07 November 2016

top 100 of the '00s | 56. stefy - "chelsea"

From the Eurythmics-esque opening synth hook that punches hard to the saccharine flow of Stefy Rae Eustace's voice in the verses to the fabulously hooky chorus, this is flawless modern synthpop through and through.

The album as a whole has a California/Orange County tinge that seemed to permeate a lot of media during this time. Maybe it's because The OC was popular, or because California has always been cool, but I think it's largely something else: This album came out in fall 2006, when social media was nascent enough to not yet be the pop culture pipeline that it became. Americans still looked largely to traditional media for what was cool, and traditional (entertainment) media has always been centered around New York and California.

I think this album acts almost as a final glimpse into that "what's cool" window.

This song in particular is simply incredible. Her voice is perfect for it, and you'll be singing it the rest of the day after one listen.

top 100 of the '00s | 57. ladyhawke - "paris is burning"

When this came out in fall 2008, pop music was starting to trend back toward electronic pop, a pivot from a decade of hip-hop domination.

Alternative music was only a few months behind. Indie rock had been the driving force of that scene since the end of the '90s grunge era. Around 2005, some of these bands started incorporating keyboards, but since the music was still heavily traditional rock it was branded "dance rock" (think LCD Soundsystem, Franz Ferdinand, etc.).

I found Ladyhawke on a blog that I followed at the time of cool new electronic music. I was in love instantly and knew I could get away with pitching it for rotation on the campus radio station because of its undeniably rock orientation. This was September. I wouldn't feel truly validated until March, when I attended the SxSW conference and heard multiple DJs spin it.

There isn't even much to say about it musically; it's just a great song. Both verses and hook are instantly singable, and the pleasant little bell synth motif in the song's final act is simply radiant.

03 November 2016

top 100 of the '00s | 58. gnarls barkley - "crazy"

It's now been over a decade since this track's release, and I can say with decent confidence that I've still not heard another song that sounds quite like it does. It samples a song from a 1960s Western film significantly enough for its composers to receive a writing credit here, but subtly enough that ears in 2006 would not immediately make that sonic connection.

Instead, it comes together as a sort of Motown throwback for the modern era, its orchestral section acting as a lifter for Cee Lo's high-pitched voice. There are moments where his singing and the violins are nearly indistinguishable.

It's certainly got staying power and shows all signs that it's on its way to being regarded as a classic. No disagreement here.

02 November 2016

top 100 of the '00s | 59. randell & schippers - "alice in wonderland"

At one of our weekly college radio staff meetings back in 2005, our general manager and host of the Tuesday night goth music show slid me a promo CD she'd received in her mail that week, saying she felt it was more appropriate for my retro club-oriented show -- "It has that sheen," she said.

I don't know what I expected, but it certainly wasn't what I heard. This is a perfect mid-'00s house thumper that has very obvious influences from '90s eurohouse, but it's so much more than that. It's a fairy tale, one that we're all familiar with in every sense of its subject matter.

We all know the story of Alice in Wonderland, and the version told here is not the traditional one. Instead, we meet characters like Mr. Jive Turkey and Mr. Do-Good Stranger as we follow Alice from her financially-troubled father's removal of her silver spoon to her journey into the big city.

The hardest part of growing up is the destroying of the set pieces we've been accustomed to throughout our childhoods and being forced to look at the actual moving parts on the stage. Being able to laugh about it feels nice.