5. Paper Planes-M.I.A.
When it comes to alternative music crossing over to the Hot 100, it doesn’t get any better than this. I’m sure M.I.A. was more surprised than anyone else when this gunshot-toting gem hit Top 10 on the Billboard charts, partially propelled by Pineapple Express. If you had asked me three years ago if a Sri Lankan rapper could release a song about the mistreatment of immigrants and have a hit, I would have spit on you. I guess I was wrong.
4. Hollaback Girl-Gwen Stefani.
Haters, you’d better cope. Because this song, for all its gaudy ridiculousness, inspired a trend of over-the-top jams. Fergie probably wouldn’t have a career without Hollaback Girl. This song was the first digital download smash, breaking new records on the iTunes charts, and taught a legion of kids how to spell. Correctly. Even Fergie doesn’t do that.
3. Hey Ya!-Outkast
It was this or Bombs Over Baghdad, and I like this song better. Either way, Outkast had a profound impact on the rap crossover movement and this song is one of the highlights of that transition. Plus who doesn’t love shaking it like a Polaroid picture?
2. Get Ur Freak On-Missy Elliott
I officially declare this Timbaland and Missy Elliott’s magnum opus. I don’t just mean the best collaboration they had, but rather the best thing that either of them ever created. The best rap song of the decade, to this dude, and hopefully to several others. Plus this was when Timbaland really started to take off.
1. Beautiful-Christina Aguilera
I chose this song for its message. Self-love is the most important kind of love and, although the point of this song is simple, it said something that many young people needed to hear. This guy included. Seeing someone present a music video that showed gay love as acceptable was powerful and hopefully the other body image declarations were equally inspiring. This may not have changed popular music like many of the other songs on this list, but it said something so succinctly and powerfully that I think it is the most important musical work this decade.