It’s difficult to pick the Top Alternative Songs of the Decade because there were so many. But AOL Radio listeners’ song picks fittingly bring back the highlights. From Linkin Park to Incubus to the White Stripes, all the heavy hitters that rocked the decade are here.
10. White Stripes – “Seven Nation Army”
Seven Nation Army’ has one of the catchiest, most-recognized bass-sounding lines of the decade (played with a low-registered, seven-string guitar) that reminds us of the Zeppelin days.
And with such opening fiery lyrics: “I’m gonna fight ’em off / A seven-nation army couldn’t hold me back,” it’s no wonder Audioslave, the Flaming Lips, and Rihanna all jumped on the opportunity to cover this tune.
09 ‘Bring Me to Life’ (2003) Evanescence
A song about being open-minded, singer Amy Lee says she wrote this after a friend of a friend called her out on being unhappy. This song which played a great balance of Lee’s wistful, pleading voice and Paul McCoy’s hard rock vibe won the 2004 Best Hard Rock Performance in Grammy.
08: ‘I Hate Everything About You’ (2003) Three Days Grace
This top alternative song captures the love.hate in dysfunctional relationships. The song is blunt, with a catchy, simplistic (older Beck-sounding) guitar riff.
07: ‘The Middle’ (2002) Jimmy Eat World
If you’ve seen ‘Orange County’ or ‘Life or Something Like It,’ you’ve heard this song. The tune was written after the band was dropped from Capitol Records, preceding their 1999 released ‘Clarity.’
The positive response from fans encouraged the band to finance their next album ‘Bleed American,’ which features this song.
Once completed, Jimmy Eat World signed to DreamWorks. The album became certified Platinum by the RIAA, selling more than 1 million copies in the US. Sounds like their motto was right: “Just try your best / Try everything you can.”
“It just takes some time,” but in the end “Everything, everything will be alright.”
06: ‘It’s Been Awhile’ (2001) Staind
This is a ballad that, even almost a decade later gives us goosebumps. Aaron Lewis has a way of making us understand exactly the pain he went through post-breakup:
“And it’s been a while since I said I’m sorry / It’s been a while since I’ve seen the way the candles light your face.”
05 ‘Fine Again’ (2003) Seether
Song of the decade is one of their more melodic tunes, with new harmonies as well as lyrics — which are pretty unspecified whether they are about getting over an addiction or just getting through a tragedy: “And I am aware now of how everything’s gonna be fine one day / Too late, I’m in hell.”
Rumor has it that frontman Shaun Morgan has dedicated the song during concerts to Dave Williams of Drowning Pool and Dimebag Darell of Pantera, who both passed away (in ’02 and ’04, respectively)
04 ‘Nice to Know You’ (2002), Incubus
From an album that includes ‘Circles,’ ‘Are You In,’ and ‘Wish You Were Here?’ it’s hard to conclude which single is the best.
But aside from the softer, less hard rock tunes, ‘Nice to Know You’ has a great balance between Incubus’ hard and soft edge, especially in the chorus, which begins with the emphasized “I haven’t felt the way I feel today / in so long it’s hard for me to specify” and climaxes (alongside the guitar runs and heavy guitar) as Brandon Boyd belts “Goodbye! Nice to know you!
03 ‘Blurry’ (2001) Puddle of Mudd
Frontman Wes Scantlin wrote this song about his son — bringing out the difficulties separated parents have raising their kids and what they go through to see them.
This top alternative song has one of the most clever three-chord tunes around, and is best recognized for its harmonic bass string intro and the chorus lyrics: “Can you take it all away? / Can you take it all away?.”
02 ‘In the End’ (2001) Linkin Park
Shinoda rhythmic delivery is spot on with Bennington’s powerful and emotional singing.
‘In the End’ is probably the duo’s most recognized performance (as well as ‘Runaway’ and ‘Crawling’), as they sing about a person who has lost faith in a relationship, whether it can be romantic or friendly.
01 ‘The Kill’ (2006) 30 Seconds to Mars
Lead singer Jared Leto says the song — off ‘A Beautiful Lie’ — is about “confronting your fear and confronting the truth about who you are.”
The music video (inspired by ‘The Shining’) depicts just that, showing all of the band members coming face-to-face with themselves.
For all of you music theorists, our top alternative song of the decade is played in 6/8 time — a rhythm found in most waltzes, which ballroom party attendees also dance to at the end of the video.
What Are Your Favorite Alternative Songs Of The Decade?
Tell us what would make your list of the top alternative songs of the decade in the comments. You can also check out our list of the Top Alternative Songs of 2009 and our list of Top Indie Songs of 2009.