Saturday, December 12, 2009

Reflections on a Decade: The 2000s

As a reminder that the decade is going to be over in less than 20 days, let's review what this decade was like.

We started off with Y2K (hooray! We all survived! And the coming of Web 2.0 has made it possible for me to write this and share it with you!) and then there was the whole Napster shenanigans, two elections in the United States that left many people scratching their heads, 9/11, iPods and Apple took over the world, a lot of political stuff I don't really feel like getting into, the blur of the mid-2000s, and ok, let's bring it up to now: a black man was elected to the highest office in the United States, we have one of the biggest recessions in recent decades and global warming is on the rise. looks like this decade for me could be summed up into two categories: politics and technology. I know I glossed over a LOT of stuff, but just pick up any news magazine and I'm sure it'll go into it for you. Let's move on to the less serious stuff, shall we?

I've picked out 20 albums of the 2000s that are significant for me for some reason or another. Here they are with just a sentence or two about why they're on this list:

20 Albums of the 2000s

1. 'N Sync - No Strings Attached (2000) - I was 15. End of story.

2. The Living End - Roll On (2000) - My penpal introduced me to The Living End with this album. I just loved the mix of rockabilly and punk music together and have been a fan ever since.

3. The Hives - Veni Vidi Vicious (2000) - For me, "Hate to Say I Told You So" was really catchy and the album was a return of rock the way it should be: loud, fuzzy guitars that are fun to dance to. Not only that, I was impressed with the matching suits.

4. Weezer - The Green Album (2001) - It took Weezer long enough to put out an album after 1996's Pinkerton. I liked this album when it came out; I'll admit it. A bit pop-y in comparison to Pinkerton, but hey, Weezer was back!

5. Flogging Molly - Drunken Lullabies (2002) - By far, Flogging Molly's best album. I think I had gone to the Vans Warped Tour in 2002 and they played stuff off Drunken Lullabies. It was perfect for that and it still hasn't lost its charm.

6. The Donnas - Spend the Night (2002) - Three words: "Take It Off." Not to mention this was The Donnas' breakout album, but it was really fantastic seeing a girl punk band I could see myself relating to if I hadn't been a teenager (aka awkward).

7. OK Go - OK Go (2002) - OK Go's debut album. Most people would pick their album Oh No since they made it big with "Here it Goes Again," but I discovered OK Go with their self-titled and no, I'm not just saying that, I really did. I immediately fell in love with the album because it was fun, catchy, danceable, and smart.

8. Kylie Minogue - Fever (2002) - There are so many good songs on this album: "Come into my World," "In Your Eyes," "Love at First Sight," and of course, "Can't Get You Outta My Head."

9. The White Stripes - White Blood Cells (2002) - I just remember seeing the video for "Fell in Love with a Girl" and thinking it was the coolest video in a long time. This reconfirmed my belief that loud, fuzzy guitars were back (see above, #3, The Hives' Veni Vidi Vicious).

10. Queens of the Stone Age - Songs for the Deaf (2002) - Dave Grohl was the guest drummer on this album, I think. I loved the bass line for "No One Knows." Also the video for "Go with the Flow" was pretty awesome.

11. Outkast - Speakerboxxx/The Love Below (2003) - Two albums at once?! Why not. There were 3 songs in particular that will never, ever get old, even 6 years later: "Hey Ya!," "The Way You Move," and "Roses."

12. Ratatat - Ratatat (2003) - I saw Ratatat perform on Middlebury's campus. They played this album in its entirety in about an hour. And they played it again. And again. Mostly because everyone was so into it. It was a ton of fun and the best was free! (And before everyone on campus started listening to it so the show wasn't overrun.)

13. Green Day - American Idiot (2004) - Ok, so their album Warning came out in 2000 and I had liked it. It was different. But American Idiot was just a completely new level. Who else could've pulled off a punk rock opera other than Green Day? And that is exactly why this album is on this list.

14. Franz Ferdinand - Franz Ferdinand (2004) - Fun, danceable, catchy rock. And if music could be described as "sexy," yes, this album is definitely sexy. This album still hasn't gotten old and I remember comparing it to The Strokes' Room on Fire. To say the least, Franz Ferdinand is such a better album and they're such a better band. Hence why I still like them.

15. Kelly Clarkson - Breakaway (2004) - Kelly Clarkson is probably my guilty pleasure of the decade and this album had a lot of really good songs on it. "Since U Been Gone" is probably my favorite.

16. Foo Fighters - In Your Honor (2005) - Admittedly I couldn't decide which FF album from this decade should go on here, especially considering that their best is still The Colour and the Shape (which came out in '97). So I just arbitrarily picked In Your Honor because it's got two CDs, the slow stuff and the fast stuff. However, FF have put out some really great music in the last 10 years.

17. Wir Sind Helden - Von hier an blind (2005) - This was the first German album I purchased living in Germany. Alex and I first heard "Nur ein Wort" in a Berlin Dunkin' Donuts in Zoologischer Garten and we turned to each other, agreeing simultaneously that the song was super catchy. It defined my year abroad.

18. The Killers - Sam's Town (2006) - In comparison to their debut album Hot Fuss, Sam's Town is just a fantastic record because it works as an idea. I'm not even sure it was a concept album, but that's what I got from it. It's a lot tighter than their first release and they really seemed to fine-tune their presence with it.

19. Justin Timberlake - FutureSex/LoveSounds (2006) - Another fantastic pop album. I don't even really know what to say, except I find myself listening to this every once in awhile.

20. Radiohead - In Rainbows (2007) - This isn't on here for its content; rather, In Rainbows is significant because it was the first album to be released on the internet by the band themselves and then people were allowed to choose how much they wanted to pay for it. Even nothing. Good job Radiohead for trying to change the digital music industry.

It seems like after 2007, there wasn't anything significant on my list. That's not true; there are some bands I would've liked to put on, but hey, I needed to keep this list short. On the other hand, everything released after 2007 that would be on this list are just other albums from artists already on here.

As for movies, I can't really make a list because I don't own a lot movies from the last few years and it's not as easy to look at as my music in iTunes. (Yay sorting by year.) However, I think for me the most significant movie(s) this decade has to be The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. I don't think I've met anyone that hasn't seen these movies.

On a more personal note, this decade is probably the first that I can remember in its entirety. I remember exactly where I was and whom I was with when I rang in the new millenium. This decade, I got both my high school and bachelor degrees, started working on my master's, and have lived in Germany for a total of three years. In essence, I've become what some may consider an adult, which is a bit strange to think about.

Who knows what will happen in the next decade, but I do have my guesses....Let's get ready for the 10s!!! (teens? tens? How will we even say them?)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Soundtrack 2009

As the end of the year draws near, a lot of reflection is usually done. My sister Tracie wrote an entry on her blog of the same title and I thought it a good idea. I haven't made a yearly soundtrack since I left college, but I got inspired from my sister's entry. So here are some songs that represent 2009 for me:

1. Franz Ferdinand "Ulysses" - This song kept me going on the S-bahn platform at 6:30 in the morning quite often when it first came out. I had been anticipating the release of their album "Tonight: Franz Ferdinand" and it didn't disappoint. Not to mention that I won tickets for their show in November and I was so excited to hear this live.

2. The Living End "Hey Hey Disbeliever" - The Living End came on tour to Europe and their album White Noise was finally released over here (still hasn't been released in the U.S. to my knowledge). Too bad I didn't see them on their second go around, but I gave up that opportunity to save money for Paul McCartney. (More on that in a bit) But The Living End was still amazing live, though I hadn't seen them in quite a bit. This song just rocks.

3. Green Day "Horseshoes and Handgrenades" - I am slowly coming to terms with the fact that Green Day's audience gets younger and younger while I get older. I was disappointed that they didn't play this song when I saw them, in addition to the fact that they didn't sing "Welcome to Paradise." (C'mon, Green Day!) I'm not sure I would say the album 21st Century Breakdown was a highlight of this year, though I had been excited for the album's release. There was certainly better music released, but Green Day's music has developed into a style that's definitely better for arena shows. And they definitely are a good arena show.

4. Katy Perry "Hot n Cold" - Yup, a pop song. This song for me was really infectious. The link I put up is to a Twilight parody with "Hot n Cold" in it. It's pretty hilarious. I'm by no means a Twilight fan (actually, far from it. I hate it), but somehow the song is super-fitting. "Hot n Cold" was also everywhere here for awhile.

5. Calexico "The Crystal Frontier (Widescreen Version)" - Ok, this song is old. And yes, I saw Calexico in October 2008. Doesn't matter. This song is just pure awesomeness and it was on my iPod on repeat.

Besides these five songs, this song was actually dominated by The Beatles. Sure, their last recorded album, Abbey Road, was released 40 years ago, but this year was almost like 1995-1996 when the Anthology was released. For one, the digital remasters were released. Admittedly, I haven't heard them yet except for Abbey Road and Let it Be (which I bought separately since they were released only in stereo) because they're waiting for me at home in the U.S. unopened, so I can't tell you if they're good or not. But there were so many reviews about them that it was as if new Beatles albums had been released. According to some, these remastered CDs were like experiencing the albums for the first time. The Beatles: Rock Band was also released, but I haven't bought it nor played it out of fear that it will destroy my perception of the music. Maybe we'll see about that in the future.

In addition to the remastered CDs' release, I went to Liverpool, home of the Fab Four. And finally, I'll be seeing Paul McCartney in a week in the Köln Arena. So besides the five songs above, I'd have to add these particular songs:

6. The Beatles "Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End" - I think this medley is just amazing, especially because The Beatles knew that this was the last album they would record together. It's a pretty good ending, isn't it? (Ok, if you don't count "Her Majesty.")

7. The Beatles "Maggie Mae" - Until I went to Liverpool, I didn't realize how this song is sung with their Scouser accent. I think I have a better appreciation for it because of my trip.

8. Paul McCartney "Only Mama Knows" - Because I'm seeing Paul next week, I bought his album Memory Almost Full. When it first came out, I was originally against it because it was released through Starbucks, but after a first listen, I actually really liked it. I'm pretty sure he'll be playing this song next week, so to say the least, I'm excited.

I cannot wait to hear the mono remastered CDs when I get home in a week and a half.