Whilst thinking about tracks to nominate for this list, I did try to consider any major leaps or bounds which occurred in musical styles throughout the decade. The more I thought about this, the more I came to the conclusion that the main noughties trend which appeared to be without precedent (bar a couple of jokey examples towards the end of the nineties which set the ball rolling) was the mash-up.
Taking the melody of one record and splicing the vocals (or other aspects) of another across the top of it has become an online phenomenon, although the limits of such an idea meant that the whole affair appeared to have totally lost the interest of most record buyers by early 2005 (and I remain convinced that I first heard somebody say mash-ups were 'over' in 2001). From starting life as a bold way of crossing genres and making people realise that everything is, as Andy Partridge once said, pop, then becoming a worn and tired gimmick, it's perfectly possible that people will actually be nostalgic about mash-ups next year if things move fast enough.
This really was the deserved pinnacle of the phenomenon, a Richard X track which merrily spliced Gary Numan’s Are Friends Electric with Adina Howard’s Freak Like Me, and managed to turn Numan’s alienated, distraught paean to the collapse of a relationship into a sassy, savage little declaration of intent, flipping the concept almost entirely. Unlike many mash-ups which seemed to have brief moments where the tracks obviously clashed and jarred slightly, the pair seemed absurdly made for each other, and this became something of an underground favourite.
Of course, the natural upshot of the track’s fashionable cultish following was that the Sugababes ended up covering the mash-up in an example of post-modernism gone utterly, utterly mad, and their first number one was assured. In fact, there’s not an enormous degree of difference between the two versions, and this entry could just as easily belong to them – but the original has a bit more rawness and punch to it thanks to Adina’s vocals, and still sounds astonishing even now whilst the trend seems passé.
As for the inevitable question of what the trend of recycling old material and splicing it with other old material really said about the state of pop as the 21st Century began, I actually quite like the fact that, right at the starting block, we had a phenomenon that claimed that all music was just pop, and could be listened to as such - that artists who seemed to exist at polar opposites to each other actually weren't as far apart as one might suppose, and could co-exist happily. It's perhaps not the terrible start to the century some would say it is, and reflects the rather more open approach to music which has been instigated as the Internet has allowed people to sample a much broader range of styles for free. Now though, perhaps it’s time to move on to the future, whatever that may be.
[Part stream from Richard X's Black Melody site]