MOST IMPORTANT MUSICAL SPECIMEN

21Nov09

tk weighs in:

What is the most important band or artist of the decade?

I pondered this question during my entire stroll down Gower Ave. from Sunset to Santa Monica (all 0.5 miles) and here’s what I came up with. These aren’t controversial choices but who needs controversy when there’s a possibility for accuracy?

First of all, let’s address the other decades.
50s- Elvis, hands down
60s- Beatles, hands down
70s- Led Zeppelin (or Pink Floyd)
80s- Michael Jackson
90s- Nirvana

And that brings us to this decade. As of now, I have narrowed it down to these artists:
Radiohead
Animal Collective
Eminem (or Lil Wayne or Jay-Z… consumers of important rap, help me out here)

Thoughts? Ideas? Nuggets of insight?

ck weighs in:

It’s hard for me to go against your selections. Radiohead is definitely up there. In the 2000s, they released the phenomenal Kid A, the incomprehensible Amnesiac (I never really ‘got it’), the return-to-prominence Hail to the Thief, and the overrated (but revolutionary) In Rainbows. Those four albums can stand up against any artist’s production in the last 10 years. Regardless of whether you think they’re the best band of all time or hopelessly overrated, the “pay-what-you-want” marketing campaign for In Rainbows definitely stuck Radiohead in the cultural lexicon for good and symbolized the downfall of the music industry throughout the decade.

Animal Collective is another exciting choice. Their entire discography is in the 2000s. Since the turn of the century, Animal Collective has released studio albums Spirit They’re Gone, Spirit They’ve Vanished (2000), Danse Manatee (2001), Campfire Songs (2003), Here Comes The Indian (2003), Sung Tongs (2004), Feels (2005), Strawberry Jam (2007), and Merriweather Post Pavilion (2009), as well as four EPs, two live albums, and eight singles.

In addition to being prolific, however, Animal Collective has been one of the most creative outfits of the decade. I am admittedly a latter-half AC fan; I hardly listen to anything before Sung Tongs. That being said, even listening to just those four albums shows the width and depth of their creative sound. Who can you possibly compare them to? Who are Animal Collective’s influences? Neutral Milk Hotel, maybe? The Beach Boys? Where does a song like Peacebone come from? Animal Collective’s importance is wrapped in the creativity of their output. They get better and better with each album, as they careen toward accessibility without leaving behind their weirdness.

I’m not sure if I can agree with you on Eminem. Yes, he was huge. Yes, he was culturally relevant. And yes, he was a pretty good rapper. But he was inactive for 3+ years, and he was a shell of his former self on 2008’s Relapse. He was also the “shocking musician” du jour, which can help with publicity, but rarely leads to a lasting legacy. He seems more interested in being controversial than being innovative.

I would, instead, submit for your consideration, one Justin Timberlake.

At the turn of the decade, there was no bigger pop group than ‘N Sync. Their second album, No Strings Attached, dropped in 2000, driven by the success of initial single Bye Bye Bye. 2001 saw the release of disappointing third album Celebrity, and the group went on hiatus in 2002.

Timberlake took this hiatus as an opportunity to conquer the music world on his own, with 2002’s Justified. The album took the world by storm, propelling JT to immediate stardom. Since then, he’s been dating movie stars, hosting Saturday Night Live, causing wardrobe malfunctions, voicing characters in Shrek sequels, and generally living large.

After the death of Michael Jackson (RIP), the world is starving for a superstar musician. I have long believed that Justin Timberlake is that man. I even wrote a column for my college newspaper titled, “Justin Timberlake: The new King of Pop“. His music is ubiquitous and his presence can make even the Black Eyed Peas sound respectable. What more do you need from the MOST IMPORTANT MUSICAL SPECIMEN of the 2000s?

What do YOU think? Register your opinion in the comments.

Advertisements


3 Responses to “MOST IMPORTANT MUSICAL SPECIMEN”

  1. 1 Zach Everton

    though i would agree that animal collective and radiohead would be a more inspiring choice, i think you’re onto something with justin timberlake. Looking at the least from prior decades it seemed that one of the requirements was almost universal accessibility/household name status. AC wouldn’t meet the household name requirement and both of the previous options are sort of an acquired taste.

    my submission would be john mayer. seems like the kids dig him; i haven’t met man folks who don’t know his music.

  2. I think Ben Gibbard should also warrent a little attention in this too. With his work with Death Cab (they did really form in the 90s, but only Something About Airplanes was released before 2000), The Postal Service, his solo work, and other odds and ends. I think that Death Cab can be pointed to really be one of the pioneers of the “indie” movement in its movement to the mainstream (which is a contradicting statement). This was a band that was able to take that unknown feel and share it with lots of people. Admittedly, I am writing this from a PNW bias, but Gibbard is a man who seems to have used this decade to be the face of the indiepoprock movement.

  3. 3 tylersknox

    Zach,
    Good point about household name status. The only thing I might add to that, though, is that we are living in a unique time where music (and other media) has been significantly decentralized. The major record labels don’t rule the show any more, similar to how The Big 3 Television Networks are much less powerful. To carry the analogy further, the most important show of the 1950s was probably “I Love Lucy” (as it was watched by almost half the nation) but today, one could make the claim that a show like “Mad Men” is more important (and influential) than “Dancing with the Stars” or “CSI.” In a decentralized music world, I think that bands like Animal Collective matter much more.

    Joe,
    You’re right, Ben Gibbard is hugely important in this decade whether it was giving momentum to the electro-pop trend with Postal Service or bringing the “indie” sound to the mainstream.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: