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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.

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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Mazur/WireImage

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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76

Madonna, ‘Hung Up’

Going back to disco, as she always does and always should, the queen hustled up a chintzy-sounding Abba sample, a drag queen's wet dream of a chorus, and Stuart Price's electrobeats. The result? One of her most captivating hits ever — and thanks to those deceptively hard-hitting lyrics, one of her most personal.

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