Welcome back to the Top 100 Songs Since 1999. I’ve already presented the description and criteria as well as #100-71 and #70-41, and boy were they stupendous. As the list winds down towards the bottom (or top) of the barrel, the songs will become more meaningful and important, and less of the catchy tunes that are frequent in the before lists. Enjoy.
Of any band I’ve encountered, The Flaming Lips are probably the weirdest, taking into account their music and reputation. Hell, the band started with lead singer Wayne Coyne stealing instruments from a local band and starting his own. “She Don’t Use Jelly” is a bizarre as hell song, with lyrics that confuse and delight at the same time. The sound of the song is even weirder, using some type of sound device on the guitars that I can’t even understand. Think it’s weird? Well, you haven’t seen the music video. Have you seen “White Room” by Cream? If you have (it’s an acid trip on screen), picture that mixed with a whole bunch of orange hair, balloons, and a girl in a tub bathing in tangerines. Yeah.
She'll make ya breakfast
She'll make ya toast
She don't use butter
She don't use cheese
She don't use jelly
Or any of these
She uses Vaseline
The biggest group of nerds this side of Chronoville, The Shins pumps out great song after great song with every album they produce. This song, “Phantom Limb”, is (obviously) one of their best. The Shins are one of the best bands I’ve ever heard, modern, classic or classical. Their light, but beautiful and passionate play has a similar effect on the mind as would an Ibuprofen or an Aspirin. Their lyrics might not make too much sense, but the “oooooooohs” are good enough for me.
The shortest song on the list, TPC clocks in at #38 with their biggest/only hit to date, “Nature Of The Experiment”. One of the weirder songs I have here, it may sound kind of dumb at first. However, once I got warmed up to it, I started to like it more and more, especially when I began to understand the lyrics. The “nature of the experiment” refers to chasing women as the primary function of men’s lives. The song argues that it isn’t money, family, nature, or adventure that drives us, but sex. Sex and reproduction. Hm…sure makes life seem wholesome, doesn’t it?
We've got our tracks covered
Thanks to your older brother
It's not the moonlight that sets me off
It's not the money that makes me scoff
It's my impeccable disorder
Where I keep on falling for her
Now who doesn’t love The Killers? Their magical, transcendent style of play doesn’t fail to mesmerize. In “Under The Gun” (a B-side from an early single), The Killers bring more emotion into the singing than in previous songs, and show a little bit of punk to go with the alternative for once. Singer Brandon Flowers pictures the destructive power women have on the male mind, which is something I think a lot of us can relate to. In fact, when I’m feeling either angry or depressed, I often find the driving lines “Kill me now, kill me now, kill me now, kill me now” running through my head.
Because heaven sends and heaven takes
Crashing cars in his brain
Keep him tied to a dream
And only she can set him free
And then he says to me
Kill me now, kill me now, kill me now, kill me now
Kill me now, kill me now, kill me now, kill me now
In my opinion, this is easily one of the most touching songs you’ll find on this list. Of course, it’s also the only cover song I have here. Originally written by Eric Bogle, an Irish folk singer, the Dropkick Murphys took this song and Americanized it. The Dropkick Murphys, usually a hard rocking Irish-style band, slows it way down for “The Green Fields Of France”. The song is about a 19 year old soldier, dead from a world war passed long ago, whose grave is wandered upon by a nameless man. This man sits down and wonders about the life of this boy, whether or not he had loved, what his future would have been, and the vain death that he suffered in the name of his country. A soft, touching story indeed, this song is one of my favorites of all time.
And I can't help but wonder oh Willy McBride
Do all those who lie here know why they died
Did you really believe them when they told you the cause
Did you really believe that this war would end wars
Well the suffering, the sorrow, the glory, the shame
The killing and dying it was all done in vain
Oh Willy McBride it all happened again
And again, and again, and again, and again
Johnossi is a small, 2 man band from Stockholm with a great original sound. Their best song to date, “Man Must Dance”, is both peppy in sound and depressing in lyric. John and Ossi’s acoustic guitar and drum tandem creates a light ambiance, but the song itself criticizes the animal-like behavior of humans, making sure we know that we’re simply evolved apes. Even the music they themselves make doesn’t escape criticism, critiquing artistic endeavors as a disguise hiding our predominant primeval instincts.
You, and you, and you and you
You're just a animal developed into
You, and you, and you and you
A monkey needs to dance so do you
This hard-rockin’, AC/DC-riffing band has one dynamic that the original Aussie rockers didn’t have: the power of the slow song. While Jet thrives on party hardy songs like “Cold Hard B*tch” (see #75) and “Are You Gonna Be My Girl?”, this one brings the tempo down about 100 notches. Calm and soothing at some points, and eerie and creepy at others, this song is a perfect example of contrast, and the video helps that along.
Oh, look what you've done
You've made a fool of everyone
Yes, amidst all of these slow jams, it’s nice to have a hard rocker included as well. System Of A Down falls into a category too dark to be considered standard rock, too soft to be metal, and too not-depressed to be emo. While System Of A Down is oft criticized by modern music fans, I have no beef with them. They sing well, they play well, and they regularly touch on real-life issues, like in “Hypnotize”. The song, while a brief 3 minutes, talks about propaganda and shallow trendsetting issued by the media.
Why don't you ask the kids at Tiananmen Square
Was fashion the reason why they were there?
They disguise it, hypnotize it
Television made you buy it
Well, back to soft music again. Keane, whom I’ve dubbed as the British Coldplay, is a better version than their American counterpart in my opinion. They have more skill musically and rely on more than the lead singer’s voice to prosper. With an excellent job by the piano and drums, “Somewhere Only We Know” uses flowing, rhyming lyrics that can get in your head like none other. However, I consider this a good thing, this being the 32rd best song since 1999.
British Sea Power is an international rock/indie band whose goal is to find musical peace between European nations that all can listen to and enjoy (or so they say). Anyway, gotta love bands that let you download their Myspace songs for free, because that’s how I found “Atom”. “Atom” sucks you in and entertains you with a multitude of guitars for the duration of the 4 minute, 40 second song.
--- We’ve got 70 songs done, with 30 to go. It’s time to up the ante a little bit with the quality of the songs. To me, this is a defining point on the list. Everything after this is music that I truly consider “great.” Alright, break over. Continuing on… ---
The tremendous bass drum explosion that kicks off “Welcome Home” just screams “epic.” With the only concept album series known to rock, Coheed and Cambria pump out the best track in a huge series in “Welcome Home”. The story (The Amory Wars) is written from the point of the view of the writer himself, and he changes the events of the story in accordance to his current mood. At the time of this song, the writer is reflecting on a past love that turned sour. He envisions when he became violent towards his then-girlfriend. With great drums, guitar, and vocals, this one was a hard one to push back to 30. Just beware of lead singer Claudio Sanchez’s girlishly high voice.
Enter emo (after 71 songs). Emo music, as we all know, is often whiney, high pitched teenagers complaining about the state of their lives. Enter Saves The Day. Saves The Day (or STD as I like to call them) represents what emo should be. Basically, it’s emo – if emo had kicked the whiney singers out the door along with the bands’ suicidal image and replaced them with real musicians. “At Your Funeral” displays the best of the best in the emotional music world (yes, that’s what emo stands for). Not to mention the fact that Saves The Day is regarded as one of the top live bands around today.
And at your funeral
I will sing the requiem
I'd offer you my hand
it would hurt to much to watch you die
Simply put, songwriter Conor Obest is a god. Essentially, he’s a poet who happens to play music as well. His dark folk playing style has earned him the status of elite in the indie world, and he dishes out great music off an assembly line that seems to never stop. “Easy/Lucky/Free” is about the depressing and fragile state of the current world, and people’s futile ways of coping with it. This, like “The Green Fields Of France”, is one of my favorite songs of all time.
But don't you weep (don't you weep for them)
Don't you weep (don't you weep)
There is nothing as lucky
Honey, don't you weep (don't you weep for them)
Don't you weep (don't you weep)
There is nothing as lucky, as easy, or free
This is probably the coolest video featured on the list, so I’d recommend watching it. As for the song, its meaning has remained somewhat of a mystery, although there are rumors that it concerns a conversation that the lead singer had with a fellow inmate while he was serving a jail sentence, which would make sense judging by the lyrics. However, as in every song, the interpretation of the lyrics is up to the reader. No matter what the meaning, this song is one of Dashboard’s best.
I have no crime to keep a secret
It was hers, it was not mine
Well I may be a sinner,
But it wasn't me this time
If someone asked me about the scariest band I know, you would not hear Slayer, nor would you names like White Zombie or Cannibal Corpse. No, I would instead tell you about The Mars Volta. A leader, along with Muse and Coheed and Cambria, in the new prog movement, “The Widow” (and The Mars Volta for that matter) sounds like a living nightmare. The most cryptic lyrics I’ve ever seen combined with the multitude of Mexican instruments and the singer’s wailing…I don’t know. I find it hard to describe them. Just watch the video and see for yourself.
He’s got fasting black lungs
Made of clove splintered shards
A typical Beck song, “Lose Cause” is slow, methodic, and almost put me to sleep when I was searching for a video (in a good way). Really, I don’t think it’s possible to dislike Beck. I’m pretty sure it’s a sin as decreed by the pope or something. Anyway, “Lose Cause” is about leaving a girl who plays a little too hard to get (a.k.a. – she’s toying with you). Beck really settles down into the calm on this song, so make sure you’re awake before listening.
Hey, it’s Flea! Oh…and those other guys, too. Right. The Red Hot Chili Peppers are back to make a 2nd and final appearance on this list with “Can’t Stop”. Unlike “Californication”, however, this song relies solely on RHCP’s musical skill, ignoring those pesky meaningful lyrics. Back to their normal bass-slapping, reggae form, the band contributes some of its best work, even if their lyrics are similar to a 3rd grader’s English class poem. And yes, you are going to have to watch more of Anthony Kiedis’ seizure-dancing.
It’s more of those Zeppelin-like Sabbath imitators (not that that’s a bad thing). Wolfmother delivers “Joker And The Thief” as one of the best songs on their debut album, Wolfmother. Andrew Stockdale’s voice sounds a little bland in all of his songs, but ‘s a wonderful bland, and that’s what makes them who they are. He does a stellar job on the guitar, as well as a great job by Miles Heskett on the drums and Chris Ross on keyboards/bass. Wolfmother spends a lot of time hanging out with the crew from “Jackass”, which leads me to believe that they’re life spans will probably be around 30-35 years, if not less. Hopefully, that will be enough time for them to dish out some more albums, so we can have more of them to listen to. And hey, who doesn’t like a little Jimi Hendrix reference with the “joker and the thief?”
Can you see the joker flying over
As she's standing in a field of clover
Watching out everyday
I wonder what would happen if he took her away
(Thud) And there it is. “How To Save A Life” at number 21. Shocked? Dismayed? Pleasantly surprised? Either way, this should draw some comments. But don’t fret, my readers. I don’t justify The Fray as a good band. I listened to their album How To Save A Life and was shocked by their remarkable ability to make each of their songs sound the same. However, the big corporation hit a rare jackpot with “How To Save A Life,” which is ritually bashed by music purists for that very reason. Personally, I think the so-called music experts out there need to pull their heads out of their indie-loving butts for 4 and a half minutes and hear the damn song in front of them instead of the band behind it. “How To Save A Life” is the emotionally touching story of one of the deepest issues of today’s society. Sure, it’s set up like a radio song, and it certainly plays like one, but I stand firm in my decision. My only regret is that I didn’t let it break the top 20. Note: In the video, I find it hilarious how dramatic the guitarist is while playing likely the simplest guitar part in the history of music.
Lay down a list of what is wrong
The things you've told him all along
And pray to God he hears you
And pray to God he hears you
This is a classic and one of the most easily recognizable tracks in the world today. It also has likely the best replay value of any song I’ve ever heard before. Over the course of my life, I’m sure I’ve heard this song well over 50 times, and I still enjoy it as if it were brand new. I really can’t think of any other songs that I can say the same for. “Island In The Sun’s” reggae/punk sound is about as original as it is addictive.
When you’re on a golden sea
You don’t need no memory
Just a place to call your own
As we drift into the zone
The Strokes are one of the most interesting sounding bands out there today. Their singer, Julian Casablancas, almost sounds like he’s singing through an artificial voice box, which stands out most evidently. “Reptilia” is the showcase of The Strokes at their best. Moretti on drums, Casablancas on vocals, Hammond and Valensi on guitar, Fraiture on bass. None of their other songs quite compare to this one. The guitar riff is amazing, while the bass provides a glorious undertone. The most climatic part of the song is the pre-chorus, where all instruments come in one and a time and provide layering that is amazing. (NOTE: DJ wrote this description, or at least most of it, so I have him to thank.)
Tell us a story
I know you're not boring
They’re baaaaack. The White Stripes, with Icky Thump, produce their best album since Elephant. The best track on this album? Why, it’s “Icky Thump” of course. The ever-eccentric Jack White is hard not to get into. “Icky Thump” does what its name suggests; it thumps. With this pulsating beat in the background of the verses, the song seems to tell the story of one crazy as hell trip to Mexico. The video that goes with it is also highly acclaimed. And heck, White manages to throw in some criticism towards white America as well.
White Americans, what?
Nothing better to do?
Why don't you kick yourself out?
You're an immigrant too
“The Future Belongs to Radiohead” headlines a recent issue of Rolling Stone Magazine. “The top album of 2007” exclaims iTunes, referring to their newest release, In Rainbows. “You Choose” sits in place of the price tag of Radiohead’s internet download of In Rainbows up until January 1st. With such smashing reviews, it would seem that the future may truly lie in the hands of Radiohead, and this may not be a bad thing. “Jigsaw Falling Into Place,” the first single off of In Rainbows, is as eerie and chilling as any from this modern day Pink Floyd. The song chronicles the night of a girl who slips steadily into a drunken, drugged up stupor. Unfortunately for her, this is just what the man next to her was waiting for. What happens next? Duh.
Before you run away from me
Before you're lost between the notes
The beat goes round and round
The beat goes round and round
I never really got there
I just pretended that I had
O.A.R. (or Of A Revolution) is a bass/sax heavy indiggae band (Yes, that’s still a made up word). Taking over colleges around the country, this band’s calling card has been this epic 10 minute song throughout the course of its lifespan. The Springteen-esque storytelling pattern tells the tale of one wild string of poker games that turns out to be quite an adventure. Sometimes stretching into the 20 minute mark when playing it live, O.A.R. turns out the longest song on this list by a margin of 5 minutes and 28 seconds. Oh, and lyrics are probably going to be needed here to understand it.
Disappointed by seeing “How To Save A Life” at 21? Perhaps this will lighten your spirits. “100 Years” is essentially “How To Save A Life” (piano rock) heightened to a whole new level. Featuring one of the greatest compliments of piano, lyrics, and vocals in the history of rock, John Ondrasik delivers the most beautiful and touching song on this exhausting list. Now that’s saying something, as those were some of the foremost components that the list was based off of. Using remarkable piano crescendos that make you want to jump up and sing along and then sit back down moments later in embarrassment, Five For Fighting creates a very vivid image of life condensed. The oooos delivered at 3:11 are incredibly chilling.
15 there's still time for you
22 I feel her too
33 you're on your way
Every day's a new day
Congratulations. You have made it to the last song that didn’t get considered for the coveted Top 10. Lead singer Chris Walla writes some of the best lyrics in modern music. I would call them a cross between olden bands like Floyd and The Doors with new generation indie experimentation. I promise you won’t be blinded by any insane guitar riffs, blown away by keyboard solos, or taken aback by loud, screaming vocals. You will, however, probably feel a little more comfortable in your own seat and a little more relaxed after hearing the meditative sound of “I Will Follow You Into The Dark”. And I gotta say, it takes a lot of balls to go where the character in this song does.
If heaven and hell decide that they both are satisfied
Illuminate the no’s on their vacancy signs
If there's no one beside you when your soul embarks
Then I'll follow you into the dark
For the second time, it’s quite possibly the weirdest band on the face of the earth: The Flaming Lips. At this point, I’m pretty sure that Wayne Coyne is a psycho who just happened to be odd in exactly the right way as to appeal to the masses. This song is just as odd as “She Don’t Use Jelly”, except that it has a real meaning to it. While cheerful in sound, this song is anything but. Listen to the lyrics, and you’ll notice how dark (but true) it is. In a nutshell, we’re all going to die and our lives mean nothing in the universe. :-)
We all listen to music to feel or to think something, and we generally judge music depending on how well they do that. When you find yourself able to identify with a song in every nook, corner, and cranny, that’s when you elevate it onto a pedestal. “Caleb” is that to me. This song has everything…literally. Not only does it feature some of the best lyrics, but the drummer and guitarists do an incredible job in this power metal epic. Not only that, but Sonata Arctica has one of the most powerful singers in the world (which makes them pretty beast when they play live). The song tells the tale of the life of a boy/man who was abused by his father and unwanted by the world. It’s his loving mother, though, becomes his eventual downfall. The storytelling pattern, the spoken intro, the drumming, the epic crescendos, and the guitar solo all make this one of the best songs made since 1999.
...and dried up flowers are so beautiful
And applies to all things living and dead
For that I serve my time in my suite in Hell!
Band Of Horses is finally getting the credit they deserve around the indie world. Their trance-like, meditative substance is something to behold as you drift off into daydream-land in the backseat of the Volvo on Route 66. Cease To Begin, BoH’s new album, has received rave reviews, but in my own opinion, I think “The Funeral” (Everything All The Time) is easily the best song to come out of the indie world that is Band Of Horses. This particular song can have a plethora of interpretations, which I believe is overall goal and effect of Band Of Horses’ music.
At every occasion I'll be ready for a funeral
What better way to end the non-Top 10 with a little Dragonforce? Yes? No? Deal with it. Whether you love it or hate it, the power metal sensation that’s sweeping the nation, Dragonforce, has single handedly taken over Nerd World with “Through The Fire And Flames”. Hell, if you don’t find that driving machine gun-fire drumming, lightning fast double guitar solos, and the lead singer doing everything in his power to just keep up with the band awesome, then you need to sit down, my friend, because you clearly cannot enjoy the fun side of music (run-on sentence?). Even if you don’t take them seriously, DF is a force to be respected in the modern world of speed metal. Sure, the lyrics are so phenomenally corny they would make King Arthur vomit, but who cares? It’s effing Dragonforce, man! (Note: I just hope I never have to see them play live. They are a mess.)
On the blackest plains in Hell's domain, we watch them as they go,
Through fire and pain, and once again we know...
And there you have it. The Top 100 Songs Since 1999, numbers 40-11. The next issue (#s 10-1) will be coming in two days. Here’s an instant recap of #s 100-71 for the many of you who did not read the above:
40. The Flaming Lips – She Don’t Use Jelly
39. The Shins – Phantom Limb
38. Tokyo Police Club – Nature Of The Experiment
37. The Killers – Under The Gun
36. Dropkick Murphys – The Green Fields Of France
35. Johnossi – Man Must Dance
34. Jet – Look What You’ve Done
33. System Of A Down - Hypnotize
32. Keane – Somewhere Only We Know
31. British Sea Power - Atom
30. Coheed and Cambria – Welcome Home
29. Saves The Day – At Your Funeral
28. Bright Eyes – Easy/Lucky/Free
27. Dashboard Confessional – Thick As Thieves
26. The Mars Volta – The Widow
25. Beck – Lost Cause
24. Red Hot Chili Peppers – Can’t Stop
23. Wolfmother – Joker And The Thief
22. The Fray – How To Save A Life
21. Weezer – Island In The Sun
20. The Strokes – Reptilia
19. The White Stripes – Icky Thump
18. Radiohead – Jigsaw Falling Into Place
17. O.A.R. – That Was A Crazy Game Of Poker
16. Five For Fighting – 100 Years
15. Death Cab For Cutie – I Will Follow You Into The Dark
14. The Flaming Lips – Do You Realize?
13. Sonata Arctica - Caleb
12. Band Of Horses – The Funeral
11. Dragonforce – Through The Fire And Flames
See you on Wednesday for the Top 10! Whoo!