Intensities in Ten Suburbs

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Archive for December, 2009

10 Years, 100 Songs: #11. “Inside You’re Ugly, Ugly Like Me”

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on December 12, 2009

Over the final months of our fine decade, Intensities in Ten Suburbs will be sending the Naughty Oughties out in style with a series of essays devoted to the top 100 songs of the decade–the ones we will most remember as we look back fondly on this period of pop music years down the road. The archives can be found here. If you want to argue about the order, you can’t, because we’re not totally sure what the qualifications are either. Otherwise, sit back and enjoy.

If you want to believe the history books, the Power Ballad probably died sometime around 1989, after the release of Warrant’s “Heaven” and Poison’s “Every Rose Has It’s Thorn.” For reasons I don’t quite understand, you never hear the term–about as worthwhile and useful a musical descriptor as any in pop nomenclature–applied to songs past that point in rock history. In all likelihood f I wanted to talk about the all-time great power ballads and threw songs like Temple of the Dog’s “Hunger Strike” or Oasis’s “Champagne Supernova” into the discussion, I’d get lots of rolled eyes and “well, yeah, but…” type comments. But in my opinion, if you have a striking guitar riff, a majestically chugging rhythm section, and/or especially a great chorus that makes fans want to shout along while waving lighters/cell phones in the air (the latter option arguably being the worst asepct of 21st-century technology), that to me is a power ballad, and every bit as worthy as the “Tuesday’s Gone”s and “Home Sweet Home”s of the world.

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10 Years, 100 Songs: #12. “Now Watch Me YOU…”

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on December 10, 2009

Over the final months of our fine decade, Intensities in Ten Suburbs will be sending the Naughty Oughties out in style with a series of essays devoted to the top 100 songs of the decade–the ones we will most remember as we look back fondly on this period of pop music years down the road. The archives can be found here. If you want to argue about the order, you can’t, because we’re not totally sure what the qualifications are either. Otherwise, sit back and enjoy.

Oh boy. It’s hard to know where to start with this one. I’ll say that I’m still a little disappointed with myself for not seeing this one coming at all. I downloaded the song off Soulseek when it first started climbing the pop charts, and my reaction was something to the effect of “Are you fucking serious? There’s no way this is ever gonna be a hit!” I should probably have had known pop music better than that by then–understood the power it had to make normative any of the strangest, most outlying shit, as long as it had the necessary momentum to get just a little bit off the ground on its own. If I needed reminding about that core principle of the top 40, “Crank Dat Soulja Boy” crammed the point down my throat enough on its way to the top of the charts to make sure that I would never be so dismissive towards a song like it again.

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10 Years, 100 Songs: #13. “I Was There…”

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on December 9, 2009

Over the final months of our fine decade, Intensities in Ten Suburbs will be sending the Naughty Oughties out in style with a series of essays devoted to the top 100 songs of the decade–the ones we will most remember as we look back fondly on this period of pop music years down the road. The archives can be found here. If you want to argue about the order, you can’t, because we’re not totally sure what the qualifications are either. Otherwise, sit back and enjoy.


(Only full-length version I can find on YouTube. Weird but kinda works.)

James Murphy was something of an unlikely underground rock hero for the Naughty Oughties. An irascible, pudgy thirty-something, Murphy made some sense as the producer / brainchild behind DFA Records, one of the most important record labels for both rock and dance in the 00s, but he made much less sense as the frontman for one of its signature acts.  Basically, he looked and acted like a rock critic–had the same fashion sense, the same anal tendencies, and as soon would become abundantly clear, the same insecurities. And all Blue Oyster Cult and Saint Etienne-type anomolies aside, critics are not supposed to be even competent music creators themselves, let alone artists that would so hit a nerve with their target audience that they would be considered definitive, even anthemic of their respective eras.

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10 Years, 100 Songs: #14. “And We Got it On Tonight…”

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on December 7, 2009

Over the final months of our fine decade, Intensities in Ten Suburbs will be sending the Naughty Oughties out in style with a series of essays devoted to the top 100 songs of the decade–the ones we will most remember as we look back fondly on this period of pop music years down the road. The archives can be found here. If you want to argue about the order, you can’t, because we’re not totally sure what the qualifications are either. Otherwise, sit back and enjoy.

The Diplomats were one of the more enjoyable musical and cultural sub-plots to follow in the Naughty Oughties. None of the collective’s biggest names (Cam’Ron, Juelz Santana, Jim Jones) could ever really be ranked as among the decade’s biggest stars–they were generally too grounded in the underground to max out on their crossover potential–but they were still a consistent presence in the mainstream, whether it was Juelz getting a verse on Chris Brown’s breakout #1 hit “Run It!,” Jones getting his one-word moment in the sun co-opted by everyone from Giants defenseive end Michael Strahan to WWE wrestler MVP, or Cam getting interviewed by Anderson Cooper on 60 Minutes about the specific tenets of the Stop Snitchin’ philosophy. They even managed to indulge us with one true moment of pop bliss, too, when Cam and Juelz swapped late-night stories on 2002’s top-five hit “Hey Ma.”

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10 Years, 100 Songs: #15. “The World is About to Feel…”

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on December 1, 2009

Over the final months of our fine decade, Intensities in Ten Suburbs will be sending the Naughty Oughties out in style with a series of essays devoted to the top 100 songs of the decade–the ones we will most remember as we look back fondly on this period of pop music years down the road. The archives can be found here. If you want to argue about the order, you can’t, because we’re not totally sure what the qualifications are either. Otherwise, sit back and enjoy.

It’s pretty well established that it usually takes a little while for a decade to really start to find its identity musically. Often it takes something like two or three years of clearing away the leftovers from the previous decade, straining out all but a few true keepers to make room for the new. In the first couple years of the Naughty Oughties, hip-hop was finding its way, but still struggling a little under the burden of the late-90s, where Puff Daddy and Master P’s reign on top brought the genre’s mainstream to disturbing new extremes. Nelly, Ludacris, Missy, OutKast, Jay-Z and others were already doing their best to help establish the culture of 00s hip-hop, but it wasn’t until 2002 that the turnover was really complete. That was when The Clipse first hooked up with The Neptunes to make the world feel something that they never felt before.

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