I saw a Facebook friend share this Rolling Stone article and call the list what it is, rubbish. I was curious and took a peek for myself. I saw a mix of songs that I knew (and hated), I didn’t know (because I listen to classic rock all day), and some that I thought were good.
Oh how Rolling Stone has changed since the 70s. I can’t be surprised about that. Music has changed a lot over the decades. It used to be that rock, R&B, and soul were the most popular genres. Now the charts are dominated by rap and electronic music and I hardly ever hear a newer rock song on the radio.
Chart music is much more diverse now when it comes to gender and ethnicity, but the sound? I’m not so sure about that. I’ll turn on the radio and the DJ will say this is a new song, but it sounds like so many songs I’ve heard before. Mainstream music today is even more corporatised than ever before and doesn’t experiment as much anymore.
Record labels don’t take as many risks. They stick to what is safe. Back in the day, many musicians were working class, rags to riches stories. Now, I don’t really see that as much. So many musicians today are rather privileged. Simply put, today’s music largely bores me. Once in a while, I’ll hear something good, but it’s not mainstream and it certainly wouldn’t be on Rolling Stone‘s list.
This isn’t the first time I’ve been disappointed with a Rolling Stone top 100 [whatever] list and it won’t be the last time either.
Let’s unpack this list! We’ll be talking about the good, the bad, and the ugly in this list.
Of course, I want to start off with the positive. Scrolling through the list, it didn’t take me long to find a good song.
At #98, is “Archie, Marry Me” by Alvvays. I notice under its listing, it didn’t chart. Okay, you’ve proven me wrong, Rolling Stone, you’re actually putting some songs that aren’t mainstream. It’s a nice pop song, reminds me a bit of shoegaze.
After that, I saw two more good songs, “1901” by Phoenix and “Tighten Up” by The Black Keys. The former is one I really liked back in secondary school (had it on my iPod) and I like that band. I heard it a couple of times going to the bowling alley, but not often. The Black Keys are one of my favourite bands right now, so I’m glad to see them on the list.
At #93, there’s “I’m Not Okay, I Promise” by My Chemical Romance. I wasn’t an emo back in the day and didn’t listen to them much, but actually this is a good enough song. Maybe this list isn’t complete rubbish.
I stand corrected, there’s another indie song. At #92, “Stoned and Starving” by Parquet Courts. I’ve never heard this song before, but I like it. Reminds me a bit of late 70s punk. I get some Modern Lovers, Velvet Underground, and Ramones vibes from it. Cool.
You’re probably thinking this is written stream of consciousness like and you’re right. I’m basically live blogging this list. Rolling Stone, I was kind of wrong, there are more rock songs than I was expecting. At #89 is another song I don’t know, “Hate To Say I Told You So” by The Hives. This song came out in the year 2000, and it stands out in the sea of bubblegum pop that defined the era. I’ll save this on Spotify.
After that, is Vampire Weekend’s “Hannah Hunt”. Not my favourite Vampire Weekend song, but it’s not bad.
I really wish this song was higher up on the list, but I’m glad it made it, Daft Punk’s “One More Time”. They appear again not too long after. At #76, was the disco influenced “Get Lucky”, way too low on the list if you ask me.
It was nice to see Hamilton represented in here, but way too low. At only #85 was the memorable rap song “My Shot”. Hamilton is one of my favourite musicals and it gave a lot of people an appreciation for American history and it was a fresh approach to it.
Indie pop is more represented than I thought with The Shins’ “New Slang” at #82. It’s a lot softer than the music I usually listen to, but it’s good. It’s unfortunate that it didn’t chart, but the year it came out was 2001, we all know that bubblegum pop and boy bands reigned during that time. I wouldn’t compare it to “The Sound of Silence” though. No way.
Gotta love Snoop Dogg and at #79 is “Drop it Like it’s Hot”. I don’t feel guilty about liking this song. It’s a jam.
Right after that is the very different “Young Folks” by Peter, Bjorn, and John. I’m actually surprised it didn’t chart. I remember hearing that song a lot when it came out and hearing it brings back memories.
One quarter into the list and we have The New Pornographers’ “Letter From an Occupant”. It’s good. Again, not surprised it didn’t chart because it came out in 2000. I know of the band, but not this song.
After that is “House of Jealous Lovers” by The Rapture. It’s catchy enough, but I wish it wasn’t so much screaming. An instrumental of that would sound cool.
At #70 (way too low, imo) is Green Day’s “American Idiot”. It’s a classic and I remember hearing this song when it came out and watching the music video on MTV. I didn’t really get the meaning, but now I appreciate it and it’s timeless. The album of the same name is amazing too. I think the most BS thing about the list is why isn’t this song (and other good songs) higher up on the list? I miss songs like this!
#63 is very nostalgic, Fall Out Boy’s “Sugar, We’re Going Down”. I like this for nostalgic reasons, not so much because it’s musical genius (it isn’t really). I’ll take this over music today though.
I’ll admit I like Madonna, mostly her earlier work, but “Hung Up”, which is at #61 on the list is a pretty good song. Again, I love this song because of nostalgia and because it samples ABBA. Just after that is Haim’s “The Wire”. I’m still upset that they’re not higher on the list.
At #56 is Radiohead’s “Weird Fishes/Arpeggi”. I don’t listen to much Radiohead (or much music after the 70s, for that matter) but it’s good.
#53 is Grimes’ “Oblivion”. Not a bad song, this kind of electronic stuff is stuff that I like. Kind of reminds me of vaporwave and Tumblr (I remember when that website was fun, back in 2012-2013).
You might be surprised that I like #48, “Happy” by Pharrell, but yeah, it’s a nice upbeat pop song. Kind of the opposite of what my mood is, I’m more melancholic, but I appreciate this. Totally can see the Soul Train Gang dance to it. Love the gospel influences, and I’m an atheist.
Just after that is “Redbone” by Childish Gambino, which reminds me a lot of the album Maggot Brain. One of the better songs of 2016, a depressing year for classic rock fans.
At #44 is “Stan” by Eminem, a song that inspired the slang term for diehard fan that will defend their favourite celebrity and it tells a story. I like the sample of Dido’s “Thank You”, it’s nostalgic – my teacher would play that song a lot in grade 1. It’s one of his best songs and I like how the lyrics reference Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight”.
At #42 is MGMT’s “Electric Feel”, kind of reminds me of an early version of Pond/Tame Impala/Melody’s Echo Chamber sound. Love the combination of psychedelia and electronic music. Just looked it up now and they released a new album. I’ll have to check it out.
After that is Johnny Cash’s cover of Nine Inch Nails’ “Hurt”. A very interesting approach to the song. It’s sad he’s no longer with us.
Another throwback, at #34 is The Killers’ “Mr Brightside”. I’ll never not lipsync to this when it comes on the radio. Definitely one of the best mainstream songs of the 2000s.
At #31 is Arcade Fire’s “Wake Up”. Good song. I really need to listen to more of their stuff. It’s a pity it didn’t chart. Rolling Stone said that David Bowie liked the song a lot and even sang it with them, so yeah, that’s a good sign.
#30 is Bob Dylan’s “Mississippi”. Technically not really from this century because he wrote it in the late 90s, but the recording was made later on. It’s sad that his voice deteriorated so much, but I like Bob Dylan.
Three-quarters of the way into the list and we have the jam that is Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson’s “Uptown Funk”. Love this song. We need more modern disco songs. One question: Why just #25? I think this should be way higher.
After “Uptown Funk”, the list is on a roll, with Eminem’s “Lose Yourself”, Outkast’s “Ms Jackson”, Franz Ferdinand’s “Take Me Out”, and Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance”. At the time, I wasn’t a huge fan of Lady Gaga, but now I really like her. I loved her David Bowie tribute at the Grammys.
The next song is Amy Winehouse’s “Rehab”. I have so much to say about it. Amy Winehouse was one of the best musicians of this century and was so one-of-a-kind. Gone too soon. Not only was her music amazing, I relate to her so much. I’ve struggled with mental health issues. The year this song came out, I kind of went to a rehab place of sorts, for depression (not substance abuse, I never had issues with that). This song helped me get through things. I even looked a lot like Amy Winehouse, especially as a kid.
#18 is “Blackstar” by David Bowie. Best enjoyed when you watch the eerie music video, it’s nothing like what he did in the 70s and that’s a good thing. He evolved so much, a true artist. I’ll always prefer his 70s material, but this is a good song with multiple movements. We don’t get a lot of songs like this.
#14 is Britney Spears’ “Toxic”. I’ll admit it, I like Britney Spears, mostly her really early stuff because of nostalgia. This is a fun song.
At #10 is The Strokes’ “Last Nite”. I would have gone with a different Strokes song or added more of their songs to the list, but I can’t complain too much. This is a good song.
At #8 is “Rolling in the Deep” by Adele. Adele has an amazing voice and I really like this song. I probably would have picked “Chasing Pavements” instead of this one though.
At #4 is Outkast with “Hey Ya”. Pretty much everyone loves this song. It’s funky and great to play at a party.
At #3 is “Seven Nation Army” by The White Stripes. Memorable riff. Good song, ’nuff said.
#2 is “Paper Planes” by M.I.A. I’d prefer this to be over what Rolling Stone picked as #1, but I wouldn’t say this is the second best song from this century, although it’s a good song. I love how this song samples The Clash’s “Straight to Hell”. It’s catchy and everyone loves the sound effects. I used to just know this song as the “All I wanna do is gunshot gunshot cash register noise” song.
The Bad… or just ‘meh’ at best
There are lots of okay songs on this list. I admit in the intro I’m being a bit negative, but hey, it’s not a great list overall. These songs range from okay to bad.
A bunch of songs I remember from my childhood are on there, like Kylie Minogue’s “Can’t Get You Out of My Head”, “1 Thing” by Amerie, “We Belong Together” by Mariah Carey, “Hollaback Girl” by Gwen Stefani, “What You Know” by T.I., . I thought those songs were good when I was a kid, but with time, my music taste changed. Not going to diss these songs entirely, but I’m not going to say they’re genius.
At #83 is “Lost Cause” by Beck. It’s okay, not bad considering the 2000s isn’t my favourite decade of music, but the song bores me a little.
#77 was “Losing My Edge” by LCD Soundsystem, I don’t really think much of it.
Admittedly, I’m not a big country music fan (unless it’s country rock, I like that) songs like Miranda Lambert’s “The House That Built Me”, Eric Church’s “Springsteen”, aren’t the best additions, but not the worst either.
At #57 is “Do You Realise” by the Flaming Lips. It’s not bad, but also kinda bores me.
#54 “Portions for Foxes” by Rilo Kiley is not bad, but not something I’ll listen to again.
#52 “Chandelier” by Sia is okay. Not the worst recent chart song, but not something I’d listen to. She’s got a good voice, I’ll give her credit there.
At #43, “Cranes in the Sky” by Solange is the first okay song of the second half of the list. It’s not my taste, but not bad either. She’s talented.
#39 is “No One Knows” by Queens of the Stone Age. It’s okay.
A lot of people I know like Leonard Cohen, I never really listened to him much. His song “You Want it Darker” is ranked at #37. It’s good, but kind of bores me.
The next song on the list is quite different, “Gold Digger” by Kanye West feat. Jamie Foxx. It’s nostalgic, I liked this song when I was younger and didn’t understand what it meant. I like that it samples Jamie Foxx’s version of Ray Charles’ “I’ve Got a Woman”. The Ray biopic is excellent by the way. Wouldn’t say this is one of my favourites on the list, but not one of my least favourites either. If you want a real throwback, listen to Cab Calloway’s “Minnie the Moocher”, the original “Gold Digger.”
Coming up is a really unpopular opinion, I don’t like Lana Del Rey. I find her music bland, not horrible, just really bland. Her song “Blue Jeans” is ranked at #35. It’s not special to me. I love Lana Del Rey’s aesthetic though.
Two-thirds of the way in and we have “Idioteque” by Radiohead. It’s not bad.
At #29 is Taylor Swift’s “All Too Well”. I’m not a fan of her, but this song is a lot better than her recent more poppy work. I like her better when she’s doing more acoustic music. She is talented, I’ll say that much.
After that is Rihanna and Jay-Z’s “Umbrella. It’s not a bad song, but not a great song either. Very overplayed.
#27 is “B.O.B.” by Outkast. Not my favourite Outkast song. They can rap really fast. Wow! I’ll say this is on the good side of okay.
#16 is LCD Soundsystem’s “All My Friends”. It’s okay. On the good side of okay. The instrumental is too repetitive for my taste.
#13 is Kendrick Lamar’s “Alright”. The music video is really good and the song has a good message. His music isn’t my taste, but I can see why he’s influential.
#11 is Kelly Clarkson’s “Since U Been Gone”. Overplayed, very okay. I’ll take Rainbow’s (totally unrelated) “Since You Been Gone” instead.
#9 is Lorde’s “Royals”. It’s a very okay, bland song. She is talented though.
#7 is “Runaway” by Kanye West feat. Pusha T. It’s okay. I think Kanye West is talented, but his music isn’t my taste.
#6 is The Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ “Maps”. Not a bad song, just not one I’d play a lot.
#5 is Jay Z’s “99 Problems”. Not horrible, not great either. Then again, I’m not a big fan of rap.
This list started off with “Gasolina” by Daddy Yankee, not a good tone, but at least it’s at the bottom of the list (ranking wise, not how it shows up on the page). I absolutely hate reggaeton. There’s nothing reggae about it. There aren’t many genres I absolutely hate, but reggaeton is one of those rare ones I can’t find anything redeeming about. It gives me a headache.
A little scroll later, and I see another Daddy Yankee song, “Despacito”. The lyrics of this song are so cringeworthy, that I wish I didn’t know Spanish. I won’t bother translating it because I really don’t feel like it. Run the lyrics through Google Translate and you’ll see what I mean. It’s funny when people sing it with very heavy anglo accents.
At #72 we have “Bad and Boujee” by Migos feat. Lil Uzi Vert. Not my taste, I’ll just leave it at that. Never understood trap music and never will. It gives me a headache. How was that a chart-topper?
Just after that is Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe”. At first I liked the song. It came out back when I was living in Toronto. One of those things that was cool when it was our thing in Canada, but when that song took off, it was too much!
At #69 is Frank Ocean’s “Thinking ‘Bout You”. Rolling Stone called this R&B, which to me sounds like an insult to R&B. This reminds me nothing of the music of Motown and Stax.
At #66 is Nicki Minaj’s “Beez in the Trap”. The only thing I find redeeming about this is Nicki’s makeup is gorgeous in the video, but that has nothing to do with the song. Right after that is Rihanna and Calvin Harris’ “We Found Love”. I didn’t know that song was that old, 2011? I thought it was more recent. I guess living in the past music wise makes me lose track of time, that or a lot of music really sounds similar now.
I see some Kanye West and Kendrick Lamar songs on the list like “Jesus Walks”, “N****s in Paris”, and “DNA”. Not my taste.
At #62 is “Teenage Dream” by Katy Perry. Never understood how she got famous. She can’t sing. Can I have T. Rex’s “Teenage Dream” instead? “Whatever happened to the teenage dream?” 🎶
Cardi B is really popular and her song “Bodak Yellow” is at #59. I really don’t get how it’s higher than Haim, Green Day, and Phoenix. Seriously? This gives me a headache.
At #55 is “212” by Azealia Banks. Bleh, don’t like it. She’s homophobic and makes bad music.
We’re finally halfway through this list and we have “Single Ladies” by Beyonce, the first of a bunch of her songs on the list. I’m not a fan of Beyonce. I find this song annoying and Beyonce just overrated and overhyped generally. I’m happy being married, thanks. I would never want to be single again. So far, the halfway mark is a mixed bag. Some good songs, more than I was expecting, but lots of meh or bad songs.
The first song on the second half of the list is “The Scientist” by Coldplay. It’s boring. I’m not a fan of Coldplay. Next! The song after that, “Sign of the Times” by Harry Styles, doesn’t sound that different to me. Rolling Stone claims it sounds like Queen and Bowie, nah. Gimme Prince’s “Sign ☮️ the Times” instead. Never understood the hype behind Harry Styles or One Direction.
At #46 is Justin Timberlake’s “Cry Me A River”. Never really liked this song that much. I liked him better with NSYNC.
Another Justin is just after that, this time from America’s friendly neighbour to the north, Justin Bieber with “Sorry”. Annoying song and there are way too many songs that sound like it. How has Justin Bieber remained relevant for almost a decade?
At #40 is U2’s “Beautiful Day”. I really don’t like U2. I find them boring. Their early post punk songs like “I Will Follow” are actually pretty cool, reminding me a little bit of Joy Division, but I really don’t like Bono’s voice. I’m also still not over U2 giving out their album for free on iTunes. I panicked when I saw it because I thought someone in my family spent money on it (even though no one in my family likes U2).
Another Beyonce song, “Formation” is at #38. The beat gives me a headache. I can relate to the hot sauce in my bag lyric. I always gotta have hot sauce on everything.
At #32 is 50 Cent’s “In Da Club”. It’s nostalgic, but not something good. Skip it.
#26 is “Hotline Bling” by Drake. Overplayed, boring. I’ll take Life of Boris’ Slavline Blin instead.
The long streak of good songs ended at #19 with Robyn’s “Dancing On My Own”. It gives me a headache.
At #17 is Missy Elliott’s “Work It”. Very repetitive, boring, and annoying. Another one of her songs, “Get Ur Freak On” is ranked at #12. Again, similar complaints.
At #15 is Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy” – overplayed, that’s all.
And the top song is Beyonce and Jay Z’s “Crazy in Love”. It’s not so much the song I’m going to be complaining about. It’s not horrible, but I really don’t think this is the best song of the century so far.
This list was not as bad as I was expecting it to be, but still not great. I can make a better list and I will make one as my next post. More songs than I were expecting I thought were good, but they were still not the majority of the list, even then, I’d probably not pick many of them for my list. Still, listening to this list was good because I felt like my mind opened up to some songs I didn’t think to listen to. A lot of my issues with this list were a lot of songs were overrated, and some songs were underrated (as far as their ranking).
My list will be a “what I’ve been listening to recently” playlist of sorts. I’ve been expanding my horizons and listening to some newer stuff and it will be fun to make a different playlist from what I usually do. I also want to use this as an opportunity to share music that isn’t mainstream. Of course my list will have a few mainstream songs, but I want to include some up and coming acts.
I don’t expect Rolling Stone to make good lists. They’ve let me down too many times in the past (their top guitarists list was a disappointment, for sure). I really wish they’d talk more about under-appreciated gems, but we all know they won’t do that. I think the great thing about the internet is that we can respond, share views, disagree on things, and more people have a voice.
What do you think of this list? What songs do you think deserve to be there? What songs are your favourites of the decade? Have your say in the comments section below! 😃
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