Pitchfork’s 20 Greatest Songs Of The ’00s (And 15 Greatest Songs Of 2009 So Far)

As you may have noticed, Pitchfork launched their P2K: The Decade In Music feature this week, opening the gate with The Top 500 Tracks Of The 2000s. Before you complain the decade isn’t done just yet, the folks at Pitchfork note “[I]n early 2010, if you aren’t sick to death of reading 10 million lists about the decade and the current year, come back and we’ll have added an addendum with a few of our favorite songs from the next few months.” No worries, we’ll never be sick of lists. As far as this one, the choices are simply listed for 500 to 201; you start getting those “short critical” blurbs at 200. (And if you pull the list’s top 15 tracks from this year — there are only 15 songs from 2009 in the entire 500 — you have at least a partial a preview of P4K’s Top 20 songs of 2009 for their impending year-end list … so far. Which we’ve done for you, of course.) Before we get into the choices, the entire thing also offers an interesting subtext to what’s happened to music in the last decade.

As Pitchfork notes, this massive roundup — which will also include three other lists, four essays, and a timeline — is “about what you’d get from a print magazine, but it’s free and you won’t throw it out the next time you move.” This is true. This is also why there are much fewer magazines now than when the site launched in 1995. Another reason: You can stream (and download for a small price) the majority of the songs, something you can’t do with an issue of Rolling Stone or SPIN. Instant gratification is a large (large) part of what’s made on-line publications more appealing to people than the paper kind. That, and as a reader, you’re allowed to voice your opinion to perfect strangers. Clearly.

Which brings us to the artists and songs represents on this Top 500. Chances are you’ve glanced at some of it. Chances are you’ve been overwhelmed by it. At the very least, it serves as a good reminder (in outline form) of what you might’ve been listening to in 2001: I, for one, pulled Unwound’s Leaves Turn Inside You from the shelf. (Same goes for Wolf Eyes’ more recently released Human Animal.) On a larger and purely objective scale, if you pay close attention, it offers a fun chance to unpack patterns and tendencies from a time we’ve all lived through (and listened to). There’s a lot of Belle & Sebastian. Radiohead beats out Coldplay 4-2. Kanye West, Animal Collective, Missy Elliott, OutKast, and Jay-Z clearly ruled the decade. (And the inclusion of Animal Collective in that lineup’s fascinating beyond a so and so is > than so and so thing.) Or, you’ll find great unspoken moments like Bat For Lashes’ “Daniel” at 206 and Lily Allen’s “Smile” at 205 or Dirty Projectors’ “Stillness Is The Move” at 115 and Aaliyah’s “We Need a Resolution” at 111. Seeing Elliott Smith a few spots from Pains Of Being Pure to make you realize 10 years is a longtime. Seeing “Hollaback Girl” at 180 and “Skinny Love” at 179 makes me think your record collection is more varied than your parent’s record collection. “Young Folks” only made it to 84. It’s a secret history for music nerds.

On a more subjective scale, there’s a lot I find confusing. As I’m sure you will, too. I like the surprises that show up in the dregs of the list — Comets On Fire, Lightning Bolt, Earth, Jesu. The problem here — and this happens often with these sorts of lists — as you get closer to the top 50, things get more conservative and predictable (unless they get unpredictable in a very predictable way, natch). Which is where we find this top 20. It’s ushered in by Kelly Clarkson’s “Since U Been Gone,” which just misses out at 21. Oh, about that predictable unpredictability? The top track’s by a group you might expect at the top spot but via a different song. I’ve already said too much. Now it’s up to you:

Pitchfork’s 20 Greatest Songs Of The ’00s
20 The Walkman – “The Rat” (2004)
19 R. Kelly – “Ignition (Remix)”? (2002)
18 Hercules and Love Affair – “Blind” (2008)
17 Annie -“Heartbeat” (2004)
16 The Rapture – “House of Jealous Lovers” (2002)
15 The Knife – “Heartbeats” (2002)
14 Jay-Z – “99 Problems” (2003)
13 LCD Soundsystem – “Losing My Edge” (2002)
12 OutKast – “Hey Ya!” (2003)
11 Gnarls Barkley – “Crazy” (2005)
10 Arcade Fire – “Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)” (2004)
09 Animal Collective – “My Girls” (2009)
08 Radiohead – “Idioteque” (2000)
07 Missy Elliott – “Get Ur Freak On” (2001)
06 Yeah Yeah Yeahs – “Maps” (2003)
05 Daft Punk – “One More Time” (2000)
04 Beyoncé [ft. Jay-Z] – “Crazy in Love” (2003)
03 M.I.A. (Feat. Bun B and Rich Boy) – “Paper Planes (Diplo Remix)” (2007)
02 LCD Soundsystem – “All My Friends” (2007)
01 OutKast – “B.O.B.” (2000)

As far as this next one goes, “My Girls” cracked the Top 500’s Top 10. You have to go all the way to #115 to find the second song on the list (i.e. It’ll take one hell of a track to beat out AC for 2009’s top spot). All but the Top 3 are situated beyond the 200 mark.

Pitchfork’s Top 15 Songs Of 2009 … So Far
15 The Big Pink – “Velvet”
14 Woods- “Rain On”
13 St. Vincent – “The Strangers”
12 Kid Cudi vs. Crookers – “Day ‘N Night (Remix)”
11 The Walkmen – “In the New Year”
10 The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – “Young Adult Friction”
09 Camera Obscura – “French Navy”
08 Japandroids – “Young Hearts Spark Fire”
07 Antony and the Johnsons – “Aeon”
06 Grizzly Bear – “While You Wait for the Others”
05 Phoenix – “1901”
04 Bat for Lashes – “Daniel”
03 Grizzly Bear – “Two Weeks”
02 Dirty Projectors – “Stillness Is The Move”
01 Animal Collective – “My Girls

You can dig into the list and find additional patterns at P4K.