Francis & the Lights – Can’t Tell Me Nothing
I remember how awkward it felt in 1999, when ageing ”Madchester” anglophiles insisted on having entire club nights and parties based on shoegaze and britpop sounds from the year 1989. These moppy balearic heads were ”having it large” to Stone Roses, Primal Scream and Ride and to my ears this felt very retro, or even atavistic back then, in 1999.
But 1999 was a different story than 2009. The end of the millennium was extremely musically fertile, and futuristic like few other eras in pop music. It struck me how a lot of the material on this top-100 list is a direct result from the digital, futuristic minimalism which both technology and mindsets made possible around 1999 (note, especially, the influence that Timbaland and the Neptunes came to had in the pop climate of the last decade).
And, it turns out, the years between 1999 and 2009 haven’t aged as badly as the years between 1989 and 1999.
The digital, turn-of-the-millennium revitalization means that Kylie Minogue’s ”Can’t Get You Out of My Head” from 2001 actually doesn’t sound as stale and old in 2009 as, say, Ride’s ”Vapour Trail” sounded already in 1999. People often say that we live in world that moves faster and faster, but pop music actually seems to have had a more coherent sound in the last ten years than any other earlier decade. Styles don’t shift as quickly, as more styles are allowed to live side by side. Maybe it is a sign of pop having matured; maybe it’s a sign of music technology having reached a plateau where everything is digitally enhanced and rigidly compressed; maybe it’s a sign of true risk-taking and idiosyncrasy having gone out of fashion.
However, the last decade has still been great for musical variety. As Pitchfork pointed out recently, there was a creative infusion into the very highest echelons mainstream, that began sometime ten years ago:
”What made the tracks important wasn’t how they made you feel, but the innovative tricks creators used to get those effects. Intricate drum patterns, Bollywood samples, fake-harpsichord frills, or brutal minimalism– anything with an angle got love.”
So, here goes. From the very obscure (Kuusumun Profeetta, Salem) to the very mainstream (Britney Spears, R. Kelly). One thing that I noticed was how many artists and labels who have consistently pushed a sonic envelope (hundreds of names, including Theo Parrish, Andrés, Georgia Anne Muldrow, Flying Lotus, Kompakt, Hyperdub, Justice, Ratatat…the list is very long) do not always come up with the kind of stuff these lists are made of: simply insanely memorable tunes.
Another thing that struck me is how these lists so clearly shows your national bias; whether you live in the US, Japan, Germany, Sweden or whatever. For me, as a Swede having spent half of the decade in London, that obviously has made a mark on my list.
♪ The Lotus Eaters – You Don’t Need Someone New (Solid Bond instrumental) (1983)
MJ – I Can’t Help It (Tangoterje remix)
Wacko Area – Bad (Bastard bootleg)
MJ – Billie Jean (1981 demo version)