10/17/2015

Mr. Jones' 21 Favorite Singles of the 21st Century (so far)

[As always, when attempting this kind of exercise, familiarity and poignancy—as well as considerations of time, space, length, reader interest, etc etc etc—will inevitably lead to some favorites falling by the wayside. But such are the pitfalls of compiling a list of any kind, although slightly less stress is involved when the main criteria is favorites. And so, with that out of the way, and in alphabetical order by artist, have at them. Cheers. - KJ]

AUDIOSLAVE "Cochise" [2002]
The first—and biggest—rock supergroup of the first decade of the 21st century didn't always gel, but when they did...

COLDPLAY “Yellow” [2000]
Boy, have these dudes caught grief. But long before the weirdly titled albums, "Sgt. Pepper's"-style band uniforms, the arrival—and subsequent departure—of the high profile Hollywood actress, and the questionable need to make a statement with every release, there was a simple yet heartfelt pop song that took the world by storm.

DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE “The Sound of Settling” [2003]
We almost went with the most excellent “Cath…” but this infectious, joy-imbued, short and sweet nugget of ear candy from their breakthrough Transatlanticism album [Barsuk], was too hard to pass up. Just might be our fave song of the 2000s. Yes, we love it that much.

FREELANCE HELLRAISER "A Stroke of Genius" [2001]
Talk about the sum of its parts: never cared for either Christina Aguilera or The Strokes, but this mash up truly lives up to its title. Arguably, the standard bearer for mash-ups.

GRIZZLY BEAR “Two Weeks” [2009]
This time the Brooklyn “cool” kids were right. Oh, yeah.

GUIDED BY VOICES “Glad Girls” [2001]
Uncle Bob’s best-sounding/produced album, Isolation Drills [TVT]—recorded in NYC, btw—is the home of this shoulda-been-a-monster-hit.

INCUBUS “Megalomaniac” [2003]
Lumped together with the nu-metal mooks of the late ‘90s, these guys were always a lot more interesting than that mostly sorry bunch. This fiery bastard is proof.

INJECTED "Faithless" [2002]
This Atlanta quartet never got much love while in the spotlight but this tune is modern melodic hard rock—with a catchy chorus the size of a house—at its finest.

IRON & WINE
"Woman King" [2005]
Sam Beam is one of the most gifted songwriters today. (And a master at interpretation, as his gorgeous solo acoustic cover of The Postal Service’s “Such Great Heights” clearly demonstrates.) This one is but a highlight from his vastly impressive catalog.

JLS "Maco Jones" [2003]
A vicious slab of molten, in your face, slow-grinding metal, this is a track for the ages. 

NORAH JONES "Don't Know Why" [2002]
Only the most jaded among us—and we’re founders/card-carrying members of that club—could escape the intoxicating charms of this Jesse Harris-penned ballad.

LONGWAVE "Wake Me When It's Over" [2003]
One of the early ‘00s NYC outfits poised for fame, it never happened for these dudes. But this tune remains one of the finest recorded moments of that scene's brief heyday.

A PERFECT CIRCLE “Judith” [2000]
Few have perfected the metal-meets-
The Cure aesthetic like these guys. This track—with its David Fincher-directed video clip—is just...

QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE "The Lost Art of Keeping a Secret" [2000]
Whatever you do/don’t tell anyone.” Gotcha.

THE RACONTEURS “Steady as She Goes” [2006]
The Joe Jackson-indebted debut single from Jack White’s post-White Stripes outfit is a big fave ‘round these parts. "Find yourself a girl and settle down / live a simple life in a quiet town..." Rarely did straightforward advice sound so good.

DUNCAN SHEIK "White Limousine" [2006]
He’s a big deal on Broadway these days, and while his previous output never really did much for us, the title track from his 2003 album is simply a solid lesson in songwriting and arrangement in a pop music format. (Special props for the deft atmospheric/“color” guitarwork.)

SPOON “Don’t You Evah” [2007]
The Natural History were a talented NYC-based band from the first half of the '00s that never really took off, despite a solid EP and album on the hip, also NYC-based StarTime International label, and an even better self-released album. It is on the latter, People I Meet from 2007, that you'll find the original version of "Don't You Ever", which Spoon covered on their highly acclaimed record Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga  [Merge] that same year. Spoon's take is a little more polished and produced—and arguably the best track on their album—while the original has a lot of heart despite being about cold feet, heh heh. Great song in any version, regardless.

U2 "Beautiful Day" [2000]
In the midst of the avalanche of boy band/nu metal/prefab teen star nonsense that was the late ‘90s/early ‘00s, this one arrived like a truck of ice water in the desert, as the Irish legends reclaimed their place among the heathens.

WEEZER “Keep Fishin” [2002]
Three minutes and five seconds of pure ear-candy bliss, in the same vein as Cheap Trick’s Live At Budokan classic "I Want You To Want Me", plus the equally ebullient Marcos Siega directed clip: a faux Muppet Show episode featuring Kermit and the gang panicking over the disappearance of Weezer drummer Patrick Wilson (who’s been kidnapped by none other than Miss Piggy) moments before the band is due to perform. Awesome.

PHARRELL WILLIAMS “Happy” [2013]
The haters can knock it all they want, this one will always make us…well, you know.

ZWAN "Honestly" [2003]
Billy Corgan has written some great tunes and you may get to hear many of ‘em if you catch the latest of incarnation of Smashing Pumpkins on the road. Sadly, this gem won’t be one of ‘em.

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