There’s one every week. That song that either captures your attention or drives you absolutely nuts. But either way, it’s still the most popular song in the country. It’s the No. 1 song on the Billboard Hot 100, and it’s calculated by radio play and the sales for a given song. And it’s common sense that a song hitting No. 1 doesn’t make it great (we’re talking to you, “Tik-Tok” and “Macarena).
So today we’ll take a look at the best moments in the most overplayed, over-listened and most popular songs since the year 2000.
10 – “Lose Yourself” – Eminem
There might not be a more recognizable, iconic intro to a song than Eminem’s “Lose Yourself.” Chrysler even used it to represent a comeback for Detroit in its “Imported from Detroit” ads. It’s an empowering track that captured the attention of the masses and made Eminem more than just a filthy mouth.
9 – “Just the Way You Are” – Bruno Mars
Bruno Mars had already hit No. 1 on the Billboard chart twice with guest spots on B.o.B.’s “Nothin’ on You” and Travie McCoy’s “Billionare,” but his own debut single set a Billboard record for an artist making its debut by staying on the charts for 20 weeks on the Adult Contemporary chart. The track shows Mars’ fresh take on pop music, blending equal parts Motown and hip-hop beats for a voice that is undeniably pleasant to listen to. Still doubting Mars? Take a second listen to your copy of The Lady Killer by Cee-Lo Green. Mars was responsible for writing and recording a ton of “Fuck You!”
8 – “Fallin’” – Alicia Keys
Alicia Keys has an incredible voice. But it’s never sounded so catchy or vital than in her Songs in A Minor single “Fallin’.” She starts off a capella before she gets some hit-making backup: a thumping bass drum and classy plucked string parts along with her signature piano. It gets props for being a great track, but the only frustrating thing about it is that you’ll hear it awkwardly butchered at high-school talent shows for years to come.
7 – “Stronger” – Kanye West
For Kanye West’s “Stronger,” the rapper shows just how effective picking out a good sample can be. The track’s hookiest parts are sampled from Daft Punk’s “Harder Better Faster Stronger,” but West makes it his own into a bumping track that launched him to No. 1.
6 – “SexyBack” – Justin Timberlake
In 2006, Justin Timberlake told MTV news that “SexyBack” sounded like David Byrne and David Bowie covering James Brown. While we might not know exactly what that would really sound like, Timberlake’s rendition of the sound is satisfying all by itself. And its Timbaland-produced blipping beat does sound oddly reminiscent of Talking Heads’ version of “Psycho Killer” on the live album Stop Making Sense.
5 – “Ms. Jackson” – Outkast
Outkast always had great production, but the slapping bass under Big Boi’s verse makes “Ms. Jackson” from 2000’s Stankonia. Over a loop played in reverse, the duo raps timeless line’s like “You say it’s puppy love, we say it’s full grown” and “You can plan a pretty picnic but you can’t predict the weather,” before breaking into the classic “Forever. For ever ever, for ever ever?”
4 – “Empire State of Mind” – Alicia Keys and Jay-Z
It’s one of Jay-Z’s many No. 1 singles, but it’s by far the best, and most accessible. The tribute to New York was so good that Mayor Michael Bloomberg introduced a performance of the song as one of the “newest anthems of the Yankees.” It’s a feel-good, optimistic track about one of the busiest, bustling places in the United States, and it’s also incredibly catchy.
3 – “Rolling in the Deep” – Adele
Just three years ago, Adele played Bonnaroo and was billed almost halfway down the list—behind acts like Yonder Mountain String Band, Pat Green, Orchestra Baobab, Minus the Bear, Battles and Ladytron. It’s amazing to think of how far she’s climbed since then, with her release 21. “Rolling in the Deep” pulled her powerhouse vocals into an accessible package that really introduced the singer to America.
2 – “Hey Ya! – Outkast
The way-too-overplayed, hear-your-mom-humming-it but impossibly hook-filled “Hey Ya!” was unavoidable in public places in late 2003. Coming from Andre 3000’s side of the Outkast double album Speakerboxx/The Love Below, the track was an acoustic-driven party anthem that made sure audiences knew exactly what was cooler than cool — it’s “ice cold,” in case you forgot.
1 – “Single Ladies” – Beyoncé
Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies” is so good it’s ridiculous. As a male who doesn’t go to clubs who really has no connection to the message or lesson behind “Single Ladies,” the song gets cranked surprisingly loud any it plays through on the radio. It’s the clapping, driving backbeat behind the driving synth and Beyoncé’s irresistible (maybe, irreplaceable?) voice that keeps it forever fresh.