Well, I think it’s close enough to 2010 that I can publish this list without risk of repercussions. If one of the best songs of the decade comes out in the next two months, I’ll eat my words and you can laugh at me. Anyway, this list is a pretty fair hybrid of subjectivity and objectivity. There are hundreds of songs from this decade that I think could be included on a “Best of the Decade” list. So, whittling that group down inevitably includes a degree of subjectivity. That being said, I tried to pick songs that were the strongest representations of musical trends from the past ten years. Admittedly, some of my personal biases crept into the list. In fact, I would say that the most subjective choice is the number one song. Well, without further ado, here is the start of my list.
20. We Belong Together-Mariah Carey
I’ll say it. In a subjective world, this song wouldn’t have made my list. However, considering how many epic musical comebacks occurred in recent years, I thought it was important to highlight the song that epitomized perhaps the most successful return in the 200Xs. Since Britney never truly left and Whitney is still trying to get off the ground, I think the Mariah’s 2005 CD, The Emancipation of Mimi, marked the most dramatic comeback I’ve ever seen. Multiplatinum sales, eight Grammy nominations, and a slew of hit singles all prove that this diva did it right. Ignore her lagging sales and impish boyfriend…four years ago, she had it right. This song was the biggest and best part of that. Perhaps the needy undertone of the song highlighted her urge for public approval. Whatever the case was, the American audience lapped this up. Comeback achieved.
19. Don’t Know Why-Norah Jones
I have no idea how this song became popular. Utterly mellow and seemingly fit just for adult contemporary, somehow this song managed to charm both critics and consumers alike. Although the song only peaked at #30 on the Hot 100 chart, it’s still a pretty remarkable feat considering how unfit for pop radio it is. Combine that with the fact that most people know this song and it’s hard to deny that the tune wormed its way into ubiquity.
18. SexyBack-Justin Timberlake
Let’s be real. There were a lot of JT songs worth considering. Between the spiteful Cry Me a River and the inventive My Love, Justin really made his mark on this decade. And let us not forget his meaningful *NSYNC contributions. However, given this decade’s tendency towards reinvention (see Nelly Furtado and, again, Mariah Carey) I thought it was appropriate to pick the best reinvention song of them all. If the cover of Future Sex/Love Sounds shows JT smashing a disco ball, this song is the musical equivalent of such an action. It’s an exciting meld of hip hop, pop, and (for lack of a better term) futuristic beats. I know this song offended Prince, but I think I have to go with JT on this debate. Sexy left. Justin brought it back. And how.
17. Bleeding Love-Leona Lewis
I would like to take this time to talk about Ryan Tedder. The One Republic front man may be a bit of a one-trick pony with song writing and production (a fact most hilariously emphasized by comparing Already Gone and Halo), but damn. It is a great trick. I don’t think one person got so much mileage out of one idea since the Saw franchise started. When looking at the Tedder discography, there is one clear choice for the alpha dog: Bleeding Love. There’s a perfect meeting between Leona Lewis’s empty deliver and the lyrics about being, well, drained empty. The touch of hip hop made the song all the sweeter.
16. Toxic-Britney Spears
One of my good friends in high school, who I would describe as an indie music snob, loves this song. Don’t get me wrong, I love some B-Spears, but she is so clearly a consumer product that it’s almost obnoxious. However, this song was so well produced and written that an indie snob loved it. That’s all I need to say.