Friday, November 6, 2009

Best of the Decade: Music (6-4)

Posted By on Fri, Nov 6, 2009 at 4:59 PM

Breaking into the Top 5 now, with only one more post to go. With albums 7-5 on the list and classic singles leaping from a couple of those albums, 2000 was a very good year.


Album: Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea — PJ Harvey (2000)

I admire most of Harvey's albums, and all of them up to this point. But Stories from the City, Stories From the Sea is the only one I love — probably because it's so full of affection itself. After years of tormented, severe, magnificent English blues-rock of her own imagining, Harvey crossed the Atlantic and made her love album: A woozy, breezy, blushing but endlessly rocking romantic ramble through Manhattan and Brooklyn. In truth, I hadn't listened to it front-to-back in a few years before pulling it out during a summer vacation road trip this year. And I was taken aback at how gloriously well it had held up.

Song Sample: "You Said Something"

Single: "B.O.B." — Outkast (2000)
Probably the most immediately arresting pop single I'd heard since, um, "When Doves Cry"?


Album: Stankonia — Outkast (2000)
In some ways, the album of the decade, but a little too long and with a little too much drag at the end to warrant the top spot. From my original 2000 review:

This 17-track, 75-minute electrofunk opus is the sound of Prince and George Clinton hooking up with Public Enemy's Bomb Squad for a chitlin' circuit tour. Parts of Stankonia are harder, faster, and more chaotic than hip-hop has ever been, but its Stankonia's raging musicality, wit, and compassion that seals it. The infectious "Ms. Jackson" is a conflicted apology to "all the baby mamas' mamas" that builds a dense, playful sound out of drum 'n' bass skitter, stray piano licks, and buried vocals. And the double entendre "I'll Call B4 I Cum" harnesses the loopiest synth riff since Prince's "Delirious" to a thundering bass beat in a goofball ode to sexual reciprocity. (Inspirational lyric: "No, I don't want to see your thong/I kinda dig them old-school regular drawers.") Stankonia is a tour de force of freak-flag funk, street corner polemics, downhome humor, and visionary wisdom.

Song Sample: "I'll Call B4 I Cum"

Single: "The Real Slim Shady" — Eminem (2000)
"Will Smith don’t have to cuss in his raps to sell records/Well I do/So fuck him and fuck you too."


Album: The College Dropout — Kanye West (Roc-a-Fella, 2004)
From my 2004 year-end piece:

With its scholastic framework, conflicted relationship to hip-hop proper, admittedly grating skits, and overwhelming hubris, Kanye West's undeniable, ubiquitous, endlessly compelling debut is the newer, better version of an earlier sure shot, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. But where Hill got by on sonics — organic production and sixth-sense vocal arrangements — West is an idea and detail man: confrontational kiddie chorus defending drug-dealing as survival, "token blacky" rolling a blunt on break at the Gap, autobiographical anthem rapped through a wired jaw, literal salvation on the dance floor, family reunions and handed-down civil rights history, "the first nigga with a Benz and a backpack."

Song Sample: "We Don't Care"

Single: "Maps" — Yeah Yeah Yeahs (2003)
"Rock" single of the decade. There's no embeddable version of the awesome official video, so find it here.

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