The list continues...
Death Cab for Cutie "For What Reason"
In the fall of 2001, I studied abroad. I brought three albums with me, and two of them were awful. As a result, I was eagerly eating up anything anyone gave me, and a fellow MSU student gave me this album by Death Cab (their second) in exchange for Jeff Buckley's Grace. Great picked riff and a soaring chorus. But it was the words in the verse/chorus transition: "so slick with that sarcastic slough." Ben Gibbard never bested this album's lyrics.
Mindy Smith "Come to Jesus"
If Christian music were more like this, I would listen to it. I saw the video for this song on CMT, and I immediately loved it. The production isn't too slick and Mindy doesn't blow out her pipes. Understated, soulful, and far more moving than anything the CCM market generated this decade.
Of Montreal "Lysergic Bliss"
The night I found out that the pastor of the church I was attending commited suicide, I decided to go to an Of Montreal show. It was a great show, when they were still making rock music and not trying to recreate Berlin-era Bowie glam. Lysergic Bliss hit me and still does with its use of the word "vertiginous", three-part structure, and accordingly conflicted thoughts on love: "somehow inside hopeful and sad." The coda is pure Steely Dan keyboard circa "You'll go back, Jack" with killer harmonies draped over the top. Alright, children. Remember your breathing.
Strokes "Barely Legal"
"Aw Mama running out of luck / and like my sister, don't give a fuck." I came to this party six years after the room had cleared. There was still something left for the late crowd though, like...a string of terrific bass lines, for instance. But this particular track stuck because of its two-note guitar lead in between verse and chorus. The bass takes over the melody in the chorus, and when I listened to it, I hear a week spent in St. Louis during Summer 2007.
Omarion/Mylo Mash-up "Drop the Icebox Pressure"
I discovered the mash-up a couple of years ago, a wonderful musical concoction where two songs become one in ways both beneficial and horrifying. Underrated? The Sexual Healing/High and Dry Gaye/Radiohead mash-up. But this my favorite. Its canvas is two run of the mill songs; in fact, I can't stand the Omarion song in its original form. But the result is better than any other R and B song this decade (excepting Amerie's One Thing...more on this later).