How do you correctly define a Top 10 list with a literally infinite amount of songs to choose from? The answer: You don’t. It’s impossible. There I said it; kind of kills the momentum of the list, doesn’t it? Just as the rest of the list is obviously biased, so will this finale be even more so. As a matter of fact, I used a different format for the Top 10. I made absolutely no attempt at objectivity. Instead, this is closer to a “Cardsox’s Top Ten” and not a “Top Ten Songs Since 1999.”
You see, no ordered list of 10 great modern songs will please anyone. For one, they’ve had no time to ferment and snowball into legends like the great classic rock songs have. Every song is basically on an even playing field, which makes the process all the more difficult. Therefore, I had to come up with an alternate way to come up with a Top 10. In order to do this, I didn’t have any magical formula or theory. I simply sat down, looked at the songs I had selected for my Top 100, and decided that if I couldn’t please everybody else, I would at least please myself.
And so, after much shuffling, deliberation, second-guessing, and triple-guessing, I’ve come up with this list. It won’t be perfect (Hell, I know you won’t agree with it), but you have to keep in mind that everyone’s Top 10 would be different.
So now, without further ado, I present to you the Top 10 Greatest Songs Made Since 1999…
Interpol is a very curious band that I haven’t delved too far into yet. They have a prevalent bass line to offset the usual guitar dominance in rock. At first listen, Interpol sounds rather droll, but I’ve come to really appreciate them. “The Heinrich Maneuver” particularly astounds me with its subtle perfectionism. Its name comes from an early 20th century music theorist, Heinrich Schenker. Schenker theorized about details and layers in certain pieces of music.
Taking this to heart, Interpol created “The Heinrich Maneuver”. In the course of a 3:20 song, they manage to subtly introduce a ton of different elements into the song without the listener even noticing. It literally took me about 15 times of listening to it to finally catch this aspect. It’s like when you hear an instrument playing somewhere, and one by one another joins in, and another and another, until you have a full orchestra performance. The music video enhances this even more, as it encompasses the very same layer technique as the song itself.
Schenker would be proud.
Let it come
Well I've got a chance for a sweet saint life
I said I've got a dance, it moves into the night
Well I've got a plan, look forward in my eyes
Well today my heart swings
This is a freaking awesome song. Muse at their very best, this song epitomizes the essence of Muse: rebellion and revolution. The driving riffs provide some of the best psyche-up music today, providing that all the knobs on the radio are turned to the right. The combination of the guitar and drums in the intro give the impression of an unstoppable force moving forward at 100 mph. Two minutes later, singer Matthew Bellamy enters the mix with hauntingly high vocals, inviting you on a journey through the sands of time to show you how history repeats itself over and over. At 3:20, an epic (almost) acapella verse from Bellamy begins. As he calls for the people to stand up against oppression and throw off their chains, the buildup slowly picks up speed until another driving guitar solo begins. After one more call for uprising, the closing riffs come into play for the final minute of the song.
One fact about this song: I have listened to it in my car more than any other song, and have never been able to restrain myself from speeding wildly beyond control. Something about this track will kill me someday. Anyway, the video for this is definitely what you could call “out there.” It’s somewhat of a mixture between a sci-fi, an old country western, a classic romance, and Rocky. I’d give it a watch.
Come ride with me
Through the veins of history
I'll show you a god who
Falls asleep on the job
And how can we win
When fools can be kings
Don't waste your time
Or time will waste you
This is an absolute gem from one of (if not the most) prolific and creative indie bands in the world. Isaac Brock, the writer and singer, is in my opinion one of the top tier songwriters around. “The World At Large” is about the simple life and mind of a drifter who spends his life wandering the earth and searching for happiness. Of course, the character never finds true happiness, and continues his vagabond ways to no avail.
What’s incredible about this song is its simplistic brilliance. Virtually the entire song is sung in the same repeating note pattern by Brock, but it never gets old. The instrumentals could be played by a team of 5 year olds, but still achieve a great rhythmic value. I really can say nothing bad about this priceless gift to the human race from the one and only Modest Mouse.
I know that starting over is not what life's all about
But my thoughts were so loud, I couldn't hear my mouth
My thoughts were so loud, I couldn't hear my mouth
My thoughts were so loud
Meg & Dia bring to life the terrors of rape, the ensuing pregnancy, and the moral and emotional confrontations that take place within a woman afterwards. Written from the perspective of both the conceived child and the victimized woman, this song visualizes a nightmare that sadly often occurs in modern society. Girl gets raped, child is created, and not only is the girl scarred for life, but her child will forever be “that child” or “her secret.” It shows how one disgusting criminal act leads to the destruction of so many lives.
The instrumentals on this track are strong and reflect the urgent tone of the lyrics. Just a 2:20 song, it repeatedly goes from hard and fast to calm and controlled. This is one where you can just feel the emotion pouring out of Dia’s voice when she sings, which essentially is what makes the song more so than any other factor.
That night he caged her
Bruised and broke her
He struggled closer
Then he stole her
Violet wrists and then her ankles
Then he slowly saw their nightmares were his dreams
Acceptance is the only band in the Top 10 that is now defunct, and it was a shame to see them go. They had a ton of potential that they never did fulfill. They did, however, produce “Different”. This song doesn’t have dazzling lyrics or stunning instrumentals or complex time signatures. It’s more of a personal choice by me to plug this up at #6, because this song strikes a chord with me (Get it?).
Essentially, this is just a love song about changing yourself for your significant other and risking everything for them. Call me a sap, but I love it. I don’t find it as corny and cheesy as a lot of love songs are; I find it much more real. Call me ignorant and stupid, but I think this song deserves to be called the 6th best song made since 1999.
I wanted to see…something that's different
Something you said would change in me
Wanted to be…anything different
Everything you would change in me
The Killers’ music sounds something like what Jesus would listen to as he was taken into heaven. Now, by no means am I comparing The Killers with God. I am just saying that the two have very striking similarities that could often be mistaken for one another. See? Huge difference. Anyway, “Read My Mind” is the best song on the best album (Sam’s Town) by The Killers.
The Killers, similar to bands like Modest Mouse and Radiohead, have a startling lack of usage from guitars and drums. However, they manage to create the desired effects with small details, cymbal crashes, and humming guitars. This is especially evident in “Read My Mind”, with the instrumentals doing a spectacular job. Singer Brandon Flowers has his usual great vocals going, with the song telling the story of a man with a mind full of, well, everything.
The good old days, the honest man,
The restless heart, the Promised Land,
A subtle kiss that no one sees,
A broken wrist and a big trapeze
Dashboard Confessional lives, thrives, and dies on lead singer Chris Carrabba. His lyrics and passionate vocals have caught the attention of millions of fans around the world, making Dashboard Confessional one of the top acts in the music scene of today. “Vindicated” has some odd lyrics, as can be seen below. Apparently, the character acknowledges their fallacies, but indignantly proclaims his dominance. I think if we recognize it, we’ve all had moments like this. As a whole, hope and motivation are the prevalent themes in this song. Carrabba’s voice is astounding in that he can go from yelling to softly singing within the course of less than a quarter note, as he displays multiple times in this song.
“Vindicated” is actually a soundtrack song from one of the Spiderman movies (although it was also released on the album Dusk and Summer). Which Spiderman? I don’t care. It’s not really important. The point is that this is a great song, and it sits here, 3 slots from the top.
I am selfish
I am wrong
I am right
I swear I'm right
Swear I knew it all along
And I am flawed, but I am cleaning up so well
I am seeing in me now the things you swore you saw yourself
Meet the average Joes that became gods of the indie world. Yes, those horrendously ugly people are the band members. The Shins have a meditative quality to them that no other band I know of has equaled. Not Radiohead, not The Killers, not Iron & Wine, nobody. The Shins are epochs ahead of them in that category. “New Slang” flows beautifully from start to finish, incorporating enough smooth, blending sounds to melt all your cares away while you listen. The lyrics are cryptic, but who cares? You shouldn’t. If you’re listening to The Shins, you’re not there to learn a lesson in politics, you’re there to relax.
As a side thought, an ironic coincidence can be found by checking a certain Nomarfan's Top 100 Since 1999 list, where you may find “New Slang” as the Number 1 song. In no way did his list influence this pick. In fact, back in the day, when he sent me an initial fanmail about his developing list, I thought to myself that “New Slang” could be #1, but kept it to myself. I suppose that should stand as a testament to the influence and greatness of this song, but I’ll leave that up to the reader.
New slang when you notice the stripes, the dirt in your fries
Hope it's right when you die, old and bony
Dawn breaks like a bull through the hall,
Never should have called
But my head's to the wall and I'm lonely
Meet the great (or terrible, depending on your view) Say Anything. Say Anything is definitely a love ‘em/hate ‘em band, as you’ll find out if you listen to the song. Basically, they sing about sex. Period. That’s 99% of what their songs are about. However, the ones that don’t stand out to me as Say Anything fulfilling their true potential. When that happens, you get songs like “Admit It!!!”. Lead singer Max Bemis (if you can call him a singer) basically speaks/shouts his lyrics into the microphone, especially for this song.
This song makes a powerful satirical statement on the modern art/fashion gurus who, instead of patronizing the arts, patronize others instead. Beware those who don’t have an advanced vocabulary. You’re going to have a hell of a time understanding this. I find particular enjoyment in having stupid people try to decipher this song and watching them stare, drooling, in utter confusion at the screen in front of them. Well, good luck.
Despite your pseudo-bohemian appearance and vaguely leftist doctrine of beliefs, you know NOTHING about art or sex that you couldn't read in any trendy New York underground fashion magazine...Proto-typical non-conformist! You are a vacuous soldier of the thrift store Gestapo. You adhere to a set of standards and tastes that appear to be determined by an unseen panel of hipster judges - BULLSIHT! - giving your thumbs up and thumbs down to incoming and outgoing trends and styles of music and art.
Just one more song to go! What did I dare name as The Greatest Song Made Since 1999?
What can I say about Bright Eyes? Tons, actually. Conor Oberst, the lead singer, is most likely the greatest songwriter of our generation. He’s often compared to a certain Bob Dylan, and I agree wholeheartedly. Hell, I can make a strong case that Conor Oberst is ahead of Dylan in ability. For example, both are folk rock singers. Both are great songwriters. Both excel far beyond others in deep philosophical and political statements and ideals. However, Oberst is everything that Dylan lacks. Not only does he write, but he can sing (well) and play guitar (well). I don’t know if I would say Oberst is better, but I absolutely think that he’s at least as good.
“Four Winds” epitomizes the dark excellence of his best writing. I’m very sorry to end this merry Top 100 list with the apocalyptic foreshadowing of “Four Winds”, but the end of the world is an impending issue that we have to deal with today (one that we like to ignore). Bright Eyes’ lyrics in “Four Winds” are jam-packed with hidden meanings, historical and religions references, and apocalyptic undertones. Essentially, this is a cry to the world to realize that at the rate we’re going, the end will be nigh, and using theological ideals to deny this isn’t going to stop it. To analyze this song would be impractical, though. I’d have to do it elaborately, line by line, which I know you’re not prepared to read. Therefore, I’ll leave it at this: This song is the best example of the positive in modern music today. (And the video is good, too. Check it out.)
But when Great Satan's gone... the Wh0re of Babylon...
She just can't sustain the pressure where it's placed