I'm telling you right off the bat: This article will be long, so you don't have to read it all at once. You can take your time with it. I repeat: This is a long article.
As I think about how my article "Synthesis: The 80s And The 00s" was perceived to be a "Life Sucks" article, I think it got that perception because it was a very long article that often mentioned the word "00s".
This decade has been gaining respect as it draws to a close, but there are still many who view the 00s like a red flag. I used to be like that, too, but I did some thinking a few years ago.
As stated in "Life Does NOT Suck Today", I enjoy this decade a lot more than the 90s, and that includes the music. It's interesting how I came around to enjoying this decade's music. For many years, I thought that if you were a fan of retro music, be it 80s or otherwise, that was all that you could like. Experiences on several other websites taught me otherwise. I won't go into specific forums, but let's just say that it was a combination of learning tolerance and burning bridges that led me to conclude that you should give newer things a chance. I've been doing that since 2006.
I started to give the music of this decade a chance, and I liked what I heard. Whereas I was once reluctant to turn on the radio, I now look forward to hearing the latest tunes.
Since there are still many people on here who feel that pop culture stopped being enjoyable on January 1st, 2000 at the stroke of midnight, maybe comparing the sounds of the past with the sounds of today might help you to enjoy modern music.
Let's put it in reverse and start with Rihanna.
Rihanna has been in the news a lot lately, but not for her music. Instead, she's been having turbulent times in recent weeks. I fear these issues will overshadow her music.
Rihanna reminds me a lot of several artists. Her music has a danceable sound to it, yet at the same time, there's an undercurrent of darkness.
I feel that "Disturbia" is the best example of this. This will probably be sacrilege to industrial fans, but this song sounds like Ministry if they were to try R&B. I can easily imagine Al Jourgensen singing lyrics like:
"Faded pictures on the wall, it's like they talking to me.
Disconnecting on calls, the phone don't even ring.
I gotta get out or figure this shit out.
It's too close for comfort..."
It sounds like something from around the era of "The Land Of Rape And Honey", doesn't it? Since Ministry has drawn to a close, maybe Jourgensen can use "Disturbia" for a Revolting Cocks album.
Switching genres, I must say that I think that Chamillionaire is a great rapper.
I first became familiar with him through "Weird" Al Yankovic's "White And Nerdy", which spoofed his song "Ridin' (Dirty)". I listened to the original and I thought it was very danceable, yet opinionated.
In a way, I'm reminded of N.W.A. One of the best rap outfits of the 80s, they had a sound that could get you on the floor, and lyrics that provided food for thought when you laid back.
Chamillionaire sang the following lyrics in "Ridin' (Dirty)":
"Do what you thinkin' so,
I tried to let you go.
Turn on my blinker light
And then I swang it slow.
A nigga upset for sure
'Cause they think they know
That they catchin me with plenty of the drink and dro.
So they get behind me,
Tryin' to check my tags.
Look at my rearview and they smilin',
Thinkin' they'll catch me on the wrong; keep tryin'
'Cause they denyin' it's racial profilin'."
To me, these lyrics follow in the tradition of N.W.A's classic "Fuck Tha Police". It's a shame that many people may think of Chamillionaire as a mindless pop-rapper. If they were to listen to the lyrics of songs like "Ridin' (Dirty)", they might see that it's not so different from classic old school tracks.
Now it's time to message rap to pop-punk with the wonderfully talented Paramore.
I'm a particular fan of the track "Misery Business". I was doing some channel-surfing last year when I came across this track on (I think) Fuse. It was a track I could easily imagine pogoing to as fast as you can. Hayley Williams, lead singer of the group, is a stunner as well.
As I listen to "Misery Business", I think it's the greatest song that Blondie never wrote. The song would be perfect for Debbie Harry to take a swing at.
The lyrics have a great swagger about them. To wit:
"Second chances they don't ever matter, people never change.
Once a whore you're nothing more, I'm sorry, that'll never change.
And about forgiveness, we're both supposed to have exchanged.
I'm sorry honey, but I'm passin' up, now look this way.
Well there's a million other girls who do it just like you.
Looking as innocent as possible to get to who,
They want and what they like it's easy if you do it right.
Well I refuse, I refuse, I refuse!"
Back before Blondie was experimenting with rap and reggae, they were doing punk songs born of lives hard-lived, and I could easily imagine them doing a track like this. Ferocious like a motherfucker...Past, present and future.
This next comparison will probably come as a shocker, but I'm well-known for shocking words.
I became a fan of the Pussycat Dolls several years back.
For those of you who may trash this group, keep in mind that they started out in the 90s (the decade that many on here consider to be the alpha and omega of pop culture) as a modern-day burlesque troop before entering the singing world earlier this decade.
Although I don't have a picture of the cover or video, their latest hit is a song called "Jai Ho (You Are My Destiny)", an Americanized version of the "Slumdog Millionaire" song which took home the Best Original Song Oscar at this year's Academy Awards.
In some ways, I find myself being reminded of Peter Gabriel's classic track "In Your Eyes". Both songs have a world-beat flavor to them, and both have rhapsodically romantic lyrics.
Take these lyrics from "Jai Ho (You Are My Destiny)":
"(Jai Ho) You are the reason that I breathe,
(Jai Ho) You are the reason that I still believe,
(Jai Ho) You are my destiny,
Jai Ho! Uh-uh-uh-oh!
(Jai Ho) No there is nothing that can stop us
(Jai Ho) Nothing can ever come between us,
(Jai Ho) So come and dance with me,
Jai Ho! (oohh)"
As I listen to the lyrics with their international flavor, they strike me as similar to these lyrics from "In You Eyes":
"In your eyes,
The light, the heat.
In your eyes,
I am complete.
In your eyes,
I see the doorway
In your eyes
To a thousand churches.
In your eyes,
In your eyes,
Of all the fruitless searches.
Oh, I see the light and the heat,
In your eyes.
Oh, I want to be that complete.
In your eyes,
I want to touch the light, the heat I see in your eyes."
Moving onwards, I feel that Pink and The Donnas are both reminiscent of, respectively, Runaways alumni Joan Jett and Lita Ford,.
Pink has been a particular favorite for many years now. I'm a tremendous fan of the track "So What?". As you can tell from my previous articles, I'm a big fan of movies and songs that have the sentiment "fuck you", and "So What?" is a perfect example of that.
"So What?" reminds me a little of Joan Jett's classic hit "I Hate Myself For Loving You". Both tracks have a great sense of pop-rocking confusion to them.
I could easily imagine Jett singing the song "So What?".
Take these lyrics, for example:
"I guess I just lost my husband,
I don't know where he went,
but I'm gonna drink my money,
I'm not gonna pay his rent.
I got a brand-new attitude and I'm gonna wear it tonight.
I want to get in trouble,
I want to start a fight.
I want to start a fight.
I WANT TO START A FIGHT!"
It seems like a logical progression from "I Hate Myself For Loving You".
On a different tack, The Donnas' hit "Take It Off" strikes me as an updated version of Lita Ford's 1988 favorite "Kiss Me Deadly", which I talked about in "Some Of My Fave 80s Women". The way I listen to it, in both tracks, the lyrics are the foreplay and the instrumentals are the hard stuff. For me , the only difference in the two tracks is the fact that "Kiss Me Deadly" has synthesizers, but that's just fine with me. It always gets me to dancing.
You want some more pop-rock? Another band I like is Disturbed.
In some ways, Disturbed reminds me of Motley Crue. For me, the best example of that would be their track "10,000 Fists". A modern-day cry of rebellion, to me, it follows up in the grand tradition of tracks like "Shout At The Devil". In the group's autobiography "The Dirt", a tale is related of how Ronald Reagan was the devil the Crue was singing about. I could easily imagine the same words being hurled at today's leaders (Take your picks based on your beliefs), and "10,000 Fists" is the 21st century equivalent of "Shout At The Devil". I just try looking at things in a different way...I'm always willing to try a new sound.
We now come to Adele.
I first heard her hit "Chasing Pavements" when I pulled an all-nighter last year. I left work early because I was sick. I ended up puking for what seemed like minutes. I couldn't get any sleep that night, so I channel-surfed for hours. When I came upon VH1, I heard the track "Chasing Pavements", and I loved it.
For me, Adele follows in the tradition of British singers like Alison Moyet and Dusty Springfield. These women have soulful, powerful voices that you wouldn't expect because they're white.
Moyet is probably the most apt comparison for Adele. When I heard the chorus of "Chasing Pavements", it struck me as something that wouldn't be out of place on an album by Moyet:
"Should I give up
or should I just keep chasing pavements
even if it leads nowhere?
Or would it be a waste,
even if I knew my place?
Should I leave it there?
Should I give up
or should I just keep chasing pavements
even if it leads nowhere"?
For me, the song has some similarities to Moyet's hit "Invisible". Confusion is one of the biggest parts of love. Nothing is as it seems. You can be unsure of yourself or of your significant other, but would it be love if it weren't that way? I feel that "Chasing Pavements" is a wonderful song about the confusion of love...but isn't that always the way, though?
Now we move on to Maroon 5.
For me, Maroon 5 is like Hall and Oates for the 21st century.
I think that "Makes Me Wonder" is the best proof of that notion. It opens with a great bass guitar riff, and then the synthesizers kick in. The lyrics then speak of a man in confusion about his love life.
The lyrics that stick out for me the most are:
"I still don't have the reason
And you don't have the time
And it really makes me wonder if I ever gave a fuck about you".
How could that be similar to Hall And Oates? Well, the duo weren't exactly clean-cut. You need to bear in mind that they used the word "bitch" several times in the song "Rich Girl".
Love, hate and profanity...Strange how it can all go together.
On a different tack, we have Gym Class Heroes.
For me, the group follows closely in the footsteps of 80s funk singers...Back in the 80s, it was all about synthesizers, big hair and lyrics about getting freaky (which, of course, means it's all about fucking). Gym Class Heroes may not have jheri curls, but they do have the lyrics about getting freaky down-pat. Nowhere was this more evident than their hit "Clothes Off!", which was a reverse shot on the 80s classic "We Don't Have To Take Our Clothes Off" by the late Jermaine Stewart. Stewart's track was about abstinence...Gym Class Heroes' track was about doing the real thing. Stewart's track was enjoyable, yet wide of the mark among most 80s funk tracks. I think that Gym Class Heroes had the more traditional lyrics. I enjoy both songs, though.
Now let's get serious with Badly Drawn Boy.
In "Synthesis: The 80s And The 00s", I said that I think that Badly Drawn Boy could do a great cover of "Time After Time" by Cyndi Lauper. Lauper has done some good ballads..."True Colors", for example, is another one of her great songs. Songs about acceptance and making peace with the past, reconciling with the present and hoping for the best with the future...Badly Drawn Boy has things in common with Cyndi Lauper.
Take these lyrics from BDB's hit "Promises":
"A different day every day,
Don't want you to walk alone,
But how can we carry on
when all of these things have gone?
Just promise you will remember.
Promises last forever.
Right up to the dying ember,
The fire that burns so slowly".
For me, that seems like the 21st century equivalent of a track like "Time After Time". The TCM Remembers montage of 2007 introduced me to Badly Drawn Boy...Track it down on YouTube and you might enjoy it, too.
Now we move on to Ne-Yo and the solo Justin Timberlake, both of whom remind me of Michael Jackson.
Now, when I say Michael Jackson, I'm not talking about the emotionally damaged, plastic surgery-riddled, financially troubled Jackson of today. I'm talking about the Jackson of the 80s...The one who enjoyed a decent relationship with the press and had stunning dance moves. Jackson constantly and consistently floored audiences in the 80s with his musical abilities...I feel that Timberlake and Ne-Yo are carrying on in that tradition.
For example, Ne-Yo did a good version of the "A Little Longer" jingle for recent Big Red commercials. Jackson did some great commercials in the 80s, too, commercials that utilized his musical talents to the max. It may seem like selling out, but at least many people are honest about it. Money is good to have at hand.
As for Timberlake, he has great dance moves. He's one of the best dancers the 21st century has. Smooth moves and smooth vocals...I could only hope to dance half as well as he does. Back in the 80s, Jackson shocked the world, in a good way, with the Moonwalk. I think that Timberlake could do something as amazing, if not better than that, someday. I'll keep an eye out for it.
To wrap things up, I'd like to mention Sara Bareilles and the solo Gwen Stefani, both of whom remind me of Madonna.
Bareilles is probably an odd choice to remind me of Madonna, but her track "Love Song" seems like a descendant of Madonna's hit "Cherish". If "Love Song" were done with the addition of synthesizers and horns, I think the resemblance might be more pronounced. "Love Song" is teasing, while "Cherish" is straight-forward. Both songs showcase 2 different aspects of love...Courtship and relationship.
On a personal note, I've often bemoaned my love life in my articles, but I recently came to a conclusion. I don't have confidence in myself...I don't like myself, much less love myself. If I don't think positive things about myself, then how I can expect a woman to think positively about me? My psychologist is helping me out a lot on that front. Even though I don't really love myself yet, I am starting to like myself. So, for those of you are wondering about your love lives, first look inwards at yourself. If you don't like what you see, look outward for help. Psychologists are great...Yes, they cost money, but they're worth every penny.
Anyway, to cap it off, I would like to mention Gwen Stefani. Now besides the blond hair, Stefani's solo work has a sound reminiscent of Madonna's. I'll be honest...I don't care for her work with No Doubt, but Stefani solo, on the other hand, is something of great enjoyment. Her track "The Sweet Escape" sounds like something that, if it were sped up and given synthesizer flourishes, wouldn't have sounded out of place on Madonna's first album. The exhilaration of love was shown in Madonna's early work, and it shows in Stefani's solo work, too.
For many on here, music was felt to be losing credibility by the time the 90s drew to a close. For me, on the other hand, the late 90s was when things started to get good again, but then again, I think that's because my life was bad for a lot of the 90s. Once 2000 rolled around, things started to greatly improve on many different fronts.
As the 00s draw to a close, I think that today's music is something of great pleasure. The 80s will always be my favorite decade for music, but somewhere in this decade, I came to the conclusion that this is a good time for music, too. Bear in mind, though, that these are artists *I* like. Your mileage may vary.
So, with that, the floor is open for discussions:
What music of the 00s do you like? Why is modern-day music thrashed so thoroughly, not just on here, but in other places as well? Would you be willing to try some modern music on for size?