100 Greatest Songs of the Century – So Far – Rolling Stone
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The 100 Greatest Songs of the Century – So Far

We polled artists, critics and industry insiders to create a list of the era’s truly essential moments

The 100 Greatest Songs of the Century – So Far

The 2000s has produced a shocking amount of incredible music – and since changes in technology have made it all pretty much free, we’ve been able to hear more of it than ever before. We’ve been lucky enough to see some larger-than-life superstars roll through, from Beyoncé to Drake to Jack White to Adele, and we’ve seen greats from the previous century like Beck, Outkast and U2 change and re-up their game.

It’s been 18 years teaming with great indie-rock guitar bangers, overwrought dance anthems, heart-on-sleeve punk rock and emo, genre-mutating R&B and sonically adventurous, politically radical hip-hop. Kanye West has also been somewhat productive throughout this period.

To compile our list the “100 Greatest Songs of the Century – So Far,” we reached out to a large group of artists, producers, critics and industry experts who sent us ranked lists of their favorite songs. We tabulated the votes. Our own editorial list might look a little different, but the result is an excellent reflection of an incredible period in music history.

You can also read the list in the July issue of Rolling Stone. We’ve relaunched the magazine with a new look and we think this list perfectly embodies our commitment to giving you the deepest sense of the best music happening now and shaping the future.

The 100 Greatest Songs of the Century – So Far
1

“Crazy in Love,” Beyonce feat. Jay-Z

2003 | COLUMBIA; Highest Chart Position: 1

“It has this go-go feel to it, this old-school feel,” Beyoncé said of her debut solo single. “I wasn’t sure if people were going to get it.” In fact, the funk-fire horn blasts that opened “Crazy in Love” heralded her arrival as the boldest superstar of the century, the diva who made everyone else’s splashiest gestures seem tiny. Producer Rich Harrison constructed the song’s blockbuster beat around a horn sample lifted from the Chi-Lites’ 1970 song “Are You My Woman? (Tell Me So),” but he kept it in the can until he found the right artist to record it. After warming to the beat, Beyoncé told Harrison to write a song around it, returning to the studio two hours later to knock out her vocals. “She’s got such a strong voice, your job is just to make sure nothing gets distorted,” recalls engineer Jim Caruana. The decision to add a verse from Jay-Z, whom she’d begun dating, came at the last minute. “I asked Jay to get on the song the night before I had to turn my album in,” Beyoncé said. “Thank God he did. It still never gets old, no matter how many times I sing it.”

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