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“Dolby’s Top 10 Mainstream Radio Hits from the ’00’s”

Ok, here’s a snapshot of me in the ’00’s, 2005: my friend is making fun of me because I’m sitting in my room smoking weed and listening to Muddy Waters’ His Best: 1947-1953. Most of the songs are just Waters with his guitar, playing perfect blues licks, and VERY scant percussion: I’m talking like rain falling rhythmically on a bucket, scant, just something to keep the beat. It was the very pinnacle of emotion to me, while radio… hell, I’d signed out right when the Backstreet Boys had signed on, so you’re eight years too late for that by this time.

All of this, though, does undermine the fact that, god damn, Aqualung have really put together a Beatles-caliber pop song here. Was the radio music in the ’00’s ACTUALLY worse than the stuff in ’97? I wouldn’t know, I greeted it like a Peewee Herman handshake. It was, after all, the decade of the Ashlee Simpson lip-synching debacle, not to mention being so packed with so much great indie music, the rise of damn-near infallible labels like Matador, Sub Pop, Polyvinyl, Merge, and Bloomington Indiana’s own Jagjaguwar, which housed Black Mountain and their sister group the Pink Mountaintops, drawing them to town for some dark sludgy blues rock for optimum beer hoisting around our parts. Radios were like things for little kids. But oh yeah, we hated the idea of procreation, too. I digress though.
Plus, there’s literally no glass ceiling on my hate for the ’00’s, usually — in the Soul Coughing post I commented that most music from that decade, at least on stream, made me wish some shrapnel from an Iraqi tank would hit me. But then, that’s basically what all that stuff was to me — patriotic drivel, straight from the Ministry of Thought, like little nuggets of Velveeta cheese for us to stuff down while we’re huddled in our bomb shelters. I mean, just look at how sociologically split it is: at least with Eminem, you had something going against the grain, and with Green Day too, but these acts were almost like hybrid deformities, in context, for their very humanness. Elsewhere, it was essentially robots, fighting in wars and taking clothes off. Don’t let Aldous Huxley know about this, he’d be SHOCKED.

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10 Kylie Minogue – “I Can’t Get You out of My Head”

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I have to admit, when Kylie Minogue came out I wouldn’t have known her from a hair dresser down the street, but her “indie” cred skyrocketed when Tricky covered “Slow” for 2009’s Knowle West Boy.

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9 Aqualung – “Brighter than Sunshine”

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It’s hard to imagine anyone I would have respected not hating this song when it came out. It was sort of like that “I’ll be your crying soldier” song or whatever, except the more you hear it, you notice there is a certain abandon about the way the chorus is rendered, the song seems to rest on unrest, the manic feeling, or the understand of the manic feeling, pulling things like a toboggan through crests and crests of beauty.

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8 Incubus – “Warning”

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It’s weird with things pre-9/11 on this list, because we all know how dichotomous this decade ended up being, spiraling down toward the end as it did with the recession. I once heard it said of Incubus that they would always do the exact opposite of what the trending m.o. in rock was at the time: so in the Staind/Limp Bizkit deluged 2001, they put out their most melodic ode, the centerpiece of which is this civilian call to arms, which ended up being ripped off for its vocal bridge riff in the New Pornographers’ excellent ’00’s installment “Failsafe.”

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7 Kanye West – “Golddigger”

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It’s only been 10 years and change since this album came out, but I remember the main bar where I used to hear it: that, and two other businesses, have all gone under since, in that same spot. Kanye is kind of like this in general: it’s a situation that just doesn’t make sense. I mean I’ll put a song of his on a tape, say, “Touch the Sky” feat. Lupe Fiasco, not even my favorite song on side A of this album, let alone my favorite Kanye song, and this black dude I work with who’s just won a wrestling match by the salad line in the middle of a workday will come up to me and say, “I’m a huge Kanye West fan.” His complexion is of a hockey puck, he’s got gold teeth and speaks with a St. Louis drawl. So, when is enough enough? And hey, whadya know, that’s what this song’s about. Monetarily speaking, which I wasn’t doing, before.

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6 Fabolous – “Baby Don’t Go” feat. T-Pain

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“Fabolous” is the perfect name for this guy. He’s ear-catching, he’s crowd-pleasing. Examine him close enough, sure, you’re gonna find some holes in his diction, the fact that he doesn’t really use much slang, he seems to be just including tidbits about killing to try to act hard (GZA probably sniped him on one or two tracks for this), but I mean T-Pain is just head-spinning on this cut! Damn! It was the same with that Nate-Dogg song in ’01: this stuff is so catchy it should come with a parental advisory. Oh wait, it does.

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5 Green Day – “Holiday”

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And I can’t stress this enough: this song may not be as good as the band’s work in the teens — Uno, Dos and Tre… but it’s there for the listening, why not do it? This album was conscientious, potentiated and multifarious, the slow songs like “Are We the Waiting?” and “Wake Me up When September Ends” flanking guitar onslaughts like “Jesus of Suburbia” and “Homecoming.” The people who dissed Green Day in my experience were like white dudes in Colorado who listened to Wu-Tang.

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4 My Chemical Romance – “I Don’t Love You”

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You have to go back to Jackson Browne and Fleetwood Mac to observe this much heady forwardness in pop rock.

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3 Train – “Drops of Jupiter”

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While excursioning on a faraway planet known as Philadelphia, I once encountered these things called music videos, and a show about music videos, and for Train they told of how this song is actually about his mother, who I believe was either very sick or else departed entirely — but either way it hardly makes a difference, the song’s stock skyrockets in light of this perspective, that it’s not just some more meaningless dating detritus, but something unique and undeniably inspired. Although, am I more of a di**head for liking this song more in light of this knowledge? I mean, theoretically, I should be intuitive enough to glean said attributes from the song’s unadorned delivery. I was talking to a friend about this, and she said I wasn’t a di**head, so I guess I’ll believe her.

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2 Madonna – “Don’t Tell Me”

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“Don’t tell me to stop,” repeats Madonna over and over in this deceptively simple put infectious and canonical cut, and that mantra of continuance seems perfectly overall befitting of the song’s rudimentary objectives — just keep going. In a way, you could compare this to Bob Marley’s “No Woman, No Cry,” and not just because it has a similar chord progression, but that it’s woman’s answer to such an ostensible moral hegemony, nabbing an Apollonian chord change and delivering a beguiling sanctimony with not eagerness, not unrest or squalor, just coolness, that same Madonna coolness that brought us “Cherish” in all its rapt disarray, up through “Ray of Light,” elated and lost but still shining.

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1 Jay-Z – “Dirt off Your Shoulders”

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Hell, whadu I know… is this WHERE all the aggression in the world came from, or is this the ANSWER to all the aggression? This song came out DURING the Iraq war, but we Americans all know where the real wars are, in our own inner cities, like New York the birthplace of hip-hop. We knew that this song was carried over from Jay-Z’s initial days, up on through “Big Pimpin’,” when he still might have been misunderstood, all the while this trump card burning a hole in his back pocket, a unifying anthem of simply, being American, in the most American language that he, or anyone for that matter, could probably ever find in a million years.

 

 

 

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