The Top 5 Songs of Every Year (2000-2015)
Earlier, I was given the task of ranking the top 5 songs of 2015. It was difficult but was also a fun way to reflect on the music of the year. Now, I’m taking it a step further and making a Top 5 list for each year of the 21st Century. Here are the terms:
I’m strictly using the Billboard Year End charts that I found on Wikipedia. If a song did not make the list for a given year, it cannot be on my top 5 list for the year. That helps to narrow down the field significantly.
If a song made the Billboard Year End chart for multiple years and I wanted to add it to one of my lists, then I added it to the year that it charted higher.
I’m ranking the songs retroactively, meaning that I’m ranking them based on what I think of them right now and not what I thought about them in 2000 or 2001, etc. That’s mostly because I can’t exactly go back to the year 2000 and ask the past version of myself what the top 5 pop songs were for the year.
Without further ado, here’s a quick breakdown of the best Top 40/Pop songs of each year.
This is a time period where I was very heavily into rock music like Metallica, Korn and (I’ll admit it) Limp Bizkit. It was hard to look back at 2000 and find 5 songs I liked from the Billboard Year End list.
5. NSYNC- “It’s Gonna Be Me”
Hey, “Nookie” wasn’t a choice, so let’s give Justin and the 4 other guys some love. I liked it better than “Bye Bye Bye” even though that one had the better dance moves.
4. Lonestar- “Amazed”
I had “Country Grammar” here originally, but now Number 4 is just a country ballad.
3. Sisqo- “Thong Song”
Hey, remember Sisqo? No, not Cisco. I kind of believe that this song made thongs more mainstream in America. When’s the last time Cisco did anything to change the world…?
2. Blink 182- “All the Small Things”
Mark, Tom and Travis are near and dear to many fans’ hearts and I’m very familiar with this particular album. This one still stands up as a catchy pop punk hit.
1. Dr. Dre- “The Next Episode”
I like this song more now than I did when it came out. It took me a few more episodes than most. Those Thug Life videos definitely helped me like this song more.
Again, this is a time when I was fully emerged in rock music. Going by the Billboard charts, here’s what I found.
5. Nelly- E.I.
Nelly made the cut with this hit in the middle of his heyday.
4. Fuel- Hemorrhage (In My Hands)
Not even my favorite Fuel song (“Shimmer”) but this bumped 3 Doors Down.
3. Outcast- Ms. Jackson
Didn’t love it when it was out. Looking back now, I like it more. Feel like it got forgotten.
2. Lenny Kravitz- “Again”
Always liked this one and its vintage kind of feel.
1. Faith Hill- “There You’ll Be”
Whether or not you’ve seen Team America, you might think Pearl Harbor sucked, but I don’t mind this song from the film.
Brace yourself: this list features Nickelback AND Puddle of Mudd.
5. Chad Kroeger- “Hero”
The Spiderman 2 song was good back then and it still makes the list.
4. NSYNC- “Gone”
Yes. The song that Justin wrote while Britney was out getting coffee.
3. Usher- “U Got It Bad”
Easy addition to the list. That steel guitar. The lyrics. The guitar solo that I would practice in my room. Easily my favorite Usher hit.
2. Puddle of Mudd- “Blurry”
I’m well aware of the recent stories about Puddle of Mudd and the problems they’ve been having during shows. To me, that doesn’t take away from this song being awesome and one of the better rock crossovers from this era. Always loved the harmonics in the song. I actually played guitar and sang it with some friends at a small show at Fordham Prep way back in the day.
1. Linkin Park- “In The End”
I absolutely loved “Hybrid Theory” back in the day. This might not even be the third or fourth best song on the album, but it was the only Billboard hit, so yeah. Glad I could get some music on there that I actually loved back in 2002.
The year of 8 Mile and 50 Cent…
5. Evanescence- “Bring Me To Life”
This song was cool back in the day. The rap-rock kind of stuff fades in and out of style from time to time. It’s still one of the better charting songs of the year to me.
4. Lil Jon- “Get Low”
Ahh so many Sweet Sixteen memories. We partied from the windows to the walls, and until something dripped off of something, or at least until our parents picked us up.
3. Christina Aguilera- “Beautiful”
She’s an outstanding singer and this song showcased that better than a lot of her other songs. Good song with a good message about self love.
2. Audioslave- “Like a Stone”
I loved RATM and Soundgarden for years, and was lucky enough to see both in separate concerts years later when they reunited: RATM in 2007 and Soundgarden a couple of years back. Glad their temporary merger, Audioslave made the list. Chris Cornell’s vocal ability is top of the line. Tom Morello’s guitar has always been unique and interesting. Good song.
1. Eminem- “Lose Yourself”
I’d guess this would be most people’s number 1. Really good song. The big movie tie-in. Memorable guitar intro. Great message. I wasn’t swept up in the Eminem craze like most were, but I know he’s good.
Long before Pitbull was featured in every three songs on the radio and even before T-Pain auto-tuned his way into collaborations with everyone, a man named Lil Jon had a stranglehold on pop music for a time.
5. Switchfoot- “Meant to Live”
Forgotten band and song. Makes the cut.
4. Mario Winans- “I Don’t Wanna Know”
How could a woman leave Puff Daddy after he offered to give her extra cheese?
3. Usher- “Yeah”
Couldn’t escape this song back in the day but I’ve learned to enjoy it, mostly for the nostalgia.
2. Kevin Little- “Turn Me On”
A fun little dance number that makes me think of school dances. But unlike “Yeah”, I actually liked this song when it was big.
1. Linkin Park- “Numb”
With or without Jay-Z, this song was good.
This was the year I started my solo project, Bellevue, which was basically the last actual band I was in before I made a one man band. The music is on the Matty G the Musician YouTube channel for all to check out.
5. Gwen Stefani- “Cool”
A nice, reminiscent little post-breakup friendship song.
4. Gorillaz- “Feel Good Inc”
A little bit of MJ, a little bit of “Video Killed the Radio Star”… this song is still good even though a huge tractor trailer cut me off on a parkway in Delaware and almost killed me while this song was playing. A lot of a song’s impact can be affected by the moments you have with it- that’s for sure.
3. Ludacris- “Get Back”
Tom Cruise in Tropic Thunder can take the credit for bumping this up the ranks.
2. The Killers- “Mr. Brightside”
Powerful song about jealousy and regret with some great instrumentals.
1. Green Day- “Wake Me Up When September Ends”
When I learned about what this song was really about, I appreciated it more.
First Myspace reference awaits you…
5. Chamillionaire- “Ridin Dirty”
I originally had “Goin Down” here, but this song was just too fun to drive to.
4. Rascal Flatts- “What Hurts the Most”
I’ll take this over the Cascada version.
3. Keyshia Cole- “Love”
You can feel the emotion in Cole’s voice as she shreds through the chorus of this one.
2. Cascada- “Everytime We Touch”
Speaking of Cascada, hey, remember Cascada? Couldn’t get away from this infectious pop song back in the day.
1. T.I.- “What You Know”
This was probably the longest-running song to be featured on my Myspace page. That’s right. The more you know… about that. It’s probably still there, but like the rest of the world, I probably haven’t checked my Myspace page in like 10 years.
This was the year I joined Hot 97 as an intern and hustled my way into a job there. It was also the year that the Matty G the Musician YouTube channel was launched.
5. Diddy- “Last Night”
That dulcimer-style piano and Keyshia Cole’s vocals make the song stand out on top of a retro-style beat. I played this for Mr. Iona 2007 on 3 instruments at the same time, along with Nelly Furtado’s “Maneater” and it helped me win the title and 200 bucks. 200 bucks for a college student is big. The memory of winning is even bigger. So I can’t really dislike this song ever.
4. Ne-Yo- “Because of You”
Always thought Ne-Yo was really talented and appreciated that he actually wrote and produced for a lot of artists. Also got to work at a V.I.P. concert he did for Hot 97 back when this song was big.
3. Shop Boyz- “Party Like a Rockstar”
Could’ve put Unk or Mims here, but this one had the rock element to it and I did a cover of it back in the day. I remember hearing it for the first time in Cancun and being like “What is this???”
2. Red Jumpsuit Apparatus- “Face Down”
I always liked this song. Then, these guys actually shared my cover of their song on Myspace and favorited the video on the YouTube channel. Back when YouTube channels displayed favorite videos, it was front and center on their list. Unbelievable. I’ll never dislike this song.
1. Rihanna- “Umbrella”
Of course this song’s Number 1. This song will always be near and dear to my heart. My YouTube cover got featured on CollegeHumor.com and got my YouTube channel on the map back in the day. That first break was SO huge and really made me believe that I could get things done if I kept working hard. I like the song as it is, but on top of that, it always brings me back to 2007 when I was doing well in school, my YouTube channel started taking off and I was starting a new job at Hot 97. Ella Ella Ey-Ey-Ey.
This was a time of economic meltdown, the Michael Phelps show at the Summer Olympics and a presidential election here in the states.
5. Soulja Boy- “Crank That Soulja Boy”
I definitely cranked the Soulja Boy back when this song was big. Before the dougie, and the whip and nene and after the twist, the moonwalk, and the running man. Man, I gotta come up with a dance move song.
4. Flo Rida- “Low”
Like the Ludacris song “Get Back”, this one gets a boost from Tom Cruise in Tropic Thunder.
3. Madonna- “4 Minutes”
Feel like this song’s forgotten but I really liked it mostly for the instrumentals behind it.
2. Coldplay- “Viva La Vida”
Should I just give this spot to Joe Satriani instead???
1. Finger Eleven- “Paralyzer”
Love the style of this song and definitely was influenced by it. Made me realize that not every rock song needs to be instrumentally overpowering to still have an impact. Actually, pulling back a bit can make the song more acceptable to a wider audience.
This year is very tough to choose a top 5 from. A lot of breakout music from Lady Gaga and Taylor Swift and Pitbull, and many other hit songs that can’t all make the top 5. “Knock You Down”, “I Gotta Feeling” and “My Life Would Suck Without You” almost got in.
5. Lady Gaga- “Just Dance”
The song that introduced us to Lady Gaga and became the title for a video game franchise that I’ve still never played.
4. Jay Sean- “Down”
Very smooth and catchy pop song that I think I always liked. It ages well, too.
3. Jordin Sparks- “Battlefield”
Heavy hitting drums, dramatic piano, epic chorus by a good vocalist. I like when pop songs get on the heavy-sounding side.
2. Beyonce- “Halo”
Years after this song was a hit, I think it was kind of a beautiful song with some great vocals and piano. It will always have a warm spot in my heart because I made a cover of it on three instruments for MTV. Speaking of that…
1. Lady Gaga- “Poker Face”
I remember “Just Dance” came out while I was still in school. For all we knew, Lady Gaga could’ve been another one hit wonder. Then, this song exploded and Lady Gaga became a household name. It will always have a warm place in my heart because I made a cover of it for MTV as part of a pilot they hired me for. Then, they gave me permission to upload the same video on my YouTube channel, where it was later discovered by CBS and put in their 2010 Grammys commercial. Crazy. Can you really blame me for putting it at number 1?
This is the closest Katy Perry got to making a list with “California Gurls”. I found my top 2 of this year way down in the 70s and 80s of the Billboard Year End list, and it was worth it.
5. Taio Cruz- “Dynamite”
I learned to appreciate this song way after 2010. Nice pop hit that I still play from time to time.
4. Lady Gaga- “Bad Romance”
The melody sounds like a holiday song in a weird way. Instead of “Caught in a bad romance” my friend and I once sang “Whoaaaaaaaaa, Christmas time is here” and it totally works. Try it out and sip some eggnog if you’re into that kind of stuff.
3. Alicia Keys- “Try Sleeping With a Broken Heart”
Probably not a huge hit for the year, but I still play it on Spotify. Like the drums, synth and melody the most.
2. DJ Khaled- “All I Do is Win”
This song just feels too good to not be on the list. It’s hard for me to be in a bad mood after my hands go up and stay there (and they stay there, and they stay there).
1. Selena Gomez- “Naturally”
Another easy “Number 1” pick. Easily Selena Gomez’s best song of her career IMO.
Actually a lot to choose from in 2011. “All of the Lights”, “Stereo Love”, “Pretty Girl Rock” and a few Bruno Mars, Lady Gaga and Adele songs to choose from. There can only be 5.
5. Wiz Khalifa- “Black and Yellow”
Consult your doctor if you find yourself taking a black and yellow wiz.
4. Pitbull- “Give Me Everything”
Great hook that I didn’t appreciate but grew to like.
3. Foster the People- “Pumped Up Kicks”
I’m not a huge lyrics guy but know that the song was very controversial after certain tragedies. I loved the song in 2011 just because I enjoyed the laid back California vibe of the song AND it happened to be big while I was first visiting L.A.
2. Adele- “Rolling in the Deep”
It’s raw, edgy and sounds like it belongs in a Scorcese film. Can’t help but picture a younger Robert Di Nero overlooking a blackjack table while hearing this song.
1. LMFAO- “Party Rock Anthem”
I saw LMFAO live before they broke up. It was all about being over-the-top, funny and entertaining. This song is just epic fun, has that memorable zippy synth part and makes me want to shuffle every time I hear it when I’m out. I could see this song as a “Shout” type of song that’s played at weddings for years and years.
Soooo, do I want to have Nicki Minaj on my list or Justin Beiber? Oh well…
5. Justin Beiber- “As Long As You Love Me”
I don’t know if this really makes sense, but, you’re my “Alleluia”…
4. Calvin Harris- “Let’s Go”
It was that or Usher’s “Scream”, which kind of sound like the same song.
3. Christina Perri- “A Thousand Years”
I’m not going to blame the song for being a part of Twilight. It’s a pretty beautiful song that will probably age as well as the fictional vampires.
2. Gotye- “Somebody That I Used to Know”
Unlike “All of Me”, the dance version of this song was way better, and that’s the one I’m ranking this high.
1. Big Sean- “Dance”
This is not the real title of this MC Hammer homage… but this is a family-friendly show, after all.
Another year where I had to stretch to find five songs I would listen to on purpose. Therefore, two viral sensations make my list instead. It boggles my mind that Austin Mahone’s “What About Love” didn’t make the Billboard Year End 100… smh.
5. Ylvis- “The Fox”
Such a silly song that I couldn’t stop listening to it. Underneath the ridiculous lyrics is a great dance track.
4. Macklemore- “Can’t Hold Us”
“Thrift Shop” probably could’ve made it but I like this one a bit more.
3. Psy- “Gangnam Style”
I remember this as a 2012 song, but I’m going by the Billboard charts on Wikipedia. Ridiculous dance moves that took the world by storm. I like hearing something different on mainstream radio, even if that means a different language (“Du Hast”, anyone?).
2. Fall Out Boy- “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark”
I wasn’t a huge fan of the Emo movement of the early 2000s, but Fall Out Boy won me over with this one. Seems like they’ve transitioned to more rock music and I’ve found myself like more of their music over time.
1. Zedd- “Clarity”
One of the easiest “Number 1” picks I’ll make. I still totally love this song. The vocals, the synth, the choral effect, the melody… awesome.
There were actually a lot of good choices this year. “Stay the Night”, “Happy”, “Fancy”, “Bang Bang” and “Problem” were all worthy contenders.
5. Martin Garrix- “Animals”
Not often that you hear a (mostly) instrumental song become a hit on the radio.
4. Idina Menzel- “Let it Go”
It’s overplayed but it’s still going to be part of the Disney classics next to the likes of “A Part of Your World” and countless others.
3. DJ Snake- “Turn Down for What”
Not many words… just a lot of explosive energy. Might find a spot as a sports event staple for years to come.
2. Ellie Goulding- “Burn”
Just a nice song with catchy lyrics and good instrumentals that I almost immediately liked.
1. John Legend- “All of Me”
Didn’t love the dance version but the regular piano ballad version is legit. Great vocals and piano. Romantic classic in the making.
I originally struggled with this list because there weren’t many 2015 pop songs that I legitimately liked. “Uptown Funk” is a late addition after I got over the fact that it felt like a huge James Brown ripoff.
5. Mark Ronson- “Uptown Funk”
It bumped “See You Again” in my original rankings.
4. Taylor Swift- “Style”
It was originally “Shake It Off” until some of my friends pointed out that “Shake It Off” was more of a 2014 song. The Billboard Year End chart had “Shake It Off” for both years, but it ranked slightly higher in 2014. So, here we are.
3. Adele- “Hello”
The SNL parody got me interested in this song.
2. Pitbull- Fun
Might not be a very unique Pitbull track but there’s a lot that I like about it. The little pan flute part is my favorite.
1. Walk the Moon- “Shut Up and Dance”
Catchy rock song with a 1980s feel and a little cheesy. I’ll take it.
SO THERE YOU HAVE IT. THAT TOOK WAY LONGER THAN EXPECTED. DO YOU DISAGREE WITH MY RANKINGS? PROBABLY. I’D LOVE TO HEAR YOUR INPUT 🙂