I know it’s January 4, and I should have pounded out this list back on December 21 or so, but what’re you going to do?
Given that the 2000’s were a decade of rap, hip hop and beat-driven pop, my favourites don’t really reflect popular taste. As usual, female singer-songwriters feature prominently.
I assembled this list by skimming through the top-rated songs in my iTunes library. Links go to YouTube (some ‘videos’ are decidedly unofficial) or elsewhere on the web where you can hear the song. In chronological order, then:
- “Ghostworld” – Aimee Mann (2000) – A paean to wasted teenage summers. I wrote about it back in 2003.
- “Lodestar” – Sarah Harmer (2000) – The prettiest coda in my music library, with lyrics lifted from a D. H. Lawrence poem.
- “Wichita Lineman” – Cassandra Wilson (2002) – A cover of an old Jimmy Webb song. Ms. Wilson specializes in great, barely recognizable covers. I saw her play at the Chan Centre about five years ago. I’ve never seen more proficient musicians, or a more natural singer on-stage.
- “Hockey Skates” – Kathleen Edwards (2003) – There are great turns of phrase in Ms. Edwards’ lyrics. She sings about a bar so familiar that “I don’t have to order anymore”. In the chorus, she’s just “tired of playing defense, and I don’t even own hockey skates”.
- “Your Ex-Lover Is Dead” – Stars (2004) – Just a terrific song, with a sprawling sound that feels distinctly Canadian.
- “Ring Them Bells” – Sufjan Stevens (2007) – A cover of a Bob Dylan tune for the biopic I’m Not There. It’s full of Biblical allusions, so it’s appropriate that Stevens, an overt if seemingly troubled Christian, covers it. Another sprawling, rich orchestration, full of tempo changes and, to my untrained ear, about fifteen instruments.
- “Adventures In Solitude” – The New Pornographers (2007) – Last year I said it was “a gorgeous, surreal ballad by The New Pornographers. The song creeps along at first, all piano and mandolin, with A.C. Newman on lead vocals. At about the halfway point, the pace picks up. And thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the incomparable Neko Case, her voice sweet as Saturday morning sex. She sings poetry that seems both nonsensical and poignant.”
- “Night Windows” – Weakerthans (2007) – There are a bunch of clever, straight ahead rock songs from the Weakerthans that I could put on this list. My gateway song for them was the awesome “Plea From a Cat Named Virtute” (never has a song channeled a cat’s psyche so well), but it’s this song that stuck with me. I learned to play the guitar parts, and the section under the verse is almost the exact reverse of the Beatles’ “Blackbird”.
- “Get Better” – Mates of State (2008) – Their songs sound messy and anthemic at the same time, and the chorus of this song is terrific: “Everything’s gonna get lighter, even if it never gets better”.
- “People Got a Lotta Nerve” – Neko Case (2009) – One of a number of great songs off Ms. Case’s Middle Cyclone. A twangy ditty about Orcas and elephants. The video is delightful.
The eight songs that didn’t make my top ten list are, in no particular order:
- “Come Pick Me Up” – Ryan Adams
- “Factory” – Melissa McClelland
- “Samson” – Regina Spektor
- “1234” – Feist
- “Glass, Concrete & Stone” – David Byrne
- “Tripper Trouble” – dj BC
- “Oxford Comma” – Vampire Weekend
- “The Slide” – Cowboy Junkies
What was your favourite song of the 2000’s?