Atlantic Records

The 100 Best Singles of the Aughts


!!!, “Me and Giuliani Down By the Schoolyard”

“New York City is where freaks go to be freaks,” promised !!!’s Nic Offer, and despite the best efforts of a rogue’s gallery ranging from Rudy to Mr. Bloomberg, from the boom to the bust, it still pretty much is. Pitched as both an explicit and implicit protest of the city’s shockingly-still-on-the-books cabaret law, this nine-minute, multiple-movement disco inferno proves its own points. Just try sitting through it without shaking your groove thing. Or listening to it as a freak stranded somewhere in America and not wondering what this New York thing is all about. Hughes


LCD Soundsystem, “Losing My Edge”

James Murphy may have reached the innermost hipster sanctum with the release of Sound of Silver in 2007, but first he had to pass through the purgatory of this song, a paranoid howl of latter-thirtysomething anguish that’s, yes, way too easy but still no less maddening for it. In it, Murphy’s narrator plays a self-sabotaging game of dirty dozens with younger, prettier, better audiophiles. (Does your generation still use that word: audiophiles?) It quickly becomes a whirlpool into which all pazz and jop are protectively flushed away like a private stash, never to be seen again. And the “actually really, really nice” ants go dubstepping on. Henderson


The Killers, “Mr. Brightside”

The lessons of “Mr. Brightside”: 1) Brandon Flowers was less detectably a tool before he hit it big, even if he was already writing messianic songs about his own success, 2) although we live in the era of “A Shot at Love,” as it was for Elvis and the Rolling Stones, romantic paranoia remains a fruitful topic for the rock anthem, and 3) if your band used synthesizers in your hit record in the mid-2000s, people would compare you to Duran Duran even if your song actually sounded like all the best things about U2 and Blink-182 combined. Hughes


TV on the Radio, “Wolf Like Me”

For a band that spends most of its time lumbering through moody, noise-inflected backdrops, the surging beat of “Wolf Like Me,” from 2006’s Return to Cookie Mountain, is like watching a bear come charging at you, the song’s resolute heaviness belying a propellant sense of speed. As a single, it set a tone for the album, showcasing both its best track and expressing the band’s newfound mastery over their craft, creating catchy hits without sacrificing any of their smarts. Cataldo


Kelis, “Milkshake”

So, everyone has a friend who has scarred themselves in freak accidents while practicing stripteases to this song, right? Oh? No, that’s just me? Well, I still say he’s missing out on a good class-action lawsuit. Everything about this song screams, “Take off your clothes in a sexually methodical manner while rhythmically grinding your pelvis against the air and/or a stripper pole” It’s basically the most aesthetically avant-garde, lyrically cracked strip-club anthem in history. Well done, Neptunes! Those buzzing synths trace the trajectory of a shaking booty with precision. And well done, Kelis! That is one hell of a coitus metaphor. Hughes


The Rapture, “House of Jealous Lovers”

Before Daft Punk was playing at Franz Ferdinand’s house, they lost their cowbell in the folds of the Rapture’s couch. Luckily for them and rock music in general, LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy (here serving as the band’s co-producer/engineer) went dumpster diving beyond the upholstery and pulled back an entire decade’s worth of backbeat. “House of Jealous Lovers,” the pulsating wound in rock’s forehead from which sprang piss-stained neo-no wave, is the song that taught a new generation of skinny-hipped, floppy-locked white boys to dance like they owned it. Henderson


Robyn, “With Every Heartbeat”

Electronic music at its most sensitive, Robyn’s “With Every Heartbeat” understands the ups and downs of a particularly devastating breakup in a way few other songs have: the pain of feeling torn apart, the regret, the confusing sense of empowerment. The bewitching production does not evoke a heartbeat so much as a heart attack, the ardor of walking away from something that is at once joyous and entrapping. Even though she says she does not, Robyn continues to look back, and it’s that hesitancy in her voice, her contemplating a second go at something that isn’t working and probably never will, that gives this great pop song its striking candor. Gonzalez


Vitalic, “My Friend Dario”

Beep beep, who’ve got the keys to the super mega car? Vrooom! Vitalic’s hard-drinking, harder-driving friend Dario, who revs his engine just because it puts the joy-joy down in his pants, won’t curry favor with the Department of Transportation or MADD, but he’ll sure help you bust up any logjams on the dance floor. As evidenced in its accompanying video clip, “My Friend Dario” deigns to be the “Walk This Way” of electroclash, but luckily for the rest of us, it simply lapses into irresponsible, irresistible electrotrash. Reckless posturing knows no speed limit. Henderson


Radiohead, “Idioteque”

The centerpiece of Radiohead’s Kid A, “Idioteque” feels as though it was conceived as global warming spokesmodel Al Gore’s would-be inaugural anthem. Underpinned by a subzero organ riff that literally boasts a wind chill factor, Thom Yorke’s imitation of a voice sounds even more frayed than usual as he warns, “We’re not scaremongering, this is really happening…ice age coming, ice age coming” Everything may be fastidiously in its right place musically, but the anaphylactic effect of this brittle anti-dance anthem insists on facing up to the wrong. Henderson


The White Stripes, “Fell In Love with a Girl”

Accomplishing more in a minute and 50 seconds than most other rock acts accomplished in the entire decade, “Fell In Love with a Girl” finds the White Stripes at their furious best, balancing their traditional blues formalism with a point of view that is decidedly modern and, in doing so, laying the foundation and establishing the aesthetic framework for all of their subsequent efforts. The breakneck tempo is perfectly suited to the song’s narrative of how quickly blue-balled lust transforms into something more, shouting down any rational objections and justifying bad behaviors that bear repeating. Keefe