Well, we’ve gone through ten years of Billboard hits from the previous decade and counted down the worst. Now we’re going to look at the best. In spite of my Worst lists, the 2000s wasn’t all bad. I grew up around this time and have fond nostalgic memories of a lot of the songs released. I can tell you that there’s some really good shit if you looked. Hip-hop has grown to become the dominant force that it currently is in music. Rock soldiered on in spite of its declining presence through the years. Pop itself has transformed itself to fit the trends of the time. Club-oriented genres like dancehall and crunk made sure there were no empty dancefloors. Country music has remained… well, country music. Now to conclude BACK TO THE 2000s with its biggest list ever. Let’s get started.
September 11, 2001 is a date that many Americans will never forget. Nearly 3000 people lost their lives in a series of terror attacks. We knew that things will never be the same again. This event had a drastic effect on the music industry and certain songs were played nonstop for comfort, one of them being Hero by Enrique Iglesias. It is a bit schmaltzy in terms of its content. When you tell a girl that you’ll be her hero, it’s always going to be corny, no matter what. But Enrique kinda sells the sentiment in his more toned-down vocal performance. And the instrumentation compliments it as a typical Latin-flavored ballad. It’s dreary, but hopeful at the same time, which was exactly the mood that the US was in after 9/11, so it kinda makes sense for it to be popular at the time.
Ladies and gentlemen, one of the few good Chris Brown songs in existence. I’m not even joking. Even horrible human beings can make something of quality and Chris Brown proves that with Forever. We have ourselves a Polow Da Don beat that’s midtempo and layered in Eurodance synths and techno percussion, plus it doesn’t suck ass. This is the best-sounding song from Chris Brown. Even though his vocal performance is very typical of what you expect from him (plus Auto-Tune) and he’s singing about being on the dance floor with a lady, there wasn’t anything bad about anything in the song. Hell, I didn’t even mind the usage of Auto-Tune in this song. I thought it was integrated into the song well. It seemed like Chris Brown was showing signs of growth as an artist. What’s that, you say? This was released a year before he beat the dogshit out of Rihanna and released that godawful Graffiti album? Oh, well. You can’t win them all.
Next up, we have Hate It Or Love It from The Game and 50 Cent. Over soulful production that samples Rubber Band by The Trammps, this is a gangsta rap song that details the struggles that both Game and 50 have gone through before they became famous rappers. We see a more introspective side that we rarely see from both of these men, whose songs are usually drowning in gangsta rap hedonism. 50 Cent reminisces on growing up in Jamaica, Queens with no father and having to sell crack to survive while Game remembers the dangers of Compton while only namedropping six times. It’s a rags-to-riches story that ends with both Game and 50 letting haters know that no matter how they feel, they will remain at the top of the rap game. Well, until they both started beefing and their albums stop selling like they used to.
Remember when Maroon 5 sounded like an actual band instead of one man’s vanity project? Those were the days. When they first came onto the scene, they were pretty dope for a pop rock band with funk influences. And thus, we have This Love. A piano-driven pop rock track with some synths and guitar. This is a post-breakup song where Adam Levine is going through the feels after his ex broke up with him. Unlike the more modern songs, there’s no bitterness, he’s just feeling sad, which is an emotion that we can all understand. This Love was a start to a promising career that sadly, ending up going down the toilet in terms of quality.
Not everything The Black Eyed Peas made was bad. If you ignore songs like My Humps and The Time (Dirty Bit), they have some genuinely good songs. Case in point, one of their biggest hits to date, I Gotta Feeling. It’s the ultimate party anthem with electro-pop production rooted in a catchy guitar riff. The Peas are getting themselves ready for the wildest party of the night. You can tell that they just want to have fun and in the process, you too wanna have fun while listening to it. It’s no wonder it became one of the biggest hits of 2009 and a staple for parties to come.
The Peas are capable of doing more than just dumb party songs. They can do socially-conscious songs that speaks to the times. Where Is The Love is an anti-war, anti-hate song that came two years after the events of 9/11 and was a response to all of the bullshit going on in the world. In three excellent verses from will.i.am, Taboo, and apl.de.ap, they address war, terrorism, hatred, and bigotry. All of this is summarized by the chorus from an un-credited Justin Timberlake that asks the million dollar question: where is the love? 14 years after its release, this song and its message are still relevant. If only the Peas kept making music like this.
Janet’s Jackson’s music career has thrived in the 80s, the 90s, and early on in the 2000s. Her first number one hit in the new millennium is Doesn’t Really Matter, a song made for the critically-panned The Nutty Professor II: The Klumps, starring Eddie Murphy and Janet Jackson herself. This is a song about loving someone for who they are on the inside, not on the outside, a theme that matches the theme of The Nutty Professor. Physical appearance alone isn’t enough to love someone, which is what Janet is selling here along with a more subdued, playful vocal performance. The popping instrumentation is a bit dated, but I don’t mind it. I dig this song.
And now for the Queen herself, Mary J. Blige. There’s no denying her legend status. She spoke to women who have had their hearts broken into little pieces and those who want to have faith in love again. Here’s Be Without You, an R&B ballad dedicated to MJB’s love of her life, who she can’t imagine living the rest of her life with. Of course, she kills it vocally. It’s Mary J Blige. And she’s complimented by some really good production with its use of piano, strings, synths, and a hint of acoustic guitar. It could’ve used better percussion, but it’s serviceable for what this requires. Great song from Mary J Blige.
You know who had one of the best careers in the 2000s? Usher. He broke out in the 90s and his career would end up going to new heights in the new millennium. We’re gonna look at one of his many hits U Remind Me. A song that represented 2000s R&B really well, this song’s production holds up pretty well with its use of keys, strings, and what sounds like a flute. This song is centered on Usher meeting a pretty woman who he considers dating, but then he decided not to because she reminded him too much of his ex-girlfriend. It’s kind of a dick move, but then again, he probably doesn’t want to go through the same thing all over again like with his ex, so you kind of understand why he’s hesitant to go into another relationship. Good song overall.
We lost a good one in Amy Winehouse. She’s a talent who was haunted by her own demons. She was part of a wave of British pop singers, alongside Adele and Duffy, whose music were inspired by soul. Her breakout hit in the US was Rehab. Mark Ronson was behind the production of this song, which has a throwback sound reminiscent of 50s soul. Vocally, Amy emulates the late Etta James in terms of huskiness and presence. Meanwhile, she’s singing about not wanting to go to rehab for her alcohol and drug problems in spite of the pleas of those closest to her. Considering what happened to her, she probably should’ve listened to them. A shame.
Next up, we have a song from 1999 that peaked in 2000. I Wanna Know by Joe is an R&B ballad of its time in its production, which uses acoustic guitars, keys, and whistling synths. Like I said in a past, I am a sucker for R&B songs that uses an acoustic guitar, so I dig that. Meanwhile, Joe is asking his woman what he can do to make her happy, whether it be emotionally or physically, if you know what I mean. It’s a sweet song with some good intentions and I like it.
You all know Stan? Well, here’s the song it sampled: Thank You by Dido. It was originally released in 1998, but thanks to Eminem, it gained new life and in the US, reached the top 10 on the Hot 100. We really need to thank Marshall for sampling this song and making it popular because it’s fantastic. The instrumentation contains acoustic guitar and bongoes to create a comfortable, soothing sound along with Dido’s gentle vocal performance. The song is dedicated to Dido’s boyfriend at the time, who was a lawyer. She thanks him for being in her life and making her life better. Thank you, indeed.
While the late 2000s was horrible for pop music, it was much kinder to rock in terms of quality. You wanna know an example? Paralyzer by Canada’s own Finger Eleven. Funny band name aside, I dig this funk rock/alt-rock instrumentation that is all levels of awesome. It’s like the spiritual successor of what Red Hot Chili Peppers would’ve made. The lead singer has his eyes on a chick whose beauty is so dazzling that it has him frozen. Paralyzer is a rock classic for the 2000s and many more decades to come.
You know who was one of my favorite rappers growing up? Ludacris. He has a flow and energy unlike any rapper from the South, plus, his music videos were the most entertaining. Stand Up shows Ludacris at his best. Over a dark Kanye beat, Luda does the usual bragging along with punchlines that are memorable and hit like a nuclear bomb. In the chorus, Luda and Shawnna demand the crowd to move when they move. This is how you make a damn party song, demand the crowd to get on the dance floor. Clearly, Ludacris is having fun in this song. So does the rest of us.
In a sea of soulless hedonistic crap, Ne-Yo brought a sense of class to popular music as evident by Miss Independent. The production with breezy guitars and synths bring a sense of class along with Ne-Yo himself. This is a song admiring women who are independent and got their own. Some say that this is a bit patronizing and condescending and I can see that. A woman having her shit together shouldn’t be treated the same way as a toddler learning how to use the toilet. It should be assumed that an adult is independent. Despite some mucky execution, giving praise to successful women is still good intentions and I’ll gladly take this over…
Bringing some feel-good fun onto the charts is John Legend and Andre 300 with Green Light. This song is a departure in music style for Legend. Instead of being piano-driven and downtempo, Green Light is a upbeat electro-funk party song that utilizes various synths and horns. John Legend does what does best vocally, but Andre 3000 stole the show. He was one of the best parts of the song wit his carefree attitude. It’s clear John Legend wanted to make a song for the clubs with this song and it succeeded.
In the late 90s, Snoop Dogg’s music career was heading towards a downward spiral thanks to some baffling career decisions like signing to No Limit Records and porn. But then, from an unknown planet in outer space, came The Neptunes. The production duo of Chad Hugo and Pharrell Williams were responsible for a good number of hits in the 2000s and they revitalized Snoop’s career, giving him a number one single in Drop it Like It’s Hot. The Neptunes blessed this track with a dark and minimal bass-heavy beat that bumps in the whip. Pharrell acts as the opening act with his verse before Snoop Dogg comes in with two cool, restraint verses of pimping, flexing, and killing. One of the most gangsta songs to ever hit number one on the Hot 100 and it comes from S, N, Double O, P, D, O, Double G.
Did I ever mentioned that I love Pink? In the previous decade, she was awesome. In 2001, she released her second album Missundaztood, which had a more rock edge than her debut. One of the album’s singles is Just Like A Pill. Here, Pink is getting out of a really bad relationship and compared the experience of it all to being addicted to drug abuse. What should’ve made things better had only made things worse. It’s really intense, which is evident by both the instrumentation and Pink herself, who explodes on the chorus. Yeah. Good song,
Missy Elliott was unlike any female rapper before her in terms of image. Her videos were just out of this world as she did not confine herself to the typical sexualized image that’s thrown upon women in hip-hop. And she had classics under her belt like Work It. The production, courtesy of both Missy and Timbaland, is a love letter to a lot of those old school rap songs that people would breakdance to back in the days. When you look at the lyrics, they’re sexually charged in nature, but they’re overshadowed by Missy Elliott herself, who brings a lot of personality and charm to the record. She’s just one of those one-of-a-kind creative geniuses who could never be recreated and it’s kinda sad that her momentum went cold in the mid-2000s onwards.
So. Fall Out Boy. They’re a good band, right? Right. You know what’s a good song from them? Dance, Dance. The instrumentation rocks. Duh. The guitar riffs and drums slam, but what gives this song life is Pete Wenz’ bassline. That’s one of the most iconic basslines in modern rock. Patrick Stump, meanwhile, is singing about teenage love. Awkward teenage love. More specifically, a boy trying to get a girl’s attention. Fall Out Boy’s career would continue to thrive even in this decade after this song, releasing songs to varying reception.
Now for something completely different. Los Lonely Boys and Heaven. This is a Latin rock song with bluesy guitar riffs and hints of organ and bongoes in the background. As with its title, Heavy has religious overtones as the singer is praying to God to help guide him towards a righteous path that could get him into Heaven when he dies. It does a much better job of delivering a religious message that isn’t being preached to the choir than a lot of contemporary Christian music. Not bad.
Oh, we’re not done with the throwbacks. This time around, we have Christina Aguilera doing her version of jazz and soul from the 50s in Ain’t No Other Man. Behind the production board is legendary hip-hop producer DJ Premier, who sampled a song from Dave Cortez & The Moon People called Hippy Skippy Moon Strut and added in hip-hop percussion. Christina dedicated this song to her husband back then, giving him all of the praise a wife can give a husband. I’ve always preferred Christina Aguilera over Britney Spears and one reason why is that she can actually sing. She can actually pull off this retro sound as it fits her vocal style. Just saying.
And we’re not done with Christina Aguilera just yet. This time around, we have Fighter, a song dedicated to the ex who broke Christina’s heart, who she thanks for learning a lesson that’ll make her stronger and a fighter. This is one of Christina’s best songs and it also has some of her best vocals. You believe her every word when she’s belting out and the instrumentation compliments her. Arena rock guitars and drums along with the use of piano and strings makes for a song that would kill at live performances. Awesome song all around.
Man, most of the singles from Beyonce’s third studio album sucked. Still, that doesn’t mean that there was no quality to be found. I thought Sweet Dreams was cool, but it’s nothing compared to Halo. Its piano and string-driven instrumentation gives it a grand sound, though it could’ve benefited more from better percussion and synths. This is a song driven by emotion, which Beyonce has a ton of in her vocal performance. When she’s singing, you can feel every word sung. Halo is one of those songs that’s been covered to death by amateur singers with no one matching the original. It has a legendary status at this point.
Here’a song that I’ve previously covered in a Musical Appreciation, It Wasn’t Me. Since I’ve said everything that needed to be said about that song (click here), I’ll keep it brief: it’s a fun pop/R&B song with some reggae influences that has the right ingredients for crossover appeal. Rikrok steals the show, though Shaggy is no slouch. It’s a perfect satire of the player lifestyle and how it can have an effect on a relationship. The absurdity of this lifestyle is pointed out by the fact that when Rikrok asks Shaggy for advice after getting caught cheating, he suggests that he should deny. Rikrok sees how stupid this advice is and he apologizes to his girl instead. A song that’s both fun and it has a message at the same time? That’s an automatic win.
Ladies and gentlemen, the best song that Maroon 5 has ever made. Anyone who has a problem with that, fight me. On a serious note, Makes Me Wonder shows what Maroon 5 are capable of when they put in effort. Never has pop rock ever been at it funkiest than in this instrumentation thanks to sticky guitar riffs, the buzzing synths, bongoes and percussion. It’s also one of Adam Levine’s best vocal performances as his falsetto never become irritating. Apparently, this song apparently has two meanings: it could be about a break-up like most Maroon 5 songs, but according to Adam, there’s also some lines where he vents his frustration about US politics. Considering that this song was released near the end of Bush’s presidency, it’d be hard not to see and understand that. Not to sound like a hipster or anything, but I wish Maroon 5 would make music like this. Music where they actually sound like a band.
Not every post-grunge song sucks ass. Exhibit A: 3 Doors Down and Kryptonite. The instrumentation is simple post-grunge, but it’s a little more upbeat than most songs in its subgenre and there’s some really good guitar riffs. For the longest time, my stupid ass thought it was about Superman because of the title and chorus, but it isn’t. It’s this dude asking his girl if she’s still going to ride or die with him when he’s at his lowest point in life. Even when she is the one thing that’s killing him, his metaphorical Kryponite. Damn.
I normally cringe when a song interpolates a meme into its hook and in this case, there was no reason for Live Your Life to work in the Numa Numa meme. But I can ignore it because the rest of the song is awesome. In spite of the obvious Auto-Tune, Rihanna kills the hook. The instrumentation is this epic synth-heavy beat with horns that aims to be inspiring, which matches the content of the song. T.I. is opting to inspire people to live a better life by using his rise as a rap superstar as an example. It’s kinda dope that he dedicated the song to the American troops who were deployed to the Middle East. Hats off to Tip for that.
Sometimes, selling out isn’t entirely a bad thing. For Green Day, selling out helped them make some of the most potent rock music of the decade. Case in point, Boulevard Of Broken Dreams. A somber track that starts with a tremolo guitar and acoustic guitar before slowly morphing into a power rock number that rocks. It details how it feels to be lonely, when there’s no one who’s got your back and it’s just you. It was a reflection of the times when the War On Terror was at its peak and Americans were unsure of their own country.
People love to make fun of Linkin Park and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t take part in that. Some of their music can be a bit melodramatic, but I really like this band. And anyone who says that In The End sucks is a person I can’t trust because it’s a fantastic song. The instrumentation is dark and eerie thanks to that piano melody and those grungy guitar riffs. The best part is the second repeat of the bridge where the instrumentation goes full metal and Chester’s singing turns into a growl. I love the way Chester’s vocals and Mike Shinoda’s bars play off each other. It’s based off the idea that there are situations where no matter how hard you try, nothing will go your way or the way you want it to go. This is a message that their audience (especially the young ones) connected to instantly and made it a hit. Is it overplayed? Yeah, but that doesn’t take away its quality.
Even after the disaster that was Hey Baby, No Doubt were still capable of making good songs, which is proven in Underneath It All. The production from Mad Lion is your typical reggae production. Everything you’d expect from a reggae track is present in this production, but it sound good. This is a love song that Gwen Stefani dedicated to then-boyfriend Gavin Rossdale. We also get a really dope rap verse from dancehall artist Lady Saw, who should get more attention in my opinion. It ain’t No Doubt’s best song, but considering what they were making at the time, I’ll take it.
And now for more Usher. The latest we got is the guitar-driven slow ballad U Got It Bad. This song was inspired by a true story according to Usher. Apparently, he was in a recording session with Jermaine Dupri, but Usher was too focused on a girl he brought to the studio. They had an argument and the girl left. Later on, Usher called her to try and patch things up, which got him kicked out of the studio by Jermaine Dupri. This was what inspired this song, which is basically the aftermath of a big argument when the feeling of regret hits you. This would wind up being another number one hit for Usher and for good reason because this is a damn good song.
Next up, we have Maxwell with another slow ballad in Pretty Wings. This song is about a relationship that feels forced and unnatural. That moment when you noticed that something doesn’t feel right when you’re with someone. Sometimes, it’s better to let things go rather than drag them on and then something worse happens that breaks the trust between them. Aside from that, we get another great vocal performance from Maxwell and production driven by guitar and keys, along with some horns and organ halfway through. One of the best R&B songs from the latter half of the decade.
By the time My Love was released, Justin Timberlake has become the biggest star in pop music. His NSYNC days were officially behind him. My Love is a modern pop masterpiece. Working with Timbaland was the best thing to ever happen to JT because he has been giving him some slamming beats. The synths, the percussion, and the beatboxing all mash together well and compliment JT as a vocalist. His falsettos were perfect in this. We also get a verse from T.I., who killed it as the guest feature, adding some cool points to the track. What more can be said about this song? It’s great.
Just A Friend 2002 was not a good first impression for Mario, but he eventually managed to get a good song in Let Me Love You. Written by Ne-Yo and given a beat from Scott Storch that isn’t weaksauce, this song is Mario having a conversation with a woman who’s in a shitty relationship. He suggests to her that she leaves her boyfriend and go with him (Mario). Now this premise could easily go into Treat You Better territory where it’s uber condescending and paints him as the stereotypical nice guy, but here’s where Let Me Love you succeeds and Treat You Better doesn’t: details. It’s implied that the boyfriend is out cheating as much as this woman tries to deny it. And Mario isn’t selling her false promises like Shawn Mendes is. So far, this is probably the only good song that Mario has ever made.
And now we have one of the top 10 best Rihanna songs of all time, Disturbia. It’s this creepy, dark club track with upbeat electronic synths and percussion. This is one of Rihanna’s best performances in a club song even with the use of Auto-Tune. But I’d argue that the Auto-Tune adds some flavor to the song instead of taking away. As with the dark tone, Disturbia is all about fear and anxiety. About how it feels when you’re claustrophobic, like when you’re in a club with way too many people around and you’re afraid of something popping off. Despite its darkness, this is still a great song to play at parties.
Just because something’s dated doesn’t automatically mean it’s bad. Take, for example, Leave (Get Out) by JoJo. This is a song that could’ve only came out in its time thanks to the keys and acoustic guitars in its production, yet that doesn’t take away from its quality. It’s a song where JoJo decides to break up with her boyfriend after finding out he lied about cheating with another girl. She’s seen through his deception and doesn’t hesitate breaking it off. Another thing: for a 14 year old, JoJo has pipes. Not kidding. She can really hold her own vocally. And this isn’t even JoJo at her best. No, that will come later on in the list.
For the mellow and dramatic, we have The Fray and their song How To Save A Life. This song is more somber than most of the other songs released in its time and that’s thanks to the piano-driven rock instrumentation with some use of acoustic guitar. The writing of this song was inspired by Isaac Slade’s experience working at a shelter for at-risk teens and hearing their stories. In particular, it’s centered around a man trying to help a teen get out of a life of drug abuse, but his words fall on deaf ears. In the chorus, this man ponders where he went wrong as he had lost a friend to a similar situation. It ain’t the most upbeat song, but that’s the point of the song.
Here’s an underrated band, Incubus. This California alt-rock band have a catalog of music that’s worth checking out, starting with Drive, a mellow acoustic guitar-driven with record scratches and a guitar solo straight out of a psychedelic record. With Drive, Brandon Boyd is singing about being driven by fear all your life in the choices you make and imagining what it’d be like if that fear wasn’t there, influencing your choices. Y’all need to check out more of Incubus because they’re dope.
Aside from Drop It Like It’s Hot, Party Up by DMX is another example of a hardcore gangsta rap song with a mainstream appeal. Swizz Beatz provided the production, which is driven by horns and slaps like a MoFo. The chorus is bound to get everyone singing, “y’all gon’ make me lose my mind, up in here, up in here.” In spite of its catchiness, DMX is airing out his frustration with wack rappers who pretend to be gangsta rappers for fame, yet wouldn’t bust a grape in a fruit fight. And the disses are brutal. Although, there are some lines that are…
If I gotsta bring it to you cowards then it’s gonna be quick, aight
All your mens up in the jail before, suck my dick
Y’all niggaz remind me of a strip club, cause everytime you come around,
it’s like (what) I just gotta get my dick sucked
So whatever it is you puffin on that got you think that you
Superman I got the Kryptonite, should I smack him with my dick and the mic?
… REALLY homoerotic. Still, it’s the club banger to end all club bangers.
Backstreet’s back. All right. And this time with Show Me The Meaning Of Being Lonely, a single off of their blockbuster album Millennium. The production is very typical of pop ballads with lush strings and a Latin guitar to give the song a more grand sound. This time around, the Backstreet Boys are pouring their hearts out because the ones they love has left them and they’re feeling loneliness. The swooning vocals from the members of BSB tugs at your heart strings as they feel heartbroken. A pretty sad song and one of BSB’s best.
Now for our first tie on the list and it comes from Alicia Keys. I couldn’t choose which song to put in this spot, If I Ain’t Got You or You Don’t Know My Name, so I decided, “why not both?” If I Ain’t Got You is a piano ballad that was inspired by several events going on at the time, including 9/11 and Aaliyah’s death. It says that material things in the world don’t have much value because at the end of the day, self is more important and so is love. You Don’t Know My Name is a love song featuring soulful production from Kanye West, sampling Let Me Prove My Love To You by The Main Ingredient. It bridges the gap between old and new. These are two of Alicia Keys’ best songs to date.
With her album All For You, Janet Jackson was aiming for something more bright and upbeat after the darker tones of her 1997 album The Velvet Rope. The title track delivers on that goal. Holy shit, this song is sexy. Funky disco production that samples The Glow Of Love by Change along with an infectious chorus makes for a great pop song. Janet sounds great here as she’s clearly having fun. She’s got her eye on a dude she’s attracted, wanting to ride his package through the night, if you know what I mean. As a heterosexual male, it’s weird hearing that line, but considering that women had to deal with decades of being objectified and viewed in a sexual manner by male music artists, I think the women deserve their right to express their sexual desires.
Remember what I said earlier about selling out not always being a bad thing? Well, here’s another example of that, Nelly Furtado. Working with Timbaland has resulted in some of Nelly’s best songs like Say It Right. The production from Timbaland is very atmospheric with ethereal keys, synths, and aggressive percussion. And those background vocals were a nice touch along with that guitar solo at the end. This production works well for Nelly’s vocal style. She killed this song. I’m not even sure what the damn song is about, but there’s a lot to like about this song that I’m not even concerned about the lyrical content. Still, this isn’t the best Nelly Furtado song. No, that goes to…
… this. I haven’t met anyone who didn’t like Promiscuous. The general consensus is that it’s a good song. And those people aren’t wrong. Promiscuous is a perfect example of how to make a sexy club song. The production is mostly synths, keys, and percussion, but it sets the mood for the content. It’s a back-and-forth conversation between a man and a woman (portrayed by Timbaland and Nelly Furtado) who are flirting with each other and accuse the other of being promiscuous. It’s playful, it’s charming, and it’s full of sexual tension. Who knows where this leads to? If it leads to more songs like this being made, then I’m down with it.
The early 2000s was a great time for Alicia Keys. This was where her some of her best material thrived like A Woman’s Worth. The instrumentation is mid-tempo neo-soul with subdued keys, piano, and some liquid guitars. This song values the worth of a woman that a guy treats like a queen. Whether it’d be buying her some nice jewelry, taking her on trips, giving her the respect that she deserves. This applies especially for black women, who deserve better than what they’re receiving from our society. Overall, it’s a good song.
Before Green Light, there was Ordinary People. It’s the intricate piano ballad that introduced John Legend and his old soul talent to the mainstream world. This song is focused on, well, ordinary people. Ordinary people and their flaws when it comes to relationships, which aren’t an easy thing to maintain because people will fuck up in some way. But they’re willing to work things out to make their lives better and keep the love going. This song is a great introduction to John Legend, even if it remains the best thing he’s ever done so far.
I think we all kinda undermine how important Kanye West is to both hip-hop and pop music in general. If you set aside the crazy rants and the drama, dude is a once-in-a-lifetime talent who shifted the sound of an entire genre. 2007 was Kanye at his peak when he released his third album Graduation. We’re going to be looking at Flashing Lights. My God, the production to this song is amazing. The synths, the strings, the percussion. Every single element of this production works fantastically. Plus, there’s Dwele’s chorus. That guy needs to be in more song choruses. Kanye is doing more bragging as usual in that era and he throws in a lot of dope lines. It seems like there was a point where Kanye could do no wrong.
Form 808s & Heartbreak comes Heartless. Like most of the album, Heartless’ production consists of synths, keys, and Auto-Tune. The way Kanye used Auto-Tune in this song and in the rest of 808s & Heartbreak makes his voice sound intentionally cold to sell how broken he is emotionally. In this case, it’s a response to a relationship that went down south. During the time he released this record, Kanye had gone through a lot, breaking up with his fiance and losing his mom. This is a record from a man who’s emotionally drained. Expect to see more Kanye on this list.
Here’s a classic that pretty much everyone knows about. Beyonce and Jay Z are THE power couple of music. Anytime these two collaborate, it’s like an event (with some exceptions). On this list is their second collaboration, Crazy In Love, which is about being so in love with somebody that you lose your mind. The production matches the lyrical content as it’s big and bombastic, sampling the Chi-Lites’ Are You My Woman (Tell Me So), taking an old sound and modernizing it for a modern audience. Jay Z contributes two verses that compliments the song. Jay and Beyonce have ridiculous amounts of chemistry and it’s clear to see why they’re in love with each other and have stayed together as long as they did.