Hipster music authority Pitchfork recently unveiled their list of the top 500 tracks of the last decade. Naturally, I’d never heard 400 of the songs. So I figured instead of crying about it, I’d get a few of the most fanatical music lovers I know to do their own Top Tens of the decade that still is. Every day this week you get a new list (with 5 honorable mentions). The list is in no specific order; the best ten songs out of ten years of recorded music is enough of an honor (and enough new stuff for you, dear reader, to devour).
Today’s list comes from my good pal Ryan Lambert. He dresses like a hipster to get girls and listens to Swedish death metal. Go fig. Ryan writes a weekly column on Yahoo! Sport’s hockey blog Puck Daddy, contributes to FlamesNation, and on the rare occasion, his own site, The Two Line Pass. Here are his Top Ten (in alphabetical order, no less)
Johnny Cash – Hurt (iTunes)
I don’t even feel as though I should have to explain this. Johnny Cash, just months before losing his wife to complications from heart surgery, took a whiny, somewhat irritating Nine Inch Nails song and turned it into a haunting meditation on mortality and love. This is easily my favorite song of the decade.
The Crown – Killing Star (Superbia Luxuria XXX) [obligatory metal song] (iTunes)
Yeah it’s an obscure Swedish speed metal band, sue me. This song has everything a metal song should have: sufficiently long and heavy intro, face-melting solos, a great breakdown and numerous references to Satan. Top-notch.
Genocide Superstars – Hatestomp [obligatory punk song] (YouTube)
Genocide SS were around since 1996, but only released one full-length album in this decade, 2003’s Superstar Destroyer, ironically the band’s only major-label release prior to guitarist/Nasum frontman Mieszko Talarczyk being killed in that big tsunami in 2004 everyone got so worked up about. This was the best song on the album by a good stretch, and I include it on the list sentimentally because any rock ‘n’ roll-influenced punk band that has an album about how awesome motorcycles are is pretty rad.
Gnarls Barkley – Crazy (iTunes)
This was one of those songs that you heard and knew it was going to be an absurdly huge hit. Then it was the first song ever to be a No. 1 single just on the number of times it was downloaded. Then it made St. Elsewhere go platinum. And it’s a pretty goddamn good song, too. More than any other song on my list here, it’s very much of this decade, even though it would have been a huge hit any time between 1970 and right now.
Jay-Z – 99 Problems (iTunes)
As far as hip hop that bridged genres, this along with, obviously, Run DMC and Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way,” is the textbook definition. When The Black Album came out, you couldn’t go anywhere without hearing this song. It doesn’t hurt it’s really really good. Killer beat, great lyrics, wonderful production from Rick Rubin. All this goes, obviously, without mentioning the amazing video from Mark Romanek, which doesn’t really enter into the discussion but warrants mentioning anyway because of how good it is.
Outkast (or, more specifically, Andre 3000) – Hey Ya! (iTunes)
Take everything good about Outkast: the weird concepts, the catchy beats, the hooks, the just-clever-enough lyrics. It’s all there. Take everything not good about Outkast: Big Boi. It’s not there. Andre 3000 put together a very strange concept album for “The Love Below,” and this song is its crowning achievement. It’s the perfect pop song. Try not to sing along with it.
Queens of the Stone Age – No One Knows (iTunes)
It may not actually be the first song in its genre (that kinda weird, monotonous straightforward rock that got pretty popular for a while there) to hit big, but since I can’t think of another one, here we are. This song, through its use in various sports video games throughout the decade, is always going to be stuck in my brain as a really fun mid-aughts rock song. Screw it, I don’t care.
U2 – Beautiful Day (iTunes)
Remember Sept. 11? No? This song will help. It’s obviously not U2’s best song, nor is it from their best album, but this song will be kicking around the mental attics of pretty much anyone that was over the age of 15 in 2001 for forever.
Kanye West ft. Consequence and Cam’ron – Gone (iTunes)
Kanye West puts out a lot of good songs because he’s a brilliant producer, and that often will cover up for his occasional lack of good lyrics or mic work. But he didn’t need his overwhelming talent in the booth to cover for his deficiencies elsewhere on this, the final track on Late Registration. It wasn’t a single, no one knows it (y’know, relatively), and it’s the best thing Kanye will ever do.
The White Stripes – Seven Nation Army (iTunes)
They’re one of those bands, like the Foo Fighters, that pretty much everyone at least enjoys on some level.
Arctic Monkeys – A Certain Romance (iTunes)
Jay-Z – Heart of the City (Ain’t No Love) (iTunes, and the better, Unplugged version, here)
Probot – Shake Your Blood (YouTube, and quite NSFW)
Radiohead – Optimistic (iTunes)
Wilco – Jesus, Etc. (iTunes, and the better live version here)