Category Archives: Lists

The Best Songs of the 2000s: The Outliers

Jesse

Jesse is a cofounder of SportsAlcohol.com even though he doesn't care for sports or alcohol. His favorite movie is Ron Howard's The Paper. I think. This is what happens when you don't write your own bio. I know for sure likes pie.

No one who votes on a best-of list is ever completely, 100% satisfied with the results, and few group lists are as idiosyncratic as the individual ballots that come together to form a consensus (no matter how weird that consensus is). With that in mind, we wanted to give the participants in our recent Best Songs of the 2000s poll to defend their orphan choices—the songs that not only didn’t make our list, but only received a single vote from a single participant. In most cases, the artist in question didn’t make our list at all (the last two profiled here are an exception); in several cases, the artist in question didn’t receive any other votes! (Sorry, Aaliyah, Dntel, and Junior Senior!) Whatever the circumstances, here are a bunch of our writers back for a curtain call, to explain how and why they departed so completely from the crowd.
Continue reading The Best Songs of the 2000s: The Outliers

The Best Album of the 2000s Came Out in 1999

Ben

Ben self-identifies as a Slytherin, so it makes sense that he is a business school graduate. He really liked the movie Margin Call, so that makes him SportsAlcohol.com's de facto business correspondent. By business correspondent, we mean the expert in movies and television about business (we don't care about the strength of the dollar or whatever).

The best album of the 2000s was released in 1999, and it was 69 Love Songs by The Magnetic Fields. This is not the first time this happened. The best album of the 1980s was London Calling, and it was released in 1979. Both albums perfectly pivot the previous decade and anticipate the best music in the one that would follow.

69 Love Songs capped a decade when the alternative went mainstream and became commodified. Alternative rock went from a subcultural scene in the movie Singles, but became the punchline in the early ’00s movie Rock Star. Indie labels got bought by big labels as part of a portfolio play. And, everything was being drowned out by the manufactured pop industry (c.f., Britney Spears, N’Sync). Pop would continue like that throughout the next decade — and even up to now.

So, what is the bellwether for a time like this? An album that points to fact that love songs are an industry with a formula and just a flavor of genre. At a time when the Music Genome Project was trying to prove that all songs come from a defined set of characteristics, Stephen Merritt and his bandmates of morose musicians set upon a concept album of all love songs of all different genres. And, sure, not every song is a gem, but every song is necessary — every song anticipates what a pop / rock love song could be, and reminds us that this is all artifice. The chords are going through the motions, the tunes are genre archetypes, and the lyrics are well-worn.

Those 69 Love Songs anticipate so many of the songs that wound up on the list that we chose, and so, to that end, I present 25-plus of the 69 Love Songs that could be swapped with those that wound up on the list of best songs of the ’00s.
Continue reading The Best Album of the 2000s Came Out in 1999

The SportsAlcohol.com Podcast: The Best Songs of the 2000s, Discussed

Jesse

Jesse is a cofounder of SportsAlcohol.com even though he doesn't care for sports or alcohol. His favorite movie is Ron Howard's The Paper. I think. This is what happens when you don't write your own bio. I know for sure likes pie.

If there’s one thing we at SportsAlcohol.com love just as much as making a big, unwieldy song list, it’s talking (and griping!) about our big, unwieldy song list, so of course after we ranked the 101 best songs of the 2000s, a bunch of us got together to talk about the results. Listen to Marisa, Craig, Sara, Ben, and Jesse badmouth each other’s choices, bicker about LCD Soundsystem and Bruce Springsteen, and talk about a bunch of music we all love in a wide-ranging, sometimes contentious, but surprisingly concise discussion. And that’s not all! A little later, Marisa and Jesse decided to talk to SportsAlcohol.com co-founder Rob about his arduous list-making process, resulting in even more insult into our weird, nerdy, music-loving minds! This Best Songs of the 2000s double feature is not to be missed. Plus, it has much better sound quality than our ’90s episode!

We are now up to SEVEN (7) different ways to listen to a SportsAlcohol podcast:

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    • You can download the mp3 of this episode directly here, and the bonus episode here.
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    • .

    • You can listen to both episodes in the players below.


The Top 101 Best Songs of the 2000s (Part 3)

Jesse

Jesse is a cofounder of SportsAlcohol.com even though he doesn't care for sports or alcohol. His favorite movie is Ron Howard's The Paper. I think. This is what happens when you don't write your own bio. I know for sure likes pie.

You’ve seen 101 through 61 and 60 through 21, right? So go ahead and dive in to the final stretch, our best-of-the-best top 20 songs of the 2000s.

The Top 101 Best Songs of the 2000s: Part 3

(The Top 20)

20. “Heartbeats” – The Knife (2003)

I want to preface this by saying fuck all covers of this track. Stripping “Heartbeats” to its barest elements to highlight the power of the lyrics does it a disservice. It’s more than just a tender love song; it’s so clearly a first love song. Jose Gonzalez picking away on his acoustic guitar captures just a single dimension of both the ecstatic joy and the inevitable doom of first love. The performance and instrumentation of the original recording strike a balance that makes the song legendary. Bathing in sawtooth waveforms right at the start of the analog synth revival and supplanted by impressionistic ESL lyrics, the one true recording of “Heartbreats” deftly contains multitudes. – Rob

19. “Idioteque” – Radiohead (2000)

This perfect crystal song; it would take little more than this one track for Radiohead to earn legend status. For a decade’s worth of bands-to-be, Radiohead was the unattainable horizon. Despite the pursuit, in the nearly two decades since “Idioteque,” we’ve heard very little that compares well to it. Perhaps music has gone elsewhere and the project is over. Nonetheless, this is not trivial music. Radiohead try harder. – Chris

Continue reading The Top 101 Best Songs of the 2000s (Part 3)

The Top 101 Best Songs of the 2000s (Part 2)

Jesse

Jesse is a cofounder of SportsAlcohol.com even though he doesn't care for sports or alcohol. His favorite movie is Ron Howard's The Paper. I think. This is what happens when you don't write your own bio. I know for sure likes pie.

We got the intro and bottom of the list out of the way yesterday, so let’s just hit it straight into the next 40 songs!

The Top 101 Best Songs of the 2000s: Part 2

(60 through 21)

60. “International Players Anthem (I Choose You)” – UGK (2007)

I admit it, I was way late to “International Players Anthem.” Though it came out on UGK’s 2007 album Underground Kingz, I didn’t really hear it until 2009 or 2010 when my wife Becca put it on a mix CD that she gave me when we were dating. So I’m a late convert to “International Players Anthem” and, as the saying goes, there’s no zealot like a convert, so…HOLY HELL THIS IS AN AMAZING TRACK! I mean, it has everything, EVERYTHING – the beat and sampling is peerless and brimming with confidence; there are virtuoso raps in a variety of lyrical styles, from Andre 3000 rapping (as usual) about spaceships and getting sunburned on his bum, to the casual references to Paul McCartney’s marital woes and crashing Bentleys. And (of course) a terrific performance by one Pimp C (RIP). And that doesn’t even take into account the music video. There may well be more “important” hip hop tracks higher up on this list, but you can’t tell me that there are any that are more fun to listen to. – George

59. “Me and Mia” – Ted Leo and the Pharmacists (2004)



Continue reading The Top 101 Best Songs of the 2000s (Part 2)

The Top 101 Best Songs of the 2000s (Part 1)

Jesse

Jesse is a cofounder of SportsAlcohol.com even though he doesn't care for sports or alcohol. His favorite movie is Ron Howard's The Paper. I think. This is what happens when you don't write your own bio. I know for sure likes pie.

It started, appropriately enough, on LiveJournal. Back in 2010, we here at SportsAlcohol.com were still active enough on the preferred platform of Russian bots to use it as a vehicle for something we assembled purely for fun: a list of the best songs of the just-completed 2000s. A bunch of friends got together and voted, we counted up the votes, and put the list online with some notes. No big write-ups, really just a matter of trivia.

Now it’s 2018, and maybe we have some more perspective on the time from 2000 and 2009. Or maybe not. Or maybe it seems so much better now because of what happened since, or it seems so far away because time continues to pass, or we just talk about how that was the beginning of music-culture fragmentation because we can’t figure out what other identity will stick. But for whatever the reason (mainly, that we really like lists, and apparently free labor), we decided to revisit this list idea as a companion piece to our list of the Best Songs of the 90s from a few years ago.

In true niche-driven fashion, there was no consensus on whether this proved easier or harder than putting together a ‘90s list. All I know is that we finished it, and that the final product does at least some justice to the eclecticism of that decade, from the rock revival of its early years, to the domination of hip-hop near the top of the charts, to the anthemic-but-sensitive indie revival that took hold around mid-decade, and any number of retro mini-movements that flashed in the pan. Plus also the Postal Service. Because, you know: 2000s.

Before we begin the countdown in earnest, a word about methodology: Contributors, around 20 in total, were asked to send a list of 50 songs. Point value was assigned by ranking; that is, a #1 ranking received 50 points, a #2 ranking received 49 points, and so on. A few contributors took our alternate option, wherein all 50 songs were given an equal number of points (approximately the total number of points on a regular ballot divided by 50). Ties were broken by number of mentions and, if necessary, by which song had the highest individual ranking. Though some individual voters made rules for themselves involving, say, the number of times they could mention a particular artist, there were no formal rules except that the song in question had to come out between January 1, 2000 and December 31, 2009. Accordingly, we didn’t futz with the results. If an artist charted three songs when good sense said probably one or two would be fine, well, all three are on the list. If a beloved and/or important figure split votes or just plain didn’t make it with our crowd, we didn’t try to correct for it to make ourselves look hipper or smarter or savvier. The list is the list, and good luck to us.

“Us” would be the all-star team of nerds working on this, including some SportsAlcohol.com founders and regulars: your old pals Rob, Marisa, Jesse, Sara Batkie, Ben Morrison, Tim DeLizza, Jeremy Bent, Chris Adams, and Craig Iturbe.

We were joined by some more writers listed below. Several of them have written for us in the past, but this was a massive project that required even more stepping up. So super-special thanks to these contributors old and new:

Jeremy Beck runs the website MovieManifesto, where he writes many, many movie reviews that nobody reads.
George Briggs is a high school teacher who lives in Rhode Island.
Catherine Burgess is a first-time contributor to SportsAlcohol.com. She went to her first concert (Fall Out Boy) in 2005 at the tender age of fourteen, where she got involved in “moshing” and consequently lost a shoe but received a black eye! Her mother was not pleased.
Evan Dent is a writer living in Brooklyn, a candidate in the New School’s MFA program, and is a better looking person with better ideas, more talent, and he’s really, really nice.
Randy Locklair is a dad, software developer, cellist, and manages to exist in Brooklyn while being a fan of just three Arcade Fire and zero Hold Steady songs.
Michelle Paul runs a technology company and lives in Delaware. She enjoys both sports and alcohol, as shown in her blog about pumpkin beer and postseason baseball.
Bayard Templeton is a teacher, Mets fan, theater enthusiast, and dad.

We also received vital ballot contributions from A.A. Dowd, Jillian Quitko, Josh Sheff, Cristin Stickles, Erin Styne, and our buddy DH.

The first part of our opus appears below; songs from 60 through 21 will run on Wednesday, while the top 20 will finish things up on Thursday. We’ll also have two different podcast episodes making a deeper dive into the list-making process with several of our beloved writers, and some other ancillary materials in addition to yesterday’s kickoff pieces.

For now, though, let’s kick things off and think about the earliest years of the millennium, and feel our conflicted feelings!.
Continue reading The Top 101 Best Songs of the 2000s (Part 1)

The Top Ten Best Fiery Furnaces Songs of the 2000s and Also All Time

Jesse

Jesse is a cofounder of SportsAlcohol.com even though he doesn't care for sports or alcohol. His favorite movie is Ron Howard's The Paper. I think. This is what happens when you don't write your own bio. I know for sure likes pie.

Here’s a spoiler for our upcoming list of the best songs of the 2000s: The Fiery Furnaces aren’t on it. To be honest, I didn’t include a Fiery Furnaces song on my own ballot of the 50 best songs of the 2000s, and when I realized I could live without my favorite Furnaces tunes on my personal list, it was clear that they had no shot at a broader consensus. I’m not sure if anyone voting on this list even particularly like the Fiery Furnaces, nevermind loves them. Even I, a committed fan who has seen them live multiple times and bought multiple Fiery Furnaces T-shirts, can’t really get through Blueberry Boat.

But among the many things I love about this band is the fact that—to date, with the caveat that reunions have become a seemingly non-negotiable part of a rock band’s life cycle—they are a prolific musical act that nonetheless is confined almost entirely to a single decade. There are certainly other bands that are pretty much of the 2000s, but most of them have some kind of asterisk: Rilo Kiley put out all of their albums in the 2000s, but they put out their first EP in 1999, and their belated swan-song rarities compilation appeared in 2013. The White Stripes did most of their best and biggest work in the 2000s, but their first album did come out in 1999. The entire body of the Fiery Furnaces’ recorded work—six studio albums, one album-sized EP, and the requisite Double Live record, plus assorted odds and ends—came out between 2003 and 2009. They played some shows in 2010 and early 2011, but there was no more new music. The band’s core siblings members, vocalist Eleanor Friedberger and mulit-instrumentalist Matthew Friedberger, went on to make a bunch of solo albums separately. Eleanor put out a great record this very year. No one asks her when the Fiery Furnaces are getting back together.

As much as I love the cleaner, clearer sound Eleanor has pursued on her own, there are brilliant moments throughout the Fiery Furnaces catalog, and they kept me company throughout the back half of the 2000s. As an appetizer to our full 2000s list coming later this week, here’s the rare SportsAlcohol.com music list presided over entirely by one weirdo fan.

The Ten Best Fiery Furnaces Songs of the 2000s, and Also All Time

Continue reading The Top Ten Best Fiery Furnaces Songs of the 2000s and Also All Time

The Top 15 Best Liz Phair Songs (So Far)

Jesse

Jesse is a cofounder of SportsAlcohol.com even though he doesn't care for sports or alcohol. His favorite movie is Ron Howard's The Paper. I think. This is what happens when you don't write your own bio. I know for sure likes pie.

When I was 16 or 17 and girls my age called Alanis Morrissette “Alanis,” it irritated me in the way that smartass know-it-all insecure teenage boys frequently get unaccountably irritated. You don’t know her! I’d think. Or sometimes say out loud, in the way that smartass know-it-all insecure teenage boys frequently can’t keep their stupid mouths shut. At the time I, to paraphrase the song “Rock Me,” didn’t know who Liz Phair was. But I thought back to those moments when reading over our write-ups of the best Liz Phair songs—including my own. Pretty much all of us did it: We called her Liz, like we knew her. We don’t, of course. But that’s how good Liz Phair’s songwriting is: There’s something relatable yet specifically conversational about so many of her lyrics, as well as her unaffected delivery style and sometimes fret-squeaking arrangements. And as important as Exile in Guyville is, this kind of presumptuous rapport with your audience doesn’t automatically happen from one great album. It happens more often from a career full of high points, from one of our best (and sometimes most underappreciated songwriters). SportsAlcohol.com founders Marisa, Jesse, and Rob were joined by past ‘90s list voters Sara Ciaburri and Lorraina Raccuia-Morrison as well as Liz (and film) scholar R. Emmett Sweeney to pay tribute to our collective favorites, coinciding with the reissue of her first four albums on vinyl, an Exile-themed anniversary tour, a bigger tour in the fall, and hopefully a new album sometime soon. In the meantime, here is who Liz Phair is.

The Top 15 Best Liz Phair Songs So Far

Continue reading The Top 15 Best Liz Phair Songs (So Far)

The Ten Best Soundtrack Cues from The Americans

Sara

Sara

Sara is big into reading and writing fiction like it's her job, because it is. That doesn't mean she isn't real as it gets. She loves real stuff like polka dots, indie rock, and underground fight clubs. I may have made some of that up. I don't know her that well. You can tell she didn't just write this in the third person because if she had written it there would have been less suspect sentence construction.
Sara

When The Americans premiered back in January 2013, it had all the makings of a fun throwback. ’80s fashion! ’80s politics! Felicity gracing our screens again! It quickly revealed itself to be a much more serious exploration of the crisscrossing allegiances to family and country than its sexy logline implied, albeit with plenty of time for bone-breaking and tooth-extracting, and with some of the most complex (and perplexingly under-awarded) performances on television. And in hindsight its granular exploration of the old Cold War was remarkably prescient of our current quagmires, constantly forcing the audience to question just how much it should be sympathizing with characters that want to undermine our very way of life, antiheroes whose destructive reach extends beyond even Heisenberg. What the show’s ultimate legacy will be after its May 30th finale remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure: it had some of the most artful era-appropriate music cues this side of Mad Men. In honor of its six masterful seasons, here are the 10 best cuts from the entirety of the series (up until the eighth episode of season six, that is), presented in the order they first appeared. Also, though The Americans has its favorites like everyone, I limited this to one soundtrack cut per artist out of fairness. Otherwise this list might be mostly Fleetwood Mac. Speaking of…

Continue reading The Ten Best Soundtrack Cues from The Americans

They Might Be Giants Week!

Marisa
Gripes

Marisa

There are contrarians, there are iconoclasts, and then there is SportsAlcohol.com co-founder Marisa. A contraiclast? Her favorite Springsteen album came out this century, so she is basically a controversy machine.

Also, she is totally not a dude!
Marisa
Gripes

Latest posts by Marisa (see all)

Hey, you might’ve noticed, but the team here at SportsAlcohol.com sure likes They Might Be Giants a whole lot! Let’s nerd out.

We re-listened, voted, cried, ranked, and re-ranked until we had compiled a collective list of The Top 40 Best They Might Be Giants Songs of All Time (For Now).

To ease our sour grapes, we also put together a post of Outliers—TMBG songs that received one and only one vote for our master ranking.

Then four of us got together to record a podcast about the band, and how they’ve changed and haven’t changed—and ho we’ve changed and haven’t changed—in the decades they’ve been making music.

Is there a Spotify playlist? Of course there’s a Spotify playlist. (It’s missing two songs though—see if you can figure out which ones!)

And remember: Everybody dies frustrated and sad, and that is beautiful.