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Top 100 Greatest Indie Rock Songs Post 2000

Updated: Mar 29

(Pictured - Arcade Fire 2007)

An Explosion of independent record labels across The US, Canada and The UK in the early 80’s dramatically changed the boundaries for entry in the music industry. Following the explosion of indie and alternative rock in the 90s, by the 2000’s, the world had been exposed to a plethora or newfound creativity of artists. Here we celebrate the flourishing of the indie rock scene post 2000. Similarly, to our other recently posted list Top 100 Greatest Indie Rock Albums of all time, for the purposes of this list we’ll stick a bit closer to the original definition of indie meaning songs released from independent labels. Artists who may have signed over to a major label but either spent a large portion of their career on an indie label or are primarily considered indie rock over any other genre have been included. Alongside that, artists who were signed to indie labels in one country, but major labels in another country may also be included if they are primarily aligned in the indie scene over anything else. Alternative rock bands who are generally not considered indie rock (Radiohead, Queens of the Stone Age, Coldplay, The Killers) have been excluded as well along with all pop-punk bands to keep the spirit focused around indie. Alongside indie rock, indie pop, and indie folk have been included on a case-by-case basis, primarily focusing on tracks released from albums considered indie rock, or if the song has substantial rock undertones. Most of the songs that have been included are the singles from these groups, although some ground-breaking non-single tracks have been included along with 25 honorable mentions. For a deeper dive into the deep cuts of indie rock, be sure to check out 100 Fantastic Indie Rock Deep Cuts! Check us out on Instagram @melophobemusic for new articles, releases, reviews, pictures and more!

Released from perhaps the most influential and most groundbreaking indie rock album of the modern era Is This It, Last Nite is the staple guitar-forward rock track of the era. Of the albums included on our list Top 100 Greatest Indie Rock Albums of All Time Is This It, was among the top three post 2000 albums. The reinventing of guitar-forward rock by The Strokes in the early 2000’s was paramount for a new era of indie rock, leaving Last Nite nearly untouchable and as a staple for a generation of indie kids.

2. New Slang - The Shins

Released as the sixth track from The Shins debut album Oh, Inverted World, at a time when most indie bands were trying to replicate or reinvent the profundity of Pavement, The Shins went in a completely different direction building more on perhaps the delicate nature of 90’s Belle & Sebastian, well at least for some of the album. Aside from the track's iconic use in the film Garden State (It’ll change your life), the track remains a serious indie staple shining light on one of the era's most prominent indie bands. As simple as the song is, its grace, beauty, and subtly lo-fi characteristics exponentially add to its profundity.

3. Float On - Modest Mouse

Modest Mouse had already made head-way in the indie scene prior to the release of Float On in 2004. Already praised in the indie scene for what we would call their masterpiece, The Moon & Antarctica, Float On exemplified a notably different and welcoming sound for the band yet just as much praiseworthy as their prior work. A lyrically intricate anthem of resilience and optimism, Float On resonated with audiences on a powerful level, paired with its catchy Smiths-esque guitar work and Isaac Brock’s shout-style lyrics. Similarly to a bunch of these tracks in the top 10, Float On is a true rally-cry for an entire generation.

First and foremost, is there another indie track that nails a tempo change as much as Take Me Out did? Starting out notably faster, the band breaks it DOWN for you, in epic proportions before the song really kicks off around the minute mark. With its iconic guitar hook and stomp-forward beat, this song was an instant classic in 2004. Take Me Out embodies the indie spirit of creativity and the urge to transcend genres, all doing so in an often danceable and head-banging way.

A-Punk, alongside its host record, the self-titled debut by Vampire Weekend, received a massive amount of praise from us here at Melophobe. This record received an immense amount of well-deserved acclaim for its use of non-traditional instruments, alongside heavy Caribbean and African influences. A-Punk, was no exception to that with it’s atypical, yet catchy up-tempo guitar line, percussive lyrics and musically intricate pre chorus and chorus. A masterful and equally infectious song in every way possible.

6. Seven Nation Army - The White Stripes

Like him or not, the influence and impact of Jack White is about as high as it gets in the indie realm. Perhaps the most well-known indie rock track ever released, Seven Nation Army transcended the indie and alternative realms becoming one of the most iconic songs of the millennium. No matter how many times this song gets played, or where it gets played, few songs go quite as hard as this one. Seven Nation Army finds itself with a sound and format all of its own, with a quiet distorted guitar repeatedly building into a sonically unmatched war-cry. This is one of those tracks that seemingly will never get old.

7. 1901 - Phoenix

Released in 2009, 1901 remains one of the most well-known and most played indie rock tracks of the new era. Groundbreaking in nearly every sense of the world, 1901 alongside its host album Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix played a major role in the popularization and reinvention of 80’s influenced synth-pop. The song's energetic and euphoric atmosphere, coupled with its catchy melodies and interesting lyrics, encapsulate the spirit of indie rock's adventurous and often bright nature. 1901 is an anthem for an entire generation of indie kids.

8. Wake Up - Arcade Fire

The profundity of Arcade Fire was noticed by the world quite soon after the release of their debut album Funeral with its seventh track Wake Up finding itself as the crown jewel of the masterful record. The iconic shout-chorus layered over the propelling guitar line place Wake Up as one of the pivotal indie rock anthems in the early portion of the era. The song showcases the band's knack for blending powerful instrumentation with inward-looking storytelling, setting Wake Up as the climactic point of the powerful record, before the band brings the tempo up and seamlessly transitions into Haiti, the following song.

9. Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, pt, 1 - The Flaming Lips

Yoshimi marked the comeback of 90’s indie deity’s The Flaming Lips. Telling an interesting and emotional tale, no song sounds anything like this, establishing pt, 1 as a gem for indie nerds. Pairing the unique storytelling, with intricate guitar work alongside unusual keyboard effects, The Flaming Lips released this quirky yet remarkable track to dropping jaws all over the world. The talent, and creativity of this band will always hold a special place for those die-hard indie fans.

From the mythical debut album by Icelandic group Of Monsters & Men, Little Talks established itself as the star-child from My Head Is An Animal. The catchy horn riff alongside the huge unison chorus established this song as an instant classic. The emotional, dark and mythical tale told in the lyrics pairs perfectly with contrasting bright and energetic musicianship behind the words. Little Talks found itself as a seminal work of indie rock and indie folk reaching a massive amount of crossover success outside the indie realm. Little Talks remains one of the catchiest and most beautiful indie tracks of the new era, as the staple of an album we hold in very high regard.

12. Jerk It Out - Caesars

13. Chicago - Sufjan Stevens

14. Electric Feel - MGMT

15. It’s a Hit - Rilo Kiley

16. Up The Bracket - The Libertines

17. Maps - Yeah Yeah Yeahs

19. Anthems For a Seventeen Year-Old Girl - Broken Social Scene

20. Jesus, Etc. - Wilco

25. Such Great Heights - The Postal Service

26. Sing Me Spanish Techno - The New Pornographers

27. Kids - MGMT

28. Home - Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros

30. Transatlanticism - Death Cab for Cutie

32. You Only Live Once - The Strokes

33. Hate To Say I Told You So - The Hives

34. Wolf Like Me - TV on the Radio

35. Fell In Love With a Girl - The White Stripes

36. The Underdog - Spoon

37. First Day of My Life - Bright Eyes

38. The Modern World - Wolf Parade

39. Dashboard - Modest Mouse

41. Son of Sam - Elliott Smith

43. Red Eyes - The War on Drugs

44. Mind Over Matter - Young the Giant

46. Mykonos - Fleet Foxes

47. Let’s Dance to Joy Division - The Wombats

48. Tenderness - Parquet Courts

49. Unbelievers - Vampire Weekend

51. Portions For Foxes - Rilo Kiley

52. Simple Song - The Shins

53. The Mariner's Revenge Song - The Decemberists

54. Do You Realize? - The Flaming Lips

55. Gabrielle - Ween

57. Walking With a Ghost - Tegan and Sara

58. Mass Romantic - The New Pornographers

59. Norgaard - The Vaccines

60. Girlfriend - Phoenix

62. Cough Syrup - Young the Giant

64. Riptide - Vance Joy

65. Take a Walk - Passion Pit

66. What You Know - Two Door Cinema Club

67. Energy - The Apples In Stereo

68. Don’t Look Back Into the Sun - The Libertines

69. I'll Believe in Anything - Wolf Parade

70. Steady, As She Goes - The Raconteurs

71. Valerie - The Zutons

72. Bohemian Like You - The Dandy Warhols

73. Hang Me Up To Dry - Cold War Kids

76. Club Foot - Kasabian

77. The Heinrich Maneuver - Interpol

78. E-Pro - Beck

79. DLZ - TV on the Radio

80. The Funeral - Band of Horses

83. Cause = Time - Broken Social Scene

84. Ruby - Kaiser Chiefs

85. Left Hand Free - Alt-J

87. Start of Something - Voxtrot

88. Date With the Night - Yeah Yeah Yeahs

89. Heavy Metal Drummer - Wilco

90. Always Like This - Bombay Bicycle Club

91. Young Folks - Peter Bjorn & John

92. Gravity Rides Everything - Modest Mouse

93. Too Young - Phoenix

94. Boys That Sing - Viola Beach

95. Two Weeks - Grizzly Bear

97. The High Road - Broken Bells

98. Get Over It - OK Go

99. Brazil - Declan McKenna

100. Boy - Ra Ra Riot


Just Outside the Top 100

102. The Crane Wife 3 - The Decemberists

104. Girl - Beck

105. Do You - Spoon

106. Sweet Disposition - The Temper Trap

107. Modern Jesus - Portugal. The Man

108. Lazy Eye - Silversun Pickups

109. My Number - Foals

110. Silver Lining - Mt. Joy

112. Do You Want To - Franz Ferdinand

113. I Need Some Sleep - Eels

114. Take Her Back - The Pigeon Detectives

115. Sedona - Houndmouth

116. I Wish I Was the Moon - Neko Case

117. Darling - Real Estate

119. Heads Will Roll - Yeah Yeah Yeahs

120. Bang Bang You’re Dead - Dirty Pretty Things

121. Sleepyhead - Passion Pit

122. Echoes - The Rapture

123. Shuffle - Bombay Bicycle Club

125. French Navy - Camera Obscura

100 Fantastic Indie Rock Deep Cuts Post 2000

For a broader look at many iconic alternative albums be sure to check out Top 100 Greatest Alternative Albums of All Time. For a more expansive collection of songs from this list be sure to check out the accompanying playlist. Be sure to check us out on Instagram @melophobemusic for new articles, releases, reviews, pictures and more!

1 Comment

Jul 06, 2023

Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots in the top 10 is a hot take, but a good one.

2000's alternative & indie rock playlist cover 2.JPEG
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