How quickly can you recognize a memorable song from the 2000s (2000–2009) once it starts playing? Can you figure out what it is within the first few notes?
As has been shown with tunes from both the groovy '70s and the grungey '90s, some rock and metal classics have a magical way of identifying themselves early. The introductory sound of a signature lick, riff or vocal line, for the listener familiar with it, can magically cram a powerful song's impact into just a few seconds of near-involuntary recollection. A more casual listener may barely notice the song has started, the astute fan already knows what exactly it is.
For example, for longtime rock listeners, the opening seconds of Papa Roach's "Last Resort" — what with its famous Jacoby Shaddix chant — is all that's needed to pick out the number. And, for real, how many seconds do you suppose an emo fan requires to spot My Chemical Romance's "Welcome to the Black Parade" and its unmistakable opening G note? Barely one.
Does that kind of musical recall sound familiar to you? If so, look below through 20 songs from the 2000s that you'll undoubtedly recognize within the first few notes.
But be warned, there may be some that you'd just as soon rather forget than quickly remember. After all, just because you can recognize a song within its first few notes doesn't necessarily mean it's good.
We're kicking this list off right — with a tune that might make a portion of rock fans angry at its inclusion. Is Coldplay even a rock group? Sure! Albeit, perhaps, loosely. Whatever the case, at the start of the 2000s, the English band was viewed by many as Brit-rock's No. 1 export. Subsequently, their songs were damn near inescapable. Two decades on, the piano riff that starts "Clocks" remains an immediately recognizable intro, if not one that could induce nausea in some.
The Darkness - "I Believe in a Thing Called Love"2003
The Darkness burst onto the scene in 2003 with the glam-powered "I Believe in a Thing Called Love," a cheeky hard rock hit fueled by lead singer Justin Hawkins' dynamic vocals. But before the singing on the Permission to Land cut even starts, the fuzzy guitar chords at the top of the track are indication enough for many. Do you believe in a thing called love?
Evanescence - "Bring Me to Life"2003
On Evanescence's signature smash, "Bring Me to Life," it's Amy Lee's evocative piano that gives the song's opening its distinct feel. The Fallen single clocks in at around 4 minutes in total, but for most diehard fans, a few seconds of Lee tickling those ivories is all that's needed to recognize what tune it is. Wake me up!
Foo Fighters - "The Pretender"2007
"The Pretender," found on Foo Fighters' 2007 album, Echoes, Silence, Patience and Grace, is one of the Dave Grohl-led act's most successful singles. To wit, the song's urgently rocking chorus is perhaps one of the finest Foos moments ever captured on tape. But it's the quiet, classic rock-evoking guitar intro that has most Foo Fighters listeners picking out the song within its first few moments — the calm before the storm.
Green Day - "American Idiot"2004
Three chords. That's all one needs to make a memorable rock song intro. Well, at least it is for Green Day. That's all they needed to make their American Idiot title track distinguishable within seconds. The quick combination of A, D and G barre chords on Billie Joe Armstrong's guitar can make a tuned-in listener's head turn whenever they hear it.
Jet - "Are You Gonna Be My Girl"2003
The 2000s were huge for recognizable rock hits. But there are a few that some listeners would now prefer to mothball. Still, no matter what one thinks of the band Jet or their claim to fame, "Are You Gonna Be My Girl," music fans can recognize the song within the first few notes — and that's mostly just tambourine. Three quick bars of percussion and then a bass line, and the tune's ascertained in 3 or 4 seconds. That must be a feat.
The Killers - "Mr. Brightside"2004
Here's another catchy electric guitar intro that identifies a hit rock ditty within a matter of seconds — it's the opening to The Killers' Hot Fuss single "Mr. Brightside," one of the numbers that put the Las Vegas act on the map back in the 2000s. Just a few seconds is all a seasoned rock listener needs to place the tune.
Kings of Leon - "Sex on Fire"2008
What's that guitar figure that sounds like something a novice musician might hammer out on one of their first go-rounds with a six-string? It's just the intro to Kings of Leon's then-unescapable 2008 hit "Sex on Fire" and the reason it's recognizable within its first few notes.
Limp Bizkit - "Rollin' (Air Raid Vehicle)"2000
An unaccompanied voice utters, "Alright, partner." You're 2 seconds into the track. You already know what song it is, and it hasn't even actually started yet. You happen to share that familiarity with the many great (and not so great) artists who've covered Limp Bizkit's Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water single "Rollin' (Air Raid Vehicle)" over the years, not to mention the fans who love it. Keep on rollin', baby.
Linkin Park - "One Step Closer"2000
A filtered and slightly palm-muted electric guitar riff served as many listeners' introduction to Linkin Park when Hybrid Theory's "One Step Closer" first hit the airwaves in late 2000. (The track was also in the movie Dracula 2000, remember that?) Now, just the opening notes of that intro can tell many fans exactly what song they're hearing.
Modest Mouse - "Float On"2004
Modest Mouse's biggest single also elicited the veteran indie rockers' most recognizable first few moments of song. When the beat to "Float On" kicks in, many familiar with 2000s rock already know tune what they're listening to — even before lead singer Isaac Brock starts his wailing about crashing into a police car.
My Chemical Romance - "Welcome to the Black Parade"2006
Nickelback - "How You Remind Me"2001
Again, as with a handful of others listed here, some listeners may scoff at this song or artist. Regardless, the tune's quick recognizability is undeniable. In "How You Remind Me," Nickelback singer Chad Kroger reels off the first verse's guitar-backed opening line in a matter of seconds. No matter what kind of rock listener you are, at that point, you know precisely what the song is — no need waiting on a different story.
Nine Days - "Absolutely (Story of a Girl)"2000
You don't know this guy's name. In fact, you don't know this person at all. Is it a person or a band? It doesn't matter. As soon as you hear him start this one-hit-wonder earworm with a deadpan first sentence — and a capella first two words — you know what the song is pretty instantly. This is the story of a girl.
Papa Roach - "Last Resort"2000
Cut my life into pieces — boom, you know the song.
Queens of the Stone Age - "No One Knows"2002
It's really just the four-count that starts the song, but the boom-bap intro of Queens of the Stone Age's "No One Knows" marks the tune in mere seconds. (In case you forgot, that's Mr. Dave Grohl on the drums.)
Here's another palm-muted guitar intro that tells listeners exactly what they're hearing, especially those fans who spent their youth imbibing on the finest 2000s pop punk. But no matter what your age now, when the opening notes of Sum 41's "Fat Lip" hit, you know you're in for a good time.
System of a Down - "Chop Suey!"2001
For all its aggression, it's sort of amazing that the part of System of a Down's "Chop Suey!" that first catches listeners' attention is a flamenco-style guitar intro. Two decades after the song's release, that strummy opening remains unmissable.
Three Days Grace - "I Hate Everything About You"2003
Hear that tinny acoustic guitar figure? It's the intro to Three Days Grace's first-ever single, 2003's "I Hate Everything About You," and the band's sonic calling card. Play that sound for almost any rock fan, and they'll be able to tell you exactly what it is.
The White Stripes - "Seven Nation Army"2003
What has since become a sports anthem started life as just a killer rock song. Now, the opening of The White Stripes' "Seven Nation Army" is so immediately recognizable that it transcends the genre itself — we'd venture to guess almost any consumer of modern entertainment could place it from the first notes.