Tuesday, November 17, 2009

This is what the 2000s sound(ed) like

Everyone's making lists. I love lists. It's the end of the decade -- My decade. In the 2000s, I graduated high school, graduated college, graduated adolescence. Here, at its end, I have my own insurance and an apartment and a job with a decent savings account. The songs I loved before this 10-year set were mostly Christian or oldies (or Counting Crows), but the 2000s held so many discoveries. Below is a list (with links to some songs!) of the 25 most important songs (to me) from the past decade.

The list includes only songs that came out since Jan. 2000 (a real list of importance would have Bruce Springsteen! The Replacements! The Velvet Underground! Joni Mitchell! The Magnetic Fields' 69 Love Songs!). It's not necessarily a list of my favorite songs, though there are some that are favorites. This is a list of songs that changed something for me or has persisted in some special way. It's a list of songs that hold moments memorialized ("Maps" sounds like heartbreak; "Read Your Mind" sounds like falling in love.) They're not in any kind of order.

1. Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Maps (2003 - "They don't love you like I love you")
2. Wilco - I Am Trying to Break Your Heart (2003 - I had never heard anything like this before. So noisy. So pretty.)
3. Kelly Clarkson - Since U Been Gone (2004 - By my estimate, the most perfect pop song ever.)
4. Ciara f/ Ludacris - Oh (2005 - Southern Gothic R&B rap - This song, along with a few others on this list, made me a hip-hop fanatic. They changed the way I listened)
5. 50 Cent f/ The Game - Hate It or Love It(2005 - This is THE song that made me love rap, made me start seeing the songs as ethnographies.)
6. Usher - Burn (2004 - One of the hardest break-ups I ever had; "I'm twisted 'cause one side of me is telling me that I need to move on; on the other side, I want to break down and cry."
7. Radiohead - Idioteque (2000 - The first time I got drunk)
8. Interpol - The New/Leif Erikson (2002 - Technically two songs that spill into one another. I spent most of college listening to this record in the dark.)
9. Ryan Adams - Come Pick Me Up (2000 - Maybe the best night of college involved a dorm full of people, the guys each taking a turn on the guitar. Ryan F. and Lizz sang this. I've never heard it better.)
10. Jay-Z - 99 Problems (2003 - Literally, at that point, this was the most shocking thing I had ever heard. When I heard it at a party, I wanted so badly not to like it, not to listen to the word "bitch" used so gratuitously. But I was hooked. And once I lightened up to listen to the rest of the lyrics, I realized just how genius it is.)
11. Kanye West - Jesus Walks (2004 - I listened to this on repeat in Africa. "The only thing I pray is that my feet don't fail me now.")
12. Sarah Harmer - Don't Get Your Back Up (2000 - Adryon and I used to sing this in our dorm room together. Harmer was the first female folk artist I like, which led me into all sorts of gay.)
13. Avant - Read Your Mind (2003 - The sound of falling in love, wholly, without resistance. See also: Beyonce's Crazy In Love)
14. Tegan & Sara - Where Does the Good Go? (2004 - The sound of devastating heartbreak. See also, below, The Walkmen's The Rat.)
15. Arcade Fire - Crown of Love (2004 - How to pick a song from this album? A year before it came out, a guy named Jason told me they would be the biggest band of our youth. When I first heard this song, with all of its weird change-ups, I knew he was right.)
16. OutKast - I'm Sorry Ms. Jackson (2000 - The sound of my senior year of high school.)
17. Bright Eyes - Something Vague (2000 - Paul Davidson played this along with some Belle and Sebastian songs out at Jim's camp one night. It was the first indie music I had ever heard. I spent the night at Sadie's, trolling Audacity for more of the same. Needless to say, my music world changed.)
18. Living Better Electrically - Richard Hung Himself (200? I have no idea when this actually came out, as it was never actually released. I found it online in 2003. It was the first Jackson, Miss. song I ever heard. I had no idea local music could sound like that. This song led me to friends, which led me to starting the Collective, which led me to the Jackson Free Press, which led me to the journalistic life I have now. In short, it set in motion the rest of my life.)
19. The Dixie Chicks - Not Ready to Make Nice (2006 - I still remember hearing this song in the car that spring. I knew the country was different, knew country music was different.)
20. The Walkmen - The Rat (2004 - Maybe my favorite song ever. The furious guitars are what pulled me, finally, out of depression last summer.)
21. Sleater-Kinney - Combat Rock (2002 - This isn't my favorite SK song, but it is the one I passed out to students as the war was starting. I thought I could change hearts with a killer song. (See also: Green Day's Jesus of Suburbia))
22. The Postal Service - Such Great Heights (2002 - Again, this sounded like nothing I had ever heard.)
23. Neko Case - Deep Red Bells (2002 - Neko Case made me a better writer. "It tastes like being poor and small and popsicles in summer.")
24. The Strokes - Last Night (2001 - I heard this for the first time in the winter of 2001 at the Veteran's Affairs hospital at 5 in the morning. Rock music, I knew, was back.)
25. The Knife - Heartbeats (2005 - What to say? I think it's perfect. Every moment I've had listening to this song seemed to last, pleasantly, forever.)

And, finally, a bonus: Mariah Carey - We Belong Together (2005 - The return of Mariah Carey, in my opinion, warrants mention.)

(I'd like to say for the record I am missing so many songs I love, like the entirety of Pinkerton, as well as Cat Power and Yo La Tengo and thousands of others. And Int'l Players Anthem!)

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