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2000s: The first decade in which pop was never a dirty word
Posted at 11:41 AM, 08 September 2009 -

Pitchfork invited some of their favourite artists to share their thoughts and choices for outstanding records from the past 10 years. Bob Stanley from Saint Etienne is one of the guests.

He writes: «It's been the first decade in which pop was never a dirty word, not once. (...) It's been a time in which there was more of a willingness to squeeze adventure into pop than at any time since 1978-82.»

Bob Stanley mentions Girls Aloud's "The Loving Kind" and "Biology" as two of the highlights of the decade and also talks about the importance of the emergence of Max Martin, Timbaland, and Xenomania. Read the full article here:

Bob Stanley, Saint Etienne

THE DECADE WITH NO NAME

It's been the first decade in which pop was never a dirty word, not once. At the start of the 90s, Miles Hunt was telling girls they don't belong in studios and Jesus Jones were making hamfisted efforts to merge the magnetically repellent (in their hands, at least) rock and dance; now it's all a melting pot, we're in agreement, and all influences are up for grabs. It's all pop. In 2009 I read blogs by boys and girls alike writing beautifully about Britney/Dylan/Tinchy/Sneddon with the verve and bile of Lester Bangs or the NME's peak period writers. Possibly it's how the majority always felt before the internet gave them the means of expression, though the emergence of Max Martin, Timbaland, and Xenomania around 1999/2000 certainly helped to force the issue.

It's been a time in which there was more of a willingness to squeeze adventure into pop than at any time since 1978-82, from Oxide & Neutrino scoring a #1 single in 2000 which would have barely qualified as music 20 years earlier to Girls Aloud's 20th straight Top 10 hit-- "The Loving Kind", a four-minute purr-- in 2009. And at the other end of the spectrum, following hard on Westlife's ill-shod heels, we had the rise of the everyday balladeer on Pop Idol, X Factor and Fame Academy. The latter is almost forgotten but I feel obliged to mention it because it gave the UK its most musically inept #1 single ever-- "Stop Living The Lie" by David Sneddon. You think I exaggerate? It's impossible to hear the opening line: "He's drowning his tears in a bottomless cup of coffee" without exclaiming, "But surely...".

It's been "Get Ur Freak On", "Bound 4 Da Reload", and "Biology" vs. "Stop Living the Lie", Darius's "Colourblind" ("You make me colourblind"-- the decade's most confused compliment?) and indie landfill (too many offenders to mention). Pop is always at odds without itself, it's natural to take sides, but I can't remember a time when so many different musical camps were happy to feed each other. Ghettoization was out. It was smashing. My favorite single of the decade: "Flowers" by Sweet Female Attitude.

Also in Pitchfork:
  • The Decade in Pop - article by Tom Ewing that examines 00s pop - critically acceptable, mixed with hip-hop/R&B, and more transparent than ever.

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