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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.

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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Bergen/Redferns

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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