Staying relevant for the long haul in the always-changing world of dance music is a near-impossible task, but French dance-pop robot-human-immortals Daft Punk may have found one way to do it--by disappearing a lot. Sounds paradoxical, but by taking nearly a half-decade between each of their albums, and basically keeping totally out of the limelight in between release cycles, they manage to stay outside the trends, existing on a plane of their own, and turning it into an event whenever they actually decide to re-emerge from the shadows and release new music.

However, one byproduct of this philosophy is a relatively shallow back catalogue. Though members Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter have been making music as Daft Punk for nearly two decades now, their discography encompasses just 86 songs--four fewer than even Taylor Swift, who was just four years when the duo released their debut single "The New Wave" back in 1994. That said, that number was even lower before a few weeks ago, when the duo released "Get Lucky," their first single in three years (and not counting live or soundtrack work, their first since 2006), and has gone up by another baker's dozen with the release of their much-anticipated Random Access Memories LP earlier this week.

Let's take a look at those 87 songs, now including all the Random Access Memories cuts and including the handful of commercially released remixes they've done for other artists--as well as the 22 tracks on the duo's oft-overlooked soundtrack to Tron: Legacy. In the case of songs that had multiple versions released--and given that Daft Punk have released three remix albums, there's a lot of those--we went with the version of the song we most preferred. Check out our rankings, and let us know which of the Robots' classics, new or old, are your favorites.

86. "ON/OFF"

Found On: Human After All

Almost unfair to even include this "song," which is really just 19 seconds of channel-flipping on French TV. But Daft Punk inexplicably decided to make it its own track on Human After All, rather than just combining it with "Television Rules the Nation"--possibly to make the album an even ten cuts--so it merits inclusion on our list, an easy choice for the very bottom.

85. "FUNK AD"

Found On: Homework

Similar to "On/Off," "Funk Ad" hardly registers as a real song--it's just their breakthrough single "Da Funk" played backwards for less than a minute, included as the closing track on debut album Homework, possibly for bookending purposes, though it ends up being a totally dissatisfying end to a thoroughly classic '90s album. Another obvious one to get out of the way here.


Found On: TRON: Legacy

One of the least memorable songs from TRON: Legacy--though truth told, only a handful of the album's songs make a really lasting impression outside of the context of the score--"Outlands" is a whole lot of frenetically racing strings and horns for three minutes, possibly brilliant soundtracking a cinematic chase scene, but just kind of exhausting on its own.


Found On: TRON: Legacy

A pounding, creeping track that goes on for a little too long--it's one of the few TRON songs over four minutes, and feels it--though its Morricone-like sense of building anticipation is pretty undeniable.

82. "WDPK 83.7 FM"

Found On: Homework

A mostly unnecessary fake radio advertisement for Homework included as the album's second track, though it rates a little higher than their other non-song songs because of the excellent reduxe clip of early single "Musique" that starts off the track, and how much fun it is to imitate the booming voice of the French radio announcer at the end of the track.


Found On: TRON: Legacy

Another minorly innocuous track from Tron: Legacy, stately and unmemorable. The duo does know how to produce a real righteous horn sound, though.


Found On: The Micronauts non-album single

One of Daft Punk's earliest remix, they take a fairly slight deep house track and give it a little muscle and edge, but still fail to derive a real hook from it. Pedestrian stuff by their later standards.


Found On: TRON: Legacy

Another atmospheric string-and-horn number, with some absolutely booming crescendos, but coming towards the end of Tron: Legacy, it feels inevitably redundant.

78. "WITHIN"

Found On: Random Access Memories

A piano ballad yearning for humanity, with typically vocoder-drowned vocals, which proves that perhaps doing yearning piano ballads is not where the Robots' true strength lies.


Found On: TRON: Legacy

True to Tron: Legacy's Disney roots, "Rectifier" feels like it could have come out of the "Sorcerer's Apprentice" section of Fantasia, so creepy is it in its processional march and wailing violins. It's not much for a Daft Punk mixtape, but it could scare the crap out of your six-year-old cousin, for sure.


Found On: Franz Ferdinand non-album single

As enticing as a Daft Punk remix of Franz Ferdinand's classic dance-punk stomper "Take Me Out" sounds on paper, the final product is a little less appetizing--basically, all Guy and Thomas do the song is to dirty it up a little, spreading an increasingly voluminous squall of synth static across the song's first few verses and final choruses. It's still kinda cool, but it could have been so much more.


Found On: TRON: Legacy

One of the score's more sparse, subtle songs--much more going on atmospherically than melodically, but it's serene enough, and at two minutes, doesn't nearly outstay its welcome.

74. "ARMORY"

Found On: TRON: Legacy

Another atmospheric two-minuter, with some "Moments in Love"-type breathy sounds, and with a bellowing single-note synth riff that comes off as pretty damn cinematic.


Found On: The New Wave non-album single

An early b-side of Daft Punk's sees the duo still trying to find their own voice in house music, coming off as a fun-but-unoriginal mix of LFO and Joey Beltram. Not a bad listen by any means, but it's almost hard to believe they could make a song so anonymous.


Found On: TRON: Legacy

One of the better uses of synth as a core instrument to be found on the soundtrack, something we all thought we'd hear more of when news broke that Daft Punk would be scoring a sci-fi movie. More pounding drums and endless crescendoing, and again, short enough to not become tiresome.


Found On: Homework

An enjoyable-enough intro to Homework, apparently cribbed from their live sets, though it cuts into "WDPK" just as its really starting to build to something. The "Funk back to the punk, c'mon" lyrical hook was memorable enough for Janet Jackson to sample it on her "So Much Betta" track from 2008's Discipline, in any event.

For songs #70-61, click NEXT.

Other Pages: #60-51, #50-41, #40-31, #30-21, #20-11, #10-1

#70. "BEYOND"

Found On: Random Access Memories

Hell of an attention-grabbing string intro to this one, and the bass line is extremely reminiscent of Michael McDonald’s early-’80s classic “I Keep Forgetting," which is never unwelcome. Unfortunately, there’s not too much else to the song beyond that borrowed groove and the shrieking strings that introduce it--it never really goes anywhere and lasts for at least a minute longer than it has to.


Found On: Human After All

Very strong, Green Velvet-like pummeling central riff, but it gets a little grating over the course of four minutes, as does the duo's distorted "I...AM...THE...BRAAIIIIIN....WAAAASHERRRRRR!!!!" vocal proclamations, which get more than a little corny by song's end. Still, great in bite-sized chunks, as when dropped in the group's live sets, best heard on the Alive 2007 release.


Found On: TRON: Legacy

One of the more fleshed-out cuts from Tron: Legacy, sounding like a composition unto itself with its fine use of dynamics and pacing. Still not much of a central melody to latch onto, but perhaps the score's most representative single track.


Found On: Human After All

Takes a while to get going, and even when it does, it never really becomes the dancefloor scorcher you initially expect it to, but the song starts to make sense as it picks gradually picks up speed halfway through, until the song's once arrogantly relaxed pace becomes unlistenably frenetic, probably making some sort of commentary about said "prime time" quickly slipping away. It feels right in the flow of Human After All, anyway.

#66. "OH YEAH"

Found On: Homework

An exceedingly one-note electro-funk filler track to end side C of Homework, but one that doesn't try to stretch its one idea too far in its two-minute runtime, and which is pretty damn funky while it lasts. Another duo of European electro-pop eccentrics with a similarly titled jam from the '80s would undoubtedly approve.


Found On: Discovery

One of the less-memorable cuts from the second half of Discovery, "Veridis Quo" is one of the album's more self-consciously proggy songs, sounding like something Peter Gabriel-era Genesis might've come up with if they were raised on Derrick May and Juan Atkins records. The whooshing synths and flute-like hook are pleasant enough, but are stretched a little too thin over the course of the song's near-six-minute run time.

#64. "FINALE"

Found On: TRON: Legacy

Appropriately epic for a song called "Finale" at the end of a long-ass film soundtrack, and fairly rousing as well, though sadly absent of most of the score's most memorable melodic motifs.


Found On: TRON: Legacy

Timpani, cymbals, gongs--Daft Punk spared no expense with the attention-grabbing opening movement to their first-ever film score. Less predictable here is the good deal of Mr. Mister's "Broken Wings" to be found in the melody, though that's not really a bad thing.


Found On: Random Access Memories

a thickly produced funk ballad with deep bass, airy synths and plenty of muted guitar, the song’s obvious nocturnal, sensual vibe would probably get it instantly dubbed as “porn funk,” if not for the Robots’ distractingly distorted vocals. In any event, the song is a worthwhile sequel to Discovery‘s mood-setter “Something About Us,” similarly hypnotic and seductive, though the five-plus-minute run-time is pretty excessive.


Found On: I:Cube non-album single

Another pre-Homework remix from the Robots. This one has a good deal more flair to it than "Get Funky Get Down," though its house style is much more lithe and fancy-free--listen to that electric piano riff, ferchrissake--than we would eventually get used to from Daft Punk. Still, undeniably catchy.

For songs #60-51, click NEXT.

Other Pages: #86-71, #50-41, #40-31, #30-21, #20-11, #10-1


Found On: TRON: Legacy

One of the more arresting melodies to be found on Tron: Legacy, melancholy and gorgeous without being draggy, and managing to keep an air of menace to it as well. While too many of the songs on the score tend to run long, you actually wish you had a little more time than 1:42 to spend with the appropriately titled "Nocturne."


Found On: TRON: Legacy Reconfigured

The first of several remixes from the TRON: Legacy Reconfigured remix collection to be included on this list, American dance producer Ki Thoery gives the percolating synths of the original "Son of Flynn" a little backbone with his stuttering guitar riffs, and some crashing big beat drums that would have allowed the song to sound right at home on the soundtrack to a late '90s action movie. The spine-chilling piano riff added towards the end is also a nice touch.

#58. "HIGH LIFE"

Found On: Discovery

Probably the least memorable of the many filter disco excursions of Discovery, since after one time through its primary vocal hook and its organ-heavy breakdown, there's not a lot left for the next three minutes. There's still enough joy and pop giddiness included in the song's endlessly repeated hook to make it worth the time spent, though, and to make it worthy of its decadence-promising title.

#57. "EMOTION"

Found On: Human After All

The down-tempo closing track to the duo's third album, "Emotion" self-consciously falls short of being genuinely moving--that's not really the Robots' M.O.--but there is something decidedly hypnotic about the way it pulses, always seeming to go a step slower than it should be going. It's not quite enough to sustain seven highly repetitive minutes, but it's still a good choice of album closer.


Found On: TRON: Legacy

A rare actual unleashing of the synths on the TRON: Legacy soundtrack, the group's "End Titles" theme is one of the group's best blends of the more conventionally cinematic score elements with their own personal bland of futuristic electro-pop. Also check out the Sande Kleinenberg remix of the song from the Reconfigured album for an edit that puts even more pep in the song's step, with gloriously funky results.

#55. "CONTACT"

Found On: Random Access Memories

The lush opening synths make “Contact” sound like it’s going to explode into something off their French countrymen M83′s latest album Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, but the synth-organs and drums that take over after the song’s outer-space transmission sample ends put this closer back in Daft Punk (this era of Daft Punk, anyway) territory. it’s an appropriately interstellar way to end a Daft Punk album, even though with its perpetually crashing live drums and lack of any kind of house pulse, it would have sounded completely alien (pun semi-intended) on any other Daft Punk album.

#54. "THE GRID"

Found On: TRON: Legacy

Surprisingly, the only track on TRON: Legacy to include any kind of samples from the movie proper, and all the better for it. The sound of Jeff Bridges' voice as he recalls his first entry into the world of TRON ("I kept dreaming of a world I thought I'd never see...and then, one day...I got in.") is one of the most captivating things you'll hear on the soundtrack, especially when the Rush-like synths kick in immediately after. You can understand why the duo didn't want to rely too heavily on movie dialogue on their first-ever film score, but hell if it isn't pretty damned effective.


Found On: Homework

A song that after 15 years of rocking out to Homework, I still can't recognize from its title alone. Still, that's not a knock on the song--as soon as I hear it, it's "Oh right, this song! I love this song!" and then I'm trying to sing along with the vocab-less vocal hooks and blaring sax hooks. A worthwhile deep cut, for sure. ( claims the vocals are from Billy Joel's "Just the Way You Are," though I'm not sure if I buy it.)


Found On: Random Access Memories

To some, listening to disco and electro-pop pioneer Giorgio Morder (writer and producer behind such dance/pop classics as Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love” and Blondie’s “Call Me”) relate his early-life experiences and musical inspirations over nine minutes of zooming space-funk probably sounds like a damn good time, to others, it probably sounds absolutely interminable. As for us, we’d fall more in the “damn good time” category, though if you wanted to cut a minute or two from the middle, we wouldn’t be hugely disappointed.


Found On: Musique Vol. 1 1993-2006

Daft Punk twisted British singer/songwriter single's "Forget About the World" into something totally unrecognizable, though given that the original wasn't that great and Daft Punk's remix makes something borderline-ecstatic out of it with just the title phrase and a string sample, it's a forgivable destruction. Really, anything with that trademark Daft Punk hi-hat-and-snare combination as the primary rhythmic track is gonna be irresistible, and this remix is no exception.

For songs #50-41, click NEXT.

Other Pages: #86-71, #70-61, #40-31, #30-21, #20-11, #10-1


Found On: TRON: Legacy Reconfigured

Legendary DJ Paul Oakenfold wisely saved the creepy, spectral four-note riff from the original "C.L.U." and fashioned an old-fashioned trance rave-up around it, complete with "Dominator"-style zooming synths and his own trademark wash of keys lifting the song into the stratosphere. Not to be played at a nightclub before at least 2AM, but it would sound absolutely brilliant around then.


Found On: Human After All

Speaking of creepy, how about the "SSSSSSTTTTTEEEEAAAAAMMMM MAAAAACHIIIIIIIIIIIIINNNNNNE" exhortations in this one? Most likely, the duo are just trying to approximate the hiss of an actual steam machine, but the way they do it makes it sound like the titular appliance is somehow the trademark weapon of a mass murderer or horror villain. Luckily, the song's pogoing hook and relentless chug is enough to keep the song from being overwhelmed by the vocal freakiness, and it ends up as one of the more fun songs on Human After All anyway.


Found On: Daft Club

An early warmup for the group's eventual scoring days came on the intro to their Daft Club remix album, the compilation's sole original composition. You can hear the seeds of TRON: Legacy in the plodding synths, echoing drums and deliberate pacing of "Ouverture," though the production layering and rhythmic propulsion of the song is actually far more compelling than most of that score would end up being. Also, further proof that spelling out your song's title over the course of the song is always a good idea.


Found On: Random Access Memories

Strings, woodwinds, acoustic guitar and all kinds of synths adorn the widescreen shuffle of the instrumental “Motherboard,” one of the most cinematic compositions on Random Access Memories. There’s not much of a hook here to speak of, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, as “Motherboard” is more about atmosphere and groove anyway, and it has both of those to spare, with enough going on in the texture of its composition to maintain interest, and make for a damn fine closer to the album’s second act.

#46. "MUSIQUE"

Found On: Musique Vol. 1, 1993-2006

The b-side to the duo's breakout "Da Funk" single, "Musique" was arguably the more representative song of the two--a heavily filtered house anthem with an extremely simple, repetitive, and addictive hook, both vocal and melodic. The filtering itself is almost the hook here, as the simple synth riff fades tantalizingly in and out of audibility on top of a trademark shuffle, with the one-note chant of "Musique!" attempting to explain everything. Not one of the duo's most sophisticated numbers, but an early gem nonetheless.


Found On: Human After All

Not exactly a home run as far as satire is concerned--though like all Daft Punk's prospective social commentary, it's too gleeful to really come off as bitter anyway--but one of the catchier disco-rock workouts found on Human After All, with the the song's faux-guitar strut over the walking 4/4 beat making it sound like a late '70s KISS single. The vocoder-drowned title phrase is as catchy as it needs to be, and sounds like it's saying something even if it really isn't.


Found On: TRON: Legacy Reconfigured

One of the most sophisticated remixes of the TRON: Legacy soundtrack, "Arena" manages to maintain the foreboding feel of the original 90-second instrumental, as well as most of its melodic trademarks (the piercing seven-note synth riff, the thundering tribal drums at song's end), but layers far more texture over it and extends it into a full-length, six-minute song of builds and drops and almost unbearable tension. Songs called "Arena" should always be this big and awesome-sounding.


Found On: Homework

A simple, endless loop of the guitar riff to Karen Young's forgotten disco single "Hot Shot," with some pogoing, scratchy bass laid over top. Another dance outfit would kill for a hook this creative and memorable, for Daft Punk, it's just another cool jam on the second half of Homework.


Found On: TRON: Legacy

For a soundtrack to a movie about being stuck inside a video game world, only one song on TRON: Legacy really sounds like what you'd expect that experience to sound like. With its synth-organ hook sounding like a ping-pong ball bouncing all over an electronic, neon-glowing machine, "Derezzed" was an obvious choice for the album's lead single, and even if it's a little too frenetic to really be effective as a dance song, it's still sort of exactly what you'd want from Daft Punk scoring a video-game movie.


Found On: Random Access Memories

there was a time when it would be virtually inconceivable to think that Daft Punk and Julian Casablancas (of New York alt-rock demigods The Strokes) would do a song together, but these days a collaboration between the two of them doesn’t sound so jarring, conceptually or practically.  A tense, auto-tuned midtempo groove vaguely reminiscent of the Alan Parsons Project’s ’80s prog-pop hit “Eye in the Sky,” which breaks into a recognizably Strokesian pop-rock burst on the chorus, "Instant Crush” sounds almost exactly halfway between where the two artists are right now, and not an awkward stretch of any kind on anyone’s part.

For songs #40-31, click NEXT.

Other Pages: #86-71, #70-61, #60-51, #30-21, #20-11, #10-1

#40. "ALIVE"

Found On: Homework

The "final version" of the duo's lead single "The New Wave," "Alive" isn't one of the group's catchier songs by any stretch--the echoing, thrashing beat and monotonous hook barely give you any melody to chew on--but it remains one of their most intense, singular listening experiences. Coming at the very end of Homework, it's a fairly enigmatic closer, washing your brain of memories of the album that was, until all you can remember is the throbbing, menacing synths of "Alive." There's rapture to be found here too, somewhere, somehow.


Found On: Discovery

"Robot porn music," as my friends used to call it. With its fat, popping bass, lounging synths and super-smooth R&B groove, "Something About Us" would indeed be ideal baby-making music for humans, if not for the stiff, super-auto-tuned vocals that grace the slow jam, making it clear that genuine human emotion is still not totally welcome here. Nonetheless, if robot porn is filled with ballads as lush and funky as this one, that could probably be enough to get the job done for some.

#38. "HORIZON"

Found On: Random Access Memories (Japanese Edition)

Daft Punk's fourth LP has been compared by some insightful critics to another challenging work from another French synth-pop duo, Air's 10,000 Hz Legend. The comparison would be perhaps no more apt than on this gorgeous bonus track from the album's Japanese issue, a primarily acoustic instrumental ballad with light synths and gradually crescendoing drums that reminds of some of the lovelier, though always slightly unsettling, ballads on the second Air LP. Why this song got cut from the regular RAM edition and a couple of the album's overwrought love songs survived editing will forever remain a mystery.


Found On: Homework

Like "Oh Yeah," a short and incredibly simple filler track on Homework, but this one is both far tighter with its creeping groove, and far more lyrically interesting, as the duo list their biggest musical influences one after the other ("Dr. Dre is in the house, yeah / Omega in the house / Gemini is in the house...") in a double-tracked, pitch-altered vocal with a pace and rhythm that makes it surprisingly catchy. For dance music fans, the song also doubles as a good gauge of your knowledge of the genre's history, and as you learn more and do more research, you find yourself recognizing more and more names mentioned in the song. (I still have no idea who DJ Slugo or Paris Mitchell are, though. Sorry, guys.)


Found On: TRON: Legacy Reconfigured

The most over-dramatic song on Tron: Legacy becomes far less overbearing through the Teddybears' remix of the song, which chops the song's sweeping hook up into a slamming electro-funk, near-dubsteppy beat, with racing synths approximating the texture previously provided by the original's swarming string section. The result is one of the more epic, cinematic synth-pop songs you're ever likely to hear, and something that would've been right at home on an excellent deep house collection like Booka Shade's Movements album.


Found On: Discovery

A well-deployed sample of doo-wop group Little Anthony and the Imperials' disco-era jam "Can You Imagine" makes for one of the more joyous, almost riotous cuts on Discovery, a song that sounds like walking into a party for the first time and being greeted by all of your friends having the time of their lives. It's the kind of sound that fellow turn-of-the-century house duo Basement Jaxx perfected over the years, though with the "Rockit"-like scratch breaks in the middle and the old-school hip-hop opening drum intro, it's still unmistakably Daft Punk here.


Found On: Random Access Memories

For a collaboration between two major dance artists–garage/house producer and longtime DP bro Todd Edwards provides vocals–”Fragments” somehow ends up as a super-smooth pop/rock nugget, sounding kind of like Phoenix covering Steely Dan. Still, the song is as catchy and clean-sounding as the Phoenix/Steely comparisons would indicate, and Todd Edwards has a nicely unassuming voice that fits the melody quite beautifully--a nice counter-balance to some of the more overbearing numbers on Random Access Memories.

#33. "BURNIN'"

Found On: Homework

On an album that didn't already have so many great songs with scratchy, scorching synth hooks, "Burnin'" would have had more of a chance to stand out. As is, it'll have to do with being the only such song on Homework to also (eventually) deploy a shuffling beat and bubbly, disco-ready bass hook for counter-balance, therefore not being quite as challenging a listen. I actually prefer the more challenging cuts, but there's a reason that this was the only one of the borderline-painful Homework cuts to be pulled as a single.


Found On: Daft Club

Speaking of the Jaxx, they took one of the more sublime cuts on Homework and made an exotic, almost Indiana Jones-like adventure out of it, adding all sorts of Eastern-sounding hooks, chants and percussion to the mix, turning it into an international party jam that not even Daft Punk could have dreamed of. You wonder what it has to do with the original "Phoenix," minus the occasional "Phoenix, the Phoenix" chants to be found in the song, but when that instantly recognizable sample hook makes its first appearance, all suddenly becomes clear. Probably the best thing to be found on the otherwise subpar Daft Club remix album.


Found On: Discovery

The purest of Daft Punk's electro-funk tributes, jutting and piercing with its slamming faux-drums and guitar-approximating synths, sounding for most of its runtime like something anyone from Yellow Magic Orchestra to Afrika Bambaataa to Cybotron would have been proud to call their own. It's an awesome genre workout, but it's given extra depth by the song's minute-plus outro, which winds things down into something unexpectedly melancholy, and as the third-to-last track on Discovery, provides the perfect palette cleanser for the album's back-to-back epic finishers.

For songs #30-21, click NEXT.

Other Pages: #86-71, #70-61, #60-51, #50-41, #20-11, #10-1


Found On: Sky Sailor EP

A collaboration with TRS-80, with vocals from surreal dream-pop mastermind Ariel Pink, "Sky Sailor" raises the stakes of the original ballad "Solar Sailer" from TRON: Legacy--one of the soundtrack's prettiest, most stirring cuts--with the addition of Pink's voice, gently intoning "Float away, sky sailor, sky sailor." It's enough to turn an already memorable instrumental into something totally inscrutable and awe-striking, a song that, like most of the best Ariel Pink work, absolutely gets underneath your skin and moves you for reasons you can't quite articulate. Well worth tracking down.


Found On: Chemical Brothers non-album single

It bears absolutely no resemblance to the Chemical Brothers' original song, a vocal-led, blissed-out single from their debut LP Exit Planet Dust, but it ends up as one of Daft Punk's most arresting deep house numbers nonetheless, a rich brew of interlocking vocal and instrumental hooks, and one that never becomes monotonous over the course of its near-nine-minute run time. Plus, as a collaboration between two of the most important acts in '90s dance music, it deserves extra points just for not being a gigantic letdown, as most such works are.


Found On: Homework

An absolutely gorgeous two-minute interlude amidst all the robo revelry of Discovery, the impossibly lush, breathing synths and pulsing drum heartbeat of "Nightvision" don't last long, but make for one of the most stunning listens on the album nonetheless. The fact that the whole thing is unshakably reminiscent of 10cc's '70s soft-rock heartbreak classic "I'm Not in Love" doesn't hurt its standing here, either.


Found On: Musique Vol. 1, 1993-2006

Ian Pooley's original deep house single, with its "Rock the discotheque!" exhortations and skittering, pulse-racing beat, was a gem in its own right, but Daft Punk take it to the clouds above by calming the beat down a little bit, finding a funky bass groove to go with it, and adding "Choooord memory" croons on top, which are catchy enough to avoid ending up being too corny. By the time Daft Punk interrupt their remix with a fake radio broadcast advertising the very remix being listened to, they've so taken over the original jam that the arrogance feels well-earned.

#26. "FRESH"

Found On: Homework

The best parts of this one come in the song's opening minute, which provides a brief respite from all the slamming beats and euphoric synth hooks on the album to provide a little chilling-on-the-beach time, as the sound of crashing waves is pierced with a gloriously sun-baked organ riff, instantly melting all your troubles away. The ensuing house number that follows--another filter-heavy number with an endlessly repeated vocal loop--isn't bad either, but the song never quite matches the bliss of that opening minute again.


Found On: Human After All

Another maybe-commentary on modern society from DP's third album, "Technologic" finds most of its rhythm and catchiness in another vocal list, this time of a seemingly endless succession of rapid-fire 21st century commands, like "Write it, get it, paste it, save it, load it, check it, quick, rewrite it." The chipmunk-sounding pitch-altered voice inevitably becomes annoying by the end of the song, but there's enough of a propulsion to the strings of commands (and enough of an impact when the voice ceases to simply intone the title phrase) that it remains a highly worthwhile single nonetheless. Busta Rhymes evidently thought so, sampling one of the strings of commands for the vocal hook to his "Touch It" hit.)


Found On: TRON: Legacy Reconfigured

It seems almost unfair to include M83's remix of "Fall" on a Daft Punk list, since the French synth-pop outfit takes only the sparsest of elements from the original Daft Punk instrumental, and essentially fashion a brand-new M83 song out of it. Nonetheless, it's a pretty fucking good M83 song that they made out of it, one that would've been a highlight on their Hurry Up We're Dreaming album, and one which continues to be a live favorite for the band, with its dreamy verse vocals and compulsory sing-along "NA-NA, NA-NAAAAA" chorus sections. A must-listen for fans of either artist.

#23. "MAKE LOVE"

Found On: Human After All

One of the slinkiest grooves that Daft Punk ever devised, with an almost bossa nova shuffle to it, and a simple, playful guitar (or is it just another synth?) riff providing all the melody necessary--it doesn't really go anywhere over its five minutes, but you don't really want it to, so that's fine. It could've been the backing track for a truly badass hit single for the Doobie Brothers or Steely Dan in the mid-'70s, and you get the feeling that Daft Punk would take that as a gigantic compliment.


Found On: Random Access Memories

It starts with a crashing, all-instruments-on-deck intro that wouldn’t have sounded out of place on an Electric Light Orchestra single, then quickly settles into a gentle disco groove--and within the first few minutes, you know just about all you need to know about the exceedingly '70s-indebted Random Access Memories. It’s not subtle, and it’s more than a little cheesy, but it’s also very authentically Daft Punk, and it’s also considerably sublime, as the duo finds themselves right at home in the song’s inclusive, yacht-rock-smooth groove.

#21. "VOYAGER"

Found On: Discovery

Straight-faced filter disco doesn't make too many appearances on Discovery, the album too bursting with pop quirks for any such obvious genre excursions. Still, "Voyager" is about as straightforward as they come--with its shimmering guitar riff, "Billie Jean" like drum beat and up-and-down-the-register bass line, the song is just a vocal away from being a great Chic deep cut. Luckily, Daft Punk do their heroes proud, and "Voyager" is one of the most sheerly enjoyable, if not exactly one of the most mind-blowing, cuts on the album.

Other Pages: #86-71, #70-61, #60-51, #50-41, #40-31, #10-1

#20. "END OF LINE"

Found On: TRON: Legacy

Easily the TRON: Legacy song that would fit least awkwardly on a non-score Daft Punk album, "End of Line" rides one of the duo's most striking synth riffs over some warbling bass and a comfortable walking beat, for a song that sounds like it belongs on the Drive soundtrack just as much as anything TRON-related. It's so good that it really makes you wonder what TRON: Legacy could have been like if the duo had focused solely on sci-fi-sounding synth-pop as in their wheelhouse as this, rather than attempting to prove they could pull off a more conventional-sounding film score as well. But at the end of the day, we do not question the Robots.

#19. "TOUCH"

Found On: Random Access Memories

A sweeping, eight-minute-plus epic that shifts from melodramatic prog-pop to Andrew Lloyd Weber-like theatricality to soaring disco to honky-tonk ragtime to near-gospel balladry and all back again, “Touch” is undoubtedly the most ambitious thing to be found on Daft Punk’s third album, obviously meant to serve as the LP’s centerpiece, and certainly one of the most singular pieces of music you’re likely to hear in 2013. The fact that it’s not a complete disaster is, from the outset, a pretty sizeable accomplishment--we’re actually all the way in on the whole crazy thing, but if you could only stand to listen to all 8:17 of it once or twice in a year, we couldn’t really blame you.

#18. "ROCK'N ROLL"

Found On: Homework

At pretty much the opposite end of the spectrum from the smooth-sailing disco vibes of much of Random Access Memories reside the brutal house scratches of "Rock'n Roll," a song which doesn't even come close to living up to its namesake in sound, but does get there in sheer ballsiness and attitude. Compared to "Rock'n Roll," even a song as intense as "Alive" sounds puny and weak, the hammering beat matched with a revving hook that sounds like the synth equivalent of tires screeching against rubber, while handclaps in the background pretend that everything is still all fine and dandy. It could have ended up as unlistenable--and to some fans, it probably is--but its build is handled with such mastery by the duo that instead it's just one of the most visceral and exciting listens to be found in their discography--even if it's hard to go back to the mellow beach sounds of "Fresh" afterwards.

#17. "GET LUCKY"

Found On: Random Access Memories

Speaking of smooth-sailing disco vibes, you won't get much closer to the spirit of 1979 in 2013 pop music than Daft Punk's Pharrell-assisted "Get Lucky," which even features Chic guitarist Nile Rodgers in the pocket. If not for the song's typically high-in-the-mix bass groove, and the robots' late-song echoing of Pharrell's "We're up all night to get lucky!" hook, the song would be almost unrecognizably human-sounding, but it still packs that giddy pop rush that all the best Daft Punk singles have. And, thanks to the incredible anticipation surrounding the song's release last week, it's also their highest-charting single in the U.S. to date, even becoming the duo's first top ten hit on this week's Hot 100.


Found On: Human After All: Remixes

The original "Robot Rock" was a worthy, if slightly hard-to-grasp at first, lead single for the Robots off their third album, a purposefully dumb but impossibly catchy jam keyed around a well-chosen (though perhaps a mite too cleanly lifted) sample from '80s funk-rock outfit Breakwater's single "Release the Beast." The Soulwax remix of the song gets a little more playful with it, though, messing around with the phrasing and instrumentation of both the beat and the hook, adding some much-appreciated variety to the gonzo-ness of the original. You can't properly appreciate it without already knowing the original, but once you do, you might end up preferring the remix for the long haul.


Found On: Discovery

Possibly Daft Punk's most recognizable song, largely thanks to its sampling in Kanye West's chart-topping pop hit "Stronger," the mechanical grind of "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger" makes it a worthwhile choice for de facto group anthem, even though there are greater pop thrills to be had for the group elsewhere in their discography (and particularly on Discovery). The endless "Work it harder, do it better..." chant may get a little monotonous at times, but when the song cuts from the final-sounding "never over" to the super-robo-funky breakdown section, though, it's easily one of the most singular moments to be heard in 21st-century dance music.


Found On: Musique Vol. 1, 1993-2006

A third-generation remix for Daft Punk, as it's a remix of a Scott Grooves experimental house cut that was itself a spin on Funkadelic's '70s funk standard "Mothership Connection." Daft Punk truly takes things interstellar with it, though, brilliantly turning the original "If you hear any noise, it's just me and the boys" chant into a human/robot call-and-response hook over an Afrika Bambaataa-like beat, before the song erupts into one of the most pleasurable house grooves the duo ever devised, one that bridges the gap between the harder edge of Homework and the glossier pop rush of Discovery. Probably the group's best-remembered remix, and for good reason.


Found On: Random Access Memories

Panda Bear, not exactly known as a go-to party-starter in his work as a solo artist or the singer for Animal Collective, is one of the more idiosyncratic choices for collaborators on Random Access Memories, but his earnest, reaching vocals hit all the right notes on this surprisingly catchy jam, as he sings “If you lose your way tonight / That’s how you know the magic’s right.” It’s a much less obvious slam dunk than the duo’s two Pharrell collaborations, but it’s arguably a richer return, a surprisingly successful blend of the starkly hypnotic qualities of the best Panda Bear songs and the crowd-pleasing maximalism of the best Daft Punk jams.

#12. "TOO LONG"

Found On: Discovery

With its title phrase, countlessly repeated throughout the song, considered alongside its ten-minute run time, "Too Long" would easily court mockery were it not such a fun song and perfect closer for Discovery. In fact, "Too Long" is not the least bit too long at all--rather, the way it gradually unfolds over the course of its ten minutes is one of the most impressive things to be found on Discovery, how the song slowly sinks into its groove before switching things up completely half-way through, and taking off even further into the house stratosphere from there. By song's end, you'll be singing "Do you need it? / (Hey!) / Well, I need it too! / (Well, all right!") up until you hit play on the album again.


Found On: Discovery

For a song that starts with the sound of a bell tolling--an established metal trope for the likes of Metallica and AC/DC--and includes what sounds suspiciously like an Eddie Van Halen-style finger-tapping solo, you'd think "Aerodynamic" would be Daft Punk's entree into the world of headbanging. Yes, but no--"Aerodynamic" rocks, for sure, but not without breaking the house-readiness of Discovery, rather just providing the absolutely perfect transition track between the album's two much-less-meat-headed first two lead singles--one so good that it was eventually released as a single in its own right, despite being a much less obvious choice than several other songs on the album.

For the top ten songs, click NEXT.

Other Pages: #86-71, #70-61, #60-51, #50-41, #40-31, #30-21


Found On: Human After All

The opening and arguably best track on Daft Punk's third album, "Human After All" finds the perfect balance between house energy and rock instrumentation and posturing--all obviously filtered through the duo's typically electronic and (ironically, intentionally) dehumanizing musical style. It's catchy, it's propulsive, and it sets the tone--much to the displeasure of many HAA detractors--for absolutely everything on the album to follow. Much of Daft Punk's music is indebted to electronic forefathers Kraftwerk, the original Robots, but "Human After All" is the song you could most picture them coming up with had they been born 25 years or so later.

#9. "REVOLUTION 909"

Found On: Homework

Politics and social protest don't often enter the realm of Daft Punk's music, but they make a brief appearance at the beginning of "Revolution 909," for the memorable rave bust skit ("Stop the music and go home, I repeat...") that intros the song, a strike at the French government's stance against such festivities. The rest of the song proves that the best revenge is raving well, as "Revolution 909" is one of the group's purest house numbers, down to the tastefully deployed vocal chants that keep the hook moving, and the 1-2-3-4 beat stutter in the song's breakdown section. It's a subtle anthem, but an undeniable one nonetheless. And its music video even teaches you how to make tomato sauce, for some reason!


Found On: Random Access Memories

“Lose Yourself to Dance” may or may not be the second single off Random Access Memories, but it’s hard to believe it won’t get pulled eventually. Like "Get Lucky," “Dance” unites the holy pop-funk trinity of Daft Punk, Chic guitarist Nile Rodgers and Neptunes beatmaker / hook singer Pharrell Williams for a disco workout of undeniable divinity. Pharrell’s falsetto fits like a diamond-studded glove over Rodgers’ shimmering guitar hook and the Robots’ popping bass and clapping drums, and by song’s end, you’ll be strapping on the polyester and Googling the location of the nearest roller rink. Not groundbreaking by any means, but still very impressive stuff.


Found On: Discovery

The most underrated song on Discovery is probably this first-half blast of pure pop giddiness, brilliantly using the "Something's in the air!" shout from the beginning to Barry Manilow's "Who's Been Sleeping in My Bed" as a lift-off point to a stomping juggernaut of crashing beats and layered synths. Eventually, the song breaks out into a cacophonous flurry of laser noises, because the song has no other way to get more intense in its joyful exuberance. Coming off the hushed prettiness of "Nightvision," it's an absolute barnstormer of a dance-pop song, and it takes till the end of "Something About Us" to properly come down from.


Found On: Discovery

Another "Billie Jean"-like intro gives way to one of the most inspired hooks the duo ever devised. What really stuns about "Face to Face" is not just the funkiness of the song's chopped-together synth-and-bass hook, but the precision with which it is assembled--seemingly no two notes come from the same source material, yet it all still comes together for a rhythm and melody as transfixing and easily understandable as anything you might find in a song by their duo's rock/pop countrymen Phoenix. By the time collaborator and long-time influence Todd Edwards comes in with his pitch-perfect vocals about a strained relationship or some such (I've listened to this song dozens of times without ever once paying attention to what the words actually mean), the song's already an absolute winner. How it was never released as an official single--not that it would have been a hit in the States anyway--remains a mystery.


Found On: Homework

The song that really brought Daft Punk to prominence in the U.S., and simply put, one of the catchiest songs ever recorded. It's bad enough at the outset with the insta-funk of its Chic-inspired bass line, and on-the-down-beat synth-guitar riff, but then that three-word title vocal comes in--"Around the world, a-round-the-wooo-ooorrrrld"--and it's just game over. Good luck doing or thinking about anything else for the rest of the day without tapping the song with your fingers and humming the hook to yourself. The song doesn't really go anywhere else from there over the course of seven minutes, minus some drop-and-rebuild sections, but it doesn't have to, because it's already got you hooked for life. A video with different groups of eccentrically dressed dancers playing the various parts of the song also ensured that appropriate accompanying visuals would be an inextricable part of the Daft Punk experience from then on.


If you remember song #15 on this list, "Rock'n Roll," and how intense I talked about that song being, understand that I mean it as no small feat when I say that "Rollin' & Scratchin'" makes that song sound like "Music Sounds Better With You" by comparison. A slow-burning--and I mean burning house anthem, "Rollin' & Scratchin'" takes a little while to get going, but once it does, it will make you sorry for ever doubting it. The term "acid house" is an important descriptor in the dance music lexicon, but rarely do the songs it describes actually sound like literal acid is dripping off the beats. That's what "Rollin' & Scratchin'" does. The screaming two-note static hook becomes so vicious by song's climax that it actually sounds like it's ripping its own song (and the performers behind it) to shreds.

As with "Rock'n Roll," it could have verged on unlistenable (and probably still does for some), but the pacing of it is so perfect and the peak is handled with such respect for the song's blistering hook that it becomes as exhilerating as any of the group's more crowd-pleasing pop numbers. Back-to-back with "Around the World" on Homework, it's about as incredible a one-two punch as you're likely to find on any dance LP ever.


Found On: Discovery

Ask any of the millions of rock kids who don't normally care for dance music but still get down to Daft Punk which song of theirs it was that first wormed its way into their heart, and chances are pretty good the answer you'll get is "Digital Love." It's not quite the perfect pop song that Discovery's lead single is--there's no real chorus or vocal hook to speak off, just the George Duke-cribbed synth-guitar riff that runs throughout the song, but the song is still sweet and grabbing enough with its gleeful-but-sighing verse lyrics about a party-and-romance fantasy (start any Daft Punk fan off with a "Last night I had a dream about you..." and they should be able to recite the whole thing) that its appeal is easily understandable even for non-dance listeners.

Then there's the Supertramp-like bridge, the slamming breakdown section, and of course, the Yngwie-like, uber-righteous, "Aerodynamic" redux guitar shredding that takes the song to its close, all of which combine to make "Digital Love" perhaps Daft Punk's most delectable pop concoction.

#2. "DA FUNK"

If there was a cooler dance song released in the '90s, I'm not sure what it was. From the moment the song kicks into full-gear with its muscular beat and pounding, one-note BOOM. BOOM. BOOM. BOOM. bass line, and that growling, indescribale riff comes in over top, it's just the coldest, most badass thing the entire AMP generation had to offer--not even The Prodigy, with producer Maxim's violently zooming beats and crazy-eyed frotnman Keith Flint's lunatic raving on top, ever created a dance song quite this imposing. You don't title a song "Da Funk" without being able to back it up, and Daft Punk do so and then some on this one.

The song might not have had quite the same worldwide impact it did, though, without the impossibly clever Spike Jonze music video, with its dogman lead character and cold-world setting, imbuing the song with a weird kind of humanity. After you see the video, you can't listen to the song again without picturing it as some kind of paean to the lonely, unforgiving streets. And hey, we can't really blame the dogman for his tragic refusal to give up his radio at video's end--we might not have made it through the '90s without constantly blaring Daft Punk, either.


As many incredible songs as Daft Punk have, it would still feel wrong putting any song but this one at #1. "One More Time" is, in the end, the song that Daft Punk will be remembered for, a song whose worldwide reputation as one of pop music's great unifying tracks will ultimately make the fact that it only ever peaked at #61 on the US Hot 100 seem absolutely insane. Romanthy's incredibly auto-tuned vocals might've sounded cheesy upon first listen--little did we know then how simply ahead-of-their-time they were--and the song's relentless groove (pilfered brilliantly from Eddie Johns' "More Spell on You") might've seemed a little too maximalist, but after some time, concerns about cheesiness fell by the wayside as the song's pop rush--as pure as that of "Crazy in Love," or "Call Me Maybe," or any other pop song released in the 21st century--triumphed over all, making concerns about freshness or coolness seem petty by comparison. Eventually all that matters is celebrating one more time, and not stopping the dancing.

"One More Time" was recently voted by readers of dance magazine Mixmag as the greatest dance song of all-time, and it's hard to find too much fault in their choice. If you're looking for a song that gets everyone on the dancefloor, that everyone's always glad to hear at any time, and that properly expresses the senses of joy and release that the best pop music provides, you're not going to do to much better from anyone, from any era, than Daft Punk's "One More Time."

Thanks for reading through our ranked list of every Daft Punk song! To take a quick glimpse at our list from #90-1 in its entirety, and to listen to a Spotify playlist featuring all of the songs available in order, click NEXT.

Other Pages: #86-71, #70-61, #60-51, #50-41, #40-31, #30-21, #20-11

Rank    Song

86    On/Off

85    Funk Ad

84    Outlands

83    Disc Wars

82    Wdpk 837 fm

81    Flynn Lives

80    Get Funky Get Down

79    Recognizer

78    Within

77    Rectifier

76    Take Me Out

75    Arrival

74    Armory

73    Assault

72    Rinzler

71    Daftendirekt

70    Beyond

69    The Brainwasher

68    The Game Has Changed

67    The Prime Time Of Your Life

66    Oh Yeah

65    Veridis Quo

64    Finale

63    Overture

62    The Game of Love

61    Disco Cubizm

60    Nocturne

59    The Son of Flynn (Ki: Theory Remix)

58    High Life

57    Emotion

56    Tron Legacy (End Titles) (Sander Kleinenberg Remix)

55    Contact

54    The Grid

53    High Fidelity

52    Giorgio By Moroder

51    Forget About the World

50    C.L.U. (Paul Oakenfold Remix)

49    Steam Machine

48    Ouverture

47    Motherboard

46    Musique

45    Television Rules the Nation

44    Arena (The Japanese Popstars Remix)

43    Indo Silver Club

42    Derezzed

41    Instant Crush

40    Alive

39    Something About Us

38    Horizon

37    Teachers

36    Adagio for Tron (Teddybears Remix)

35    Crescendolls

34    Fragments of Time

33    Burnin'

32    Phoenix (Basement Jaxx Remix)

31    Short Circuit

30    Sky Sailor (Float Away)

29    Life Is Sweet

28    Nightvision

27    Chord Memory

26    Fresh

25    Technologic

24    Fall (M83 vs. Big Black Delta Remix)

23    Make Love

22    Give Life Back to Music

21    Voyager

20    End of Line

19    Touch

18    Rock'n Roll

17    Get Lucky

16    Robot Rock (Soulwax Remix)

15    Harder Better Faster Stronger

14    Mothership Reconncetion

13    Doing It Right

12    Too Long

11    Aerodynamic

10    Human After All

9    Revolution 909

8    Lose Yourself to Dance

7    Superheroes

6    Face to Face

5    Around the World

4    Rollin' & Scratchin'

3    Digital Love

2    Da Funk

1    One More Time

Other Pages: #86-71, #70-61, #60-51, #50-41, #40-31, #30-21, #20-11, #10-1

Justin Timberlake has so few solo albums—incredibly, The 20/20 Experience, out today, is just his third full-length LP—and waits so long in between the releases of each, that sometimes it seems like his discography should be comparable with a group like the Sex Pistols or Nirvana, an artist whose musical output was relatively small, but whose impact was so great that their catalog still stands alongside that of any of their more-prolific peers.

Well, we've done the research, and believe us when we say that that's not exactly the case. Despite only having the three solo LP's, JT's musical output over the last two decades—and yes, he's been around for nearly 20 years now, despite still being only 32 years—has, when you factor in his three-plus albums as a member of 'N Sync and his dozens of guest appearances on other artists' records over the years, been rather tremendous both in quality and quantity.

In fact, we counted a staggering 147 commercially released songs that Justin has been on over the years, and as we did with fellow pop legends Taylor Swift and Rihanna on the release dates of their new LPs last year, we're counting down every single one of them, from worst to first. (Because JT's discography is so sizeable, though, we're gonna breeze through the lowest 47, and gradually get a little more in depth from there as we get closer to the top.)

Join us as we look back through the entirety of Justin Timberlake's Hall-of-Fame-worthy discography, and see where all your favorite 'N Sync and JT solo jams (including the ten cuts off 20/20 Experience—12 with bonus tracks!) rank. And as always, let us know where we badly screwed up.

147. "On the Line" ('N Sync, On the Line Soundtrack)

146. "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" ('N Sync, "For the Girl Who Has Everything" B-Side)

145. "If I'm Not the One" ('N Sync, No Strings Attached (Europe Edition))

144. "In Love on Christmas" ('N Sync, Home for Christmas)

143. "You Got It" ('N Sync, 'N Sync)

142. "The First Noel" ('N Sync, Home for Christmas)

141. "Could It Be You" ('N Sync, No Strings Attached (Europe Release))

140. "Somewhere Someday" ('N Sync, Pokemon: The First Movie OST)

139. "Space Cowboy (Yippie-Yi-Ya)" ('N Sync, No Strings Attached)

138. "The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On an Open Fire)" ('N Sync, Home for Christmas)

137. "This Is Where the Party's At" ('N Sync, No Strings Attached (Europe Edition))

136. "The Only Gift" ('N Sync, Home for Christmas)

Not a ton of songs of interest in our first dozen—all 'N Sync numbers, including a number of Christmas songs and a several Europe-only bonus tracks. The more intriguing songs here would probably be the group's cover of "The Lion Sleeps Tonight," featuring a rare Chris Kirkpatrick lead falsetto vocal, the unsettling "In Love on Christmas" (which attempts to turn "Jingle Bells" into a Jodeci-type sex jam) and the supremely dated "Space Cowboy," which includes the bizarre couplet "Here it comes, millennium / And everybody's talkin' bout Jerusalem."

135. "Giddy Up" ('N Sync, 'N Sync)

134. "Best of My Life" ('N Sync, 'N Sync (German Edition))

133. "U Drive Me Crazy" ('N Sync, 'N Sync (British Edition))

132. "Losing My Way" (Solo, FutureSex/LoveSounds)

131. "Love's in Our Hearts on Christmas Day" ('N Sync, Home for Christmas)

130. "Some Dreams" ('N Sync, 'N Sync (Singapore Edition))

129. "Under My Tree" ('N Sync, Home for Christmas)

128. "You Don't Have to Be Alone (On Christmas)" ('N Sync, How the Grinch Stole Christmas OST)

127. "I Guess It's Christmas Time" ('N Sync, Home for Christmas)

126. "I Need Love" ('N Sync, 'N Sync)

We hit our first JT solo song, with the exceedingly overwrought attempt at social awwreness "Losing My Way," the sole misstep on FutureSex/LoveSounds and arguably Justin's worst number of the last ten years. Aside from that, just a lot more Christmas and bonus fare, though "I Need Love" and "Some Dreams" are both interesting in how much they sound like pop music from an era well before JT's prime, the former a Real McCoy-esque Eurodance jam and the latter a light reggae flirtation that sounds like it could have been on the Free Willy soundtrack. (And no, "U Drive Me Crazy" isn't the same as the Britney song, though it probably could and should have been.)

125. "It's Christmas" ('N Sync, Home for Christmas)

124. "Crazy For You" ('N Sync, 'N Sync)

123. "I'll Be Good For You" ('N Sync, No Strings Attached)

122. "Role Model" (FreeSol, Single)

121. "If Only Through Heaven's Eyes" ('N Sync, Light It Up OST)

120. "Fascinated" (FreeSol, Single)

119. "Everything I Own" ('N Sync, 'N Sync)

118. "Forever Young" ('N Sync, 'N Sync (German Edition))

117. "Here We Go" ('N Sync, 'N Sync)

116. "Home for Christmas" ('N Sync, Home for Christmas)

The first guest appearances show up here, courtesy of rap/rock outfit FreeSol, demonstrative of JT's surprisingly poor taste when it comes to selecting and grooming proteges. (At least he gets to do some super-Auto-Tuned rapping on "Role Model," though his verse won't exactly have you clamoring for an entire Justin mixtape.) Aside from that, there's also the Babyface-penned Fallen Homies ode "If Only Through Heaven's Eyes," and the Bread cover "Everything I Own," one of a handful of soft-rock standards the group would cover in their early days, though not one of the best.

115. "I'll Never Stop" ('N Sync, 'N Sync (Japanese Edition))

114. "Money" (Matt Morris, When Everything Breaks Open)

113. "Nite-Runner" (Duran Duran, The Red Carpet Massacre)

112. "Riddle" ('N Sync, 'N Sync (German Edition))

111. "Spaceship Coupe" (Solo, The 20/20 Experience)

110. "That Girl (Will Never Be Mine)" ('N Sync, On the Line OST)

109. "Bringin' Da Noise"('N Sync, No Strings Attached)

108. "Falling" ('N Sync, On the Line OST)

107. "Where Is the Love?" (Black Eyed Peas, Elephunk)

106. "The Nature" (Talib Kweli, Eardrum)

A lot more guest appearances, including another lame protege (Matt Morris, the manifestation of JT's coffee-house singer/songwriter career fantasies), a valiant-but-ill-fated comeback attempt (Duran Duran's Timbaland-and-Danja-produced Red Carpet Massacre, a disaster for all involved) and another blugh stab at social awareness (The Black Eyed Peas' "Where Is the Love?," somehow a worldwide smash hit). Also the first song from 20/20 (the over-cooked "Spaceship Coupe") and two highest-ranked of the three songs 'N Sync contributed to On the Line, the super-forgettable star vehicle for Sync members Lance Bass and Joey Fatone, which showed why Justin was the only member of the group destined for that particular type of multi-platform mainstream success.

105. "I Never Knew the Meaning of Christmas" ('N Sync, Home for Christmas)

104. "I Believe in You" (Joe, My Name Is Joe)

103. "That's When I'll Stop Loving You" ('N Sync, No Strings Attached)

102. "Celebrity" ('N Sync, Celebrity)

101. "Hole In My Head" (Rihanna, Single)

Our last five before getting into the Top 100 give us the first appearance of 'N Sync's best album—the title track off Celebrity—as well as the first song to appear on two of our every-song-ranked lists (though for what it's worth, it was only #109 from Rihanna's catalogue).

And now, onto the Top 100. For songs #100-91, click NEXT.

Other Pages: 90-81, 80-71, 70-61, 60-51, 50-41, 40-31, 30-21, 20-11, 10-1


Found On: The Lonely Island, Non-Album Single

The least funny of JT's three Lonely Island collaborations with comedian Andy Samberg, though it's hard to deny "Your mom says hi, JINX!" or the "HELICOPTER DICK!" bridge, and Lady Gaga is a welcome presence, as always.

99. "WINNER"

Found On: Jamie Foxx, Non-Album Single

There might never be a song more custom-designed to be used in NBA on TNT commercials than Foxx's "Winner," which was decently rousing, but still fell well short of the gold standard set by Fort Minor's "Remember the Name."

98. "WORK IT"

Found On: Nelly's Nellyville

A lesser single from Nelly's smash 2002 album, "Work It" is enjoyable enough Nelly by-the-numbers, with a fun video set at the Playboy Mansion (including a cameo from Hugh Hefner, natch).

97. "MY STYLE"

Found On: The Black Eyed Peas' Monkey Business

A much funkier and less overbearing JT/Peas collab than the far-more-popular "Where Is the Love," though if he wasn't repeatedly shouted out by producer Timbaland, you might never be able to spot that Justin is the one singing the song's hook.


Found On: 'N Sync's Home for Christmas

Another all-too-rare Kirkpatrick lead vocal, with some seriously sweet sax work making the song stand out from the rest of the bland Home for Christmas originals. Co-written by Martin Briley, '80s one-hit wonder for the underrated "Salt in My Tears."


Found On 'N Sync's 'N Sync

A Babyface-style "Money can't buy you love" ballad from the group's first album. Good, but not as good as Backstreet Boys' "All I Have to Give."


Found On: Reba McEntire's Reba Duets

One of the few country dalliances of the Memphis-born Timberlake's career came on this Reba duet, a stark, beautiful ballad that actually could've used a whole lot more JT than the spare backing vocals that he provides.


Found On: 'N Sync's Home for Christmas

Few R&B groups of their era did a capella as well as 'N Sync, and their accompaniment-less rendition of the Christmas standard (featuring the group trading off on lead vocal, climaxing with Kirkpatrick's falsetto) one of the most fun tracks on Home for Christmas.


Found On: Madonna's Hard Candy

One of two three-way collabs between Madonna, JT and Timbaland on Madge's Hard Candy, and though both were quite funky, it's not surprising that the fairly unmemorable "2night" wasn't the one pulled as a single.


Found On: 'N Sync's Home for Christmas

Thoughtful of 'N Sync to take a break from all the Christmas celebrating to give a shoutout to New Year's as well—especially with the "5! 4! 3!..." countdown that begins the track. One of the more useful songs from Home for Christmas, certainly.

For songs #90-81, click NEXT.

Other Pages: 147-101, 80-71, 70-61, 60-51, 50-41, 40-31, 30-21, 20-11, 10-1


Found On: No Strings Attached

Some pop songs will be forever cool in whatever niche is currently popular, and Johnny Kemp's New Jack Swing anthem "Just Got Paid" is certainly one of them, a worthy inclusion of cover on 'N Sync's second album. And considering how many copies No Strings Attached sold, Kemp is probably very grateful for the inclusion.


Found On: 'N Sync's Celebrity

Pretty lite-sounding for where 'N Sync were elsewhere on their third album, but a very pretty ballad just the same, with a big key change at song's climax—an unfortunately neglected art in 21st-century pop music.


Found On: The 20/20 Experience

An impressively lush number, and one that unfolds rather beautifully over its first couple minutes—but it just doesn't need to be two movements and eight minutes long when the song's only real lyrical idea is about equating love and sensuality (and possibly oral sex) to chewing gum.

87. "BOUNCE"

Found On: Timbaland's Shock Value

The beat is an absolute monster, and the JT-sung chorus hook of "Bounce / Like yo' ass had the hicuuuuuups..." is obviously awesome. Unfortunately, the song couldn't leave well enough alone, and the second half of the chorus, with JT listing every possible menage-a-trois combination ("It's you on me and me on you / Then you on me and me on you and you on her...") gets very quickly exhausting.


Found On: 'N Sync's Celebrity

Nice "Strawberry Fields"-like intro, and a cute double-time switch-up when the song gets to the chorus, though there's ultimately not a ton to grab onto here songwise outside of the lithe, bouncy production.


Found On: 'N Sync's 'N Sync (German Edition)

The production on this one makes it sound more like it's from 1987 than 1997, but the backing harmonies on the chorus are so gorgeous and the pace is so hypnotic that the datedness of it all isn't nearly as much of a problem as you'd imagine from the first few seconds.


Found On: 'N Sync's 'N Sync

One of JT's earliest attempts at the sophisticated loverman thing, with impressively un-embarrassing results considering that Timberlake was still only 16 at the time of recording. Cool syncopated rhythmic backing (and approximation of the classic "Don't Look Any Further" bass line) here too.


Found On: Kenna's Make Sure They See My Face

Kenna's career never quite took off the way JT and The Neptunes (producing here) hoped it would, but the dude still wrote some decent indie rock jams, and this one, with Justin pitching in on backing vocals, was about as catchy and head-bopping as any released in 2007.


Found On: 'N Sync's Home for Christmas

The most enjoyable of the Home for Christmas originals, "Merry Christmas" was a fine choice for the album's lead single, and remains a worthwhile inclusion on contemporary-pop-themed holiday playlists.


Found On: Music of the Heart OST

A duet with '80s pop megastar Gloria Estefan, 'N Sync's highest-charting single of the '90s—and a much-bigger hit than the forgettable Meryl Streep movie it soundtracked—is hardly the first song anyone will think of when remembering the group's salad days. But it is nonetheless a perfectly respectable "One Sweet Day"-type pop power ballad (penned by songwriting legend Diane Warren), with a key change that puts "Selfish" to shame.

For songs #80-71, click NEXT.

Other Pages: 147-101, 100-91, 70-61, 60-51, 50-41, 40-31, 30-21, 20-11, 10-1


Found On: Justified

Stevie Wonder-influenced almost to the point of pastiche, the electric-piano-led "Nothin' Else" is hardly a highlight on Justified, but is still smooth and mysterious enough that it would've blended in just fine on side three or four of Songs in the Key of Life.


Found On: 'N Sync's 'N Sync (Singapore Edition)

Yes, that "More Than a Feeling." 'N Sync's largely a capella cover of Boston's classic rock standard really shouldn't work as anything except parody, but damn if it doesn't actually come off as a joyful, creative rendition of the brilliant (and possibly indestructible) 1976 anthem.


Found On: Justified

A lovely strings-and-acoustic mid-tempo ballad, the kind of song that Justin Bieber just can't wait until his voice is adult enough to carry. Filled with cute little sonic detail—like the sound of JT inhaling deeply after the "I wanna be your air" lyric in the first verse—courtesy of The Neptunes, the primary architects of Timberlake's solo debut.


Found On: 'N Sync's Celebrity

'N Sync's third album was chock full of these incredibly frustrated-sounding kiss-off-type songs, with tense, buzzing, lean production to match. "See Right Through You" probably isn't the best of the bunch, but it does have JC demanding "DOES HE FFFFREAK THE WAY THAT I DO? / 'Coz you know that I know how to!," which is pretty fun.


Found On: The 20/20 Experience

Another 20/20 track that starts intriguing, but whose impact is dulled by its unnecessarily long running time. Damn, is it good to hear those classic Timbaland "uh-huh"s on the pre-chorus, though—we had no idea just how much we had missed him.


Found On: Hope for Haiti Now

A JT duet with singer/songwriter protege Matt Morris on one of the most over-covered songs in history for charity sounds like an even bigger recipe for disaster than an 'N Sync cover of Boston, but the arrangement is a lovely one and Morris and Timberlake (the latter's voice virtually unrecognizable) really blend quite seamlessly together, stately and not too showy. An impressive line item for Justin's vocal resume.


Found On: Jimmy Fallon's Blow Your Pants Off

JT and long-time showbiz bud Jimmy Fallon do a pretty respectable job blowing through three decades or so of hip-hop history, with Timberlake matching Fallon voice-for-voice with his spot-on renditions of Mike D (on the Beastie Boys' "Paul Revere") and Snoop Dogg (on Dr. Dre's "Nuthin' But a 'G' Thang"). The two would repeat the gimmick on Fallon's show three more times, with diminishing but still-fun returns.


Found On: Sergio Mendes' Timeless

Legendary pianist Sergio Mendes attempted a Santana-like comeback with Timeless, an album of collaborations with modern-day artists, including JT singing the hook on "Loose Ends," one of the few Justin attempts at showing a social conscience that actually doesn't come off as cringe-worthy—even despite the disappointing-but-unsurprising presence of Nice interpolation of "What's Goin' On," too.


Found On: 'N Sync's No Strings Attached

Slightly eye-roll-worthy in its self-conscious 21st-centuriness, but a necessary step in the evolution of 'N Sync (and JT) into pop futurists, and a very ahead-of-its-time deployment of Auto-Tune. Nobody else but Cher, Daft Punk and (for some reason) Kid Rock was using Auto-Tune like that at the turn of the century.

71. "DRESS ON"

Found On: The 20/20 Experience (Deluxe Edition)

A Timbaland guest verse! We're amazed it took until the bonus tracks on 20/20 Experience to get one, but the slinky shuffle of "Dress On" is as good a place as any for it. And the song still clocks in at under five minutes! Legendary restraint for JT here—though even at that blink-and-you'll-miss-it length, Timbo still finds time for another human-beatbox-type hook at the end. Not every song needs one of those, Timothy.

For songs #70-61, click NEXT.

Other Pages: 147-101, 100-91, 90-81, 60-51, 50-41, 40-31, 30-21, 20-11, 10-1


Found On: The Lonely Island's Turtleneck & Chain

A lustful mother swap that comes just short of falling into overbearing ughness, and just catchy enough as a mid/late-'00s R&B pastiche to avoid being a one-note bad joke. Plus, "My dad can't satisfy her in the bedroom ever since in he passed away" and "Every Mothers' Day needs a Mothers' Night" are pretty goddamn funny.


Found On: Esmée Denters' Outta Here

Of Timberlake's many handpicked younger artists to become commercial disappointments, Denters probably produced the most actually above-average pop music, including the unfaithful-lover lament "Casanova." The song is helped tremendously by a super-cold Danja beat, but Timberlake also gives the song a jolt on the chorus: "I'm trying to tell you sister / He's running around on ya!"


A light Neptunes breeze soundtracking another Justin vocal in which he plays superhero to a wounded PYT—although in this one, there's at least the lyrical switch-up of the girl having been laid off at her job, and not bruised emotionally by an unappreciative ex. Regardless, when the Neptunes are playing it this smooth, the lyrics are fine as long as they don't get too far in the way.


Found On: Timbaland's Shock Value 2

Proof that the hot-girl-as-fast-food extended lyrical metaphor has very limited appeal over an entire song. Still, Justin's hook is supremely catchy, and the clanging beat was one of the last great productions of Timbaland's second golden period, like the world's funkiest signal for a wedding toast.

66. "4 MINUTES"

Found On: Madonna's Hard Candy

Madonna's last enormous radio hit to date, and proof that she could still trend-hop musically with the best of them. Still, "4 Minutes" demonstrated that JT and Timbo were starting to run aground a little creatively, as the song's groaning hook and shuffling beat both reminded of previous, superior collaborations between the two.


Found On: Justified

A rare sort of understated nu-soul number from Timberlake, without a big attention-grabbing hook or big vocal swell or anything. Not the most memorable song he's ever done, but sweet and unassuming in a way that few ballads he's done recently are. Where did the Stevie Wonder influence go in your music, JT?


Found On: Shark Tale OST

A Timbaland/Timberlake collab from in between JT's first two albums, demonstrating the easy, obvious chemistry between the two. Neither appears to be trying all that hard on this one, but that's kind of the charm, as cool seems so effortless for the two—just listen to Timbo's repeated, matter-of-fact protestation "I ain't tryin'a be rude, dude, but we tryin'a tear up the place." Thankfully, the Shark Taleness is contained to a couple off-hand "fish in the sea"-type references.


Found On: 'N Sync's Celebrity

A skittering, bouncy sex jam that sounds, like a handful of 'N Sync songs from this period, like it was recorded inside an overactive pinball machine. Interestingly, this was the only song on an 'N Sync album with both JC and JT credited as co-writers, showing the arguable potential of a Lennon/McCartney-type partnership between the group's two most dominant members.


Found On: The 20/20 Experience (Deluxe Edition)

The hook kinda sounds like "Like I Love You" playing in reverse, which is pretty damn cool, and by the time the horns kick in on the chorus, you're wondering why the hell this song was left off the album's proper tracklist. It sort of makes sense by the song's end, though, as "Body Count" doesn't have a lot going lyrically, and the "Make my body count" hook becomes a little grating. Still, a highly worthy addition to the 20/20 Experience.


Found On: Justified

Again, hardly one of JT's most memorable lyrics, and the song goes about a minute longer than it needs to, but the Neptunes were in such a zone around the Justified era that "Last Night" is borderline essential just for its hypnotic layers of synth-strings and shimmering electric piano. Plus, no song called "Last Night" has ever been less than awesome.

For songs #60-51, click NEXT.

Other Pages: 147-101, 100-91, 90-81, 80-71, 50-41, 40-31, 30-21, 20-11, 10-1


Found On: T-Pain, non-album single

T-Pain's original was one of the more likeable pop songs of the late '00s, a twinkling, minimal ballad with some endearingly quirky lyrics ("I can put you in a mansion / Somewhere in Wiscansin"). Timberlake is very game for the song's fine remix, even playing along with the song's bizarre off-rhyme scheme ("I can see you breathless / Staring out across the bay in Massachusetts") and adopting T-Pain-level Auto-Tune for the first time since "Digital Get Down." Fun stuff.


Found On: T.I.'s Paper Trail

"Dead and Gone" quickly became one of the most-overplayed rap hits of the late '00s, but if you didn't get sick of it, then Justin's chorus hook and memorable bridge ("I turn my head to the East...") were probably the reasons why. Why did every song released around then make such a point of neeedless "OH!" and "AY!" shouting, though?


Found On: 'N Sync's 'N Sync

Hey, don't knock it till you try it. "Sailing," originally a soft-rock classic for Christopher Cross in the early '80s, turns out to be a super-fine fit for the gorgeous harmonies and hazy production of early 'N Sync, turning the song into a very worthy late-'90s successor to PM Dawn's "Set Adrift on Memory Bliss." We'd pay ten bucks for an entire 'N Sync-does-Yacht-Rock compilation, for sure.


Found On: 'N Sync's 'N Sync

If you can get past the craw-sticking "Your love is like a river, peaceful and deep" lyric, one of the sweeter, better-crafted ballads of Justin's early career, for sure. Also led to one of 'N Sync's earliest cross-genre collaborations, as the group would later back up the legendary country group Alabama on a rendition of the song.

56. "FLOATIN'"

Found On: Charlie Wilson's Charlie, Last Name Wilson

Some smooth soul from Uncle Charlie, with Timberlake doing an impressive job of holding his own on the second verse. Feel-good stuff, though of course shows up spitting on the third verse to remind us all that this world is forever imperfect.


Found On: Justified

Timbaland always had a fascination with Eastern music, which popped up occasionally in his work with Justin Timberlake, probably most notably on the flute-heavy "(Oh No) What You Got," a worthwhile interruption of the run of megahits that constitutes the first side of Justin's debut album Justified. You'll be shouting "Oh no! GIRRRRRRLLLL..." along with JT and Tim by song's end, guaranteed.


Found On: Timbaland's Shock Value

A fun Timbo/Justin jam that just sounds like the two of them kinda getting loose before a serious day's work in the studio. There's not much actual song to speak of here, but as far as warm-up tunes go, it's a blast, with Tim's cartoonishly over-dramatic "I THINK I'M GETTING A CHAARRRGE!!!" exhortations being particularly smile-inducing.

52. "I'M LOVIN' IT"

Found On: Justified (Deluxe Edition)

A decade's worth of over-use of the song's chorus in crappy McDonald's commercials has probably conditioned JT fans to lunge for the "skip" button whenever they hear the "ba-da-ba-baaaa-baaaaa" hook in this one, but the full song is a lost JT gem, wrapped around a classic Neptunes beat, with choppy guitars and slamming drums that demand a physical response of some sort. Even the "ba-da-ba-baaaa-baaaaa" hook is great, if you can listen to it without visualizing the discomfort and pain associated with taking the second-to-last bite of a Big Mac you never really wanted in the first place.


Found On: The 20/20 Experience

The fake "JT and the Tennessee Kids" introduction at the beginning is unnecessary and a little grating, but the song itself is one of 20/20's most enjoyable, a gentle, soothing soul groove with an excellent chorus ("I'm in love with that girl / So don't be mad at me"). And not to belabor the point here, but actually cutting things off before the five-minute mark helps this one out a lot.

For songs #50-41, click NEXT.

Other Pages: 147-101, 100-91, 90-81, 80-71, 70-61, 40-31, 30-21, 20-11, 10-1


Found On: The best ballad from the first 'N Sync album, with an instantly memorable chorus and a literal-minded-but-TRL-beloved video (starring Amber from Clueless!) setting the group in straitjackets in an insane asylum. The key change at the end is obviously a highlight, but the bridge that leads up to it—with the group just going big on harmonized "oooh-ooooh"s and "la la"s—is arguably even better, as is JC's climactic "Crazy!!!" shouting at the end.


Found On: Esemée Denters' Outta Here

The love-as-drugs extended metaphor is a tired one—though not so tired that JT didn't spend eight minutes with it on a song still to come on this list—but at least Denters casts herself as the villain in this one, dispensing her love like a peddler trying to get customers desperately and self-destructively hooked. It's a cute lyrical twist, and a fantastic JT/Stargate co-produced beat, making Denters kind of sound like an evil Teena Marie. If this song wasn't a hit, it probably just wasn't ever gonna happen for Esmée.


Found On: 'N Sync's No Strings Attached

Another 'N Sync jam from inside a pinball machine—you can hear the group jumping from bumper to bumper in the chorus, for sure—and one of their stronger non-singles from this time period, compact and catchy, showing what a clear zone the group (and their expert team of writers and producers) was in around the turn of the century. They probably would have had a bangin' music video for this one, too.


Found On: The 20/20 Experience

Over a decade after JT's one and only collaboration with Gloria Estefan, he finally puts out a jam that sounds like an audition for the Miami Sound Machine. The latino-influenced funk of "Let the Groove In"—with a little "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'" for flavor—is a clear highlight of 20/20 for its first three minutes, but again, like much of the album, things become redundant over seven-plus minutes. The groove's gotten in already, Justin, no need to keep forcing it.


Found On: Justified

Another production tour-de-force, courtesy of Timbaland and forgotten co-producer Scott Storch (who Timbo would later call out on another song still to come on this list), with squelchy electric piano and subtle strings and electric guitar combining into one of the most seductive grooves on Justified—needless to say, no small accomplishment. The call-and-response between Timbo and JT on the chorus was further demonstrative of the undeniable chemistry between the two—chemistry Justin never even really shared with his 'N Sync partners.


Found On: 'N Sync's No Strings Attached

The ballad third single off No Strings Attached, written by one-time MOR pop/rock great Richard Marx. "Promise" is a ballad worthy of his "Right Here Waiting" in terms of undeniable mainstream competence, adopting a sort of "Truly Madly Deeply"-inspired formula of a light drum shuffle with gently plucked guitar and airy, spacious production. Not forward thinking as some other stuff the group was doing around this time was, but deeply satisfying, nonetheless.


Found On: Bubba Sparxxx's Deliverance

Man, whatever happened to Bubba Sparxxx? That dude was awesome.


Found On: Justin & Christina

A totally forgotten gem from a totally forgotten split EP that Justin did with Christina Aguilera after Justified, which each artist contributing one new song and a couple remixes to promote their co-billed Justified & Stripped tour. "Why When How" shows an alternate career Justin could've had as an intimate lounge singer of short, sweet love songs if he and Timbaland hadn't decided to conquer the charts and reinvent popular music instead. We're probably better off that he went with the latter, but the former might've been cool too.


Found On: The 20/20 Experience

Of the many long songs on 20/20 Experience, "Wall" maybe comes the closest to justifying its seven-minute running time, perhaps because its groove is so weird and mysterious and hypnotic from the beginning, and probably partly because its B section actually goes to some interesting (but not totally illogical) places. And personally speaking, I could listen to Timbaland commanding "DANCE!...DON'T HOLLLL' DA WALL!!" for hours.


Found On: The 20/20 Experience

The best of the inexcusably long 20/20 songs, because the Prince-inspired falsetto-funk ballad is so perfect for its first five minutes. If it cut off there, "Pusher" might be 10-20 spots higher on this list, but unfortunately we still have to put up with three minutes of bad drug/love-pun rapping and "J-J-J-J-JUNKIE FOR YOUR LOVE!!" exhortations after that. Why, JT, oh why?


Found On: FutureSex/LoveSounds

Easily the least memorable of the FS/LS singles, but that's more a compliment to the rest of the album's hits than a knock on "Summer Love," still a very fine futuristic R&B Jam—just one that doesn't contain many mysteries beyond its squelchy synth hook and inspired vocal rhythms on the verse. It shows how ahead of the game JT and Timbaland were on this album that "Summer Love" sounds pedestrian by their standards, though.

For songs #40-31, click NEXT.

Other Pages: 147-101, 100-91, 90-81, 80-71, 70-61, 60-51, 30-21, 20-11, 10-1


Found On: 'N Sync's Celebrity

Rather than just displaying an obvious Stevie Wonder influence, the group actually got Stevie to do a little harmonica-blowing on this ballad off their third album, and Stevie's unmistakable presence, along with a very solid chorus, make this probably the group's best ballad not to be released as a single.


Found On: 'N Sync's Celebrity

"Tell Me" is like a more muscular, even harder-hitting version of one of those Darkchild-produced Destiny's Child breakup jams, with the same kind of stop-start rhythms, slamming beats and nervy, pissed-off-sounding vocals. Even though the song is ostensibly a love song, it sounds so testosterone-fueled and aggressive that it's almost a little bit intimidating. Very interesting stuff from the group that was doing "Tearin' Up My Heart" just two albums earlier.


Found On: 50 Cent's Curtis

With a lead rapper who felt like giving more of a shit than 50 Cent clearly felt like giving at the late-'00s stage of his career, "Ayo" could've been a stone classic, since it got one of Timbo's finest, most fascinating beats (even if it does crib rather liberally from Crystal Castles' "Courtship Dating"), and a classic JT chorus to boot (even if I've never bothered to consider the full implications of "I'm tired of using technology / Why don't you sit down on top of me?"). Oh well, still quite a jam regardless.


Found On: The Game, non-album single

Even in 2010, The Neptunes and Justin hadn't lost their Justified-era chemistry. The Game got a classic Neptunes beat and a classic JT hook for the lead single to his R.E.D. Album, but for whatever reason—possibly because it was 2010, and the public's once-insatiable appetite for such jams had long since dissipated—it ended up not even making the album. Still, if this was released in 2003, it could've been The Game's "Beautiful." (The Snoop Dogg one, not the Christina one).


Found On: 'N Sync's Celebrity

Another pissed-off Celebrity jam, like an unofficial sequel to Strings' "Bye Bye Bye." Not quite as in-your-face as "Tell Me, Tell Me...Baby," but arguably the better, more coherent song, with an excellent chorus hook and production that doesn't distract from the song's message quite so much. (At just three minutes, one of the group's more efficient cuts, as well.)


Found On: Ciara's Fantasy Ride

Almost too easy, with Timberlake and Ciara—two of the biggest stars of the '00s—celebrating their own sexiness and general irresistible-ness with this slinky pop tango. It's not much better than it has to be, but that's still pretty damn good, especially on the song's awesome "This is the part where we fall in love..." breakdown section. Quality video too, of course.


Found On: FutureSex/LoveSounds

The kind of effortlessly flawless electro-funk that JT and Timbo were tossing off with disturbing ease on FutureSex/LoveSounds—technically, "Sexy Ladies" isn't much more than filler on the album, but it's still utterly captivating, as Timbaland's screeching synth hook matches JT's perfectly Prince-ian "I've got sexy laaaadies / Alloverthefloor..." chorus note-for-note, with the popping bass line providing able support underneath. Again, just too easy.

33. "POP"

Found On: 'N Sync's Celebrity

With its wikky-wikky scratching and minorly corny vocal effects, "Pop" hasn't aged as well as some of the other up-tempo cuts on Celebrity, but there's no denying that it was an eye-opener at the time, with 'N Sync's adventurousness with production and song structure—not to mention the opening callout response to the group's haters—showing that maybe there was something a little more to them (and JT in particular) than some of their less ambitious peers.

32. "SHADES"

Found On: Diddy - Dirty Money's Last Train to Paris

One of the most bonkers songs that JT ever appeared on, a six-minute grinder that oscillates between Lil Wayne's stream-of-conscience rambling, Bilal's plaintive romantic pleading and Justin's hit-or-miss attempt at hashtag rapping ("I can read your mind / Professor X / We can press rewind / VHS"). Of course, this is all over a lurching, pulsating, almost frightening-sounding beat, and all while Diddy sporadically pops up to echo sentiments like "Never made love on marmalade." It is like nothing else you will ever hear, and while that might be for the best, it's still an extremely fascinating piece of music.


Found On: FutureSex/LoveSounds

One of only two non-Timbaland-produced songs on FutureSex, JT doesn't miss a beat with "Damn Girl," the most traditionally funky and soulful number on the album, with one of the best drum tracks he's ever falsetto'd over. (Nice organ work, too.) Co-producer can't resist showing up as a guest rapper late in the song—when will America learn?—but his positive contributions behind the decks outweigh his negative contributions on the mic.

For songs #30-21, click NEXT.

Other Pages: 147-101, 100-91, 90-81, 80-71, 70-61, 60-51, 50-41, 20-11, 10-1


Found On: 'N Sync's No Strings Attached

The stunning a capella closer to the group's second album, with a fantastic and moving lyrical conceit and some of the loveliest harmonies the group ever committed to record. By the way, Chris Kirkpatrick must've gotten so excited whenever he heard the group was gearing up for an a capella number, knowing he'd probably get a shot at splitting the lead for one of the only times on the album. It's a treat for us too, Chris.

29. "SIGNS"

Found On: Snoop Dogg's R&G: Rhythm & Gangsta

JT curses! OK, that's not really the most notable thing about "Signs," one of the Neptunes' best horn-led grooves with an awesome JT falsetto hook (and Charlie Wilson coming in off the bench with an inspired Gap Band lift), but it was kind of a big deal at the time to hear Justin singing "I'm not sure of what I see / Cupid, don't fuck with me." It proved there was no going back to Orlando, at least.


Found On: 'N Sync's Celebrity

Easily the weirdest song that 'N Sync ever recorded, the closer to the group's third album (and thus technically the last song the group released), without its vocal, "Do Your Thing" could have fit on any number of albums from IDM producers like Aphex Twin and Squarepusher, a minimal, skittering, almost alien-sounding beat that even a pop visionary like Timbaland probably would've blanched at a little. The group rides the beat well, too, making it in an inscrutable and supremely odd but somehow still satisfying closer to their final album. Where you at, producer James Moss? You're kinda awesome, dude.


The first (and one of the best) of 'N Sync's angry post-breakup songs, with the group really putting it out there with the song's title and lyrics like "I'm glad that I met him, heh / 'Cause now I know the competition's very slim to none." The song's hyper, over-active beat would point the way to the sound of the group's third album, and show that the saccharine hooks and nice-guy sentiments of the group's debut was already well in the rearview.


Found On: Timbaland's Shock Value

The victory lap for Timbaland, JT and Nelly Furtado, and considering that they were the trio most responsible for the sound of popular music in 2006, it was a well-deserved one. None of the three sound like they're trying particularly hard as they deflect shots from haters and even throw a couple back (particularly in Timbo's Scott Storch-busting verse: "I'm a real producer / You just a piano man"), but that's because none of them needed to try all that hard back then, so effortless was their dominance over the pop world. A number-one hit that not that many people really remember, but one well worth revisiting.


Found On: 'N Sync's 'N Sync

The song that cemented 'N Sync as being on the Backstreet Boys' level of popularity, and one of the enduring classics of the whole TRL era. Some of the lyrics are kinda clunky, especially on the chorus, but it's not like it really matters—you know all the words, and you'll sing them at the top of your lungs at a moment's notice whenever and wherever you hear it for the rest of your life.


Found On: Justified

JT's no stranger to emotive breakup ballads, but nowhere else in his discography does he sound as emotionally vulnerable as he does on the Justified closer "Never Again"—Justin really sounds like he's fighting back tears as he sings "You didn't say you're sorry / I don't understand..." on the chorus. It's some pretty affecting shit, its sparse arrangement and lack of rhythmic backing track standing in stark contrast to the 12 songs that preceded it on the album, making the song even more of a stunner. Too bad Timberlake never worked with writer/producer Brian McKnight again—there really might've been something there.


Found On: FutureSex/LoveSounds

Prince was a frequent reference point for JT and Timbaland over the course of FutureSex/LoveSounds, but nothing on the album sounds like it was ripped directly from Purple Rain like "Until the End of Time," down to the filtered, echoing drums and the ripping guitar solo on the climax in live performances. Of course, if you know Purple Rain at all, you know what a huge compliment that is, and "End of Time" is positively "Beautiful Ones"-worthy in its approximation of the Purple One's sound. We went with the duet with Beyoncé here, because how often are you going to get Bey and JT on the same song in this life? Both versions are great, though.

22. "CHOP ME UP"

Found On: FutureSex/LoveSounds

From that brief period when Three 6 Mafia were popular enough—Oscar winners!—that it wasn't weird to see them as one of just a handful of guests on a Justin Timberlake album. They're great of course, DJ Paul screaming about "crying rivers like Timbaland and Timberlake," but the song's real star is Timbo, with those Houston-friendly, down-modulated "SCREWWWWED up" and "CHAWP me up" samples that prove the irresistible hook on the chorus. A classic of its time period for so many reasons.


Found On: Justified

An ideal opener to Justin's first solo album, and one of the best fourth singles ever released off any pop album ever, "Senorita" is absolutely bursting at the seams with perfect pop hooks. You think you've gotten the general idea, and then JT comes up with the male/female call-and-response section, and you realize you're just getting started. Catchy, exapnsive, inclusive and impossibly fun, the fact that "Senorita" doesn't make JT's top twenty should really tell you something about how much great music this guy has been involved in over the years.

For #20-11, click NEXT.

Other Pages: 147-101, 100-91, 90-81, 80-71, 70-61, 60-51, 50-41, 40-31, 10-1


Found On: Justified

The lost classic off Justified, and one of the Neptunes' all-time most-underrated efforts—a lithe, sashaying beat that proves how great the duo was at doing more with less, using minimal drums, one repeated zooming synth note and the slightest hint of flute to create one of their most immaculate, irresistible beats ever. The fact that they could afford to bury this song on the second half of Justified shows what a historic zone both artist and producer were around this time period.


Found On: FutureSex/LoveSounds

The stomp of the opening title track to JT's second album is a subtle but undeniable one—Justin and Timothy don't demand that you get out of their way, they just know that you're not gonna have a choice. Justin had never sounded this adult before, this confident, this...weirdly patient. With the understated chug of the verses bursting into the smothering synths of the chorus, there was simply no denying it—Timbaland and Timberlake would soon be here, and we would have no choice but to welcome our new pop overlords.

#18. "SUIT & TIE"

Found On: The 20/20 Experience

No, it didn't stun with the new in quite the same way that previous JT lead singles had, but it did prove that when it came to pop singles you heard once that echoed in your head until you heard it a second time, there was still nobody quite like Justin. Months later, we've yet to hear "Suit & Tie" once without having it stuck in our head for at least an hour after—and glad to have it there—and if that's not good enough for us for a lead single, we should probably re-adjust our expectations a little.


Found On: 'N Sync's 'N Sync

The first we ever heard of Justin, and still one of the more immaculate pop singles he's ever been involved with. Everything about "I Want You Back" is just right, from the subtle harmonies on the second verse to the "You're the one I want / You're the one I need" lead into the climactic chorus, to that booming piano hook that splits up the chorus and the verse. "Tearin" was the bigger MTV hit at the time, but "Back" was always the better song, and remains the finest jam from 'N Sync's diamond-selling first album.


Found On: FutureSex/LoveSounds

As with "Never Again" on Justified, JT switches it up on the closer to FutureSex/LoveSounds—after spending 11 songs pushing pop music relentlessly forward, he recruits Rick Rubin to go old-school soul on the 12th track, a pitch-perfect take-me-back ballad that again proves Justin's musical and emotional versatility. He's closer to Lady Gaga in his pop instincts, but he could have been Adele too had he wanted to.


Found On: FutureSex/LoveSounds

An epic kiss-off song, and one whose length and multi-part nature (and how little the song suffered for its relative progginess) proved just how far Justin had burst through his ceiling as a pop artist and megastar. The song is a mite too close musically to JT's prior "Cry Me a River" and has a bit too condescending a self-righteous edge to its lyrics for it to be considered as one of his all-time classics, but if this is your album's third single, chances are you're doing pretty OK.


Found On: The 20/20 Experience

Completing the trilogy of JT album closers that completely flip the script on the albums that preceded them, the gorgeous "Blue Ocean Floor" follows nine tracks of crowd-pleasing, floor-filling funk with a stark, atmospheric, and lyrically obscure ballad in which Justin discretely invites his beloved to meet him at the bottom of the ocean, as guitar plays in reverse and seagulls and cassette-tape sound-effects float above him. It's stunning proof of yet another direction that Timberlake could've gone in his career—that of the more esoteric, sonically adventurous balladeer, like Thom Yorke or Frank Ocean—and the fact that he nails it this beautifully is probably the most impressive thing about the album.


Found On: 'N Sync's No Strings Attached

JT's first number one, and (incredibly) the only chart-topper 'N Sync ever had. "It's Gonna Be Me" is an obvious winner from the first time you hear its trademark cascading riff on the intro, following with the robo-croaking voice exhorting "IT'S GONNA BE MEEEEEE..." Remarkably, the song only gets better from there, with a show-stopping and instantly memorable chorus, and a stunning bridge that keeps the song's impressive momentum going all the way to its final chorus. A deserved classic of turn-of-the-century pop.


Found On: The 20/20 Experience

Unlike the rest of the eight-minute tracks on 20/20, "Mirrors" actually gets stronger as it goes, not revealing all of its tricks at first, as its guitar-led beat takes hold and multi-tracked chorus worms its way into your heart. The lyrics, while not quite "Blue Ocean Floor"-level obscure, are still impressively thoughtful and poetic for a singer as direct as Justin usually is, and make up a worthy ode to Justin's new bride–even if that bride happens to have starred in an unfortunately high percentage of the worst movies of the 21st century.


Found On: The Lonely Island's Incredibad

Several dozen Lonely Island parodies later, most representing diminishing returns, it's hard to remember just how fresh and hilarious Justin and Andy Samberg's original early-'90s R&B sendup was upon its debut back in 2006, back when it was still novel to have Aaron Hall-sounding ballads about giving your dick as a holiday present. Years later, it's still incredibly impressive, though that shock of the new the first time you heard Justin crooning "Kwanza / Dick in a Box!" or "BACKSTAGE AT THE CMA'S A DICK IN A BOOOOOOOXXXXX!!!" might be borderline impossible to impart to future generations.

For the top ten songs, click NEXT.

Other Pages: 147-101, 100-91, 90-81, 80-71, 70-61, 60-51, 50-41, 40-31, 30-21


Found On: 'N Sync's Celebrity

The song that most represented the turning point in Justin Timberlake's career. It was still ostensibly an 'N Sync him, but his is the only vocal you'll specifically recall from the song—even the harmonies just sound like him blending with himself—and the song's angular, addictive Neptunes groove clearly points the way to the sound he'd soon adapt on his own. Given how good and successful "Girlfriend" was, it's no surprise that was the direction Timberlake would take—and no surprise that another Justin would harken back to it ten years later with an adult breakthrough of his own.

#9. "MY LOVE"

Found On: FutureSex/LoveSounds

Proving that comeback single "SexyBack" was no fluke, "My Love" made it two-for-two with the pop mini-masterpieces for JT and Timbo, the song absolutely pulsing with sonic and musical creativity, hypnotic from its opening chopped-up synth riff. Justin had used the falsetto plenty of times before, but never quite this remorselessly, floating above the song's gorgeous beat like a higher pop power, listeners hanging on his every word. T.I.'s verse isn't perfect ("They call me 'candle guy' / Simply 'coz I am on fire"), but he was the obvious guy to get at the time, and the rest of the song can certainly take the hit anyway.


Found On: 'N Sync's Celebrity

Rather than sounding trapped in a pinball machine like so many of 'N Sync's turn-of-the-century jams, "The Game Is Over" sounds firmly stuck in an '80s video game arcade, with Pac-Man and Donkey Kong-type sound effects popping off irresistibly at virtually every second, feeding brilliantly into the song's general breakup lyrical conceit ("You played yourself," "Try again, 'coz the game is over"), before exploding into a furious Chemical Brothers-type bridge and then the song's climactic final chorus. The result is one of the most creative songs of the boy band era, and one of the greatest 8-bit-inspired pop songs ever released.


Found On: Justified

The song that established Justin as a solo star every bit on the level he had left with 'N Sync, "Cry Me a River" stands as maybe the most beloved pop kiss-off song of the 21st century not released by someone named Taylor or Adele, an absolutely flawless pop ballad. Every detail of the production and songwriting—from the writing sound effects, to Justin's self-echoing "DON'T ACT LIKE YOU DON'T KNOW IT!" to the way the music momentarily cuts out on the chorus's "HIIIIIMMMM!!!"—is scientifically designed for maximum pop impact, proving for the first time that there's no substitute in pop for when Timbaland and Timberlake get in the lab together.


Found On: FutureSex/LoveSounds

"Lovestoned" would be a good, possibly great single all on its own, the song's almost entirely beatboxed beat proving more infectious than irritating (unlike most of its type), and Timberlake's perfectly tailored chorus proving a main event worth waiting a couple verses for. But it's the combination with the "I Think She Knows" outro, and the two minutes or so of transition time that connects the two, that really makes the song a special one—there are few moments in '00s pop as transcendent as when the guitar hits for the first time to introduce the "She Knows" section, the Top 40 equivalent of the angelic guitar breakdown section in indie rocker Interpol's "PDA." It just seemed unfair that JT should be able to go this next-level on his friggin' singles.


Found On: Justified

Every male pop star born after the year 1970 has some level of Michael Jackson infatuation, and JT was certainly no exception. "Rock Your Body" was probably Justin's best crack at classic MJ, a disco-tinged club banger that the Neptunes' custom-designed to sound like pure Off the Wall good times, complete with a slow-walking bass line, male/female call-and-response vocals, and some absolutely expert-timed handclaps. MJ might not have had a human-beatbox breakdown in any of his classic singles, but somehow it worked for JT. Justified might not have sold 500 billion copies like Thriller, but if you want to compare the albums single-for-single, songs like "Rock Your Body" make it an argument worth having.

#4. "GONE"

Found On: 'N Sync's Celebrity

JT's all-time greatest ballad, and rightfully viewed in retorspect as his solo debut (like "Careless Whipser" was George Michael's solo debut, even though it was technically a Wham! song). There's just nothing in pop history quite like "Gone," the ghostly way the title phrase echoes throughout the chorus, the way the verse subtly shifts key in transitioning to the devestating chorus, the way the beat just dissolves into a sea of eerie harmonies on the bridge...and that's not even getting to the million clever little production tricks, like the tick-ticking of the clock on the second verse, or the silent-film music that inexplicably introduces the track.

Everything about it is just right and totally heartbreaking, and it shows better than any other 'N Sync song why JT—also a co-writer on the song—had too much talent to stay a member in a boy band, even one as good as 'N Sync, for much longer.


Found On: 'N Sync's No Strings Attached

Chances are, if you remember Justin's pre-solo career for only one song, it's "Bye Bye Bye," 'N Sync's best-remembered hit, and the song that, along with Backstreet's "I Want It That Way," defined the turn-of-the-century boy band era. Although "I Want It That Way" is probably the more enduring song, "Bye Bye Bye" was the one that proved there might be a real legacy to the entire era, a far more lyrically and musically complex song than anything that came before it, but with a chorus and lyrical conceit that still screamed CLASSIC POP SONG CLASSIC POP SONG. After this song, every other boy band (including Backstreet) sounded at least one step behind the times, and it was no surprise that it helped propel 'N Sync (and, eventually, their fearless leader) to a sales level that none of the other groups would again manage.


Found On: Justified

Easy to forget now, but there was a time when the success of Justin's solo venture was very far from a sure thing. Official solo debut "Like I Love You" might not have totally and instantaneously dissuaded all doubts—it only peaked at #11 on the charts, and was premiered in a VMAs performance that suggested Timberlake hadn't completely worked out his solo identity yet—but it proved that his music talent was absolutely undeniable, and that his solo success would eventually catch up.

The sheer amount of ideas contained in the under-five-minutes of "Like I Love You" is greater than that of 95% of pop albums—you can hear the song 25 times and still be like "oh right, I forgot about this part of the song" upon 26th listen. Working with an all-time great Neptunes beat and a top-flight guest contribution from rap duo The Clipse, everything Timberlake does here—the falsetto, the spoken-word, the musical call-and-response—works beautifully, proving an innate grasp of the concept and workings of mainstream pop music that nobody else in the 21st century—with the possible exception of Beyoncé—has matched.


Found On: FutureSex/LoveSounds

Even amidst a back catalog as successful and diverse as JT's, "SexyBack" still stands apart as a signature, singular moment. When the song came out, there were still some lingering doubts about JT's long-term viability—he had disappeared almost completely for the three years following the end of Justified's run, and nobody knew if he'd be able to live up to that album's success upon his eventual return. Well, "SexyBack" put a stop to those concerns, and unlike with "Like I Love You," this time it was instantaneous and total.

From the first time through "SexyBack"—hell, by the end of the first verse—you knew you were listening to a classic, a song that would still be played, referenced and revered decades down the line. The declaration "I'm bringing sexy back," while obviously ridiculous in nature, nonetheless instantly made complete sense coming from Justin, with Timbaland's backing "Yup!" providing all the reinforcement he would need. By the time JT got to crooning "Dirtyyyy baaaaaaabe..." on the pre-chorus (or bridge, if you believe Timbaland's internal road map), you were as in on the first JT comeback as you could possibly be.

And of course, Timbaland had a lot more to do with the song's success than merely introducing the various parts of the song. You forget now, but in 2006, Timbaland had as much to prove as anyone, spending a couple years fading in popularity before hitching his star to Nelly Furtado's return and enjoying the biggest crossover hit of either artist's career with "Promiscuous." But even that couldn't compare to the jolt of "SexyBack," a juggernaut consisting just of a simple two-note synth riff, a bubbling, unstable-sounding beat, and some tension-creating guitar picking. You had no idea what you were listening to with "SexyBack," but it certainly sounded like the future.

Ultimately, "SexyBack" is the reason why we care about Justin Timberlake's second comeback—this time after a six-year absence—as much as we do. Even though all the odds were stacked against him, we were so badly burned the last time we doubted him, we couldn't possibly dare do it again.

Other Pages: 147-101, 100-91, 90-81, 80-71, 70-61, 60-51, 50-41, 40-31, 30-21, 20-11

There are times when you have to step back and just marvel at what Rihanna has accomplished in popular music, before even reaching car-rental age. (In the States anyway, we have no idea what the Hertz policy is in Barbados.) 11 number one singles, five platinum albums, six Grammys, two Video of the Year VMAs, and most importantly, a catalog of pop classics to rival (and arguably better) the production of any other Top 40 fixture of the last ten years. And what's more—she never stops, not going a year without a new album since 2008, and filling around her LPs with countless re-issue bonus tracks, non-album releases and featured appearances

Well, maybe "countless" isn't the right word, because in fact, we've counted them all, and we've come up with a ranked list of the 125 commercially released songs that Rihanna has appeared on over the course of her seven-year career in music. (As with our Taylor Swift list, in the case of a song recorded in multiple versions, we just took the one we liked best, unless they were specifically listed as multi-part songs).

With today marking the physical release of her seventh LP Unapologetic, we figured today was as good a day as any to roll our list out. Come see where your favorites ranked, as well as the 15 new tracks of hers we're only hearing for the first time this week—then let us know your own ten favorites, an tell us in the comments section about your own rankings, and how we messed up in our rankings.


Found On: Music of the Sun

Hilarious title aside, there's not much to recommend this somewhat preposterous ballad off Rihanna's first album ("There's a thug in my life / How'm I gonna tell my Mama??"). Sure the Bronx contingent of Ri's Navy appreciate the 6 train shoutout though.

124. "BAD GIRL"

Found On: Non-Album Single

Rihanna has oft testified to being bad, though usually it's for reasons more compelling than her shopaholic tendencies. Chris Brown's guest verse is irritating, though not nearly as much as Ri's backing "I GOT A PROBLEM!!" shrieks. It's not surprising this one never made it to an LP.


Found On: Now That's What I Call Christmas! 4

Not a terrible rendition of the Christmas standard, but the production is a little low-grade and the vocal a little missing in personality. We're sure Ri will do a mean (and significantly less G-Rated) "Santa Baby" one of these days, though.

122. "RUSH"

Found On: Music of the Sun

A throwaway banger from Rihanna's first, and regrettably, not a cover of the early '90s Big Audio Dynamite alt-rock classic. Kardinal Offishall shows up to yammer in the background, as he was wont to do back in the mid-'00s.


Found On: Rated R

A mid-tempo lost-love ballad that should've just merely been forgettable, if not for showing up to add a totally out-of-place guest verse near song's end. Tip to Rihanna and all other concerned: If your song is anything but a goony, robo-friendly club anthem, chances are fairly strong will's presence will do little but bring it down.

120. "ROC ME OUT"

Found On: Talk That Talk

"I been a bad girl Daddy / Won't you come get me?" Not the first time Rihanna has made such a point or request, but usually she does it with a little more panache than the phoned-in-sounding "Roc." Big-sounding synths can only take you so far.


Found On: Music of the Sun (Japanese Bonus Tracks)

A lightweight bonus jam from Ri's first, notably only for its subtle Eastern influence. (A Notorious B.I.G. lyrical lift or two might've helped make this one a little more memorable, but Ri was still more reggae than hip-hop with her references back in those days.)


Found On: Promotional Release

Nice soulful guitar lick in this one, but the chorus of "Just as long as it makes you happy, if it makes you happy / Just be happy" is a little too flimsy to really stick. You could argue that the sentiment presages the "I choose to be happy" themes of recent single "Diamonds," though.

117. "RIGHT NOW"

Found On: Unapologetic

It's been mandated that all high-profile pop releases in the 2010s contain at least one hi-NRG dance song declaring the urgency of partying right now now NOW NOW because apparently the world is gonna end tomorrow (or we're just all going to be old by then, which is even worse), and this is Rihanna's off Unapologetic. If she wanted to set this one apart from the "Give Me Everything"s and "Die Young"s of the world, David Guetta was not the man to enlist to do it.


Found On: A Girl Like Me

The super-underrated second single off Rihanna's debut got a super-unnecessary sequel on her second album, which replaces the good-timey vibes of the original with a sinister-sounding flute hook that turns it into a second-rate "Naughty Girl" rip-off. Cory Gunz shows up for a guest verse, if you're into that sort of thing.


Found On: Music of the Sun

The Latin-tinged title track off Rihanna's first is torpedoed by some cheap, dated-even-back-then-sounding synths throughout, and the song was hardly one of her most memorable to begin with. Her voice would prove a good fit in the Latin pop mold though, which would result in better songs later in her career.


Found On: Elephant Man's Let's Get Physical

Rihanna appeared as a guest vocalist on a number of second-tier dancehall artists' albums earlier in her career, few of which have endured as classics. She helps make Elephant Man seem less annoying than usual on "Throw Your Hands Up," but even the most devoted officers in Ri's navy have probably forgotten about this one by now.


Found On: Talk That Talk

A decent mid-tempo groove here, but too much seriousness and too many tired love cliches on this one. "Some say love ain't worth a buck / But I'll give every dime I have left." You know, Rihanna, not a lot of people actually say stuff like that. Most people agree that love is kind of a big deal.


Found On: Rated R

Great opening line here: "Let me tell you something / Never ever have I been a size ten in my whole life." Unfortunately, the rest of the song is a mildly exhausting You Done Cheated Son ballad from an artist who's already got plenty of them, with a chorus that's kinda, well, stupid: "This is stupid / I'm not stupid / Don't talk to me like I'm stupid."

111. "SHOULD I?"

Found On: Music of the Sun

Another one of the less-interesting dancehall tracks from Music, though redeemed by a solid chorus and one of Rihanna's stronger vocal performances. Where the hell is J-Status at these days, by the way?

110. "POUR IT UP"

Found On: Unapologetic

Whatever Rihanna paid producer Mike Will Made It for the beat to this one, we hope she got her money back, since the song is a self-plaigiaristic copy of his previous beat for Juicy J's "Bandz a Make Her Dance," to the point where it may as well be a direct sample—and we already get plenty of "Bandz" on the radio as is, thanks. Maybe it'd be forgivable if Rihanna made some sort of "You say no to ratchet..." lyrical reference, but alas...


Found On: Rated R (Nokia Bonus Tracks)

With Rihanna and Justin Timberlake on the same track, you'd think you had a smash hit on your hands for sure. But "Hole" ended up just as a Rated R bonus cut, because Timberlake's contributions to the song are limited to some minimum-effort backing vocals, and Rihanna's endless testifying to how she goes crazy sometimes is surprisingly boring (and really reminiscent of "There's a Hole in My Bucket"—not necessarily a good thing).


Found On: Fabolous' From Nothin' to Somethin'

Yes, kids, there was a time when Fabolous had enough commercial clout for a Rihanna guest spot on his album to seem like a fair and equal pairing. Luckily those days are long over, so we won't get too many more super-average hip-hop love jams like this that reduce Rihanna to an Ashanti-lite hook provider. (Thank the lord that Ja never got a hold of her.)

107. "ROLL IT"

Found On: J-Status' The Beginning

Rather than just take the chorus, Ri gets an entire guest verse on this one, a reggaeton single from her early-days collaborator J-Status, singing "I bring the fire, you bring the heat." Not a classic by any means, and we'd be shocked if Rihanna even remembered a single line from her cameo here, but a fun little mid-'00s flashback nonetheless.


Found On: Non-Album Single

One of the two I Do Yours, You Do Mine remixes that Chris and Ri released to much internet consternation earlier this year, and certainly the less notable of the two, as Ri adds little to Brown's by-the-numbers club jam—though we'd probably like the song a whole lot more as an entire Rihanna release without Breezy's involvement at all. Unsurprisingly, the remix got little fanfare or airplay beyond its initial controversy.


Found On: Kardinal Offishal's Not 4 Sale

Updating Blondie is rarely if ever a bad idea, and Rihanna was certainly a smart choice for the chorus, but we can't help wishing the song had just been a straight cover by Ri, with maybe just a guest verse from lead artist Kardinal Offishal. Hearing Rihanna just do the hook and a brief "I'm not the kind of girl..." reference on the chorus is just kind of a tease.


Hearing that she had prominently sampled the XX, "Drunk" was one of the songs we anticipated the most off Talk That Talk. Unfortunately, the end result underwhelmed, as Ri's "I'm drunk on love / Nothing can sober me up" chorus was pretty uninspiring, and the fact that she basically lifted the entirety of "Intro" rather than using a more clever sample that actually twisted one of the group's sonically unique singles into something distinctively Rihanna was disappointing. Still an enjoyable listen, but it could've been so much cooler.

103. "SCRATCH"

Rihanna - Scratch + SOS Live in Manchester

Found On: Good Girl Gone Bad Live

Probably not a whole lot of direct involvement from Ri on this one, but this two minute instrumental used to kick off her live shows on the Good Girl Gone Bad tour is a pretty kickass piece of music just the same. After this one, not terribly surprising that Rihanna's next album would kick up the Superbad Guitar quotient by several hundred percent.


Found On: Loud

For one of the 37 singles pulled from Loud, Ri tried her hand at a more country-ish ballad, and it was the only one of the album's singles that failed to really connect. The gambit of fixating lyrically on an inanimate object as a relationship metaphor is pure Nashville, and Rihanna gives it her all, but something about it just doesn't click—the metaphor is too clunky, the inanimate object a little too obscure. Close enough to get Rihanna a gig at the ACMs, though.


Found On: The Lonely Island's Turtleneck & Chain

To the Lonely Island's credit, "Shy Ronnie" really does sound like a Rihanna outlaw anthem until one of the LI guys shows up as the titular character, speaking a little too low and eliciting Ri's "No one in the back can hear you!" and "Use your outside voice!" admonitions. The replay value here isn't super-high, and the song has at least one fake ending too many, but Rihanna's enunciation on the phrase "BONER ALERT!" is certainly a treat.

100. "LET ME"

Found On: Music of the Sun

Another Beyoncé-like jam from an era when Ri was still struggling to find her own identity a little, but this one's a much more fun one, thanks to a strong, horn-heavy Stargate beat—a pairing of artist and producer that would eventually produce a handful of the best and biggest pop songs of the 21st century. Plus, if she had to model herself after someone, Ri could have done a lot worse than aping mid-'00s Queen Bey.


Found On: Razah's I Am Razah

Razah's career never exactly took off—he doesn't even have a Wikipedia page currently—so this Rihanna collaboration probably ranks as her all-time most underexposed. It's a nice one, though, a sweet little love-in-question ballad that would've fit quite snugly on either of Ri's first two albums. Razah has over 120,000 followers on Twitter, anyway, so maybe he doesn't need Rihanna's help these days after all.

98. "FLY"

Found On: Nicki Minaj's Pink Friday

Nicki and Rihanna's second song together is a whole lot less fun than their first—to come much higher on this list—and you have to wonder if Pink Friday's super-serious anthem of achievement was the best choice of track on Nicki's debut for Ri to guest on. Still, Rihanna brings it on the chorus, and you're liable to get her "Fly-y-y-yyyyy"s stuck in your head for a long time after listening.

97. "NUMB"

Found On: Unapologetic

One of the craziest, most disorienting beats that Rihanna has ever worked with, courtesy of the Pop & Oak production team, but unfortunately, Ri doesn't really seem to know what to do with it, and the song is totally derailed by a subpar Eminem guest verse that includes one of the worst couplets in the history of popular music ("I'm the butt police / And I'm looking at your (RRRREAR! RRREAR! RRREAR!)") Beat's a hell of a thing, though.

96. "FADING"

Found On: Loud

Not a bad song by any means, but a piano-heavy mid-tempo number that's a little too innocuous to not get swallowed by the hit parade that is the Loud track list. Gotta like the matter-of-fact "Be gone / Bye bye / So long" kissing-off of the pre-chorus, though.


Found On: Talk That Talk

A fine big-finish closer to Talk That Talk, though not one that a lot of Rihanna fans are likely to pull up on its own out of context. "Somebody's gonna miss you / Somebody's gonna wish that you were here / That somebody's me." A touching sentiment, especially with Alex da Kid's booming drums sounding off underneath.

94. "G4L"

Found On: Rated R

The Ryde or Die Chick look isn't really the best for Rihanna—she's a badass and all for sure, but when it comes to actual talk of's just not the Ri that we prefer. Still, hard to argue the menacing groove of this one, courtesy of dubstep producers Chase & Status, and the first ten seconds or so of "G4L" are as badass as any on a Rihanna record. Nice shout-out to bossman Jay-Z with the "army, better yet the navy" lyric, too.


Found On: Music of the Sun

Little hard to believe there was ever a time when Rihanna urged her man to take it slow and not rush her into physical contact with a straight face—but then again, Ri was just 17 when Music of the Sun came out, and even Janet Jackson asked her boyfriend to wait a while before letting him know that anytime, anyplace was cool by her. Ironically, "Wait" might be the most sensual song on Ri's debut, with warm blankets of synths and a slow-and-low groove that probably soundtracked a couple events in direct contrast to the message of the song.


Found On: A Girl Like Me

A slight little reggae love song with an interesting lyrical framing of Rihanna deeming herself selfish for how much she wants from her beloved. Production hasn't held up brilliantly on this one, but the sweetness still comes through, and the horns are hard to deny.


Found On: Hope for Haiti Now compilation

A collaboration between Rihanna, Jay-Z and half of U2 that sounds alternately like a separate song by each of the three respective artists, "Stranded" is hardly the most coherent effort, but few charity songs of its type—it was recorded for a compilation to benefit the victims of the Haiti earthquake in 2010—generally are. It's still got a very nice chorus, and it's an interesting moment-in-time example of some largely disparate megastars coming together in the name of a larger cause than pop music.


Found On: Talk That Talk

Another Jay and Ri collab, though neither sounds like they're really trying their hardest on this one. The Stargate beat is appropriately big-sounding, but nothing else about the song gives off that strong an impression, and a couple of Jay's lyrics ("Had it by a bladder / She like 'Oh, I gotta pee'") are minorly perplexing. (The song underperformed on the charts accordingly.)


Found On: Music of the Sun

Another Latin-influenced ballad off Rihanna's first, though this one is a little more successful and striking. The way the song breaks down at the end of each verse, grinding to a near halt as Ri sings in one quick breath "But you walked on my pride / All these tears that I cried," makes for one of the debut's most memorable moments.


Found On: Good Girl Gone Bad Reloaded

"Face" might've shown up as a bonus track on Ri's Good Girl Gone Bad reissue, but there's no question that this is a Maroon 5 song first-and-foremost, with Robyn's contributions generally overwhelmed by the group's lite-funk stomp. How much you like the song depends on how much you go in for M5's sound—and we generally think it's pretty OK—but it's probably for the best that Rihanna never worked with the group again.

87. "HALF OF ME"

Found On: Unapologetic (Deluxe Edition)

The sole non-remix bonus cut off the deluxe re-issue of Rihanna's latest continues the singer's ongoing dialogue with her fans and critics about her personal life through her music. "Saw me on a television / Hanging out my dirty linen / You're entitled to your own opinion / Sit and shake your head at my decision," sings Ri, knowing that we're all in fact doing just that, but pleading with us to realize that we only ever "saw the half of it." She never really explains the other half, but merely pointing out that it's there at all is a point probably worth us heeding.


Found On: A Girl Like Me

One of Rihanna's better dub excursions, with a strong bass groove, some awesome multi-tracked vocals on the chorus and a fine guest verse from whoever the hell Dwane Husbands is. Doubtful Rihanna or anyone else could have predicted how prevalent a theme hater-hating would become in both the singer's music and her personal life would become back in 2006, though.

85. "THAT LA, LA, LA"

Found On: Music of the Sun

Not another Jay-Z collaboration technically speaking, but the song is so littered with references to past Jiggaman hits—the "La, La, La" refrain from "Excuse Me Miss Again," the "better get it right" call-and-response from "Jigga My Nigga"—that S Dot may as well get a featured credit on the song. Not a bad thing, though—Ri's incessant big-upping of her mentor, on top of a slamming Full Force beat, makes for one of the more memorable songs on Rihanna's debut.


Found On: Unapologetic

Two words: "BASS SLAP!" If you remember nothing else from the closer to Rihanna's latest—and what the hell is this song doing as the Unapologetic grand finale, anyway?—you'll remember that Diddy-esque voice intoning that two-word phrase in the midst of the song's breakdown section. Not a whole lot else to talk about on "Paradise," but "BASS SLAP!" more or less guarantees this one keeper status all on its lonesome.


Found On: A Girl Like Me

Believe it or not, there was a time when Rihanna just seemed like another face in the Top 40 crowd, a possible dancehall one-hit wonder on par with the Lumidees and Wayne Wonders of the world. The compelling title track ballad of Ri's second album seems like the singer pushing back against that perception, protesting that she's not just one of the masses, and that "when the whole world's turning left, that's when I'm going right." May or may not be 100% accurate, but time would soon certainly prove that she was close enough.


Found On: Non-Album Single

The better of Rihanna's two multi-artist charity contributions, featuring Robyn holding her own against the likes of Beyoncé, Mariah, Mary and countless others. Tellingly, perhaps of all the dozen-plus singers featured on the song, "Just Stand Up!" sounds the most like a Rihanna song, showing just how inextricable the singer was to the sound of late-'00s pop music.


Found On: Talk That Talk (Deluxe Edition)

From the song's "Bohemian Rhapsody" fake-out intro to its rip-roaring guitar solo outro, "Fool in Love" is surprisingly fun for an excessively melodramatic bonus track, showing off both the vocal strength and larger-than-life personality developed by Rihanna over her still-young career. Wish we could've seen her performing this one with Brian May at the VMAs, too.


Found On: A Girl Like Me

The intricately plucked acoustic intro to this one makes it sound like it's going to explode into a Yes or Jethro Tull song, but instead, we get one of Rihanna's better early ballads, with an appropriately large build throughout, and a big-but-intimate-sounding chorus (which has a little "I Can't Make You Love Me" to it with its "Turn off the lights" instructing) to build around. Good early range from Ri, though we'd still like to her give "Roundabout" a spin one of these days.


Found On: Good Girl Gone Bad

The least memorable song on Good Girl Gone Bad would still be a highlight on most other concurrent pop releases, with a typically popping beat and an absurdly catchy chorus. The lyrical conceit—"sell me candy" being a convoluted way to say "give me love"—just isn't strong enough for the song to stand out on an album so stacked with smashes, but if this song is your album's lowlight, chances are your album is as much of a classic as GGGB is.


Found On: Rated R

Another minorly convoluted central metaphor—Rihanna describing her love affair as a "cold case," in the CBS unsolved-mystery sense—redeemed by a strong production job by The Y's, a knob-twiddling supergroup including Justin Timberlake, giving the song just the right touches of strings and keys to keep it from getting too draggy. "Cold Case" certainly doesn't need to be six minutes long, but don't turn it off early—if you do, you might miss the awesome "In the Air Tonight"-esque drum fill that gives the song the momentum needed to get to its climax.


Another of the more striking early Rihanna ballads, with Rihanna proving she doesn't need more than a piano and some strings for accompaniment on her torch songs. The so-close-yet-so-far lyrical themes of "Million Miles" were later revisited on future single "California King Bed," but "Away" is much more enjoyable in its lyrical simplicity.


Found On: A Girl Like Me (Japanese Deluxe Edition)

A bonus track that easily could have made its way onto the proper tracklist of A Girl Like Me, "Coulda Been" is a splendid dubby expression of relationship disappointment, with Rihanna sounding like she's having too much fun to really be put out at her lover's under-performance. "You're a cheater and a li-ar, went and played with fi-ire...." Worth a listen if you didn't get your copy of Girl Like Me as a Japanese import.

75. "CRY"

Found On: Good Girl Gone Bad (Japanese Edition)

In the wake of the success of "Unfaithful," Rihanna apparently decided to up her stark piano ballads, and though "Cry" doesn't quite pack the emotional wallop of that hit, it certainly cuts with its melodramatic keywork and the weak-yet-defiant chorus declaration of "No matter what, you'll never see me cry." The rare bonus track excluded from the album proper because it wouldn't have fit—and it wouldn't have on Good Girl, not really—and not because it just wasn't a particularly strong song.


Found On: Loud

If you couldn't get enough of the dramatic fireworks of the original "Love the Way You Lie"—and based on how big a hit that song was, we wouldn't be surprised if you really couldn't—Rihanna included a sequel version as the closer to her Loud album. It's a worthy follow-up, and Eminem shows up to prevent Ri from totally getting the last word—though we can't help but think of the excellent solo piano version that songwriter Skylar Grey did of it while listening, and think that maybe going the stripped-down route was just the better way to go with this version of the song.

73. "WE RIDE"

The least-assuming of Ri's early singles, "We Ride" certainly isn't the first hit anybody thinks of when they think of Rihanna. Still, it's a fairly lovely song, a summer-love sort of anthem about a romance never meant to last, but one so sighing and nostalgic-sounding that it can't help coming off as sweet just the same. With a nice acoustic hook and a typical boom-clap Stargate shuffle, it's not one for Ri's inevitable Greatest Hits compilation, but it's the kind of Rihanna song that makes you go "Oh right, this song, this was a cool song" when you hear it today.


Found On: Unapologetic

"Keep thundering, thundering / Won't you just fucking rain and get it over with." Odd sentiment for a pop ballad, but "Get It Over With" is sort of an odd song to begin with, almost completely lacking in any production, with nothing but heavy synth waves and vocal harmonies fading in and out to provide sonic texture. Coming as part of a heavily emotional corner of Unapologetic, it actually comes off as fairly affecting, and shows how Rihanna has become increasingly willing to take chances with her music over the year—even if we sorta doubt it'll be pulled for a single anytime soon.


Found On: Rated R

A good year-plus before everyone and their hype man were racing to wub-wub up their pop songs, Rihanna was kicking off her album with "Mad House," a badass 90-second Chase & Status-produced dubstep intro track. It's too short and slight to rate much higher than this on our list, but it was pretty much the perfect way to kick off an album as off the beaten path as Rated R, and it has made Rihanna look super-far ahead of the curve in retrospect.


Found On: Unapologetic

Your ability to stomach "Loveeeee Song" will depend largely on your tolerance for the cartoonishly auto-tuned warbling of guest rapper Future (and your ability to overlook that fact that the title should really read as "Looooove" or "Lovvvvve," not "Loveeeee"), but personally, a couple listens to this song and we couldn't get his gargled backing vocals (to his own hook!) out of our heads. Either way, who would've guessed that on an album with Eminem, Kanye and Chris Brown all appearing as guest stars, it would be Future's cameo that would end up as by far the most memorable on Unapologetic?

69. "SAY IT"

Found On: Good Girl Gone Bad

"Say It" doesn't really sound like it fits on Good Girl Gone Bad—its light, reggae-influenced production has it more in league with most of Music of the Sun or A Girl Like Me—but the song, a plea for Rihanna's boy to just admit that he wants her already—is so smile-inducingly happy-sounding that we can't really begrudge its presence any. The original's great, but don't sleep on the much funkier, salsa-tinged Soul Seekerz remix from the Good Girl Gone Bad: The Remixes collection either.


Found On: Good Girl Gone Bad

"Easy for a good girl to go bad / And once we're gone, best believe we're gone forever." Yet another lyrical shoutout to the Jiggaman, perhaps, but also a sentiment that would come to have a heavy impact on the second act of Rihanna's career, both in musical and real-life terms. This song isn't as dramatic as all that, though, as Rihanna doesn't sound like she's lamenting her gone-badness, but rather giving the males of America a valuable lesson: Leave your girl alone, and she just might end up in the club wearing a freaky dress, or worse. Just ask Destiny's Child.


Found On: Rated R

Part of Rihanna's fascination with love-as-mortality on Rated R, as Rihanna asks "What if you wasted love and our love in time disappeared / And the sad song ends up being the last song you'll ever hear?" It's hard to blame Rihanna for being so heavy after the events of early 2009, and "The Last Song" packs the boundless emotion of someone who doesn't know how to understand or trust her own feelings anymore. Throw in another solid hair-metal guitar solo and "The Last Song" is an extremely worthy power-ballad closer to Rihanna's most idiosyncratic album to date.


Found On: A Girl Like Me

An important song in Rihanna's career development, as her first ballad single and the first song that showed the emotional depths she could plumb even in her big crossover hits. Of course, it also showed Rihanna's occasionally unfortunate tendency towards melodramatic extremes, as she compares cheating on her lover to literally killing him, claiming "I might as well take a gun and put it to his head, get it over with." Ignore the song's more overwrought qualities, though, and it's Rihanna's earliest stunner, and one that pointed the way to an artist capable of far more than catchy club bangers.

65. "REHAB"

Found On: Good Girl Gone Bad

Another example of heavy-handed lyrics getting in the way of an otherwise excellent Rihanna song. The song's dusty production is perfect, and lines like "You're the reason why I'm thinking I don't want to smoke on these cigarettes no more," delivered by Rihanna with just the right amount of self-disgust, are extremely affecting. But the central lyric of "Rehab" ("It's like a checked into rehab / And baby you're my disease") is way too clichéd for Rihanna—not to mention that another major pop hit from around the same time used the title in a manner that was far more relevant. Still, a fine song on the whole, and you gotta love JT and Rihanna in the video.

64. "WHAT NOW"

Found On: Unapologetic

From the piano on the intro, you'd think that "What Now" for sure was just another dolorous Rihanna heartbreak ballad. Credit producers Parker Ighile and Nathan Cassells for the fake-out, as the song's slamming—and we mean slamming chorus—takes the song to far greater emotional heights than a mere piano torch song would have, and Rihanna is up for matching the beat with her own intensity, as she hits notes on the chorus we'd never before known her capable of. Imagine this one will be a certain highlight of the upcoming live tour.

63. "NOW I KNOW"

Found On: Music of the Sun

There aren't a ton of gems to be found on the second side of Rihanna's debut album, but the best is unquestionably "Now I Know," Ri's earliest big ballad number, and one with one of her best choruses: "Now I know that love ain't meant to be a play thing / Now I know it's not an ordinary everyday thing / Now I know that when it's right, it's so amazing / But when it's wrong, you gotta let it go / Now I know." (Probably a lot of people out there who wish she'd take her own advice on that one.) It's an impressively moving song, and the type that would probably win Rihanna a Grammy if she released it today.


Found On: Non-Album Single

Rihanna has worn her love for Bob Marley on her sleeve—her whole bathing suit, actually—her whole career, but she finally put her voice where her mouth is (or something) with a cover of Marley's classic "Redemption Song" as one of her two contributions to Haiti relief efforts. It's a little hard to mess up a song as great as "Redemption," and luckily, Rihanna does it justice, toning up her native accent (which has come and gone for Rihanna throughout her career at her convenience, which we have absolutely no problem with) and hitting high notes Bob would never have reached for at the end. We wish she'd had the good sense to leave the song as just her and guitar, as the song's drum-and-piano beat adds little to it, but it's a strong effort regardless.


Found On: Rated R

"Fire Bomb" could have very easily ended up as a Ryan Tedder-like mid-tempo ballad, but it's saved from such mediocrity by two primary factors—an impossibly distorted, chugging guitar riff that would've been deemed too grimy for 95% of pop-punk bands, and an outro that features Rihanna's voice getting swallowed in auto-tune a year or so before Kanye West used the same gambit to far more self-indulgent effect on the outro to one of his own hits. The fire-engine sound effects are a pretty nice touch, too.


Found On: Good Girl Gone Bad

"Got a house but I need new furniture / Why spend mine when I can spend yours?" Doubtful even four years ago that Rihanna would have needed any kind of financial assistance from any man, but the lyrical gambit allows Rihanna to do some nice lyrical tangoing with an anonymous male co-star over bills, bills, bills-paying. The song is buoyed by a marching-band-style beat—which, lest we forget, were all but obligatory for pop stars in the mid-late-'00s—courtesy of super-producer Timbaland, probably the best work that the two did together.

Best Moment: "A girl need a lot / The girl need some stocks / Bonds is what I got / Bonds is what I got!" Hopefully some entrepreneur heard Rihanna's cries for help and gave her valuable advice on how to expand her portfolio.

59. "ROCKSTAR 101"

Found On: Rated R

The rock influences are all over Rated R, but nowhere more explicitly than on "ROCKSTAR 101"—still fairly far from a conventional rock song, but with its filthy production, waves of imposing, sinister guitars and synths, and Rihanna not really giving a fuck, it was probably harder hitting than all but a couple of the biggest hits on rock radio in 2009. ESPN nearly ruined the song with overuse on endless montages and commercials, but today the song endures as one of Ri's slitheriest (no Velvet Revolver).

Best Moment: The first five songs, with Rihanna declaring "I told you, baby!" as the first super-distroted power chord hits. Almost "No Sleep Till Brooklyn"-worthy.


Found On: Talk That Talk

Yeah, the full-length version with Chris Brown on it got a whole lot more attention, for obvious reasons, but give us the Talk That Talk original anyday—78 seconds of alarms, shrieking synths, popping bass, relentless hand-clapping, and of course, Rihanna's seductive cooing—"And it's not even my birthday / But you wanna put your name on it." When we first heard it, it left us craving more—and turns out, 78 seconds was really all Rihanna and producer The-Dream needed to get their point—which might not be much more eloquent than "CAKE CAKE CAKE CAKE CAKE CAKE CAKE," but still—across, and then some.

Best Moment: How many other songs declare "I wanna fuck you right now" just as they're starting to fade out? Brilliant.


Found On: Cham's Ghetto Story

Probably the finest of Rihanna's guest appearances on contemporaneous dance singles was her cameo on Jamaican singer Cham's "Boom Boom," with Ri playing the simple supporting role of taking the "Boy, you make my heart go 'Boom, boom, boom'" hook," and getting some words in on the bridge as well. Nothing super-notable about this one, just a supremely catchy and sweet pop song that probably should have been a bigger hit than it was—or a hit at all, really.

Best Moment: Ri on the second bridge: "Feeling weak / In the knees / Lost my mind / Baby, PLEASE!!"


Found On: Music of the Sun

An obvious choice of remake for Rihanna in her early days, Dawn Penn's mid-'90s reggae classic made a fine jumping-off point for Rihanna and dancehall star Vybz Kartel to banter over. As much as Rihanna brings it on the verses, though, it's Vybz that really adds the spice to the song, chiming in on the background "CAAAAANT LETCHU GOO!!!!" and "I LUV YOU WITH ALL MY HAAARRRRT!!" Don't get why they couldn't have incorporated the awesome horns from the original a little, but I guess you gotta leave something for people to go back to with the older version.

Best Moment: Any time Vybz pipes in over Rihanna's hook, really.


Found On: David Guetta's One Love

Before Rihanna hit paydirt collaborating with a different EDM mega-producer, she had found modest success as a guest siren on David Guetta's "Who's That Chick?" The song doesn't quite reach the euophoria of her later club workouts, but they demonstrate Ri's considerable disco diva potential—she even refers to herself as a "disco diva" in this one, in case you weren't convinced. Coming just before Guetta officially entered the phone-it-in phase of his musical career, "Chick" also stands as one of his the French DJ's more gleeful productions, with an addictive synth riff he'd rip off endlessly in later in later iterations to lesser effect.

Best Moment: Ri's repeated "Beat it like a disco drum" phrase, followed with the music cutting out entirely minus a heartbeat sound, then kicking back in with the synth riff. Well played, Guetta.


Found On: Good Girl Gone Bad (Japanese Edition)

An appropriately named ballad, a chilling number with one of the best lyrics on a Rihanna song, in which Rihanna admits defeat trying to win her current man away from the memory of his ex. (Don't think she's actually dead, Rebecca-style, but the song's no less affecting for the lack of legit paranormal activity.) Rihanna's heartfelt vocal is complemented superbly by a stately guitar riff, a chugging drum beat, and some piercing synth strings which manage to stay just on the good side of grating. An underrated gem, here.

Best Moment: Rihanna's spoken "And ain't nothin' I can do about it" at the end of the bridge. Diana Ross would approve.


Found On: Loud

"Complicated" does an impressive job not showing its hand early, as its not until after a whole chorus and verse that the song really kicks into full gear. The slow build does well for "Complicated," creating a remarkable amount of tension for a song that already was pretty damn nervy to begin with, Rihanna yelping "Why is everything with you so COMPLI-CAAAAAATEEEEED???" Well handled by writer/producers Tricky Stewart and Ester Dean, turning a song that might not have stuck out as more than filler into an album highlight. Of course,

Best Moment: Rihanna's spoken word "Uh-huh / Life's like this..." in the intro. Oh wait...never mind. (Seriously though—what are the odds that a song on Loud would prominently sample an Avril Lavigne hit...and it wouldn't be the song called "Complicated"?)


Found On: Coldplay's Mylo Xyloto

Rihanna had seemingly collaborated with a leading light in every single major genre before finally checking arena rock off her list last year with the Coldplay duet "Princess of China." Expectations for the song may have been a little too high, as the song never really crossed over to either artist's primary market, but it was still an exceedingly enjoyable listen—hamstrung by some cheesy and borderline non-sensical lyrics ("I could have been a princess / You'd be the king"), but tied together with an absolutely incredible arpeggiated (or just chopped-up, hard to tell) synth riff and a Tomahawk Chop-worthy wordless sing-along chant that made a highly worthy addition to both artists' catalogues.

Best Moment: The loose scrap of guitar (synth?) that flutters across the end of the song's breakdown section, just before the beat and chant kick back in.


Found On: Good Girl Gone Bad (Japanese Edition)

The final of the fine ballads on the Japanese reissue of Good Girl, "Who Ya Gonna Run To?" is a quality hold-you-down ballad in which Rihanna basically tells her guy that he can "go your way / I know the world is calling your name," because she knows that he'll come back to her sooner or later. It's not quite as emotional as Mariah Carey's similarly themed "Always Be My Baby," but there's something impressively solid and understated about it, with its subtle piano and strings and relaxed groove, that makes it nearly as effective.

Best Moment: Ri repping for life on the song's closing: "When there's nobody else in the world you can put your trust in / And you find all the haters around you, they don't mean nothin' / Who you gonna run to?"


Found On: Talk That Talk

A bubbly, catchy pop number courtesy of the normally much more grandiose-sounding Hit-Boy ("Niggas in Paris," "Mercy"), in which Rihanna gleefully prepares to give her guy head, then instructs him to return the favor. Rihanna's nastier sex jams usually tend to be equally nasty in sound, so it's refreshing to hear her do it, do it, do it, do it over a beat that actually sounds fun and playful. It can't always be grime and filth, you know.

Best Moment: "Just because I can't kiss baaaack / Doesn't mean you can't kiss thaaaat." Point taken.


Found On: Eminem's Recovery

One of the biggest hits of the 2010s is still something of a mixed bag in terms of quality, with the song's obvious surfeit of emotion occasionally being undercut by the over-the-top production and a couple Eminem lyrical clunkers—namely, "You get to watch her leave out the window / Guess that's why they call it window pane"—that remain totally unforgivable. Still, helped out by a strong Rihanna chorus and an instantly iconic video, "Love the Way You Lie" is inarguable as an amour fou standard, and its flaws are just part of its own mythology at this point.

Best Moment: Em's opening salvo: "I can't tell you what it really is / I can only tell you what it feels like / And right now, it's a steel knife in my windpipe." If the rest of the song's lyrics were that vivid and brilliant, it'd be at least 40 spots higher on this list.


Found On: Unapologetic

"I chose to be happy / You and I, we're like diamonds in the sky." Rihanna's Unapologetic lead single isn't a slam dunk smash like "We Found Love" or "Only Girl (In the World)" were, but in its own slow-burning way, it's almost as effective, moody and evocative rather than euphoric and addictive. It's helped by Rihanna's singular pronunciation of the titular phrase ("Shine brite like a di-a-monnn...") and an intro that reminds a whole lot of M83's underground pop classic "Midnight City"—which we refuse to believe wasn't an intentional lift on Rihanna's part. She's savvy, that one.

Best Moment: The escalating "Shine bright like a diamond!" exhortations at song's end, turning a relatively ambiguous phrase into something approaching anthemic.


Found On: Rated R: Remixed

We'd stop short of calling the Rated R: Remixed release essential listening, but Netherlands DJ Chew Fu really does a good job crafting club jams from a number of difficult Rated R cuts. The most impressive one is probably his spin on the somewhat clunky R single "Wait Your Turn," turning the song's original down-tempo groove into a more traditional four/four house anthem, adding some catchy synths and fun mini-drum breaks and achieving lift off with a fairly earthbound single in the process.

Best Moment: The best moment is the one that isn't on the remix at all—the fact that Chew Fu had the good sense to excise the terrible "Fumble, don't you fumble, that's a flag on the play" from the original version.


Found On: Good Girl Gone Bad

Rihanna's electro flirtations were sadly limited to just a couple songs on Good Girl Gone Bad—perhaps she figured that Ciara had that territory covered on her own, which we suppose would be fair enough. Still, electro-pop was a good look for Ri, as evidenced by the compulsively danceable "Push Up on Me," which rides a Krfatwerk-like beat into near-freestyle territory, as Rihanna spots a guy in the club and decides to lay it all on Front Street for him: "The way you stare starts a fire in me / Come up to my room, you sexy little thing." Over that beat, who could resist?

Best Moment: "Baby who you think you're fooling? / You wanna come and get me out of my dress." Ugh, fine, you win, Rihanna.


Found On: Unapologetic

A song that could probably have fit in easily with the reggae-tinged jams on Rihanna's first two albums, with one crucial difference: There's no beat. Well, that's not totally true—there's rhythm, certainly, provided by the song's percolating bass line and on-the-down-beat guitars, which give the song an obvious dub feel. But the drums are completely absent, giving the song a disorienting, almost eerie feeling that really brings out the heartbreak of the lyrics ("I'm screaming murderer / How could you murder us? / I call it murder / No love allowed") and makes the song a standout of the second side of Rihanna's latest.

Best Moment: Every time at the end of the measure, when that echoey little guitar effect pangs across the song. It's all the hook that the song needs to be absolutely unforgettable.

44. "THE ONE"

Found On: Memphis Bleek's 534

Released on Bleek's 534 album a week before she released breakout single "Pon De Replay," it probably registered as a favor from Memphis to Jay to put Jigga's new protege on his LP. And actually, the song is a total jam—not released a single for reasons unknown, but a super-bouncy love jam from Ri and the third-tier Roc rapper, with an excellent horn-laden beat from lost '00s producer Bink really taking center stage. Of the many "oh shit, I totally forgot about that one!" collabs from Ri's early career, this one has probably aged the best.

Best Moment: Memphis' chuckle-worthy-in-retrospect introduction of Ri before track's start: "Got the young lady by the name of Rihanna with me / Straight from Barbados!" The idea that Memphis would ever be the one explaining who Rihanna was is just...

43. "S&M"

Found On: Loud

Rihanna had long been hinting at a song like "S&M" before finally unleashing it on her Loud album—a straight up ode to rough sex the likes of which had not much been heard on pop radio since Madonna's early-'90s heyday. The song stops short of just being explicit, but still packs a giddy rush with lines like "Sex in the air, I don't care I love the smell of it" and "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but chains and whips excite me." (Those are both on the chorus, natch.) The song is saved from cheap-thrill status by an absolutely stomping Stargate beat that matches the aggressiveness of the lyrics verse-for-verse and helped make the song exciting even to audiences who don't usually need to set up safewords for their night-time horseplay.

Best Moment: When Rihanna's voice goes soft, for the only time in the entire song, on the bridge: "And meet me in my bou-doir..."


Found On: A Girl Like Me

No Queen-related complaints necessary—this "Crazy Little Thing" is all Rihanna, riding a lithe dancehall beat with one of her sweetest pop lyrics to date. "Boy you got me catching feelings / Got me thinking maybe you're the one..." We understand why Rihanna had to evolve past songs like this fairly early in her career, but would it kill her to revisit it every once in a while? One time per album/tour would be fine by us.

Best Moment: "My best friends tell me 'Rihanna, what's got into you?' / I said 'Leandra, I can't explain these feelings I'm going through.'" What's Leandra up to these days, anyway?


Found On: Jay-Z's The Blueprint 3

You only get one or two songs a year with as much star power as "Run This Town," featuring Jay-Z, Kanye West and Rihanna, so you just hope those involved don't waste their opportunities. "Town" falls just short of being a true classic, but it was still one of the baddest singles of the late-'00s for sure, with Rihanna holding down the chorus as Jay-Z declared "all black everything" for all-time and Kanye pleaded "next time I'm in church, please no photos" on the verses, all over one of Kanye's coldest beats. Hell of a video, too.

Best Moment: Probably Rihanna's wordless "Hey-ey-ey-ey"s chant in between choruses and verses. With titans of industry like the three of them, what else do you even need to say, really?


Found On: Good Girl Gone Bad

"Shut Up" was the first real hit of Rihanna Mach II, the uninhibited, pedal-to-the-medal sex kitten—though "kitten" probably implies a feline far more docile than RiRi intended on being at this point. The song is a little obvious in its car-sex metaphor-izing ("Get you where you wanna go if you know what I mean"—yeah, we think we read you on that one, Rihanna) and its "Blue Monday"-interpolating hook is a bit more leaden than it should be, but the song is still a blast, and to try to resist a chorus that peaks with the couplet "'Coz I'm zero to sixty in 3.5 / Baby you got the keys, shut up and drive" is a pretty futile and pointless thing to do.

Best Moment: The breakdown section, where the song's streamlined synth-rock sound gives way to a skittering electro beat, as a double-tracked Rihanna coos "Ain't no Ferrari, huh, boy I'm sorry / I ain't even worried / So step inside and ride..."


Found On: A Girl Like Me

Kind of like Rihanna's version of "Back to December," where she says What's Up to an old ex, asks him how things are going, and admits she wishes they were still together. (The main difference being that Rihanna frames her admission in the precept of writing her old guy a letter, hence the "PS" of the title.) It's an extremely tender song, which eschews big-budget drama for a smaller, more sighing kind of resignation, which is possibly why the song was never released as a single, but it remains fairly affecting in its low-key soulfulness and its easily relateable story of failure to get over somebody from your past. Plus, how great is "P.S. (I'm Still Not Over You)" as a song title?

Best Moment: "How's your mother? How's your little brother? / Does he still look just like you?" Details. Always the details.


Found On: Loud

Not quite the timeless classic that the Weather Girls forecast three decades earlier, but pop thrills don't come much purer than two of the baddest bitches in the game teaming up for a song about how thoroughly fungible members of the opposite sex are to them. With a hyperactive, synth-swashed beat to work with, Rihanna and guest rapper Nicki Minaj do their best to out-unimpressed one-another, Rihanna declaring herself a "two times five" and chastising her guy "set your standards lower, you're aiming too high" while Minaj rebuffs her guy for the disparity in their genital prowess (rhyming "tightest hole" with "microscope"—you can probably figure out the rest from there). The Weather Girls were endlessly grateful for the male precipitation, but Ri and Nicki seem like they might be better off just staying indoors. Respect.

BEST MOMENT: Nicki's closing couplet: "Lay down on the beach, they be feeding me my catfishes / 'Coz it's RAIIIIIIINING MEN / Fat bitches." Great rhyme, but we wonder what Martha Wash has to say about that quasi-subliminal dis.

37. "YOU DA ONE"

Found On: Talk That Talk

Ri took a break from all the Cockiness and Cake Cake Cake Cake on Talk That Talk for one G-rated—well, PG, anyway—bubblegum love song, the Dr. Luke-helmed "You Da One." While not nearly as exciting as Talk's lead single, which we'll of course get to much later in the list, "One" is nearly as much fun, with its good-timey production, its thankfully subtle dubstep breakdown, and its endlessly addictive "You da one that I think about all day-ay-ay..." chorus hook. We still believe that the reason this song wasn't a massive hit was simply that it was released in the wrong season—if it had come out in the summertime, this song would've shimmered on Top 40 radio until late October.

Best Moment: The breakdown is nice, but there's nothing about this song that sticks quite like that irrepressible chorus hook. You've got it stuck in your right now, admit it.


Found On: Unapologetic

Hard to think of too many album openers of recent years that get things in flight from the jump quite like this one. With shredding synths like something out of an early-'90s rave anthem and one of Rihanna's cockiest-ever vocals ("Walk up in this bitch like I own a hoe," she notably repeats in the song's bridge), "Runway" starts Unapologetic off already seeing red, a delirious and id-fueled statement of intent that out-swags just about anything else released in 2012. Never mind that it's far too abrasive to ever get played at Fashion Week—if supermodels don't hear this song in their heads while on the catwalk, they're in the wrong profession.

Best Moment: "How could you be so hood, but you're so fucking pop? / How could you be so fun, but sound like you're selling rocks?" Worthwhile questions.


Found On: A Girl Like Me

More of a Sean Paul song featuring Rihanna than the other way, as Rihanna is mostly used just for the hook on this one. The two still deserve double billing, though, as it's Rihanna's intonation on the hook—the way she spits out the "Brick it off" of the song's title is what really gives the song its juice, with Paul's verses mostly coming and going without much impact. Still, the hook (as well as Rihanna's later bridge) is enough to make the song tremendously exciting, especially with Paul chiming in with exhortations like "Sing it!" and "Instantaneous!" throughout Ri's vocal. The song is a full 3:30, but the beat is so tight and the hook so hypnotic that it doesn't feel nearly long enough.

Best Moment: Paul's "Moost de-fi-nite-lee!" response to Ri's initial "I wanna know, boy, if I can be your shorty?" on the opening chorus. Why did these two never work together again?


Found On: Music of the Sun

The swingiest, most delectable of Rihanna's early reggae songs, with a horn-and-synth hook that makes the song as irresistible as the relationship described in the song. Speaking of Sean Paul, the song whose appeal is most similar to this one is Paul's roughly concurrent duet with Sasha, "I'm Still in Love With You," with a little more of a conventional pop structure, since this is a Rihanna record after all. Guest star J-Status is no Sean Paul, of course, but then again, Sasha was no Rihanna.

Best Moment: The first time Rihanna hits the unexpected high note in her verse—"And I guess that I forgot just how you make me feel when you're around." Too good.


Found On: Good Girl Gone Bad

One of the first showings of Rihanna's introspective side, as evidenced by a title far more meditative than the "Shut Up and Drive"s and "Push Up on Me"s otherwise found on Good Girl Gone Bad. Far from Rihanna's catchiest or most anthemic song, certainly, but an excellent example of Rihanna's ability to go a little deeper in her music, especially in the song's transfixing spoken-word "Dear Diary" section, in which she testifies "Entertaining is something I do for a living. It's NOT who I am. I like to thing...I'm pretty normal." It's one of the only pre-2009 signs that Rihanna would one day very soon make an album like Rated R.

Best Moment: The end of Robyn's diary confessional, in which she admits "I don't know who to trust. I don't know who wants to date me for who I am...or who wants to be my friend, for who I really am." Some real talk right there.


Found On: Talk That Talk (Deluxe Edition)

Of Rihanna's many dubstep flirtations, "Red Lipstick" reigns unquestionably as the best. Of course, it's kind of a cheat, since she just took basically the entirety of regular producers Chase and Status' best-known dubstep anthem, the pulsating, whirring "Saxon"—previously worked over by Nicki Minaj—for the song's instrumental. But there's no arguing with results, and even though it might have roots in the works of others, "Red Lipstick" is one of the most Rihanna-sounding Rihanna songs yet—sexy, grungy, more than a little bit dangerous and absolutely intoxicating. Few others among the many pop stars who have dabbled in dubstep have come up with an end product that sounds anywhere near this natural—or anywhere near this good.

Best Moment: "DO YOU RIGHT HERE WHILE THE WHOLE WORLD'S WATCHING!" It almost sounds like a threat, and we guess that's kind of the point.


Found On: A Girl Like Me

Good as many of Rihanna's early reggae efforts were, most of them sounded a little light-weight, flimsy and occasionally even cheap-sounding. Not so with "Kisses Don't Lie," maybe the rawest, most muscular reggae song RiRi ever recorded, with crunching guitars and bass, hard-hitting drums, and one of her strongest early vocals to match. Listen to Ri shriek over the song's absolutely deadly groove in the pre-chorus: "Show me how, tell me now / Should I stay or should I go? / 'Coz I'm caught between yes and NOOOO-OOOO!" More than just about anything else on her sophomore album, this song was the evidence that Rihanna wasn't just a passing teenage phenom, but a legit star who was going to be around for a long time.

Best Moment: Hell of a note Ri hits on that "yes and NOOOO-OOOO!" section.

For songs #30-21, click NEXT.

Other pages: #125-101, #100-81, #80-71, #70-61, #60-51, #50-41, #20-11, #10-1


Found On: Loud

Helped immensely by an inspired lift from the bridge to Avril Lavigne's "I'm With You"—and an always-appropriate "freakin' weekend" borrowing from R. Kelly's "Ignition (Remix)"—Rihanna made one of the second-best drinking song of 2011 with "Cheers (Drink to That)." (Sorry, Ri—there's just no competing with Toby Keith on that one.) The song just has the perfect feel for a bar sing-along—it's got the ideal laidback tempo for putting your arms around your friends and swaying in time, but is propulsive enough that it doesn't feel too draggy for beer raising either, if that's more your thing. And Rihanna is in total command throughout, setting the tone with her "It's getting Coyote Ugly in here, no Tyra / It's only up from here, no downward spiral" declarations, and taking no prisoners with her "THERE'S A PARTY AT THE BAAAAR SO EVERYBODY PUT YOUR GLAAAASSES UP!" demands.

Best Moment: Hard to go against Avril's "Yeah yeah, yeah yeah!"s, but you gotta love that the producers (Orlando duo The Runners) were smart enough to include an actual crew sing-along portion before the final chorus—as if the listeners needed any extra motivation to join in the fun.


Found On: Talk That Talk (Deluxe Edition)

Who else besides Rihanna would record a song that basically urges a lover to be unfaithful to her—and make it sound sweet and wistful in the process? "See I know you like being around chicks / And looking at her hips / In her little outfit / Hey, what can I say? / That's what I love about ya babe." Ri acknowledges that her boy is "too sexy to ever be shy," and that she probably can't stop him from playing the field, but that she knows there's a difference between lust and love, and she's gonna continue to hold him down regardless, prodding him to just do his thing. The song could've sounded insecure if done by a lesser performer, and depressing if soundtracked by a lesser producer, but in the hands of Rihanna and The-Dream, it's a love song that's actually kind of beautiful in its understanding and affection. How it missed the cut on Talk That Talk is absolutely perplexing.

Best Moment: Rihanna's repeated "That's what I love about you, babe" conclusion in the song's chorus. You can hear her smiling despite herself as she sings it.


Found On: Unapologetic

A very, very different sort of Rihanna-Dream collaboration than our #28, the two-part climax to Unapologetic reaches emotional depths that Rihanna rarely before dared dive into, and the result, while a little overcooked and difficult, is one of the most fascinating things Ri has ever recorded. The suite is almost Weeknd-esque in its ice-cold, piercing sonics, and lyrics focusing on a combination of love, guilt and confusion. "Tragedy" is the headline-baiter, with lyrics almost certainly referencing Rihanna's tumultuous relationship with Chris Brown ("Who knew the course of this one drive injured us fatally?" "What's love without tragedy?") but the really compelling part is "Mother Mary," where Ri simply admits "But I'm from the left side of an island / Never thought this many people would even know my name."

The whole thing is seven minutes long, easily the longest song recorded by Rihanna to date, but the running time feels earned, even necessary. If Rihanna and The-Dream ever dared to make an entire album together, that might just be the end of everything.

Best Moment: The moment when the song turns over from one guitar lick to another—fluid, but still extremely jarring, just like one of the Weeknd's finest musical moments.


Found On: Unapologetic

And for the third-straight Rihanna-Dream collaboration on this list, "Nobody's Business" is yet another change-of-pace for the duo, as this one shows Dream providing Rihanna with a far less cutting-edge backing track, rather indulging his retro sort of '90s house groove. The result is just as sublime, though—almost regrettably so, as the song also features the contributions a third party—Chris Brown, Ri's embattled ex, who appears to be singing with his on-again, off-again belle about how everyone should just leave them the fuck alone and let them do them. With a track this shimmering and head-nodding, it's harder than usual to contradict the two of them.

Best Moment: The song's MJ-aping chorus, in which the duo declare "It ain't nobody's business but mine and my babe's." Frustrating, but no less catchy for being so.

26. "TAKE A BOW"

Found On: Good Girl Gone Bad Reloaded

There is one reason and one reason only that "Take a Bow" is not looked at as one of Rihanna's all-time great songs: Beyoncé's "Irreplaceable." Without that song—one of the all-time greatest hit-the-road-Jack numbers in pop music history—"Take a Bow" would've easily reigned as the best kiss-off song of its moment, and might've become a karaoke standard and spawned a catchphrase or two. Unfortunately for Rihanna, "Bow" was released just shortly after "Irreplaceable," and was a little too similar in sound and theme for some to be looked at as such a classic.

Fair enough—the two do share some fairly striking similarities—but to completely disregard "Take a Bow" as a result would be a damn shame, since it's still damn great in its own right. The really striking thing about "Bow" is just how damn final the whole thing sounds—when Rihanna sighs "But it's over now," over the light strings and melancholy piano of the stellar Stargate / Ne-Yo production, you just know that dude has no choice but to do as instructed and take his final curtain call. Rihanna doesn't even sound all that mad or put out in her vocal, and only on the bridge does she even but any real oomph into it—she just sounds done, which is far more effective in getting her point across.

Best Moment: Undoubtedly Rihanna's super-unimpressed exhortation of "Please!" when hearing her man's protestations during the verses. "What else is on?"

25. "SKIN"

Found On: Loud

"Why you standing over there with your clothes on?" Always a relevant question with Rihanna, especially on a song like "Skin," the slowest, sultriest ballad on Loud, and possibly of Ri's whole career. "No shirt, no shoes, no skirt, all I'm in is just skin" Rihanna matter-of-factly declares over a super-bass-heavy lurch, which would make the theme of the song obvious even if it was just an instrumental. The song was used on the Last Girl on Earth tour for Rihanna to give a lapdance to a man or woman in the audience during the outro, and it's hard to imagine that too many other artists out there have a better song in their arsenal to pull out for such purposes.

Best Moment: Probably the ending guitar solo. Comparing it to an orgasm would probably be a lazy and kind of gross thing to do, but...well, we've already probably said too much in that case.


Found On: Music of the Sun

Rihanna's second single stiffed on the charts, peaking at just #36 after debut "Pon de Replay" made it all the way to #2, suggesting that consumer interest in the dancehall movement of the mid-'00s no longer extended far enough to allow artists to have multiple hits. In retrospect, though, "Lovin" was an extremely worthy follow-up to "Replay," fun and breezy and sweetly romantic in the same way that Diana King's "Shy Guy" was a decade earlier. Rihanna was savvy enough to switch up the musical script for her next album, so the commercial failure of "Lovin" registers not quite as a tragedy, but a considerable injustice just the same.

Best Moment: The chopped up backing vocals exclaiming "Swear! Swear! Swear! Swear! Ooo-ooo-ooooo-ooooohhh...." on the chorus. Not totally sure what they have to do with the rest of the song, but they make for quite the earworm.


Found On: T.I.'s Paper Trail

Rihanna's first chart-topper as a featured performer, and one of her all-time best supporting appearances. Admit it, when you think of "Live Your Life," you can only really remember one or two lines tops from T.I.'s self-righteous verses—far more likely, your impressions of the song are all based around the Numa Numa-sampling hook and Rihanna leading the "Ey-ey-ey-ey-ey-eyyyyy"s on the chorus. The song cemented Tip as arguably the biggest rapper in the country, but really, it was a credit to Rihanna's undeniable star power that the song was half as big as it was.

Best Moment: Ri emphatically declaring "Until the game ends, until the clock stops, we're gonna post up on the top spot" on the song's chorus. Keep living your life, girl.

22. "RUDE BOY"

Found On: Rated R

Rated R was mostly notable for its weirdness, but Ri couldn't resist including one undeniable pop smash in the set, and so we had "Rude Boy," a typical Rihanna challenge to a lover to get on her level in the bedroom, almost taunting him on the chorus "C'mere rude boy, boy can you get it up? / C'mere rude boy, boy is you big enough?" Of course, Rihanna could never sound antagonistic over a Stargate beat, and the Swedish super-proudcers came up with one of their catchiest hooks with the trance-y synth line here, making Rihanna's invitations seem more playful than frustrated. "Rude Boy" kept Rihanna at the top of the charts during her "difficult" period, and ensured the seat on top was still warm for her when she returned with the far more populist Loud album.

Best Part: Rihanna's matter-of-fact warning on the bridge that "Baby, if I don't feel it, I ain't faking, oh no." We never would have presumed anyway.

21. "TE AMO"

Found On: Rated R

The video for "Te Amo," featuring French supermodel Laetitia Casta, would make you think the song was a lot more titilating than it actually is. Rather, it's actually a far more captivating narrative of Rihanna acknowledging the romantic intentions a female friend has for her, even though she can't reciprocate her feelings. The song's semi-bi-lingual chorus, in which Rihanna iterates her would-be lover constantly repeating the titular phrase, seemingly in increasing frustration and desperation, is affecting for relatively unerotic reasons, as is Rihanna's pained response on the song's bridge "I feel the love / But I don't feel that way." Rather than the Spanish phrase just being deployed to court an international audience, the lost-in-translation sentiment adds brilliantly to the song's sense of emotional confusion and longing. Hot video, better song.

Best Moment: Probably Rihanna's pronunciation on the "Then she put her hand around me waist" line in the chorus. Again, the accent comes and goes with RiRi, but when it's on, it can be oh so effective.

20. "JUMP"

Found On: Unapologetic

The most purely exciting song on Rihanna's new one, "Jump" is mostly successful for two reasons—her steal of the chorus to Ginuwine's Magic Mike-approved mid-'90s classic "Pony," and the ensuing dubstep/house breakdown that the chorus triggers. There's not terribly much of a song surrounding those two factors—Ri's lyrics concern trying to convince a straying or maybe just unconvinced lover of her prowess, Kanye shows up for what might be the least impressive eight bars of his rapping career—but there doesn't need to be one, because the combination of chorus and break is so fucking invigorating that all the rest of the song needs to do is kill time until it can wind up for the chorus again. It's a much-needed boost of energy to NBA's jump ball music canon—Kriss Kross and House of Pain were getting mad tired.

Best Moment: The final break, where chorus and break join forces for about 20 seconds of the most obligatory head-banging music of the year.


Found On: Kanye West's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

One of the most compelling songs on Kanye's flawed 2010 masterwork, in which he summons all the world's wattage to shine light on his imaginary domestic troubles ("I slapped my girl, she called the feds," "Restraining order, can't see my daughter") over a hyperactive drum shuffle and some absolutely epic horns. Rihanna provides some nice vocal contrast to Yeezy's mania on the song's hook, calmly singing "Turn up the lights in here baby, extra bright I want y'all to see this," but despite her presence (and contributions from about a dozen other big-name guests over the course of the song, including Fergie and even Elton John) this is clearly Kanye's show—which is why the song, fascinating and adrenalizing though it is, misses the top ten on this list.

Best Moment: Gotta go with the opening "ALL OF THE LIGHTS!" yelp, followed by the introduction of those booming horns. That's how you take a song from 0 to 10 in about five seconds.


Found On: Non-Album Single

One of the craziest beats Rihanna or anyone else has worked with this decade, an irrepressible Bangladesh production built around a truly ingenious sample of Billy Stewart's '60s rendition of the old musical standard "Summertime." That twisted, chattering sample provides the song's backbone, and Rihanna rides it like a champ, declaring "I want you to be my sex suh-lave," and "She may be the queen of hearts, but I'ma be the queen of your body parts." The primary vocal hook might be Rihanna's worst double-entendre yet—"Suck my cockiness, lick my persuasion"—but it's so cheesy, and the beat is so over-the-top as is, that it's more lovable than grating anyway. The A$AP Rocky verse on the remix doesn't add a ton, but his voice is a good fit for it, and it does give us an extra half-minute with that absolutely nutso beat, for which we are grateful.

Best Moment: Easily when the beat temporarily drops out for Ri to proclaim "NO ONE CAN DO YOU THE WAY THAT I DOOO / BOY I WAH-AH-AHHHHNT....." as her sentence is answered by Stewart's yawped "YOUUUUUU!!!!!!" Totally insane, and totally awesome.


Found On: Rated R

Probably the most intense song Rihanna ever recorded, and one of the strangest lead singles released by a major pop artist of recent years. Yes, this creepy, melodramatic ballad—which features Rihanna pleading for her lover to "just pull the trigger" amidst gun-barrel-spinning sounds throughout, and ends with a gunshot, presumably aimed at Rihanna's own head—was the first song released from Rated R, reflecting what an exceedingly vulnerable the singer was at in this point of her career—just a half-year after the incident of Grammy Night 2009, natch. You can almost feel her trembling as she sings "You can see my heart beating / You can see it through my chest," an absolutely unnerving hook whose tension is amplified by the menacingly pulsating beat and relentless gun sounds.

The song underperformed commercially compared to her string of Good Girl Gone Bad smashes, but it established Rihanna as an artist unafraid of taking some very real risks with her music, and it stands today as one of her most impressive musical achievements.

Best Moment: Probably the final gunshot, a disturbingly welcome release after the song's borderline-unbearable tension throughout.

16. "STAY"

Found On: Unapologetic

One of Rihanna's best ballads, an intimate, personal-sounding romantic plea that sounds like it could have been a lost cut from Adele's 21. Without much musical accompaniment—only a Radiohead-like piano hook provides musical accompaniment for the majority of the song—the songwriting and Rihanna's vocal performance really shine through, an absolutely gorgeous effort that show how far Rihanna has come as a vocalist and artist from her early days—no way would she have been able to do what she did a few weeks ago on SNL with this song five years ago. The largely unknown and mysterious Mikky Ekko shows up as Ri's duet partner, but though he provides some nice harmonies on the bridge, the song is better as a one-woman show, and Rihanna's specifically.

Best Moment: Maybe the final couple extended "Stay"s, followed by Rihanna's soft "ooooh" falsetto. Emotional stuff.


Found On: Good Girl Gone Bad

Rihanna's first single to demonstrate she could be just as effective on club-based jams as hip-hop-based ones, a kinetic anthem of lust and dancefloor energy—keyed, of course, by another Michael Jackson lift, this time the perennially sampled "Mama-say, mama-sa, ma-ma-ko-ssa" hook from "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'" (via Manu Dibango, who sued Rihanna for her interpolation of his original lyric.) The connection between the dancefloor and the bedroom would be one visited by Rihanna throughout her career, but probably never better than here, where the acts of dancing and fucking basically become one under seductively drawled lyrics like "Do you know what you started? / I just came here to party / But now we're rockin' on the dancefloor, acting naughty." With that relentless MJ sample, the Stargate beat keeps things from ever getting monotonous, and begins Ri's career path to being perhaps the greatest house diva of her era.

Best Moment: When the heavily filtered "Mama-say" hook first pops up in the pre-chorus, getting gradually cleaner and cleaner until it finally explodes undisguised in the first chorus.


Found On: Music of the Sun

The song that started it all for Rihanna, and a dancehall classic of the '00s. Rihanna doesn't do a ton of showy vocalizing on this one, instead letting the song's relentless groove take center stage—smart, considering how insanely catchy the beat to this one was. Adorned by Rihanna's incessant pleas for the DJ to turn the music up—which seemingly go for the entire song, without Ri so much as taking a break to breathe—the shuffling "Pon de Replay" beat became one of the most unavoidable sounds on radio during the summer of 2005, hypnotizing from the very first listen. It didn't do much to showcase what made Rihanna unique as a performer and a pop star, but there would be time enough for that later.

Best Moment: The way Rihanna spits out the word "sneak-ahs" in the "Let the bass from the speakers run through ya sneakers" line. The first of many super-cute, super-awesome vocal tics Rihanna would make unforgettable over the course of her career.

13. "LIVIN' A LIE"

Found On: The-Dream's Love/Hate

The most under-appreciated duet of Rihanna's career, and the only time she and longtime collaborator The-Dream shared a microphone. A forbidden-love anthem, in which Ri and Dream bemoan that they're unable to make their romance known to the world (for unspecified reasons, though it's probably not fidelity-related, as made clear by Dream's super-memorable "This feels worser than cheating" lamentation), the 2007 song feels oddly prophetic for another real-life high-profile romance of Rihanna's that the world could never understand. Regardless, the vocal urgency of the song is really put across by the two performers, getting increasingly desperate as they shriek "I wanna be near you!" "I wanna be near you too!," but always coming back to the gorgeously harmonized central issue: "We out here livin' a lie." Stunning stuff.

Best Moment: Ri and Dream's "It feels like I ain't breathing" / "This feels worser than cheating" lyrical trade-off on the first verse, probably, but it's a song full of highlights.

12. "HARD"

Found On: Rated R

When talking of hit songs of the last five years that nobody but Rihanna could have done successfully, "Hard" has gotta be at the top of the list. Whether declaring that her "runway never looked so clear," bragging about her "fanmail from 27 million" or challenging "Where them girls talking trash / Where they at, where they at, where they at?," all over The-Dream and Tricky Stewart's booming, militaristic beat, the song is 100% Rihanna—aside from the well-chosen Young Jeezy guest verse, anyway—and 100% badass. And of course, the song's primary chest-puff—of Rihanna proclaiming over and over again "I-I-I'm so hard / Yeah-yeah-yeah, so hard," while in essence totally meaningless, does kinda define Rihanna Mach II, cementing her evolution from underage songstress to unfuckwithable pop icon.

Best Moment: We can't help but be partial to the "Where them bloggers at? Where them blogger at?" callout in the bridge, for obvious reasons.

11. "MAN DOWN"

Found On: Loud

Rihanna had done so much stylistic evolving in the four years since second album A Girl Like Me that it was almost shocking to hear Rihanna return to the reggae world that provided the core of her sound in her early days on fifth album Loud. Luckily, she did so with one of the best songs of her career, the murder ballad "Man Down," which involves Rihanna gunning a man down "in Grand Central Station, in front of a big old crowd," for largely unspecified reasons (though in the song's controversial music video, the murder is in response to a sexual assault). The song's beat is a lot more full-bodied than the relatively thin grooves Ri used in the past, and the song's content is surprisingly emotional for such an obvious fiction, Rihanna sounding legitimately pained as she testifies "I didn't mean to hurt him / Coulda been somebody's son!" And of course, the song's hook—Ri's tongue-rolled "Rum-pum-pa-pum...Man Down!"—was an instant classic.

Best Moment: Probably any instance of the song's signature hook, though the subtle introduction of the police sirens at the song's beginning is also a nice touch—although it makes the song frightening music for car rides.


Found On: Talk That Talk

Rihanna and Calvin Harris' second hookup was a little more of a slow burn than their first, but only barely—the song is still a tremendously invigorating sound on pop radio in 2012, and proof of the considerable musical chemistry between performer and producer. Unlike "We Found Love," which puts its primary hook front and center, "Where" starts off misleadingly, sounding more like a ballad from its opening "I've Been Everywhere"-referencing bars, until the song achieves flight with Rihanna's "Wheeeere have you been all my laiiii-iiiife??" cries in the pre-chorus. There's no real actual chorus, though—instead, there's one of the dirtiest, funkiest breaks we've heard in 2010s dance-pop, which the song does an admirable job recovering from, eventually ending right where it began. Not Rihanna's most euphoric dance song, but one of her most mysterious and exciting.

Best Moment: Gotta be the first time that that break drops, after the synths cut out and a short drum fill provides the transition.


Found On: Loud

Ahh, there's the dance floor euphoria. After the relative oddness of the Rated R album, "Only Girl (In the World)" was a pretty clear signal from Rihanna that she was getting back to her maximalist ways, and with a song this good and this big, no one could possibly begrudge her that call. "Only Girl" feels huge the way that "Don't Leave Me This Way" or "I Will Survive" did back in the disco era, scaling the same kind of heights as those classics on the chorus, as Rihanna emphatically proclaims "I want you to make me feel / Like I'm the only girl in the world." (She pauses between most of the words in the first line, as if she wanted to make sure that there were no possible mixed messages being conveyed.)

With a shimmering, pounding house beat from Stargate and one of her most powerful vocals to date, "Only Girl" was the sound of Rihanna reclaiming her place on top of the pop pecking order, not yet vacated in the couple years since.

Best Moment: Probably just the opening of the first chorus, when the synths kick in and Rihanna goes full-on siren. She sounds like the only girl in the world, at least.


Found On: Drake's Take Care

Of all the many male collaborators Rihanna has had over the year, the chemistry is never better than it is with Drake. Maybe it's the fact that intimacy (both sonic and lyrical) is such a large part of the appeal with both artists, maybe it's the fact that their relationship was briefly taken off-record, maybe it's just that they're both really good at what they do, but the couple times they've gotten together, the results have been electric. Such is certainly the case with "Take Care," a beautiful, tense, slippery love song about trust and loneliness and commitment, with a dance beat that never quite takes off, that made for sort of an unlikely smash hit off Drake's album of the same name, but one ultimately too compelling to deny.

Rihanna's role on the song is small but critical. In between Drake's verses of getting high on his birthday and wishing that he dies real, Ri sings the song's basic hook, originated by Gil Scott-Heron: "I know you've been hurt by someone else / I can tell by the way you carry yourself / But if you let me, here's what I'll do / I'll take care of you." She imbues the lines with such tenderness and compassion that they sound lyrical and poetic in their simplicity, and their assuredness contrast brilliantly with the confusion and insecurity of Drake's verses, resulting in one of the most emotionally unique pop songs in recent memory.

Best Moment: When the ending of Drake's second verse ("Somebody shoulda told you something to save you / Instead they said...") erupts in a cacophany of Gil-Scott's voice from the original, scat-singing "Don't / tell me / I don't care / if you hurt..." It's a mind-bender, for sure.


Found On: Good Girl Gone Bad Reloaded

The beginning of Rihanna's dark period? Well, "Disturbia" isn't actually that dark musically, but its video had goth to spare, and the lyrical themes of paranoia and psychosis and feeling like a monster certainly represented the start of a trend for Rihanna. Luckily, the song was so darned catchy with its "bum-bum-bee-dum-bum-bum-dee-dum-dum" chorus hook and titular lyric working off the name of a concurrent movie that the song didn't actually have a lick to do with that it was a deserved pop smash just the same. In retrospect the song seems a little tame and gentle for Rihanna, but upon its 2007 release, it was a real eye-opener for an artist whose increasingly diverse work in both the darkness and the light was getting more and more impressive.

Best Moment: The song sets the mood instantly, with a distant shout echoing in the background giving way to the song's bum-bum earworm, and Rihanna wondering aloud to herself "What's wrong with me? Why do I feel like this?" Ten seconds in, and you're totally hooked.

6. "S.O.S."

Found On: A Girl Like Me

"Pon de Replay" was Rihanna's first smash hit, but "S.O.S." was her first true classic. It takes a strong fucking pop song to take a sample as iconic as the synth line to "Tainted Love" and not let it overwhelm the new product, but "S.O.S." used the sample to build an entirely separate song, one nearly the equal of Soft Cell's synth-pop standard. Of course, it helped that the song was on a similar theme of love-induced mania, though Rihanna twists it to be about a love that's too good, rather than too bad. (In both songs, it results in tossing and turning and the inability to sleep at night—a clever lyrical steal and deserved shoutout to the original.)

Ri uses the litheness of the sample as a jump-off for one of her bounciest vocals, having fun almost despite herself on lines like "You got me stressing / In-cess-ant-ly pressing the issue..." The vocal turns urgent on the chorus, one of the best of Ri's career, where she pairs lines like "S.O.S. please / Someone help me" with "Y.O.U. are / making this hard" and "someone come and rescue me" with "got me looking for the rest of me," subtle lyrical callbacks that double down on the song's catchiness without sacrificing coherence or emotional connection. The result is a truly immaculate pop song, and one that dispelled any possible thoughts of Rihanna as a one-hit wonder.

BEST MOMENT: When Rihanna's double-tracked vocal splits in different directions on the final chorus, hitting the next level without costing the song any of its hard-earned catchiness.


Found On: Good Girl Gone Bad

"Hate" got a little lost in the shuffle upon its original release amidst a swarm of bigger hits by both Rihanna and duet partner Ne-Yo—not to mention a bunch of similar-sounding Stargate productions. But the song has endured as one of the most touching by either artist, a song whose light shuffle and relatively understated hook doesn't stun exactly, but kinda crawls its way under your skin over time, until you find yourself breaking down a little with every pained "And I you, boy/girl." The song hits all the right notes emotionally, and Rihanna and Ne-Yo are the perfect vocalists to carry the song, to carry the song's content and feel without overwhelming it with their oversized personalities.

And as for Stargate...well, at the time, it was really easy to get exhausted with their spate of soundalike acoustic mid-tempo shuffles, whether it be Ne-Yo's "Sexy Love," Chris Brown's "With You" or, again, Beyoncé's "Irreplaceable." But looking back on them now, when there's really nothing like them in pop at the moment (and Stargate themselves have moved on to pounding, synth-heavy floor-fillers), they all sound so sweet and unassuming and lovely in retrospect—and none moreso than "Hate That I Love You." Guess it was just too much of a good thing back then, but we'd personally like to issue the Swedish production team an apology for taking their distinctive sound so very much for granted.

Best Moment: On the wind-up to the song's final chorus, where Rihanna comes in with a familiar "and I hate that I love you..." before being joined by Ne-Yo in gorgeous harmony for the climactic "SOOOOO-OOOOO!!!!" as the chorus kicks in again. Beautiful moment.


Found On: Good Girl Gone Bad

Rihanna and her people have generally hit with most of their single choices and snubs, but they missed big in passing this one over. Maybe "Breakin' Dishes" was just a year or two ahead of schedule for Rihanna, as we were still perhaps too used to the sweet girl of "S.O.S." and "If It's Lovin' That You Want" to have accepted Rihanna putting her heel on our throats like this, but holy shit is this song too good to be kept to mere album-track status. A stomping (in more ways than one, and even still that's probably putting it too mildly) revenge track, "Dishes" was an early-ish sign in Rihanna's career that she had the potential to be the baddest of pop badasses, not just an innocuous hook girl.

Taking Kelis' "Caught Out There" to the next level—and don't get it twisted, that was not a song that really needed to be taken to any hgiher level than it was already at—"Dishes" features Rihanna in complete control, singing about being completely out of control, as she prepares to confront her man for stepping out on her. The Dream/Stewart beat is a zooming juggernaut, the coldest, most imposing thing this side of Timbaland's beat for Nelly Furtado's "Maneater," but Ri picks her teeth with Nelly vocally, getting into the red for lines like "I'm roasting marshmallows on the fire / And what I'm burning is your attire," and the chorus declaration of "I'm breaking dishes up in her / All night / I ain't gon' stop until I see police lights."

Best Moment: We can't get enough of the way Rihanna pronounces the word "marsh-mell-lowwwws" in the second verse, though the entire bridge (including Ri's threats to "huff and puff and blow this, blow this whole house dowwwwwwn) is a worthy challenger.


Found On: Loud

The first hook-up between Drake and Ri, with chemistry even more scintillating than on "Take Care." Watching them in the video for this, or performing the song at the NBA All-Star Game, and you knew there was something there than mere professional respect. Though Drake is only present for one verse here—though a memorable one, for reasons bad ("The square root of 69 is eight-something...") but mostly good ("Only thing we got on is the radio," "The things we could do in 20 minutes, girl..."), the spark is evident for the whole song, as Rihanna challenges him to "go long-time with a girl like me" and coos one of her all-time catchiest hooks in the oft-repeated "Oh na na / What's my name?" We're counting down the days until these two work together again.

Best Moment: The song's bridge, in which a rapturous Rihanna exclaims "You're so amazing / You took the time to figure me out / That's why you take me / Way past the point of turning me on." Doesn't rhyme, but that's cool.


Found On: Talk That Talk

Sometimes it all comes together. Rihanna had been working in the field of dance music for a number of years before "We Found Love," but she'd never worked with a true house producer like Calvin Harris, and the pairing couldn't have worked more perfectly—just as the EDM sound was starting to crest in America, no less. Their first collaboration was a pop classic almost instantly, though a VMA-winning, controversy-baiting video certainly didn't hurt any. Unusually cheery for a Rihanna Mach II single—ecstatic, some would say—the song came up with a catchy two note riff and deployed it relentlessly from beginning to end, pausing only for a couple of the most epic build-up-and-drop sections we've ever heard. With the possible exception of "Don't Stop the Music," Rihanna jams before "We Found Love" were always dancing-optional. "Love" affords the listener no such flexibility.

Rihanna's contributions to the song are not as considerable as they are on many of her other hits—there's a reason why this song actually co-credits Calvin Harris as a performer, not just a producer—but she's still a perfect conduit for the song's blissed-out lyrics. The way she sighs her way through the "It's the way I'm feeling, I just can't denyyyyy..." on the verse, you can almost see her floating on the clouds, unsure whether it's the love or the drugs or both that have gotten her there. "We found love in a hopeless place" is an oddly stated sentiment to be anything resembling a catchphrase, but delivered by a performer as assured as Rihanna, just about any lyric has a chance to become iconic.

Best Moment: The first time the build-up-and-drop hits, and the hook comes back in at fuller force than ever before. If only all of music/life could be so sweet.


Found On: Good Girl Gone Bad

"S.O.S." was Rihanna's first pop classic, but it was "Umbrella" that truly made her a star. From the sound of the first hi-hat drop on the song, it was clear that something special was going on, and that the career of a true great of popular music was really getting underway. Jay-Z paved the runway for his protegé with his intro verse, mostly notable for its fine introduction of Rihanna (shouts of "Good girl gone bad!" and the verse-ending callout "With Little Miss Sunshine / Rihanna, where you at?"), and Ri takes off from her opening line, "You had my heart / And we'll never be worlds apart..." And once that classic chorus hits—"When the sun shines, we'll shine together, told you I'll be here forever," c'mon, you know the words!—it was just about Game Over.

The remarkable thing about "Umbrella" is that when you get down to it, it's a pretty simple record. The song's unforgettable Dream/Stewart-produced drumbeat was really just a slowed-down GarageBand loop, the structure is your textbook intro/verse/chorus/bridge/outro foundation, and Rihanna's hook really comes down to her pronunciation of a single word—"Uhm-buh-rel-la." But that simplicity is what allowed the song to become so transcendent, as it sounded instantly familiar and right and perfect, and it hit on all the details, from the subtly interlocking layers of synths on the chorus, to the way Rihanna's second chorus adds muscle by supporting her vocal with a double-tracked harmony, to the "Because!" exhortation that allows Ri to transition from the song's bridge breakdown back to the climcatic chorus.

In 50 years, we'll probably still remember Rihanna for "Umbrella" first and foremost. And that's a pretty cool thing for her.

Best Moment: That first hi-hat hit, still one of the most exciting sounds you're likely to hear in an any average day of radio listening over the last five years.

Thanks for reading through our ranked list of every Rihanna song! To take a quick glimpse at our list from #125-1 in its entirety, click NEXT.

Ranking Song

125 There's a Thug in My Life

124 Bad Girl

123 A Child is Born

122 Rush

121 Photographs

120 Rock Me Out

119 Hypnotized

118 Just Be Happy

117 Right Now

116 If It's Lovin' That You Want (Part 2)

115 Music of the Sun

114 Throw Your Hands Up

113 We All Want Love

112 Stupid in Love

111 Should I?

110 Pour It Up

109 Hole in My Head

108 First Time

107 Roll It

106 Turn Up the Music

105 Numba 1 (Tide is High)

104 Drunk on Love

103 Scratch

102 California King Bed

101 Shy Ronnie 2: Ronnie & Clyde

100 Let Me

99 Where Do We Go

98 Fly

97 Numb

96 Fading

95 Farewell

94 G4L

93 Willing to Wait

92 Selfish Girl

91 Stranded (Haiti Mon Amour)

90 Talk That Talk

89 The Last Time

88 If I Never See Your Face Again

87 Half of Me

86 Dem Haters

85 That La, La, La

84 Lost in Paradise

83 A Girl Like Me

82 Just Stand Up!

81 Fool in Love

80 Final Goodbye

79 Sell Me Candy

78 Cold Case Love

77 A Million Miles Away

76 Coulda Been the One

75 Cry

74 Love the Way You Lie (Pt. II)

73 We Ride

72 Get It Over With

71 Mad House

70 Loveeeeeee Song

69 Say It

68 Good Girl Gone Bad

67 The Last Song

66 Unfaithful

65 Rehab

64 What Now

63 Now I Know

62 Redemption Song

61 Fire Bomb

60 Lemme Get That


58 Birthday Cake

57 Boom Boom

56 You Don't Love Me (No, No, No)

55 Who's That Chick?

54 Haunted

53 Complicated

52 Princess of China

50 Watch n' Learn

51 Who Ya Gonna Run To

49 Love the Way You Lie

48 Diamonds

47 Wait Your Turn

46 The One

45 Push Up On Me

44 No Love Allowed

43 S&M

42 Crazy Little Thing Called Love

41 Run This Town

40 Shut Up and Drive

39 P.S. (I'm Still Not Over You)

38 Raining Men

37 You Da One

36 Phresh Off the Runway

35 Break It Off

34 Here I Go Again

33 Question Existing

32 Red Lipstick

31 Kisses Don't Lie

30 Cheers (Drink to That)

29 Do Ya Thang

28 Love Without Tragedy / Mother Mary

27 Nobody's Business

26 Take a Bow

25 Skin

24 If It's Lovin' That You Want

23 Live Your Life

22 Rude Boy

21 Te Amo

20 Jump

19 All of the Lights

18 Cockiness (Love It)

17 Russian Roulette

16 Stay

15 Don't Stop the Music

14 Pon de Replay

13 Livin' a Lie

12 Hard

11 Man Down

10 Where Have You Been

9 Only Girl (In the World)

8 Take Care

7 Disturbia

6 S.O.S.

5 Hate That I Love You

4 Breaking Dishes

3 What's My Name?

2 We Found Love

1 Umbrella