For the month of August I was taking part in the latest Twitter challenge hosted by @sotachetan which takes us into the new millennium with a A to Z of the best songs from that decade.
I think the noughties was a decent enough decade music wise as I came across new bands to like as well as enjoying music from the bands that I had been following in the the 1990s.
Overall, Queens of the Stone Age being one of the new bands I discovered at Reading 2000 have dominated the list here with four absolute bangers. It would have been hard to leave them out. I made good use the of the wildcard rotation for songs that I couldn’t pick due to the letter so so me of my favourites managed to slip through.
Accelerator – Primal Scream
Kicking off with his really cracking song from Primal Scream’s XTRMNTR (2000) album. A more aggressive Bobby Gillespie is in fine form attacking government, police and multi-nationals in a more political stance compared to their earlier records. Kevin Shields from My Bloody Valentine joins the band for this album along with Mani from The Stones Roses. Released as a single, this would be the final single put out by the Creation label.
Bleed American – Jimmy Eat World
I didn’t discover Jimmy Eat World until 2002 when they were the support for Blink 182’s European tour. Can’t remember the circumstances of why Blink 182 cancelled their tour at the time but Jimmy Eat World came over to Europe anyway and done their own shows, one of the them being at Temple Bar Music Centre (now The Button Factory) in Dublin. I took a chance and got a ticket to see them and it was just amazing. This track being one of my favourites as it sent the mosh pit wild. My glasses got broke during that song!
At the time the song got renamed Salt Sweet Sugar and the album was just Jimmy Eat World as a self-title album. The reason for this was due to the 9/11 attacks in America. But over time the album and indeed song eventually regained it’s original title.
Chop Suey! – System of a Down
Not one for embracing the nu-metal scene that seemed to dominate in the early 00s, System of a Down stood out among all the other bands as the replacement to the disbanded Rage Against The Machine.
The first single from their Toxicity album (2002), this was another song that wasn’t quite fitting in the post 9/11 landscape of inappropriate titles with a line from the song ‘I don’t think you trust in my self-righteous suicide, I cry when angels deserve to die’ . However it didn’t get renamed like Bleed American did for Jimmy Eat World.
Driving Death Valley Blues – Mark Lanegan Band
Having briefly followed some of Mark Lanegan’s solo career after Screaming Trees disbanded, Bubblegum (2004) had a big impact on me and I have been following Lanegan’s solo career since. I never got to see Screaming Trees live but first glimpse of seeing him live was when he was touring with Queens of the Stone Age. I first got to see Mark Lanegan play Belfast in 2003 which was just before Bubblegum came out.
I picked this song as it just feels like a song to soundtrack a road movie.
Eat Junk Become Junk – Six by Seven
By 2000 I was really looking for more new bands to to get into and Six By Seven released their sophomore album, The Closer You Get album that year. Eat Junk Become Junk bursts out from the album and grabs you by the throat with the chainsaw guitars and thumping bass.
Fruit Fly – Nada Surf
Another new discovery thanks to the cover mounted CDs you got free on the music magazines at the time. Nada Surf’s Blizzard of ’77 was my introduction to the band. As Jimmy Eat World took the B slot the song misses out and is replaced here by Fruit Fly. Let Go from 2002 is a fantastic album.
Go With The Flow – Queens of the Stone Age
Starting the sequence of Queens of the Stone Age’s dominance of my selections for the A to Z series, this banger from 2002’s Song for the Deaf which featured Dave Grohl from Foo Fighters on drum duties.
Hit The City – Mark Lanegan Band
Second entry from Mark Lanegan is also from Bubblegum and one of my favourite tracks. It also featured PJ Harvey.
I Am Mine – Pearl Jam
Taken from Pearl Jam’s seventh studio album Riot Act (2002) was one of the most successful songs released from that album. Original written by Eddie Vedder prior to the Roskilde tragedy, the song tackles existential matters with Vedder stating before a show “This song’s about personal safety, and the feeling of being secure, and even free.”
Up to this point the band had not done any promotional videos since Do The Evolution (1998) releasing five videos from the album of live performances.
Just a Day – Feeder
The band had enjoyed a very successful 2001 by the time this was released as a stand alone single. It didn’t feature on any albums until it was included in the 2006 The Singles compilation. One of my favourite Feeder songs and often a set closer towards the end of the gig which is going to get you bouncing.
Kick Out the Jams – Rage Against The Machine
This fantastic cover of the MC5 classic features on Rage Against The Machine’s final album, Renegades (2000) which came out two years after the return to form The Battle of Los Angeles album from 1998.
Renegades as an albums covers a diverse range of artists such as Bob Dylan, Minor Threat, Bruce Springsteen, The Rolling Stones, The Stooges, Devo and Afrika Bambaataa. Of all the songs covered many with their own interpretation of the originals, Kick Out The Jams was does MC5 justice with both bands sharing the same goals.
Little Discourage – Idlewild
From Idlewild’s second album, 100 Broken Windows (2000), brought the band more radio play and increased fan base. I became a fan of the band after seeing them support Placebo at the Ulster Hall in 1999.
Mr November – The National
The National supported Barack Obama’s presidential candidacy in 2008 with a t-shirt saying “Mr November” referring the American elections for new president. The song was in fact written in part about John Kerry’s candidacy from four years earlier and features on their third album, Alligator (2005).
A regular feature of an gig played by The National which sees front man Matt Berninger jumping into the crowd with microphone.
One Armed Scissor – At The Drive In
Post-2000 saw an explosion of post-hardcore and emo bands and At The Drive In for me one of the bands that stood heads and shoulders of the rest. Taken from their third studio album, Relationship of Command (2000) it is a work of aggressive edge with a melodic drive, harmonious, emotive vocals, and surreal lyrics.
I saw the band when they played at the Empire in Belfast, a very small venue with an even smaller stage hosting a band that jumped around the stage quite a lot. However, they were not fans of the audience jumping up and down though, witnessing one eager fan pogoing a lot to be told to stop.
One of my favourite performances of this song was when they were on the BBC Later show hosted by Jools Holland. Poor Robbie Williams had to follow up after them. I think he was quite stunned as you can see from the video below.
Parabola – Tool
From one of my favourite albums of 2001, Tool’s third studio album Lateralus produced this mind-bending single. How they managed to release this as a single is beyond as the album literally feels like one big massive song split up into sections. It is one of the best albums you will ever hear.
Be Yourself – Audioslave
Going through my CD collection I could find no songs beginning with Q for the noughties but as this day was also a wildcard entry it gave the opportunity to pick a song that got missed out earlier and that went to Audioslave’s Be Yourself.
What is there not to like about this with Chris Cornell teaming up with the remaining members for Rage Against The Machine for this one? At the time the joke was Rage Against The Garden to describe this supergroup.
Renegades of Funk – Rage Against The Machine
Second selection from Rage Against The Machine was the their cover of Afrika Bambaataa’s Renegades of Funk. A song that really suited the style of Rage Against The Machine as their video namechecked the “renegades” such as hip hop artists like Public Enemy, Beastie Boys, De La Soul, as well as civil rights activists Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr, and boxer Muhammad Ali to name but a few.
Songs for the Dead – Queens of the Stone Age
The first of two selections from Queens of the Stone Age’s Songs for the Deaf (2002) which featured Songs in their title. I actually originally to the two mixed up when researching on YouTube mixed it up with Song for the Deaf.
I found a great video of Dave Grohl drumming with the at Rock Werchter. He really beats the crap out of those drums.
Two Rights Make One Wrong – Mogwai
Taken from Mogwai’s third studio album, Rock Action (2001) sees the band making some changes to their sound by bringing in electronics . Less dark from their previous works it is still essentially Mogwai.
Breakerfall – Pearl Jam
With no songs to choose from the letter U, it was back to using the wildcard and another selection from Pearl Jam. The lead-off song on Binaural wasn’t a single, but the lightning-fast song has become a fan favourite and infuses shows with incredible energy each time they break it out.
Vertigo – U2
My favourite band from my teenage years but this one from 2004’s How To Dismantle an Atomic Bomb was slowly starting to become my least favourite U2 song. Vertigo gets the nod here as it fits in nicely with the letter V but since its release along with Beautiful Day and Elevation are the songs I wish the band would ditch from their live set. I guess I’m just bored with those songs now but at the time, yeah I did have a liking for this one but maybe not so much now.
Whatever Happened to My Rock N’Roll (Punk Song) – Black Rebel Motorcyle Club
One of my favourite songs from 2001 – Black Rebel Motorcyle Clubs fuzzed up Whatever Happened to My Rock N’Roll (Punk Song) is a blistering track from the band and you can really tell the influence of The Jesus and Mary Chain here.
Feel Good Hit of the Summer – Queens of the Stone Age
Final selection from Queens of the Stone Age is this drug fuelled banger from Rated R (2000) with it’s opening lines of Nicotine, valium, vicadin, marijuana, ecstasy, and alcohol cocaine referenced the band’s stoner rock history.
Many radio stations refused to play it and some stores had warnings on the album cover but despite all that the song stands alongside Smells Like Teen Spirit and Killing in the Name for its instant impact. I must admit I could hardly make out the lyrics but when played live its just a good excuse to go absolutely go nuts to.
You Held The World in Your Arms – Idlewild
Idlewild’s third studio album The Remote Part (2002) departs from the punk rock traits of their previous releases. I always felt that from this album own their sounded a bit more like REM which is probably not a bad thing.
A Song for the Deaf – Queens of the Stone Age
Correctly crediting this song from the earlier mistake, this is the last track of the album (some editions feature the hidden track Mosquito Song) written by Josh Homme and Mark Lanegan includes a snippet of Feel Good Hit of the Summer.
2+2=5 – Radiohead
On first glance you probably think that is a typo but it is indeed the correct name of the song from Radiohead’s sixth studio album Hail to the Thief (2003) which references George W, Bush’s election win and very much influenced by the war on terror at the time. The title itself comes from the George Orwell’s 1994 novel which is one of the slogans from the dystopian novel.
That concludes the A to Z of best songs from the noughties. It was quite a challenge but I do think the songs selected does reflect my tastes for that decade.