If there’s one thing that Pitchfork’s P2K: The Top 500 Songs of the 2000s made me realise, it’s that 10 years is actually quite a long time – getting on for half my current lifespan, in fact. Nothing re-enforced this fact like catching Elliot Smith‘s ‘Everything Reminds Me Of Her’ nestled at #364 and realising, yes, he was still alive at the beginning of the decade – and, had I had prodigiously good taste for a 14 year old, I might have been able to see him live (oh, who am I kidding). The decade also encompasses the whole life-span of some of our most popular bands. Remember when Coldplay weren’t a stadium-filling, award-winning behemoth? ‘Yellow’ is there at #263 to remind you of the days when they were just four nice students with a good debut album. The list is also a timely reminder of how musical tastes come and go – remember More Fire Crew? No? Not even that “Oi! Who’s that More Fire Crew?!” song? Regardless, it’s there at #483, three places above that thinnest of excuses for Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s solo career, Spiller’s ‘Groovejet (If This Ain’t Love)’. A decade later, among various other tracks from the current year, cuts from The Big Pink (#500), Kid Cudi (#475), and Animal Collective (‘My Girls’ reaches the lofty heights of #9), show how times have changed.
Like any such list, there’s bound to be decisions that inspire incredulous reactions, and they’ll no doubt be different for each reader. For me, it often comes down to the songs chosen to represent certain artists. ‘The Magic Position’ (#427) for Patrick Wolf? Arguably his greatest ‘pop moment’, yes, but I wouldn’t say it’s his best tune overall. ‘Alice Practice’ (#471) to represent Crystal Castles? Its shouty abrasiveness is only one side of their 8-bit equation – and I’d argue that the more ‘considered’ side has produced far better songs (‘Untrust Us’ and ‘Vanished’ to name but two). ‘Golden Skans’ (#419) for Klaxons? It’s probably their most popular tune, but that doesn’t necessarily make it their strongest. Another amusing quirk of the list is its often very specific nature. Simian Mobile Disco’s ‘It’s The Beat’ makes an appearance at #414 – but make sure it’s the 12″ version! Similarly, ‘Mundian To Bach Ké’ by Punjabi MC appears at #190 largely on the basis that Jay-Z did a remix of sorts with him rapping over it.
However, no matter how much you agree or disagree with it, it’s important to remember that such a list can never hope to be truly definitive. Indeed, to me there’s a sense that the order isn’t necessarily important, particularly in the lower parts of the list. Someone could have picked these songs, shoved them all in iTunes and put in on shuffle to generate the order and we’d almost be none the wiser. Still, it makes for interesting discussion – you can pick any two or three songs (at random or otherwise) and start an interesting debate. For example: When it comes to Yeah Yeah Yeahs songs, is ‘Y Control’ really superior to ‘Cheated Hearts’? Should Britney Spears’ ‘Toxic’ really be sandwiched between The Flaming Lips’ ‘Do You Realize??’ and Interpol’s ‘NYC’? Is ‘Some Girls’ by Rachel Stevens actually better than all of the 242 songs that precede it in the list? These and thousands more questions present themselves, and that’s arguably the point of lists like these – to be a talking point.
One final thing to note is that, while there’s plenty of good stuff in the top 20, the actual number 1 song itself seems like a resolutely ‘Pitchfork’ selection. If I told you that an Outkast song was number one, you’d probably guess it was ‘Hey Ya’ or ‘Ms. Jackson’. But while ‘Hey Ya’ makes it to #12, the top song is, in fact ‘B.O.B.’ – a song that, like me, you may even have forgotten existed. Now, having given it a spin again it would be foolish to deny that it’s a good song – but would I pick it over… well, most of the other songs in the top 10? I doubt it. But then, that’s just another thing to discuss, isn’t it?