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20. Badly Drawn Boy – “Silent Sigh”
Following the success of 2000’s Hour of the Bewilderbeast, Damon Gough a.k.a Badly Drawn Boy went on to score the film adaptation of Nick Hornby‘s novel, About a Boy two years later. The best part is this sentimental ballad of sorts, which hints at the notion that we ALL deal with our fair share of disappointment and turmoil, and sometimes it tugs at the heartstrings a bit too much. A contemporary pop work of genius for sure. – MacKenzie Wilson

19. Radiohead – “The National Anthem”
An astounding masterwork that stirs with a ferocious jazz-rock section, pulsating bass lines, and tinny electronic blips, one cannot ignore the cacophonic brilliance that’s happening with Radiohead in this moment. Kid A as a whole is an outstanding move forward from their previous efforts, and “The National Anthem” merely hints at their definitive experimental artistry that will eventually take form. – MacKenzie Wilson

18. PJ Harvey – “Big Exit”
Polly Jean Harvey kicks off her celebrated fifth album, U.K. chart smash Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea, with an explosive guitar-driven bang. She fiercely calls it as she sees it here; “I walk on concrete/I walk on sand/But I can’t find/A safe place to stand.” And once more we’re reminded why we need PJ Harvey. – MacKenzie Wilson

17. Doves – “The Cedar Room”
The Mancunian trio came out from under their previous moniker, house heavy Sub Sub, to deliver one of the last decade’s most memorable albums, Lost Souls (2000). Its first single, “The Cedar Room,” embarks on a blissful sonic journey of loneliness, loss and regret. As Jimi Goodwin laments in the chorus, “I tried to sleep alone, but I couldn’t do it,” a wall of crashing guitars and percussion gives even more life to the song’s emotional depth. – MacKenzie Wilson

16. Kate Nash – “Do-Wah-Doo”
Kate Nash writes a lot of songs about people she dislikes, and a good portion of those songs lay into girls she’s not keen on. This is one of those songs, with Kate’s lemony warble acting as a dollop of pure sorbet in the midst of a delirious chocolate sundae pop song with Phil Spector overtones. It builds to a climax of nonsense syllables and then ends with a final slapdown, in case anyone was to get too carried away with all the fun. As a pop song, it feels a lot like being mugged by the Muppets. – Fraser McAlpine

15. Dizzee Rascal – “Bonkers”
It’s a song which runs out of things to say after the first verse, puts one of London’s most ferocious street talents in the middle of an unashamed dance tune and features a looped voice intoning “BONKBONKBONKBONKBONKBONKBONKBONK.” A record this eccentric needs to be this confident, this joyful to be as brilliant as it is, which is very brilliant indeed. – Fraser McAlpine

14. Blur – “Out of Time”
Blur had been one of the dominant British bands of the 1990s, but the 2000s were a fallow period between their imperial phase and their recent triumphant revival. Guitarist Graham Coxon left the band during the recording of the only album to be released during that decade, 2003’s Think Tank, ultimately only appearing on one track (“Battery in Your Leg”). One song in particular, however, was able to stand up to Coxon’s conspicuous absence: this absolutely gorgeous ballad that served as the lead-off single. It’s gentle and contemplative and features one of Damon Albarn’s best ever vocal performances. Since Coxon rejoined the band, it’s been the only Think Tank song recorded without him that they’ve played live. – Seb Patrick

13. The Long Blondes – “Once And Never Again”
“Sexy and literate, flippant and heartbreaking all at once” was how the Long Blondes described their manifesto in the liner notes for their debut album Someone to Drive You Home, and it’s that attitude which marked them out as the obvious successors to their fellow Sheffield residents Pulp. With devastatingly sharp lyrics by songwriter-in-chief Dorian Cox, given luscious voice by singer Kate Jackson, nowhere was their wit more evident than on this irresistibly catchy single, right from its opening line “Nineteen, you’re only nineteen, for god’s sake: you don’t need a boyfriend.” Sadly, their spark only lasted for two albums, before a debilitating stroke forced Cox into temporary retirement. Happily, he’s since recovered and begun a music career again, but the band didn’t survive the hiatus. – Seb Patrick

12. Elbow – “One Day Like This”
People liked Elbow a lot before The Seldom Seen Kid—their fourth album—came out, but it took a Mercury Prize win, and a national obsession with the repeating and wondrous chorus of “One Day Like This” to firmly banish their underdog status. Should the U.K. be on the hunt for a new national anthem, this will do nicely. – Fraser McAlpine

11. Muse – “Knights of Cydonia”
Nowhere has the excessive, operatic bombast of Muse been better demonstrated than in this overwrought epic from fourth album Black Holes and Revelations—all six minutes of it. While the guitar sound is deliberately inspired by the Tornadoes’ 1962 single “Telstar” (which itself actually featured singer Matt Bellamy’s father George on rhythm guitar), the song is powered by the pulsing, driving bassline, which was deliberately designed to resemble the galloping of a horse. It’s both a dangerous song to play in the car while driving and one of the most difficult challenges on the Guitar Hero series of video games. If you had to distill the essence of Muse down to one track, this would undoubtedly be it. – Seb Patrick

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Filed Under: British Music, Music
By staff