My Favorite Songs of the Oughties

Here for your reading (and listening) enjoyment are my favorite songs from the “Oughties.” Note that I’m not calling these the “best” or the “top” songs: I haven’t listened to a quarter of the music I’d like to listen to, I stopped listening to broadcast radio six years ago, and there are whole genres I just never get to (hip hop, dance, mainstream pop and country, etc.). So these are just the songs I probably listened to most over the last ten years (not the last decade as the decade isn’t over yet).

My bias tends to be toward either really well crafted pop songs with good hooks, guilty pleasure “ohrwürmen,” something with great topical lyrics that manages to remain melodic, or something with an awesome driving guitar riff.

Note that these are in alphabetical order! I couldn’t begin to sort them #1-100.

  • Hands Clean, Alanis Morissette
  • Dark Matter, Andrew Bird
  • Natural Disaster, Andrew Bird
  • My Girls, Animal Collective
  • Wake Up, Arcade Fire – If I had to pick a #1, this would be it.
  • Rebellion (Lies), Arcade Fire
  • Keep the Car Running, Arcade Fire – Captures the Arcade Fire spirit perfectly, chiming mandolins and a driving beat provide an incredibly uplifting musical experience, but the lyrics are surprisingly dark and verging on paranoid.
  • Earthquake Weather, Beck
  • Strange Apparition, Beck
  • Lost Cause, Beck – One of the best break-up songs ever
  • Black Grease, The Black Angels – My whole office was rocking out to this when it came out as the Google phone jingle.
  • I Gotta Feeling, Black-Eyed Peas – Okay this is totally overplayed. (Even I managed to hear it a few times.) But it f’ing kicks ass anyway!
  • Hunting for Witches, Bloc Party
  • 7/4 (Shoreline), Broken Social Scene – My favorite odd time signature song in a long time. Same time signature as Pink Floyd’s Money and Peter Gabriels’ Solsbury Hill
  • Anthems for a Seventeen-Year-Old Girl, Broken Social Scene
  • Lover’s Spit (Redux), Broken Social Scene
  • Lloyd I’m Ready to Be Heartbroken, Camera Obscura
  • Yellow, Coldplay
  • Strange Overtones, David Byrne and Brian Eno
  • The One I Love, David Gray
  • Dead in the Water, David Gray
  • Transatlanticism, Death Cab for Cutie – Sometimes extremely simple works.
  • Sound of Settling, Death Cab for Cutue
  • Valerie Plame, The Decemberists
  • Last Songs, Dntel
  • Coin Operated Boy, Dresden Dolls
  • I Feel It All, Feist
  • Extraordinary Machine, Fiona Apple
  • Stacy’s Mom, Fountains of Wayne
  • Mayflower, The Glands
  • Falling Slowly, Glenn Hansard and Marketa Irglova – This is worth just for the scene in the movie in which he teaches her to play it. It just rang very true.
  • Northern Whale, The Good The Bad and The Queen
  • Lily-A-Passion, Grant Lee Phillips
  • Wake Me Up When September Ends, Green Day
  • Two Weeks, Grizzly Bear
  • Everywhere with Helicopter, Guided By Voices
  • Amsterdam, Guster
  • Stuck Between Stations, The Hold Steady
  • Middle of Nowhere, Hot Hot Heat
  • Breakable, Ingrid Michaelson
  • We Can’t Make It Here, James McMurtry – A lesser known singer-songwriter, he writes some of the most topical songs around, all sung with a slightly sardonic tone.
  • God Bless America (Pat MacDonald Must Die), James McMurtry
  • Key of C, Jim Noir
  • Your Body Is a Wonderland, John Mayer
  • Why Georgia, John Mayer
  • Hurt, Johnny Cash
  • Kathleen, Josh Ritter
  • Wolves, Josh Ritter
  • Hearts, Juliette Commagere
  • Not Pretty Enough, Kasey Chambers – This song breaks my heart. So honest.
  • Six O’Clock News, Kathleen Edwards
  • Tire Swing, Kimya Dawson
  • Black Horse and the Cherry Tree, KT Tunstall
  • Dig In, Lenny Kravitz
  • Extraordinary, Liz Phair
  • Saturday Waits, Loney, Dear
  • Lone Star, Lori McKenna
  • Monkey, Low
  • I’m Good I’m Gone, Lykke Li
  • Chinese Translation, M. Ward
  • Say Hey (I Love You), Michael Franti and Spearhead
  • Float On, Modest Mouse
  • Anybody Else But You, The Moldy Peaches
  • I’m Amazed, My Morning Jacket
  • Fake Empire, The National
  • This Tornado Loves You, Neko Case
  • I’m Like a Bird, Nelly Furtado
  • Sing Me Spanish Techno, The New Pornographers
  • Jackie, Dressed in Cobras, The New Pornographers
  • From Blown Speakers, The New Pornographers
  • How Can You Live in the Northeast?, Paul Simon
  • World Wide Suicide, Pearl Jam
  • Just Breathe, Pearl Jam
  • Life on a Chain, Pete Yorn
  • On the Last Ride In, Pinetop Seven
  • There’s a Touch, The Proclaimers
  • Stairway to Heaven, Rodrigo y Gabriela – This classical guitar version of the Zep classic could seem like a novelty song, but the passionate and faithful playing makes it a real tribute instead.
  • Gold In Them Hills, Ron Sexsmith
  • Come Pick Me Up, Ryan Adams
  • Brother Down, Sam Roberts Band
  • Basement Apartment, Sarah Harmer
  • Pendulums, Sarah Harmer
  • Gone for Good, The Shins
  • Inní Mér Syngur Vitleysingur, Sigur Rós – The most joyous song I’ve ever heard (which is why Ulla and I walked back up the aisle to this at our wedding).
  • Melatonin, Silversun Pickups
  • If It Feels Good Do It, Sloan
  • The Straight and the Narrow, Spiritualized
  • You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb, Spoon
  • Ageless Beauty, Stars
  • Good Souls, Starsailor
  • Maybe Tomorrow, Stereophonics
  • Big Sur, The Thrills
  • ‘It’s a Good Life If You Don’t Weaken’, Tragically Hip – The best 9/11 song I’ve heard. I think. It’s really hard to figure out exactly what Gord Downie is writing about most of the time.
  • Beautiful Day, U2
  • Vertigo, U2
  • Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa, Vampire Weekend
  • I’m a Wheel, Wilco
  • Nothing’severgonnastandinmyway (Again), Wilco
  • You Are a Runner and I Am Your Father’s Son, Wolf Parade
  • Maps, Yeah Yeah Yeahs

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