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.

130The Boy With The Arab Strap

The title track of the Scottish indie scamps’ 1998 album proved they were a whole lot saucier than their wholesome reputation had previously suggested. An ode to Arab Strap’s filthy-mouthed frontman Aidan Moffat, the song, whose tune is nicked liberally from two Queen songs (‘Crazy Little Thing Called Love’ and ‘You’re My Best Friend’) is still a regular in B&S’s live sets, although God-fearing singer Stuart Murdoch is now somewhat reluctant to sing the line about “updating your hit parade of your 10 biggest wanks”. (AW)


On the surface, it just sounded like The Strokes-doing-The Strokes pretty damn well. Dig deeper, though, and the lyrics reveal a divided state of affairs. It's an eloquent slice of post-‘Is This It’ fame, where success was a poisoned chalice. In hindsight, Casablancas’ lyrics seem to predict the diverted, solo paths this one time band of New York brothers would find themselves in. “Our lives are changing lanes…You’re no longer laughing,” feel eerily prescient and seem to describe the current, passive aggressive mentality of the band. (PE)


A disco song which called to mind the gaudy gold furnishing of Studio 54, the hedonism of the late 70s gay scene and a glitter ball spinning endlessly into musical infinity. Hercules front man Andy Butler managed a rare feat: a four to the floor thumper that sounded authentically steeped in the past, but also revelatory and fresh. But his genius moment was recruiting Antony Hegarty as its vocalist. In Hegarty, Butler found a vocalist whose every syllable shook with deeply felt sadness, but in this context sounded like the wonderful bastard child of Edith Piaf and Sylvester. (PE)

127Don't Let Go (Love)

After a lengthy break, En Vogue returned with this track from the soundtrack of the little seen film Set It Off. A ballad about a potential lover who just won’t commit, the song became, through the sheer strength of their vocal wills, about female empowerment. Dawn, Terry, Cindy and Maxine pummeled this song into submission with the same focus that they used to power the likes of ‘My Lovin’ (You’re Never Gonna Get It)’ and ‘Hold On’. The lyrics may have been desperate and unresolved but their performance was gutsy and full of knowing gravitas. (PE)

126Celebrity Skin

Aided by a balls-in-the-air guitar riff the size of Australia and a production sheen that was the sonic equivalent of looking directly at the sun, Hole’s return showcased Courtney Love’s effortless way with words. With passing reference to the tumult of the last few years (calling herself “a walking study in demonology,”) ‘Celebrity Skin’ charts Courtney’s trajectory from indie rock grind to Hollywood A-list with a shamelessly eyes-on-the-prize sense of victory whilst choking on the ridiculous vacuity of it all. (PE)

125Atlantis To Interzone

The sirens blared, the harmonies popped with engergised urgency, the verses were the sonic equivalent of Burroughs' stateless city. The chorus was a different matter entirely, as the band shifted the KLF-esque rave down in favour of a messy, grot rock doom-down that had more in common with Test Icicles' messy jam/meltdowns than anything involving green lasers or unironic neon. It felt like an effortless, on-the-money evocation of genre barriers melting down into one multi-coloured mass of beauty. (PE)

124Pumping On Your Stereo

Nothing screams Britpop louder than Gaz Combes' magnificent mutton chops, and while the big musical movement of the 90s may well have died on its arse by this point in time, Supergrass were still believing. Cerebral/laddy lyrics (“Life is a cigarette, you smoke til the end”), a dummy-proof sing-a-long chorus, the trippy hypercolour video – this was a reminder that while second album 'In It For The Money' was a show of what heights a grown-up Supergrass could hit, it was by harking back to the young, dumb and full of fun vibes of their '95 debut that the lads wrote arguably their greatest single. (MW)

123Daddy’s Gone

I remember getting the promo single for this when no one was really talking about them, going for a run and almost falling into the bloody canal with shock at how good it was. The thought of someone doing that sort of heavingly romantic Shangri-Las style melodrama girl-group ballad about the sort of small, yet horribly huge dramas, that make up and break up the lives of so many people… before the song even got started, it was genius. And then, the fuzzy grandiosity, the unapologetic rawness of James’ voice, the judgment-laden cavernous thump of the drums, the vengeful and vulnerable honesty of the lyric… it’s a song that’s touched a lot of people’s lives, and unlike ‘Angels’ by Robbie Williams, it’s not a load of fucking mawkish shit. And that’s something very valuable indeed. (EM)

122Goddess On A Hiway

Things looked bad for Mercury Rev in the mid-90s. Their 1995 album ‘See You On The Other Side’ had flopped, and several band members were nursing drug problems. It looked like they were completely washed up, and then they came back with this, the first single from their 1998 album ‘Deserter’s Songs’. It ended up being NME’s album of the year, and can lay claim to being one of the decade’s most unexpectedly brilliant surprises. ‘Goddess…’ is the biggest pop moment of the record, like a Disney theme tune if it had been fucked up by a cult US indie band. It still sounds awesome. (AW)

121LES Artistes

Bereaved following the death of her father, Philadelphia-dwelling Santi White traveled to New York, following the Madonna trail, to make it as a musician. And it’s here we find her, with her defenses up, restless, singing about those moments where your personality feels annihilated by a big city (“What am I here for? To disappear is all,” she sings in one of the song's most affecting lines). The riff itself is pure NYC: a little bit VU, a lot Yeah Yeah Yeahs. A pure moment captured perfectly on her first (and best) single. 

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