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“What really matters is what you like, not what you are like… Books, records, films — these things matter.”
— High Fidelity

Etcetera

Best Songs of 2001

As if you couldn’t tell by the first few songs on this list, I was in the throes of a TRL love affair in 2001. What can I say? I graduated from college in May of that year; pre-adult emotions were running high. More importantly, the influx of all this blatant pop into my list, which would basically come to a screeching halt the following year, speaks a lot to the power of friendly influence in one’s musical taste.

I will not call it peer pressure, because there are plenty of songs on here that I love about which I know very few others will feel the same, if they even know of the song in the first place. But it is definitely easier to get swept up in caring about something when you are surrounded by other people who care about it too.

Obviously I just explained fandom like nobody else had ever thought of it this way (alert: they have), but it is something I tend to forget about. I like to think of myself as an iconoclastic music fan, who is not easily swayed by trends or popularity. I like to think I am settled in my own tastes and can find things on my own without any help.

Both of those things may be true, but they are also patently false. I do not live in a vacuum. Not only do I take musical recommendations, I welcome them. And even now, though my list of influencers is smaller and less frequently tapped as it once was, I am still very susceptible to their power of suggestion.

Having said all that, just a rare few of the tracks featured on this list were ones I discovered after the year 2001, and most of these 100 songs came from artists I already knew, or were introduced to me by MTV and the radio (because those were still very important starting points back then), even as I spent much of my year using file sharing services as my new listening station.

For these year-end lists, I like to undertake the seemingly impossibly task of creating an hours-long mix. The order you see below represents that effort, which you can listen to via Spotify. Sadly all 100 tracks aren't available, but you get the general idea. Track notes to come eventually or maybe never.

  1. Girlfriend

    Girlfriend

    *NSYNC featuring Nelly

    Girlfriend

    Jive

    Notes

  2. It Was All a Dream

    This Is Me

    Dream

    It Was All a Dream

    Bad Boy

    Notes

  3. Aaliyah

    More Than a Woman

    Aaliyah

    Aaliyah

    EMI

    Notes

  4. Everybody Got Their Something

    Like a Feather

    Nikka Costa

    Everybody Got Their Something

    Virgin

    Notes

  5. Cee-Lo Green and His Perfect Imperfections

    Closet Freak

    Cee-Lo Green

    Cee-Lo Green and His Perfect Imperfections

    Arista

    Notes

  6. Jagged Little Thrill

    Where the Party At?

    Jagged Edge featuring Nelly

    Jagged Little Thrill

    Columbia

    Notes

  7. All for You

    All for You

    Janet Jackson

    All for You

    Virgin

    Notes

  8. Modjo

    Lady (Hear Me Tonight)

    Modjo

    Modjo

    MCA

    Notes

  9. On the Ropes

    Don’t Falter

    Mint Royale

    On the Ropes

    Faith & Hope

    Notes

  10. Electric Pocket Radio

    1983

    The Incredible Moses Leroy

    Electric Pocket Radio

    Ultimatum Music

    Notes

  11. The Glow, Pt. 2<

    I Want the Wind to Blow

    The Microphones

    The Glow, Pt. 2

    K

    Notes

  12. White Lilies Island

    Wrong Impression

    Natalie Imbruglia

    White Lilies Island

    RCA

    Notes

  13. Steady Pull

    Linger

    Jonatha Brooke

    Steady Pull

    Bad Dog

    Notes

  14. Propeller

    Roll Me Over

    Peter Stuart

    Propeller

    Vanguard

    Notes

  15. Drops of Jupiter

    Mississippi

    Train

    Drops of Jupiter

    Columbia

    Notes

  16. Just Like Gravity

    Just Like Gravity

    CPR

    Just Like Gravity

    Gold Circle

    Notes

  17. Gold

    Nobody Girl

    Ryan Adams

    Gold

    Lost Highway

    Notes

  18. This Is Next Year

    It’s All Made Up

    Scout

    This Is Next Year: A Brooklyn-Based Compilation

    Arena Rock

    Notes

  19. Songs in a Northern Key

    Song

    Varnaline

    Songs in a Northern Key

    Artemis

    Notes

  20. Three

    Media

    John Butler Trio

    Three

    Astor Music

    Notes

  21. Electric Mile

    Free at Last

    G. Love & Special Sauce

    Electric Mile

    550

    Notes

  22. Everyday

    Everyday

    Dave Matthews Band

    Everyday

    RCA

    Notes

  23. Room for Squares

    83

    John Mayer

    Room for Squares

    Aware/Columbia

    Notes

  24. The Worst You Can Do Is Harm

    Samaritan

    The Long Winters

    The Worst You Can Do Is Harm

    Barsuk

    Notes

  25. Rejected Unknown

    Impossible Love

    Daniel Johnston

    Rejected Unknown

    Gammon

    Notes

  26. Global a Go-Go

    Johnny Appleseed

    Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros

    Global a Go-Go

    Epitaph

    Notes

  27. Musicforthemorningafter

    Life on a Chain

    Pete Yorn

    Musicforthemorningafter

    Columbia

    Notes

  28. Right Between the Promises

    Waste Your Time

    Freedy Johnston

    Right Between the Promises

    Elektra

    Notes

  29. Sebastopol

    Directions

    Jay Farrar

    Sebastopol

    Artemis

    Notes

  30. At Dawn

    The Way That He Sings

    My Morning Jacket

    At Dawn

    Darla

    Notes

  31. The Ghost of Fashion

    Moment in the Sun

    Clem Snide

    The Ghost of Fashion

    spinART

    Notes

  32. Beneath the Velvet Sun

    Somethin’ to Believe In

    Shawn Mullins featuring Shawn Colvin

    Beneath the Velvet Sun

    Columbia

  33. Love and Theft

    Mississippi

    Bob Dylan

    Love and Theft

    Columbia

    Notes

  34. Vanilla Sky

    Vanilla Sky

    Paul McCartney

    Vanilla Sky

    Reprise

    Notes

  35. Songs From the West Coast

    I Want Love

    Elton John

    Songs From the West Coast

    Universal

    Notes

  36. This Year's Love

    The Lights of London

    David Gray

    This Year’s Love

    IHT

    Notes

  37. The Invisible Band

    Sing

    Travis

    The Invisible Band

    Sony

    Notes

  38. The Golden Hum

    Save Me

    Remy Zero

    The Golden Hum

    Elektra

    Notes

  39. Blowback

    Evolution Revolution Love

    Tricky featuring Ed Kowalczyk

    Blowback

    Hollywood

    Notes

  40. Asleep in the Back

    Don’t Mix Your Drinks

    Elbow

    Asleep in the Back

    V2

    Notes

  41. Amnesiac

    Pyramid Song

    Radiohead

    Amnesiac

    Parlophone

    Notes

  42. Drukqs

    Avril 14th

    Aphex Twin

    Drukqs

    Warp

    Notes

  43. Pause

    Glue of the World

    Four Tet

    Pause

    Domino

    Notes

  44. Genetic World

    Breathe

    Télépopmusik

    Genetic World

    Capitol

    Notes

  45. Simple Things

    Destiny

    Zero 7

    Simple Things

    Palm Pictures

    Notes

  46. Point of View

    Point of View

    DB Boulevard

    Point of View

    Epic

    Notes

  47. The Altogether

    Illuminate

    Orbital featuring David Gray

    The Altogether

    FFRR

    Notes

  48. Born to Do It

    Fill Me In

    Craig David

    Born to Do It

    Atlantic

    2000 European release.

  49. O-Town

    We Fit Together

    O-Town

    O-Town

    J

    Notes

  50. From Chaos

    I’ll Be Here Awhile

    311

    From Chaos

    Volcano

    Notes

  51. Morning View

    Wish You Were Here

    Incubus

    Morning View

    Sony

    Notes

  52. Toxicity

    Chop Suey!

    System of a Down

    Toxicity

    Sony

    Notes

  53. Tenacious D

    Tribute

    Tenacious D

    Tenacious D

    Epic

    Notes

  54. The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most

    Screaming Infidelities

    Dashboard Confessional

    The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most

    Vagrant

    Notes

  55. Stay What You Are

    At Your Funeral

    Saves the Day

    Stay What You Are

    Vagrant

    Notes

  56. Bleed American

    Sweetness

    Jimmy Eat World

    Bleed American

    Dreamworks

    Notes

  57. Take Off Your Pants and Jacket

    Stay Together for the Kids

    Blink-182

    Take Off Your Pants and Jacket

    MCA

    Notes

  58. Rock Steady

    Hey Baby

    No Doubt

    Rock Steady

    Interscope

    Notes

  59. Lenny

    Dig In

    Lenny Kravitz

    Lenny

    Virgin

    Notes

  60. Survivor

    Bootylicious

    Destiny’s Child

    Survivor

    Columbia

    Notes

  61. Miss E

    Get Ur Freak On

    Missy Elliott

    Miss E… So Addictive

    Elektra

    Notes

  62. Word of Mouf

    Roll Out (My Business)

    Ludacris

    Word of Mouf

    Def Jam

    Notes

  63. Thugs Are Us

    I’m a Thug

    Trick Daddy

    Thugs Are Us

    Slip-N-Slide

    Notes

  64. Big Boi & Dre Present

    The Whole World

    Outkast

    Big Boi & Dre Present

    Arista

    Notes

  65. The Blueprint

    Izzo (H.O.V.A.)

    Jay Z

    The Blueprint

    Roc-A-Fella

    Notes

  66. Gorillaz

    19-2000

    Gorillaz

    Gorillaz

    Virgin

    Notes

  67. OKEEBLOW

    Aisle 10 (Hello Allison)

    Scapegoat Wax

    OKEEBLOW

    Grand Royal

    Notes

  68. Comfort Eagle

    Short Skirt/Long Jacket

    Cake

    Comfort Eagle

    Columbia

    Notes

  69. 10,000 Hz Legend

    The Vagabond

    Air featuring Beck

    10,000 Hz Legend

    Astralwerks

    Notes

  70. Exciter

    Dream On

    Depeche Mode

    Exciter

    Mute

    Notes

  71. Rooty

    Where’s Your Head At

    Basement Jaxx

    Rooty

    Astralwerks

    Notes

  72. White Blood Cells

    Fell in Love With a Girl

    The White Stripes

    White Blood Cells

    Sympathy for the Record Industry

    Notes

  73. Is This It

    Someday

    The Strokes

    Is This It

    RCA

    Notes

  74. Just Enough Education to Perform

    Have a Nice Day

    Stereophonics

    Just Enough Education to Perform

    V2

    Notes

  75. Poses

    California

    Rufus Wainwright

    Poses

    Dreamworks

    Notes

  76. Reveal

    Imitation of Life

    R.E.M.

    Reveal

    Warner Bros

    Notes

  77. Gravelled & Green

    On a Roll

    The Actual Tigers

    Gravelled & Green

    Nettwerk America

    Notes

  78. Coast Is Never Clear

    Silver Lining

    Beulah

    Coast Is Never Clear

    Velocette

    Notes

  79. Weezer

    Island in the Sun

    Weezer

    Weezer

    Geffen

    Notes

  80. Know By Heart

    Punk as Fuck

    The American Analog Set

    Know By Heart

    Tigerstyle

    Notes

  81. Blue Screen Life

    Penelope

    Pinback

    Blue Screen Life

    Ace Fu

    Notes

  82. Girls Can Tell

    Everything Hits at Once

    Spoon

    Girls Can Tell

    Merge

    Notes

  83. Oh, Inverted World

    Caring Is Creepy

    The Shins

    Oh, Inverted World

    Sub Pop

    Notes

  84. The Photo Album

    We Laugh Indoors

    Death Cab for Cutie

    The Photo Album

    Barsuk

    Notes

  85. Change

    Sentimental Man

    The Dismemberment Plan

    Change

    DeSoto

  86. Rocket House

    Chain

    Chris Whitley

    Rocket House

    ATO

    Notes

  87. It's a Wonderful Life

    Piano Fire

    Sparklehorse

    It’s a Wonderful Life

    Capitol

    Notes

  88. Pneumonia

    Don’t Be Sad

    Whiskeytown

    Pneumonia

    Lost Highway

    Notes

  89. Satellite Rides

    Question

    Old 97s

    Satellite Rides

    Elektra

    Notes

  90. Time (The Revelator)

    Revelator

    Gillian Welch

    Time (The Revelator)

    Acony

    Notes

  91. Vanilla Sky

    Have You Forgotten

    Red House Painters

    Vanilla Sky

    Reprise

    Notes

  92. Things We Lost in the Fire

    Sunflower

    Low

    Things We Lost in the Fire

    Kranky

    Notes

  93. Songs From the Analog Playground

    Day Is Done

    Charlie Hunter Quartet featuring Norah Jones

    Songs From the Analog Playground

    Blue Note

    Notes

  94. Rockin' the Suburbs

    Fred Jones Part 2

    Ben Folds

    Rockin’ the Suburbs

    Epic

    Notes

  95. Now

    This Woman’s Work

    Maxwell

    Now

    Columbia

    Notes

  96. Songs in A Minor

    A Woman’s Worth

    Alicia Keys

    Songs in A Minor

    J

    Notes

  97. Godmusic

    My Endless Fall

    Chocolate Genius

    Godmusic

    V2

    Notes

  98. Stay Human

    Soulshine

    Michael Franti & Spearhead

    Stay Human

    Six Degrees

    Notes

  99. Since I Left You

    Since I Left You

    The Avalanches

    Since I Left You

    Sire

    Notes

  100. Discovery

    One More Time

    Daft Punk

    Discovery

    Virgin

    Notes