is on drugs. It's pretty darn perfect.

88. Lil Wayne-We Takin' Over (Remix) (2007)

While some may argue otherwise, I think Lil Wayne is at his best on his Mixtapes. He doesn't worry about building to a chorus or some R&B background vocals, he just raps, and raps, and raps until the beat quits. This dancing beat is fantastic and Wayne is able to keep up with it and still drop unparalleled rhymes.

87. Blind Pilot-One Red Thread (2009)

I'm a sucker for songs of the acoustic disposition, and while this travels along a well-worn route, it's hard not to love. The way it builds slowly into energetic strumming only to break down completely at the chorus slays me every time.

86. The Arcade Fire - Intervention (2007)

Probably the best song to feature an organ on this list. The Arcade Fire write epic songs with incredible lyrics and incomparable orchestration without breaking a sweat.

Been working for the church
While your life falls apart,
Singing hallelujah with the fear in your heart,
Every spark of friendship and love
Will die without a home.   

85. Cat Power-The Greatest (2006)

The Anti-Feist, Cat Power has a smokey, dreamy, broken voice which I'll happily follow into any depths she wants to take me. This song in particular features some classy strings and a pretty piano part as Chan Marshall sings about overtly depressing stuff. It's deceptive because it's so beautiful.

Once I wanted to be the greatest
No wind or waterfall could stall me
And then came the rush of the flood
Stars of night turned deep to dust

84. The Von Bondies-C'mon C'mon (2004)

While Von Bondies' lead singer Jason Stollsteimer may be best known for getting into fisticuffs with Jack White, I hope people don't forget this stellar song. Barely clocking in over two minutes, when it's finished you're left wondering what hit you and you have no choice but to play it again. And then again. And again.

83. The Avalanches-Since I Left You (2000)

The masters of the sampling before most people even knew what it was they were doing, Since I Left You is a song that has only gotten better with time. Too many times these days artist layer samples upon samples for  no reason, and while it's exciting to pick out familiar diddys, the end product often sounds like a bloated, disjointed mess. The Avalanches made their songs fit the samples and not vice versa, and that's precisely why it holds up so well.

82. The Postal Service-The District Sleeps Alone Tonight (2003)

The Postal Service sounds like a joke on paper. And even sounds a little like a joke upon first listening. Techno snippets, emo-esque vocals, gurgling beats should not work. But it does. It works swimmingly. It sounds honest, it sounds pretty, and it sounds like nothing you've heard before. I wish I could listen to again for the first time.

81. Radiohead-Reckoner (2008)

By any measure, Radiohead had a pretty good decade. The recorded 4 critically acclaimed albums, revolutionized the way music is distributed and applied unprecedented pressure on the British Government in the topic of Climate Change.  Thom Yorke's falsetto, drowned out by techno-esque beats on Amnesiac, Hail To The Thief and his solo work, is placed front and center here. It's about time.

80. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah-Mama, Won't You Keep Them Castles in the Air and Burning? (2007)

If you can get past Alec Ounsworth warbling David Byrne gasp, you'll find CYHSY to be incredibly rewarding. Some people can't do this. Sure the title doesn't make sense and the lyrics are confusing, but once it jumps into the chorus, there's no stopping it. Just enjoy the ride.

79. The Shins- New Slang (2001)

While this song may not change your life (as Natalie Portman professed in Garden State), she's not that far off. Before I heard this song, I thought of The Shins as a boring at worst, and innocuous at best. This song changed all that.

And if you'd have took to me like 
A gull takes to the wind. 
Well, i'd have jumped from my tree 
And i'd have danced like the kind of the eyesores 
And the rest of our lives would have fared well

78. Kanye West-RoboCop (2009)

For my money, Kanye West is the only one who rivals Lil' Wayne in the hip-hip community. An accomplished producer, an innovative risk-taker and an unrivaled lyricist. Wayne is surely a better rapper, but he could never write anything like RoboCop. Idiotic premise, hokey robotic noises, but Kanye sells it completely. Who knew repeating "OK" could make for such a great chorus?

77. The Hives- A Little More For Little You (2004)

The Hives are from Sweden. They all dress alike. And they kick ass. They write hooks that rival The Strokes but aren't afraid to yelp and screech when the song calls for it. This song calls for it and is all the better for it.

76. Junior Boys-In The Morning (2006)

I don't know a lot about Junior Boys. Frankly, I don't need to. This song starts with twinkly keyboards and shiny synthesizers, before breathy R&B vocals come in out of left field. The song twists and slides from new sound to new sound effortlessly, until they all fall away one by one, ending in one last gasp. Hard to put into words (obviously), but pretty neat.

That's all for today. I hope to wrap up the list by Monday, barring any complications (ie, me deleting an entire post accidentally as I did on Tuesday). Thanks for reading!

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