The Best Songs of 2000

And I’m back. I often joke that 2000 was a dead zone for culture. It’s not. Great year for comics. Great year for tv. Even the movies I hard mock were good. And music? This was a ridiculous year. I had to struggle with the cuts this year. Sting and U2 had all time great songs and no room for them. Linkin Park missed the list. So did Nickelback with Leader of Men. Rock was very good.

As for who I was in 2000? I was happy. I liked my life. I lived on my bike. I had friends. I was enjoying school. I was frustrated by a script though. This was where I began work on the script known as Unworthy, a reflection of my wish that everything was easy. It wouldn’t be complete until the year my wife got pregnant with Lola. But a lot of this is tied to it.

The music here gets a bit obscure. I was hard into 105.9 out of Hot Springs, a station that in this age within a few days of hiring station hand Bobby Estell, put him on the air as Bobby Bones. Yeah the one hipster thing I can claim is I was listening to one of the biggest DJs ever in his early days. That station seemed to test a lot of obscure pop that occasionally broke out but usually stayed there. So this is a reflection of that.

Honorable Mentions:
Foo Fighters- Next Year. A song I liked in 2000 but honestly really like more now. It feels like a song you need to grow up to get. It’s poetic and wistful, the second part of a trilogy. Leaving andd rebuilding is this band’s core.
The Flys- Losin It. One hit wonders whose second song deserved more. Yes, it’s about the friend zone. But is it possible to think the song makes that thinking look good? This is very tongue in cheek and I love it.
Creed- Are You Ready. Really a hard cut here. The only reason this probably didn’t make the list is despite this and Higher being on it, Human Clay is awful and I don’t want to suggest otherwise. But this is such an awesome song. Tremonti has never sounded better.
Dido- Here With Me. It amazes me this isn’t in the top 10. This is probably the song I think of when I think of 2000. But not the best song. It’s still got such a great sound. The fall of 2000 was bitterly cold and this is that.
Green Day- Warning. Another painful cut. Green Day keep kicking ass. Minority was a big song this year but forget the anti-authoritarian song, I vibe with the “have fun!” song. A song about relaxing rules.

There’s no denying that rock music got whiny in the 2000s. I’d argue that’s what killed the genre. You can only hear so much sad bastard crap before you reject it. But for a moment it’s not the worst thing ever. And it was damned good here.

10 3 Doors Down- Loser. Look I am entitled to one of these mopey songs per list. And this one is my favorite of an era heavy on them because it’s actually about something far more serious than angst. It’s about cocaine addiction which is a worthy topic for a song. It’s pretty direct too. It’s a very cynical look at living with addiction and even a bit angry. Addicts tend to be kind of aggressive and that’s a rare note nailed here. It has a very 2000 sound too, trying to be harsh but a bit too polished. It works though for what it is. That’s cocaine.

The kinds of love songs I relate to aren’t the sappy gushing ones. That’s a function of my actual romance. I’ve been with my wife for 11 years. We had our day as the lovebirds. We have a wonderful functional relationship now. But you never lose that feeling. When it’s real, it lasts.

9 Billionaire- Touching Down. The first 105.9 song is a gem that’s pretty flowery. What is it exactly about? I’m only making a stab by saying it’s about acknowledging that time has passed but love endures. It’s definitely a lot of imagery that doesn’t add up to a clear picture. But it’s great imagery. 2000 is heavy on soundscapes and this one is incredible. The vocals by Marc Tompkins are clear while Rick Beato gives it a haunting quality on guitar. That the song has a potent quality of emotion and even loss fits as this was it for the band. They never did anything else. But this was a song for the ages.

I will say this forever. I wasn’t a rebel. I was a boring teen. I spent much of 2000 inhaling the last of the Marvel/Boulevard novel line. I saw my first R-rated movie at the theater this year and it was Wonder Boys. The big exciting moment of the year was going on a field trip. But I still relate to seeking independence. A good anthem about it works.

8 VAST- Free. This is one of the great simple songs of the year. It’s directly about declaring independence and it could be about anything. I blasted it a lot when I lost my job. It’s just such a great song to sing along with and I think that’s because it’s a joyful song. It’s defiant but it’s not bitter, focusing on the power a person has in this moment. And honestly I do think this captures who I was in this moment. I was free of my depression and living without it for the first time in years felt great. No wonder I related to the words “it’s time to be what I need to be.”

I’ve wrestled with insomnia for my entire life. I don’t sleep well. I didn’t as a kid. I don’t now. So songs about it are destined to strike me hard. And in 2000, 311 made one of the best.

7 311- Flowing. I actually really dig this band. But I hate most of their big hits which tend to be too slow. Not this. This is a song that crushes the hell of insomnia. The lyrics are blunt, laying out exactly how it feels. There’s a slightly panicked quality too that fits the situation. 311 worked best evoking things other than conventional love songs even if those were their big hits. This was their prime.

You know who rocked? Vertical Horizon. They only had a brief period of popularity but their big songs were all fantastic. Best I Ever Had? Perfect song about the hell of a break up. You’re a God? Dripping deliciously with sarcasm. Everything You Want? Song about deep frustration at not being seen that hurts. But my favorite by them? This.

6 Vertical Horizon- We Are. I’m cheating since this came out in April 1999 but I played it hard in 2000 and that’s what I’m counting. And this song rocks. Music about frustration and confusion will always connect with me. This is a song about being completely lost and just feeling frustrated about it. It’s almost a joke. It’s such an honest capturing of how it feels. And I stress. It rocks. This is a rock song of the style we don’t get anymore. It’s something to play loud. I’ve tested the sound on my new car with it. Pure adrenaline matched with pure stress.

Smash Mouth stopped being a thing after I’m a Believer. I keep track of every song artists do after their hits and they are ghosts after that until they formally disbanded last year. But they were great in their moment. So one more time I’m celebrating Astro Lounge.

5 Smash Mouth- Waste. What a cool song. And I mean in the timeless way. As the name said, they were going for Lounge and they killed it here. This could be a song played on a late night in the 60s. Just a dark song about regret with a very vintage sound. It’s a very different song for the band which is probably why it’s lesser known. This is not the goofy irony. This is a bleak admission of failure. But it’s their best song by far. Yet even as it deals with sadness it feels like just as much a pose as their other work. And that’s oddly what I think elevates it. It’s not winning at us but it’s still acted. And it underlines why they were great. They made an art of artifice.

I have a lot of happy memories of 2000. My dad taught me to drive and I wound up making that an exchange. I would drive and he would let me go into Little Rock. Now I don’t have as much longing to go there given that I live there and have for 14 years. But I still have warmth thinking about those trips. One trip I remember with real joy was going with my dad on Labor Day weekend. This was my jam at that moment.

4 Admiral Twin- Unlucky Ones. Song 2 of the 105.9 run. What a blast this song is. It’s just a proud anthem of the outsider. This is a song about being happy that you don’t fit in. It’s upbeat and joyful, not mournful. You don’t have to be my therapist to see why I love this song. It’s just a wonderful song. It’s amazing to me this wasn’t huge because it’s such a bold song that’s exactly in line with the era. The lyrics are so anti-tradition, boasting of stepping on cracks and not fearing 13. And it just speaks to me. It did then. It does now. A happy blissful song. And we aren’t done with those.

In 2000, I had to do the robot baby. And I had a breakdown because I knew the universe wouldn’t let me be a dad. I wouldn’t get to be a husband. And I hated being reminded of that. Just as much as I love going through the music of this year that reminds me how wrong I was and who I wanted to be. I wanted to be a good husband and father. I love that I did. And we get a chance to celebrate my love language here.

3 Molly’s Yes- Fall Down. Another song I loved then but really love the older I get. This song feels like a mission statement to me. I believe in doing all I can for the women I love. That’s what this is about. Doing anything for the woman you love. And it’s not a slow song. It’s a borderline soccer chant. The whole song feels very Scottish/Irish especially with the bagpipes but the band is from Tulsa of all places. It’s just a kickass declaration of love. All high energy. This is who all men should aspire to be for their women. I can’t imagine not grinning listening to this. It’s the third of the 105.9 songs and it’s the best.

Cold take but Kid A/Amnesiac is a genius double album. Taylor Swift might have beat it with Folklore/Evermore but this is still narrowly my vote. And yeah even I’m going to represent it on my list.

2 Radiohead- Idioteque. This almost got my top spot until I did the relistens and that it’s 2 not 1 is a statement on how great my 1 is. Because this is an all time classic. An apocalyptic anthem from a bleak group. Just a cold, paranoid song. This is the soundtrack to a panic attack. It’s not a happy song. But it’s a perfect song. Thom Yorke emotes so hard while trying not to. The song is all restraint while the lyrics are sheer paranoia unbound. That hook resembles breathing. And it never goes big. That’s the thing that I love. It’s a stressful panicked song. But it’s a small song. Just a profound work by a great band.

Top of the top. And it hits me that the music I loved in 2000 was aspirational. I wasn’t free but Free hit it. I couldn’t help someone but Fall Down was what I wanted to say to someone I loved. And that’s the case here. I wanted to feel what this song made me feel. And I’m happy to say I did. The top song for the year is a song I loved then and jammed to as I built this list. An all timer.

1 Incubus- Stellar. This was such an easy vote. Just a blissful song about being in love. This makes it seem wonderful and happy but unlike say I Knew I Loved You, it shreds. Hard. This is a rock song and it’s made to be blasted as loud as possible. Yet unlike Butterfly by Crazy Town which tried the same thing, it works. Hell it isn’t the only time Incubus pulled this. I’m definitely going to bring it up next week. And they were great at it! This is just such a wonderful song about such a simple idea. You want someone to know how happy they make you. It worked when I wanted this. It works far harder now that I do. This is exactly what being happy with someone feels like. A perfect joyful song.

Next week: 2001 brings some glorious work

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