Nostalgia For the Oughties; Or, How Did We Ever Listen to This Crap?


The eighties have an unfair reputation when it comes to music.  Yes, there was a tremendous amount of awful music released during the eighties, from histrionic synthpop to ridiculous hair metal, but there’s one thing to have to remember about this supposedly awful decade- it wasn’t too bad in a relative sense.  There was just as much crap released during the sixties, seventies, and nineties.  Every decade has an exorbitant amount of horrendous songs released during it, just like every decade has some truly transcendent music and a load of mediocre tracks.

Once I deduced that universal truth, I started thinking about the 2000s, or the “oughties,” or even the “endtimes.”  In twenty, ten, or even five years, there’s no doubt that a lot of this music that we listened to and enjoyed in the 2000s will sound mighty stupid.  You’ll know when it hits you; one day, you’ll be sitting around, listening to the Oldies station on, when suddenly a familiar track starts playing.  Let’s say it’s “So Bored,” by Wavves. And as you hear that song begin, you’ll be transported back to the time of your youth.  For a glorious second, you’ll be gripped with nostalgia.  And then Nathan Williams will start singing.

You’ll scratch your head, maybe cover your ears.  And when he reaches the chorus and starts “crooning” that heeeeeeeeeeeeeeee’sssss ssoooooooooooooo booooooooooooooooooreddd, well, then you’ll probably start laughing, because it is hilariously bad.  And when you go to your high school reunion, you can walk over to your friends, ask them if they remember Wavves, and have the satisfaction of making every single one of them crack up.

This column does not have the express purpose of bashing Wavves; So Bored is just one of those tracks that’s tied to a specific period in the oughties (the late 2000s lo-fi period) that will seem absolutely hilarious in a few years. There are many of those tracks, and thus I’ve compiled a playlist- a time capsule mixtape featuring the 10 tracks that simply must be the soundtrack to the indie teen movie set in the 2000s.  It’s organized semi-chronologically.  Enjoy.

1. Fuck the Pain Away– Peaches

Is this the legacy of electroclash?  A 2 Live Crew track fronted by a Canadian woman?  To her credit, her lyrics are nastier than anything from “Me So Horny.”  And come to think of it, does electroclash really deserve an enduring masterwork?

2. Highly Evolved– The Vines

Listening to this 90 second track again, it’s quite clear that the only reason the Vines were part of the garage rock revival was because they were a “the” band, rather than a “bizkit” band.  Also, Craig Nicholls sung rather than rapped.   But his singing is close to speaking, so rapping isn’t too far off.  And “Vine Bizkit” sounds plausible.

3. New Disco– Radio 4

Yeah, you heard the man.  It’s a new disco.  It’s a dance-punk disco.  It’s got politics and feedback.  Man, dance-punk is gonna start a revolution.  By 2007, every band will be dance-punk, and Radio 4 will have hijacked the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  Yeah!  It will definitely happen.

4. House of Jealous Lovers– The Rapture

This is a controversial choice, because many people still view it as a great song.  And it is, in a very limited way.  It’s infinitely better than the dance-punk track I put on right before this, but it’s not really that different.  The Rapture hit on something with this track- a certain je ne sais quoi that makes this song almost transcend dance-punk.  That said, do you really think that future generations- or even you in a few years- will be able to take this seriously?

5.  Crank Heart– Xiu Xiu

I believe that in the future, people will study contemporary music criticism to figure out why people took Xiu Xiu so seriously (no, they were not a parody of emo bands.).  The key to figuring out this great mystery lies in Pitchfork Media’s review of Fabulous Muscles, where the reviewer describes Crank Heart as the soundtrack to “some unspeakably sad video game,” which might be the funniest thing I’ve ever heard.

6. The Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth– Clap Your Hands Say Yeah

I’m 99% certain that when you saw this entry, you hadn’t thought of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah in three years.  And right now, you’re hunting through your iTunes library for their first album, which is not as good as you remember it.  Trust me.  What a voice that guy had.  What a voice indeed.

7. Don’t Save Us From The Flames– M83

“Out of the flames/a piece of brain in my hair/the wheels are melting/a ghost is screaming your name/Tina, Tina.” Sure, shoegazers never need to have great lyrics, but this is just creepy.

8. Alice Practice– Crystal Castles

In the year 2024, some future hipsters will have an “oughties dance party,” where they play all the DFA bands and dance ironically.  At one point, the DJ will decide to play this song, only knowing it as a popular electro-dance track from the late 2000s.  As soon as it starts, everyone will stop dancing and wonder why the DJ put his collection of 80s hardcore through a bitcrusher.

9. I Felt Stupid– The Drums

And eventually, so will we.   This is not to say it won’t be enjoyable in the future, but rather to assert that it will not get you any indie cred whatsoever.

10. Deadbeat Summer– Neon Indian

A few weeks ago, I was driving around with some friends.  We had been listening to Sigur Ros when one of my friends put on this track.  As soon as the beat kicked in, we all started bobbing our heads in an ironic fashion.  I noted the similarities to Wayne’s World, which makes this track the oughties’ Bohemian Rhapsody.  It’s almost as cheesy.


2 Responses to “Nostalgia For the Oughties; Or, How Did We Ever Listen to This Crap?”

  1. Except in the future every retro 00’s party will play Crystal Castles “Crimewave”. Fact.

  2. NME: The Nu-rave issue Says:

    Except Wavves is good. He can’t actually play, but he writes catchy songs.

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