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The 50 best songs of the 2000s

Check out the very best rap, pop, rock, R&B, hip hop, dance and indie tunes from the 2000s


Is it too soon to get nostalgic about the 2000s, noughties, aughts or whatever the hell we’re supposed to call them? Of course not: this is the decade that gave us cheap af downloads and not-so-cheap iPods to play our favourite bangers on. This list includes the very best rap, pop, rock, R&B, hip hop, dance and indie tunes from the decade, though sadly there wasnt quite space for James Blunts inescapable ballad ‘You’re Beautiful’. Soz, JB, though we’re sure the royalties will provide some comfort

The 50 best 2000s songs

‘Dirrty’ – Christina Aguilera

Xtina truly let the genie out of the bottle with this incendiary lead single from her fourth (and best) album ‘Stripped’. Sure, formerly wholesome teen-pop stars have a tendency to get their sexy on when they want us to know they’ve grown up, but when it’s done with this much aplomb, who cares? And the video’s a shameless classic. Nick Levine

‘Date with the Night’ – Yeah Yeah Yeahs

And lo, in 155 seconds, Karen O became a solid-gold, badass icon. The first single from the New York art-punk trio’s flawless debut ‘Fever To Tell’, the screaming, hedonistic blitzkrieg of ‘Date with the Night’ didn’t so much open the door as kick it in with a steel-toe boot, set it on fire and throw a party on its ashes. Job done. Lisa Wright


‘Dry Your Eyes’ – The Streets

The Streets’ most successful single, ‘Dry Your Eyes’ was a tear-jerker for burly lads and proto #sadbois. It’s all about the destructive sadness that comes after a break-up, tapping into Mike Skinner’s signature mix of street and sentiment. The musical equivalent of Gazza’s tears at Italia ‘90. Kyle MacNeill

‘22 Grand Job’ – The Rakes

These days, a 22-grand-job will just about get you a room in Zone 3 and the occasional Uber. But back in 2005, Londoners The Rakes were detailing the entry-level slog with a twinkle in their eye and a pep in their angular, art-rock step. In and out in less than two minutes, it was an anthem for the young and broke – best toasted with a cheap pint of snakebite and black. Lisa Wright


‘What’s Your Fantasy’ – Ludacris feat Shawnna

It’s hard to write a whole song about being UNBELIEVABLY horny and yet avoid coming over like a massively sexed-up, sexaholic sex maniac… but… Ludacris managed it with élan on his debut – ahem – release. Riding one of the most outrageously hype beats in hip hop history, ‘What’s Your Fantasy?’ knows no bounds – and no end of places (the library, the White House, the sauna…) of places to – y’know – do it. Oliver Keens

‘Don’t Mess with My Man’ – Lucy Pearl

R&B supergroup Lucy Pearl only made one album, 2000’s self-titled debut, but it’s a bit of a lost classic. Standout track ‘Don't Mess with My Man’ sees singer Dawn Robinson (formerly of En Vogue) warn off a romantic rival in infectiously sassy fashion. It wasnt a huge hit at the time, but being sampled by Ed Sheeran (on Dont) and covered by dance duo Booty Luv has boosted this tune’s legacy. Nick Levine


‘Two Doors Down’ – Mystery Jets

Emerging from their early incarnation as Eel Pie Island-dwelling oddballs, Mystery Jets came back on Album Two with a natty line in pastel suits and a shiny love of all things ’80s. ‘Two Doors Down’, a twinkling, doe-eyed ode to the girl next door but one, was its finest moment, a slice of pure, wide-eyed indie-pop magic. Lisa Wright

‘Wearing My Rolex’ – Wiley

Wiley must have lost his Rolex sometime after 2008, because these days he rarely turns up to his sets on time. Back when he was wearing it, though, he hit the Number Two spot with ‘Wearing My Rolex’, a street banger that’s stood the test of time with its electro-grime mashup. Kyle MacNeill


‘Hollaback Girl’ – Gwen Stefani

Produced by red hot noughties beatmakers The Neptunes, this Stefani solo smash was actually inspired by a diss from Courtney Love, who dismissed the No Doubt singer as a ‘cheerleader’. Stefanis crafty response was to create an attitude song built around a naggingly catchy cheerleader motif. It topped the US singles chart in 2005, proving that sometimes, revenge is a dish best served with epic pop hooks. Nick Levine

‘Smile’ – Lily Allen

Londoner Allen cemented her status as one of the decade’s most refreshing new pop stars with this bittersweet pop-reggae gem. When she sings, ‘At first, when I see you cry / Yeah, it makes me smile,’ her candy-coated vocals only make the lyrics sting harder. It’s definitely one to play after a painful break-up. Nick Levine

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