Though I said in my post on the best songs of the Noughties that I was not going to try to include all of them, since I wrote I keep thinking of songs that really are too good to miss out. So, for what it’s worth, here’s Now, That’s What Ciarán Calls The Noughties, Vol. 2 (in no particular order).
- The Enemy – We’ll Live & Die In These Towns: Not as good as the music press thought they were, but this track from the Coventry three-piece, with lines like “the toilet smells of desperation” is a worthy addition to the town’s music heritage, including as it does The Specials’ Ghost Town.
- The Courteneers – Not 19 Forever: A beautifully wistful piece of perfect indie-pop: despite the fact that it was written by guys barely in their twenties, it probably resonated even more with those of us on the wrong side of our thirties.
- The White Stripes – Seven Nation Army: The White Stripes were probably John Peel’s last great gift to the world (God, I’d forgotten that Peel died in the noughties – that alone makes it a wretched decade). And this is probably their finest moment to date – absolutely thundering in its simplicity, the fact that he’s actually playing that bass line on his guitar is still enough to leave me dazed.
- Joss Stone – Fell In Love With A Boy: When she came out it seemed impossible that a Cornish teenager could have a voice that so perfectly matched the soul tracks on her début album. The fact that her taste in music, as evidenced by the direction she decided to take as she got older (bland, modern R&B) shouldn’t blight the magnificence of this Roots produced White Stripes cover.
- Mos Def – Umi Says: Showing, once again, that intelligent hip-hop can beat mindless gangster rap nine times out of ten, this acoustic led track is probably one of my favourite hip-hop songs of all time. And it’s another one that Zero 7 did an amazing remix of.
- Liam Lynch – United States Of Whatever: This is, like, uh, an anthem for the decade. Or whatever.
- The Libertines – Don’t Look Back Into The Sun: I was never a totally devoted fan, but still think that Pete Doherty’s descent into tabloid drug stooge, and his split from Carl Barat, is one of the biggest musical wastes of the century. But “Don’t Look Back..”, with its era-defining lyric “then they played that song at the Death Disco” (Alan McGee’s Zeitgeist spawning club night) is a suitable memorial to them.
- Wolfman feat. Pete Doherty – Song For Lovers: The track that showed that, like most artistic junkies, Doherty is an incurable romantic. Shame he’s also a total fucking waster, or he might have spent more time producing amazing songs like this, rather than dating a clothes horse and falling out of the tabloids.
- Hard-Fi – Living For The Weekend: Spawned, like The Enemy, by a provincial town, this song catalogued the mundane tedium of a suburban week and the desperate search for excitement of a suburban weekend. It also, in a delightfully ironic twist, also ended up being the soundtrack of the small-town discos whose tale it tells.
- Jamie T – Sheila: The bastard son of Pete Doherty & The Streets. Brap!
- Elbow – One Day Like This: Not their best track, but it’s my bet for Absolute’s Best Song Of The Decade and it’s now so ubiquitous it would be churlish to exclude it. And one of the greatest ever Glastonbury tunes (if they don’t headline next year, Eavis probably ought to retire).
- The Futureheads – Hounds Of Love: An epic cover of the Kate Bush classic and undoubtedly the best thing that this Maccam firework indie band did.
- Dr. Dre – The Next Episode: The album it was on, 2001, was released in 1999 but the single came out in 2000, so I’m claiming it. Dre once again showed that very few people can do gangster rap intelligently, and he’s one of the few. Awesome.
- Tuomo – So Surreal: What’s surreal is that a ginger-haired Finn could produce some of the finest modern soul I’ve ever heard. Just about any of the tracks from his debut album, My Thing, could feature in this list, but this is the one I’m digging most today.
- Little Dragon – Scribbled Paper: What with Finland’s Tuomo & Sweden’s Little Dragon, it’s been a good decade for Scandinavian modern soul. This is at the other end of the spectrum from Tuomo – it’s stripped down electronic soul of the sort Massive Attack used to do so well, and which Cinematic Orchestra still do.
- The Cinematic Orchestra feat. Roots Manuva – All Things To All Men: One of the best things that either Cinematic Orchestra or Manuva have done, this is a towering piece of moody, orchestral hip-hop. Astounding.
- Ty – Hustle (That’s Wy We): Whilst Manuva gets the plaudits, his understudy Ty has been quietly turning out some of the best British hip-hop of recent years. He swaps Manuva’s neuroses for self-deprecating wit, and his claustrophobic dub for dance-floor friendly soul, but that doesn’t make his tracks light-weight, and Hustle is perfect proof of that fact.
- Athlete – Westside: Vehicles & Animals was one of my favourite albums of the past ten years: with its distinctly British outlook and the band’s willingness to experiment it reminded me of 90s never-weres Thousand Yard Stare and was a welcome relief to the bland homogeneity of most indie at the time. Unfortunately they decided to ‘do a Snow Patrol’ and abandon their invention is search of mass-market appeal. It seems they really did want to be part of the rock scene.
- Sugababes – Freak Like Me: It was a cover of an Adina Howard mash-up by Richard X, but it proves that there were girl-bands producing intelligent pop music before Girls Aloud and is a monster of a track, whilst the band’s franchise-like approach to members also strikes me as perfectly noughtie-ish.
- Outkast – Hey Ya: At one point it seemed like Outkast would become the biggest act of the decade, but instead they did a Prince and made a really shite film. Hey Ya, and Ms Jackson, are reminders of how truly great they were. And the covers of the two tracks, by Matt Weddle & The Vines respectively, manage, by bringing the words to the fore, to highlight what amazing lyricists they were.
- Jamie Lidell – Another Day: His move from weird techno boffin, to outright soul belter, was amazing. As was this track and the album it came from; in many ways the album I wish Ben Westbeech had produced.
- The Kaiser Chiefs – I Predict A Riot: Probably the ultimate firework band, The Kaisers had two huge albums, ruled the festivals, and now haven’t been heard of for years. But, for one summer at least, this was an anthem.
- Wiley – Wearing My Rolex: Resistance is futile.
- Dizzee Rascal – Pussyole (Old Skool): Boy In Da Corner may have won the Mercury whilst Dance Wiv Me made him Britain’s biggest, and most unlikely, pop star, but, for me, this unashamedly retro track is one of his best.
- Katalyst feat. Steve Spaceck – How ‘Bout Us: One of many fine finds from Gilles Peterson’s Bubblers series, How ‘Bout Us sounds like Curtis Mayfield if he was someone who had been born 20 years ago, rather than someone who’s been dead for more than 10 years, and should have been huge. It wasn’t, obviously.
Well, that’s another 25, and there are probably 25 more still. But that will do for the meantime, and until I think of another 20, here’s a very worthy 26, Badly Drawn Boy’s beautiful Once Around The Block. Enjoy.
Image from Times Online News Blog.