2000s pop music is a guilty pleasure to many. The music that the majority of us students grew up surrounded by, it provides comfort, nostalgia and an incomparable sense of unapologetic fun. Cat Jordan takes a trip to the past to bring you her top ten 2000s pop songs, and hopefully remind you of some of your childhood favourites that may have slipped your memory.
1. My Life Would Suck Without You - Kelly Clarkson
Despite becoming tired and eventually cancelled in recent years, in the 2000s The X Factor and a takeaway was every British household’s idea of a perfect Saturday night in. And, as the first winner of American Idol in 2002, Kelly Clarkson represents the huge shift in pop culture to talent-show artists, leading to the likes of Leona Lewis and Alexandra Burke in the UK. A peppy and upbeat song featuring a mix of synthesisers and guitars in addition to Clarkson’s strong vocals (vocalising with herself towards the end of the song), My Life Would Suck Without You perfectly encapsulates the fun-loving, bubble gum style of pop that was prominent throughout the 2000s.
2. About You Now - Sugababes
Before the formation (and subsequent global domination) of Little Mix in 2010, it was girl groups like the Sugababes, Girls Aloud and The Saturdays who paved the way for UK girl groups in a post Spice Girls world. With a clear influence from the aforementioned bubble gum style from Kelly Clarkson, fitting in especially well in the iconic 2000s electropop genre, About You Now is up-tempo, easy to sing along to, and one that will get everyone back up and dancing towards the end of the night.
3. Bad Romance - Lady Gaga
As the first female artist to ever score three number one songs in a single year (Bad Romance, Poker Face and Just Dance), omitting Lady Gaga from this list would be a catastrophic mistake. The combination of several hooks, for example the “oohs” (which open the song and are repeated throughout) and the “ra-ra-ah-ah ahs”, (which are an abbreviation of the song’s title) make the song impossible not to sing along to, even after only one listen, solidifying Bad Romance as, without a doubt, one of the catchiest songs of all time. Pairing the song with an unforgettably over-the-top Avant-garde theatrical music video, Gaga’s Bad Romance is indisputably one of the most iconic songs of the 2000s.
4. Fighter - Christina Aguilera
Unlike Gaga, Christina Aguilera’s music seemed to be the most popular back in the 2000s and early 2010s. However, that doesn’t mean that her songs should be forgotten about, particularly Fighter, which sees Aguilera adapt her voice to suit a rock song which stands out (for all the right reasons) in her mainly pop and R&B discography. The main message of the song is a thank you to an ex-partner for making her stronger through his mistreatment, and can be an instant confidence boost for any listener. If you’ve never played this song during a workout- accept the recommendation and prepare to achieve a new PB!
5. Sk8er Boi - Avril Lavigne
Similarly to Aguilera, Avril Lavigne may not be active in the charts recently, but was without a doubt a 2000s icon. In Sk8er Boi, the combination of the upbeat poppy tempo and the prominent drum beat and electric guitars made Lavigne one of the pioneers (and consequentially one of the most prominent female vocalists) of the 2000s pop punk style. The storytelling lyrical content keeps the fairly simple repeating melody interesting from start to finish. All in all, the song is youthful and fun, and a listen is definitely reminiscent of what many consider to be simpler times.
6. The Real Slim Shady - Eminem
It would be unfair to offer you an introduction to 2000s pop without giving you a (brief) commentary on the pop culture of the era, and there’s no-one more suited to giving it to you than Slim Shady himself, who spends the verses of The Real Slim Shady slamming almost everyone, from Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears to Will Smith (back in his rapping days). Ironically, Eminem raps about not caring about the Grammy in the song that would land him a Grammy, for Best Rap Solo Performance. With lyrics that are equally comical and controversial, The Real Slim Shady is a perfect introduction to the early music of Eminem, and paired with the easy-to-sing-to repeated chorus, this list would have a huge Slim Shady-shaped gap had this song been omitted.
7. All About You - McFly
Becoming the dream first wedding dance song for so many British teens of the 2000s, McFly’s All About You is the perfect ballad: written by Tom Fletcher for his high school sweetheart Giovanna (his now wife), the verses read like a love letter. Pairing lyrics such as “I would answer all your wishes if you asked me to”, with the simple repeating chorus, although not a song you’d play in search of the most lyrically profound piece of music ever written, it’s a fun, sweet and simple acoustic love song, and it became McFly’s biggest hit, despite their earlier hits being more in the pop-rock genre. And if you like it, be sure to check out Tom Fletcher’s wedding speech, which continues to set the bar for a perfect man impossibly high, even now.
8. Back to Black - Amy Winehouse
Another ballad, but this time one to cry to as opposed to one to dance to. Amy Winehouse has one of the most distinctive voices of all time, and the simple melody is dripping with emotion throughout, decorated in a way that only Winehouse’s soulful voice is capable of. With the lyrics relatable for anyone who’s fallen victim to returning to a dark place, knowing about Winehouse’s struggles with addiction makes the song even more painful to listen to. Nevertheless, Back to Black is a testament to her talent and a soulful connection to all of her music, so should not be forgotten.
9. Crazy In Love - Beyoncé ft. JAY-Z
It’s hard to think of a world where Beyoncé wasn’t one of the most significant female artists of all time, and it was her and JAY-Z’s masterpiece Crazy In Love that started her empire as a solo artist. Potentially the most well-known brass introduction of all time, this song gets the same excitement and cheers from fans today as it did when it topped the charts almost 20 years ago. Labelled by VH1 as the greatest song of the 2000s, this song is always a great listen and is a quintessential feature on this list.
10. Boom Boom Pow - The Black Eyed Peas
With countless anthems like I Gotta Feeling, Pump it, My Humps and Meet me Halfway (to name just a few), The Black Eyed Peas really deserve a list of their own for the huge part they played in making the 2000’s such a fun era of music. will.i.am’s production throughout The Black Eyed Peas' discography gives them a chaotic, fun and futuristic edge which made them stand out from everything else played on the radio at the time, and a perfect example of this is in Boom Boom Pow. It’s four minutes of high-energy chaos, but in the best of ways: there are so many different parts to the song that the listener is always entertained (albeit confused) from start to finish.
Listen to all of the tracks included in this article, plus many more, on this Spotify playlist:
Written by: Cat Jordan
Edited by: Gemma Cockrell
In-article videos courtesy of Kelly Clarkson, Sugababes Official, Lady Gaga, Christina Aguilera, Avril Lavigne, EminemMusic, Official McFly, Amy Winehouse, Beyoncé and Black Eyed Peas via YouTube.