Saturday, March 04, 2017

40 From 40: 2002

At the time, 2002 was portrayed as a nadir for popular music. Alongside Westlife's peak of popularity, a decline in British interest in the Billboard Hot 100 and much hand-wringing about the effect of filesharing as the pop charts turned fifty years old, Pop Idol happened and Will Young's single sold in figures only Candle In The Wind '97 had glimpsed before. This was of course all seen as the harbinger of the end of it all, reducing everything to a Cowellocracy, not so much like punk never happened as the previous decade being wiped out too and everyone being general light entertainers again. For the next couple of years you couldn't move for reviews and press releases claiming some act or another were "the antidote to Cowell manufactured pop" as if they were the one true light in the darkness when everyone else in the world who wanted to make music was in an audition queue. Other things, contrary to popular belief, happened - even in the pop world, where the mashup/bootleg craze hit critical mass as Sugababes 2.0 covered Girls On Top (Richard X)'s We Don't Give A Damn About Our Friends, Blazin' Squad attempted to harness the previous year's garage underground march for the pop audience, and Daniel Bedingfield went to number one with If You're Not The One, a song Cowell chose on Desert Island Discs and claimed would be a standard in twenty years' time. Well, still five to go. Hell, even in the reality pop show world, as Girls Aloud formed right at its end. Against that, Noel Gallagher telling all and sundry to "listen to the Beatles and write some proper songs" wasn't exactly the bravado it once might have resembled. What else? Various musicians were angry about the impending Iraqi invasion, Coldplay made their international enormo-breakthrough, the superclub era ended with Cream's closure, BBC 6 Music began on 11th March, Graham Coxon left Blur, John Entwistle died, We Will Rock You proved critic-proof, Brian Wilson toured Smile, the Neptunes took over R&B and electroclash failed to happen outside the style magazines, though a decade on that sound would have its unexpected revenge. Fischerspooner were signed for a million pounds, you know.

Such noise and confusion is of course grist to this particular mill, a year that encompassed the initial rise of James Murphy's DFA empire and the dance-punk scene, the grouping of abrasive, loud, grimy British bands that the NME attempted to entitle The Scene With No Name, the peak of weird R&B production and the eclecticism of what a modern singer-songwriter could be.

LCD Soundsystem - Losing My Edge
The infamous agenda-setting debut single, eventually released on the 2CD version of the eponymous album
The Rapture - House Of Jealous Lovers
And the other track that did the punk-funk trick, charted a year later and then on Echoes
Radio 4 - Our Town
Another DFA client, from the tremendously underrated Gotham!
Clinic - Walking With Thee
From the album of the same name
Wire - In The Art Of Stopping
First entirely new material in eleven years, and it raged back. From Send
Electric Six - Danger! High Voltage
They never did confirm it's Jack White. From Fire
The Cooper Temple Clause - Film Maker
From See This Through And Leave
Mclusky - To Hell With Good Intentions
From Mclusky Does Dallas
The Buff Medways - Troubled Mind
From Steady The Buffs, Billy Childish's hundredth album and the closest he got to actual mainstream attraction - playlisted on 6 Music, released on Graham Coxon's label. Childish didn't welcome it at all, obviously
Liam Lynch - United States of Whatever
Still the shortest ever top ten single, and yes, I'm aware it appeared on Sifl & Olly in 1999 but didn't get released until this year. From Fake Songs
Miss Black America - Infinite Chinese Box
From God Bless Miss Black America
Liars - Mr Your On Fire Mr
From They Threw Us All In A Trench And Stuck A Monument On Top
Queens of the Stone Age - No One Knows
Go, Grohl, go! From Songs For The Deaf
...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead - Another Morning Stoner
From the 10.0 Pitchfork rated - it isn't worth that really, but worth remembering that - Source Tags And Codes
Guided By Voices - Everywhere With Helicopter
From Universal Truths And Cycles
Interpol - PDA
From Turn On The Bright Lights
Broken Social Scene - Cause = Time
From You Forgot It In People Mew - Am I Wry? No
*sigh* Yes, it was released first in 2000 on Half The World Is Watching Me, but the 2002 single version was a different mix and the first time it had been widely available. OK? OK. From Frengers, which may have been our album of the year
Idlewild - You Held The World In Your Arms
From The Remote Part
British Sea Power - The Lonely
From The Decline Of British Sea Power
Rocket Science - One Robot
Don't sleep on this one, the Melbourne band's expressive sci-fi garage looked like it was going to do something big until the singer ended up in an induced coma after an accident. From Contact High
The Polyphonic Spree - Soldier Girl
Sorry about the fanvideo there. Would love to have featured the compactly joyous 2:30 single version of this instead - in fact, here it is - but there you go. From The Beginning Stages Of The Polyphonic Spree
Ballboy - A Europewide Search For Love
From A Guide For The Daylight Hours
The Flaming Lips - Do You Realize??
From Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots
Low - (That's How You Sing) Amazing Grace
From Trust
Beck - Lost Cause
From Sea Change
Madrugada - Majesty
Haunting Norwegian melancholia, from Grit
Johnny Cash - Personal Jesus
We're trying to steer clear of covers in these compilations, but the American Recordings versions feel so much like Cash's own that it might seem unfair not to acknowledge them. From American IV
The Mountain Goats - The Best Ever Death Metal Band In Denton
From All Hail West Texas - and Tallahassee came out in the same year!
The Electric Soft Parade - Silent To The Dark
And not what Spotify says the track is, don't know what's happened there. From Holes In The Wall
Boards Of Canada - Music Is Math
From Geogaddi
Brandy - What About Us?
Rodney Jerkins on production. From Full Moon
Missy Elliott - Work It
Run DMC sample in here, which we'd never spotted before. From Under Construction
Ms Dynamite - Dy-Na-Mi-Tee
From A Little Deeper
The Streets - Let's Push Things Forward
Has aged better than the Artful Dodger reference. From Original Pirate Material
Doves - There Goes The Fear
From The Last Broadcast
Ladytron - Seventeen
From Light & Magic
Elvis Costello - When I Was Cruel No.2
The first great Costello album in years, the centrepiece and near-title track another from his personal file of expansive, wordy long songs
Cornershop - Staging The Plaguing Of The Raised Platform
From Handcream For A Generation
Ikara Colt - May B 1 Day
Atypical of their work apart from the backing vocal shouting, fair to say. From Chat & Business
The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster - Chicken
From Horse Of The Dog

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