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Released: April 2005

The sound of New Cross exploding, ‘Banquet’ was a disorienting moment of disco-angst. From the off, Kele sounded hounded by the pressures of urban living. The opening swooshingly sounded like an airplane descending (memories of 9/11 were still percolating in our heads) and the track soared above our heads for the next three minutes, never quite coming into land. As Kele sang of fire and girls who didn’t...

 
 
 

Released: March 2006

Some tracks, the very luckiest and rarest of tracks, hold a unique power in their opening seconds, a certain aural something that has the ability to shift huge numbers of people out of their seat to the very centre of the dancefloor. ‘We Are Your Friends’ was one of those. Anyone who DJ’ed this track in the mid-noughties will attest to the sheer force of those opening synth stabs; it was brainwashing of the...

 
 
 

Released: November 2002

Few tracks announce themselves with quite such headbutt-to-the-face ooomph as Queens Of The Stone Age’s first single from their third album. In fact the track, their only single to top the US Modern Rock charts, makes itself known with the force of the US Army in total 'destroy nations' mode from the outset, all whipcrack crash cymbals and crunchy riffs that dissolve into a series of freefalling drum triplets...

 
 
 

Released: March 2001

The 21st century might have started 15 months earlier, but nothing said 'welcome to the future' as audaciously and sexily as this. Every bleep, twang and spasm of Timbaland's minimal production blew a hole in the fabric of the pop tune as we knew it. Penetrating those holes was Missy Elliot, a spitting, throbbing, eyebrow-arching caricature of ultra-bling and booty wobble that sent a shiver down your back and a...

 
 
 

Released: May 2003

An ever-so-slightly offbeat Go Go rhythm, some sparsely inputted horns and a lyric about a control freak undone by the instinctive, tempestuous power of love/lust. As Beyonce’s opening gambit it was accomplished, as her first single post-Destiny’s Child (a group known for their innovative run of singles in the R’n’B genre) it was jaw dropping. Jay-Z’s appearance on the track worked on one level as a...

 
 
 

Released: February 2008

The dream team of Maya, Diplo and Switch created this anthem; at first listen it was the sound of M.I.A. slightly playing away from her strengths, dumbing down, even; wrapped in the gangsta hip-hop tradition but on subsequent rotation the track revealed itself to be so much more. A twirling chunk of The Clash’ ‘Straight To Hell’ gave the track a lilting sense of wanderlust; lifting MIA’s pan-globalism and...

 
 
 

Released: March 2010

Whereas Foals’ debut, ‘Antidotes’, was packed full with strange, vaguely math-ish constructions, like a spiky game of Tetris, the introduction to its follow-up, ‘Total Life Forever’, gaped like a hole in the heart. It’s sparse, deathly chilling and emotionally naked – Yannis sings rather than barks, and whilst the lyrics are hardly explicit, his order, or invitation – “Forget the horror here”...

 
 
 

Released: October 2009

The funniest thing about this song is that Katy Perry, bless her, actually believes that ‘California Gurls’ is some kind of Westside riposte to it. Smashing as she and Snoop’s ode to “Daisy dukes, bikinis on top” is, the heat of that wig is clearly going to the poor lassie’s head. So colossal you can’t even see the top, ‘Empire State…’ was the song of at least two summers. You can drop...

 
 
 

Released: March 2008

Sure, ‘Electric Feel’ is probably the tune they’ll long be remembered for, but it was ‘Time To Pretend’ that really proved what MGMT had to offer. Y’know, writing songs about making money and marrying models, only to ultimately choke on your own vomit and die. But with lines like “This is our decision, to live fast and die young/We’ve got the vision, now let’s have some fun” and...

 
 
 

Released: October 2005

Hurtling towards us on indie rock’s highway, ‘…Dancefloor’ came with its palms open. Guitars sounded like cars veering off the racetrack whilst Alex Turner’s lyrical dexterity hit with thrilling but entirely gob smacking levels of ingenuity. He seemed like he’d come from another time, a scholar amongst the knuckle dragging indie slackers who were rhyming ‘love’ with ‘dove’. His...

 
 
 
 
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