MTV recently replayed the 2000 Video Music Awards, and it turned out to be more than a mere nostalgia trip. The result of that standard music awards show was legend after legend walking on that stage to either present or perform one of their greatest hits. Nelly rapped “Country Grammar” with every bit of swagger he possessed; *NSYNC performed “Bye Bye Bye” with giant TV screens for their heads; Britney Spears brought her magnetic pop presence with “Oops…I Did It Again”; Eminem parades a hundred Slim Shadys into Radio City Music Hall. A revolution in pop music was happening at the turn of the century, and looking back, all the forced boy-bands, rap-singing duets, and Nu metal acts have their charm — each star on that stage had cornered the market and earned their spotlight (yes, even Limp Bizkit). The major label takeover was working, and music was undoubtedly better at this time.

The decade started with Carson Daly at the center of all pop music drama with TRL and ended with the three biggest stars (Taylor Swift, Beyoncé, and Kanye West) wrapped up in a feud that still hasn’t been put to rest. Those three names are still arguably the three biggest music stars (Kanye for all the wrong reasons), so to look at pop music in the ’10s decade is to maybe see a lost opportunity to build off what happened in the 2000s. Nobody has filled André 3000’s shoes; Eminem can’t even fill his own shoes. Timbaland’s hard-hitting, retro production faded out once he went solo. There’s only one Missy Elliott. I’m still just talking about pop music though; it’s hard not to considering the bull rush of pop classics from ’00-’06 that comprise much of this list.

As we enter a lower level of ’00s music, the decade started with Radiohead scoring a #1 album in the U.S. with the notoriously perplexing classic Kid A, and by 2007, they were letting fans choose what to pay for In Rainbows — more of a statement on the devaluing of the album as physical sales fell off a cliff than a fan service. Music piracy was impossible to stop, but the music industry’s response could not have been worse. At the 2000 VMAs, Napster co-founder Sean Parker was welcomed with a roaring applause; the debate was over before the labels even realized what they were up against.

The last gasp of a rock zeitgeist happened in the mid-’00s with The Killers, Modest Mouse, and Franz Ferdinand all climbing the charts with deserving hits. They were building off The Strokes’ beloved debut Is This It — an album as polished and hook-laden as any pop record at the time but played off with a charming indifference that everyone had to emulate. The White Stripes symbolized everything pure and endearing about garage rock across two back-to-back classics.

Electronic music moved away from the IDM of Aphex Twin and Boards of Canada and tended to embrace the pop & hip-hop-indebted styles of Daft Punk and DJ Shadow as their ’90s idols. The Avalanches, J Dilla, Girl Talk, and 2 Many DJs take sampledelia to new heights, and the online culture surrounding mash-ups creates some gems along the way. Daft Punk’s Discovery acts as the template for electro-pop anthems the whole decade from MGMT to Justice to Empire of the Sun to Kanye’s forays into pop. For underground electronic music, Burial and The Knife were the leaders with denser-yet-more inclusive sounds.

In indie rock and folk, Wilco carried over their ’90s greatness with Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. Along with Sufjan Stevens’ Illinois — his second and last entry in his 50-state album series — YHF symbolized the post-9/11 conflicted American epic. They both revel in the country’s historic grandeur but are consumed mostly with personal anxieties and fearful of how their environment perpetuates these feelings. Arcade Fire took the U2 mantle of endearingly-serious stadium rock with Funeral. Grizzly Bear, Bon Iver, The National, Dirty Projectors, and Fleet Foxes became the indie darlings of the latter-half of the decade. Joanna Newsom made the harp cool again (as if it never was). A little more under the surface, Bill Callahan, The Mountain Goats, and The Hold Steady release nothing but classics.

This was the decade that rap might have officially became the most popular American genre. The post-Biggie-and-Tupac landscape felt more extravagant and safer as major labels somewhat reigned in the sound and dictated the aesthetic more. Still, creativity abounded from every corner of the nation. Atlanta rose up with T.I., Lil Jon, Ludacris, Soulja Boy, Jeezy, and OutKast. Jay-Z and Nas still defined the East coast with their feud, as Ghostface kept the Wu-Tang spirit thriving. In New Orleans, Birdman, Mannie Fresh, and Lil Wayne took the Hot Boys sound to the mainstream. The Richmond duo of Clipse had the most flawless discography of the era. Kanye represents the south side of Chicago with four classic albums and a divisive personality that feels harmless in hindsight.

This list aims to capture all of these developments in the decade of music across its 400 best songs. Tomorrow, the top 200 songs will be released and features contributions from some old and new voices for Bitter Melodies.

Graphic design by Sadie Burrows!


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400. Kid Cudi – “Soundtrack 2 My Life” (2009)


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399. Common – “The Light” (2000)


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398. D4L – “Laffy Taffy” (2005)


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397. Julian Casablancas – “11th Dimension” (2009)


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396. Foo Fighters – “Best of You” (2005)


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395. Built to Spill – “Goin’ Against Your Mind” (2006)


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394. Cass McCombs – “You Saved My Life” (2009)


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393. The Fiery Furnaces – “Here Comes the Summer” (2005)


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392. Grouper – “Heavy Water/I’d Rather Be Sleeping” (2008)


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391. Miranda Lambert – “The House That Built Me” (2009)


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390. Beach House – “Apple Orchard” (2006)


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389. Dan Deacon – “The Crystal Cat” (2007)


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388. Silversun Pickups – “Lazy Eye” (2006)


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387. Beanie Sigel (ft. Melissa) – “Feel It in the Air” (2005)


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386. Next – “Wifey” (2000)


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385. CSS – “Let’s Make Love and Listen to Death from Above” (2005)


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384. J Dilla – “Workinonit” (2006)


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383. Man Man – “Van Helsing Boombox” (2006)


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382. Mannie Fresh – “Real Big” (2004)


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381. Goldfrapp – “Strict Machine” (2003)


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380. Crystal Castles – “Untrust Us” (2008)


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379. Tego Calderon – “Pa’ Que Retozen” (2002)


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378. The Veronicas – “Untouched” (2008)


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377. Sugababes – “Overload” (2000)


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376. Tweet (ft. Missy Elliott) – “Oops (Oh My)” (2002)


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375. Fennesz – “Endless Summer” (2001)


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374. Matt and Kim – “Daylight” (2008)


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373. Snow Patrol – “Chasing Cars” (2006)


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372. Gorillaz – “Clint Eastwood” (2000)


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371. J-Kwon – “Tipsy” (2004)


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370. Chromatics – “In the City” (2006)


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369. Fucked Up – “Son the Father” (2008)


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368. Iron & Wine – “Upward over the Mountain” (2002)


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367. The Field – “Over the Ice” (2007)


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366. Arthur Russell – “I Couldn’t Say It to Your Face” (2008)


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365. Khia – “My Neck, My Back (Lick It)” (2001)


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364. Usher (ft. Young Jeezy) – “Love in This Club” (2008)


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363. St. Vincent – “The Strangers” (2009)


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362. The Dodos – “Fools” (2008)


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361. Burial – “Southern Comfort” (2006)


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360. *NSYNC – “Bye Bye Bye” (2000)


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359. Janet Jackson – “All for You” (2001)


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358. Death from Above 1979 – “Romantic Rights” (2004)


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357. Christina Aguilera – “Ain’t No Other Man” (2006)


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356. Mastodon – “Blood and Thunder” (2004)


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355. Gucci Mane (ft. Plies) – “Wasted” (2009)


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354. Lil’ Kim – “The Jump Off” (2003)


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353. PJ Harvey – “Good Fortune” (2000)


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352. Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz (ft. Ying Yang Twins) – “Get Low” (2002)


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351. Mylo – “In My Arms” (2004)


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350. Amy Winehouse – “Back to Black” (2006)


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349. Fuck Buttons – “Sweet Love for Planet Earth” (2008)


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348. Ricardo Villalobos – “Easy Lee” (2003)


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347. Neon Indian – “Deadbeat Summer” (2009)


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346. Blonde Redhead – “23” (2007)


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345. Eve (ft. Gwen Stefani) – “Let Me Blow Ya Mind” (2001)


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344. Bright Eyes – “The Calendar Hung Itself…” (2000)


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343. Caribou – “Melody Day” (2007)


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342. Lumidee – “Never Leave You (Uh Oooh, Uh Oooh)” (2003)


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341. Loretta Lynn (ft. Jack White) – “Portland, Oregon” (2004)


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340. The Microphones – “The Moon” (2001)


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339. Guillemots – “Trains to Brazil” (2005)


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338. The Shins – “Kissing the Lipless” (2003)


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337. Deerhoof – “Milk Man” (2005)


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336. My Morning Jacket – “Golden” (2003)


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335. Gang Gang Dance – “House Jam” (2008)


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334. Rick Ross – “Hustlin'” (2006)


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333. Carrie Underwood – “Before He Cheats” (2005)


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332. The Killers – “When You Were Young” (2006)


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331. Scissor Sisters – “Take Your Mama” (2004)


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330. Metro Area – “Miura” (2001)


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329. Mario – “Let Me Love You” (2004)


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328. Girl Talk – “Smash Your Head” (2006)


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327. Frightened Rabbit – “The Modern Leper” (2008)


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326. Hercules and Love Affair – “Hercules Theme” (2008)


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325. Devendra Banhart – “A Sight to Behold” (2004)


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324. DJ Quik & Kurupt – “9X Outta 10” (2009)


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323. Big & Rich – “Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy)” (2004)


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322. Alan Braxe & Fred Falke – “Rubicon” (2004)


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321. Ms. Dynamite – “Ms. Dy-Na-Mi-Tee” (2002)


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320. be your own PET – “Becky” (2008)


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319. The Thermals – “A Pillar of Salt” (2006)


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318. Jill Scott – “A Long Walk” (2000)


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317. Electric Six – “Danger! High Voltage” (2003)


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316. The Futureheads – “Hounds of Love” (2004)


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315. Arctic Monkeys – “Fluorescent Adolescent” (2007)


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314. Freeway (ft. Jay-Z & Beanie Sigel) – “What We Do” (2003)


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313. The Walkmen – “In the New Year” (2008)


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312. Britney Spears – “Oops!…I Did It Again” (2000)


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311.. Weezer – “Island in the Sun” (2001)


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310. Yeasayer – “2080” (2007)


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309. Le Tigre – “Deceptacon (DFA Remix)” (2000)


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308. Ne-Yo – “Miss Independent” (2008)


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307. Bloc Party – “Banquet” (2004)


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306. Lupe Fiasco – “Kick, Push” (2006)


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305. The Decemberists – “The Engine Driver” (2005)


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304. Killer Mike – “That’s Life” (2006)


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303. Sade – “By Your Side” (2000)


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302. The Libertines – “Can’t Stand Me Now” (2004)


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301. Antony and the Johnsons – “Fistful of Love” (2004)