Disagree with our choices? You can vote your own favourite tracks to the top in our Tracks Of The Decade Readers' List - and let us know what you think by piling into the debate over on the NME office blog.
NME's 100 Tracks Of The Decade was written by Tim Chester, Jamie Fullerton, Luke Lewis, David Moynihan, Hamish MacBain, James McMahon, Emily Mackay, Ash Dosanjh, Ben Patashnik, Alan Woodhouse, Martin Robinson, Matt Wilkinson.
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 bizarre clip of a random answer phone message, though to have been left by mistake on one of the band’s mobile phones. DM
4999 Problems (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 [a]Jay-Z[/a]’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 [a]Ice-T[/a]’s 1993 album ‘Home Invasion’ and lyrics from rapper Trick Daddy’s 2001 release, also titled ’99 Problems’, fact fans. DM
48La Ritournelle (2004)
You know that sound in your head when you step out of a nightclub, get into a taxi, and rush into the night not knowing where the evening will take you? Well, that’s more-or-less what ‘La Ritournelle’ sounds like. The principal reason to care about the Frenchman’s second record ‘Politics’, the song's popularity was almost organic, relying on word of mouth “have you heard that tune?” buzz over mass marketing spend. Interesting fact: the song's woozy strings were driven by Tony Allen, sometime Damon Albarn cohort, and drummer and musical director of Fela Kuti's band Africa 70 from 1968 to 1979. JM
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) should tell you something of its cultural impact. It’s the song that little girls dance to at discos. It’s the standard soundtrack to gay clubs and hen nights. And it basically soundtracked all fun in the last decade from the moment it was released. JM
46Friend Of The Night (2006)
Despite their 15-year history, six studio albums, numerous single releases and their tracks being used to soundtrack countless movies and, er, episodes of [i]Hollyoaks[/i], mainstream fame has largely eluded [a]Mogwai[/a]. Not that their underground following isn’t swelling in number, as 2006 single ‘Friend Of The Night’ proved. Taken from ‘Mr Beast’, one of the more aggressive albums from their back catalogue, it was a standout track on the record that was swamped in delicacy and intensity that helped these five Glaswegian post-rock, tinnitus-inducing noise goblins make a small dent in the UK Top 40, hitting a respectable 38. AD
45Fix Up Look Sharp (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 hookiness, it even survived the appropriation of Dan Le Sac Vs Scroobius Pip by being sampled in their song ‘Fixed’. JM
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 documentary) but this song proved they were masters of the dancefloor too. A math-art-dance-punk-groove-rock classic. JM
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 be grateful they did – it’s testament to the songs wonder that it’s appeared in places as disparate as The Sopranos, ER and in the promos for pro-wrestler Kurt Angle.
42Standing In The Way Of Control (2006)
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 [a]Gossip[/a]'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 Soulwax Nite Versions remix of the song, that appeared on the advertising for series one of ‘Skins’, that ensured the tune its status as an essential song of the last ten years.
41Somebody Told Me (2004)
Two things you need to know about this song: 1) you could give a braindamaged child a crayon and a piece of paper and he’d write words with more wit and resonance than “Somebody told me, that you had a boyfriend, who looked like a girlfriend, that I had in February of last year”. 2) It's an amazing pop song, in the way all the early Police singles are great pop songs. "This is our most Vegas-influenced song on the album,” says singer Brandon Flowers. “Sin city, The Strip. It's where I grew up and it affects the songs I write.” Sordid, inane brilliance from Flowers and the other three. JM