Top 50 of the 00s

Daft Punk's Discovery

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you: my top 50 of the decade we are just about to leave.

How to make a top list

I started making a top 100 of songs I liked but soon realized that less than half, if even that much, was actual 00s stuff, the rest being 80s or late 70s music. And the same goes when only counting songs I heard for the first time during the 00s. The Internet has exposed the long tail at last, and apparently newer music has a hard time competing with the cream of a certain golden era. Most of the tracks that ended up on this list have a distinct 80s flavor after all!

To make a representative selection, I had to apply a couple of criteria:

  • 50 songs only
  • No covers of songs published prior to the 00s.
  • Mash-ups, being a signature 00s phenomenon, were allowed regardless of when the constituent songs were made.

The first round of picks was a straight play-count from my iTunes library. But some manual adjustment had to be made for several reasons: my iTunes data only goes back to 2003, I used to have a CDR walkman that didn't “scrobble”, and some of the entries, while awesome at the time, simply haven't aged well enough to earn their place in the top 50.

There's also a particular phenomenon here: a few songs (for instance Jay-Z's Sunshine were on heavy rotation until I found out that all the goodness was lifted from another song (Fearless Four/Rockin' It, ultimately Kraftwerk's Man Machine in that case) and the first song suddenly paled by comparison. This isn't to say that covers and sampling is bad, just that there are a lot of awesome old grooves out there which are easy to like and hard to improve on.

Here we go:

Visit the links to watch/listen to the song!

  1. Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger Daft Punk 2001
  2. Move Your Feet Junior Senior 2002
  3. Maybe Tonight Lovelock 2008
  4. Electric Feel MGMT 2007
  5. Fancy Footwork Chromeo 2007
  6. Jessie Zoot Woman 2001
  7. Fantasy (original version) Rozzetta 2004
  8. Aeroplane Aeroplane 2007
  9. Love Reaction Lovelock 2008
  10. All this love (original version) The Similou 2005
  11. Digital Love Daft Punk 2001
  12. Needy Girl Chromeo 2004
  13. Without Axel (by BushNo10) Harold Faltermeyer vs. Eminem 2003
  14. White Diamond (Original Mix) Hatchback 2007
  15. D.A.N.C.E (Alan Braxe Remix) Justice 2007
  16. Play With Us The Similou 2005
  17. Hyreshusklossar (med Slagsmålsklubben & Frej) CK 2002
  18. Channel Hopping Feature Cast 2003
  19. Finally Axel Is Jumping On MIA KE4 2006
  20. Change Channel Lo-Fi-Fnk 2004
  21. Sapphire Zombi 2006
  22. Now that the Love Has Gone (Form Loneliness to Happiness Mix by Les Rythmes Digitales) We in Music 2002
  23. Pocket Check Windsurf 2008
  24. Zodiac Rising Dollskabeat 2009
  25. Arena Alan Braxe & Fred Falke 2005
  26. Full Moon (featuring Common) Armand van Helden 2000
  27. Destroy All Humans Shemale 2007
  28. Nights of the Week Apes & Androids 2008
  29. Super Electric Bomfunk MC's 2001
  30. Too Young (Zoot Woman remix) Phoenix 2001
  31. Zone B Mass Games 2009
  32. So Stylistic FannyPack 2003
  33. My Cool (Starters Mega-Men Remix) Adam Tensta 2008
  34. Moonlight Dance Sally Shapiro 2009
  35. Ottos Journey Mylo 2005
  36. In My Arms Mylo 2005
  37. Mr. Brightside (Thin White Duke remix) The Killers 2005
  38. Electro Boy Briskeby 2001
  39. We Don't Celebrate Sundays Hardcore Superstar 2005
  40. Rocket Experience Buzz Aldrin 2009
  41. Nerds Inc. Bliss of Fairlight 2003
  42. Insertion Of Diskette Polytron 2001
  43. Head over Heels (literal video version) Tears for Fears 2008
  44. Low Light Low Life POS 2009
  45. Kenny the Toffelskater Dubmood 2004
  46. It's A Miracle Crashdïet 2005
  47. Muscle Car (Featuring Freeform Five) Mylo 2005
  48. Jag Blir Smal Nu (med Öris) DJ Large & Organism 2006
  49. Rock 'n' Roll Highschool Teddybears STHLM 2000
  50. We R Atomic Bomfunk MC's 2002

I grew up musically (not necessarily matured…) during the 00s. Among the prominently featured artists we find Daft Punk, Stuart Price (Les Rythmes Digitales, Zoot Woman, Thin White Duke) and Steve Moore (Lovelock, Zombi). I like well-produced music, and hence I tend to be a fan of producers rather than the guys & gals singing, fronting albums and whatnot. You can see this in the number of remixes and versions, many which take a different direction than the ”original” or most famous version.

The obvious things about my musical taste: bright, fast-paced music in the pop format (no, not as the common misconception of “pop” being about emulating Bob Dylan or the Beatles. Pop as in 4-minute songs with verse and chorus!). Most of it electronic. Most songs will command you to dance. There are exceptions as well: the slow, ethereal, instrumental ones, but those are nonetheless dance tracks, only in slow-motion.

The 00s may very well be the decade I'll compare anything past & prior to, that defined my way of looking at popular music. And deservedly so! The 00s saw hip hop going back to its roots and regain its playfulness, and there can be no more obvious example than the nerdcore movement and how its boundary to mainstream rap is blurring. Which goes for music in general – hard rock getting the falsetto and wild solos back, dance music rediscovered disco, learned the lessons and moved past. Furthermore, electronic music finally let go of the synthesizer stigma and blossomed into a broader spectrum of sounds than ever before. Retro “borrowing“ of production styles pulled out all the stops, what started with heavy sampling in the late 90s became in a few years mash-ups where new songs were constructed purely out of old ones. Often to comical effect. Mash-ups are one of a number of defining phenomena – massively looking back being another – that can be credited to the rise of internet file-sharing and other enabling technologies.

Discovery

Closing the circle that is the 2000s, Daft Punk's Discovery was released in 2001. If I recall correctly, leading up to it may have been the last time I sat orderly anticipating the launch of a record album, waiting for the day to come when it would be available to buy on a shiny plastic disc in a flat plastic box. While on this topic, regardless of file sharing I kept on buying records throughout the 00s, stopping only recently when a stupid-ass piece of legislation was passed in Sweden this year, and I felt the urgency to put my foot down as the supposed customer of the media oligopolies. But since the Internet got going, so to speak, I've rarely regretted a record purchase. Especially this one.
Discovery by Daft Punk has 2 tracks featured in this top list, but that's an understatement; most of the cuts from this album were part of the initial picks, the two singles that were included are stellar, but in a top 50 for such a period of time there is a lot of worthy competition.
What this collections of songs did is foreshadow the nine years that followed. It marked a departure for Daft Punk, whose previous output had been a tighter, more narrow variety of dance (house) music. Discovery sparkles of sample tidbits, of highs and lows, of tracks carefully assembled the way Daft Punk were already famous for, of the Dafts cheerfully going simultaneously in each and every direction they pleased. It is the perfect, self-contained pop album, the Sgt. Pepper's of the decade when those kinds of albums weren't made anymore.
Look inside and you will find unabashed use of synthesizers, genre-benders, wailing (keytar?) solos, songs secretly built on top of older songs, autotune, the return of the vocoder. A bunch of concepts that became mainstream, among those that defined the decade to come, and this was in 2001 already.
All analysis and musical fortune-telling aside, Discovery is a kick-ass album! It has a collection of songs that will take you up and down, in an averaged-out transcendental state of restful excitation. Some are really awesome dance tracks at that! Discovery has earned my nomination as album of the decade.

The verdict

Looking back at me, in 2000, my fundamental taste hasn't changed; I've lost some of the appetite for dark, reverb-soaked technopop like Depeche Mode, evidently replaced by meditative ambient jams like Tangerine Dream. Hip hop was perhaps my major musical revelation during the last decade, then there was the heavy metal phase, both all but invisible on this list because of the next finding: I've been, and remain a major 80s junkie! And since my “true” 00s hit list was tapering out at around 50 songs, I decided to keep it at that. Someday, maybe soon, I'll put together that other list of songs I discovered during the 00s and you'll see what I'm talking about! And, in 5 or 10 years when it's comfortably in the rear-view mirror and I'm no longer discovering new 00s songs, it's time for the real top list.

I can conclude that, mostly thanks to the Internet but also my evolving interest in dancing (starting in 2001) has taken the variety of musical taste far beyond recognition of 90s Arvid, yet there's a core somewhere in there which remained the same. And the road of discovery is running straight along.