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by Philip Sherburne

May 15, 2014

The 50 Best Songs of 2002

by Philip Sherburne  |  May 15, 2014

Welcome to The 50, a Rhapsody scheme in which we attempt to compile the biggest, best, most historically remarkable songs of every year. Our list of 50 tracks -- presented here in no particular order, ideally flowing like a time-traveling DJ set -- has been argued over and (grudgingly) agreed upon by our full editorial staff. Please enjoy.

Yeah, we realize it's probably a little early to start getting nostalgic about the early 2000s -- after all, the '90s revival is only just now kicking into full swing. But 2002 might be closer than you think. (Why else do you think that Bay Area station announced a format change by playing 72-plus hours of Nelly's "Hot In Herre"?)

For one thing, hello, Pharrell; our man in the inventive chapeau was ubiquitous that year, thanks to The Neptunes' production for Missy Elliott, Clipse and Justin Timberlake, as well as their own mischievous rock/dance/rap side project as N.E.R.D., whose promiscuous attitudes toward genre went a long way toward establishing the polyglot sound of the current decade. In terms of R&B, especially, the renaissance in adventurous beats and forceful personalities -- CeeLo Green, Usher, the unwittingly prescient Tweet, for crying out loud, a singer so amazing they named a whole social network after her (well, we can imagine) -- makes 2002 feel especially pivotal. Artists like Craig David, Daniel Bedingfield and The Streets, meanwhile, were laying the groundwork for the British pop dance revival of 2014.

The rock music of 2002 feels further away, but hey: Queens of the Stone Age gave us one of their most enduring singles; The Hives and Interpol injected indie with some serious style; and Creed, well -- love 'em or hate 'em, it wouldn't be the early 2000s without them. Relive the year along with us as we gather the 50 definitive songs of 2002, including classics from Eminem, Boards of Canada, Las Ketchup, Sean Paul and more.

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