In the year 2000 … and then some

Yes, this might be a new low. For my first blog entry in a long while, I will be commenting on … another website. Luckily, it’s a website with a long list, and you know how much I love a good list. Say what you will about, but their lists provide endless entertainment and help you feel at least a little validated in your musical predilections because, just going on their length, you are bound to recognize one song they tack on and say, “Oh yeah, I’ve heard that. I like that song. Yay, I’m cool!”

Of course, if you admit this out loud, you risk getting your headphone knocked soundly off your head.

Consider Pitchfork’s most recent whopper of an undertaking. In P2K, the writers name the top 500 tracks from the first decade of the aughts. They even have a ready response for the readers who point out that the world is scarcely through with 2009, claiming that they’re getting a head start for the point in 2010 when readers inevitably become sick of lists about the past decade. You might rightfully demand to know how the hell Pitchfork knows what you’ll be up to and what your feelings might be as the first tenth of the 2000s concludes. Are you and Pitchfork really friends? Do you and Pitchfork even speak at all aside from each others’ vapid Facebook status updates? Isn’t Pitchfork being awfully presumptuous about you? And when did Pitchfork ever not behave in that know-it-all way, which led to the ultimate cooling off of your acquaintance in the first place?

Still, it’s not as if the presumptuous taste-makers hit it way off the mark. Their explanation for their #1 pick, Outkast’s “B.O.B.,” suggests the band and the particular song as prophetic of foreign relations and sonic leanings for the rest of the decade. I can definitely get behind André 3000 and Big Boi as oracles, especially since Gladys Knight’s not piping up much about the future these days.

  • Outkast ~ Stankonia ~ La Face

Vodpod videos no longer available.

However, when I think of the inauguration of the aughts, I think of the last half of college, the post 9-11 hysteria that reached as far as my liberal ivory tower of a town where we didn’t want to give America the benefit of the doubt about anything, and my growing dread that the best days were already behind me that sometimes won out over the optimism I was told to feel about the future. So it’s a shock to me that John Vanderslice’s “Exodus Damage” from 2005’s Pixel Revolt isn’t anywhere on the list. It’s been nearly a decade since that scary, life-rupturing time, and there’s not another song that expresses such an honest portrayal of diverse perspectives. The song gives a voice to those who watch in disbelief as the damage is done and those who wish to do the damage, and you’re never sure whose idea you’re hearing at a time. Then Vanderslice peppers the somber imagery with a transitory tune belted out by a xylophone and a chorus as nonsensical as “Dance dance revolution.” Of course, that game was pretty popular at the time. It could all very well be connected.

  • John Vanderslice ~ Pixel Revolt ~ Barsuk

Exodus Damage

But since I’ve shared that song once before, I will also advocate for another early-aught favorite from a performer who disappeared too soon. No rap artist has had the chutzpah to slyly mix in allusions to Sassy magazine, Krzysztof Kieślowski, and Susan Faludi like MC Paul Barman. His debut, It’s Very Stimulating, arrived very early in the year 2000. Its Prince Paul production and Barman’s tightrope walk between self-effacing clowning and educated but libido-centered bravado prompted a move to Matador Records, a full-length album in 2002, and Barman’s abrupt departure from the music industry. In “Salvation Barmy,” the MC finds love or some approximation thereof in a Salvation Army. And anyone who hears it can’t help but ask, “And then what?” Too bad Pitchfork doesn’t have the answer.

  • MC Paul Barman ~ It’s Very Stimulating ~ Wordsound

Salvation Barmy


1 Response to “In the year 2000 … and then some”

  1. 1 Anna B September 8, 2009 at 8:10 PM

    Super sweet write up, lady. I love this one. I have not heard all of the songs… just as soon as I’m somewhere with speakers, it’s on!

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