The countdown continues. For #100-81, click here.
80. Aaliyah 'More Than a Woman'
2002. From Aaliyah.
It figures that as soon as I became interested in Aaliyah's music she was killed in a tragic plane crash just weeks before 9/11. 'More Than a Woman,' her first posthumous hit, may not be her best song, but it's the one I always think of first when I think of her. The song is a fitting tribute to the artist she had grown into and the artists she could have become. RIP Baby Girl.
79. Dixie Chicks 'Landslide'
2002. From Home.
While countless artists over the decade tried their hands at covering previous hits, very few realized that you had to do more than just sing the notes to make it work. The Dixie Chicks understood this when adapting the Fleetwood Mac/Stevie Nicks classic to their signature country sound. And while they stay true to those roots, the Chicks also make it listenable to non-country fans (can you imagine how someone like Gretchen Wilson would have mangled the song's poignant beauty?). For that I'm eternally grateful.
78. Britney Spears 'Stronger'
2000. From Oops!...I Did It Again.
As the third single from her second album, Brit's 'Stronger' was unfortunately forgotten amid her usual controversy-starting antics. Thankfully, the song has recently begun to be reappraised by Brit fans as one of the, er, strongest singles of her career. The song may not have been earthshattering like 'Baby, 'Oops' or 'Slave,' but it's a fun girl power anthem and contains Brit's best vocal performance to date.
77. Justin Timberlake 'Cry Me a River'
2003. From Justified.
And speaking of Britney, JT finally proved his worth as a solo artist with this Timbaland-produced valentine to the woman who completely fucked him over (Or so he says. Funny, he's made two songs about what a whore Britney was yet she's remained mum on the whole situation). Besides starting his winning relationship with producer Timbaland, 'Cry Me a River' also solidified Timberlake as THE male solo artist of the decade and the one R&B singer every young white singer could look up to and emulate.
76. Natasha Bedingfield 'Unwritten'
2006. From Unwritten.
Say what you want about it--and I'll be the first to say that's it's neither the most sophisticated or subtle song ever written--but I find 'Unwritten' to be a wonderful song. I must admit that this is more of a sentimental pick as it became popular around the time I graduated high school and its message was terribly important to me. Plus, if you think about it, there are so many ways its inspirational message could have come off as extremely cheesy (think 'The Climb' or 'No Boundaries').
75. P!nk 'Don't Let Me Get Me'
2002. From M!ssundaztood.
The moment P!nk went from pop star to musical icon speaking directly to and for me. As a 13 year old boy working through his own issues, you can't imagine how glad I was to find such an artist in a genre perhaps best defined by dance songs and love ballads.
74. The Saturdays 'If This Is Love'
2008. From Chasing Lights.
Before The Saturdays (aka "Girls Aloud for the Recession") took a complete nosedive with Wordshaker, they released a slew of bitchin' singles from their debut album. 'If This Is Love,' with its big chorus and addictive "call and response" structure, just happened to be the best of them.
73. Kanye West featuring Daft Punk 'Stronger'
2007. From Graduation.
Never in a million years would have I predicted that combining the 'Jesus Walks' rapper with the electropop group that brought us 'One More Time' would have made something as epic sounding and feeling as 'Stronger.' Say what you want about him after "TaylorGate" a couple of months ago, but I'm glad rap music has someone like Kanye constantly taking risks and pushing his music beyond the limits of the genre. I'd rather have a cocky asshole like Kanye than any of these one-hit-wonders-in-the-making rappers making the dreck on the radio I'm continuously forced to listen to.
72. Beyoncé 'Ring the Alarm'
2006. From B'day.
Beyoncé went from an artist I adored to one I completely worshipped with every new, batshit crazy thing she came up with the moment I heard her sputter out "Ring the alarm/I've been through this too long/But I'll be DAMNED if I see another chick on your arm" in her now infamous "B ain't takin' no bullshit" voice. 'Ring the Alarm' was a turning point in her career and, unfortunately, it was ignored by the public. Let's hope this song gets rediscovered for the gem it truly is.
71. Kylie Minogue and Robbie Williams 'Kids'
2000. From Light Years (Kylie), Sing When You're Winning (Robbie)
When two enormous pop stars collaborate on a song, one of two things usually happens: the song is a monster hit ('The Boy Is Mine') or the song is popular for five minutes and then damned to obscurity for all eternity ('Beautiful Liar,' Girls Aloud and 'Babes version of 'Walk This Way'). Thankfully, 'Kids,' the one-time pairing of the two biggest music icons in the non-US world, falls in the former category. I'm not exactly sure what the song is about, but its anthemetic chorus and the way Robbie and Kylie's voices somehow sound made for each other despite being completely different make this one a can't miss.
70. Kelly Clarkson 'Behind These Hazel Eyes'
2005. From Breakaway.
Similar in sound and theme to her mega-smash 'Since U Been Gone,' 'Behind These Hazel Eyes' may seem like a curious and ultra-safe choice as the follow-up single, but I find the song still has merit on its own. While 'Since U Been Gone' celebrated the end of a relationship with a swift kick in the ass and a "Good riddance," 'Behind These Hazel Eyes' is more pensive and acknowledges that, yes, the break-up does hurt. "Here I am, once again/I'm torn into pieces" is still one of the most emotional lines of the decade; it's hard not to feel and understand what she is going through.
69. Jennifer Lopez 'Do It Well'
2007. From Brave.
After years of making great hip-hop influenced pop music, J. Lo capped off an incomparable decade with this final dance masterpiece. The song starts off with a bang--a chorus of "Do it, do it, you're doing it well!" followed by that unrelentingly heavy dance beat--and honestly never lets up during its three minute runtime. Naturally, since this song is possibly the greatest of J. Lo's career, the public ignored it and went back to listening to Soulja Boy.
68. Evanescence 'Going Under'
2003. From Fallen.
Goth rock is not my thing at all, but for a brief period of time Evanescence, led by the vocally underrated Amy Lee, held my attention and proved that not everything in that genre is tuneless garbage. Coming between their breakthrough 'Bring Me to Life' and the gorgeous 'My Immortal,' 'Going Under' was a bit of a bust on the charts, but it is always the one I associate with Evanescence in the few times I ever think about them. I'm a sucker for a big note and Lee has got a million of them in that chorus alone.
67. Sneaky Sound System 'Kansas City'
2008. From 2.
Sneaky Sound System's ode to internet relationships contains what is no doubt one of the top 3 hooks of the decade: "Someboddddddy in Kansas City loves meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee." If that does not suck you in and make you instantly fall in love with this song, there is simply no hope for you my friend.
66. Ciara featuring Missy Elliott '1, 2 Step'
2004. From Goodies.
To this day, I'm not sure what it is about this song that has held my attention all these years. Ciara is not exactly known for her big voice, but her vocals are practically monotone here. The lyrics are nothing noteworthy (it's a simple ditty about dancing) and Missy's rap certainly doesn't rank among the best things she's ever done. Whatever it is, I have to give it up to '1, 2 Step' for working against all odds and becoming one of the few songs I heard on the radio a million times and never grew tired of.
65. Boomkat 'The Wreckoning'
2003. From Boomkatalog One.
Taryn Manning and brother Kellin were the masterminds behind the little-remembered pop group Boomkat and their ballsy minor hit 'The Wreckoning.' It's such a shame this song never caught on because it was one of the few songs of its time to take the newly in-vogue combination of pop music and hip-hop beats and create something wholly new with it. If there was one song on my countdown I wish people would listen to and give another chance, 'The Wreckoning' would be it.
64. Britney Spears 'Oops!...I Did It Again'
2000. From Oops!...I Did It Again.
The music video, complete with infamous red leather jumpsuit, is probably one of my most cherished of the decade. I don't think I'll ever forget her divalicious entrance and that highly-imitated choreography. While the video is often well-regarded, people forget that the song is actually still quite a stunner. As she did with '...Baby One More Time,' Brit has fun at our expense toying with the naughtiness of the title while going "Who me?" since the song is nowhere near as dirty as one might imagine. Not that innocent, indeeed.
63. Jason Mraz 'The Remedy (I Won't Worry)'
2002. From Waiting for My Rocket to Come.
I've been waiting in vain for seven years for Jason Mraz to make a song as urgent yet still upbeat and fun as his breakthrough hit 'The Remedy.' He's come close at least once ('Geek in the Pink') but over the years he's matured into more of a mellow indie rocker who is hellbent on chilling out to the point of insanity (or so it seems). Oh well, I suppose. At least we'll always have this song to remind us that he once had the ability to be this amazing.
62. Rihanna 'Don't Stop the Music'
2008. From Good Girl Gone Bad.
Forget your umbrellas, hating that I love you and rehab, 'Don't Stop the Music' was the song on Good Girl Gone Bad. With its heavy bass and that "mama say mama sa mamacusah" chant, 'Don't Stop the Music' is absolutely delirious and entirely effectively as a dancehall song; who doesn't want to get up on a table and start dancing for its entire 4-1/2 minute runtime?
61. David Archuelta 'Crush'
2008. From David Archuleta.
Any fears that I had supported the wrong Idol contestant were quickly put to rest after I heard this song. On first listen, the song may seem like nothing more than 90's boy band cheese, but Archie sells it. Also, I love the way he plays with the duality of the song's meaning (is it about a shy guy gathering the nerve to ask a girl out or is it really about a guy coming to terms with his sexuality?). Archie may not have a signature sound yet, but I'll definitely be curious to see where he takes his music as he matures in both age and musical style.