I want to make one thing clear from the start: This is my hitlist. John, Josh, and Pierre had nothing to do with it, and I don’t want to sully their reputations or that of the blog as a whole in presenting it. You know what I think about music.
But the following is a list of eight music videos from the Aughts, loosely defined as “my favorites.” I was late to the music video party, not getting MTV until it stopped playing music videos.*
*I mean “getting” there in the sense that I did not have it as a channel on my television. I did understand what MTV was.
If you want to make the case that I don’t “get” music videos, go ahead.
So you thought we were done discussing the music of the decade? Well, think again. We didn’t get to what is arguably the most important list of all: The Best Songs of the Decade. When Tim introduced Aught Lang Syne last week, he discussed how certain cultural events will always be linked to events in our lives. Songs may be the best example of this phenomenon. Unlike albums or even music videos, which are generally experienced individually, we tend to listen to songs in groups: They’re on the playlists at the parties we go to; they’re in the background of the bars we drink in and the restaurants we eat at; they’re the songs we dance to when we go to clubs; they’re on the radio when we take road trips. In short, they are the soundtrack of our memory. These are the songs that we will inevitably remember when we think of the Aughts.
Of course, out cultural memory does not always have the best taste: It will probably be impossible to remember the Aughts and not think of the Black Eyed Peas, but God knows I’ll try. What follows, then, is not an attempt to capture the most popular, memorable, or iconic songs of the decade; it is merely a list of the 25 Best Songs. Nevertheless, it is often difficult–and generally undesirable–to dissociate a song from the positive memories of the context in which you heard it. So even without actively trying to incorporate these qualities, the Best Songs of the Decade will inevitably include some of the Most Popular, Most Memorable and Most Iconic.
Anyway, on with the list: Continue reading
Pitchfork recently released its list of the 500 best songs of the decade to predictable controversy. The truth is, I’ve long since passed the point at which Pitchfork’s opinion still bothers me. Pitchfork has a built-in audience that it constantly has to stay one step ahead of, so the lists and reviews it churns out are alternately predictable and erratic. It may seem capricious and arbitrary as to whom it deigns to support with itsgod-like power over hipsters, but there is a method to its madness.
It comes as no surprise, then, that certain songs by trendy and atrocious acts like Antony and the Johnsons, Cat Power, and Sufjan Stevens make this list.
What really puzzles me, though, is when crappy, uncool songs make the list. It makes absolutely no sense to me that a list that has Spoon’s “The Underdog” at 130 would also have “Party Hard” at 129. Andrew W.K.? Really? I used to play Madden 2003 on mute to avoid hearing that song. And if you’re going to include two Coldplay songs, don’t you also have to include “Vertigo” by U2 or some crap like that? Continue reading
I’ve long thought that people who write letters to the editor aren’t held accountable for much of what they write. This is an attempt to change that.
Dear John James,
Your letter to Esquire, which received its own byline online, starts off so promisingly. You come off immediately as more than the standard reader, as one who thinks deeply about music, about art, about music as art. Your case for the cover song is a good one, and one I appreciate and endorse.
However, John James, like Brett Favre, you lose credibility the more you continue. First, you are unable to resist the human urge to write at length about your own experience. You can argue that I care about why you love cover songs: The whole “art as a crossroads of the predictable and unexpected” is a theory that transcends personal tastes. You cannot argue, though, that I care about how you came to love cover songs. The intimate details of your adolescence, your strong sense of personal nostalgia for a bygone era of music, and the editorialization that almost inherently accompanies them are of no interest to me.