The 21st century has produced a ton of shocking and incredible music. Since changes in technology have made streaming available,we’re able to hear new music more than ever before. We’ve been lucky enough to have superstars like Drake, Rihanna, and Childish Gambino come to life as superstars. We’ve also seen groups like U2, Beck, and Outkast change their game for the better.
The fact that it’s been almost 20 years since the turn of the millennium is jaw-dropping. With indie-rock guitar bangers, dance anthems, and heart-on-the-sleeve punk rock and emo ballads, these are the greatest songs of the century, so far.
Andre 3000’s apology to his ex-girlfriend began as an acoustic-guitar song. Then, it was converted into something people could understand a little bit more. The end result? Well, the single became the duo’s first ever Number One hit.
On top of the chart success, they won their first Grammy. “Ms. Jackson” put OutKast on the map even more as it helped sell the album following the underperformance of the lead single “B.O.B.”
Elliott teamed up with Timbaland for this retro-funk-future break-dancing jam. Of course, the single wouldn’t be complete with the slang term “badonkadonk,” which is a reference to your butt.
Then, there’s the chorus with the lyric “Flip it and reverse it,” which was simply played back and seemingly made up right on the spot. It’s no surprise that this was the Virginia native’s biggest chart hit and she hasn’t disappointed her fans.
The Michigan native dove into the emotional depths for “Lose Yourself.” This tongue-twisting anthem tells the story of a rapper’s all-or-nothing struggle about how to prevail.
The lead single from the 8 Mile soundtrack is inspirational and tackles aggressive themes about self-doubt. The song won the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 2003. However, one of the many lines that stood out to everybody, even to this day, is “Mom’s spaghetti.”
This next song had a go-go feel like it was an old-school song. Check out which member of Destiny’s Child made it big in 2003.
Cry Me A River
The former NYSYNC member took a vicious turn on his solo career. “Cry Me A River” was inspired by Timberlake’s relationship with ex-girlfriend Britney Spears. The beat mixed with Gregorian chants became a huge hit.
But, it didn’t stop there with the controversial music video in which Timberlake invades the home of his ex-lover and films himself having sexual relations with another woman. The 21-year-old charted a course that would become a successful career.
Seven Nation Army
The White Stripes addressed one issue in “Seven Nation Army.” The song tackled toxic gossip, the stuff that grinds away at you, which could be a reference to the stuff Jack White endured when his relationship with drummer and ex-wife Meg White ended.
It’s an anthem to go ballistic, with a fist-pump in the air ready to battle defiance. After all, the 21st century’s most epic guitar riff came to Jack during a soundcheck in Melbourne, Australia.
Crazy In Love
“Crazy In Love” has this go-go feel to it, almost like an old-school feel. Producer Rich Harrison constructed the song’s beat around a horn sample from “Are You My Woman?” by the Chi-Lites. The debut single from Beyoncé bolstered her into the superstar of the century.
Despite the two already dating, the decision to add a verse from Jay-Z came last minute. To this day, the song never gets old, no matter how many times you play it.
Snopp Dogg’s third Top 10 hit didn’t come until 2004. Find out who he teamed up with shortly!
Written by Brandon Flowers and Dave Keuning, this was one of the Killers first songs they wrote. Lyrically, the song depicts jealously and paranoia of a man who suspects his girlfriend is cheating on him.
“Mr. Brightside” became a popular song within the Las Vegas music scene. The song is filled with ambition, sex, and noise. Nearly 15 years after the song’s release, the reputation of the Killer’s big hit continues to grow like a snowball.
This hard-rock rap anthem took aim at the critics, crooked officers, and prison. Jay-Z revealed in his book, Decoded, that the hook is “a joke, bait for lyrics. At no point in the song am I talking about a girl.”
The hook “I got 99 problems and a b**** ain’t one” was coined during a conversation between Ice-T & Brother Marquis. Marquis would later use the phrase in the 1996 2 Live Crew song “Table Dance.”
Drop It Like It’s Hot
The song topped the US Billboard Hot 100 for three weeks starting on December 10, 2004. “Drop It Like It’s Hot” was Snoop’s first number one on the chart. It was the rapper’s third Top 10 as a solo artist after 2003’s “Beautiful” and 1994’s “Gin and Juice” climbed into the top 10.
The song gained attention thanks to its minimal, extremely sparse production consisting of tongue clicks, keyboard, a drum machine, and white noise.
This next single ahead was as catchy as ever thanks to this 2005 summer-jam and the help from Jamie Foxx.
Since U Been Gone
American Idol’s first MVP teamed with producers Max Martin and Dr. Luke just so they could give teen pop a punk-rock makeover. The song was released as the lead single from Breakaway two weeks before the album was released.
Long before Clarkson performed the song, Martin originally wrote it for Pink, who turned it down. Then, it was given to Hillary Duff, but she turned it down because she had difficulty reaching the higher notes.
Gwen Stefani had written an album’s worth of music for her solo debut. The ex-member of No Doubt thought she was missing something, specifically a song with an attitude.
During recording sessions with Pharrell, the pair melded an interesting sing-song melody with lyrics that were part of a clap-back at Courtney Love, who referred to Stefani as a cheerleader. Nevertheless, Stefani taught the world how to spell “bananas.” Hear the song once and it’s stuck in your head for good.
Kanye is as catchy as ever with “Gold Digger” as he cracks jokes over a triumphant beat while Jamie Foxx does his best Ray Charles impression. Originally, the song was supposed to be presented from a woman’s point of view.
West recorded the Charles sampling beat at Ludacris’ Atlanta home. For Foxx, he would go on to win the Academy Award for his portrayal of Charles in the biopic Ray.
The next song ahead was ecstatic that became a Grammy-Award winning song from some guy named Joesph Clifford Harris, Jr. But that’s not his stage name.
Sugar, We’re Going Down
Fall Out Boy was one of the bands who were big on the emo scene. The pop-punk of “Sugar, We’re Going Down” really brings back a lot of high school memories.
Bassist Pete Wentz recalled listening to his old music with his dad where they’d always say ‘sugar’ and ‘honey’. Nobody really includes those words in songs these days, but the Chicago boys first single throttled them into unlikely arena-rock stars.
Arcade Fire came out with a signature anthem on their debut LP, Funeral. It was a singalong in clubs long before the group played it on an arena scale. “Wake Up” is about the loss of innocence and the sureness of death.
The song was so good that U2 loved it, a lot. The Irishmen played the recording to begin their shows for a stretch. The late David Bowie sang it live with the band for what became an EP.
What You Know
T.I. dropped the lyrics, but DJ Toomp was the mastermind behind the beaming beat in “What You Know.” With his co-producer, Wonder, T.I. re-created the ecstatic, bumpy gospel-rock chord progression that become a Grammy-Award winning song.
The single was sure to utilize a variety of sampling. Roberta Flack’s version of The Impression’s “Gone Away” and the song “Hey Joe” by Jimi Hendrix made the song more enjoyable. It was the fourth single from “King.”
This next song coming up features a Brit who had a heartbreak but molded that hurt into one of the biggest crossover hits ever.
I Write Sins, Not Tragedies
In a response to the language found in the song, many U.S. radio stations wanted an edited version. Some of the more vulgar lyrics were easily replaced with “shhh” and making sure to not mention God when talking about closing the door. It’s the little things that can make a huge difference.
Some modern rock stations still played the original version. This was Panic! at the Disco’s only top forty hit until the release of “Hallelujah” in 2015.
Producer Danger Mouse described “Crazy” as a spaghetti Western, a homage to Italian composer Ennio Morricone. It’s not exactly Top 40 success, but CeeLo Green’s jittery and urgent delivery touched a nerve to be a hit on both rock and R & B radio stations.
The members of Gnarls Barkley used pop psychology to give the single a boost. But, the song wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for a conversation between Mouse and Barkley about ways they could make people think they were crazy.
Rolling In The Deep
At the end of her first real relationship, then 20-year-old Adele went into the studio to write music. With songwriter Paul Epworth by her side, her heartache molded into one of the biggest crossover hits ever.
“Rolling In The Deep” is the Brit telling her man to get the heck out of her house instead of begging for him to come back. With the authority of her voice, this single was sure to put old-school soul music back on all the charts.
Bad & Boujee
The triplet-packed rhymes will go down as a hallmark of the 2010s. Those rhymes found its way to becoming a Number One hit about cars, women, “cooking up dope with an Uzi.” For Migos, this chart-topping tune is a good way to introduce the trio from Atlanta.
In 2016, “Bad and Boujee” became an internet phenomenon, thanks to a large number of memes with the lyrics “rain drop, drop top.”
On her debut single, Cardi B flipped the flow from a freestyle by Kodak Black into a hard-edged boast. She promptly launched herself from an average mixtape rapper into a Number One chart-topper.
The New Yorker became the first female rapper since 1998 to be on top of the charts. Even with small success, the newfound mother is quite the Instagram personality and she was named Time’s 100 most influential people.