Charting the Top Country Songs of 2021
Hard to believe we’re in our second decade of the 2000s. So far, there have been some great movies (“Almost Famous”), memorable TV shows (“Mad Men”) and, last but not least, extraordinary music – lots of it, which brings us to our list of the best pop songs of the 2000s. Whether you first heard these tracks on your gen one iPod or from a sick, basement mix tape, there’s been a wealth of awesome music in the 21st century. Here are 12 of the best!
- "Get the Party Started" by P!nk (2001)
P!nk’s smash from her 2001 debut album Missundaztood paved the way for her energetic, cool-fem vibe that guides her voice today. In addition to being a hit in the States (it rose all the way to #4) "Get the Party Started" also shook up the international charts, grabbing the number one position in Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, Romania, and Spain. With it, P!nk cemented her foothold as one of the best female acts of the 2000s.
Aside from her fun-filled danceable songs, there’s also her serious side heard on tracks such as “F**kin’ Perfect.” If you’re looking for subtext and wishy-washy lyrics, look elsewhere. Pretty, pretty please, don't you ever, ever feel/Like you're less than fuckin' perfect. A great lesson for the world’s youth struggling with life.
- “Rolling in the Deep” by Adele (2010)
It's amazing that Adele was a mere 21 years old when she laid down her sultry vocal to “Rolling in the Deep” off the album named, what else, “21.” From there, it didn’t take long for Adele to attract a wide growing audience. There were plenty of fans to go around; those seeking depth and substance to, say, the naughty and frivolous appeal of Katy Perry.
Adele’s soul-touching lyrics make you stop and listen: See how I'll leave with every piece of you/Don't underestimate the things that I will do/There's a fire starting in my heart/Reaching a fever pitch and it's bringing me out the dark. Adele, busier than ever, has tour dates set for the remainder of 2022 and beyond. If you’ve never experienced her explosive voice live, do yourself a favor and go.
- “Oops!.. I Did It Again” by Britney Spears (2000)
Unfortunately, we couldn’t include (arguably) Brit’s best song; the schoolgirl, pony-tailed teen mantra “… Baby One More Time,” for the simple reason it dropped in 1998 - disqualifying it from our best pop songs of the 2000s. Lucky for us, though, many B.S. songs to follow kept her star-driven momentum alive; none more so than “Oops! … I Did It Again,” a poppy punch from her sophomore collections of the same title.
Hindsight is everything as we see where Britney sadly sunk to – then, like any strong, beautiful human, she rallied to save her life and career. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why we love her.
- "One More Time" by Daft Punk (2001)
The key ingredient of EDM is its liberal approach to lyrical repetition. The party anthem “One More Time” blasts this theory in bunches. Check out the words to this thumping groove: One more time, we're gonna celebrate/Oh yeah, alright, don't stop the dancing/One more time, we're gonna celebrate/Oh yeah, alright, don't stop the dancing.
The dance ditty, featured on their 2001album, Discovery, sampled licks from the 1979 disco offering, “More Spell on You” by Eddie Johns. Daft Punk had a short stay in the limelight – but, lucky for us, we’re left with one of the most memorable (and singable) songs on the list.
- "Hey Ya!" by OutKast (2003)
This song from ATLiens, replete with a wild and whimsical video, finds itself on every dance floor from weddings to Bar Mitzvahs. The funky beat is hypnotic, and the lyrics are super silly. Hey ya! (Uh oh) Hey ya! (Uh oh)/Don't want to meet your daddy/Hey ya! (Uh oh)/Just want you in my Caddy (Uh oh).
The Atlanta-based duo of Big Boi and Andre 3000, not surprisingly, hit number one with “Hey Ya!” — which followed up their previous smash “Ms. Jackson,” another sing-along pop urban song for the ages. Count them in, for sure, as one of the best party bands of the 2000s.
- "Drop It Like It's Hot" by Snoop Dogg (feat. Pharrell Williams) (2004)
Long before Pharrell hit the international, big-time stage with “Happy,” he partnered with Snoop Dogg lending his voice to "Drop It Like It's Hot," a bouncy, fun hip “pop” track from Snoops’ R&G (Rhythm & Gangsta): The Masterpiece. No one seemed to care that the phrase, “Drop it Like It’s Hot” wasn’t created by Snoop. Truth is, the term was already on the streets.
The lyrics keep it real with lines such as When the pimp's in the crib ma/Drop it like it's hot/Drop it like it's hot/Drop it like it's hot. With its head-bobbing rhythm, this extra-chill track easily finds its way onto our list of best pop songs of the 2000s; if for no other reason than Snoop Dogg, hip-hop’s modern-day ambassador, had to represent.
What Are the Best Ballads of the 2000s?
Ohhh, those weepy, sappy love songs; meant to torture the lonely and seduce the romantics. Regardless of the genre -- rock, country, classical, opera, or even bluegrass (sure, why not) -- there are no shortage of love songs.
The soft stuff is well represented in the 2000s. According to Spotify, here are the top songs answering the question, what are the best ballads of the 2000s?
- “Make You Feel My Love” by Adele
- “Don’t Know Why” by Norah Jones
- “Teardrops On My Guitar” (Radio Single Remix) by Taylor Swift
- “A Moment Like This” by Kelly Clarkson
- “Bleeding Love” by Leona Lewis
- “This I Promise You” by NSYNC
- “You And Me” by Lifehouse
- “Stickwitu” by The Pussycat Dolls
- “She Will Be Loved” (Radio Mix) by Maroon 5
- “All of Nothing” by O-Town
You can’t go wrong with any of the above songs – each with its own sweet, unique flavor and place among the best ballads of the 2000s. Here are some other tracks all deserving of being called the best pop songs of the 2000s
- “Pumped Up Kicks” by Foster the People (2010)
It seems that Foster the People’s peppy “Pumped Up Kicks” slipped through every possible crack of censorship – given its harmful and controversial lyrics. It’s one of those “if you blink you miss it” situations; a song so catchy and infectious we gave it a hall pass despite its message of a psycho gun owner who dares his “targets” to be faster than my bullet. Yes, how did we miss that?
The silver lining is that Mark Foster, the song’s writer and band’s front man, said he “regretted” the song – especially now, in America’s unpredictable, wild west climate. Yet, even with all the negativity surrounding it, "Pumped Up Kicks" received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance. But for many, they have been known to fall into the best of the one hit wonders of the 2000s.
- “Into You” by Ariana Grande (2016)
Ariana Grande’s resume flashes a plethora of good songs, no question about it. That said, “Into You,” her top release from Dangerous Woman is an exception – it is a terrific one. With its harmonious beats and tender lyrics, paired with pounding drums and hard-tingling synth sounds, Ms. Grande’s serious pipes create a marriage of voice and song selection. This could have easily made our list of the best ballads of the 2000s. For good measure, we’ll call it a Runner Up.
Even though Ariana put her heart and soul into its production, the song was never able to crack the top 10 of Billboard’s Hot 100. But fear not: with an enviable stockpile of youth, looks, and talent, it’s only a matter of time until she matches (and surpasses) the splendor of this track. It’s no wonder Ariana squarely makes the cut as one of the best female acts of the 2000s.
Who was better, Backstreet Boys or *NSYNC?
It’s the question on all our minds, isn’t it? We’re locked in on this boy band pop war, if you will, and we need an answer pronto: Who was better, Backstreet Boys or *NSYNC?
The truth is, even though art is subjective, when it comes to the BSB v *NSYNC rivalry, whether you’re a passive fan or downright fanatic (on either side) it’s nearly impossible for Backstreet Boys to win this argument. If we’re only talking best party bands of the 2000s, both lit up the dance floor -- so we’re going to have to call that category a push.
According to Billboard pop editor Ern Stecker, “Backstreet Boys may have given us a deeper discography with eight studio albums but *NSYNC skipped the churn and cut three well-crafted albums full of "pop perfection."
Then there’s this lambasting from ranker.com (Warning: BSB fans might want to turn away).
*NSYNC had just as many hits in the top ten as BSB but with far fewer albums.
Backstreet Boys isn’t spelled with an obnoxious asterisk (*) – advantage goes to BSB.
*NSYNC created three albums with heart and meaning – while BSB opted for less depth.
Backstreet Boys could never create a superstar on par with Justin Timberlake
And finally, according to many critics, Backstreet Boys come off as far too generic.
Okay – so now that that’s (sort of) solved, let’s return to our countdown of the best pop songs of the 2000s. Here, things transition to a more serious nature.
- “I Took a Pill In Ibiza” by Mike Posner and Seeb (2015)
What’s great about tracks such as “I Took a Pill in Ibiza,” featured on the album, At Night, Alone, is its mystery – and the fact we have to figure out what trippy topic the artist is talking about.
Mike Posner’s drug-infested song is both sad and vague; what is “the pill?” He can’t hide behind the house tech drum track or island-sounding keyboards. The lyrics are too harsh: You don't wanna be high like me/Never really knowing why like me/You don't ever wanna step off that roller coaster and be all alone/You don't wanna ride the bus like this.
Ironically, with the help of some EDM machinery (i.e., drumkit and keyboards) the song became a dancefloor favorite which all but resurrected Posner’s creative position. As for what the pill actually is? The artist’s eventual confession proved it was a dose of MDMA, better known as ecstasy.
- “I Can’t Feel My Face” by The Weeknd (2015)
In keeping with the dark, head-scratching, seemingly unsolvable lyrics (see the above example), sometimes we hear an absurd line and think, “What the heck is this song about?” Under those parameters, “I Can’t Feel My Face” from the album Beauty Behind the Madness, wins the perplexing jackpot for The Weeknd.
To solve the lryic: I can't feel my face when I'm with you/But I love it, but I love it, best to go to some folks in the know. According to thelist.com, the track has much to do with a destructive relationship and sinking into the abyss with drugs to cure one’s heart.
The tip-off is the word “numb” which opens the speculation that the drug is cocaine. The Weeknd (whose real name is Abel Makkonen Tesfaye) found a clever way to incorporate painful words into a popular EDM track where the message gets buried on the dancefloor.
- “Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen (2011)
And now for something lighter. There are catchy tunes out there – and then there’s “Call Me Maybe,” a song so fun and radio ready, even folks who dislike it can’t turn it off. The selling point of the song is its fantastic girl-centric theme: here, a woman is in the position of power.
Along with Jepsen’s inspired vocal performance, the song has serious legs; getting mega airplay since its release in 2011. Still, the magic of the song is its fem point of view. I wasn't looking for this/But now you're in my way. In other words; she’s not going to sweat this dude’s “pending call” because, at the end of the day, it doesn’t mean a damn. Maybe he’ll call. Maybe he won’t. Either way, she’s going to be just fine.
- "Umbrella" by Rihanna (feat. Jay-Z) (2007)
Rhianna’s introduction to the pop world came fast and furious with her 2006 singles “Pon de Replay” and “If It's Lovin' That You Want.” Great songs for sure, but her follow up, “Umbrella,” a mere one year later, put her on the Billboard’s “Best Of” map for quite a while.
With the soulful smoothness of Jay-Z, Rhianna belted out this endearing song of empowerment, i.e., all about the need to support your mate in a relationship. The lyrics are inspirational to anyone who wants their partnership to last (forever): When the sun shines, we'll shine together/Told you I'll be here forever/Said I'll always be your friend/Took an oath, I'ma stick it out 'til the end.
The lyrically strong track found its way to number one on the U.K. singles chart (for 10 weeks) as well as the top spot of the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 for seven consecutive weeks. Thanks to Rhianna, we can all finally look forward to a rainy day.
With Rhianna, along with Snoop Dogg and The Weeknd, we’ve witnessed those who press the pedal of longevity. Not everyone has that level of staying power. Let’s now take a peek at those with a much (much) shorter shelf life:
The Best One Hit Wonders of the 2000s
The success of some artists isn’t meant to last forever. For many, fame is only a short ride to the bank and back. That said, the fade away part of their careers has no bearing on the talent these folks displayed at their pinnacle.
At the end of the day, someone with one hit is far better than a cynic with none. According to spinditty.com, these are the best one hit wonders of the 2000s. Remember these brief yet awesome acts?
- Los Lonely Boys ("Heaven")
- The Ataris ("The Boys of Summer")
- Fountains of Wayne ("Stacy's Mom")
- Snow Patrol ("Chasing Cars")
- La Roux ("Bulletproof")
- Gnarls Barkley (“Crazy”)
- Howie Day (“Collide”)
- James Blunt ("You're Beautiful")
- Crazy Town (“Butterfly”)
- Blu Cantrell ("Hit 'Em Up Style (Oops!”)
The artists above, from one hit wonders to the mainstays of pop radio, have given us a bastion of the best pop songs of the 2000s. With eight more decades to go there is still a ton of music being created ready to bounce off our speakers.
The magnificent list of songs, both happy and sad, dramatic and tragic, fun and devastating, are a crucial part of our fabric. And with a mere 12 songs mentioned, we’ve only scratched the surface of all the great music to come.