Sep 20

#12: Every word seemed to date her

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Roots and Americana don’t make up much of my musical diet – too fibrous – but I’m delighted we’ve got enough for an entire bracket of them here: it gives us something a bit different in the tournament mix. And it’s also reflective of a real 2001 trend which you couldn’t miss even if you didn’t like it – the steady swell of interest in Americana, country and other acoustic musics which had crested at the turn of the millennium, partly thanks to O Brother, Where Art Thou?…

#11: Leave your situations at the door

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This bracket shares very porous boundaries with Bracket 5 – the pop/R&B one – since R&B was a driving creative force in 2001 and we easily had enough nominations to spill over brackets. In this group the emphasis is a little more on the singers: Mary J Blige, Aaliyah, and India.Arie get two songs each, there’s neo-soul from Sunshine Anderson and Angie Stone, veteran soul from Sade, and sitting atop it all, in popularity terms at least, Alicia Keys megaballad “Fallin’”.

Sep 20

#10: A secret code carved

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Inevitably when you’re sorting out 64 tracks marked as indie, you’re going to find some which don’t really fit anywhere else. That’s this bracket, a buffet of leftovers with maybe an arthouse and experimental thread running through the core of it. But not entirely – there’s also tracks here which are more indiepop than anything in the indiepop bracket (Saloon’s pretty “Free Fall”) and more proto-landfill than anything in the radio-friendly one (I won’t name names).

#9: Sunshine in a bag

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I’m not totally sure this bracket ‘works’, in that it’s likely to feel unfair to one or both of the two streams of music I’ve pushed together here. There’s the more big-room, commercial end of dance music, like Superman Lovers’ “Starlight” and Safri Duo’s “Played A-Live (The Bongo Song)”, but there’s also alternative music darlings making club or hip-hop or sampladelic music, like Gorillaz and The Avalanches. And sitting between both worlds, there’s Daft Punk and Basement Jaxx at the poppier end of their 2001 work. Mix in a few hits overflowing from other categories and you have our bracket.

Sep 20

#8: It’s got leather seats, it’s got a CD player

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We’ve already had a look at the scrappy, self-sufficient, grass-roots corner of indie. Of course that’s only part of the story. There’s also the parts of what used to be “indie” that were happening in, more or less, the mainstream. But that didn’t mean what it had even a few years before.

#7: Come sun come rain come hailstone pelt

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This is one of those brackets where I’ve pushed a few disparate things together. It’s a rap bracket, clearly, and rap that’s on the margins of pop (with a couple of big exceptions). But there are two distinct reasons why it’s on the margins. It’s split between underground hip-hop, which existed in a sometimes critical self-exile, alienated from rap’s glittering new mainstream, and British MCs, on the geographic margins of rap’s development.

Sep 20

#6: I’ll be the one to tuck you in at night

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In the 1990 poll we had a bracket for – to put it delicately – veteran rockers, acts like Fleetwood Mac and Van Morrison who were feeling their way into a fourth decade in the biz. The bracket returns for the 2001 poll, but its terms of engagement have shifted. For one thing the cast has changed (well, aside from Nick Lowe, back for the third poll in a row!) – people like Joe Strummer, REM and Depeche Mode fit into it alongside Elton and Macca. And where last time I had to throw our handful of country songs in, the 2001 poll has enough for a whole Roots bracket.

#5: Thought I wouldn’t sell without you, sold 9 million

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The music that excited me living through 2001 is spread across 4 or 5 of the brackets. This one has some of it – the bits where R&B was going pop, and pop was going R&B, with a sprinkling of other things which seemed to fit better here than somewhere else.

Sep 20

#4: I cry when angels deserve to die

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One of the phenomena of the 1990 poll was that we managed to get an entire bracket out of baggy – the pie-eyed marriage of British indie and dance music. We haven’t managed to get an entire bracket of 2001’s great hybrid, nu-metal’s splicing of rock and rap. But we’ve got some, and I’ve put it together with pop-punk, just-plain-punk, the remnants of hard rock and whatever the hell Muse imagined they were doing.

#3: When you’re lost I know how to change your mood

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This bracket is heavily informed by two European developments in the late 90s. The first was the release of Air’s Moon Safari in 1998, which pushed chillout music into the spotlight and (because dinner parties last more than 45 minutes) created a mini-boom among acts looking to follow-it – as well as creating a major headache for Air themselves.