The Top 100 Singles of the Noughties

The Noughties was a decade of lists.  Indeed, at the turn of the millennium you could barely move for TV shows called I Love This, Top 100 of That, The Best of the Other and so on.  Which is fine, but one can only eke so much entertainment out of repeatedly hearing what Stuart Maconie and Kate Thornton thought of the Rubik’s Cube, deeley-boppers and Howard Jones.  This nostalgia for the last three decades of pop culture in the 20th century has meant that, at times, it has felt as if the first decade of the 21st century has struggled to assert its own identity, although all this assignation of identities to blocks of ten years is totally spurious and arbitrary.  The list below – and the list of my Top 100 albums in a few days’ time – won’t attempt to comment on what particular zeitgeist any of the music caught.  It’ll just be content that it was, is and always will be great music. 

The one criterion I’ve used for inclusion is that these must have been released as singles (in whatever format) in the UK at some point between 1 January 2000 and 31 December 2009.  As for how they’ve been ordered, well that’s far from scientific – in fact, I’ll freely admit it’s largely gut instinct, and although the top end has remained pretty much fixed, things have moved about and gone in and out further down, depending on what mood I’ve been in when I’ve reviwed my list.  So, not surprisingly, it took a good deal of time to get the list down to the final 100, and some fine tunes were sacrificed in the process.  Also, I had initially considered restricting each act to one entry, but when one considers the oeuvre of, in particular, Girls Aloud, this was clearly not going to be feasible.

So here we go then, one more list in the listiest decade since time began.  Starting with 100, all the way down to 21.  Please feel free to break open the Babycham and imagine either Yellow Pearl or The Wizard playing in the background as John Peel (R.I.P. music’s greatest loss of the last ten years) and Janice Long intone the countdown.  Or not.  It’s entirely up to you:

100 – Avalanches – Since I Left You

99 – Groove Armada – Song 4 Mutya

98 – Mull Historical Society – Watching Xanadu

97 – X-Press 2 Feat. David Byrne – Lazy

96 – Will Young – Leave Right Now

95 – Girls Aloud – The Promise

94 – Young Knives – The Decision

93 – Noisettes – Wild Young Hearts

92 – Kelis – Trick Me

91 – Lily Allen – Smile

90 – Arctic Monkeys – I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor

89 – Pet Shop Boys – Love Etc

88 – Alphabeat – Fascination

87 – Junior Senior – Move Your Feet

86 – Sugababes – Round Round

85 – Scissor Sisters – Comfortably Numb

84 – MGMT – Time To Pretend

83 – Gorillaz – Dare

82 – All Saints – Black Coffee

81 – Misteeq – Scandalous

80 – Art Brut – Emily Kane

79 – Belle & Sebastian – Funny Little Frog

78 – Take That – Patience

77 – La Roux – In For the Kill

76 – Rufus Wainwright – I Don’t Know What It Is

75 – Spiller – Groovejet (If This Ain’t Love)

74 – Sugababes – Push the Button

73 – Kaiser Chiefs – Oh My God

72 – White Stripes – Seven Nation Army

71 – Joan As Policewoman – Christobel

70 – Grizzly Bear – Two Weeks

69 – British Sea Power – Waving Flags

68 – Estelle – American Boy

67 – Basement Jaxx – Where’s Your Head At?

66 – Girls Aloud – Sexy! No No No…

65 – Coral – Pass It On

64 – Patrick Wolf – The Magic Position

63 – Wild Beasts – Brave Bulging Buoyant Clairvoyants

62 – Girls Aloud – Love Machine

61 – Grace Jones – Williams Blood

60 – Kylie Minogue – Spinning Around

59 – Kate Bush – King of the Mountain

58 – Liberty X – A Little Bit More

57 – Franz Ferdinand – Do You Want To?

56 – Goldfrapp – Happiness

55 – Concretes – You Can’t Hurry Love

54 – Missy Elliott – Get Ur Freak On

53 – Girls Aloud – Something Kinda Ooh…

52 – Ms Dynamite – It Takes More

51 – Royksopp Feat. Robyn – The Girl and the Robot

50 – Luke Haines – Off My Rocker at the Art School Bop

49 – Roisin Murphy – Overpowered

48 – Britney Spears – Oops… I Did It Again

47 – Leisure Society – Last of the Melting Snow

46 – Girls Aloud – Sound of the Underground

45 – Elbow – Leaders of the Free World

44 – Futureheads – The Hounds of Love

43 – Madonna – Hung Up

42 – Santogold – L.E.S. Artistes

41 – CSS – Let’s Make Love and Listen to Death from Above

40 – Guillemots – Made-Up Lovesong #43

39 – Gossip – Standing In the Way of Control

38 – Cardigans – You’re the Storm

37 – Black Box Recorder – The Facts of Life

36 – Klaxons – Golden Skans

35 – Girls Aloud – The Show

34 – Long Blondes – Giddy Stratospheres

33 – Annie – Songs Remind Me Of You

32 – Sugababes – Overload

31 – Destiny’s Child – Independent Women Part 1

30 – Bat For Lashes – What’s A Girl To Do

29 – Aaliyah – Try Again

28 – Liberty X vs. Richard X – Being Nobody

27 – Nelly Furtado – Maneater

26 – Girls Aloud – No Good Advice

25 – Amy Winehouse – Back To Black

24 – Doves – Black and White Town

23 – Rihanna – Umbrella

22 – Michael Andrews Feat. Gary Jules – Mad World

21 – Arcade Fire – Rebellion (Lies)

Is your appetite suitably whetted for the Top 20?  Good, because here it comes, starting with 20 up to 11:

20 – All Saints – Pure Shores

In 2000, the producer to have was William Orbit.  All Saints had him for this and Black Coffee and produced two Number Ones of pure class.

19 – Robyn Feat. Kleerup – With Every Heartbeat

Her feisty self-titled album was shamefully overlooked, but this Number 1 smash certainly wasn’t.

18 – Britney Spears – Toxic

Between the teen/slut mixed messages and the meltdown came this class act, grown-up and vampish.

17 – M.I.A. – Paper Planes

The face and sound of young Britain, doubtless to the great distress of Nick Griffin and his cronies.  A prime spot on the Slumdog soundtrack helped as well.

16 – Elbow – Grounds For Divorce

After a long struggle for proper recognition, Guy Garvey and his mates got their breakthrough.  The best singalong ever written for a departed friend.

15 – Peter, Bjorn & John – Young Folks

More Swedes, and these ones very fond of whistling.  Even chronic overuse couldn’t dampen this songs wistful charm.

14 – Annie – Chewing Gum

Whilst over in Norway they preferred their whistling to be electronically generated, courtesy of Mr X.  How this only got to Number 25 remains one of the great mysteries of our time.

13 – Camera Obscura – Lloyd, I’m Ready To Be Heartbroken

Dismiss this as B&S-lite indie twee at your peril – this gorgeous answer to Lloyd Cole’s 1980s song Are You Ready to Be Heartbroken was utter pop loveliness.

12 – Goldfrapp – Strict Machine

Alison Goldfrapp’s first outing was dreamy ambient pop that was fairly common currency at the time.  But then she turned all dominatrix and the result was pure sex.  With bells on.

11 – Rachel Stevens – Sweet Dreams My L.A. Ex

With sharp, whip-smart production, the former S-Clubber kicked off her solo career with the finest of several strong singles.

Getting good, eh?  But even these sonically superb singles couldn’t quite make it into the very top echelon of the decade’s superhits.  For here are they, counting down from 10 to 2:

10 – Gnarls Barkley – Crazy

This was a Number One that made the history books, as the first to top the charts on download sales alone.  However, that pales into insignificance besides the brilliance of this song.  Fashioned to sound like one of those records you think you’ve known all your life, yet seeming utterly fresh and vital at the same time, Crazy nevertheless ends up being only the second greatest song of the decade by a male hip-hop duo.

9 – Feist – 1234

This might surprise some people, but for my money it deserves to be here.  Accompanied by a brilliantly choreographed one-take video, the some-time member of Canadian indie popsters Broken Social Scene did for finger-clicking what Peter, Bjorn & John did for whistling, the almost childlike, nursery rhyme and rhythm belying sad, wise lyrics about the pitfalls of love.

8 – Franz Ferdinand – Take Me Out

“Music for girls to dance to” is what they promised, and what they delivered was music that anyone in their right mind would be unable to resist dancing to.  Only the voluminous Michelle McManus could keep this from being a Number One.  The moment that indie music remembered it could be sexy.  Yes yes YES!

7 – Outkast – Hey Ya!

And here is THE greatest song of the decade by a male hip-hop duo (and indeed the greatest song of the decade with a male lead vocal).  Although the flamboyant Andre 3000 is hardly your average hip-hop artist.  Hey Ya isn’t a song more a miniature pop symphony, dazzlingly inventive, romantic and funny.  In short, most of the things you could want a pop song to be.

6 – Kelis – Milkshake

Hard, minimalist production, lyrics not so much suggestive as blatant (although that didn’t stop some people from coyly inquiring as to what her “milkshake” Might Actually Mean) and a taunting, knowing playground chant.  Milkshake was seductive  pop music as interpreted by the woman who had previously screamed “I HATE YOU SO MUCH RIGHT NOW” over and over on Caught Out There.  And all the better for it.

5 – Amy Winehouse – Rehab

Try and forget everything that’s happened since this song came out, all the art imitating life, the snide jokes etc etc.  Instead, admire this for what it is: a superbly crafted 60s soul creation about an addiction that can’t be shaked or faced up to.  We’ll call it love and leave it at that.  After all, that proved to be the most destructive addiction of all for her, albeit the one that also spurred her on to create the masterful Back to Black album – from which this is the highlight amongst many gems.

4 – Kylie Minogue – Can’t Get You Out Of My Head

After experimenting with a more alternative sound and collaborating with the likes of Nick Cave and the Manic Street Preachers, La Kylie signalled her return to full-blown pop in 2000 with Spinning Around.  However, the song’s giddy dance-pop and golden hotpants were put in the shade a year or so later by this masterwork.  This was Kylie meets Kraftwerk, all cool Teutonic beats and seductive, come-hither vocals, accompanied by a truly striking video.  This was a song that not only fully restored Kylie’s commercial credibility, it also gave her some serious critical kudos.

3 – Sugababes – Freak Like Me

Due to popular demand, Richard X re-recorded his underground hit using the only group up to the task of producing detached, couldn’t-give-a-shit vocals over the Gary Numan sample.  Enter Sugababes, who had turned heads with their debut hit Overload, but who now got the mega-hit they needed to move their chart career to the next level.  ‘Babes have come and gone, and indeed there are now no original bandmembers left.  However, this record, one that crucially manages to trump its two original sources, remains, and will do for a very long time to come.

2 – Beyonce – Crazy In Love

Okay, so you’re in the biggest girl group on the planet, but they aren’t doing anything at the moment.  How are you going to keep yourself busy?  Answer – by releasing this soaring, unstoppable juggernaut of a record.  This is about two people who are indeed crazy in love, both with Jay-Z.  More than that, however, it is (in common with much else in this chart) a record that transcends fiddly little genre pigeonholes to become something that anyone of any age should be able to relate to and to love.  Crazily.

And yet, and yet… even Beyonce with her uh-oh-uh-ohs and her craziness and those powerhouse vocals… even she can’t quite make it to Number One.  So who has?  Well, it’s an act you may have noticed cropping up once or twice further down this chart, but whose greatest work has been saved until last.  Or rather, until first:

1 – GIRLS ALOUD – BIOLOGY

Where does one start?  The fact that this isn’t so much one song so much as about five different songs seamlessly merged together (as brilliantly highlighted by the video)?  The seemingly endless array of styles?  The meta references in song and artwork to the likes of Chris Izaak and X-Ray Spex?  Or shall we just settle for the fact that this, in the face of severe competition (not least from Girls Aloud’s own back catalogue) stands as a glorious testament to the never-ending innovation and joie de vivre that marks out the very greatest pop music?  Yeah, that’ll do nicely.  Well done girls.  You are Top of the Pops.

And so there you have it.  Or possibly not.  It depends.  Maybe you think something else should have been at the top, or that there were some unforgivable omissions from the chart.  If you do think that, then feel free to comment on here!  And in the meantime, let’s all met up in the year 2019…

Chris x

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3 responses to “The Top 100 Singles of the Noughties

  1. Not a lot to argue with on that list. There’s three of my own top ten in it, so that’s a glowing endorsement!

    More pop-oriented than me, but at least you’ve picked the right pop tunes, unlike, say, Observer Music Monthly.

    My personal GA fave is The Show, but I see where you’re coming from with Bio. Forgot about Sweet Dreams My LA Ex too. Shame Rachel Stevens is such a non-entity.

  2. Why ‘singles’, might as well just say songs. Otherwise you are just depending on people choosing the right songs from albums.

    Also I think if you look at pop music now you are leaving a huge gap if you only look at the main places in the West. In a list like this I’d certainly include songs from elsewhere, in particular the far east (my favourite Thailand in the 2000s).

    I haven’t heard all of those you have listed yet but I know the Camera Obscura is pretty good. Others I know I don’t like much like ‘Crazy in Love’ which is a bit simple, I’d prefer something like ‘Telephone’.

  3. Well done on a great list. This was a very handy resource for me, after being in the US for the past 16 years, to catch up on the most vital and progressive music scene that the world has, and it is likely to stay that way. xx

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