CoS Top 50 Songs of the Decade: 50-26

50. Kings of Leon – “Sex on Fire”

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There are definitely better songs in Kings Of Lon’s repertoire. But try telling that to the fans that were turned onto the band thanks to this one. It’s expansive arena rock that sparked a worldwide devotion. Whatever helps more people get turned onto Aha Shake Heartbreak is a good thing. And besides, this may have launched the career of the next U2. –Joshua Kloke

49- Nine Inch Nails – “Survivalism”

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The first single from Nine Inch Nails’ Year Zero revealed a different side to Trent Reznor, both musically and lyrically. Instead of focusing his anger on himself or other specific people, he’s taking a shot at a world gone wrong… “this great nation.” As a result, Nine Inch Nails created one of its best songs since The Downward Spiral era. –Joe Marvilli

48. Arcade Fire – “Rebellion (Lies)”

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Rebellion (Lies)” was the gateway into the glory of Arcade Fire for the general public. The song is vibrant with fantastic production and a wealth of sound combined with the awareness of life we’ve grown to love from Arcade Fire. –Charles Poladian

47. Rihanna – “Umbrella” (feat. Jay-Z)

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“Umbrella”‘s stratospheric fate was sealed before Rihanna even arrived on the track, with Hova delivering one of the best introductory verses in recent history. “Jay, Rain Man is back with little Ms. Sunshine/Rihanna where you at?”. As soon as Rihanna let the now famous ‘eh-eh-eh’ rip, the song secured a place in our hearts. Ultimately it’s a simple song; from the GarageBand beat to the song’s key metaphor, Umbrella ran on the ‘less is more’ theory. –Will Hines

46. Interpol – “NYC”

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The post-modern isolation of “NYC” is the perfect distillation of Interpol’s sound. From their debut, Turn on the Bright Lights, “NYC” is the love letter to the city that will always go undelivered. –Charles Poladian

45. The Avett Brothers – “Paranoia in B-Flat Major”

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Banjos, piano, and guitars make up for one of the most heartfelt folk songs in a decade that’s seen the genre overwhelmed. But by the time the two brothers say, “But if love is a game, girl, then you’re gonna win/I’ll spend the rest of my life bringing victory in,” everyone who’s ever embraced their loved one will find it hard to argue otherwise. –Michael Roffman

44. Feist – “1234”

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Yes, Feist is one of the few indie stars recognizable by your mother, but can you blame them? She croons with a deft charm, proving that even in indie rock, simple is still best. Those Ipod commercials may have helped her career, but I can’t help but wonder; was it Feist who actually helped the Ipod? –Joshua Kloke

43. The Flaming Lips – “Do You Realize??”

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The Flaming Lips really can make anything sound happy. In “Do You Realize??” death becomes a whimsical dream, as frontman Wayne Coyne mulls over the conundrum of existence. As he philosophizes, “The sun doesn’t go down/ It’s just an illusion caused by the world/ Spinning ‘round,” Mr. Coyne and the Lips assure us that everything is going to be okay. And sometimes that’s just what we need. –Drew Litowitz

42. Foo Fighters – “Times Like These”

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In any state of mind, whenever “Times Like These” by the Foo Fighters comes on, it hits home every time. For Grohl and the company, “Times Like These” encompasses the band’s best efforts to combine pop sensibilities, odd time signatures and overall great rock & roll musicianship. Name checking Minneapolis punk legends Husker Du (“I’m a new day rising”), the Foos certainly know how to hand credit where it’s due and “Times Like These” in their respective aspects resembles major Du influence. Not just a great song, it also proves to be a great pick-me-up track if you’re feeling down in the dumps, reminding you that life goes on and that you’re given a fresh clean chance to start again. Simply inspirational all around. –Jay Ziegler

41. The Shins – “New Slang”

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Even before it soundtracked a memorable scene in the 2004 film Garden State, “New Slang” had introduced New Mexico band The Shins to the indie masses as one of the standout tracks on the band’s 2001 debut Oh, Inverted World. Heralding a band of stunning songwriting gifts, the song’s alternating strum and twang made for a tune that’s equal parts wistful and jaded. –Gillian Rosheuvel

40. Jay-Z – “Roc Boys (And the Winner Is…)”

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One of his most captivating narratives, “Roc Boys” proves that even Hollywood’s biggest blockbusters can’t top what’s in Hova’s head. –Alex Young

39. Bob Dylan – “Things Have Changed”

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“Things Have Changed” did more than give Dylan an Oscar, which he plops atop an amp in concert with the same indifference that you or I might stick a doo-dad on a car dashboard. It showed that 1997’s Time Out of Mind had been no fluke and that the master singer-songwriter was still capable of delivering songs that can both seduce and challenge listeners. “Things Have Changed” is a slow-tempo rocker about a person teetering on the edge, about to lose control at any moment. It’s dark, sexy, troubling, and the masterpiece of Dylan’s late period. –Matt Melis

38. Green Day – “Minority”

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It’s a sad day when a Green Day record passes under the radar. Those days are pretty much behind us now, but when 2000’s Warning surfaced, hardly anyone came to acknowledge it. Older fans had moved on years beforehand, while those leftovers from the Nimrod-era couldn’t find a “Good Riddance” to save their life. Thank god. With “Minority”, our three boys from Cali penned an anthem for a generation yet to come, and while lines like “I pledge allegiance to the underworld/One nation under dog,” seemed like typical angsty bullshit at the time, it all made sense three years later. Today, it still feels good to hum along to, even if we’re not feeling so melancholy — politically, of course. –Michael Roffman

37. Okkervil River – “For Real”

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After we’re introduced to the character of “Black Sheep Boy,” Will Sheff turns up the emotions and energy with the startling, loud-soft dynamics of “For Real.” Lyrically, Sheff plays with the notion of reality, as it exists in our reality-TV drenched society. Dark and foreboding, Sheff paints a grotesque picture of all the things our jaded culture has grown numb to. –Drew Litowitz

36. Coldplay – “The Scientist”

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This song is a high spot among a classic collection of songs, hallmarked by Chris Martin’s woody falsetto and haunting piano chimes. “The Scientist” is as poignant as you can get, simple yet clever, intense and heartfelt, and is set to a glorious melody you can hear over and over. Just take me back to the start. –Tony Hardy

35. Outkast – “Ms. Jackson”

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The song that gave Outkast their first number-one position on the Billboard charts is also one of the best of their career. A whooshing drum loop combined with a short, repeating piano piece creates a lush and off-kilter background for the duo. Big Boi’s rapid fire delivery in the verses offers a juxtaposition to Andre 3000’s almost sing-song style during the chorus. Out of all the songs to introduce Outkast to a larger audience,  ”Ms. Jackson” was the best choice. –Joe Marvilli

34. Patrick Wolf- “Bloodbeat”

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“Bloodbeat” proved that songs full of anger don’t have to be depressing. It was, first and foremost, a pop song that actually had some content. Written during Wolf’s tender years and the centrepiece of his debut EP, “Bloodbeat” was infectious, challenging and incredibly satisfying. “No need for comfort/No need for light/I am hunting for secrets tonight/Eat the sorrow lick the spark/Uh oh, my blood beats dark.” –Will Hines

33. Peter Bjorn and John – “Young Folks”

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There’s catchy music and then there is this case of sonic syphilis in the form of Peter Bjorn and John’s American audience-capturing single. When it was released, it caught on with the world and specifically those of us in the States because of its sheer sonic simplicity. Whether it was the semi-spoken stylings of Victoria Bergsmman or the whistling and ever-present bongos, the song entered the collective cultural radar of much of the U.S. and permeated its musical DNA throughout much of the culture in the summer of 2006. The song plays like some weird Scandinavian cartoon pop music, but it eats away at your subconsciousness until you have nothing left to fight with and you’re stuck mindlessly chirping in. Pop music and it’s most efficient and most devious. –Chris Coplan

32. Lupe Fiasco – “Daydreamin’” (feat. ft. Jill Scott)

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Lupe Fiasco’s Grammy Award-winning single from 2006’s Food & Liquor is the product of covers. Originally written by The Wallace Collection, it was recorded by Gunter Kallman Choir before England’s I Monster borrowed heavily from it for “Daydream In Blue” where Lupe sampled from. With all the sharing going on, he adds his own touch with Jill Scott singing response on the chorus while Lupe takes some shots at hip-hop’s popular culture, “look as hard as you can with this blunt in your hand,” he spits precociously. The outro’s walking bass line paired with Jill Scott’s vocals begs you to hit repeat. –Andy Keil

31. Moby – “Extreme Ways”

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From the opening Bernard Herrmann-esque violin chords, “Extreme Ways” paints a super-charged sonic narrative of Hitchcockian intensity. Moby’s trademark synth harmonies float like passing headlights through the downpour of sinister rhythms. This song was a cinematic powerhouse right off the album — inclusion in all three of the Bourne films is just proof of its action-packed awesomeness. –Cap Blackard

30. Wilco – “Jesus, Etc.”

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From the first time hearing the smooth, disco-lite, it was clear that “Jesus, Etc.” would stick around for a long time, even if just from being stuck in your head for weeks. Tweedy’s light, breathy melody betrays the sad depth of a chorus discussing collapsing buildings (more metaphorical, despite the fact that the album was released less than a year after 9/11). Fred Lonberg-Holm contributed to the string arrangement and Jim O’Rourke produced (and introduced Tweedy to future Wilco drummer Glenn Kotche), only adding to the track’s greatness. –Adam Kivel

29. Sufjan Stevens  – “Chicago”

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On occasion, a pop song can be described as something bigger than a few minutes of music, and Sufjan Stevens managed to create such a track. “Chicago” is all about dynamics-the energy of the titular city, the complicated emotions of maturity, the intimacy of Stevens’ whisper, the drama of the accompanying choir and orchestra. No matter how many times you listen to “Chicago”, you get pulled into the narrator’s journey and feel the same euphoria that he does as his self-discovery reaches a boisterous conclusion with blaring horns and pounding drums. –Anthony Balderrama

28. Björk – “New World”

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With Dancer in the Dark film and Selmasongs album, Björk tapped into the roots of classic motion picture scoring and combined it with her trip-hop sensibilities to create one of the most unique and powerful musical scores in recent history. “New World” is not just the finest example of that concept’s realization, but one of Björk’s greatest achievements as an artist. The song acts as the sonic struggle of her character, Selma, fighting her blindness by weaving a tapestry of sensory fabrics — her lyrics have never been more vivid or emotionally sung. Few modern songs can match the tremendous and soaring emotional power of this track. –Cap Blackard

27. Animal Collective – “Summertime Clothes”

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Describing an Animal Collective track as accessible might seem counter intuitive, but “Summertime Clothes” is as inviting as any of the hits that topped the charts this decade. The song’s hypnotic mix of loops and ambient sounds makes an effective backing to an earnest love song that shamelessly repeats “I want to walk around with you.” Such a saccharine sentiment and descriptions of a hot summer day should not sound as irresistible as they do here, but that’s the magic of Animal Collective. On an album that received more than its share of praise, “Summertime Clothes” still stands out as an example of experimentation done right. –Anthony Balderrama

26. Joanna Newsom – “Sawdust and Diamonds”

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Joanna Newsom’s voice can be a bit of an acquired taste. But the charm and depth of a masterpiece like “Sawdust and Diamonds” (the centerpiece of the sublime 2006 Ys) cannot be denied. The song’s vivid imagery includes a bell falling down a flight of stairs, birds/people made of scraps of paper and wood, and life in an ancient, rocking ship. But the surreally sweet and sincere upward intonation on the end of the line “And though our bones, they may break, and our souls separate, why the long face?” is one of the most crushing moments in music. –Adam Kivel