10. Crazy in Love-Beyonce
It would be foolish to deny Beyonce’s musical influence this past decade. From her Destiny’s Child roots to her movie career, Beyonce has dominated pop culture in many different ways. Picking her best moment is almost an exercise in futility, because there are so many options and it’s hard to go wrong. Although Single Ladies and Say My Name were both strong contenders, I could not ignore her first single. Crazy in Love dominated 2003 and helped elevate Beyonce from Desinty’s Child front-woman to international superstar. It’s also a damn good track. Those horns…they’re inescapable.
9. Since U Been Gone-Kelly Clarkson
She-rock had a very strong showing this decade. Avril Lavigne and P!nk both made some excellent tunes that showed tougher women could dominate the pop charts. Now, Kelly wasn’t always a badass. After winning American Idol, she was poised to be America’s Sweetheart—the likeable Texas girl with strong pipes. Although Miss Independent hinted at her rock leanings, it wasn’t until she cut loose on this song that she really showed some new depth. Additionally, this song is further evidence that Max Martin is a musical god.
8. Try Again-Aaliyah
Timbaland wasn’t always the production monolith he is today. In the 90s he was just beginning to break into the mainstream and had a few hits here and there. Most of those revolved around his muse: a young R&B princess with a smooth voice. This muse may not have been the strongest singer or the most emotionally available, but something about her hypnotic delivery sat well with Timbaland’s beats. Yes, Aaliyah managed to bring something out in Timabaland’s music that very few could. This song is perhaps their greatest collaboration and a sad indication of Aaliyah’s potential had she lived longer.
7. Maps-The Yeah Yeah Yeahs
When it comes to music outside of the mainstream, I don’t think it gets much better than this song. Even though it’s very lyrically repetitive, the instrumentation and layering perfectly captures the anguish that Karen O is trying to convey. The guitar line is incredible and this song manages to portray heartbreak more minimally and effectively that almost every pop song this decade.
6. Biology-Girls Aloud
This is probably the least influential song on the list, particularly in the United States, but it is also the most perfectly crafted and interesting pure pop song this decade. Taking a leaf from the Supremes, the structure of this song is subtly atypical. It takes two minutes for the chorus to hit. The beat is an odd mixture of Europop and Muddy Waters. It seems so mashed together that you’d think it would never work as a song. Yet, somehow it does. Brilliantly.