I enjoyed the hell out of thinking hard about mainstream rock radio in my Idolator column Corporate Rock Still Sells from 2007 to 2009, and when that site went to shit a few weeks before the end of last year, I was especially bummed that I wouldn't be able to do any kind of big end of decade wrap-up or list. So that's really where the idea to do these genre-specific lists came from. One thing I'm going to be pretty hardcore about here is that every song on the list must have charted on Billboard's Modern Rock and/or Mainstream Rock charts. So no personal favorite indie rock singles here that never got serious radio play, and anything that was a hit on pop or adult contemporary radio but not actual rock stations will instead be considered for the pop list later in the series. Like with the previous list, I'll be posting each of the 50 songs one at a time throughout this week, 10 a day, and you can follow me on Twitter as I unveil each choice:
50. Chevelle - "Send The Pain Below" (2003)
#65 Hot 100, #1 Modern Rock, #1 Mainstream Rock
For a few years, I dismissed Chevelle as one of the more derivative bands in rock radio; they sounded to me like a smoothed out synthesis of Tool and Deftones, with all the prog and harshness of those bands taken out. But my wife loves them, and between hearing their albums via her and them becoming an an incredibly consistent singles act, I’ve come around to realize that’s a strength, not a weakness, and they write better pop songs than any of the bands they sound vaguely like.
49. The White Stripes - "Icky Thump" (2007)
#26 Hot 100, #1 Modern Rock, #11 Mainstream Rock
If someone with a more tasteful Rolling Stone kind of perspective on mainstream rock in the last 10 years was making this list, The White Stripes would probably appear more than any other band and “Seven Nation Army” would probably be #1. But it’s my list, and I spent most of the decade hating Jack White’s awful fucking voice and schticky bullshit and overrated songs. I softened my position on White a bit later on when he teamed up with the far more tolerable Brendan Benson in The Raconteurs (although I never really liked their singles), and that Loretta Lynn single was pretty good too, and maybe that’s why the title track from their last album, Icky Thump, ended up being my favorite White Stripes song. I just love that gnarled groove and those Univox solos, this song was so much more fun than the other shit to me.
48. Limp Bizkit - "Break Stuff" (2000)
#14 Modern Rock, #19 Mainstream Rock
Limp Bizkit peaked in the final months of the ‘90s with the release of Significant Other, and rode the victory lap of their pop culture ubiquity in 2000 with this, its 4th single, and their last hit album, Chocolate Starfish And The Hot Dog Flavored Water. From there on out, it was all downhill: lineup changes, plummeting sales, long periods of inactivity. And even though they and their similarly reviled arch nemeses Creed peaked around the same time and had their own precipitous fall from prominence, they remained the whipping boys for why mainstream rock is bad until, like, 2006, the easy shorthand for what was wrong with popular music a half decade after their last platinum plaque. But mostly that extended stay as villains was unwarranted because they were a better and more entertaining singles act than a lot of the admittedly less obnoxious bands that replaced them on the rock charts.
47. Halestorm - "I Get Off" (2009)
#36 Modern Rock, #7 Mainstream Rock, #17 Rock Songs
In the past 10 years, there’ve been very few female-led bands on rock radio, and that handful have kind of been all over the map. But there’s still a familiar arc for frontwomen, from Evanescence to Paramore: they don’t sing about sex or romance beyond vague emotion/relationship stuff, and they usually seem embarrassed about being considered attractive by fans and play up their religious background. So that’s why it was kind of refreshing last year to hear Lizzy Hale singing “I get off on you getting off on me” over a big hair metal riff. It’s worth noting that this is one of a handful of songs on the list that charted on the “Rock Songs” chart Billboard started running halfway through 2009, after I’d been whining for a couple years on Corporate Rock Still Sells that the Modern and Mainstream charts were becoming more and more indistinguishable from one another and there might as well be one big rock chart.
46. Staind - "For You" (2002)
#63 Hot 100, #3 Modern Rock, #3 Mainstream Rock
At the end of the ‘90s, Staind were just another shitty nu-metal band with a stupid mispelled name, a breakthough hard rock radio hit hilariously called “Mudshovel,” and a supporting slot on the Family Values tour. Then, frontman Aaron Lewis did some solo acoustic sets on the tour, the Bizkit’s Fred Durst sat in at a show to sing harmonies and sing and shout about how he’s feeling those lighters, Biloxi, and the megahit live recording of “Outside” was born, transforming Staind into the biggest, most loathesome power balladeers of the new millenium. The quintuple platinum album that followed, Break The Cycle, spun off three slow, boring hits, including a full band studio recording of “Outside,” before they finally released a song with something resembling a pulse as its 4th single. So I’m not even sure how much I even like “For You” and how much I was just relieved that it provided a break from the ballads, as well as a completely ridiculous video.
45. Weezer - "Troublemaker" (2008)
#2 Modern Rock, #35 Mainstream Rock
I will never understand the cult of Weezer, not just because the two albums they made in the ‘90s do not deserve that kind of reverence, but also because the music they’ve made since then do not deserve to be treated like a fan betrayal on the level of the Star Wars prequels. The closest early Weezer obsessives got to outright celebrating a new single from the band in the past decade was “Pork & Beans,” a song that was no less asinine than “Hash Pipe” but did admittedly sound a little more like Pinkerton. But the much less heralded follow-up ended up hanging around on the charts way longer and has probably been the song I’ve heard by the band the most in the past 2 years, even more than those overrated ‘90s recurrents.
44. Fall Out Boy - "Thnks Fr Th Mmrs" (2007)
#11 Hot 100, #19 Modern Rock
After the decline of Limp Bizkit, we didn’t see another rock star like Fred Durst -- openly hob nobbing with rappers and pop stars and revelling in fame -- until the bassist from an Illinois emo band like Pete Wentz of all people. Fall Out Boy were the most shamelessly modern cosmopolitan dilettentes to become rock stars in the past decade: as soon as they became famous, they started getting Jay-Z and Lil Wayne to shoehorn awkward guest appearances onto their albums, collaborating with Timbaland, and so on (the “kicked out of the hood” sequence on the “This Ain’t A Scene” video remains one of the most embarrassing things in a career full of cringe-inducing moments). But their most successful and unlikely crossover into the black pop world was when they asked Babyface to produce a couple tracks on 2007’s great Infinity On High, not because of their interest in R&B but because he’d done some great power pop production on the Josie & The Pussycats movie soundtrack. He ended up co-writing and playing mandolin (!) on what would be Fall Out Boy’s last significant rock radio hit, before they sunk fully into the pop crossover world that would eventually prove to end their winning streak, as 2008’s Folie a Deux turned out to be an artistic triumph and a commercial dud.
43. The All-American Rejects - "Swing, Swing" (2003)
#60 Hot 100, #8 Modern Rock
The All-American Rejects had a similar arc as Fall Out Boy, crossing over from Modern Rock radio to pop radio and losing rock radio support in the process. That means that my favorite of their singles, the title track from 2005’s Move Along, isn’t on this list because all of that album’s singles got pop radio play and no Modern Rock chart action, which kind of breaks my heart because I love that song, it coulda been top 10 here, and it’s way more of a rock song than “Gives You Hell,” the Smashmouth-y pop song that put them back on the Modern Rock chart last year. But anyway this, their debut single, is pretty good too.
42. The Killers - "Mr. Brightside" (2004)
#10 Hot 100, #3 Modern Rock
If any band ever seemed destined to move, like Fall Out Boy and the All-American Rejects and Maroon 5, among others, toward being too pop for rock radio, it was the pretty boy synth-playing Anglophiles in The Killers. And yet after 3 albums, each of them has yielded multiple Modern Rock top 10 hits, and even the Brandon Flowers solo record is doing pretty well on rock stations. Go figure. But it’s pretty definite that this is the song that ensured they’d be around for at least a while getting heavy rotation somewhere or another.
41. Jimmy Eat World - "A Praise Chorus" (2002)
#16 Modern Rock
With a lot of the bands here, I like several singles by them but ended up shaving down their presence on the list to one or two songs, or only one per album or era, just to make room, because this easily coulda been a top 100 instead of just 50. But there are some albums that just spun off multiple undeniable hits, and chief among them is Jimmy Eat World’s 2001 breakthrough album, first called Bleed American and then changed to self-titled in those oversensitive days following 9/11. All four singles were great, and even the last one, which was a relatively minor hit, still gets played on the radio all the time and I smile every time I hear it. The singer from the Promise Ring getting namechecked in “A Praise Chorus” is the closest that moron ever got to a great rock song.
40. Green Day - "Waiting" (2000)
#26 Modern Rock
This song represents probably the low point of Green Day’s career in terms of popularity: the third and least successful single from their lowest selling major label album. But it’s exactly the kind of jangly gem they completely gave up on making when they came back with those bullshit rock operas a few years later and forgot the rubbery rhythm section and sneering hooks that made them great in favor of thudding, generic alt-rock. This is the only Green Day song on this list, fuck all that American Idiot noise.
39. Papa Roach - "Lifeline" (2009)
#81 Hot 100, #3 Modern Rock, #1 Mainstream Rock
Papa Roach will always be best known for their first single, the dunderheaded nu-metal smash “Last Resort,” but in the 10 decade since then they’ve released five albums and a string of much better minor hits like “She Loves Me Not” and “Forever” and this, chunky angry frontman Coby Dick gradually becoming the guylinered metrosexual Jacoby Shaddix and the band’s sound similarly slimming down to upbeat, anthemic hard rock.
38. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs - "Maps" (2004)
#87 Hot 100, #9 Modern Rock
I’ll tell you right up front that none of the Modern Rock chart hits by Modest Mouse or the Shins or Arcade Fire or Death Cab For Cutie or a lot of other indie bands made good in the last decade will be on this list. But this one, as much as I hate the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, this song kinda got to me. I still don’t buy the “omg they ripped this song off for ‘Since U Been Gone’ and that’s why it’s good” thing, though.
37. Alien Ant Farm - "Smooth Criminal" (2001)
#23 Hot 100, #1 Modern Rock, #18 Mainstream Rock
Two years ago, I wrote a Corporate Rock Still Sells column detailing the history of rock radio hit covers of pop songs, and how they doom new bands to one hit wonder status, as a cautionary tale for the band Framing Hanley that had just released a cover of Lil Wayne’s “Lollipop.” Obviously, they didn’t heed my warning.
36. Korn - "Word Up!" (2004)
#17 Modern Rock, #16 Mainstream Rock
Novelty ‘80s covers weren’t just for one hit wonders, though -- sometimes they were a way for established bands to pad a best of comp and actually sound like they’re having fun for once. Korn spent the last decade coasting on early hits and continually failing to write anything with a hook remotely as good as “Freak On A Leash” or “Falling Away From Me,” and at one point thumbed their nose at their label with a joke single called “Y’All Want A Single” that was still just as turgid and unpleasant as their serious songs. But then they covered Cameo and Pink Floyd for a greatest hits collection and those songs actually jammed way more than they had a right to.
35. Disturbed - "Land Of Confusion" (2006)
#18 Modern Rock, #1 Mainstream Rock
Disturbed covered Tears For Fears on their first album, and I feel pretty confident that if they’d released “Shout 2000” as a single instead of “Stupify” or “Down With The Sickness” they wouldn’t be remotely as successful today. But a couple albums later when they were well established, they got their ‘80s jones out of their system with a pretty kickass cover of one of my favorite Genesis singles.
34. The Ataris - "Boys Of Summer" (2003)
#20 Hot 100, #2 Modern Rock, #36 Mainstream Rock
One band that definitely didn’t learn the lessons of Alien Ant Farm was The Ataris, who ended up with my favorite cover on this list, with some crunchier guitars and peppy drum fills and changing references from Grateful Dead to Black Flag to make a predictable but totally effective Don Henley update.
33. Foo Fighters - "The Best Of You" (2005)
#18 Hot 100, #1 Modern Rock, #1 Mainstream Rock
Dave Grohl pwned all the bands mentioned in the last few entries not just by having a better career overall, but by getting the ‘80s icon he covered to cover him back. After the Foo Fighters charted in 2003 with a b-side cover of “Darling Nikki,” and the author supposedly objected and stopped it from being released as an a-side, Prince unexpectedly played one of Grohl’s best originals, perhaps as tribute, perhaps thumbing his nose a little, during his halftime performance at the 2007 Super Bowl. The Foos were definitely one of the most consistent rock hitmakers of the last decade, even if they never quite reached the heights of 1997’s The Colour And The Shape, and I kinda feel bad making this their only entry on the list. But if I had made it 100 songs long, you’d definitely be seeing “The Pretender” and “Times Like These” and “Breakout” and “No Way Back” and “D.O.A.” and “Long Road To Ruin” here, too.
32. Say Anything - "Alive With The Glory Of Love" (2006)
#28 Modern Rock
When Say Anything’s 2004 masterpiece ...Is A Real Boy was reissued by a major label in 2006, it should’ve been the beginning of something big, ideally them following in the footsteps of My Chemical Romance and Fall Out Boy as emo’s next big platinum crossover stars. Instead, this amazing song was just the first and biggest of their 3 minor chart hits, which is probably the most you can hope for considering this is a better perverse Holocaust-themed love song than anything the guy from Neutral Milk Hotel ever wrote. Also the only song on this list I played at my wedding, by the way.
31. Good Charlotte - "The Anthem" (2003)
#43 Hot 100, #10 Modern Rock
They disappeared from view about as quickly as they blew up, but for a second Good Charlotte’s self-proclaimed goal of being “a combination of Minor Threat and the Backstreet Boys” was one of the weirdest most shrewd crossover stories of the decade that saw Radio Disney and the Warped Tour continue to meet each other halfway more and more in recent years.
30. Nickelback - "Photograph" (2005)
#2 Hot 100, #3 Modern Rock, #1 Mainstream Rock
Nickelback became rock’s biggest villains, the megasellers that boring people use to illustrate why popular taste is wrong, once Creed and Limp Bizkit had been gone long enough that they needed a new punching bag. And sure, they do deserve it to some extent, but they also did write some great songs, like this, the first and biggest of the staggering 8 hits from 2005’s All The Right Reasons.
29. Blink 182 - "Always" (2004)
#39 Modern Rock
“Always” was the last single Blink 182 released before their breakup, and Tom DeLonge’s prediction that the song would “change people's lives and might actually change the world forever” foreshadowed the self-aggrandizing dipshit he’d soon become as the frontman of the completely worthless Angels & Airwaves. But this song, forgotten chart blip that it is, really is fantastic and should have been huge, and the video was pretty clever too.
28. N.E.R.D. - "Rock Star" (2002)
#36 Modern Rock
Rap/R&B super producers The Neptunes’ rock side project has been mostly an ill-advised affair, including the decision to re-record their debut album In Search Of... with a live band (although their backing band, Spymob, made one of my favorite rock albums of the decade and would most certainly be on this list if any of their singles ever actually charted). But this was the one song that actually sounded way better on the ‘rock’ version of the album, and was appropriately the album’s one song that got Modern Rock chart action, which helped the Neptunes become the only guys who’ve had a hand in songs on all 6 of the lists in this series.
27. 311 - “Don’t Tread On Me” (2005)
#2 Modern Rock
OK, yes, I know what you’re thinking, that I’ve already displayed questionable judgement in this list so far and this is the last straw (even my wife, who probably likes more songs on here than anyone else reading this, scoffed at me this morning over Nickelback). These guys were bad in the ‘90s, and they were arguably even worse in the ‘00s, what with the reggae Cure cover and that fuckin’ “amber is the color of your energy” song. But seriously, this is a good song, and if anyone else wrote it I wouldn’t be the only person noticing or admitting it.
26. The Darkness - “I Believe In A Thing Called Love” (2003)
#35 Mainstream Rock
Sure, it’s tongue-in-cheek hair metal satire, but it’s also better than just about any serious attempt at recreating ‘80s rawk magic made by any aging hair bands or Crue Fest flunkies or dickhead revivalists like Avenged Sevenfold in the past decade. And unabashed campy retro is about as good as British rock got in its miserable hype-fueled ‘00s.
25. Muse - "Knights of Cydonia" (2006)
#10 Modern Rock
At the end of the decade, Muse stood alongside Kings Of Leon and 30 Seconds To Mars as the new alt-rock radio A-list, careerist pretty boys with grandiose artistic and/or commercial ambitions in the Killers/Coldplay mold. And while their coronation came with their most recent run of garbage singles from The Resistance and that last Twilight movie, they were actually a pretty tolerable singles act for a while there. And this, the third U.K. single from Black Holes And Revelation but the album’s lead single in the U.S., was their shining moment, every bit a self-parodic bit of classic rock excess as “I Believe In A Thing Called Love,” with its own hilarious sci-fi comedy video to boot.
24. My Chemical Romance - "I’m Not Okay (I Promise)" (2004)
#86 Hot 100, #4 Modern Rock
I got hooked by the hysterical fake movie trailer video first (people compare it to Rushmore, but I feel like at this point people just have a Pavlovian reaction to make that comparison whenever they see private school uniforms), then I realized the song is a blast too and that these guys are brilliant, or at least they were before they disappeared up their own asses with that rock opera follow-up, and have taken 4 years and counting to deliver anything new since then. Man I miss the young, snotty, funny MCR.
23. Pearl Jam - "The Fixer" (2009)
#56 Hot 100, #3 Modern Rock, #10 Mainstream Rock, #2 Rock Songs
Pearl Jam remained a great radio act throughout the ‘90s, even through their most adversarial period when they were protesting Ticketmaster and refusing to release their catchiest songs as singles. It was only really in the 2000s that they finally shook off radio programmers, at least for a while, with turgid, unforgiving singles like “Nothing As It Seems.” But by the end of the decade they’d come back around to releasing uptempo singles and the concise, peppy new wave of “The Fixer” was in some ways more pop than even the hits that made them famous.
22. Nine Inch Nails - "The Hand That Feeds" (2005)
#31 Hot 100, #1 Modern Rock, #2 Mainstream Rock
Nine Inch Nails were, like Pearl Jam, a ‘90s alt-rock institution that started off the ‘00s slow before becoming radio mainstays again, but unlike Pearl Jam that was because they were pretty much silent for the whole first half of the decade. And then Trent Reznor just came back with a vengeance, dropping 3 back-to-back albums full of radio hits (plus a pretty great instrumental double album), and supposedly ending the NIN saga on a high note to go start a new band I still haven’t checked out yet.
21. Paramore - "MIsery Business" (2007)
#26 Hot 100, #3 Modern Rock
I’ve had this and “I’m Not Okay” kind of taking turns being stuck in my head today, and they’re both just perfect blasts of hooky pop punk adrenaline, both from great albums by bands at the top of their game. If only Warped Tour rock was always this good.
20. Incubus - "Wish You Were Here" (2001)
#60 Hot 100, #2 Modern Rock, #4 Mainstream Rock
Incubus are kind of an underrated band, I think -- I’ve never bought an album, but I’ve heard most of them in my brother’s or wife’s cars, and they’re just a solid, versatile band that only occasionally goes overboard in the name of being ‘eclectic.’ They have a lot of good singles that could have made this list and “Anna-Molly” came close, but it’s always felt like this song was their clear peak.
19. Fall Out Boy - "Dance, Dance" (2005)
#9 Hot 100, #2 Modern Rock
“Sugar, We’re Going Down” is both their breakthrough hit and seemingly the one most people like, but for me the follow-up was the song that made me start to like these guys and still my favorite. But then, it was also the beginning of them doing really indulgent videos with the band members having dialogue and all that shit, so it’s a double-edged sword.
18. The Strokes - "Hard To Explain" (2001)
#27 Modern Rock
The ‘the’ band ROCK IS BACK! hype of 2001 was too boring for me to even hate, and even though I’m snubbing the Hives and the Vines and only listed on later White Stripes single here, I have to admit that This Is It has held up well and I was tempted to put all 3 single from it on here, but I’ll settle for just my favorite.
17. Red Hot Chili Peppers - "By The Way" (2002)
#34 Hot 100, #1 Modern Rock, #1 Mainstream Rock
After John Frusciante rejoined the band in the late ‘90s, Red Hot Chili Peppers enjoyed a huge resurgence of commercial success, mostly with single after single of wishy washy midtempo alt-rock that featured little of the band’s early funk and frenzy and a whole lot of Anthony Keidis, Balladeer. But this was at least one time that they were able to kind of fuse the melodic sensitive nu-RHCP with something kind of fast and fun and it all hung together surprisingly well.
16. Jet - "Cold Hard Bitch" (2004)
#55 Hot 100, #1 Modern Rock, #1 Mainstream Rock
As a rule, nobody writes better AC/DC songs than AC/DC. But in a decade in which the best they could muster was “Stiff Upper Lip” and “Rock’Roll Train,” it’s not quite sacrilege to suggest they were bettered by some otherwise pretty terrible fellow Aussies, who ended up with the best Angus Young pastiche since The Cult’s “Love Removal Machine.”
15. Finger Eleven - "Paralyzer" (2007)
#6 Hot 100, #1 Modern Rock, #1 Mainstream Rock
Three years ago, a douchey Canadian alt-rock band whose previous claim to fame was the guilty pleasure power ballad “One Thing” came out of nowhere with a boogie woogie smash that felt like some kind of smudgy but somehow superior xerox of the dance rock that corny indie dudes had been hyping up five years earlier, and ended up with maybe the biggest uptempo crossover rock song of the decade besides Jimmy Eat World’s “The Middle.”
14. U2 - "Beautiful Day" (2000)
#21 Hot 100, #5 Modern Rock, #14 Mainstream Rock
U2 are the oldest band on the list by some distance, the only other one that was remotely established back in the ‘80s being RHCP. And while they’ve done a better job than other contemporaries like R.E.M. of continuing to be not just a touring oldies act but a viable hitmaking machine in the 21st century, they’ve been pretty hit and miss with the actual quality of all their Grammy-winning singles. This one I thought was a little too simple and on the nose at first, but it won me over with time.
13. The Killers - "When You Were Young" (2006)
#14 Hot 100, #1 Modern Rock, #30 Mainstream Rock
After the killers established themselves as part of the new accessible adult contemporary arm of alternative rock, heirs to grandiose throne of U2, it was looked at as a potential disaster when they grew goofy facial hair and started awkwardly invoking Springsteen on their sophomore album Sam’s Town. But then, the lead single ended up being arguably their biggest, best hit, and they kept on truckin’.
12. Evanescence - "Call Me When You're Sober" (2006)
#10 Hot 100, #4 Modern Rock, #5 Mainstream Rock
Like the Killers, Evanescence released their follow-up to a huge debut in the fall of 2006, and like the Killers they had an amazing lead single to rise to the occasion. But unlike the Killers, no subsequent singles did much of anything, and they’ve pretty much disappeared since then. A shame, I would’ve loved a bunch of more songs like this, it seemed like they’d kind of stepped up from the pretty good “Bring Me To Life” to do the same kind of stuff with a whole other level of intensity and clever arranging.
11. Weezer - "Perfect Situation" (2005)
#51 Hot 100, #1 Modern Rock
As I noted in the previous entry for “Troublemaker,” Weezer’s ‘00s singles output is way better than most give them credit for, but I think that’s partly their own fault. They have a tendency to drop big, stupid attention-grabbing lead singles (like “Hash Pipe,” “Dope Nose,” “Beverly Hills” and “Pork & Beans”) and then save their best and hookiest songs for the second or third single (“Island In The Sun,” “Keep Fishin’,” this and “Troublemaker”). That cycle finally started to break down last year with the great “(If You’re Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To” preceded the awful “I’m Your Daddy,” but it’s too soon to tell what I think of the new one’s lead single, “Memories.” This was actually the 3rd single off Make Believe, on released after the truly horrible “We Are All On Drugs” when it became a fan favorite. Rivers Cuomo has always been a solid tunesmith who gets in his own way with idiotic lyrics, and here he lets a huge wordless chorus do all the talking, even if the verses are still full of hero/zero couplets and other drudgery.
10. Lostprophets - "Last Train Home" (2004)
#75 Hot 100, #1 Modern Rock, #10 Mainstream Rock
They’re not quite a one hit wonder, because really barely anyone on this list is, because if you make one great undeniable rock radio hit they’ll play at least a couple of your shitty follow-ups, although I wouldn’t call the few other songs I’ve heard by this Welsh (!) band shitty per se. But this is also very clearly their one big epic moment, as corny and embarrassing to admit loving as just about anything on this list, but just about the perfect intersection of nu metal and earnest pop/rock for me, with an amazing build up from the verses to the pre-chorus to the big old singalong hook.
9. Yellowcard - "Ocean Avenue" (2004)
#37 Hot 100, #21 Modern Rock
Another kinda sorta one hit wonder from the mighty ‘04 (the most strongly represented year on this list, with this being the highest of 8 entries -- I was working in a pizza place that year and we got through the long boring evening shifts listening to WHFS and 98 Rock). This should be such a twerpy punk pop song, but powerful drumming and a tune thickened out with a little violin deep in the mix really go along way to helping it transcend many contemporaries.
8. Limp Bizkit - "My Way" (2001)
#75 Hot 100, #3 Modern Rock, #4 Mainstream Rock
I was so close to having “Rollin’” on the list before I decided to not let any band have more than 2 songs on the list (making the Bizkit one of 6 bands to drop a deuce here), and in many ways that is the ultimate Durst jam. But in my heart of hearts, this will always be my favorite Chocolate Starfish single. I love the "yeah!" heading into the chorus and the way he rhymes "leadership" with "straight up leave your shit."
7. Sum 41 - "Fat Lip" (2001)
#66 Hot 100, #1 Modern Rock
Rap/rock as a commercial entity was mostly left to the active rock mooks like Durst, but this was the one time the punk/poppers got it together to channel their inner Beasties in a big way. Now, the Warped Tour is full of ironic crunk like 3OH!3 while Sum 41 remembered that Canadians should never ever rap (hear that, Aubrey?), and the world is much worse for the change.
6. Train - "Drops Of Jupiter (Tell Me)" (2001)
#4 Hot 100, #11 Modern Rock, #19 Mainstream Rock
This is the big gooey feelgood piano-and-strings pop hit that got these guys permanently banished from rock radio and left to Adult Contemporary formats, so you don’t hear it on alt-rock stations much anymore and you definitely don’t hear “Hey Soul Sister,” but it was pretty big on those stations at the time, and for good reason.
5. Jimmy Eat World - "Sweetness" (2002)
#75 Hot 100, #2 Modern Rock
If I hadn’t ended up with a 2 song cap for any one band on this list I probably would’ve put all 4 singles from Bleed American on here, the best run of rock singles from one album in the last decade (not even sure what the runner-up would be, maybe Foo Fighters’ In Your Honor or Blink 182’s self-titled?). But to narrow it down to my absolute favorite, this one wins over the bigger crossover hit “The Middle” every time. I remember one of the friends I drove to Florida with for spring break in 2002 had the album, and this was always the big singalong favorite even before it was a single, just a great barrage of alternating hooks and big cool drum beats and riffs and pinging pianos.
4. Linkin Park - "Faint" (2003)
#48 Hot 100, #1 Modern Rock, #2 Mainstream Rock
Linkin Park are pretty much the biggest rock radio fixtures of the last decade that aren’t holdovers from the ‘90s, trying to sound as gaudily 21st century as they can with a mix of rap and metal and synth pop and glitchy sci-fi sound effects, and quite often that culminated in big soupy power ballads with boy band vocals. Now and then, though, they lived up to whatever potential they had and just ripped into some crazy uptempo rocker with a good-for-Mike-Shinoda rap flow and a throat-shredding chorus and a backing track that balanced the synths with the Marshall stacks perfectly.
3. Coldplay - "Clocks" (2003)
#29 Hot 100, #9 Modern Rock
Coldplay shrewdly did the stadium Radiohead thing in the states for years before Muse picked up the mantle, but ironically (I guess? I don’t even know anymore) their best single was based on Chris Martin supposedly playing with what he thought was a Muse-ish piano riff. The first time I heard this song was in some really dramatic promo for I think HBO’s fall lineup or something like that, and even though I’ve come to love the song beyond that big goofy piano riff it really does work best as just a big irresistibly evocative soundtrack moment.
2. System Of A Down - "Chop Suey!" (2001)
#76 Hot 100, #7 Modern Rock, #12 Mainstream Rock
Think of all the songs and albums and movies and TV shows that were launched in the fall of 2001 that failed, and whose creators were eager to somehow blame on national post-9/11 malaise or the unfortunate timing of how their art resonated with that moment in a weird inappropriate way. And then think about how System Of A Down had the #1 album right when all that happened and one of the biggest rock hits of the year while singing about self-righteous suicide, and whatever backlash there was just couldn’t stop them and this song from being rightfully huge.
1. My Chemical Romance - "Helena" (2005)
#33 Hot 100, #11 Modern Rock
This was battling out with “Chop Suey!” for the top spot in my brain for a while, but it didn’t occur to me until just today that they kind of appeal to me for the same reason: fast spastic verses that build tension and release into a massive midtempo chorus. It’s really a formula I wish more people used more often, but it was never used as well as here, just an incredible, perfect song that, more than all their epic classic rock moves later on, was what helped My Chemical Romance transcend emo and just become a great platinum-worthy rock band right in the middle of a decade in which such a thing became increasingly rare.