PDD Presents: Tops of the Decade (Part I)

December 28th, 2009 · 11 Comments

A Decade’s Flotsam

I always thought I’d feel a little more, I don’t know, poignant facing the end of the 2000s; this is, after all, the end of my first decade as a full-grown adult (hello credit card debt). From a certain perspective culturally the aughts were a breath of fresh air — anyone remember what people were wearing, watching and listening to at the end of the 20th century? In the 2000s, you could turn on the (rapidly dying) FM radio and reasonably expect to hear something good on the mainstream hits station — and it could be a rock song, a country song, a hip-hop song, a dance song …

Personal regrets? Well, I’ve only been overseas twice in the past decade. And I alwaysdid think I would be more World Famous by 2010 … Anyways, enough of the foofaraw, let’s pay homage to the decade that brought us both the completed map of the cow genome and the Snuggie by condensing it into an easily consumed list. Don’t read this as any sort of definitive; although I’m sure you’ll be shocked to hear this, I really haven’t listened to every album, watched every film, or smoked every strain of clinically produced medical-grade marijuana produced in the 2000s. And there may be some changes in a year, a month, a day to my feelings about these lists; this is merely how I feel as I stand on the precipice of the decade …

Read on after the jump to read Part I of my top albums, singles, pizza toppings and more! Come back tomorrow for the exciting conclusion!!!

PDD’s Top 25 Albums of the 2000s


Andrew WK - I Get Wet (2001)

This man rocked me as a college freshman. And yes, I got wet.


Belle and Sebastian - Dear Catastrophe Waitress (2003)

An out-of-the-gates classic, and one that weirdly took me a while to really dig (it sat in my room unreviewed for months after I received an advance copy). Stuart Murdoch has never written a better pop tune than “I’m a Cuckoo”, a better ode to capital “L” Love than “If You Find Yourself Caught in Love”, a better tribute to Elvis Costello than “Stay Loose”, or a better gay fantasy about Mike Piazza than “Piazza, New York Catcher”.


Blur - Think Tank (2003)

Probably the highest on the list of bands that just plain need to stay together. Come on Blur, can’t you just hold your nose, put out albums every four years and never tour? You’ll have plenty of time for stupid side projects!


Clipse - Hell Hath No Fury (2006)

It’s hard to say what’s better about this album — a return (if only briefly) of rap to the business of compact album-making, or the dense and unrelenting punishment the sheer sound to which Clipse and producers the Neptunes subject listeners.


Deerhoof - Friend Opportunity (2007)

I completely blew this one off when I reviewed it for Venus Magazine back in 2007, but I was on a grumpy critic power trip — Deerhoof nails it on this one. Everything weird and schizo you ever loved about the band plus focus.


The Dismemberment Plan - Change (2001)

What a difference a decade makes. At the beginning of the aughts, you could find nary a hipster tastemaker singing the praises of this DC post-hardcore band; now you can’t mention them without a scoff or a protective verbal distancing. For myself, I think they were a little overrated, their singer’s solo career a bit misguided, but this album still hits it for me.


The Exploding Hearts - Guitar Romantic (2003)

Unapologetically, unpretentiously fun guitar pop. This record hit me (and I believe a lot of other people) at a time when I was desperate for this kinda stuff. And hey, I basically spent the next year in a band that got off pretending it was even remotely near as cool as the Hearts.


Fiery Furnaces - Widow City (2007)

I overlooked this brother/sister duo during the initial hype of its EPs/Blueberry Boat-era, but there was probably a reason for that — the Fiery Furnaces got better and better as they progressed. Not-so-strangely enough, the critics started jumping ship on the two, which is probably a sign in the band’s favor. Widow City is the pinnacle of the duo’s achievements thus far; catchy, ambitious, overlong, weird and always new on return listens.


Ghostface Killah - Fishscale (2006)

“Real hip-hop fans” will call Supreme Clientelle Ghostface’s record of the decade. I cry foul. Fishscale is his true achievement — an almost 40-year-old rapper just now reaching his artistic peak and blowing just about every other rapper out of the water. With barely any record sales to back it up.


Jay-Z - The Black Album (2003)

Yes, same with Kid A/Amnesiac: I just listen to this one more. It also hit me at a ripe time and seemed to be everywhere. It became synonymous with partying and good times. Wow, listen to this justification … if by some sick circumstance an Insane Clown Posse album had become synonymous with partying and good times at some point in my past, would I be putting it on this list? This is why I’m a shitty music critic.


LCD Soundsystem - Sounds of Silver (2007)

Another record made by an artist at the height of his talent. As rock music, once a playground for strictly the young, gets older and older, the age limit for visceral records rises.


The Libertines - Up the Bracket (2003)

Much like the Exploding Hearts, the Libertines played unapologetically fun guitar pop (though perhaps guilty of a few more dashes of pretension), albeit in a more herky-jerky Brit-pop vein. Up the Bracket was definitely a jewel in the rough, and outlives just about every other so-called garage rock revival record released in the early aughts.


Magnetic Fields - Distortion (2007)

I admit, I was a little put off by the album’s concept of distorting the hell out of pop songs a la the Jesus and Mary Chain — Magnetic Fields’ brand of pop relies so much on the (hear almost inaudible) dry ‘n’ clever wordplay of the lyrics. But after a couple listens, the noise is just, well, noise, and what stands out is that these are some of the best songs of Stephen Merritt’s career, a high if ever there was one.


Mahjongg - Raydoncong (2005)

Yeah, I know these guys, and that fact is inextricably tied up with my feelings about their debut album. But for the first time knowing people who were actually releasing a record that people knew about, and that was, by the way, fantastic, was something new to me. Mahjongg shows played immediately before and after Raydoncong were, for a select community of Chicago, IL and Columbia, MO fans and friends, a thing of wonder, and it’s easy to imagine the possibility that I won’t feel that new again.


New Pornographers - Mass Romantic (2000)

A true supergroup, and Mass Romantic was the moment the individual members, all from very desperate corners of the indie music universe, exploded with a back catalog of invention and pop/rock know-how.


Radiohead - Amnesiac (2001)

Yeah, so I listen to Amnesiac more than Kid A. I just like it better. And it’s the last truly classic (but not last classy) thing these guys ever did.


The Reigning Sound - Too Much Guitar (2004)

I’ve come very, very, very late to the party on this band, but I’m glad I could show up. Just about every record they’ve released in their barely decade-long existence is a classic, and Too Much Guitar is the peak of Greg Cartwright’s songwriting, showcasing the band at its most diverse — riding the poles between nuggets-style thrashers such as “Your Love Is a Fine Thing” and “I’ll Cry”, and heart-broken ballads such as “If You Can’t Give Me Everything” and “Drowning”.


Spoon - Girls Can Tell (2001)

Definitely my favorite of the band’s albums, which is interesting considering how greatly they’ve advanced this decades. And who else but Britt Daniel could write such a triumphant song about fitted shirts?


Stars - Set Yourself on Fire (2004)

As you can see, all it takes for me is some well-crafted pop tunes. They make you wanna tap your toes. It’s a crime the folks in this band aren’t bonafide “stars” by now!!!


The Streets - A Grand Don’t Come for Free (2004)

For the most part the British grime/2-step/garage stuff doesn’t thrill me; Mike Skinner and his Streets are the definite exception. The personal narrative about rising from punky street kid to hero superstar was its most affecting on this album. And there’s something about the way he talks about Macky D’s and “queueing” that though superficially foreign, feels so familiar to a fellow 20-something.


The Strokes - Is This It (2001)

One of the defining albums of its time, maybe merely for the fact that these were, well, songs, and they weren’t alt-rocked to death with digital guitar layers. And nine years later, the thing that sticks about Is This It is that, yes, these were tunes; my money’s on Julian Casablancas never writing a song as effective as “Hard to Explain”.


Super Furry Animals - Rings Around the World (2001)

They’re big, they’re furry, and they gots them some hooks. Of all the almost-huge Brit-pop bands, it’s clear these guys were most righteously gypped by not being super huge.


Walkmen - Bows + Arrows (2004)

What’s great about the Walkmen is how many fans they have for a band that seems as self-guiding and unmoved by public opinion as it is. Hamilton Leithauser’s vocals are as caustic and off-putting as indie rock gets, and the band obscures good hooks with as much fury as they seem to write them. Bows + Arrows is still the band’s strongest album, but they haven’t made a bad one yet.


White Rabbits - It’s Frightening (2008)

Yeah, I know these guys too. I think this album is fantastic, a grower, and it’s only going to get better from here. It took me a few live performances of these songs to fully realize how deep these tunes run. Plus Steve dedicated their best song to me one time, and it was kewl.


Yo La Tengo - I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass (2006)

Like the Fiery Furnaces, Yo La Tengo is a band that, for my tastes, gets better with age — and clocking in at a three-decades existence, YLT is a slow-burner. The awesomely named I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass is perhaps my favorite of the band’s albums, showcasing the subtle, tasteful playing of the band, with a mix of songs that feel like a dream marriage of Velvet Underground-era John Cale and Paris 1919 John Cale.

Top 10 Albums That Are Not Getting Anywhere Near This List

… And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead - Source Tags and Codes (2002)
The Decemberists - The Crane Wife (2006)
Interpol - Turn on the Bright Lights (2001)
The Knife - Silent Shout (2006)
Missouri Sex Offenders - Xanadudes EP (2005)
Wilco - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (2002)
Microphones - The Glow Pt. 2 (2001)
Grizzly Bear - Veckatimest (2009)
Slayer - Christ Illusion (2006)
Brian Wilson - Smile (2004)

PDD’s Top 50 Singles of the 2000s

+ !!! - “Me and Giuliani Down by the Schoolyard” (2003)
+ Andrew WK - “I Get Wet” (2001)
+ Animal Collective - “My Girls” (2009)
+ Battles - “Atlas” (2007)
+ Belle and Sebastian - “I’m a Cuckoo” (2004)
+ Beyoncé feat. Jay-Z - “Crazy in Love” (2003)
+ Blink-182 - “All the Small Things” (2000)
+ Cam’ron - “Hey Ma” (2002)
+ Camera Obscura - “Swans” (b-side, 2009)
+ Clipse - “Grindin’” (2002)
+ Daft Punk - “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” (2001)
+ Dr. Dre feat. Snoop Dogg - “The Next Episode” (2000)
+ The Darkness - “I Believe In a Thing Called Love” (2003)
+ Missy Elliott - “Gossip Folks” (2003)
+ The Exploding Hearts - “Modern Kicks” (2002)
+ Ghostface Killah feat. Ne-Yo - “Back Like That” (2006)
+ Guided by Voices - “Glad Girls” (2001)
+ Jay-Z - “Izzo (H.O.V.A.)” (2001)
+ Justice - “D.A.N.C.E.” (2007)
+ Toby Keith - “As Good As I Once Was” (2005)
+ The Killers - “When You Were Young” (2006)
+ LCD Soundsystem - “Losing My Edge” (2002)
+ The Libertines - “Don’t Look Back into the Sun” (2003)
+ Lil’ Jon & the East Side Boyz feat. Ying Yang Twins - “Get Low” (2003)
+ Lil’ Wayne - “A Milli” (2008)
+ M.I.A. - “Paper Planes” (2008)
+ N.E.R.D. - “Lapdance” (2001)
+ The North American Hallowe’en Prevention Initiative - “Do They Know It’s Hallowe’en?” (2005)
+ Outkast - “Hey Ya” (2003)
+ Brad Paisley - “American Saturday Night” (2009)
+ Prince - “Cinammon Girl” (2004)
+ R Kelly - “Ignition (Remix) (2003)
+ Radiohead - “Bodysnatchers” (2007)
+ Snoop Dogg feat. Pharrell - “Drop It Like It’s Hot” (2004)
+ Britney Spears - “Toxic” (2004)
+ Spoon - “You Got Yr Cherry Bomb” (2007)
+ Stars - “Reunion” (2005)
+ The Streets - “Blinded By the Lights” (2004)
+ The Strokes - “12:51″ (2003)
+ The Strokes - “Hard to Explain” (2001)
+ T.I. - “What You Know” (2006)
+ Terror Squad - “Lean Back” (2004)
+ Three 6 Mafia - “Stay Fly” (2005)
+ Justin Timberlake - “Like I Love You” (2002)
+ Twista feat. Kanye West and Jamie Foxx - “Slow Jamz” (2004)
+ UGK feat. Outkast - “International Player’s Anthem” (2007)
+ The Walkmen - “The Rat” (2004)
+ White Rabbits - “Percussion Gun” (2009)
+ White Stripes - “Hotel Yorba” (2001)
+ Yeah Yeah Yeahs - “Maps” (2003)

Come back tomorrow to read my top movies, TV shows, and other random mish-mash of the 2000s!

Tags: Films · Lists · News · Special · Tops

11 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Ben // Dec 28, 2009 at 3:41 pm

    No disagreement here, though I’d replace R. Kelly’s TP3-Reloaded with The Black Album. Years from now, Trapped in The Closet Parts 1-5 will be looked at as the defining moment in black music in the aughts, Jay-Z will be a footnote.

  • 2 Joel // Dec 28, 2009 at 4:03 pm

    i really wish i could’ve included more r kelly here but seems like some of my fave jams of his weren’t actual singles and, i dunno, i don’t listen to his entire albums very much …

    hopefully we’ll see eye to eye on tomorrow’s list but i’ll warn you: “how high” and “baller blockin’” didn’t make the cut :(

  • 3 DonnyDaDon // Dec 28, 2009 at 6:30 pm

    nice list. here’s mine:

    1. Porcupine Tree - Lightbulb Sun
    2. Radiohead - In Rainbows
    3. Interpol - Turn on the Bright Lights
    4. Queens of the Stone Age - Songs for the Deaf
    5. Porcupine Tree - In Absentia
    6. Radiohead - Kid A
    7. Wilco - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
    8. Beck - Sea Change
    9. Wilco - A Ghost is Born
    10. Sleater-Kinney - The Woods


  • 4 Special Mixtape 12.30.09 :: The Top Singles of the Decade // Dec 30, 2009 at 1:10 am

    […] PDD Presents: Tops of the Decade (Part I) […]

  • 5 Christian BC // Jan 4, 2010 at 11:14 am

    I so badly want to make a comprehensive “Best Of” list but the more I read of yours, the more I realized I’d never be able to place them all.

    What does the “Top 10 Albums That Are Not Getting Anywhere Near This List” mean?

  • 6 Joel // Jan 4, 2010 at 11:17 am

    stuff i don’t like

  • 7 Christian BC // Jan 5, 2010 at 1:08 pm

    Woah dude. I agree with almost all of those, but AYWKUBTTOD?! come on bro. And MSO?! Those guys shred.

  • 8 Niche Blueprint 2 // Jan 6, 2010 at 12:04 pm

    They are some cool memories man - its kind of sad leaving the 00’s behind us…

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