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30. Ladytron – “Destroy Everything You Touch”
While the Liverpool-bred group just barely missed the U.K. Top 40 with this stylish tune from 2005’s Witching Hour, Ladytron’s magnetic electro-pop became a cult favorite here thanks to its sensational soundscape of robotic beats, bewitching vocals, and icy synths. Remarkably just as fresh a decade on. – MacKenzie Wilson


29. Clean Bandit ft. Jess Glynne – “Rather Be”
A refined and classy form of dance music—utilizing real violins and cellos instead of samples—which still has a ticking robot heart and boasts two choruses, “Rather Be” made a star out of Jess Glynne and won Clean Bandit a Grammy. It is currently being used in the U.K. as a soundtrack to commercials for Marks & Spencer food, proof of its status as a very plush and aspirational sort of pop song. – Fraser McAlpine


28. Laura Mvula – “That’s Alright”
Plenty of singer-songwriters cite the work of Nina Simone and Brian Wilson as being inspirational, but precious few try and fuse the two together. Laura Mvula takes the vocal authority and lyrical directness from the former, and garlands it with the florid and harmonious musical arrangements of the latter, creating a new kind of pastoral music that is anything but peaceful. – Fraser McAlpine


27. Jessie Ware – “If You’re Never Gonna Move”
Equating dancing with more carnal activities is one of the oldest tricks in the pop playbook, but the way Jessie and producer Julio Bashmore let this track simmer on low heat is what distinguishes it. Elegantly downbeat while expressing endless erotic possibilities. – Kevin Wicks


26. Laura Marling – “Devil’s Spoke”
Laura Marling was the most promising graduate from London’s nu-folk scene, which featured bands like Noah and the Whale and Mumford and Sons. Her first album, Alas, I Cannot Swim, was fierce and assured for the work of a teenager, but as she matured, she shed her girlish innocence and replaced it with a womanly huskiness. If you never thought that a folk song could make the blood rush to your head, you haven’t listened to “Devil’s Spoke,” the ravishing second single from Marling’s 2010 album I Speak Because I Can. It’s beautifully rendered, with guitars droning and Marling holding court with her sublimely assertive voice. – Kevin Wicks


25. Morrissey – “Irish Blood, English Heart”
Penned with longtime collaborator Alain Whyte, this searing rock opus—found on 2004’s You Are the Quarry–was hailed as a massive comeback for the ex-Smiths singer, who hadn’t had an album out since 1997’s Maladjusted. Here, he digs into his own roots, and in true Moz fashion, reminds us that he’s not afraid of anyone. He guns for Oliver Cromwell, and the Labour and Tory parties with as much disdain and conviction as he’s ever had for the Royal Family, and it’s brash and a touch boisterous. Honestly, Morrissey has never sounded so badass. He delivers the line, “I will die with both of my hands untied” with such a sly snarl. At this point in his career, it’s Moz’s greatest hour since “Tomorrow.” – MacKenzie Wilson


24. Girls Aloud – “The Promise”
Girls Aloud was a breath of fresh air on the British pop scene in the early 2000s, emerging from the reality show Popstars: The Rivals and predominantly working in tandem with the songwriting and production team Xenomania. Aside from their debut “Sound of the Underground,” their standout single remains this 2008 track, which blends influences from 1960s “wall of sound” pop with a hint of 1970s disco and a terrifically catchy tune, resulting in a lush and hugely enjoyable slice of retro-pop. – Seb Patrick


23. Disclosure featuring Sam Smith – “Latch”
The lasting influence of this track now, of course, will be that it’s the record that introduced the world to the voice of Sam Smith—so without it, he might never have ended up singing the Spectre theme. But while his vocal tones are one of its most distinctive elements, it would be wrong to say they’re the only one, nor that he’s the sole reason for its success. Breaking out of a garage genre that had diminished in popularity over the course of the 2000s, Disclosure imbues their work here with a spacey, haunting quality and a memorable melody. – Seb Patrick


22. All Saints – “Pure Shores”
All the good work the Spice Girls did in establishing girl bands as a viable option for pop music was reinforced and nailed into place by All Saints, particularly with this translucent and shimmering song. It was supposed to be a movie tie-in—to Danny Boyle’s The Beach—but transcended that link, pushing the audience into their own underwater narrative before the end of the first chorus. – Fraser McAlpine


21. Kate Bush – “King of the Mountain”
When Kate Bush retreated to the English countryside to focus on family life following 1993’s The Red Shoes, loyal KT fans didn’t know they’d have to wait more than a decade for their beloved Kate to return. But their patience was rewarded in 2005 with “King of the Mountain,” a somewhat celestial, wintry piece found on the exquisite double-album, Aerial. Envisioning Elvis “looking like a happy man” in another universe and playing with Rosebud, the sled from Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane, is so picture perfect amongst a mix of whirring synths, crunchy guitars, and Bush’s flawless performance. She’s always taken us beyond our wildest imaginations with her songs, and she does it again here. – MacKenzie Wilson

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Filed Under: British Music, Music
By staff