For Consequence of Sound’s 50 best songs of the 2000s list, the staffers were asked to compile a list of ten. As before, I did what I could to make a list I was comfortable with, but this one was considerably harder to settle on. The write-ups I ended up doing on some of these for the final CoS article are included.
10) Vampire Weekend - The Kids Don’t Stand A Chance
One of the greatest accomplishments thus far in the music of the 21st century is the return to the roots of funk and soul. Fusing classic sounds with outstanding contemporary production, Danger Mouse and Cee-Lo created a beautiful monster. “Crazy” grooves and haunts - eerie spaghetti western strings mesh with funky bass lines and Cee-Lo’s spooky soul singing. Danger Mouse’s expert mixing isn’t just catchy sounds, it’s also layered with subtleties. While listening to this track outdoors with headphones on, you may look to the sky thinking you’ve heard a low-flying aircraft, but there’s nothing there- making you look and feel crazy.
7) R.E.M. - Imitation of Life
Coincidentally, this video is also one of the best videos of the decade. (Hence the larger window.)
6) The Strokes - Reptilia
5) Björk - New World
With Dancer in the Dark film and Selmasongs album, Björk tapped into the roots of classic motion picture scoring and combined it with her trip-hop sensibilities to create one of the most unique and powerful musical scores in recent history. “New World” is not just the finest example of that concept’s realization, but one of Björk’s greatest achievements as an artist. The song acts as the sonic struggle of her character, Selma, fighting her blindness by weaving a tapestry of sensory fabrics - her lyrics have never been more vivid or emotionally sung. Few modern songs can match the tremendous and soaring emotional power of this track.
4) Moby - Extreme Ways
From the opening Bernard Herrmann-esque violin chords, “Extreme Ways” paints a super-charged sonic narrative of Hitchcockian intensity. Moby’s trademark synth harmonies float like passing headlights through the downpour of sinister rhythms. This song was a cinematic powerhouse right off the album- inclusion in all three of the Bourne films is just proof of its action-packed awesomeness.
As a staff member of Consequence of Sound I helped in making their Top of the 2000s lists. The first list is the 100 best albums. To create this list, each staffer submitted their top 20. Some tough decisions were made and a lot of time was spent on it. What I ended up with was something I could live with rather than something I feel is fully accurate. Naturally, many of my choices didn’t make the final cut for the CoS 100. Here’s my top 20 with the accompanying write-ups that I did for the CoS list:
20) Gnarls Barkley - St. Elsewhere
19) The Postal Service - Give Up
18) Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend
It’s been a long time since someone made music this fun, and even longer since someone’s made an entire album of said fun music. Vampire Weekend’s debut deserves every glowing accolade it’s received. Not since Talking Heads parted ways has there been a band capable of such dynamic rhythm, smart lyrics, and youthful exhilaration. It takes a seldom-seen kind of musical genius to debut with this level of diverse musical understanding and charm. If this is where they are now, just imagine where they’ll be.
17) Chumbawamba - WYSIWYG
16) The Decemberists - The Hazards of Love
15) Astronautalis - Pomegranate
Astronautalis is among the most original and exciting new artists of this century. His storytelling and lyrical prowess, combined with an arsenal of historical fiction and a knack for the theatrical make Pomegranate one of the most unprecedented albums of the decade.
14) Yes - Magnification
13) Menomena - Friend & Foe
12) Sigur Rós - Ágætis Byrjun
Five Icelanders take dream-rock to its logical conclusion. Pooling from their Nordic heritage, Sigur Rós devised and album so ethereal, dreamlike, and profoundly unique that they put the world in a transcendental state of imagination. Jónsi Birgisson’s cello-bowed guitar work and elfin voice combine to make the first human equivalent of whale song. Top that off with lush, echoing, multi-layered instrumentals and let your consciousness accelerate to places your sleeping mind can only glimpse. From the opening chord of “Svefn-g-englar”, to the triumphant soaring of “Starálfur” and “Olsen Olsen”, and the title track’s lullaby-like grace; Sigur Rós wrapped the new century in a sonic birthing caul, prophesying a destiny of greatness for music in the 21st century.
With this double pseudo-solo album OutKast mutually and exclusively redefined the expectations of mainstream rap. Big Boi’s expansive, but still traditional, hip hop and André 3000’s retro afro-pop experimentation are an unlikely combo, but… “Hey Ya!”, “The Way You Move”- these hits don’t lie.
9) The Smashing Pumpkins - Machina | The Machines of God
8) Björk - Vesperitne
7) Coldplay - Rush of Blood to the Head
6) Beck - Sea Change
5) Hem - Rabbit Songs
4) Arcade Fire - Funeral
3) The Strokes - Room On Fire
2) Peter Gabriel - Up
1) Radiohead - Kid A
The one major absence you may note is that there isn’t any White Stripes. I knew they’d end up on the final CoS list anyway. I have a substantial affection towards Get Behind Me Satan over Elephant or White Blood Cells, both of which I figured would make it into the final list) so I figured what the hell, and gave the space to Chumbawamba, who were battling with The Aquabats’ Myths, Legends, and Other Amazing Adventures.
The next list is the top 50 songs of the decade. Coming soon.