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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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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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75

Arcade Fire, ‘Rebellion (Lies)’

This Montreal troupe proved they had the scope and passion for an all-out arena-rock anthem, even though nobody suspected they'd ever get in the back door of an actual arena. With the swooping chorus chant ("Every time you close your eyes") and the pumping keyboards, it was the greatest Simple Minds song that Simple Minds never wrote.

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71

Justice, ‘D.A.N.C.E.’

If you were a drunk hipster girl in the summer of 2007, you probably had an Amy Winehouse haircut, and you also probably hit the dance floor the second this song came on, with that awesome ridiculous children's choir and filter-disco beats. Dancers never got sick of this French techno duo's massive Michael Jackson tribute.

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70

Arctic Monkeys, ‘I Bet You Look Good On The Dance Floor’

The decade's best song about romance in a disco was a ferocious rock & roll rave-up by a wildly hyped Britpop band that was, lo and behold, worthy of the hype. Best pick-up line: "Well I bet that you look good on the dance floor/Dancing to electro-pop like a robot from 1984/From 1984!"

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66

Madonna, ‘Music’

Despite all the new pop starlets out there trying to jump her train, Madonna definitely was not slackening the pace. When she dropped "Music," she was older than Britney and Christina combined, yet she took them to school with vintage electro-boom, Eurodisco flourishes from French producer Mirwais, and her own inimitable sass.

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63

Lil Wayne, ‘A Milli’

In this thudding 2007 hit, Weezy likened himself to "Nigerian hair" and "a venereal disease"; name-dropped Orville Redenbacher, Michael Lowry, and Gwen Stefani; and proved beyond a doubt that he was both hip-hop's most inventive MC and its weird one plus ultra – or as Wayne himself put it, "a goblin."

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62

Alicia Keys, ‘Fallin”

Alicia Keys was something new in pop, a star whose appeal bridged the generation gap: a singer with hip-hop swagger, an old-school soul sound and older school (as in Chopin) piano chops. Her lovelorn debut smash flaunted all three assets.

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60

Beyoncé, ‘Irreplaceable’

That acoustic guitar surge, courtesy of songwriter Ne-Yo, gives Miss B the courage to throw a no-good boyfriend out of the house. Yet another reason to love Beyoncé: at 13 letters, this was the longest one-word song title ever to hit Number One, breaking the 12-letter record set by "Superstition."

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59

The Strokes, ‘Hard to Explain’

In which the saviors of New York rock perfect their attack: two interlocking guitars; one whip-cracking rhythm section; and a gloriously louche frontman sneering at the rubes: "Raised in Carolina/I'm not like that." Beneath the torrid groove, you can practically hear the squeak of black leather on denim.

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58

The White Stripes, ‘Fell In Love With a Girl’

Love, Jack White style: On this 2001 single — a key moment in the garage-rock revival — White's completely smitten, howling about her red curls over a ragged guitar groove that sounds like a rusty Impala barreling through a bad part of Detroit. Jack's warped blues genius is evident; so is Meg's asymmetrical bounce. Together the pair would make more popular songs, but none this exuberant.

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56

Radiohead, ‘Idioteque’

The band go cyborg on this vision of life during wartime, all tricky digitized beats and ghostly drones, with Thom Yorke insisting, "We're not scaremongering/This is really happening." They weren't – it was.

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55

OutKast, ‘Ms. Jackson’

Inspired by Andre 3000's beef with the mother of one-time girlfriend Erykah Badu, OutKast's first Number One hit is the funniest, catchiest thing they ever did. Over a head-snapping beat that quotes Wagner's wedding march, Dre and Big Boi rap hyper-fluidly about cheating girlfriends and custody wars, delivering a chorus that's both P-Funk and totally pop. Scores of white sorority girls had no choice but to sing along.

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