How long can you stand apart from a song, revering it with ironic snark before it morphs into genuine love? I’ve embraced my passion for good-bad music for a good 10 years now. Incredible tunes released throughout the “aughts” colored my formative years—for better or worse. The decade also produced some really, really bad music that’s burrowed its way into my conscious. For every subtle composition or subversive genre, there's been an equally inconsequential power chord or vacuous dance beat.
On that note, rather than deliver a premature batch of year-end lists, enjoy my Guilty Pleasure Tracks: 2000-2010, in chronological order. Most folks are too embarrassed to openly indulge in their secret musical favorites, so pick their brains and give them the gift that keeps on giving—if only behind closed doors.
2000: We didn’t die from Y2K, and hits like Lifehouse’s “Hanging By a Moment” or “Kryptonite” by 3 Doors Down reflected our newfound optimism along with the emotional immediacy and intelligence of a Rachel Leigh Cook flick. Even The Smashing Pumpkins’ (first) swan song, “Stand Inside Your Love,” cheesed up any cred they’d earned from the grunge era.
2001: Our love of wussy rock continued unabated when Pete Yorn’s “For Nancy” was declared the Best Thing in Rock and Roll. Then things got real in September when the public made hits out of aggressive, politically-tinged songs like System of a Down’s “Chop Suey!” whose moronic lyrics “Grab the brush, put on a little makeup/why’d you leave the keys up on the table” were somehow anchored by the “deep” image of angels deserving to die.
2002: Eminem ruled and everything he did right culminated in the song “Lose Yourself”, an anthem so powerful that it could turn your mom onto rap (or pump you up to take that totally-hard calculus test). Finally, someone articulated the hardships of being white and facing adversity, or something.
2003: Remember when emo came along to add lyrical depth to the sugar-coated void left by mainstream songs like “I Believe in a Thing Called Love” by The Darkness? I can remember the magic of listening to Dashboard Confessional’s “Hands Down” with a girlfriend and the freckles in our eyes perfectly aligned. Oh wait, that’s when we were listening to “Such Great Heights” by The Postal Service.
2004: Even country stations were playing The Killers’ “Somebody Told Me” and “All the Things That I’ve Done.” In a rare case of united taste, indie kids and Top 40 fans clapped along to the line, “I’ve got soul but I’m not a soldier.” Everyone looked stupid.
2005: Black Eyed Peas’ “My Humps” burned the image of Fergie’s “lovely lady lumps” into our brains while Fall Out Boy came out swinging with “Sugar, We’re Going Down” and Nine Inch Nails’ silliest single “The Hand that Feeds” temporarily revoked Trent Reznor’s status as a dark rock overlord.
2006: Self-important music critics are still trying to (heh) justify Justin Timberlake’s “SexyBack” with all its “take it to the choruses” and self-censored profanity (Flight of the Conchords’ “Mother Ucker,” anyone?). Other writers were trying compare the theatrics of My Chemical Romance’s “Welcome to the Black Parade” to Queen. More were writing about the footing Weird Al gained via YouTube with his single “White and Nerdy.” What’s up all these writers trying to put so much importance on these silly songs? Oh…
2007: A very historical year for Tween-Grinding-Tween Music by tween star Soulja Boy and his song “Crank That.” Late-night bowling alleys overflowed with 15 year-olds trying to “superman the hoes.” Also, while Rihanna took cover, Britney Spears phoned-in some of her most enjoyable songs to date—“Gimme More” and “Piece of Me,” both of which boast production values likely lost upon the wayward diva.
2008: Nearly a decade after waging war on Napster, Metallica came back with “The Day that Never Comes” an eight-minute epic that only sucked half as much as anything on the St. Anger album. T.I.’s “Live Your Life” affirmed that you do, indeed, gotta live your life (Ohhh! Eyyy!) but was accompanied by Empire of the Sun’s “Walking on a Dream”—an undeniably cheesy/sweet tune about running “for the thrill of it.” Perhaps if things kept on going this way, even the worst music at the end of the decade would be meaningful and have a positive impact…