Saturday, May 31, 2014

Top 10 Tracks: 2000

It was just a couple months ago that I started this blog fully, which means that I've never had the chance to reflect back on bands, songs, and albums of old. My time with music itself has been pretty limited as well, since, in the grand scheme of the medium, I've only just gotten into it. So earlier years may be a little bare with diversity. I do sometimes write 'throwback' reviews, but I've never accumulated Top 10 lists for specific years. So, beginning today, I will be doing a top 10 tracks list for each year from 2000 to 2012, as I've already done my Top 50 of 2013, as you can find here. Without further ado, here are the top 10 tracks of 2000. Note: Clicking the picture will open a new tab and play the song on Youtube. 

2000   |   2001   |   2002   |   2003   |   2004   |   2005   |   2006   |   2007   |   2008   |   2009   |   2010   |   2011   |   2012   |   2013  |  2014

Clint Mansell - Lux Aeterna
Requiem For A Dream Soundtrack

Kicking things off is one of the most recognizable movie soundtrack songs of the decade. Requiem For A Dream's warped, stylistically frightening take on excessive drug use required a stunning, head-melting song to encapsulate the drastic emotions swirling in the mind of those engrossed in addictions. The consistent build in deepening rhythmic marching sounds, eruptive hollers, and an orchestral opera to match was only met in significance with the sudden drops in pressure and intensity. 

The song is an exhaustive listen and one that perfectly describes and mimics the feelings of drug use in abundance. The song has taken on this other-worldly feeling since its inception, being featured in numerous other pop cultural instances, most notably in the Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers lead trailer. Its mostly orchestral composition has led to the song being played through many incarnations in works with the use of violins, harps, pianos, and drum additions. 

Outkast - Ms.Jackson

Ms.Jackson, Outkast's first mainstream-crossover smash succeeded both commercially and critically, being adored for its unique subject matter and ability to maintain their high-quality work while simultaneously making a catchy record for the masses. Numerous memorable quotes spawned from the record, including the infamous "forever, forever ever, forever ever?," which is still being used in today's age. The song reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and even won a Grammy for Best Rap Performance in 2002. 

The song features the wedding march and scratchy reverbs as Andre and Big Boi discuss problems within a failing marriage, citing baby momma issues, possession of the house and goods, and nostalgic looks back on the early stages of their love. All this is professed through Andre's chorus to the mother, apologizing for making his daughter cry. The impressive statement made by the duo was something never heard not only in Hip-Hop, but music in general at the time.  

The Avalanches - Since I Left You
Since I Left You

The album that has remained timeless, unfettered by any pre-conceived notions of the times led off with the awe-inspiring opener by the same name as the album's title. An album so obsessed with perfected loops and seamless transistions would have, as many would be right in assuming, no singles. However, the opener (and later track Frontier Psychiatrist) broke down that thought, showcasing succictinly what the album as a whole was about. The opener is a memorable tour-de-force in positive vibrations through sound, using strictly samples only makes that point more impressive. 

Using a pitch-shifted The Main Attraction's Everyday vocal sample as the basis for the legendary chorus, all that was needed to heighten the emotions were atmospheric elements, including twinkling synthesizers, flutes and hymnic chants. The song, praised through and through by critics and listeners alike, successfully encapsulated the album as a whole. The song's secondary piece, Stay Another Season, only further adds to the enhancement the previous alludes to, using the same sample over another dancehall, disco-influenced beat. 

Radiohead - Idioteque
Kid A

One of the biggest bands on the planet took a drastic departure for their fourth album into extremist, unknown origins. Kid A, to this day, is still largely debated, with the prevailing meanings and messages derived from those who have drilled it to death in search of the overarching story. The most plausible (amongst others that theorized that Radiohead predicted 9/11 and tells of the day) is that of the life and death of 'Kid A,' a nameless child born in a dystopian 21st century run by technologic advances. Idioteque is the inevitable destruction of that world. 

Some will relentlessly debate that this is indeed the message, but the words speak for themselves. Impending doom lingers throughout the track, with talk of bunkers, ice ages, and scaremongering at the forefront of the apocalypse. However, Radiohead's comment that they chose these lyrics, and many others from Kid A, out of a hat at random have dissuaded those from looking deeper into the messages. But, you can make a magnificent sculpture from the pieces in a trash heap. Thom Yorke knew this, making vague lyrics about certain futuristic concepts in order to match the overwhelming dread the song's production assumes. 

Fatboy Slim - Demons
Halfway Between The Gutter & The Stars

90's big-beat house master Fatboy Slim launched his career off his lauded singles Praise You, The Rockafella Skank, & Right Here, Right Now. His leap in notoriety led to more praise and notice from mainstays in music during the early 21st century, including R&B Grammy winner Macy Gray, of which collaborated with Norman Cook on his track Demons, an ethereal record showcasing Gray's uniquely drown-out voice to magnificent effect. The initial buildup, and slow comedown, use a simple piano loop with Cook attempting to expand out of the reaches of big beat repetitive dribble of yesteryear. 

Gray steals the show however, mainly with her beautiful chorus exclaiming the demons that attempt to tear his life apart eventually withering away. It's a beautiful message with a resoundingly positive sound to match. Slim's use of samples posits the track in striking similarity to gospel choir's chanting for their removal of sins and evil. Gray's boisterous harpings during the final segment only increase this remarkably holy sound. Demons is an artist attempting to break out of his genre that made him popular, succeeding only in using others to help his creative endeavors successfully shine. 

Eminem - Stan
The Marshall Mathers LP

The song that started a movement in Hip-Hop, citing its title as the sole phrase to describe a fan who's gone to far in admiring their musical love. While the meaning remains similar to the original message, the serious tone Eminem attempts at showing on his track was, more so, lost on the masses, despite it being a truthful tale of first-hand experience. The track gets progressively darker as Eminem candidly retells the letters written to him by a deranged fan who followed his every whim. 

Sampling Dido's Thank You for the song's chorus was meant to show contrast in the writer's life that, no matter how terrible it became, he could always look up to the poster on the wall of his favorite rap star. The chorus becomes more and more prevalent as Stan falls in his life and his obsession over the rapper who hasn't responded to him, becoming an alcoholic and persistent drug-user by the song's third verse, eventually offing himself and his girlfriend by careening off a bridge into the river below. The stark nature of the song has reminded listeners to never become to infatuated with their idols, despite how much they may look up to them. 

Modest Mouse - Third Planet
The Moon & Antarctica

The intro to Modest Mouse's third LP immediately showed a band leaping in terms of experimentation and conceptual development. Highlighting a broader palate of topics and sounds, The Moon & Antarctica, was the group's most beloved record, stunning many with their evolution around the turn of the century. While there are numerous stunning tracks that all deserve a spot on this list, the intro succeeds the greatest at culminating all of what M&A is about in a nice, 4 minute package. 

What begins with a simple guitar riff explodes into multiple melodies of instrumental and vocal origin, as multiple 'chorus' repeat themselves throughout. The track is supposedly about the inability to escape your problems as Brock states, "Well the Universe is shaped exactly like the Earth, if you go straight long enough you'll end up where you were." It also is a self-depreciating look at Brock's own life and the potential mis-carriage he experienced with his wife, believing he's fucked everything over. 

Radiohead - The National Anthem
Kid A

The blistering anthem of the first-half of Kid A, following two uncomfortably quiet tracks, explodes into a cacophony of sounds, mainly derived from trip-hop, hip-hop, and even some jazz to litter the soundscape with an uneasy, apocalyptic feeling of doom and dread. The lyrics, remaining as open-ended as anything else on Kid A, speak simply of the masses and un-comfortability in handling them, or surrounding yourself with them. The cryptic message has led some to even believe that the song is meant to symbolize the crashing of the twin towers, with two distinctly explosive moments occurring throughout. 

The production value specifically is what makes The National Anthem so memorably and eerily beautiful. Yorke's voice throughout, not as obvious as the title track, is modified and put through electronic recordings. This is yet another example of the overtly technological feeling of the album, foretelling the coming decade and their dependance on computing. This vocal butchering, in accordance with the electronic saxophones, trumpets and drum-and-bass repetitions, create a feeling of anxiety for the listener. The only thing left to decipher is the meaning of the song's precariously-named title. 

Deltron 3030 - 3030
Deltron 3030

Speaking of dystopian futures, Deltron 3030, the album and group formed by Del The Funkee Homosapian, Dan The Automator, and Kid Koala, followed the approach of a re-telling society in a much more literal sense, exclaiming to the masses what life will be like on earth in the year 3030. No song does this better than the opener, a stunning 7+ minute rap orchestra, detailing the state of the nation through Del's eyes, filled with talk of corrupt corporations that run the galaxy, giant robotic beings, and saviors of the human race. 

While it all sounds far-fetched, the album pulled at many strings in harkening the initially comedic story to the present day and the problems that all of us would be soon faced with. None of this would hold together if it weren't for Dan The Automator's masterful production, which remains the strongest point of 3030. What begins as a quiet beat flickering with radio signals of NASA transmissions, the production soon unfolds into airy synths, haunting choir croonings, and swelling renditions of building sounds, only for it all to collapse upon itself following Del's chorus. 

Outkast - B.O.B.

It was pure coincidence on my behalf that the three best songs of the year 2000 all dealt directly with feelings of anxiety over the coming millennium. All three took different approaches, while simultaneously boiling down to the same feelings of un-comfortability of the unknowing of the coming days. Outkast's B.O.B. places atop this list for successfully encapsulating nearly every feeling, sound and message, of the 2000's that later became true, the most obvious being the destructive chorus "Bombs over Baghdad." Everything, down to the incredibly fast-paced verses, is predictive of the future in not just Hip-Hop, but our society as a whole. 

Important thoughts and debates ("Cure for Cancer, cure for AIDS") come and go as quickly as any other statement made, as pivotal discussions on the state of our society dwindle down to similar importance on the scale of everything in comparison. The sounds, likely more than anything else here, foretell the coming of days, with the hyper-realistic electric production mashed with basic Hip-Hop mainstays, combine to predict the regurgitated nature of music today where genres are combined since ideas have become minute. Even the gospel choir chants of "power music, electric revival" towards the end, despite being a strong statement, have the same level of importance as "bob ya head, ragtop" for the girls and boys in the club. B.O.B. succeeded in realizing the triteness of our society, diminishing everything down, stripping it bare of their trivial or essential beliefs, all of it becoming the same. 

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