Justin’s Best Songs of the 2000s – Part 3

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Note: For Part 1, see here. Part 2 here

Clipse – Grindin’

You may not have high hopes for a song from the leading light of the coke rap genre, but it is undeniable that Grindin’ is one of the best hip hop songs of the decade.  Brothers Malice and Pusha T, thanks not in the least to an absolutely brilliant beat from the Neptunes, exploded onto the mainstream hip hop radar with this hit in 2002 off their Lord Willin’ release.  You can tell the duo is fully in their element on this track, from the tight lyrics and flow to the high pitched “gring-ing” that can’t help but catch your ear in the last 40 seconds of this song.  Oh, and then there’s this: “And my weight, that’s just as heavy as my name/So much dough, I can’t swear I won’t change/Excuse me if my wealth got me full of myself/Cocky, something that I just can’t help/’Specially when them 20’s is spinning like windmills/And the ice 32 below minus the wind chill/Filthy, the word that best defines me/I’m just grinding man, y’all nevermind me”.

Interpol – PDA

Interpol’s Turn on the Bright Lights was undoubtedly one of the most influential albums of the decade.  PDA, the highlight of that album, is one of those remarkable alt-rock songs that manages to succeed despite being driven (for much of the song at least) on bass and drums rather than guitar.  The dark music and nearly-spoken lyrics combine to create the image that the band recorded this song in a dank basement in Brooklyn.  But while there are plenty of bands that can create that imagery, Interpol drops in some light-hearted (for their tastes anyway) about half way through, which creates such an eerie contrast that it’s brilliant.

Franz Ferdinand – Take Me Out

Building on the sound of the Strokes earlier in this decade (as so many bands did), Franz Ferdinand made one of the best songs of this decade in Take Me Out.  “Take Me Out” doesn’t succeed so much because it’s a perfect song…it works because it’s seemingly three different songs perfectly weaved together.  From the very Strokes-esque guitar start to the damn-near-disco beat (though still paired with some solid guitar work) that backs the bridge to the climbing bass that comes in around the two minute mark, rarely does a song work so well with such a diversity of elements.  Franz Ferdinand, seemingly hinting at their future direction, managed to put together one hell of a danceable song that stood well above it’s similar sounding compatriots (see: The Bravery, The Von Bondies, etc).

Phoenix – Lisztomania

Every once in a while, a veteran band comes from relative obscurity with a remarkable piece of pop gold.  In 2009, Phoenix did it not once, but twice with Lisztomania and 1901, both from their Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix Album (1901 could easily be on this list too).  But Lisztomania gets the call here partially because the song itself seems to be about pop music (The title is a allusion to the frenzy that followed German pianist Franz Liszt’s early performance).  This song is basically the perfect pop song itself, with a catchy and infectious beat, clever and playful lyrics, and flawless delivery.  The fact that it all feels relatively effortless puts this song a level above.

Bon Iver – For Emma

The story behind the album is well known at this point: Justin Vernon (aka Bon Iver) got dumped and retreated into the cold Wisconsin wilderness.  While there, he recorded the sparse and beautiful For Emma, Forever Ago, which compares favorably to every folk album this decade save for arguably Fleet Foxes.  The pseudo-title track is set as a conversation between a man trying to find meaning in breakup and a woman complaining that her knees are cold.  It sounds ridiculous, but the horn section paired with Vernon’s voice (and excellent lyrics) makes this song thing of beauty.  As a bonus, it makes for an amazing a cappella song as well (if you click any links, make it this one…starts at about the 1:30 mark).

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