When we look back on the ’00s, what the hell are we going to remember? To be blunt, a lot. It’s almost hard to keep track of everything! But, try we will. To summarize, the ’00s saw a lot of “returns.” Now, before you raise your hand and ask a million questions, let me clarify. When I say “returns,” I don’t mean tax returns or those ugly sweaters after Christmas. No, we’re talking about the second chance, the encore, or… the epic (sometimes unwarranted) return. You know, kind of like Saved by the Bell: The New Class!
It all started with the idiot nobody elected: President Bush. Someone somewhere, probably while on mescaline or something otherworldly, thought, “Hey, what better way to start this decade than how we started the last… with another Bush in office!” Well, that thought became a statement which became an idea that rolled into a campaign, and one that somehow made its way into the Oval Office — and for eight years, no less. Nobody knew it at the time, but this started a trend…
Take a look around, everyone’s making a return. It’s a big fad. Bands reunited (e.g. Stone Temple Pilots, Pavement, My Bloody Valentine), actors we thought to be dead returned to surprise us (e.g. Mickey Rourke), and some even tried to return but ended up dead (e.g. Michael Jackson). Hell, turn on the television. Half of the CW programming is a collection of ’90s shows… making a return. 90210? Melrose Place? Ring a bell? In fact, you could argue that The Simpsons tried to return, even if they never really left in the first place. There were some major backfires (e.g. NBC’s Knight Rider, Jerry Seinfeld’s Bee Movie, John Travolta’s fourth comeback), but it all peaked with one giant, hip conglomerate… Apple.
Apple, for all its charm and dazzling software today, was a dusty relic in the ’90s. To be honest, they were horrible. PowerPC? More like a headache that managed to steal cash from your wallet. And when those iMacs hit public schools everywhere, they might have looked pretty, but nobody wanted to make that shift, save for “those graphic designers.” Then came a cute, little invention in the early ’00s: the iPod. It took a couple of Christmas holidays to catch on, but by Winter of ’05, everyone who was anyone owned one. By ’07, everyone who was anyone wasn’t anyone anymore because they now knew nobody because they were slaves to a plastic device. Regardless of the global sonic slavery, one thing became clear: Apple returned!
Because of this, there’s been a very interesting trend in music for the past decade. Songs have become synonymous with life. Why? Well, for two reasons. One, Zach Braff. Two, Apple. Let’s start with the Scrubs guy first, though. In 2004, Garden State became the first film in probably ten to 15 years where the music preceded the actual film. All sorts of folks flocked to Best Buy or Borders to buy the popular soundtrack. Most people hadn’t even seen the movie. They knew one thing, though: These songs would change their life. This mentality, coinciding with Apple’s insistent demand to keep those buggy lil’ earplugs on your head, made for one “personable” experience. Forget the album, a dead subject to anyone outside of Greenwich Village or a critic’s circle. But also, forget the mixtape.
With the iPod, everyone started what nixed the mixtape: the playlist! People culled songs from band’s career spanning discographies, all with the purpose in soundtracking their everyday mundane life, and with the hopes that it’d make everyday mundane life something else. Something bold! People still do this. In fact, it’s one reason why MP3s continue to be so popular and why I can’t visit Tower Records down the street from me anymore. And c’mon, it’s not rocket science here. You don’t have to do a long, public survey to find out that people live by this mantra: “It’s uneconomical to buy a CD for a song, so why not download it?”
So, what the hell does this all mean? It means songs are important to people. They cherish ‘em because they live with ‘em — and vice versa (I think). Albums are still sacred and what not, but it’s the songs that matter these days. In some respects, this could sort of be considered a return, too. Here’s a fun fact. Long before our time, bands wouldn’t even bother with an album. They would be lucky if they even made it that far. No, studio heads and producers pushed singles, what were then called 45’s and what we now call EP’s. If there’s one thing to be said of the ’00s, it’s that the MP3, for all its intensive purposes, is just the medium to which “songs” made their triumphant return. But still, it’s all because of Apple.
Or, maybe President Bush.
Editor in Chief
p.s. I almost forgot, here are 50 songs we all thought were pretty good.