I like these best of the decade lists, both because I love unnecessary debates and because I’m always about five years behind the curve and a list like this levels the playing field. The list of here is based on the entirely scientific method of figuring out which songs I listened to repeatedly in these past ten years.
25: Steady As She Goes – The Raconteurs: Jack White’s side projects are better than most regular bands.
24: Instant Pleasure – Rufus Wainwright: When Rufus Wainwright sang “If drinking coffee’s your idea of really cool, you can’t expect no crazy chick to notice you,” I think he was talking about me.
23: What Was I Thinkin? - Dierks Bentley: The decade’s best redneck antics until Cheney shot his hunting partner.
22: Elevation – U2: One of the purest rock songs of the decade. It immediately felt both fresh and classic.
21: White Daisies Passing – Rocky Votolato: My wife put this on the first mix she ever made me. Another reason to love her.
20: Flyswatter – The Eels: An energetic little song, and “icewater/flyswatter” is my favorite rhyme of the decade.
19: Nineteen – Tegan and Sarah: Like all the best songs about teen love, this one makes it sound more serious than it actually is. Also, I ranked this #19! Isn’t that cute!
18: Bohemian Like You – The Dandy Warhols: This catchy, all-purpose riff got overplayed (that’s what happens when you license your song to appear in the Flushed Away trailer), but the lyrics still effectively zing people with hip haircuts.
17: The Hardest Button to Button - The White Stripes: This song gets the maximum mileage out of the simplest riffs.
16: Way Over Yonder in the Minor Key – Billy Bragg and Wilco: It turns out one of decade’s most inventive projects was a recreation of unreleased Woody Guthrie songs. Billy Bragg and Wilco make something old new again.
15: Paragraph President - Blackalicious: When Gift of Gab gets going here, the rhymes nearly fall over one another.
14: Diladed – The Mountain Goats: The decade’s most ominous use of violins.
13: Burn, Don’t Freeze – Sleater Kinney: There are other nominees from Sleater Kinney (Sympathy, Entertainer), but ever since The Guess Who’s No Sugar Tonight/New Mother Nature, I’ve been a sucker for songs that climax with overlapping vocals.
12: Bowtie - Outkast: Sure, Hey Ya! was the catchy, ubiquitous hit from Speakerboxx/A Love Below, but years later, this is still the dual album’s funkiest cut.
11: Dracula’s Wedding - Outkast: Spooky beats, plus some literary insight: who knew that Van Helsing was so excited about great peanut butter and jelly sandwiches?
10: Red Clay Halo – Gillian Welch: Gillian Welch’s down home harmonies feel even more authentic when they’re about dirt.
9: Til I Collapse – Eminem/50 Cent/Tupac: Easily the best of the 4,317 Tupac songs released after his death.
8: I Turn My Camera On - Spoon: The funky grooves make me want to dance, but in the safety of emotionally distant lyrics like “I turn my feelings off / You’ve made me untouchable for life” I can still keep the stick securely in my ass.
7: John Saw That Number – Neko Case: If you’re one of the three people left not impressed by Neko Case’s set of pipes, this song will do the trick.
6: 99 Problems (Gray album version) – Jay Z: Turns out Jay Z and the Beatles mix beautifully. My experiments blending Flo Rida andThe Monkees have been less successful.
5: Turn a Square – The Shins: This Shins song didn’t change my life, but that part that goes “All my thoughts run astray / and I’m a walking cliché / when such a creature I sight” did make it slightly better.
4: Skeleton Key – Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s: A dysfunctional relationship rarely sounded this good.
3: The Cross - Nas: If the decade offered a pointlessly arrogant and needlessly sacrilegious song that hit harder than this one, I didn’t hear it.
2: Man of Constant Sorrow – The Soggy Bottom Boys: This song performs an almost impossible task in O Brother, Where Art Thou by being good enough to justify the pardon of the men who perform it. Good thing Bernie Madoff can’t sing like this.
1: Hurt – Johnny Cash: Johnny Cash sings like a man pursued by death, and it turns out he was right. The song makes you want to kill yourself, but in the best possible way.
Thanks for reading. Hopefully, the next decade gives us this many good songs and one fewer Fergie.