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Saturday, May 13, 2017

Number 1 - "Sea Within a Sea", The Horrors

The Horrors. They wrote the best song of the Noughties. You now it.

Sea Within a Sea
- The Horrors

Primary Colours (2009)

No, I'm not entirely sure where this came from either. Their first album gave frankly little indication of how brilliant the sophomore effort would be. That's not the way it's supposed to be done.

And just look at these punks. They look like they're auditioning for Baby Edward Scissorhands. They can't possibly have the experience, the gravitas, the canniness to occupy this echelon, surely?

Well they flipping well CAN. And they did. We're not assessing artists here, we're assessing songs. Their body of work is by now impressive and solid, and we've heard them once already in the countdown with "Scarlet Fields". But this is the masterwork - it's an epic, grandiose, sprawling beast that touches all the standard bases for musical greatness while coasting into home.

It sounds at one level like an extended jam session, the rhythm section is basically CAN's "Mother Sky". So base one would be doing structured improvisation to sound like the best of them. Jog on by.

I'm getting this on borrowed wisdom, since I've rescinded my qualifications to keep doing this, but I did come across one reviewer who claimed copiers of the rhythm section became so many that it had been "reduced to the late noughties equivalent of the 'funky drummer.'" I wonder if they're aware they're just following in a fine tradition.

So that's it. There's no other track from the entire decade that I find myself NEEDING periodically to return to for musical sustainance. There's no other track that continually seems to present hitherto hidden facets of itself on repeated listings.

It's not the track you spent most time flinging yourself around a dancefloor to. It's not the single that's going to get you all nostalgic for the decade in years to come because it speaks to some significant event. It's probably not going to stay on any list of songs anyone recalls from the decade for long.

But none of those invalidate it. Remember the criteria. It's simply the finest song that was released during the last decade. And this story is over.

A very big thanks to those who have been following along this absurdly epic project from the beginning. I literally first began making this list in 2011. First blog post was about eighteen months back. That's all a measure of LOVE, not incompetence, readers can be reassured.

But y'know what? The reality is that I don't think this decade was up to much. How many of this top ten would make my all time top ten? Not many. Recapping the theoretical palaver that I first pushed this bat out with, the lesson here is welcome to postmodernity.

Welcome to a world with fewer genuinely inherently stellar things. But also a world where the ability of everyone to participate in the "making of stellar things" in a genuine way has never been greater. There is a greater chance of a given unknown artist being 'found' than ever before because the barriers to global music distribution have been torn down.

But there's a significantly lower chance that your society is going to have a body of people within it called "musicians" who genuinely make a meaningful living from their art.

Is this a better world? And does it matter? Because we're not going to be able to wish it away. We're going to have to live in it.

Or you could take this author's own approach, and remember very regularly to look backwards. Nostalgia actually performs a vital role for humanity's collective psyche. It grounds us in higher ideals, elevates our eyes to nobler horizons.

The Top Ninety of the Nineties starts Monday. A real decade. MY decade. We are done here. With a very large and sustained thanks to those who have sustained me, endured all of this and taken the time to give feedback.

Remember this started out as an exercise in right of passage, my letting go of being eighteen forever. It's actually been quite painful. I never started that band ... and now ...

But The Horrors might just have said it as well as I ever could...

Though youth may fade with boyhood's cares
New fear will catch us unawares
I know it will

So you might say
The path we share is one of danger
And of fear
Until the end

Monday, May 8, 2017

Number 2 - "Machine Gun" - Portishead

Beth Gibbons from Portishead with Beth Gibbons from Portishead

Machine Gun
- Portishead

Third (2009)

I hear tell that they once did this live with Chuck D from Public Enemy rapping "Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos" over the instrumental section. If anyone knows of a recording of whatever quality of that, I will pay good money for it. Pints of blood even.

And so, much as I try to keep these fresh, it's very hard to find anything at all original to say about this track, and that may well be some sort of testament to why it belongs here.

Yes, the band that we loved, the band that the nineties regaled for never putting a single note in the wrong place, well we turned around one day and, like your best mate from high school, we realised we hadn't heard from them in a decade. Not another flipping overdose???

Well, no. This story ends well. Not dead, only resting. Only taking the requisite time to produce  again at the standards we expected.

The song is everything that was ever great about the band, it's a micro-studious take on one riff married to a vocal that never sits perfectly at ease with its musical partner, and in the zone of that semi-awkward interplay greatness is born.

Only Beth Gibbons could render a melody this jarring and disjointed so effectively well-contained and melodious. Ask yourself when was the last time you had some many weird minor notes bouncing round your head was, as you humm along as if it were some Madonna chorusline.

So once again we see the prevailing formula in effect. Great art is crafted from one well-conceived concept, however humble, rendered by artists whose focus is singular and set within a coherent and meaningful purpose.

And should you ever have the opportunity to catch these folk at work live, do not pass it up at any reasonable price, for the aesthetic they bring to their songwriting is unlike many acts, equally present in their performance work.

Music was only capable of clambering a mere rung higher than this during the decade. And tomorrow, having spent literally years ascertaining that fact, I'm finally ready to declare it. Seems like an anticlimax now. It feels like in finishing this thing I have to kill it ... gulp!

See you tomorrow.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Number 3 - "Say Valley Maker", Smog

Smog, aka Bill Callahan

Say Valley Maker - Smog

A River Ain't Too Much to Love (2005)

And a big welcome everyone to probably my largest personal indulgence of the countdown.

No, this wasn't on any other lists, Smog wasn'y on many full stop. Both situations are wrong. This album is possibly my favourite of the decade. Smog/Bill Callahan (although somehow the eponymous releases were kind of B grade) would have to vie for the title of its greatest singer-songwriter.

If readers have been following at all, they'll have already discerned that this particular commentator values above all else sell-crafted simplicity and poecy in songwriting above almost all else. And this simply excelled at both to an extent in my musical pantheon that this was always going top five.

It's just a beautiful song, but it's little more than a two chord arpeggio. It is however perfectly married to a lyric strong enough to virtually carry the song itself. Callahan's incredible bass emotes to the exactingly calibrated level he's perfected, hovering perpetually between irony and pathos. And some weight it hefts around.

"With the grace of a corpse in a riptide/I let go/and I slide, slide, slide/downriver"

But it's the repeating sections "There is no love ..." and most particularly the "Bury me in wood" 'crescendo' that concludes the song that render it truly memorable. These can scarcely be done justice in printed reproduction. But it's this section in particular which really earns this song it's spot amongst the decade's mightiest.

But if anyone's ever written a better pop lyrics than "bury me in fire/and I'm gonna phoenix", I'm keen to know what it is.

Because that's just one of the most perfect twenty seconds of songwriting you'll ever hear.

Number 4 - "Maps", Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Karen O, Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Maps - Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Fever to Tell (2004)

And didn't this lot burst well out of the blocks. It's hard to believe a track this polished came from anyone's debut album.

This deserves its spot here as much as anything for being the pinnacle of the short-lived but significant mid-decade 'garage punk revival' that also spawned the likes of The Strokes, The Black Keys, The Hives, White Stripes, etc.

It's beauty is in its ability to maintain a rock tempo while at the same time being so utterly languid in most of its elements. From the blissed out guitar treble that mutates just occasionally into a big dirty solo, to Karen O allowing her otherwise perfectly tempered voice to run occasionally just that tiny bit out of control "theydontloveyoulikeiloveyou" this song ebbs and flows perfectly, and our emotions with it.

The song navigates effortlessly territory that sinks most pop music - that between sentimentality and affectation. Maps' power is in its ability to linger in the former without invoking the latter.

It achieves this in its fairly raw simplicity, exquisite production and above all else in Karen O's extraordinary vocal. She was without doubt one of the greatest new such talents the decade produced, and I submit the following evidence....

Friday, May 5, 2017

Number 5 - "Strange Overtones" , Brian Eno and David Byrne

Eno and Byrne in the 80s

Strange Overtones - Brian Eno and David Byrne

Everything That Happens Will Happen Today (2008)

Pitchfork had this as their #11 for 2008. Pfft. It's way better than than. It's a fairly obvious meta-song about songwriting from two absolute past masters of the craft, both of whom seemingly needed the other to finish this project.

This was I believe the only single released from the album, which was given away free online. It was apparently based on a number of gospel-based tracks that Eno had written but couldn't write lyrics for as he was unable to write anything "hopeful" enough.

The album was completed largely by correspondence, and while it doesn't really reach the heights of their more seminal "My Life in the Bush ...", this is an absolutely killer single that stays with you for days.

The music video you see above apparently features some of Eno's own paintings.

The album dealt with themes that have occupied both artists in the past - around the interaction of humanity and technology.

Strange Overtones/In the music you are playing
We're not alone/It is strong and you are tough
But a heart is not enough--
I'm reminded fairly acutely of one of Talking Heads' more forgotten gems - Nothing But Flowers, which I've generously furnished you with also.

The backing is reasonably by-numbers Eno, but still astonishingly accomplished. After what going on forty years of this, the guy just farts these things out in his sleep, I swear.

Both Eno and Byrne have dubbed this "Electronic Gospel, which is probably fair enough. The world could do with a bit more "electronic gospel."

And so, brethren, today's hymn ...

Number 6 - "Dem Never Know", Rhythm and Sound

Dem Never Know - Rhythm and Sound

See Mi Yah (2005)

Another one that was largely absent from the other charts. What is this? Well it's essentially Basic Channel, Berlin duo Mark Ernestus and Moritz Von Oswald.

Von Oswald is a particularly interesting character, kind of like a less annoying but far more Tuetonic Adrian Sherwood. He's been almost singlehandedly responsible for pioneering this genre of ultra-authentic roots/dub/reggae with a minimalist techno bent.

The point of the exercise is to obtain a purist, authentic original dub reggae (analog) sound with modern (digital) technologies.

And that he's been able to work with some of the biggest names in the notoriously insular reggae business like Cornel Campbell, Jennifer Lara and Love Joy is some testament to the authenticity of the effort.

And this here outing carries the imprimatur of none other than legendary 70s/80s Jamaican DJ Joseph Cotton/Jah Walton, appearing here just for simplicity's sake as Jah Cotton with Ranking Joe, U-Brown AND the Blood & Fire Sound System.

Basically nothing could possibly go wrong, and so nothing does.

The track is lifted from what is unquestionably one of the most obsessively purist of musical exercises ever attempted, and one of the greatest. It's ten different vocal and one instrumental versions of the one rhythm.

They're for the most part only subtly different from each other, but the tonalities of the differences are the work's genius. The artists' claim that

"the tracks are lined up in a way that allows the listener to enjoy See Mi Yah as one continuous program running for about 46 minutes. It's never a bore - and goes on in the listener's head, when voices, rhythm and sound will be long gone."

is entirely credible. But the pinnacle is unquestionably this track.

It belongs here for electing to utterly excel at only one thing. And for honing in on that thing with an obsessive's mania. It soars above the rest of the decade's noise.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Number 7 - "Idioteque", Radiohead


Idioteque - Radiohead

Kid A (2000)

Never released as a single, you can just imagine a bunch of drunk record execs in navy suits slurping paella, not knowing what to do with it. Especially way back in 2000.

But of course it was actually the soaring highlight of this entire masterwork.

You've never heard anything quite like it. It's an exercise in playing off jarring syncopation against a smooth falsetto that contains just enough melody to warrant the name. The vocal seems perpetually poised just this side of panic.

It's a cloying, claustrophobic, almost sinister track that you just so happen to be able also to dance to. There's a sense of alarm from an external threat. The lyric supports this.

"Who's in a bunker, who's in a bunker?/ Women and children first"

The album itself is peppered with references that Yorke has acknowledged regarding what was taking place in the former Yugoslavia at that time, and it's hard not to read this in the same context. The riff is a sample from Paul Lansky, apparently.

Lansky wrote an essay about the song explaining all the nerdy complexities of the chord progressions which is no doubt lurking around online for the truly avid fan.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Number 8 - "The Underdog", Spoon


The Underdog - Spoon

Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga (2007)

"You have no fear of the underdog/that's why you will not survive".

I find Spoon confusing. Mostly competent, they're one of those indie acts whose work TV shows love syndicating. Competent, but safe. Not a band to inspire fandom, but nor do they earn much criticism. And very occasionally they produce a single for the absolute ages.

As with a few entrants in this list, your humble compiler is willing to let one brilliantly crafted song outrank those of far more established artists, this being after all a song-based exercise.

Spoon seem to shine when they are as self-consciously musical as possible. This is a complex beast, the melody's not quite as simple as it first appears and catchy as hell. Vocalist Britt Daniel's voice is a great textural match with its brassy bottom end.

If music performs any sort of valuable social function, this song knows exactly what that is, and on that basis proceeds to excel in everything that matters.

If even one sad soul drags themselves off any terrible canvas to which they may have fallen in life bouyed naively by the sentiment that this song peddles, Spoon have already done the world more good than Bono will in his entire lifetime. And I reckon it's a good bet.

This never really charted, and none of the other noughties lists put it this high, I just think it's archetypally great by the one criterion I ultimately use in these tests...

"How many showers have I sung this under?"

I'm not ashamed to say it's flipping LOTS.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Number 9 - "Britain is Sh*t", Selfish C*nt

Selfish Cunt, Martin Tomlinson and Patrick Constable

Britain is Shit - Selfish Cunt

No Wicked Heart Shall Prosper (2004)

A lot of bands were assigned the rather mutoid moniker of 'post-punk' over the course of the decade, and the term was almost already meaningless the minute it was uttered. As if anything could come post-music's nihilistic end...

But of course the music did continue, it just wasn't punk anymore.  To suggest that for instance Green Day have in the slightest relevance to or provenance from the original seventies genre is to render the original meaningless.

Maybe it's in the art of reducing punk to shallow symbolism, void of all its original significance, in drawing an equivalence between The Clash and playing your guitar quite loud with a safety pin on, in failing so completely to understand punk, that you evoke in the process a perfect nihilism. The act of neutering punk's most genuinely transgressive dimensions becomes in itself the most authentically punk act possible.

And it's the authenticity that was so frequently lacking in the things terms like 'post-punk' or 'new punk' or whatever permutations were applied to during the decade. Music that almost always seemed to veer more properly towards other genres - pop at one end of the spectrum, hardcore or even emo at the other.

There's only one act since the Pistols that have given us any sense that they are in any way inheritors of punk's wholesale aesthetic, political and musical mantle, and that act is Selfish Cunt.

 Yes, it's in part about the notoriously violent concerts, the beating up crowd members, the cancelled gigs, the bannings from venues, but it's also about the overtly nihilistic take on politics, it's about the aggressively sexualised cross dressing of Tomlinson (if Brian Molko and Iggy Pop ever spawned ...)

And it's about realising that THE most punk instrument in this day and age MUST be the drum machine. The quintessential enabler of so many musicians not even good enough to play with a bad band.

And it's about the lyric, the give-nary-a-shit vocal delivery, the utterly vicious pillorying of the middle classes, the political classes, the working class. It wants to kick the whole lot down, not because it has a better world in mind, just merely that it's run out of interest in this one. It's petulant, destructive, wanton, and throughly non-didactic.

Are you listening, Green Day?

Above is a little video I made for YouTube as this is kind of a hard one to stream. See below for more hot cross dressing action, from when we last encountered SC earlier in the countdown.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Number 10 - "There is no Such Place", Augie March

Augie March

There is no Such Place - Augie March

Sunset Studies (2003)

The highest ranking Australian act you will find in this chart, rendering this the quintessential Aussie tune of the decade. So there.

Yet another example that great, timeless pop relies on little much more than one tremendous melody. It's plaintive, maybe it's a little affectatious, but its emotive power - even after all these years of how many listenings is there.

Where Glenn Richards can at times veer into the purple prose, as with a lot of the Augies' more recent material wherein you feel the song was being made to fit the clever-clogs lyrics with, ironically a less lyrical overall effect.

But here, the balance is just perfect. The final lines, which would have the option of being delivered as a heart-jerking crescendo, are instead just left to waft off with the tune such that the song leaves us with nothing so much as an abstract sense of loss, of longing.

It's evoking these senses so effectively without straying into cliche or becoming overblown by surplus emotive devices that places this near the pinnacle of the decades' genius.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Numbers 15-11, "Blood on My Hands"

I hope we all had Ricardo Villalobos in our SuperMuso teams this week ...

15.Fizheuer Zieheuer - Ricardo Villalobos
Fizheuer Zieheuer (2006)
Well. You either know it or you don't. Or you may just know it by the horns 'breakdown'. Yes, it's a 37 minute 'dance' track with a funeral speed 'breakdown' in traditional horns sampled from a Serbian gypsy folk group. 37 minutes of large-scale monotony, where the horns appear as oases amongst the seemingly never-ending dunes of "oom-pah" that blanket everything.

But this is not an exercise in banality. A desert at scale could be read as monotonous, but closer perspective will reveal much texture amongst the dunes. This is an exercise in monotony, but it's a deeply profound one.

If taken at one sitting and in the right mood, it's mesmeric to the point where the ear becomes, in the midst of the sameness, intensely attuned to the very subtle ways in which the track does ebb and flow.

If you're willing to give it your full attention, it is certainly one of the most profound musical listening experiences the decade delivered. And this man is without doubt amongst the finest practitioners of his craft, consistently pushing the boundaries of an often stale genre.

For the faint-hearted, I made a YouTube video for a shorter, 15 minute version. Give it space. You won't be sorry,

14.Evil - Interpol
Antics (2004)
Too easily derided. Maybe they invite it in their self-conscious hipsterism, but musically I do maintain they were easily a million times more creative than say The White Stripes, who readers will find rather conspicuously absent from this list.

This utterly irresistable dancefloor-filler was probably their finest moment. It ebbs and flows in a way so much contemporary pop just refuses to do. The "chorus", pitches up to what could be full crescendo about three times, only to push further, finally hitting the pinnacle - a series of emphatic drum smashes "Why. Can't. We. Just ..."

It's just a superbly crafted song, superbly produced. The only thing that genuinely sounds like Joy Division about this band is Paul Banks' voice. People were far too quick to dismiss them for their po-facedness, but this album and ... Bright Lights would probably both belong somewhere in a Top Forty Albums of the Noughties.

13.Moan - Trentemøller
The Last Resort (2007)
What to say about this? No, this wasn't on many other lists and never this high. But I'm still, after nearly a decade past, completely addicted to this. It's like the finest stuff Massive Attack ever did with their female guest vocalists.

Anne Trolle is the vocalist here, and based on this she deserves be known far wider afield than her native Denmark. Delivering her vocal this breathlessly could have easily come across as trite, but Trolle goes nowhere near that domain.

She serves up just ... just enough emotion to set up a conflict between the deadpan delivery and the almost desperately emotive content.

This entire work is a Danish tour-de-force, with the artist himself hailing from Copenhagen, where he's helped popularise a number of local acts through his remixes. The song just oozes Scandi cool.

But I swear it's not just because it's a Dane-ophile's wet dream that this one has earned its place here. Use your ears.

Brilliant video too. You can check out my Pinterest tribute board to Laika here.

12.Blood on My Hands (Ricardo Villalobos' Apocalypso Now Mix) - Shackleton
Blood on My Hands (2007)
Why is this at number 12? Who the hell is Shackleton?

Well, put simply, I don't think I know of a better, more powerful or significant artistic response to the events of September 11, 2001 than this. Shackleton's other works - particularly Music for the Quiet Hour are all well worth checking out for fans of stripped back yet moody minimalism.

It's both a response to the events themselves and a response to OUR response, but it totally avoids lecturing or moral posturing from any dimension. Instead, we're asked to create meaning from a set of almost uncannily disparate phrases.

"I'm standing on a mountain top/letting out a scream/it's the language of the earth, it is the language of the beasts." And it's thoroughly unclear throughout who our narrator is.

It seems to me that this work is drawing a very sophisticated parallel between the drivers of the terrorist horrors that were visited upon the world, and the response of our political leaders to those events.

We're perhaps condemned for failing to speak ourselves in anything less mute than "the language of the beasts", but we're never really sure. And it's from within that ambivalence that the song derives its power to deeply unsettle.

It's just a great, great work of art.

11.Walk In The Park - Beach House
Teen Dream (2009)
There's only ever really been one way to write a great pop song. Pick a melody. Pick a really catchy melody. Now repeat it ad nauseum. Congratulations, you're now an artistic genius.

In some dimension. Because it should simply be that easy. But if it's that easy then why has so much utter musical dross been written? If it's that easy, then why is is this SO sublime?

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Numbers 20-16, "Special Cases"

#20. Miss Kittin "D'you know Frank Sinatra? He's DEAD. Hahahaha."
 20.Frank Sinatra - Miss Kittin & The Hacker
First Album (2001)
So, there's a wee language warning on this one. And a rather large taste one. This rates so highly as a vicious satire on the sheer vacuity of modern celebrity culture. And frankly I'm not sure any song on this list  deals with a more important contemporary issue. If Black Mirror is vital TV for the same reason, this is its vital soundtrack.

The vocal is delivered with such deadpan while the content has such shock value, it's from that fissure that the song derives its power to unsettle. You kind of want a shower after this. Or a time machine. There's a hot tub time machine gag in there somewhere ...

19.Getting Away With It (All Messed Up) - James
Pleased to Meet You (2001)
It's a kind of sad story this one. One of Britain's longest lasting and best loved bands were approaching their 20 year mark when they released what was to become a surprisingly poorly received swansong album, even with the benefit of Brian Eno's production. This was the only single lifted from the album, it charted poorly and the band soon split, faced with a supposed massive unpaid tax bill from Her Majesty.

They deserved a better sendoff. We'll hear more from James in the Top Ninety of The Nineties project (stay tuned), during what was really their heyday, but this song is not a bad way to cap a career. Easily the best track on the album, it combined everything that was great about the band, obtuse lyrics wedded to virally addictive chorus melodies that make the whole pub want to stand up and sing along.

18.No Pussy Blues - Grinderman
Grinderman (2007)
It's always an interesting experience to first encounter a good band live rather than through their singles. I knew what Grinderman were about when making my way to what is still the most fabulous music festival I've ever attended - the sadly sole stranded lonesome Australian All Tomorrow's Parties at Falls Creek.

I was expecting something more Nick Cave-y and less Warren Ellis-y. The band just seemed to love creating NOISE. Clearly they were enjoying themselves and most of all were really enjoying playing together. Tight wouldn't really be the right word, perfectly loose would be closer. But when they played this, this one really shone for the CRAFT of the songwriting, and that's where you now the hand of Mr Cave is at play. Oh, plus the misogyny ...

17.Special Cases - Massive Attack
100th Window (2003)
Here's another band that rightly belongs at the pinnacle of the NINETIES pantheon doing their gamma ray burst from a dying star thing. This album featured songs far more complex than anything the band had previously attempted. This isn't the sparse, catchy triphop that defined them in the previous decades. This album heralded the demise of a singles band - OK they were always much more than that, the demise of that dimension of their work is probably better - and the birth of one of the most important outfits experimenting in musical form still known to us today.

As always with Massive Attack, it's all about the BASS here. Musical bass. Vocal high treble. The vocal sprints hurriedly where the bass just barely creeps. And I say creeps, because it really is haunting, ominous, foreboding ... A tremendous video to boot...

16.Wolf Like Me - TV On The Radio
Return To Cookie Mountain (2006)
The song that launched a career, and revived a million flagging dancefloors. Yet another song that proves the timelessness of the pop formula - create a catchy hook, repeat it ad nauseum, and provide backing that gives it a fitting pedestal.

That's how you go about creating art. You don't need to be able to sing flouncy trills like Beyonce, all the great poets ever born have shown a simple structure in repetition can generate meaning and profundity, and that's what's going on here.

Lycanthropy is normally a kind of corny affectation in popular culture. Not here.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Numbers 25-21, "Such Great Heights"

#21, M.I.A. Tamil nitrate.
25.Heartbeats - The Knife
Deep Cuts (2003)
Remember how this whole thing began? Jealousy of my friend Dan's countdown, which he now appears mysteriously to have deleted was the motivator. This was Dan's number one, and a case  could certainly be made. The Knife have long been one of the more interesting and experimental electronic acts going around, and they have a significantly better ear for a good melody than can be said of the majority of their peers.

But it's the weird, sparse, wobbling, ungrounded baseline here that really makes this one stay with you.

24.Banquet - Bloc Party
Silent Alarm (2005)
Bloc Party always suffered from a perception of being a bit of a bit of a poor-man's Interpol, and it's pretty easy to see how Interpol could have written this. It's almost got 'movements' that  play with the listener's expectations. A question that begins in soaring vowel-y falsetto is completed with a rapid-fire staccato of consonants.

"Why d'you feeeeeeeeeel/sonegated?"

The chorus relies again on phrases that start with the repeated long-format word "tuurning/coooming" followed by a response so rapid-fire it leaves pauses in the chorus where the notes should be.

And it follows in that fine literary tradition of conflating food and sex that began with humanity's very earliest origin myths.

23.Such Great Heights - The Postal Service
Give Up (2003)
Another indie song that made a successful crossover into television - both soundtrack and commercial, such that it really ought to have become thoroughly irritating.

But there's something about those curious, oscillating midi blips in tandem with the vocal that just doesn't seem to age.

It's also been scientifically established as the twee-est track still physically possible to dance to.

"They will see us waving from such great heights
'Come down now', they'll say
But everything looks perfect from far away
'Come down now', but we'll stay."

22.Hey Ya! - OutKast
The Love Below (2003)
The song that revived a million flagging dancefloors. All ages, all genres, all good. I believe this is the highest positioned song in my countdown to have spent significant time at number one internationally, so arguably the winnner of the People's Choice Award. The best and most successful song of the entire decade.

Please don't tell me rap has no musical dimension. It's the musical chops, the fact there's actually a melody present virtually throughout the entire track, it's the ability again of that melody to carry some unusually complex vocal shennanigans, and this is nowhere more in evidence than the "alrightalrightalrightalright" call and response breakdown.

This has always been where most rap artists just in-fill rather than create, in structural terms. But who DOESN'T remember where they first heard "Shake it like a Polaroid picture"?

21.Paper Planes - M.I.A.
Kala (2007)
Rap has always performed strongest when it wears it's rhythm and dance heritage lightest.

Full marks to the Producer, Major Lazer for the correct response when the artist announced she wanted to include four gunshots not just DURING the chorus, but AS the chorus lyric. Listen to this. One semiotically vacuous sound repeated for times creates a very pecific "meaning", that the listener actively interprets as language.

"All I wanna do is/ BANG-BANG-BANG-BANG/ and a' take your money."
There's no information missing from that sentence whatsoever.