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Released: July 2006

As singer Tom Meighan explained to NME back in 2006, ‘Empire’ was slang used by the band to mean something good. Something of an understatement, seeing as the album of the same name shot to number 1 and sold around 1 million copies worldwide. A thumping, hypnotic track with a soaring sing-along chorus – “Stop! I said it’s happening again, we’re all wasting away!”, the album version contains a...

 
 
 

Released: November 2003

Helmed by super-producer Rick Rubin, ‘99 Problems’ initially charted at number 12 in the UK on release in 2003, but also returned at number 35 in 2008, prompted by Jay-Z’s legendary Noel Gallagher-baiting appearance at Glastonbury Festival. A true mongrel, the song includes samples of 'The Big Beat' by Billy Squier and 'Long Red' by Mountain. It also borrows its name and chorus from Ice-T’s 1993 album...

 
 
 

Released: January 2008

Well to do, world-wise, Ivy Leaguers with boners for vintage Ralph Lauren jumpers, Vampire Weekend were an unworkable proposition on paper. But in reality, it was exactly this mix that helped produce their very modern music. ‘A-Punk’ took us from a New York cancer ward to New Mexico via a Police-ish ska beat, Tom Verlaine-like guitar work and the kind of organ solo you’d find at the Sunday service at your...

 
 
 

Released: November 2003

As nerdy as this is – and we could be even nerdier, Britney’s most current signature tune was appropriated into the massively multiplayer online role playing game World Of Warcraft after all – the very fact this song was included in a 2005 episode of Doctor Who entitled ‘The End Of The World’ (as a recording on an ancient jukebox as an example of “a traditional ballad” from 5 billion years prior)...

 
 
 

Released: March 2006

It’s all in the way she tells it. No one else could simultaneously sound as world-weary and mischievous as Lily Allen delivering that line about her emotionally-retarded ex "fucking the girl next door…what d’you do that for?". In those ten-and-a-half words alone an exasperated modern female icon was born, bloomed and was shortly after hounded into an early retirement. Lily always said she’d made the...

 
 
 

Released: July 2003

Based around a sample of ‘The Big Beat’ by veteran US arena rocker Billy Squier, the boy from Bow's second single was an arresting, odd arrangement, even by the arresting, odd standards of Dizzee's parent culture, grime. It marked the arrival of a truly unique British talent – smart, savvy and more-or-less unlike anything music had seen before – it was a veritable pout of a tune. Such is the song's...

 
 
 

Released: April 2007

This song not only marked the first time the New York band had incorporated vocals into their music – apart from some beatboxing on the songs ‘Dance’ and ‘Fantasy’, the two EPs that preceeded this were entirely instrumental – but ear-marked the band as an outfit truly unique. Not only the kind of band comfortable on an ATP line-up (a recording of this song from the 2007 festival opens this October's...

 
 
 

Released: August 2002

The key tune on 2002’s ‘A Rush Of Blood To The Head’ wasn’t even supposed to be on the record at all, and only turned up on the bands second album after Chris Martin, en route to filing the tracklisting to label Parlophone, had a crisis of confidence about the proposed release, asked to put the date back by two months, and recorded the song on the recommendation of the band's manager Phil Harvey. We should...

 
 
 

Released: October 2005

Written by Beth Ditto as a fiery response to the Federal Marriage Amendment – which would have constitutionally outlawed same-sex marriage in the USA if passed – the Gossip's biggest song had three stabs at fame before it eventually hit gold. The title track of their third record was first released as a Le Tigre remix in 2005, in its own form in 2006, then for the last time in 2007 – although it was the...

 
 
 

Released: May 2004

How about this for serendipity? ‘Mr Brightside’ was the very first song The Killers wrote together, at their very first rehearsal session (you can hear the original 2001 demo version on YouTube). Imagine that: within hours of entering the practice studio you’re playing this: a song so melodically perfect, so surging, and so urgent, it will soundtrack end-of-the-night, scream-the-words carnage for decades to...

 
 
 
 
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