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End of the Aughts: Songs of the Decade Pt. 1

As the decade comes to an end, it is always interesting to look back at music has influenced us. We asked musicians to write about what they felt would be considered the song of the decade. In this mix of well-known and up-and-coming artists, you will see a snapshot of our last 10 years. I hope you enjoy this feature as some of our artists select their favorite song of the decade. – David Harris, Editor-in-Chief

The Strokes- “Is This It” (2001)

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by Hutch Harris of the Thermals

Did any song sum up the turn of the century better? Where were the flying cars, the cures for all disease, the better life we’d been promised since the ’50s? The future was here, and it was, well, kind of boring. When things did get interesting, they were dangerous and terrible. Planes were flying into buildings when rockets were supposed to be taking us on vacations to the moon. Even if you were young, beautiful and rich, disappointment was still apparently unavoidable. Wasn’t there a bright, brave new world waiting for us on the horizon? Or was it going to be sex, drugs and rock and roll, just like our parents? Not that we were complaining. We were still having a pretty good time. But we had to ask, Is This It?

Daft Punk- “One More Time” (2001)
by Alaska in Winter

When I think back on the ’00s what comes to mind is the dance party, cause that’s what I spent most of those years doing. And right from the beginning of the ’00s, the one crucial element that seemed to always be present at the dance party, aside from the alcohol and drugs, was Daft Punk’s “One More Time.” Shoot, there were parties where you’d hear that song 3 or 4 times in one night just cause everyone wanted to hear it on more time. It’s also largely responsible for the “auto- tune” revolution that mainstreamers like Kanye and T-Pain jumped on nearly 8 or 9 years later.

Gnarls Barkley- “Crazy” (2006)

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by Alan Sparhawk of Low

I hate to go for the commercial angle, but it really was a rare cross-cultural hit. A friend of mine from LA does pitch correcting and vocal editing on big Hollywood records. I asked him when the Paris Hilton record he had worked on was coming out. He said they were holding it up because Paris (like everyone else in the biz at the time) wanted to do a cover of “Crazy.” If that doesn’t define the decade, I don’t know what does. It is a great song, and continuing proof that a sick beat and soulful vocal is all you really need. The lyric defines the times – at least for me.

Various Artists
by Michael Ian Cummings of the Dead Trees

I’m not Nostradamus, but people will probably just remember September 11th, reality TV and trans fats. As far as music is concerned, a lot may be forgotten. Like an old term paper or a lost MP3, much of it is fated for some shitty external hard drive that sits in the deepest corner of your closet. But, a few records I know I won’t forget – Breeders Title tk, Beck Sea Change, Deerhoof Reveille, Dr. Dog Easy Beat, Elliott Smith Figure 8 and Wilco Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. It’s cool, cause I own them on CD.

M.I.A.- “Paper Planes” (2007)

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by Telepathe

We believe that out of the entire decade emerged one really powerful and inventive pop icon. This person was not cookie cutter. M.I.A. fully invented her world, her image and her version of pop/hip hop/fucking the world up. We have mad love for her ability to keep it real, be in control and run the motherfucking game. Hands down, she blows everyone out of the water.

Danger Mouse- The Grey Album
by PJPJ

We think that Danger Mouse’s The Grey Album as a whole will go down as a defining album (collection of songs) of the ’00s.This album was never distributed legally, and yet everyone heard it. It was an album that embraced the new way of music-sharing, by way of mash-ups. It was rogue in style and execution, much like the graffiti culture of the ’80s.

Weezer- “Greatest Man That Ever Lived” (2008)

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by Richard Edwards of Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s

This is the best song of the decade. Don’t even try to argue with it, because you’ll sound foolish. This is the anthem I would sing if I had the balls.This is the song George Bush sings in the shower. This is the song that Obama sings while reading the New York Times. When Rivers Cuomo sings, “Soon I’ll be playing in your underwear,” I want to melt. This is the song that makes every sane human being mutter, “why didn’t I think of that?”

I can just say, ‘I’m a badass’. I don’t have to be a wimp. I have no time for metaphor. I have no time for humility

Fuck social commentary. You don’t like it, you love it

3 Doors Down- “Citizen/Solider” (2008)
by Manoj Rao & John Rosoff of HINDUTRONIC

Unfortunately, we believe that the song that best defines the moronic ’00s is “Citizen/Soldier” by 3 Doors Down. An idiotic piece of jingoistic southern-rock garbage used as a National Guard advertisement, this is the worst song we have ever heard. It is worse than “Who Let the Dogs Out” and “My Humps” and it’s even worse than any song by Ja Rule or Coldplay! 3 Doors Down’s “singer” (we’re too lazy to Google his name) shrieks and moans banal lyrics about enlisting in the National Guard to help kill people who aren’t white–oops, we mean fight Iraqi “insurgents”–to help save national treasures like football and Nascar and 3 Doors Down’s bank account. Why is this miserable drivel the defining song of the ’00s? Because to the rest of the world, the ’00s were the decade that America went totally apeshit and decided to invade and occupy another country, in a stunning act of colonialism that was eventually decried by the entire world. Even you Americans eventually wised up and replaced Bush (probably a fan of 3 Doors Down) with someone who might actually make a difference (although, cynically, we’ll believe that when it happens). The ’00s were the era of 3 Doors Down, like it or not. Besides, no one really cares about the supposedly “good” bands of the moment, like MGMT or Vampire Weekend–they are boring trends to soon be forgotten, like NKOTB and Julia Roberts. We really don’t like most music, to be honest (except for Joaquin Phoenix’s rapping and anything featuring Lil Wayne). We’d rather get high and watch 2001 than download some fresh garbage to our iPods. In fact, the next Hindutronic project will be a 40 hour unauthorized remake of 2001, with Lil Wayne in the Keir Dullea role, and Joaquin Phoenix as HAL.

LCD Soundsystem- “All My Friends” (2007)
by Sam Jacobs of The Flying Change

The ’00s: the slow dissolution of our hopes and dreams. Deflation — from an era defined by the shiny ebullience of technology and a sunny, gleaming optimism that looked ahead to the new millennium. Instead, beginning with 9/11 and running through the rest of the decade, we came to the realization that perhaps our optimism was narcissism cleverly disguised. Or not so cleverly Perhaps we weren’t worth as much as we had supposed. Perhaps, contrary to our foolish hopes, but in line with a reality we knew to be true, we are all going to die. For real. We will get old. he air will leak out of the balloon. In that space and spirit, James Murphy uses his own maturation into adulthood as a metaphor for all of us, for the gradual letting go of our youth and foolishness and the acceptance that we now enter an era of consequence. It’s hard to say if “All My Friends” is a dance song or a rock song or a sad song or a hopeful song. It’s a great song though. Aching, sweet, and resilient. And like all of his tunes: propulsive, organic and, in its own way, completely representative. Of these days; of ourselves; of the friends we used to have and those we’ve let go. A ceaseless throbbing beat meandering between two chords, accelerating into chaotic frenzy until, finally — defeat, resolution, acceptance. Hope. That’s how it starts.

Against Me!- “Reinventing Axl Rose” (2002)

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by Franz Nicolay of The Hold Steady and World/Inferno Friendship Society

We want a band that plays loud and hard every night, that doesn’t care how many people are counted at the door, that would travel one million miles and ask for nothing more than a plate of food and a place to rest. Everyone would leave with the memory that there was no place else in the world, and this was where they always belonged. We would dance like no one was watching, with one fist in the air.

OK, here’s the thing. I realize that the go-to answer to this is some combination of “Hey Ya,” “Crazy” and “Paper Planes,” with a Village Voice-ready disquisition on the melting of racial, cultural and genre-based boundaries in an Acid-tested laptop world. And yeah, actually, that’s probably the wide-view story of the decade through which we’re still finding our way (Radiohead or other art-rock contender notwithstanding). But those songs weren’t really a part of my world, except as flashing lights on the pop-cultural billboard. And they have plenty of people to write mini-dissertations on them.

“Pints of Guinness” is a better song. “Walking Is Still Honest” is my favorite. It’s not the best-known song by the best-known band, or even the best by that band. But the bands that get remembered are the ones with the biggest wake, and the title track from Against Me’s 2002 album started more bands and more arguments than any other I can think of. It read like a ripped-out page of some 17-year-old’s issue-one-of-one zine, laid out the rules for a genre and a scene, and launched a thousand anarchist, vegan, acoustic, sloganeering, bands out of America’s suburbs and college towns in search of some kind of dumpster-diving, train-hopping idea of authenticity and shining, idealistic commune of the heart. And it’s the one that haunted the band the most when they decided that what they really wanted was to be was musicians, not cult leaders, and gave a generation of punks their first chance, fairly or not, to cry betrayal and start their own band.

OutKast- “Ms. Jackson” (2000)
by Sean Lynch of 1090 Club

I picked this song because of its cross genre popularity. All barriers seemed to have been broken when that came out. For a while, there wasn’t a day that went by that you could avoid it. Not only were you hearing your top 40 lovers singing it, but hipsters, rockers and maybe even their moms.

OutKast – “Hey Ya” (2003)

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by Stuart McLamb of the Love Language

I thought about it for a while. Definitive is very different from influential. It can’t be some obscure song that you think is ahead of its time. It needs to be a song that IS the time and connects with a massive amount of people. I realized the obvious choice is “Hey Ya” by Outkast. When this song dropped it was all I heard for at least a month. Everywhere I went, stores, parties, traffic lights, etc. it was booming and i never got sick of (at least for the first month). But from my personal perspective I don’t remember a song during the past decade that had a force like that. It seemed like it affected everyone from metalheads to hipsters to hip hoppers to sorority girls etc. The song had a very “indie” feel to it with the fast rhythm and chord progression but Andre tied it all together with the hip hop and pop stylings. Some lines like “thank god for mom and dad for sticking two together ’cause we don’t know” seemed to comment on our generations self centered mentality as well as our general apathy with the line “y’all don’t wanna hear me you just want to dance.” I love it.

Sigur Ros- “Svefn-g-Englar” (2000)

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by Michael Zapruder

Behold nine-plus minutes of utterly sublime sound. A slow, descending chord progression, gently crackling landscapes that resemble nothing so much as embers in a winter campfire. Sui generis tones, deep thuds and echoes, drumming that is more rain than rock, crinkly metallic twinkles. It’s a stately meditation. I picture melting ice and snow, dusk in some cold reindeer habitat. The tonic chord’s third endures, changing colors like the northern lights: sharp four, five, then major seventh, to greet the tonic when it returns. Lead singer Jónsi Birgisson holds the high notes in his throat as carefully as a researcher holds a small bird.

Why the song of the decade? Someday, when the history of our era is written, those future people will know from this recording that we weren’t all monsters.

Boredoms- All of Vision Creation New Sun (2001)
by Chris Colthart of Faraway Places

This is hi-tech primitive, pounding, trance-inducing beautiful confusion that speaks to this decade. Yeah, it’s obscure, but this Japanese record, featuring one long suite, opened the ’00s with the first new sound I’d heard in a while. As the guy at the music store put it, “It sounds like a bunch of people running like hell towards… I don’t know what, but they’re really running!” Vision Creation Newsun shows a noise band resculpting itself into a driving psychedelic force, mixing and then meta-remixing themselves, putting the whole piece through an assortment of chopped up swooping efx, po-mo style. Contemporary digital manipulation, often used as a crutch, sounds amazing when applied to a pounding mass of drums, acoustic guitars, wind chimes and bird noises.

Various Artists
by Praxis from Nancy

I don’t think there’s one song that defines the ’00s, but rather a multiplicity of tracks, artists and styles. That’s because we’ll remember it as the decade of the iPod, file sharing, Youtube and music blogs – which have all been largely responsible for this more democratic and diverse global music scene. That’s when we’ve seen Radiohead’s In Rainbows and the death of the music industry’s business model. On the other hand, it was also the decade of crappy reality TV, denying global warming and the Bush administration. So, maybe both Britney Spears’ “Toxic” and TV on the Radio’s “Staring at the Sun.” I danced equally to both.

OutKast- “Hey Ya” (2003)
by Rob Sharp of Facts About Funerals

Me thinks OutKast’s “Hey Ya” has to be in the running for song of the ’00s. Even before they’re done kicking in the “1…2…3…4…” most of the world can do the three beat handclaps that end each turn of the hook. Nevermind shaking it like a Polaroid picture. The song blew down the once bolted hip hop “crossover hit” door, uniting kids (and 40 year old women) from different cultures, ethnicities and economic classes in a way not seen since Nirvana sugarcoated grunge’s doom and gloom with a pop flare that had Saks 5th Ave filling its windows with sweaty pink logger flannel. (And I shit you not, I just saw a major chain in Seattle put out dayglo green spring attire in their windows–not unlike OutKast’s hilarious green leisure suits and bright yellow tennis skirts). Throw in the fact that garage/country/punk pioneers The Supersuckers were able to pull off a phenomenally beautiful cover of the song, and it’s a certified classic.

Radiohead- “Idioteque” (2000)
by East Hundred

While Kid A didn’t have any proper singles, “Idioteque” was a standout track off one of the most anticipated albums of the decade. It embodied the sound of a rock band reinventing themselves and doing it with complete grace. “Idioteque” is quite a simple song, featuring tasteful drum programming and a beautiful synth line that really doesn’t need much else to get the point across. While mixing electronics with rock was nothing new, Radiohead did it in their own way and inspired countless bands to reach for something new. I can’t keep track of how many musicians I’ve run across that cite Radiohead as an influence, in particular, the albums KID A or OK Computer. It’s almost become cliche, but for good reason. They’re always ahead of the curve; pioneering eco-friendly tours, pushing the boundaries of digital downloads, and simply keeping fans guessing what they’ll do next. Radiohead are the Beatles of our generation.

Missy Elliott- “Get Ur Freak On” (2001)
by Joel Peterson of The Faint and Broken Spindles

This song has a ton of year 2000 pop culture infused in it, not only with lyrical content but also with the production style. People have been trying to rip off Timbaland’s beats all throughout this decade. And of course, the message of the song is absolutely timeless. It is a classic destined to live forever.

Of Montreal- “Wraith Pinned to the Mist and Other Games” (2005)

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by Brian Betancourt from Frances

Thanks to a slew of factors inducing the slow death of the recording industry, the 2000s called for a new way of bringing new indie music to the masses and money to the musicians…TV commercials! People finally realized that being able to support one’s self through music has way more awesome long term results than stubbornly sticking to an archaic manifesto to maintain credibility, whatever that means. In fact, it turns out you can pocket evil corporate cash and actually use it for good, guilt-free, and no one proved this better and more openly than Kevin Barnes. From the (actually really catchy) Outback Steakhouse jingle to an (actually kind of funny) appearance in a T-mobile ad, Barnes helped annihilate the concept of selling out by
filtering those bad vibes into one crazy-ass live show supporting one crazy-ass album. That horse doesn’t pay for itself, you know.

Beyonce- “Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)” (2008)
by Ryan Allen of Friendly Foes

As hip-hop has been moving in the direction of minimalistic production coupled with heavy-handed repetition (think “Drop it Like It’s Hot” and “Gold Digger”), Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” capitalizes on the trend, while simultaneously taking the genre in new and exciting directions. The tribal, clap-happy drum track remains pretty consistent through the entirety of the track, as keyboards dart in and out like a swarm of digital bees. All the while, Beyonce takes the song’s sing-along melody and twists, turns and ulimately pulverizes it with her increasingly strong vocal presence. The production work by Chris “Tricky” Stewart and the Dream reinvents what a hip-hop track could and should be, utilizing a minimalist approach – instead of hitting you over the head with autotune and weak beats – adding tasteful nuances along the way; a buzzing guitar slide, video-game inspired keyboard sounds and a slightly dark and creepy chorus all make their way in there, and somehow sound just right backing up Beyonce’s brash delivery. The harsh drum track could be an homage to anything, from Bjork’s mechanical grind, to Public Enemy’s ballsy sampling, to M.I.A.’s two-step reggaeton. The bridge, however, is pure Quincy Jones, bringing to mind some of the best moments of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” album. Listening to a song like this, it’s hard to imagine that B was once the shy, innocent damsel in Destiny’s Child. She’s now grown into her own, and “Single Ladies” is proof that a’int nobody gonna hold her down – including any sucker not smart enough to put a ring on her finger (thankfully, Jay-Z finally got the hint). I’d like to think that the next 10 years of hip-hop will be defined by this song – and if it comes true, then hopefully talentless dickbags like T-Pain will be out of a job.

Thom Yorke- “Atoms For Peace” (2006)
by Brendan Canning of Broken Social Scene

Most original vocal melody, and best chorus of the decade. Amazing phrasing.

Peter, Bjorn and John- “Young Folks” (2007)
by Charles F of Winter Gloves

I was still undecided between songs by Gorillaz and The Arcade Fire but I surprised myself whistling that “Young Folks” melody in the shower. It’s such a magic piece…

eaturing Victoria Bergsman of The Concretes, “Young Folks” offers us some of the best sugar-sweet vocals ever. The dialog between the two singers makes it a very playful song.
The melodies are rather simple, so the topic and the arrangement but as a song writer you would ask yourself: Why didn’t I think of that ?

This whistling melody will without a doubt stay in our heads for a while.

Various Artists
by Alex Lilly of Obi Best

I’ve heard Justin Timberlake’s “Sexy Back” performed by a 8-piece band at a bar mitzvah and it still sounded cool. So that song is making my list. The artful anti-slickness and rhythmic awesomeness of Deerhoof must be recognized. I’m choosing “Milk Man” and “Giga Dance”. “Heirloom” is my favorite song from Bjork’s Vespertine – the progression and bass sound are sublime. Okay, in the interest of space and time, I’m going to start listing. Here goes: “En Particulier” by Blonde Redhead, “Tape You” by N.E.R.D., “Spread” by Outkast, “No Poem” by Inara George, “The Mummy” by Benji Hughes, “She’s the One” by Caribou, “The Birds and the Bees” by the Bird and the Bee, “Toxic” by Britney Spears, “Gila” by Beach House and “Lock and Key” by Whispertown 2000.

Random Thoughts
by Kenn Jankowski of The Republic Tigers

The Disturbing Reality:

Last week, I asked my cousin, who fought in Iraq, if there was one song his squad listened to before each mission. I listened to “Destroy” by Ministry before each of my football games in high school. So I figured he and his band of bros. had a favorite for the war. Turns out they would get pumped and ready by listening to “Bodies” by Drowning Pool. So these warriors had “let the bodies hit the floor” coursing through their brains as they were letting the bodies hit the floor. Sounds influential to me, though I am not a fan. The song was released in ’01.

What I Would Appreciate Seeing As The Poster For The ’00s:
Daft Punk – “One More Time” or “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger”

This album and songs have influenced countless acts, whether it be rock, hip-hop or similar electronic genres. And usually, the influence has produced music that I personally enjoy.

What I Will Most Likely See As The Poster For The ’00s:

Some band or song that based it’s core on a retrospective style. The Decade Of Throwback. It makes me depressed.

Radiohead- “Everything Thing In Its Right Place” (2000)

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by Jon Sunde from the Daredevil Christopher Wright

Choosing a song into which I could plant my flag and say with confidence, “this track defined the ’00s!” is a rather daunting task. In an effort to answer and perhaps dodge the question a bit I will choose “Everything in its Right Place,” the opening track to Radiohead’s album Kid A, released in 2000. The reason this choice dodges the question somewhat is that the power of this track is not so much in its beautifully crafted electro-sound scape drone or its perfectly executed melodic and harmonic tension and release (although I would certainly credit “Everything” with both of these elements). No, it is in the fact that this track is the introduction to Radiohead’s follow up to their seminal, “Biggest band in the world” garnering record Ok Computer. What I was so struck by when I first heard Kid A was that Radiohead followed up the biggest record of the ’90s with such an ambitions and challenging, curve ball of an album. This album beginning to end is reflective of all the elements I’ve enjoyed most coming out of bands in the ’00s. It treads a beautiful line between harmonic and rhythmic complexity and alt/indie rock simplicity. It chooses to frame songs in strange and creative instrumental arrangements and pairings. It challenges people to actually take time to listen to the music. Good work Radiohead. It was a nice way to kick of the new millennium.

OutKast- “Hey Ya” (2003)
by DM Stith

Since this song hit the radio the hipster scene has become decidedly more beat-oriented and pagan dressing. The indie dance punk scene might sound entirely less joyful, and the hip hop scene has entered a new phase of fashion and funk. This may be the catchiest and most jubilantly banal song of our generation, but it’s retained an undeniable charm. Andre 3000’s is a desperate reckless stumble over the wrinkle between pre and post 2000 oblivion. And a namedrop like “Polaroid” couldn’t be more timely.

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