Songs Of The 00s

Sep 09

My Top 200 (or so) Songs Of The 00s

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A little over ten years ago I started writing about my Top 100 Singles Of The 90s. Pretty much as soon as I’d finished I started looking forward to writing this feature on Freaky Trigger. In between, this site has – directly or indirectly – reinvented my social circle, landed me a fascinating job, and been a remarkably rewarding hobby.

So, even though I really don’t have the time to do a 100 Songs Of The 00s, I couldn’t not. In fact I’m going to go better: I’m going to talk about 200 songs. Here are my ground rules:

1. I’m going to split the songs between here and my tumblr. The ones that go here will have more discussion, the ones on my tumblr will have an audio component.

KLAXONS – “As Above, So Below”

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One of the minor and miserable themes of my 00s has been the generally vain search for a British indie hype that I could enjoy. I’ve never consciously acknowledged this itch but the fact I once paid money for a CD by The Coral suggests it’s been lurking around a while. The record shows that my Top 3 90s songs were by My Bloody Valentine, Disco Inferno and Pulp and it’s not controversial to suggest that those lofty standards weren’t exactly maintained.

Sep 09

RICHGIRL – “He Ain’t With Me Now (Tho)”

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I was playing this record quite a lot while I put the final edits on my “Decade In Pop” piece for Pitchfork: now I wish I’d mentioned it. It’s producer Rich Harrison’s pet girlband project, and for once that patronising double-edge on the word “pet” seems sadly appropriate: none of the (meagre) hype I’ve seen around Richgirl even mentions the performers, and on this single the production’s firmly the star. The song builds on blurs of keyboard and strings with a droning, advancing quality – production like an army on the march. This supertense churn catches an ambiguity in the track – are the singers just letting their hair down, or is betrayal in the air? The brooding effect is rather spoiled by Harrison’s jumping in to say “wiggle wiggle wiggle wiggle” but he can’t ruin a striking track.

Sep 09

MADONNA – “Die Another Day”

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Perhaps icons inevitably try to upstage each other. Madonna, given the chance at a 007 theme song, is provoked into her most radical 00s single. Also – to be fair – one of her most divisive: it got abuse both from Bond purists who detested its lurching, patchwork aggression, and from neutrals who thought it was a bit silly. I thought it was excellent in 2002, and it’s aged better than most of her risk-averse work since. Her stuff with Timbaland last year sounded dated the moment it came out of the box: “Die Another Day”, for all its awkwardness, still sounds fresh. At the time the main reference point seemed to be Akufen. Akufen! Which gives you an idea of how odd, even in the surprise-rich charts of the time, this record sounded.

Sep 09

FALL OUT BOY – “Thriller”

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One of the most contentious threads I can remember on ILX was over a blogpost by Ultragrrrl claiming that My Chemical Romance were “this generation’s Nirvana”. OK, the thread was contentious more because Ultragrrrl herself was a divisive figure than because of what she was saying, but it resonated with me. In MCR – and Fall Out Boy, Taking Back Sunday, and the raging rest of “mall-emo” – you had a kind of music which was angry, teen-approved, popular, guitar-driven… and a lot of major critical voices basically refused to take it seriously. For instance, there was plenty of expectation and enthusiasm for Fall Out Boy’s Folie A Deux among some Pitchfork writers, but the site didn’t cover it, and wasn’t alone. The sites and magazines that DID go for this music – like Britain’s Kerrang! – tended to do rather well out of it. But for more credible sources, the stuff seemed to be kryptonite. Why?

Sep 09

SHYSTIE – “Nu Style (Dee Kline and Ed Solo Mix)”

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This is one of the great contemporary London songs for me, one of the small cross-genre epics the city throws out sometimes, like “Weekender” or “Avenue” in the early 90s – not through any particular lyric but something in the unstructure of the track reminds me of the city’s maziness, the way the song seems to keep turning corners and ducking down sidestreets to reveal something else fresh. “Nu Style” is nothing but hooks, a hawkers’ suitcase full of them – I mean, I guess the “Don’t you want a taste?” bit from the guy is a… chorus of sorts? But it also feels like a rest spot on a tour.

Sep 09

BLU CANTRELL – “Hit ‘Em Up Style (Oops)”

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The signature sounds of the 00s pop boom – all those staccatos, pizzicatos, clicks and bubbles – fix this track in its era even as the central, taunting string figure calls further back to long-ago good times, now soured. “Hit Em Up Style”‘s vicious storyline of economic revenge reminds me that at the time it wasn’t just the sonics that won modern R&B its attention: the music’s themes were given serious consideration too. Well, if being attacked as “man-hating” counts.

Sep 09

3LW – “No More (Baby I’m A Do Right)”

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Autotune-slathered teenpop from 2000, just to reinforce how the technique has basically been in favour for the whole decade. 3LW could sing, though – as the long interlacing vocals on the coda prove, especially that “No more! No more!” cutting frustrated through all the talk. So why the vocal FX? A gimmick for sure, but emotionally the treatment works to mask the hurt, build up a defense that the rest of the song can break down again. Whatever the reason, it sounds fine (though it’s not as adorable as the castanet-backed rap) and it stands out in a production job that’s creditably minimal.

Sep 09

CORTNEY TIDWELL – “Don’t Let Stars Keep Us Tangled Up (Ewan’s Objects In Space Remix)”

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In the pre-MP3 era (viz. the mid-90s), remixes of non-dance, non-hip-hop artists worked as follows.

1. The artist or their label would get somebody to do a remix. This was usually the Chemical Brothers, but occasionally the Aphex Twin or Fluke would get a go.
2. The remix would appear as the third track on the 2nd CD.
3. The fans would buy it. They might also play it.
4. Some would hate it and accuse the record labels of ripping them off with remixes rather than proper B-Sides.
5. Others would say it was really good, for dance music, but obviously not as good as the original track.
6. It would be entirely forgotten about.

Sep 09

SUBEENA – “Boksd”

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A few weeks back The Lex alerted me to this as part of a raft of stuff he was calling, somewhat reluctantly, “post-dubstep”. Not his coinage, but I was immediately heartened. Not only was the music excellent I also knew that no matter what I ended up writing about it, no matter how airily uninformed I sound, I could not make it sound more rubbish than “post-dubstep” seems to imply.