I’ve probably delved a little bit into this subject before, but I’ve actually done some deep thinking about it this time. Every decade since the 1950s has had a few things it’s remembered for musically. But what will people be thinking when they look back in ten or twenty years on the music of the 2000s? (As a side note, does that sound weird to anyone else, saying “2000s,” or is it just me?)
Here’s what I’ve been able to gather just by my own humble listening observations. In the early 2000s, you had post-grunge bands start to emerge, such as Three Days Grace and Nickelback. They’re doing well now, but manufactured pop (some of the stuff being played on Top 40 stations such as Richmond’s Q94 is getting almost unlistenable, cheesy and awful lately) has become more commonplace. I can think of two prime examples of annoying, manufactured pop becoming more center-stage.
The first example is Gwen Stefani. She used to be the lead singer of No Doubt in the 1990s and early 2000s. I really liked No Doubt. A few years ago when she started her solo career, she (in my opinion) regressed severely into the teen/bubblegum pop sinkhole (For a thorough definition of the word “sinkhole” in this context, try and force yourself to get through the duration of her song, “Hollaback Girl”).
Second example? Avril Lavigne. She made her debut in the early 2000s as a refreshing alternative pop rock artist with a unique sound. She, too, has now fallen into the hole (Compare her 2002 song “Complicated” with last year’s “Girlfriend” for clarification).
Punk pop groups (I like some, but others drive me up the wall) such as The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, Quietdrive, and Simple Plan (Is it just me or do all the lead singers of these bands have the exact same high pitch, whiny voices?), also surfaced a lot more throughout the decade.
The urban scene has also seen unprecedented mainstream growth, and with more varieties. There is a clear difference between the urban sound of even the late 1990s and today. There’s a lot more electronic influence and instruments, as well as voice synthesizers and a lot of resampling.
Singer-songwriters have made a big comeback, too. James Blunt, Jack Johnson, and John Mayer have seen great success in their careers. Their mellow, voice-driven tracks are refreshing in a sea of otherwise manufactured music. I’ll get to that in a minute. Other successful singer-songwriters like Sara Bareilles and Colbie Caillat have really brought us back to earth in the same respect, as well.
1990s favorites such as The Gin Blossoms, The Goo Goo Dolls, and Collective Soul have made attempts throughout the 2000s to put out new singles and have, for the most part, failed. They just don’t have the musical charisma they had in the late ’90s. Don’t get me wrong, these were some of my favorite artists in the mid 1990s, but they just don’t make the same kind of music anymore. I bet that will change throughout the next decade, because it seems as if trends skip a decade and come back.
Emo music (I’m cringing) will be another thing the decade is remembered for. Evanescence started the trend in the early 2000s, and the movement has grown in recent years. They’re not as bad as some other emo-type bands, but they’re still a little to dark and “I-hate-my-life” for my tastes.
So where do we stand? We’re in the midst of a small 1980s revival, strangely enough in urban music, with the use of ’80s sound effects and keyboards. What’s old is new again. It’s only natural. How much more can we really do technology-wise, without having them all sound manufactured and computer-generated, anyway? There’s been a trend of ’80s music being resampled and artists making successful comebacks, such as INXS, Duran Duran, and The Cars (reincarnated as The New Cars).
It will be really interesting to see where things go as we head into the next decade. It was even more interesting to see the musical soundscape evolve throughout this decade. I was so young in the 1990s that deciphering the music of that decade is more like just digging around in the past. This was right before my eyes, and I find it pretty fascinating.