A few days in 2010 and a whole new decade has already begun. Time to look back and reflect. However, I do not feel myself comfortable or apt enough to provide a concise and objective review of what happened in music during the past 10 years. My exploration into new, original and independent music took part only on the second half of the decade. As such, I remain vigilant and I try to enjoy the spectator chair of multiple reviews and well-written pieces of what we should all consider relevant or determinant music, of the now passed first decade of the century.
Thinking ahead I wish to be in a better position in 10 years to describe everything we are about to enjoy, starting now. In the mean time, I share with you the following review from the New York Times of what they considered relevant from 2000-2009.
Naughtie Behavior | The Decade in Music
By ANDREW GENSLER | DECEMBER 31, 2009
Just as there is not yet a consensus on what to call the first 10 years of the 21st century — the aughts, the naughties, the 00s — we can’t quite decide how to term this decade’s musical contributions: the Beyoncés, the Age of Letting Simon, Paula and Randy Choose Our Music, the Golden Age of Brooklyn Hipster Cred, the Period of Major Labels Imploding, the Crazy-All-The-Time-For-Gnarls-Barkley’s-“Crazy”-Time, the ’80s? So we’re just going to go with…all of them. Here, our Top 10 music trends of the aughts. Or whatever.
We Became Musical Zombies Suddenly, everywhere you looked, zoned-out pedestrians were sauntering about in their own sonic bubble with white wires dangling from their heads and an entire music library in their pockets. Public social interaction all but ceased and was replaced by incredulity over the unbelievably apropos song choices of the iPod’s “shuffle” mode. More important, it spelled the death of the CD tower.
It Was the ’80s All Over Again Williamsburg in the 2000s looked like a Jane Fonda workout video, with 20-somethings wearing brightly colored leggings, asymmetrical haircuts and off-the-shoulder Flock of Seagulls T-shirts (and those were the boys!). Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart” blared from more jukeboxes in the aughts than the previous decades combined. Interpol, The Faint, Soviet and Yacht channeled New Order and Depeche Mode; post-punk groups like Gang of Four rubbed off on the Rapture, Bloc Party, Franz Ferdinand and Clinic.
Hip-Hop, R.I.P. Jay-Z became the chief executive of Def Jam Records and bought a pro basketball franchise; P Diddy got his own show, on TV and Broadway; 50 Cent signed a nine-figure deal with Vitamin Water; and nobody self-promoted better than Snoop Dogg (see his G.P.S. unit and his bid to become the next Oprah). Maybe Nas and the music critics Simon Reynolds and Sasha Frere Jones are right: hip-hop really is dead.
New York Became the Indie Music Epicenter Like Athens, Ga., in the ’80s and Seattle in the ’90s, New York — and especially Brooklyn — in the 2000s became the epicenter of an exploding independent music scene. It began with the Strokes and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and continued unabated throughout the decade, with other nationally recognized acts like TV On the Radio, The National, MGMT, The Dirty Projectors, Grizzly Bear, Animal Collective, LCD Soundsystem, Yeasayer, Vampire Weekend and many, many others.
We All Got Reality-Checked If you were mildly telegenic and could do a few trills and glissandos then you, too, could be on American Idol. That said, Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood’s platinum records were impressive; Ruben Studdard, Fantasia Barrino, Jordin Sparks and Taylor Hicks not so much. More telling was the success of the also-rans: the Oscar-anointed Jennifer Hudson, the mom-approved Clay Aiken and the glitzy gay provocateur Adam Lambert — all more winning than the winners. And thank goodness for Susan Boyle, who proved you could rack up sales with just a lovely voice and a YouTube following.
There Was No Shame in the “Sell-Out” Game Unlike those achingly principled ’90s grunge bands, artists in the aughts didn’t think twice about getting paid. Feist moved iPods, the Go Team sold Hondas, Of Montreal directed you to Outback Steakhouse, the Shins hawked Big Macs, and, more recently, that awesome Phoenix track made stodgy old Cadillacs seem rocking. Even Sonic Youth, the erstwhile defenders of artistic integrity, seemed not an ounce embarrassed by playing “Star Power” on a recent episode of “Gossip Girl.”
The British Came Back Maybe it was their early exposure to Lulu or Dusty, but whatever the case, the newest crop of British songbirds made some of the most compelling music of the decade. Smart and sassy (and sometimes self-destructive), angelic-voiced artists like Amy Winehouse, Lily Allen, Kate Nash, Adele, Florence Welch (of Florence & the Machines), Mica Levy (of Micachu and the Shapes), Natasha Khan (Bat for Lashes), Romy Madley Croft (The xx) and, of course, Antony, melted our stolid Yankee hearts.
YouTube Got Us All Humming More often than not, music reached the masses via e-mail from friends, family and co-workers with the dubious subject heading, “You Just Gotta See This!” Whether Filipino prisoners performing “Thriller,” the choreographed wedding entrance to Chris Brown’s “Forever,” Tay Zonday’s bizarre “Chocolate Rain,” getting Rick-rolled by Rick Astley for the hundredth time, or Andy Samberg and Justin Timberlake’s unprintable Saturday Night Live song — the fact that the entire globe seemed to be singing along simultaneously somehow brought us closer.
When They Were 64: The Baby Boomers Refused to Exit Gracefully As much as we all love and adore Bob Dylan (68), Paul McCartney (67), the Stones (Mick and Keith, both 66), Neil Young (64), Bruce Springsteen (60) and the Who (Pete is 64; Roger is 65), wouldn’t it be better to remember them as they were? Instead, we get weird Christmas albums and endless reunion tours. Yawn.
Bands Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Web Some of the most interesting emerging bands weren’t waiting around for record deals — they were wildposting tracks to the Web and drawing attention from sites like Pitchfork, Stereogum, Brooklyn Vegan, MBV Music, Fact Magazine, Prefix, Fluxblog and RCRDLBL, which in turn let you and me become our own A&R guy. Even not-at-all-emerging bands like Radiohead embraced the digital space and made the record companies take notice. What made it all possible? A little thing called an MP3, bringing the decade full circle.