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100 Best Songs of the 2000s

From Beyonce and Lady Gaga to Radiohead and Kanye West, these are the best songs from the first decade of the 21st Century

100, Best, Songs, 2000s

The music of the Aughts was all over the map in the very best way, with file sharing and randomly produced personal playlists encouraging eclecticism and experimentation in both artists and listeners. Rolling Stone‘s list of the decade’s 100 best songs – which was originally unveiled in 2009 and was compiled by a group of over 100 artists, critics and industry insiders – includes garage rock revivalists, dance-happy indie, sassy starlets, slick modern R&B, boundary-shattering pop hybrids and a few familiar icons from previous eras. The most exciting thing about this selection of tunes is that, despite all the different styles and voices in the mix, it all sounds totally natural together. In fact, you might already have a playlist that looks just like it.

96

Lady Gaga, ‘Poker Face’

Let's (poker) face it — any decade that ends by making a star out of a screwed-up Italian girl like Stefani Germanotta can't be all bad. This hit defined her style of cool — both an art freak and a mainstream prom fave, singing about crushing out on another woman while she's in bed with a man. Will Gaga still be riding the fame monster this time next decade? Any fool who bets against her obviously can't read her poker face.

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95

Mary J. Blige, ‘Family Affair’

"Don't need no hateration," cries Mary J. Blige — but how could anyone haterate while MJB is testifying over Dr. Dre's rousingly plus-sized beat? The self-proclaimed (and universally recognized) Queen of Hip-Hop Soul delivers a perfect dance song about the spiritual bliss of perfect dance songs. Leave your situations at the door.

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93

Snoop Dogg, ‘Drop It Like It’s Hot’

The boasts are vintage Snoop: "I'm a gangsta, but y'all knew that." But the Neptunes' beat was light years from G-funk: a couple of tongue clicks, the odd drum machine hit and synth chord or two – the most deliciously minimalist music every to slink its way to the top of Billboard Hot 100.

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92

Brad Paisley, ‘Alcohol’

Paisley was one of the era's great country artists, a Nashville-factory star who also happened to pull duty as a stunning singer, songwriter and guitarist. He sings this song from alcohol's point of view: "Since the day I left Milwaukee, Lynchburg, Bordeaux, France/I've been making a fool out of folks just like you/And helping white people dance." Another round!

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91

Bruce Springsteen, ‘My City of Ruins’

The Boss's 9/11 anthem was actually written in 2000 about the decline of Asbury Park, New Jersey. Built around the chords of Curtis Mayfield's "People Get Ready," it became the climactic prayer of his album The Rising.

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89

Bright Eyes, ‘Lua’

Conor Oberst tells a sad story about a girl whose crappy life is about to get much, much worse, because she's about to fall in love with Conor Oberst. "Me, I'm not a gamble," he sings. "You can count on me to split." By the end of the song, they're stuck in druggy depression — yet they're still together, and the folkie melody gives you hope it might last until morning.

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88

Jay-Z, ‘Izzo (H.O.V.A.)’

Jay-Z finally cracked the pop Top 10 with this Horatio Alger tale, narrating the rapper's rise from Brooklyn crack dealer to hip-hop's "eighth wonder of the world." The buoyant beat was supplied by fresh-faced 23-year-old producer Kanye West. All together now: H to the Izzo, V to the Izzay

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86

Aaliyah, ‘Try Again’

It's hard to believe there was ever a time when people complained that Timbaland wasn't making enough records. But Tim made a grandiose re-entry here, quoting Rakim: "It's been a long time/I shouldn't have left you." Aaliyah's chiller-than-chill vocals make it still seem painful that this brilliant R&B princess died so young — yet managed to make so much unforgettable music in her time.

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82

Jay-Z, ‘Dirt Off Your Shoulder’

Anybody who believed the retirement would last more than a couple years has to be among the planet's most gullible people. If you could still drop rhymes like this, brushing off all possible competition, not to mention escorting Beyoncé to the VMAs, would you retire? But that didn't keep anyone from cranking this masterful hip-hop farewell speech.

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79

Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, ‘Gone Gone Gone’

The Everly Brothers recorded the original version in 1964, but it was the chemistry between Plant's urgent gasps and Krauss's bluegrass coo that made their stripped-down rockabilly remake catch fire.

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77

Dixie Chicks, ‘Not Ready to Make Nice’

In which Natalie Maines and company, erstwhile Nashville darlings, lash out at the country music establishment that spurned them for having the temerity to criticize George W. Bush. Revenge is a dish best served cold – with stirring three-part harmonies and rocking Rick Rubin production.

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