Sep 20

2001: A Poll Odyssey

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As you probably know, I’ve been entertaining myself – and others, it seems – by running themed music polls on Twitter. The next one is based on the year 2001 – participants have picked 256 tracks which I’ve divided into 16 roughly genre-based brackets.
The last year poll we did was on 1990. This one will be very different. 1990 was the year I turned 17, I was paying close and voracious teenage attention to music and had a strong sense of what mattered and why the year was important. In fact one of the most interesting things about the poll was talking to people who thought 1990 pretty much sucked. What I heard as thrilling cross-fertilisation as pop came to terms with house and hip-hop played to them as embarrassing bandwagon-jumping or a lack of focus.

In 2001 I turned 28. I was firmly online and running Freaky Trigger and the I Love Music board, which meant I was constantly taking rapid and public positions about music, positions I enjoyed fighting over. What excited me most about the year at the time – the rapid fusion of pop and R&B, and a wave of terrific hip-hop crossover singles – was only a small part of what was going on. The nominations for the poll revealed clashing and overlapping 2001s – a surge of interest in roots music; the revival of short, sharp guitar rock; the flash-lit moment of electroclash; and in terms of what people still stream from that year now, the dominance of nu-metal, rock’s last great moment of mass impact.
It’s an unsettled year, a year which ‘rock history’ has cherrypicked without really imposing a narrative on. An ideal year for a poll, you might think.
What I want to do is go through the brackets of the poll (which I created, so they already reflect my own preconceptions) and make some notes and observations about what I find there – a guide and commentary in 16 parts.


  1. 1
    Auntie Beryl on 2 Sep 2020 #

    2001 was an odd year for me, professionally and personally, and so I come to this poll with as much baggage as anyone.

    We’re about the same age, Tom , so turned 28 that year. I’d worked in the same record shop since leaving university seven years prior, and that job was to come to an end on Christmas Eve, a situation brought on in part by many of the regulars coming in to tell me that they had discovered mp3s and how much easier and cheaper they were than waiting for the shop to order or stock what they were after.

    Perhaps inevitably this, coupled with the commonplace late-20s feeling that other, *younger* people were forging forwards in musical areas I hadn’t quite signed up to, means I don’t look back on 2001 as being a classic. Already, from the Twitter polling and comments, it’s easy to see that other people hold different viewpoints, and that’s great.

    Nothing’s going to convince me that S Club 7’s Gang Show tributes are worth revisiting, mind you…

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