Thursday, 7 July 2016

An alternative guide to the history of pop music - Part 5 - The 2000s

The 2000s

There are various themed bars dotted about the place that celebrate certain decades in music.  There’s ‘Flares’ which just plays music from the 1970s, ‘Reflex’ which plays only 80s music and ‘Boom’ which plays 90s music.  Now we’re in the... erm... tens... I've not noticed the same sort of nostalgia for the 'noughts' as there was in the late nineties for the eighties. 

A lonely child waiting in the park
There are no 00s bars around which just play music from the 2000s. Probably because it was a nondescript decade and didn’t see any new styles of music or throw up any interesting sub-genres. Every decade since the 1950s has been distinguishable in pop music by the fashions, styles, musical production values, and legendary exponents such as Elvis, Queen, Michael Jackson, The Beatles and H from Steps; strong identity in the music and stars who you wanted to be.  

We will always remember him as our favourite member of Steps
In the 00s, all they had was autotune so that literally anything that could make a discernable noise could become a pop star (e.g. The Crazy Frog).  Most music was by now produced electronically using loops and software which was becoming so cheap, it was possible for anyone to make a song at the touch of a button. Gone were the days when you had to win a record contract and spend months in an expensive studio honing your songwriting skills and having to tour the country touting your wares.  As a result, Calvin Harris is now famous as well as Mark Ronson and Will.I.Am (a descendent of Henry VIII.I.am). YouTube was responsible for Justin Bieber which is the main reason it should be discontinued immediately so it doesn’t happen again. I thought history was supposed to help us learn from our mistakes?

 
Justin Bieber during his 'Middle Aged Woman' years
At the beginning of the decade, a lot of 90s artists were still hanging around, such as Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and the Backstreet Boys. Travis were still churning out dirges and the likes of Dido and Keane were plodding along, doing their best to add some half-decent pop songs to the landscape. Hip Hop was dominant however with human smartie and rap-experiment gone rogue, Eminem outselling most and song-talkers Jay-Z, Snoop Dogg, Missy Elliott, Young Jeezy, Ludacris and Kanye West (yes we can) were taking over not just the charts but also the world and everything in it so they could use their videos as cheap adverts for products their production companies also sold. 

It's nice of Beats to let Jessie J be in their video
You’d think that because rappers became more about the beats than the music, they’d have a chance to work on their lyrics to say something poignant or relevant. Well, you’d be wrong as the lyrical quality of rap/hip hop plunged to deeper depths than anyone thought possible. If the lyrics weren’t disrespectful to women, then they referenced how much money the rapper had and their videos were filled with scantily clad women who were apparently there because the wanted to be there and were dressed exactly how they wanted to be dressed, encircling several rappers dripping in jewellery and shiny track suits with massive trainers on, making gestures to the camera, sneering and fully believing they were surrounded by women because of the rappers’ attractiveness and amazing personalities.

 
They continued doing what this man parodied, but with straight faces
Avril Lavigne was flying the flag for rock in the early part of the decade whilst Fall Out Boy were shielding the flame of punk with just their hands in a metaphorical wind tunnel. Snow Patrol looked to have a promising career at one point too without ever really reaching the kind of heights they might have had they existed in the 90s. The White Stripes were a bit odd; nobody knew whether that was Jack White’s sister on the drums or not and spent most of their live performances thinking about that instead of listening to his random screechings.

'Yallrite Sis? I mean, wife... er... second cousin?
TV Talent shows started to appear in the 2000s with Pop Idol, X-Factor, Fame Academy and American Idol winners all going on to have varying degrees of success. Simon Cowell singlehandedly destroyed the race for the Christmas Number One until Rage Against the Machine broke the cycle and made over £100k for charity in the process. Emo broke into mainstream culture too in the 00s, but he soon got bored and went back to Sesame Street. No, hang on - that’s Elmo.

 
The original Emo
The Killers were referred to as a retro-80s revival act as were their contemporaries ‘The Bravery’ but neither sounded like they belonged in the 2000s or the 1980s. The Darkness tried to resurrect what Queen were doing twenty five years earlier and Feist did a fair impression of Steeleye Span to modest success.  Boybands disappeared entirely in the mid-00s with ex-boyband members such as Justin Timberlake and Ronan Keating having solo success. Girl Groups were almost entirely represented by the Pussycat dolls (who don’t really qualify as a musical ensemble), The Sugababes (whose line-up changed daily) and Girls Aloud (who were cobbled together in a TV raffle).

The current Sugababes line-up
Pink’s career started off slowly, singing soul and bitter ballads before going all pop and rock with ‘Get the party started’ and ‘Don’t let me get me’ before going all shouty in ‘So what’ and then writing every single song since then about her break up with her husband. Anastasia, who was the product of scientists finally getting Taylor Dayne to work properly, broke loads of speakers with her powerful voice in 2004.

Anastasia v1.0
Jennifer Lopez was described by some in the 00s as a triple threat.  She threatened our ears with her voice, threatened our laughter reflexes with what she called ‘dancing’ and then threatened our eyes and sanity with her acting. Nelly Furtado was like a bird in 2002 and a Maneater in 2007. Maybe she was a Vulture all this time? Janet Jackson, Madonna and Kylie Minogue managed to stay relevant and the Spice Girls broke up after clinging on to their last crumbs of fame by a finger nail after Geri Halliwell left. They all had number one singles as solo artists except poor Victoria who couldn’t sing and had to get help from Dane Bowers, bless her.

 
One of the greatest singers ever to be born on 28th November 1979 in Sutton and David Beckham's Wife
Bands who played their own instruments were trying desperately to help us all hold onto hope for the future of popular music with the likes of Artic Monkeys, Franz Ferdinand and Kaiser Chiefs consistently hitting the top 20.  Kate Nash also had hits despite singing in her natural accent which was a cross between Cockney and Australian. Oasis broke up in 2009 - hooray! If the music died when Buddy Holly's plane crashed, God knows what was happening to it whenever Noel Gallacher opened his mouth.  U2 continued into their fourth decade and continued to leave bands like Coldplay and Muse languishing in their slipstream.
70's tribute act and music torturer, Liam or Noel Gallacher
Children’s music started to become popular as both High School Musical and Hannah Montana got into the charts like a dirty protest. Sean Paul (despite letting us all know his name several times in all his songs) had some success in the Reggae genre.  His hit ‘We be burnin’ never really let us know why he be burnin.

 
Why you be burnin'?
Grime became popular for the first time since the coal mines closed in the 80s, with artists such as Dizzee Rascal and Tinchy Stryder singing or rapping or whatever. A man going by the name of ‘Example’ got a bit shirty on TV when someone asked ‘What do you do?’ and he stroppily explained that he was a ‘singer’.  No evidence of this claim exists however so we just have to take his word for it.

An 'Example' of someone with no discernible talent, making lots of money from 'music'
Duffy thought it was a good idea to dip into the 60s for the production on her hit ‘Mercy’ and subsequent singles. Joss Stone also revived ghosts of the past with her Janis Joplin impression whilst Corrine Baily Rae, Amy Winehouse and Adele had some success with proper real music and some proper real singing.

One of the reasons the 60s stayed in the 60s
The 2000s can be summed up as a disappointment by looking at who was named Billboard artist of the decade.  Previous winners were the supremely talented Elvis Presley, The Beatles, Elton John, Michael Jackson and Mariah Carey.  The 2000s honour went to Eminem and destroyed any credibility the list had previously engendered.

 
LOOOOOOOOOOOOL!!!!!
The saddest moments of the 2000s came when S Club 7 and Atomic Kitten split up but it wasn’t all bad news as Jo O’Meara and Liz McClarnon had solo careers that lasted 18 minutes and 13 minutes respectively.

 
Liz there, regretting everything she's ever done
By the end of the decade, pop was being strangled by the likes of Katy Perry (who said she kissed a girl but she didn’t really), Lady Gag-gag (who asked us to poke her face - gladly!) and Justin Bieber (whose hair had more personality than he did). Michael Jackson released his last studio album ‘Invincible’ in 2004 and then sadly passed away in 2009.

And we'll never see the likes again...
Rihanna massacred ‘Tainted Love’ for her hit ‘SOS’ and then trampled all over ‘Wanna be startin’ something’ on her hit ‘Don’t stop the music’.  Flo Rida metaphorically urinated on ‘You spin me right round’ on his hit ‘Right round’ and even Britney Spears had to dip into history to have hits with ‘My Prerogative’ and ‘I love rock and roll’. Alien Ant farm covered ‘Smooth Criminal’, Madonna shredded ‘Gimme Gimme Gimme’ in her hit ‘Hung up’ and even today, it’s impossible to find a song in the top 40 that hasn’t got a sample or cover of a song from at least ten years ago. Worse was to follow in the 10s.

This is an excerpt from the book 'The worst pop lyrics in the world EVER!' by Peter Nuttall.  Available in Paperback and on Kindle here :
Barnes and Noble
Amazon