Top 100 Pop Songs of the 2000s

These are the 100 best songs of the 2000s. It was a decade of outstanding pop music from the peak of boy bands to the arrival of new superstars like Rihanna.  Start your decade playlists here

100
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Christina Aguilera - "What a Girl Wants" (2000)

Courtesy RCA

When 18 year old Christina Aguilera topped the pop singles chart with "Genie in a Bottle" in 1999, many wondered if it was just a one-time dance-pop hit for her. However, she came storming back with this hit showing more vocal versatility and proved she was planning to stay for awhile. "What a Girl Wants" was nominated for a Grammy and five MTV Video Music Awards.

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99
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Pharrell featuring Jay-Z - "Frontin'" (2003)

Pharrell -
Pharrell - "Frontin'". Courtesy Arista

The Neptunes were the hottest production unit around when one of the pair, Pharrell Williams, decided to strike out on his own with a solo recording. An assist from rapper Jay-Z helped the song become a major hit. Pharrell insisted it was a one-time thing, but a solo album hit stores in the summer of 2006.

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98
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Moby featuring Gwen Stefani - "South Side" (2001)

Moby featuring Gwen Stefani -
Moby featuring Gwen Stefani - "South Side". Courtesy Mute Records

Moby's moody ambient pop album Play seemed to be everywhere in 2000 as the soundtrack to commercials, TV shows, shopping malls and more. Late in the year his recording of the song "South Side" featuring Gwen Stefani of No Doubt was released as an official single and quickly became a deserved pop radio hit. It celebrates going out for the night with friends and was inspired by the south side of Chicago. However, it still does not escape Moby's brand of melancholia. The version of "South Side" on Play does not include Stefani's vocals.

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97
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Owl City - "Fireflies" (2009)

Owl City - Ocean Eyes
Owl City - Ocean Eyes. Courtesy Republic

From the first synthesizer blips that kick off "Fireflies," you feel yourself being taken off to a playful and fanciful musical world. It's no surprise then that the song's lyrics unveil thoughts about such unlikely top 40 songs topics as lightning bugs, dancing, and insomnia. Adam Young, who records as Owl City, turned his homemade sound into one of the biggest left-field hits of the decade.

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96
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My Chemical Romance - "Welcome to the Black Parade" (2006)

My Chemical Romance - Welcome to the Black Parade
My Chemical Romance - Welcome to the Black Parade. Courtesy Reprise Records

This song introduced pop fans to My Chemical Romance's epic album . The sound here was something like Queen meets Green Day.

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95
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Bruce Springsteen - "The Rising" (2002)

Bruce Springsteen -
Bruce Springsteen - "The Rising". Courtesy Columbia

Bruce Springsteen's harrowing title cut from the album The Rising tells the story of a New York City firefighter as he climbs one of the World Trade Center towers after the planes have hit. He won two Grammy Awards and was nominated for Song of the Year.

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94
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The Killers - "All These Things That I've Done" (2005)

All These Things That I've Done
Killers - "All These Things That I've Done". Courtesy Island Records

It wasn't the biggest hit from the Killers' debut album, but this is quite possibly the most enduring. With the stunning, "I've got soul, but I'm not a soldier," chorus, the song has been used multiple times in movie soundtracks. Most recently 2009 American Idol champion Kris Allen performed the song regularly on the show's group concert tour.

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93
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Janet Jackson - "Feedback" (2007)

Janet Jackson - Feedback
Janet Jackson - Feedback. Courtesy Island Records

"Feedback" can be seen as a long-delayed but extremely effective response to the Super Bowl wardrobe debacle. Janet Jackson states confidently that she is simply sexy, one of the most overtly sexual pop performers of all time, and she's not going to change.

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92
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M.I.A. - "Galang" (2004)

M.I.A. -
M.I.A. - "Galang". Courtesy XL Recordings

This was the first single from M.I.A.'s stunning first album Arular. It announced that a new, very unique, talent had emerged from the dance underground.

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91
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Ne-Yo - "Closer" (2008)

Ne-Yo - Closer
Ne-Yo - Closer. Courtesy Def Jam

Ne-Yo unabashedly showed off his Michael Jackson influences here. In tribute to Ne-Yo, "Closer" does hold up well with Jackson's Off the Wall era classics.

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90
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Jay Sean featuring Lil Wayne - "Down" (2009)

Jay Sean featuring Lil Wayne -
Jay Sean featuring Lil Wayne - "Down". Courtesy Cash Money Records

British R&B artist Jay Sean holds the honor of knocking the Black Eyed Peas from a 26 week reign at #1 with this song. It is also Jay Sean's first hit after signing with US rap label Cash Money. Interestingly, the song is primarily R&B and pop with just a rap break from Lil' Wayne.

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89
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Lee Ann Womack with Sons of the Desert - "I Hope You Dance" (2001)

Lee Ann Womack -
Lee Ann Womack - "I Hope You Dance". Courtesy MCA Nashville

Prior to the release of this single Lee Ann Womack had four #2 country hits. "I Hope You Dance" finally took her to the top and became a major crossover pop hit in the process. It is one of the most effortlessly inspiration hits of the decade.

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88
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Franz Ferdinand - "Take Me Out" (2004)

Franz Ferdinand -
Franz Ferdinand - "Take Me Out". Courtesy Domino Records

This is the song that introduced the Scottish art school rock band Franz Ferdinand to the world. The innovative accompanying video won MTV's Breakthrough Video of the Year and the Q Awards' Video of the Year.

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87
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Lifehouse - "Hanging By a Moment" (2001)

Lifehouse - Hanging By a Moment
Lifehouse - Hanging By a Moment. Courtesy Universal International

Christian rock band Lifehouse released this song as their first major label single. It became a monster of a hit spending over a year on the Billboard Hot 100. "Hanging By a Moment" was named the top single of the year even though it never made it to #1 on the chart.

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86
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Janet Jackson - "Doesn't Really Matter" (2000)

Janet Jackson -
Janet Jackson - "Doesn't Really Matter". Courtesy Def Soul

This song is one of the best examples of how Janet Jackson can make a hit single sound completely effortless. Jackson said she found the lyrics in a notebook that was lying around and thought it would go well on the soundtrack for the movie The Nutty Professor II: the Klumps. It did work for the movie, and it sounded fantastic on the radio as well.

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85
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Beyonce - "Sweet Dreams" (2009)

Beyonce - Sweet Dreams
Beyonce - "Sweet Dreams". Courtesy Columbia

"Sweet Dreams" is one of the adventurous tracks from Beyonce's stellar album I Am...Sasha Fierce. She heads into heavy electronic pop territory delivering a memorable, slightly creepy, chorus.

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84
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Fountains of Wayne - "Stacy's Mom" (2003)

Fountains of Wayne -
Fountains of Wayne - "Stacy's Mom". Courtesy Virgin

This is the stuff that movies are made of. A teenage boy fantasizes about his friend's sexy mom. Fountains of Wayne's Adam Schlesinger also says it is a tribute to the Cars' classic song "My Best Friend's Girl." The song is a pure power pop classic.

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83
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Eminem - "When I'm Gone" (2005)

Eminem - Curtain Call
Eminem - Curtain Call. Courtesy Interscope Records

Once again Eminem turns to his personal life to inspire a genuinely moving small pop masterpiece. This time around he begins with relatively simple words of regret for neglect of his family. However, by the time the song ends he has taken the listener through a dream that reveals a strained, but loving, relationship with his daughter Hailie and provides cogent arguments for retirement.

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82
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Jimmy Eat World - "The Middle" (2002)

Jimmy Eat World -
Jimmy Eat World - "The Middle". Courtesy Dreamworks

"The Middle" was written in response to difficult times the band Jimmy Eat World were facing after being dropped from a contract with Capitol Records. The sleek power pop song became the breakthrough hit the band needed.

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81
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The Fray - "How to Save a Life" (2006)

The Fray - How to Save a Life
How to Save a Life. © Epic Records.

The song "How to Save a Life" was born out of the experiences of Isaac Slade, the singer and pianist of The Fray, working as a mentor at a summer camp for troubled teens. He faced an experience common to many of us - how to help someone who is having severe difficulty in helping himself or herself. Then he went one step further and turned the experience into a song.

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80
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Beyonce - "Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)" (2008)

Beyonce -
Beyonce - "Single Ladies". Courtesy Columbia Records

This will probably be best remembered for its stunning, iconic black and white video. However, the song itself presents Beyonce standing up strongly for the women out there who are still single and putting men on notice how to treat them best.

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79
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Faith Hill - "Breathe" (2000)

Faith Hill -
Faith Hill - "Breathe". Courtesy Warner Bros.

This is the title song from Faith Hill's first #1 country and pop album. It is also where she established herself firmly as a top pop as well as country star. The song was nominated for a Grammy as Song of the Year and Faith Hill won the Grammy for Country Female with "Breathe."

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78
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Shakira - "Whenever, Wherever" (2002)

Shakira - Laundry Service
Shakira - Laundry Service. Courtesy Sony

This was Colombian singer Shakira's breakthrough from Latin charts into mainstream pop territory. It was her first English language single and the first single from her debut English language album Laundry Service.

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77
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My Chemical Romance - "Teenagers" (2007)

My Chemical Romance - Teenagers
My Chemical Romance - Teenagers. Courtesy Reprise Records

The first thing you'll notice in listening to My Chemical Romance's "Teenagers" is the sure touch with old-fashioned pop-rock hooks in the song. It serves the song exactly how an irresistible hook should.

In "Teenagers," My Chemical Romance depict current society as one in which teenagers are watched for any inkling of getting out of line with enforced norms. They are seen as simply fodder for advancing the goals of adults in power. The response, according to the song, is violence. It's a warning and explanation that have been made before, but rarely so directly in mass popular culture.

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76
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Outkast featuring Sleepy Brown - "The Way You Move" (2003)

Outkast - Speakerboxxx / The Love Below
Outkast - Speakerboxxx / The Love Below. Courtesy La Face Records

This is the smooth soul companion to OutKast's "Hey Ya!" It was primarily put together by Big Boi and followed "Hey Ya!" to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

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75
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Britney Spears - "Piece Of Me" (2007)

Britney Spears - Piece of Me
Britney Spears - Piece of Me. Courtesy Jive Records

Put down the tabloid and listen to Britney Spears on this second single from the album . She may indeed have serious serious personal problems, but this is quite simply a woman fighting back against what she perceives as injustice with fierce anger bubbling beneath the service of an extraordinarily sexy electro instrumental track. Rarely has a pop star so effectively answered critics.

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74
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Snoop Dogg featuring Pharrell - "Drop It Like It's Hot" (2004)

Snoop Dogg featuring Pharrell -
Snoop Dogg featuring Pharrell - "Drop It Like It's Hot". Courtesy Doggystyle

Hit recordings don't get much more spare and simple in construction than this. Rapper Snoop Dogg went to the top of the pop singles chart for the first time here, and it solidified the Neptunes' stellar reputation in the upper ranks of top pop producers of the decade.

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73
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Missy Elliott - "Work It" (2002)

Missy Elliott -
Missy Elliott - "Work It". Courtesy Goldmind

Missy Elliott and producer Timbaland paid strong tribute here to old school hip hop. The result was a #2 pop single for ten long weeks.

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72
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Mary J. Blige - "Be Without You" (2006)

Mary J. Blige - The Breakthrough
Mary J. Blige - The Breakthrough. Courtesy Geffen Records.

For "Be Without You" Mary J. Blige hooked up with songwriting and production professionals from Jermaine Dupri's So So Def music group. The song's central plea for couples to look deep into their hearts and stay together if they find true love fits Mary J. Blige like a glove.

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71
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Taylor Swift - "You Belong With Me" (2009)

Taylor Swift - Fearless
Taylor Swift - Fearless. Courtesy Big Machine

Somehow teenager Taylor Swift made teen love, angst, and romance sound incredibly fresh again with this song. It became the first country song to top Billboard Hot 100 radio airplay chart. The song itself is like a mini movie which is played out even more explicitly in the video.

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70
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*NSYNC - "Bye Bye Bye" (2000)

*NSYNC -
*NSYNC - "Bye Bye Bye". Courtesy Jive Records

*NSYNC celebrate liberation from a bad management situation in glorious boy band style. The song was nominated for 2 Grammy Awards including Record of the Year and it set a record for the most quickly added pop radio hit of all time.

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69
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Gorillaz - "Feel Good Inc." (2005)

Gorillaz -
Gorillaz - "Feel Good, Inc.". Courtesy Virgin Records

In case anyone thought the Archies were the only truly successful cartoon pop band. Damon Albarn's creation stormed on to pop charts around the world with this quirky hit from the album Demon Days.

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68
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Adele - "Chasing Pavements" (2008)

Adele -
Adele - "Chasing Pavements". Courtesy XL Recordings

This song introduced the powerfully soulful voice of Adele to American audiences. It received three Grammy Award nominations including for Song of the Year and Record of the Year. The accompanying video is quite memorable and celebrated for its innovative choreography.

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67
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Missy Elliott - "Get Ur Freak On" (2001)

Missy Elliott -
Missy Elliott - "Get Ur Freak On". Courtesy Goldmind

Missy Elliott brought the spirit of the Indian pop music known as Bhangra to American audiences in this creation assisted by producer Timbaland.

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66
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Kid Rock - "All Summer Long" (2008)

Kid Rock -
Kid Rock - "All Summer Long". Courtesy Atlantic Records

Beginning with the bottom of Warren Zevon's classic "Werewolves of London" and effortlessly winding its way into Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Sweet Home Alabama," Kid Rock's "All Summer Long" is an instant classic that spans decades of pop music memory.

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65
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Kelis - "Milkshake" (2004)

Kelis -
Kelis - "Milkshake". Courtesy Arista

Kelis' massive breakthrough pop hit sounds like it came straight from the playground. "My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard" could be stuck in your head for days.

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64
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Kelly Clarkson - "Never Again" (2007)

Kelly Clarkson - Never Again
Kelly Clarkson - Never Again. © RCA Records

Kelly Clarkson teamed up with veteran producer David Kahne to show she could be taken seriously as a rock vocalist. "Never Again" is a song of strength and power.

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63
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Goo Goo Dolls - "Better Days" (2005)

Goo Goo Dolls - Better Days
Goo Goo Dolls - "Better Days". Courtesy Warner Bros.

With the U.S. reeling from the impact of 2 hurricanes and heavy violence continuing in Iraq, the Goo Goo Dolls' words, "Everyone is forgiven now, cuz tonight's the night the world begins again," effectively delivered a warmth and reassurance that was badly needed.

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62
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Jay-Z and Alicia Keys - "Empire State Of Mind" (2009)

Jay-Z and Alicia Keys -
Jay-Z and Alicia Keys - "Empire State of Mind". Courtesy Atlantic Records

This is the "New York New York" of hip hop made even more explicit by the live performance at the 2009 American Music Awards. "Empire State of Mind" became Jay-Z's very first #1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

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61
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Christina Aguilera - "Beautiful" (2003)

Christina Aguilera -
Christina Aguilera - "Beautiful". Courtesy RCA

Songwriter and producer Linda Perry knew she had something special with this song and originally intended to record it herself. Eventually Christina Aguilera convinced Perry that she was the right vocalist for the song. It has since become a signature song for Aguilera and one that has been highly meaningful to her fans.

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60
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Justin Timberlake - "Cry Me a River" (2003)

Justin Timberlake -
Justin Timberlake - "Cry Me a River". Courtesy Jive Records

Bad relationships sometimes result in great pop music. Justin Timberlake put together "Cry Me a River" in response to the breakup of his relationship with Britney Spears and it is a classic.

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59
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The Raconteurs - "Steady As She Goes" (2006)

The Raconteurs -
The Raconteurs - "Steady As She Goes". Courtesy Third Man

This was the first single from the Raconteurs, a band that included Jack White while he was on hiatus from White Stripes. Few songs in the decade are better at the rock end of the pop spectrum.

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58
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Train - "Drops of Jupiter" (2001)

Train - Drops of Jupiter
Train - Drops of Jupiter. Courtesy Columbia

The meaning of the enigmatic lyrics in "Drops of Jupiter" are still a cause for speculation among fans of the group Train. This was their breakthrough top 10 pop hit and won a Grammy Award for Best Rock Song.

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57
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Terror Squad - "Lean Back" (2004)

Terror Squad - Lean Back
Terror Squad - Lean Back. Courtesy Universal

Simple, and some would say simplistic, dance songs were a mainstay of hip hop throughout the decade. This is the one to measure all others against.

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56
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Eiffel 65 - "Blue (Da Ba Dee)" (2000)

Eiffel 65 - Blue (Da Ba Dee)
Eiffel 65 - "Blue (Da Ba Dee)". Courtesy Universal

The king of nonsensical pop songs of the decade is this thoroughly charming confection from Italian dance pop group Eiffel 65.

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55
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Missy Elliott featuring Ciara and Fat Man Scoop - "Lose Control" (2005)

Missy Elliott featuring Ciara -
Missy Elliott featuring Ciara - "Lose Control". Courtesy Goldmind

Missy Elliott welds together an early techno sample from Juan Atkins' Cybotron, an a capella break from Ciara and Fat Man Scoop's raps in this brilliant piece. The video takes it all another step further.

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54
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Kylie Minogue - "Can't Get You Out Of My Head" (2002)

Kylie Minogue -
Kylie Minogue - "Can't Get You Out Of My Head". Courtesy Capitol Records

There is no false advertising here. This song can be very very difficult to get out of your head. It became Kylie Minogues' first US top 10 hit in 13 years, and was very notable for a popular mash-up with New Order's classic "Blue Monday."

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53
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Feist - "1,2,3,4" (2007)

Feist -
Feist - "1234". Courtesy Interscope

iPod TV commercials were the big breakthrough for Canadian indie pop singer Feist. It was a good thing, too, since "1,2,3,4" is one of the most charming pop singles of the decade. The video is one that will be well remembered for years to come.

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52
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Estelle featuring Kanye West - "American Boy" (2008)

Estelle featuring Kanye West - American Boy
Estelle featuring Kanye West - American Boy. Courtesy Atlantic Records

The lyrics of "American Boy" detail a sweet imagining of cross-Atlantic romance. New York, L.A., Chicago, and Miami are all extolled as worthy destinations from shore to shore of the American continent. This song is perfection for a slick, summery glide across the dance floor.

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51
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Finger Eleven - "Paralyzer" (2007)

Finger Eleven -
Finger Eleven - "Paralyzer". Courtesy Wind-Up

Although filled with surface attitude, the song's lyrics have an angst-ridden core that makes the song edgy and memorable. The draw of the club is irresistible for the protagonist even if romantically striking out and self-absorbed attitude make the experience painful. This is all set to an exhilarating crunch of rock guitars. "Paralyzer" was a major pop breakthrough for rockers Finger Eleven.

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50
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Miley Cyrus - "Party In the USA" (2009)

Miley Cyrus - Time Of Our Lives
Miley Cyrus - Time Of Our Lives. Courtesy Hollywood

"Party In the USA" is a midtempo reflective song on the experiences of an out of town success arriving in the seat of her new stardom. Miley Cyrus proved she was a mainstream pop star to be reckoned with on her best single so far in her career.

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49
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Destiny's Child - "Say My Name" (2000)

Destiny's Child -
Destiny's Child - "Say My Name". Courtesy Columbia Records

Reportedly when "Say My Name" was being recorded, Beyonce was worried the song had too much going on and was too busy. The song went to #1 on the pop chart, won two Grammy Awards, and became a signature Destiny's Child hit.

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48
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Nelly Furtado - "I'm Like a Bird" (2001)

Nelly Furtado -
Nelly Furtado - "I'm Like a Bird". Courtesy Dreamworks

"I'm Like a Bird" was the debut single for Nelly Furtado, and it clearly announced the arrival of a stellar new talent. The song was praised for its imagery and simplicity. It won a Grammy for Best Female Pop Vocal and was nominated for Song of the Year.

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47
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Justin Timberlake featuring T.I. - "My Love" (2006)

Justin Timberlake featuring T.I. - My Love
© Jive Records

The stuttering, skittering feel of "My Love" matches perfectly the disorienting, dizzying, and exhilarating emotions of infatuation. Timbaland's production is at its inventive best, and T.I.'s not quite convincing "I can get along without you" rap is a perfect fit.

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46
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Eminem - "Lose Yourself" (2002)

Eminem -
Eminem - "Lose Yourself". Courtesy Interscope

"Lose Yourself" was Eminem's first single to hit #1. It spent 12 weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100, the most weeks for any rap song. The song was recorded to be part of the 8 Mile movie soundtrack and won an Academy Award for Best Song from a Motion Picture. "Lose Yourself" also won two Grammy Awards while being nominated for Song of the Year.

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45
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Kanye West - "Jesus Walks" (2004)

Kanye West -
Kanye West - "Jesus Walks". Courtesy Roc-a-Fella

Kanye West boldly declared his faith here with a sonic barrage of drums, chain gang chant, gospel choir, and orchestra. The song won a Grammy Award for Best Rap Song along with intense critical acclaim.

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44
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Christina Aguilera - "Hurt" (2006)

Christina Aguilera - Back to Basics
© RCA Records

A single piano with the backing of strings gives way to one of the most technically stunning voices in pop music singing words of pain, guilt, and grief in the loss of a loved one. The words work their way to a climax accented by percussion then gently fade away again leaving the listener in stunned silence from the beauty of the moment. Christina Aguilera's ballad of loss is one of her finest moments.

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43
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Katy Perry - "I Kissed a Girl" (2008)

Katy Perry - I Kissed a Girl
Katy Perry - I Kissed a Girl. Courtesy Capitol Records

Katy Perry's breakthrough generated some controversy over its subject matter, but it is mostly an extremely catchy pure pop hit. Bathed in praise for "cherry chapstick" and "soft skin, red lips, so kissable," Katy Perry states her unquestionable independence with stylish spirit.

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42
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Beyonce - "Naughty Girl" (2004)

Beyonce -
Beyonce - "Naughty Girl". Courtesy Columbia

Beyonce borrowed a portion of Donna Summer's naughty classic "Love to Love You Baby" to create this celebration of sensual naughtiness.

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41
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Kanye West featuring Jamie Foxx - "Gold Digger" (2005)

Kanye West featuring Jamie Foxx - "Gold Digger". Courtesy Roc-a-Fella Records

"Gold Digger" kicks off with Jamie Foxx's plaintive bluesy cry about a woman who takes his money when he's in need. Soon Kanye West arrives telling tales and cautioning wealthy young men about the perils they may face. Before the song closes, there is also a caution for the women out searching for a poor young guy who has "that ambition...look in his eyes." Many artists perform in either contemporary mode or aping a classic pop genre sound. Few are as expert as Kanye West at blending the past with the present.

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40
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Jason DeRulo - "Whatcha Say" (2009)

Jason DeRulo - Whatcha Say
Jason DeRulo - Whatcha Say. Courtesy Warner Bros.

Jason DeRulo croons here like a confident, established R&B pop singer. In the more emotional sections of this musical plea for reconciliation, DeRulo spits out the words with a spirit appropriate for the moment. He pledges paradise when he becomes a star. This debut single went all the way to #1 for Jason Derulo.

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39
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White Stripes - "Seven Nation Army" (2003)

White Stripes -
White Stripes - "Seven Nation Army". Courtesy V2

The White Stripes' "Seven Nation Army" is known first for its compelling guitar riff created by running a semi-acoustic guitar through an octave pedal. The recording earned White Stripes a Grammy Award for Best Rock Song.

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38
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No Doubt - "Hella Good" (2002)

No Doubt -
No Doubt - "Hella Good". Courtesy Interscope

No Doubt joined with producers Nellee Hooper and the Neptunes to create one of the funkiest of all of their recordings. The song is an optimistic, celebratory hit that went all the way to #1 on the dance chart.

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37
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Coldplay - "Clocks" (2003)

Rush Of Blood To the Head album cover
Coldplay - A Rush Of Blood To the Head. Courtesy Capitol Records

Coldplay's "Clocks" is built around one of the most compelling piano riffs of the entire decade. Chris Martin of Coldplay says the song was inspired by the British rock band Muse. "Clocks" won a Grammy Award for Record of the Year.

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36
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Mariah Carey - "We Belong Together" (2005)

Mariah Carey - We Belong Together
Mariah Carey - We Belong Together. Courtesy Island Records

It had been over five years since Mariah Carey's last #1 pop single when "We Belong Together" was unleashed. The song is uncharacteristically restrained for Mariah Carey, but it soon work its magic with pop audiences and ultimately spent 14 weeks at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

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35
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OutKast - "Ms. Jackson" (2001)

Outkast - Stankonia
Outkast - Stankonia. Courtesy La Face Records

OutKast's #1 pop hit "Ms. Jackson" emerged out of the real life relationship between the duo's Andre 3000 and singer Erykah Badu. The reference for Ms. Jackson is Badu's mother. The song samples the Brothers Johnson classic "Strawberry Letter 23."

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34
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Coldplay - "Yellow" (2001)

Coldplay Parachutes Album Cover
Coldplay - Parachutes. Courtesy Capitol Records

The song "Yellow" marked the arrival of Coldplay as major international pop artists. It is a simple song of unrequited love. The happy accident of the song title occurred when group leader Chris Martin was looking for a word to fit his concept of the record, and he spotted the telephone yellow pages.

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33
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Pink - "So What" (2008)

Pink -
Pink - "So What". Courtesy LaFace Records

A singsongy intro gives way to a martial beat and chorus that's likely to send fists pumping into the air. Synth backing nearly sends it all over the top. Pink delivers a pop anthem about the breakup of her marriage.

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32
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Eminem - "Stan" (2000)

Eminem -
Eminem - "Stan". Courtesy Aftermath / Interscope

Rapper Eminem cemented his artistic standing with this chilling tale of fan obsession. The singing vocals are provided by British vocalist Dido. The song unfolds through letters sent to Eminem and finally Eminem's attempt to write back to the fan.

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31
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Maroon 5 - "This Love" (2004)

Maroon 5 -
Maroon 5 - "This Love". Courtesy Octone

Maroon 5's "This Love" was written in response to singer Adam Levine's breakup with his girlfriend. Musically, the song is strongly influenced by Stevie Wonder. It debuted at #5 on the Billboard Hot 100 and won the group a Grammy Award for Best Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals.

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30
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Madonna - "Music" (2000)

Madonna - Music
Madonna - Music. Courtesy Warner Bros.

Madonna headed triumphantly into the new decade with this heavily electronic classic. The voice in the beginning that sounds male is actually Madonna's words heavily reprocessed. It was a #1 smash around the world and nominated for a Grammy Award for Record of the Year.

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29
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Mary J. Blige - "Family Affair" (2002)

Mary J. Blige - No More Drama
Mary J. Blige - No More Drama. © MCA Records

The music for "Family Affair" originated in a Dr. Dre led jam session. Mary J. Blige helped contribute lyrics. The song topped the Billboard Hot 100 for six weeks.

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28
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Snow Patrol - "Chasing Cars" (2006)

Snow Patrol -
Snow Patrol - "Chasing Cars". Courtesy Interscope

Snow Patrol lead vocalist Gary Lightbody has the perfect instrument to convey the power and emotion of his words. He has strong enough vocal chops to hold his own against the surge of backing guitars, but wisely avoids vocal histrionics that could break the song's spell. It is no surprise that Lightbody has said "Chasing Cars" is "the most pure and open love song" he has written.

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27
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Keri Hilson featuring Kanye West and Ne-Yo - "Knock You Down" (2009)

Keri Hilson - In a Perfect World
Keri Hilson - In a Perfect World. Courtesy Interscope

Songwriter Keri Hilson continued her emergence as a solo singing star with this top 3 pop single. The record was a true group effort with contributions from Ne-Yo, Kanye West, and Danja among others.

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26
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Beyonce featuring Jay-Z - "Crazy In Love" (2003)

Beyonce - Dangerously In Love
Beyonce - Dangerously In Love. Courtesy Columbia Records

"Crazy In Love" made it obvious that Beyonce would have no difficulty with solo success outside of Destiny's Child. It brought Beyonce six Grammy Award nominations including Record of the Year, and it won for Best R&B Song and Best Rap/Sung Collaboration. The rap from Beyonce's boyfriend Jay-Z was a last minute addition to the recording.

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25
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Kanye West - "Love Lockdown" (2008)

Kanye West - Love Lockdown
Kanye West - Love Lockdown. Courtesy Rockafella

The first surprise of "Love Lockdown" is that it's a singing, not rapping, Kanye West all the way through. He is not a stunningly gifted singer, but the use of Auto-Tune technology helps create a vocal that is impressive in its electronic precision and drama. Minimalist pounding bass line from the classic 808 drum machine effectively represents the pounding heart in love which continually races into restless overdrive delivered by taiko drums.

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24
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Leona Lewis - "Bleeding Love" (2007)

Leona Lewis - Bleeding Love
Leona Lewis - Bleeding Love. Courtesy J Records

The success of "Bleeding Love" is not just due to the hoopla surrounding Leona Lewis and her stunning voice that is equal parts Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, and her own restrained gracefulness. There is magic in the song. Co-written by OneRepublic leader Ryan Tedder and teen star Jesse McCartney, the dramatic lyrics are a perfect foil for Lewis' melismatic performance. As producer, Ryan Tedder surrounds the words with a solemn underpinning of organ chords set off by marching band style drums.

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23
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Nelly - "Hot In Herre" (2002)

Nelly - Hot in Herre
Nelly - Hot in Herre. Courtesy Universal

Nelly recorded one of the top party tracks of the decade with "Hot in Herre." The song was produced by the Neptunes and features the ultra-catchy chorus, "It's gettin' hot in herre, so take off all your clothes." It became Nelly's first #1 pop hit.

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22
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Black Eyed Peas - "Where Is the Love?" (2003)

Black Eyed Peas - Where Is the Love?
Black Eyed Peas - Where Is the Love?. Courtesy A&M Records

"Where Is the Love?" was the first Black Eyed Peas single to feature Fergie. The socially conscious song also marked a shift toward mainstream pop for the group. It became the first top 10 pop hit by the Black Eyed Peas.

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21
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Fall Out Boy - "Sugar, We're Goin' Down" (2005)

Fall Out Boy - From Under the Cork Tree
Fall Out Boy - From Under the Cork Tree. Courtesy Island Records

This song was the first major label single from post-hardcore band Fall Out Boy. The sheer power of the sound surrounding a catchy pop melody and the group's enigmatic lyrics ultimately proved irresistible to teen fans, and the song charged all the way into the pop top 10.

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20
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Usher featuring Lil Jon and Ludacris - "Yeah!" (2004)

Usher -
Usher - "Yeah". Courtesy Arista

"Yeah!" kicked off Usher's massive hit album Confessions. Featuring rappers Ludacris and Lil Jon, it is clearly a superstar R&B / hip hop recording. The song spent 12 weeks at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

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19
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Beyonce - "Irreplaceable" (2006)

Beyonce - Irreplaceable
© Sony Urban

An element that makes Beyonce's"Irreplaceable" resonate deeper after hearing it multiple times is that the subject matter of female strength and independence is at the core of her entire B'Day album that features the song. "Irreplaceable" will remind many listeners of concepts central to Terry McMillan's Waiting to Exhale which remains a cultural touchstone over 15 years after its release.

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18
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Rihanna featuring Jay-Z - "Umbrella" (2007)

Rihanna's
Rihanna's "Umbrella" photo shoot. Courtesy Def Jam

“Umbrella” is unique in that it is constructed of a hip-hop beat but has an edgy rock sound. The song is somewhat stripped-down and consists mostly of a standard drumbeat up until the chorus. At the hook, however, Rihanna kicks her vocal up a notch alongside a roaring bass line, creating an aura of desperation, as if the whole thing could explode at any moment. The experience climaxes in Rihanna’s catchy, repetitive pronunciation of the song’s title. "Umbrella" was nominated for Record of the Year and Song of the Year Grammy Awards. It spent ten weeks at the top of the UK pop singles chart, the longest of any single in the decade.

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17
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Corinne Bailey Rae - "Put Your Records On" (2006)

Corinne Bailey Rae -
Corinne Bailey Rae - "Put Your Records On". Courtesy EMI

This gentle, soulful celebration of hanging out with treasured friends introduced Corinne Bailey Rae to the world. Although it missed the top 40 in the US, the song was still nominated for Grammy Awards for Song of the Year and Record of the Year. The opening line of the song references Bob Marley's classic "Three Little Birds."

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16
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Mika - "Grace Kelly" (2007)

Mika - Life in Cartoon Motion
Mika - Life in Cartoon Motion. Courtesy Universal

It's difficult to imagine a more effective song to introduce Mika. The lyrics describe an attempt to channel the spirit of the eternal princess Grace Kelly with a touch of Queen's Freddie Mercury to make it all a bit more upbeat. He's willing to be whatever will pull pop fans into his performance orbit. The song was a top 10 hit around the world, but failed to rise as high in the US due to lack of pop radio support.

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15
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M.I.A. - "Paper Planes (2008)

M.I.A. -
M.I.A. - "Paper Planes". Courtesy Interscope

Using a riff from "Straight to Hell" by the Clash and negative, violent stereotypes of immigrants as source material, M.I.A. fashioned one of the most bracing pop hits of the decade. It's all wrapped in a gently rolling, almost lazy sounding package so laidback that the first time you hear the gunshots it may jolt you out of your seat. "Paper Planes" manages to wrap irresistible catchiness, political relevance, and musical surprises in one tight package.

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14
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Gwen Stefani - "Hollaback Girl" (2005)

Love, Angel, Music, Baby cover art
Gwen Stefani - Love, Angel, Music, Baby. Courtesy Interscope

A significant influence on Gwen Stefani's "cheerleader rock" hit was an interview in Seventeen magazine where Courtney Love referred to Gwen Stefani being a "cheerleader." Stefani's response appeared in NME.

"Y'know someone one time called me a cheerleader, negatively, and I've never been a cheerleader. So I was, like, 'OK, f**k you. You want me to be a cheerleader? Well, I will be one then. And I'll rule the whole world, just you watch me.'" "Hollaback Girl" was born.

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13
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Black Eyed Peas - "I Gotta Feeling" (2009)

Black Eyed Peas - I Gotta Feelin'
Black Eyed Peas - I Gotta Feelin'. Courtesy Interscope

Perhaps the perfect song for going out on a weekend night, "I Gotta Feeling" spent fourteen weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 helping to give the Black Eyed Peas a stunning combined 26 consecutive weeks at the top. The song has an indescribable sense of joy that is ultimately powerfully infectious.

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12
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Coldplay - "Viva La Vida" (2008)

Coldplay - Viva La Vida
Coldplay - Viva La Vida. Courtesy EMI

"Viva La Vida" soars in with a grandiose instrumental arrangement and sweeping lyrics detailing the pain of being deposed from a lofty position. The big sound of the song constantly verges on becoming overblown, but Coldplay know how to walk the tightrope perfectly. Bells and chimes and orchestral swells are all there on the chorus, but Chris Martin's voice still pierces through like a clarion call. Lyrically, the pain of the protagonist is clear, but the sweep of words about Jerusalem bells, Roman cavalry, and Saint Peter give "Viva La Vida" an air of intelligence. The song became Coldplay's first #1 pop hit in the US and won the Grammy Award for Song of the Year.

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11
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Avril Lavigne - "Complicated" (2002)

Avril Lavigne - Complicated
Avril Lavigne - Complicated. Courtesy Arista

Avril Lavigne was only 17 when this stunning song introduced her to worldwide pop audiences. The song details with the emotions accompanying dealing with a boyfriend who behaves as a different person around different groups of people. "Complicated" was a #1 pop radio hit for 11 weeks.

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10
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Alicia Keys - "Fallin'" (2001)

Alicia Keys - Fallin'
Alicia Keys - Fallin'. Courtesy J Records

This stunning single introduced Alicia Keys to pop music fans. Her record label initially wanted her to release something more commercial, but Keys stuck confidently to her own music. The result was a smash #1 pop single that was nominated for four Grammy Awards and won the accolade of Song of the Year. There is a mature soulful vibe that far exceeded Alicia Keys' own age of 20.

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09
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Gnarls Barkley - "Crazy" (2006)

Gnarls Barkley - Crazy
Gnarls Barkley - Crazy. Courtesy Downtown Records.

If anyone ever needed proof that pop music need not be at all complex to be great, they simply need to listen to Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy" one time. Within one minute, the simple bass beat, tasteful strings, and Cee-Lo's voice drive the hook into your brain to remain for a long time.

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08
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Lady Gaga - "Bad Romance" (2009)

Lady GaGa -
Lady GaGa - "Bad Romance". Courtesy Interscope

Lady Gaga capped a stunning debut year by letting the love monsters out of the closet. The song is an intense litany of nearly pathological romantic entanglements all set to beats designed to crowd the dance floor. Lady Gaga's singing moves from snarling threats to floating sweetness and back again.

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07
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Plain White T's - "Hey There Delilah" (2007)

Plain White T's -
Plain White T's - "Hey There Delilah". Courtesy Hollywood Records

Every once in a while a love song rises to the top of the pop music world that strikes a perfect chord with a wide spectrum of pop music fans. "Hey There Delilah" expresses young love irresistibly. This may be the closest the decade came to a perfect love song.

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06
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Aaliyah - "Try Again" (2000)

Aaliyah -
Aaliyah - "Try Again". Courtesy Blackground

One of the most tragic music losses of the decade occurred in late summer 2001 with the death of 22 year old singer and actress Aaliyah in a plane crash. "Try Again" is arguably her finest moment. It features an innovative, skeletal production from Timbaland. The song was included on the soundtrack to the film Romeo Must Die and is Aaliyah's only #1 pop hit. "Try Again" is the first song to hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 purely on the basis of radio airplay.

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05
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Britney Spears - "Toxic" (2004)

Britney Spears - Toxic
Britney Spears - Toxic. Courtesy Jive Records

"Toxic" brought Britney Spears back to the pop top 10 for the first time in four years when it looked like her success was on the fade. The song hooks a listener the first time through and never lets go. It is one of the most covered pop songs of the decade and earned Britney Spears her first Grammy Award as Best Dance Recording.

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04
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Pink - "Get the Party Started" (2001)

Pink -
Pink - "Get the Party Started". Courtesy LaFace Records

The lead party song of the decade was written by Linda Perry during a period in which she was trying to learn to program drums. She says she finished the song using "every catch phrase you possibly could imagine." Pink took the song to the pop top 5, and it became one of her signature songs. "Get the Party Started" was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Pop Female Vocal.

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03
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U2 - "Beautiful Day" (2000)

U2 -
U2 - "Beautiful Day". Courtesy Island

Although "Beautiful Day" was not U2's biggest hit on initial release, it has gained a powerful reputation over time. The recording won three Grammy Awards for Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Rock Duo or Group with Vocal. Bono says the song is about, "a man who has lost everything, but finds joy in what he still has." The song had particular poignance when performed live by U2 at Super Bowl XXXVI in New Orleans following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.

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02
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OutKast - "Hey Ya!" (2003)

OutKast - Hey Ya!
OutKast - Hey Ya!. Courtesy LaFace Records

Andre 3000 of OutKast created a masterful blend of funk, soul and pop with an epic feel on "Hey Ya!" The call and response of "What's cooler than cool?" with answer "Ice cold" and "Shake it like a Polaroid picture" became instant catch phrases. The song went straight to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, staying for nine weeks, and was nominated for the Grammy Award for Record of the Year.

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01
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Kelly Clarkson - "Since U Been Gone" (2005)

Kelly Clarkson - Breakaway
Kelly Clarkson - Breakaway. Courtesy RCA Records

Kelly Clarkson collaborated with Max Martin and Dr. Luke to create pop perfection. Reportedly Kelly Clarkson pushed for the recording to incorporate more drums to give the song a bit more of a rock sound. Her instincts were directly on target. The song won the Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal. The accompanying video won MTV Video Music Awards for Best Female Video and Best Pop Video.

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