NME.com has been running for more than fifteen years now, and in that time we've seen more bangers than a Walls sausage factory. Whether you're Julian Casablancas' number one fan, a Doherty-ite 'til you die, never gave up on nu rave or a total God like Kanye, there'll be something here for everyone. Viva the 21st century and all who sail within it! Words: Priya Elan, Luke Lewis, Tim Chester, Mike Williams, Tom Goodwyn, Rebecca Schiller, Krissi Murison, Emily Mackay, Matt Wilkinson, Laura Snapes, Jamie Fullerton, Alan Woodhouse.

30With Every Heartbeat

Released from the shackles of child stardom and the major label treadmill, Robyn got back to basics, releasing her self-titled album on her own label. But she wasn’t just an auteur of her own career, she was an auteur of her own sound; where swathes of glossy noughties pop were tempered by a lifetime’s worth of experience lived under the spotlight of the music biz. ‘With Every Heartbeat’ was typical of this; Kleerup’s trancey music came with an orchestral accompaniment and Robyn’s vocal came with the mature knowledge of love attained, then lost but never forgotten. (PE) How I Wrote 'With Every Heartbeat' Robyn "When I came up with the vocal hook in ‘With Every Heartbeat’, I was out driving. I’d had the beat on a tape for months, listening to it constantly, then one day something clicked, and I started singing that melody. I wrote ‘With Every Heartbeat’ with Andreas [Kleerup], and it just so happened that, at that time, he was breaking up with his girlfriend. So that fed into how I sang the song. Similarly, on the new album, working with Diplo and Royksopp - sometimes you meet someone and you connect, it’s just easy and relaxed. I’m not remotely strategic in the way I pick collaborators. It’s a combination of instinct and luck." (NME.com, 2010)

29Alice Practice

This opening shot from the duo that used myth and obfuscation as their own media breadcrumb trail was appropriately strange and brilliant. A riddle waiting to be solved, it was an alien melding of Ethan Kath’s 8-bit video game synth rhythm and Alice Glass’ desperate punk rock squall. Allegedly, its creation was a happy accident, but in retrospect it seems to perfectly capture the duo’s modus operandi; a punk rock mindset operating in the alt-dance music arena. It was a place where the cold and inhuman meet the warm, and all too relatable. (PE)


A nocturnal proclamation of love (that veers into dangerous co-dependent territory) this was The xx’s finest moment thus far; a simple, effective take on dark, nocturnal love action. As guitars twirls like dance floor partners in the background, Olly and Romy skirt around their loyalty (“I am yours now, so I don’t ever have to leave,” they sing) sounding half in love, half bewitched by Stockholm Syndrome. The synths play like a musical shadow in the background: doomy specters, ominous preludes of what’s to come and what’s waiting at the end of the honeymoon period. (PE)

27Take Me Out

British indie-disco’s very own year zero. The Strokes and The Stripes might get all the credit for redefining rock music in the early 00s, but it was Franz Ferdinand who gave the UK its first homegrown guitar anthem in five years with ‘Take Me Out’. The fall-out? An unprecedented No. 3 in the Official Top 40 singles chart (back when those kind of things still really mattered), the re-establishment of the word ‘angular’ into the pop lexicon, and enough money to allow their record label Domino to sign some band called the Arctic Monkeys a few years later. (KM) How We Wrote 'Take Me Out' On the reaction to the song: Bob Hardy: "No one can predict what happened with our first-ever single would happen. It was crazy! We didn't get a band together because we thought we were going to be rockstars. We got a band together so we could play our friends' parties." Paul Thomson: "It exceeded everybody's expectations, especially ours. But, when all that crazy shit was happening, because we were traveling, in this little bubble, it didn't really penetrate it. Not until we stopped." Hardy: "That's when it dawned on us what we'd just gone through. I don't know how much we'd really changed, deep down, it was more that our circumstances had changed, radically." Thomson: "We had to take stock of our lives. We'd gone through this crazy period of three years, really, and by the end of it, personally speaking, I had kids, and everything had changed. But it wasn't until we stopped to look at it that we were like: 'fuck!'” On the music video: Alex Kapranos:"It's kind of two dimensional in a three dimensional style if that makes any sense. It's a montage of images; ourselves, pictures and things taken from other places and put together in a strange, abstract way. That's what gives the video that strange, jerky, style. "The idea came out of stuff we'd been talking about as a band - we all like the photo montage style that you get from the DaDa artists who would literally cut up photographs and make new images with the pieces. You get this strange, disjointed look where limbs and heads aren't the same proportions. So you get a very jarring effect."

26Can't Stand Me Now

Never has rawness of frayed emotion been captured on record as urgently and accurately as it was on the second-to-last single The Libertines would ever release. The frustration Pete Doherty and Carl Barat felt at the un-workability (to say the least) of their relationship was played out over arguably their finest musical moment. More frustrating than the ins and outs of their relationship was the fact that, as they were articulating what they were about to lose, they were demonstrating what a huge loss it would be, before they split later in 2004. You don't get that with The Kooks. (JF)

25Fix Up, Look Sharp

It would be a hard challenge to go through this Top 150 song list and find a more influential British track than this one. Written at some point between Dylan Mills’ 15th and 17th birthday, ‘Fix Up, Look Sharp’ was more than just a breakthrough moment for Dizzee Rascal, it was the tipping point for the most important underground UK music scene of the noughties. Grime’s anti-bling clarion call (“Being a celebrity don’t mean shit to me/ Fuck da glitz and da glamour”) still sounds as effortlessly dumb, fun, punk and exhilarating as it first did pumping out of ravaged East London tenement soundsystems back in the day. (KM)

2499 Problems

There are few things more satisfying that publicly scoring a lot of points off someone who’s made you feel small. Like that time some gormless bint yelled “Lesbian!” at me in the street as if it was an insult and I yelled back “Yeah, you wish love” and all her mates laughed at her. ’99 Problems’ is kind of like that moment multiplied many times over and made into a song. Jay-Z’s tale of a narrow escape after being pulled over by a patronizing cop while carrying coke is the ultimate ‘in your FACE’ anthem.

That heavy as hell, cold-school chiming beat, Jay’s impression of the cop’s gormless hick voice, “I ain’t stepping out of shit”. It’s just like…. Yeaaaaaaah. And yes, I suppose the chorus is undeniably a bit sexist, but then he did nick it off Ice-T anyway, and also it’s very very funny and I like shouting it at people, so whatever. And as he said, “Critics you can kiss my whole asshole“ so that’s me told along with the rest of them anyway. (EM)

23Seven Nation Army

Surely the most maddeningly compulsive bassline of the decade, and not even actually played on a bass guitar. That’s just how Jackie rolls. A cocky, strutting, monster of paranoiac ego-puffing, Jack frets and frays (“And I’m talking to myself at night because I can’t forget/back and forth through my mind behind a cigarette”) then seethes and spits at mysterious adversaries in a strop-storm of whipping and squalling guitar, before deciding, as you do, to up sticks to Wichita and work on a farm. Again: how he rolls. The similarly psychotic and amazing video, with its endlessly regressing triangles and triangles and TRIANGLES is not to be watched in a delicate state. (EM)

22Wake Up

There’s a reason why six years on, ‘Wake Up’ still remains one of the biggest guns in the AF live arsenal. Well, there’s many. That surly, chugging riff and the way the ripple of keys introduces the chorus like a sunburst through the clouds. The way that Win Butler realized that the best thing he could do for that chorus would be to just get his whole band to sing “ohhhh, ohhh, woaaah-oh-oh-ohhhhh” over and over. The way after finally building to a howling torrential climax, it completely wrongfoots you by changing nearly four minutes through into a completely different, country-skippy-twinkly kind of song, leaving you with a sense of celebration and limitless possibility. Those sorts of things. (EM)

21Around The World

Too many DJs and producers misuse repetition, using the device to prop up their lack of ideas and innate creative laziness. Not so Daft Punk, whose genius manipulation of just three words and five instruments created an almost illegally infectious club classic that’s survived nearly fifteen years of so-called innovation in dance music. Michel Gondry recognised their smart manipulation of just a few noises and created a stunning music video to match featuring robots and disco girls dancing the disparate elements of the track. A set text for any budding DJ to this day. (TC)

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