5th place – The 2000s. (26 points)
Most popular: Toxic – Britney Spears. (Watch the fantastic video for this here.)
Least popular: Cha Cha Slide – DJ Caspar.
“Tuneless – atonal – a horrible racket – call this music?” There is an argument which says that the 2000s have, in a sense, scored a victory by finishing last in our poll. After all, aren’t grown-ups traditionally meant to hate modern chart pop? It’s not made for us. We’re not supposed to get it. By shifting its emphasis away from the melodic and towards the rhythmic, 2004 pop has done a fine job of alienating many of us.
It is, however, a slender argument. There is another more compelling argument which says: yes, today’s pop music really is the worst it has ever been. Marketed to death, with all remaining traces of innocence, rebellion and inventiveness squeezed out of the formula. Too focus-grouped, too demographically targeted, too cynical, too knowing – and with a horrible spiritual vacuum at its core. I suspect that this is the line that most of you will prefer to take.
Having listened carefully and repeatedly to all ten tracks in this year’s selection, two particular observations stand out. Firstly: that much of this music is not even intended to be concentrated upon. In today’s multimedia-saturated culture of immediate gratification, we are losing the ability to concentrate on anything much. Many of the consumers of these songs will hear them as nothing more than backwash – as the backing track to their lives. Thus it is that many of these songs (Dude and Cha Cha Slide particularly come to mind) set out their stalls within the first minute; the rest is merely repetition of those first few simple ideas.
Secondly: that modern pop is dripping with lust, more explicitly stated than ever before. While the songs of the 1960s speak of romantic love, exactly half the songs of the 2004 Top Ten (Dude, Red Blooded Woman, Not In Love, Mysterious Girl, Toxic) can be lyrically read as unambiguous expressions of directly erotic intent. It’s a commonly heard complaint: that popular culture is becoming alarmingly – some might even say inappropriately – over-sexualised. Where will it all end, we ask ourselves, furrowing our brows in concern.
We are becoming our parents.