By now, you’ll have read Pitchfork’s list of the top 500 songs of the decade in their P2K feature. You’ve probably even downloaded the torrent with all 500 songs zipped. And then you’ve complained about what’s missing or things that are ranked too highly.
I’m not going to attack the list here. You’ll find countless other blogs have done that. What I am going to do is list my top fifteen pop songs of the decade (2000-2009), complete with videos. These are out and out pop tunes, none of this commercial cross-over and R&B stuff, so don’t expect Rihanna’ ‘Umbrella’ or any Beyonce or Justin Timberlake solo/featuring stuff on here. And please oh please, comment and tell me what I left out.
15. Miley Cyrus – ‘The Climb’ (2009)
Fifteenth was a tough choice, as I wanted to include one of those US teens who go down so well over there. JoJo’s ‘Too Little, Too Late’ is one of the best of these tween hits, but with ‘The Climb’, Miley Cyrus has moved out of her dad’s shadow, and it shows she could well be an artist in her own right.
14. Leona Lewis – ‘Bleeding Love’ (2008)
Alexandra Burke’s win last year on the X Factor has somewhat tarnished the show. Although it’s not everyone’s favourite, the winners of these talent shows are always very talented. No-one ever doubts whether they can sing, just whether they’re a natural performer. ‘Bleeding Love’ was the song with which Leona left the “X Factor winner” tag behind, and moved on to be a superstar up there with Beyonce. Oh, and I could only get a live version of the video – blame Simon Cowell.
13. Katy Perry – ‘I Kissed A Girl’ (2008)
This was the song that really launched Katy Perry into the mainstream, and although ‘Waking Up In Vegas’ may be technically a better tune, this song is far more important. It’s straight-up pop with some semi-controversial lyrics, but in this day and age where every soap seems to have some girl-on-girl action (even Fair City), the controversy come second to the tune. And what a tune.
12. Jewel – ‘Standing Still’ (2001)
Jewel’s ‘Intuition’ was her only 00s UK number one, but in all honesty that’s a terrible song. ‘Standing Still’, which hit number four, is a million times better. She’s since moved in a much more country direction, but this song is unashamedly pop. Bet you can’t help yourself from singing along. I couldn’t find the proper video for this one, but this live version is fantastic.
11. Vanessa Carlton – ‘A Thousand Miles’ (2002)
Vanessa Carlton has long since disappeared, but she could have had a career as good as Norah Jones. This song is a splendid piano ballad, with a video up there with U2′s ‘Sweetest Thing’, except there’s no elephants and no apologies in this one. The record company won’t allow embedding, so here’s another live video.
10. Natasha Bedingfield – ‘Unwritten’ (2005)
Natasha’s brother got into the charts first with his DJ tune ‘Gotta Get Thru This’, and then moved up a division with ‘You’re Not The One’, but Natasha is in a whole different league with ‘These Words’ and the stunning ‘Unwritten’. Credible artists are jealous of this song, and unlike most of the pop tunes out there, this is actually written by the artist themselves. It also reached the top ten in the US, and was even covered on American Idol.
9. Alphabeat – ‘Fascination’ (2006)
‘Fascination’ is one of those songs that once you hear it, will be stuck in your head all day. Irish people know nothing about pop music, as it only reached number 23 over here when released two years later than Scandanavia. Also, Irish people buy a lot of dance and R&B rubbish, so I never bother with our own chart. In the UK, on the other hand, it was in the top 100 for six months. Not bad. Say the word.
8. ‘N Sync – ‘Gone’ (2001)
Justin Timberlake was always good. You just never realised it. At the time us over here just saw him as Britney’s fella, he was making fine pop tunes with ‘N Sync, of which this was the finest. If you ever get a chance to hear the John Mayer tribute, I’d highly recommend it. Every heartbroken lover can relate to this fantastic song.
7. Gwen Stefani – ‘What You Waiting For?’ (2004)
Okay okay, Gwen’s band No Doubt weren’t pop-pop, but her solo career definitely veered that way. Apart from the bizarre references to Harajuku girls (where did that come from), this was an amazing pop song with an even more amazing video. If only Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland project is as good.
6. t.A.T.u. – ‘All The Things She Said’ (2002)
Katy Perry wasn’t the first, at the turn of the century we had these faux-lesbians from Russia. Their secret men and children may have since been revealed, but this song still holds up. The video was banned all over the place, and the Eurovision viewers feared for the worst, but God could these fakes make good music. Kind of like Milli Vanilli.
5. Carrie Underwood – ‘All-American Girl’ (2007)
‘All-American Girl’ was a single from American Idol winner Carrie Underwood, and one of the first songs that showed she could write as well as sing. She co-wrote the song along with veteran tunesmiths Ashley Gorley and Kelley Lovelace. I considered ‘Before He Cheats’ for this spot also, but as Carrie has a writing credit on this one, it has the edge. Plus it’s a glorious story of song. More pop songs should tell stories.
4. Amy Diamond – ‘Don’t Cry Your Heart Out’ (2006)
Of all the people on here, Amy Diamond is probably the one you haven’t heard of. She’s also the youngest act on here, making pop songs women twice her age wish they could do. Amy is from Sweden, which is the home of brilliant pop. She’s like a one woman Abba when it comes to singing saccharine sweet ballads. As she’s not well known outside her home country, I couldn’t locate a proper video for this song. Also, I was disappointed that ‘Hello’ was never released as a single, because that truly is one of the songs of the decade – pop or not.
3. Will Young – ‘Leave Right Now’ (2003)
Will Young is the perfect example of why talent shows are actually good for the entertainment industry. Big Brother has absolutely no use, but Pop Idol, X Factor and the like are valuable resources. If it wasn’t for shows like this, Will Young might never have made it, and his outstanding voice would never have been showcased on the big stage. This song is writtern by veteran songwriter Eg White, and is probably his masterpiece. It’s Will’s finest hour too.
2. Take That – ‘Patience’ (2006)
This decade saw a lot of comebacks. Some were succesful: Blur, The Verve, The Specials. Some were not: East 17, All Saints, Spice Girls. However, none was more succesful than Take That’s reunion. They came back not just for the money, but to make genuinely good music. Such as ‘Rule the World’, ‘Shine’, ‘Greatest Day’, and this phenomenal pop song ‘Patience’. Oh, and it was number 1 in more than a dozen countries, but only made number 2 here. For shame.
1. Kelly Clarkson – ‘Since U Been Gone’ (2005)
‘Since U Been Gone’ is the decade in pop’s finest hour. Kelly Clarkson was the first winner of American Idol, and no talent show has gotten off to such a good start. Anyone remember Steve Brookstein? Everyone will remember this song, even decades from now. It was an instant classic, and has spawned hundreds of covers from artists of every genre. Check out Ted Leo’s cover or even Kerri Hilson’s. The original is still the best though.