As the new year draws closer, we’ve decided to take a look the music that’s gotten us to where we are today. So in an effort to broaden our musical horizons and our understanding of contemporary artists, we’re counting down 2012 by counting up from 1952, taking a look at a handful of songs from a different year every day until January 1st. You can find the full list here. Today we’re heading back to 2000!
Radiohead – “The National Anthem”
When Kid A came out, Mark Beaumont for Melody Maker called it “look-ma-I-can-suck-my-own-cock whiny old rubbish.” This from the same magazine that months earlier had said, “If there’s one band that promises to return rock to us, it’s Radiohead.” Fed up with the direction of guitar rock, Yorke et al grazed on IDM, Krautrock, and free jazz while writing Kid A. That’s half of why this thing sounded so out of left field. The other half is that when the group recorded it, they put down their traditional roles — guitarist, bass player — and built the album, sound by sound, together in the studio. Listen as “The National Anthem” puts Charles Mingus against Tago Mago in a chicken run, while that noxious, overdriven bassline blares from both cars.
Outkast – “B.O.B”
Released nine years after the First Gulf War and three years before the Second, “B.O.B” delivers the full megatonnage of Shock and Awe. André 3000 and Big Boi spit like automatics to keep on top of that frenzied beat, while that descending organ wails in in the background. André 3000 says he heard the term “bombs over Baghdad” on a newscast about strategic bombings by the UK and US in 1998 around the outskirts of the city. He told Rolling Stone that he disagreed with that tactic. “Don’t pull the thang out/ unless you plan to bang.” Outkast were hot on the scent of trouble, because three years later, the US would bang.
Ghostface Killah – “Nutmeg”
Supreme Clientele has already become a hip hop classic. On “Nutmeg,” Ghostface rips through every tri-state saying you’ve never heard before, but it’s the way his inimitable flow swerves effortlessly in and out of that Black Moes-Art beat that makes this outing special. Ghostface says he developed that rhythmic style while traveling Africa before recording Supreme Clientele, where he penned “Nutmeg” without any music to write to.
Modest Mouse – “3rd Planet”
This was my introduction to Modest Mouse. The song sounds like a wobbly, slapdash lectern built high into the heavens for Isaac Brock to spill his cool intelligence from — though it could come crashing down at any time. Brock questions the existence of a god, while other lines allude to a miscarriage or an abortion or the death of a baby — perhaps the fount of his doubt. And people thought the switch to a major label might un-weird Modest Mouse…
The Avalanches – “Since I Left You”
“Since I Left You” is probably one of the sunniest, blissful songs I know. In response to late ’90s big beat (think the Chemical Brothers), the Australian duo wanted to make an electronic sound that was less abrasive and overbearing, something more textural and restrained. “Since I Left You” is an enchanting, little dream world built from a patchwork of samples, with a production technique that elaborates on DJ Shadow and anticipates Girl Talk. The video nails the mood of this one, we get a glimpse and an earful of what heaven must be like.