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16 Number One Songs From Our First 16 Years
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16 Number One Songs From Our First 16 Years

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16 Number One Songs From Our First 16 Years

16 Number One Songs From Our First 16 Years
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Clockwise from upper left: Cover art for Björk's Vespertine, Wilco's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, Moby's Play, Kanye West's Late Registration, Sleigh Bells' Treats and Regina Spektor's Begin To Hope

Clockwise from upper left: Cover art for Björk's Vespertine, Wilco's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, Moby's Play, Kanye West's Late Registration, Sleigh Bells' Treats and Regina Spektor's Begin To Hope Courtesy of the artists hide caption

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Sixteen years ago All Songs Considered started as NPR's first online-only program. This month we're celebrating its sweet 16 birthday, and to mark the occasion on this week's episode we're counting down our favorite songs from each of the past 16 years. Hearing some of these cuts is a real trip down memory lane, from the dreamy synth sound of Moby's "Porcelain," and Björk's polyrhythmic "Hidden Place," to The Postal Service, Grizzly Bear and Kanye West's brilliant and playful earworm "Gold Digger."

If you've had a memorable moment with All Songs Considered, share your story in the comments section below. We love hearing from our listeners. And if you want to share your own list of number one songs from each of the past 16 years, well pass that along, too!

16 Number One Songs From Our First 16 Years

Cover art for Moby's Play.

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2000: "Porcelain"

  • from Play
  • by Moby

Moby's "Porcelain," from the 1999 album Play was one of the songs Bob Boilen played frequently between news stories back when he was directing All Things Considered. Fans of the news program often wrote in asking for more info about the songs they heard on air, including "Porcelain," so Bob started All Songs Considered in January of 2000, initially as an online music show to play full versions of those songs.

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Play
Album
Play
Artist
Moby
Label
V2

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Cover art for Bjork's Vespertine.

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2001: "Hidden Place"

  • from Vespertine
  • by Bjork

When All Songs Considered entered its second year, co-host and producer Robin Hilton was brought on, just as the show was starting to explore more new and interesting music outside of the short clips played between news stories on the radio. Björk's Vespertine album was one of the show's earliest discoveries.

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Song
Vespertine
Album
Vespertine
Artist
Bjork
Label
Elektra
Released
2008

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Cover art for Wilco's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot

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2002: "I Am Trying to Break Your Heart"

  • from Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
  • by Wilco

Wilco's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot was a landmark album in 2002. The previous year the band's label, Reprise, refused to release it, the band regained ownership of the songs, then streamed them for free on the Wilco website. It was unheard of at the time. Yankee Hotel Foxtrot went on to become many critics' picks for Album Of The Year, and remains Wilco's best-selling release.

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Song
Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
Album
Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
Artist
Wilco
Label
Nonesuch
Released
2009

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Cover art for The Postal Service's Give Up.

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2003: "The District Sleeps Alone Tonight"

  • from Give Up
  • by The Postal Service

The Postal Service's bedroom electronic album Give Up felt like an appropriate shift toward a moodier, more introspective post-9/11 sound. "The District Sleeps Alone Tonight" was an anthem for anyone ready to hide under the covers.

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Song
Give Up
Album
Give Up
Artist
The Postal Service
Label
Sub Pop
Released
2009

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Cover art for Arcade Fire's Funeral.

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2004: "Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)"

  • from Funeral
  • by Arcade Fire

Arcade Fire's incredible debut album, Funeral, was one of the first of the young century to feature a bigger, bolder, and often euphoric sound, with sprawling stage productions, and helped lead to many more exuberant bands in the years that followed.

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Song
Funeral
Album
Funeral
Artist
Arcade Fire
Label
Merge
Released
2008

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Cover art for Kanye West's Late Registration

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2005: "Gold Digger"

  • from Late Registration
  • by Kanye West

Kanye West's sophomore album Late Registration was the second in his planned series of education-themed albums and featured this wildly playful ear worm produced by Jon Brion, with guest vocals by Jamie Foxx. "Gold Digger" was a huge hit and became the fastest-selling download at a time when fans were still getting accustomed to paying for legal downloads.

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Song
Late Registration
Album
Late Registration
Artist
Kanye West
Label
Roc-A-Fella

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Cover art for Regina Spektor's Begin To Hope

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2006: "Fidelity"

  • from Begin to Hope
  • by Regina Spektor

We first discovered Regina Spektor in 2003 when she sent in her music in hopes of being featured on our now defunct Open Mic series. She went on to become one of our most beloved artists.

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Song
Begin to Hope
Album
Begin to Hope
Artist
Regina Spektor
Label
Sire
Released
2006

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Cover art for Radiohead's In Rainbows

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2007: "Bodysnatchers"

  • from In Rainbows
  • by Radiohead

After breaking from its longtime label, EMI, Radiohead was on its own when it surprised everyone by self-releasing this brilliant album, and allowing fans to pay whatever they wanted for a download of it. It was one of the best records the band has ever made.

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Cover art for Bon Iver's For Emma, Forever Ago

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2008: "Skinny Love"

  • from For Emma, Forever Ago
  • by Bon Iver

If you listened to All Songs Considered back in 2008 you probably know how obsessed we were with this record. Bon Iver's Justin Vernon holed up in a cabin in a snowy woods and self-recorded the gorgeous, shimmering and deeply personal For Emma, Forever Ago. We still can't get enough of it.

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For Emma, Forever Ago
Album
For Emma, Forever Ago
Artist
Bon Iver
Released
2007

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2009: "Two Weeks"

  • from Veckatimest
  • by Grizzly Bear

Every time we hear the opening piano line to this one, it immediately takes us back to 2009. Veckatimest was a meticulously crafted work of art, inspired as much by ethereal, ambient rock as it was by doo-wop.

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Veckatimest
Album
Veckatimest
Artist
Grizzly Bear
Label
Warp
Released
2009

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Cover for Treats

2010: "A/B Machines"

  • from Treats
  • by Sleigh Bells

Sleigh Bells made us stop dead in our tracks when we first heard the Brooklyn duo's explosive, frenetic and unforgettable sound. The album Treats, with this song "A/B Machines," struck the right chord as we entered the new century's second — and much louder — decade.

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Song
Treats
Album
Treats
Artist
Sleigh Bells
Label
Mom & Pop Music
Released
2010

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Cover for 21

2011: "Someone Like You"

  • from 21
  • by Adele

Adele was supposed to play NPR Music's day party at South by Southwest in 2008, but couldn't get a visa. She made up for it a few years later by performing this heartbreaking hit and others at the Tiny Desk.

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21
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Adele
Label
Columbia
Released
2011

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Cover for An Awesome Wave

2012: "Tessellate"

  • from An Awesome Wave
  • by Alt-J

Alt-J is Bob Boilen's favorite band of the 21st century. The group's debut full-length, An Awesome Wave, was strange and utterly transfixing. It went on to win the Mercury Prize.

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An Awesome Wave
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Alt-J
Label
Infectious
Released
2012

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2013: "Retrograde"

  • from Overgrown
  • by James Blake

One of Robin Hilton's all-time favorite songs of any year, James Blakes' "Retrograde" was inspired by the lilting melodic voice of Sam Cooke. In astronomy, retrograde refers to two celestial bodies moving in opposite directions, an idea Blake cleverly references in the chorus of the song with rising vocals over a falling synth line.

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Overgrown
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Overgrown
Artist
James Blake
Released
2013

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Cover for Sylvan Esso

2014: "Coffee"

  • from Sylvan Esso
  • by Sylvan Esso

This song pretty much owned our 2014. "Coffee" is also indicative of a lot of music produced in recent years, with spare electronics and incredible textures, set against the beauty and more organic sound of singer Amelia Meath's voice.

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Sylvan Esso
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Sylvan Esso
Artist
Sylvan Esso
Label
Partisan Records
Released
2014

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2015: "King Kunta"

  • from To Pimp A Butterfly
  • by Kendrick Lamar

Kendrick Lamar's dense, multi-layered masterpiece To Pimp A Butterfly is not only a brilliantly produced record, it's also an important one that digs deep into race and identity, religion, the trappings of fame and more. It will be cited, studied and deconstructed for decades.

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To Pimp A Butterfly
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Released
2015

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Regina Spektor. courtesy of the artist hide caption

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