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.
The preamble for [a]Yeah Yeah Yeahs[/a]’ third album stated they had abandoned the guitars in favour of synthesisers. People were a little worried, but they needn’t have been: Firstly, it was largely not true. Secondly, when it was as on the lead-off single, they were as deranged and direct as ever. It takes guts to reintroduce oneself to the world without resorting to old tricks. It takes real skill to retain your audience while making something totally new that's up there with your finest work. “Shake it like a ladder to the sun”, Oh indeed. HM
39Sound Of The Underground (2002)
The hangover of conveyor-belt comedy-awful manufactured pap was still prominent in everyone’s minds in 2002. Who’d have thought it would take the puppeteering of Louis Walsh on the back of Popstars: The Rivals to reignite people’s imaginations at pop’s possibilities? The key catalyst at play here was the chap responsible for that weird vocoder effect on Cher’s ‘Believe’. Helmed by Brian Higgins, production house Xenomania would steer ‘proper pop music’ on course to become one of the defining buzz trends of the Noughties with a trend-bucking all-inclusive manifesto approach to their sound palette. JH
38The Cedar Room (2000)
The longest song on [a]Doves[/a]’ mesmerising debut album ‘Lost Souls’ represents the true essence of what this most unassumingly special of British bands are all about. A constant live favourite, it creeps along at a lovely, stoned pace, ever so slowly evolving into a classic piece of colourful psychedelia that even the most addled of ’60s acid-heads would be immensely proud of. They made much more concise, accessible pop records than this throughout their careers, but never have Jimi Goodwin’s lot sounded as mesmerizingly beautiful as they do here. A dark, brooding, slice of 6am perfection that takes you to places you need to go. HM
37Alice Practice (2007)
The reason so many journalists rubbed their sweaty plans together with glee at the prospect of stringing adjectives together over these two Canadian ex-metallers-turned-8-bit-circuit-benders, was because pop music had never had anything quite like it in its midst. Of all the images conjured, that of ‘battery acid rain falling on a playground full of school children’ seems to go some way to coining the noise of their debut single. The second release on the now-revered Merok imprint, people said that it was the closest thing the Noughties had witnessed to a punk-esque happening, and they weren’t wrong. JH
36Get Ur Freak On (2001)
“Who’s that bitch?” Missy asked rhetorically on her greatest single, before answering, “People you know/Me and [a]Timbaland[/a] been hot since 20 years ago.” While their prowess as pre-teens could not be confirmed or denied, one thing was for sure: this bass-less cocktail of off kilter bongo beats, synth strings and weird noises was a high point for one of the greatest, most forward thinking songwriting partnerships of modern times. Miles more inventive than anything any of the more “experimental” acts of the time managed, Missy ‘n’ Tim’s finest hour was also brimming with more fun and attitude than anyone else around, too. HM
35One Armed Scissor (2000)
Perhaps the most significant thing 'One Armed Scissor' did upon its release in 2000 was to reinvigorate legions of music fans utterly despondent with new bands. Just like [a]Primal Scream[/a]'s 'XTRMNTR' was doing for UK music at the same time, [a]At The Drive-In[/a] proved that US rock bands didn't have to be offensively cheesy ([a]Blink 182[/a]), inoffensively bland ([a]Nickelback[/a]), offensively offensive ([a]Limp Bizkit[/a]) or just plain shit ([a]Linkin Park[/a]). Afros aside, they also helped pave the way for the likes of [a]The Strokes[/a] by showing that a guitar could still be so much more than the tool of choice for baseball cap-wearing wankers the world over. MW
34Hate To Say I Told You So (2000)
There was little not to love about [a]The Hives[/a] when they first burst into public consciousness. The matching uniforms, the fat dude with a moustache on guitar, the Mick Jagger-on-Sunny Delight moves of frontman Howlin' Pelle Almqvist and visceral, no-nonsense garage rock nuggets such as this, their most popular song. The criticisms that they only had one or two great songs missed the point entirely: as anyone at all familiar with ’60s garage will tell you, most of the great bands only had a couple of great moments. That’s kind of the whole point! HM
33No One Knows (2002)
There’s an argument that the QOTSA line up of Josh Homme, Nick Oliveri and Dave Grohl is the most powerful line up of any rock group of the modern age… including [a]Them Crooked Vultures[/a]. This song was co-written by Homme with Mark Lanegan and contains a quite beautiful falsetto chorus and great lyrics, but in truth it’s the sheer ferocity of the performance by all three members that makes it such a classic record. By far the best piece of music any of the people who appear on it have been involved with in the last 10 years. A voodoo-rock masterpiece.
32Formed A Band (2005)
Dismiss Eddie Argos’ talking-as-singing schtick as novelty all you will, but what fuels [a]Art Brut[/a]’s best single is his total and utter excitement and exhilaration with playing music. He might be an awkward weirdo, but dude’s got songwriting skills, as this signature cut from their debut proves. Built around the most skeletal of structures – here, the minimalism wasn’t laziness but an attempt to foreground the inimitable personality and ramshackle charm of the Art Brut frontfop – and making a virtue of its flaws, it’s a shame they never really matched this finest hour. But hey, they’ll always have Top Of The Pops. BP
Hey, remember when [a]Bloc Party[/a] didn’t suck balls to an almost ludicrous degree? This is a prime cut from their golden era, all paranoid post-punk thrusting and ice-cool stabs of melody, and could be their finest hour. It helped that Kele was singing about the demons that populated the darkest corners of his mind, because that gave ‘Banquet’ a depth no one really expected of Bloc Party, and which means it retains its relevance and brilliance years after its initial release. BP