The 2000s: Why Some of the Music was OK

I don’t like making such a negative post about something as broad as an entire decade without counterbalancing it with the positive about said topic. In my previous post, I listed the 10 worst things about music in the 2000s (in my humble opinion), and now I will list the ten best (also my opinion). Please note: I did borrow some of these from Rolling Stone.

1. The creation of the iPod. Whether you own a name brand iPod or general mp3 player, you cannot deny the revolution in music listening that is this little device. We have gone, in just 25 short years, from carrying around a ghetto blaster that required 4 D batteries, to the walkman, to the Discman, to the tiniest of iPods that simply charge by being plugged into your computer. They are tiny, portable, and are great for exercising because they don’t “skip” like Discmans do. Truly an amazing device.

2. The revival of outdoor festivals. Woodstock-style festivals got a bad rap in the ‘90s due to some out-of-control rioting that took place during some of the shows. Fortunately, the ‘00s brought back some of the original awesomeness with festivals like Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza. Tons of great bands, hippies selling handicrafts, a cloud of smoke that can be seen from space. I have unfortunately not been to one of these yet, but when I get the time and money, I’m going.

3. The Better Life by 3 Doors Down. 3 Doors Down had one of the best debut albums of the decade. They were just rock music, pure and simple. They sang about struggles with drugs, the desire to live life on your own terms, not having enough time in the day, and they even had a touching little pseudo-balled (“So I Need You”). Besides, who DIDN’T love “Kryptonite?”

4. The end of boy bands (sort of). Yeah, we still have the Jonas Brothers to deal with, but I don’t think they’re anywhere near the level of the Backstreet Boys or ‘NSync. The boy band craze hit its peak in the late 1990s, and carried over into the very early 2000s, but it had pretty much died out by 2001, much to the devastation of 12-year-old girls everywhere.

5. Southpark makes fun of Kanye West. “Golddigger” was a pretty funny and catchy song. But funny and catchy does not the genius voice of a generation make. Southpark skewered the heck out of Kanye West in the “Fishsticks” episode. I still don’t think he gets the joke.

6. Incubus, Tool, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and a few other bands from the ‘90s continued to make music.

7. Toby Keith tells off terrorists. Ok, so I’m not a big country fan anymore, even though I grew up listening to it, but I had to put this on here. Regardless of whether or not you like him, the mental image of Toby Keith (or anyone else, for that matter) putting a boot in Osama bin Laden’s ass is bound to make you chuckle, or at least crack a smile.

8. The release of Chinese Democracy. This is not on here because it was a great album – it wasn’t. But maybe now that it’s out and it flopped, Axl Rose will keep in mind that he’s not all that great without the rest of Guns N Roses. And hopefully, this will cure the ego disease that plagues many a frontman and causes them to leave a perfectly good band to pursue a solo career.

9. Fewer rappers got shot (I think). While I was researching the deaths in music in the 2000s for my last post, I found that yes, plenty of rappers still got shot in the 2000s. But the violence that seemed so prevalent (and that took out legends 2Pac and Notorious B.I.G) in the 1990s was less common in the 2000s, at least in mainstream rap. Gang violence doesn’t seem as common now as it did in the ‘90s, and drive-bys aren’t as glorified. It seems that rappers are battling it out on the mic instead of in the streets. Besides, who has time to orchestrate a gun battle when you’re busy pimpin’ your bitches and hos in da club?

10. The rise of online downloads. Napster might be gone (thanks a lot, Metallica), but dozens of new p2p software rose out of its ashes. Online downloads allowed young people to discover older bands that they might have heard of but didn’t know anything about, and it also allowed poor folks with computer access to loot and pillage the music industry from our desk chairs, even while the RIAA had a decade-long panic attack about it.

So there you have it: the good, the bad, and the ugly from the 2000s, in the humble opinions of one little Sheep.

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The 2000s: Why the Music Sucked

Rolling Stone declared in a recent issue (Issue 1094/1095, December 24, 2009) in relation to the end of the decade, “The world (and Britney) fell apart, but the soundtrack rocked.”

I do not know what planet the guys and gals at Rolling Stone are on, but it is clearly not Earth, or any other planet that can pick up its radio transmissions, because the soundtrack to the 2000s did not rock. In my opinion, the music industry rolled out some of the most horrible ear-assaults since “Mickey” and “Barbie Girl” during the 00s.

Here is my list of things in music from the 2000s that were simply awful:

1. Emo, Screamo, and all other related subgenres. You are a suburban white kid. Your life is not full of pain. People go through breakups, parents divorce, you don’t get a pony for Christmas. Give your sister her eyeliner back, put the razorblade back in the Xacto knife, stop trying to squeeze into your girlfriend’s jeans, and man up.

2. Disney pop. Dear Disney, Miley Cyrus and the Jonas Brothers do not qualify as good music. Please stop trying to create pop stars. Go back to (hand) animating awesome full-length movies, instead.

3. Auto-Tune: It was cool on the first 10 songs that used it. After that, it made you want to rip your radio out of your dashboard and throw it through an intersection. Seriously, T-Pain (and imitators), enough is enough. I’m with Jay-Z on this one.

4. Lil Jon. WHAT!? YEAH! OK!!!!

5. “Who Let the Dogs Out?” Yeah, I bet you forgot about this one, didn’t you? During the summer and fall of 2000, you could not go to a football game, outdoor festival, skating rink, school dance, or other gathering of more than five people where there was music without hearing this terrible, terrible earworm.

6. Madonna continued to make music.

7. The radio overplay of decent songs. Ok, I liked “Fat Lip” by Sum 41 when I first heard it, but due to excessive airplay of this song by my local radio stations, I STILL refuse to listen to it. I even got sick of “Wish You Were Here” by my beloved band Incubus (fortunately I’ve recovered and it’s one of my favorite songs now).

8. Linkin Park. A combination of too much airtime and a progressively whinier front man makes Linkin Park one of the most obnoxious bands of the ‘00s. Plus, they were still hanging on to that weird Nu Metal thing from the ‘90s.

9. Pop stars full of nonsense. Every pop star worth her extensions and glitter had a “wardrobe malfunction” moment, whether it involved flashing some boob or forgetting the panties. Other outrageous behavior included shaving one’s head for no apparent reason, being drunk/coked out ALL THE TIME and continuing to smoke crack despite acquiring emphysema, becoming a lesbian (or not?) and dealing very badly with the break up. 

10. Everyone died. In the 2000s, we lost the following awesome musicians (in order of their deaths): Joey Ramone (of the Ramones – 2001), Aaliyah (2001), George Harrison (of the Beatles- (2001), Layne Staley (of Alice in Chains -2002), Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes (of TLC – 2002), Dee Dee Ramone (of the Ramones-2002), John Entwistle (of the Who – 2002), Dave Williams (of Drowning Pool – 2002), Joe Strummer (of the Clash – 2002),  Barry White (2003), Warren Zevon (2003), Johnny Cash (2003), Ray Charles (2004), Johnny Ramone (of the Ramones – 2004), Dimebag Darrell (of Pantera – 2004), Syd Barrett (of Pink Floyd – 2006), Bo Diddley (blues singer who heavily influenced early rock n roll artists – 2008), Michael Jackson (2009), and Les Paul (single-handedly created the electric guitar – 2009)

Despite all the bad, there was still some good in the Double Zeros, which I will detail in another post.

Post-College Loneliness

While you’re in elementary, middle, and high school, you have a large pool of people to choose from to be your friends. These people are all the same age as you, and they live relatively close. You start out together in kindergarten and you end up graduating together 13 years later. Sure, your group of friends changes over time as your interests change and as people move away and new people come in. You see the same familiar faces all the way through school. Some of them you befriend, and others you don’t. But it’s always the same group of kids.

When you get to college, you are thrown in with a lot of people who are still your age (or close to it), but these people are from all over the country. When you leave school for Christmas or summer vacations, you and your group of friends travel all over the nation to get home. You might go back to Virginia, and your best friend might go back to New York or North Carolina. You may find a few friends who live near you, or at least within your state or a neighboring state, but often times you make friends with people from far-away states, or even other countries. While you’re in school, this doesn’t really pose a problem. You’re all on campus together for 9 months out of the year, so you grow close to these friends. You share a 12×12 dorm room with them, you eat nearly every meal together, you have classes together, you go to parties together. These people become not only your friends, but your family as well.

Then, you graduate and everyone goes their separate ways to accomplish their goals. One friend goes back to her home state of New York to attend law school, one joins the Army, one goes to Spain to teach English, one goes to Maryland to get her master’s degree, one moves back in with her parents while she’s looking for a job. Still another goes back to New Jersey to take a few more classes and prepare for pharmacy school, while another takes a federal job near DC. And you… you get married and move to an army base in the middle of a cornfield with hopes of finding a job as a teacher.

You are no longer in school, which means that you are not simply handed a group of similarly-aged people with similar interests from which to choose your friends. So, you slowly befriend the girls you work with who are about your age, and you maintain contact with your equally-lonely college friends, and the friends you had from high school. As it turns out, the best friends a girl can have after college are Skype, Facebook, and a good texting plan.

Tasty Foods #2: Salsa Chicken Rice Casserole

Today I would like to share another tasty recipe with you, but let me begin by saying that I did not create this recipe. I am not talented enough to be able to actually come up with a “recipe” by throwing together the contents of my pantry. This one actually came from http://www.allrecipes.com, which is a pretty awesome site, regardless of your cooking abilities. They have easy stuff for novices like me, and they have stuff that would make an Iron Chef nervous.

I don’t know if you’re like me or not, but I like a good solid casserole. They are tasty, filling, and provide plenty of leftovers to take for lunches. This is one such awesome casserole. The first time I made it a couple weeks ago, I thought it was pretty good. After the third time I had the leftovers, I was addicted. I finally gave in to my craving tonight and made a huge amount of it, despite the fact that I was the only one home. Not only was it a filling dinner, but I now have my next 6 lunches and dinners planned for the week. This makes between 6 and 8 servings, depending on how hungry you are when dishing it out.

Ingredients:

-1 1/3 cup uncooked white rice

-2 2/3 cup water

-4 chicken breasts

-2 cups shredded Montery Jack cheese

-2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

-1 10.75 oz can cream of mushroom soup

-1 10.75 oz can cream of chicken soup

-1 chopped onion

-1 1/2 cups mild salsa

Preparation:

-Place rice and water in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 20 minutes

-Meanwhile, place chicken breasts in large saucepan and fill with water. Boil, then cook for 20 minutes until done. Remove and cut into bite size pieces (when cool enough).

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9×13 inch baking dish.

-In a medium bowl, combine the cheese. In a separate bowl, combine the soups, salsa, and onion. Layer half the rice, half the chicken, half the soup mixture, and half the cheesein the baking dish. Repeat, ending with cheese on top.

-Bake for 40 minutes or until bubbly.

-Stuff your face =)

The awesomeness of Anthony Hamilton

I didn’t grow up in the ghetto. In fact, I’ve had a pretty easy life so far. My parents are still together and they’ve never cheated on each other. I was never abused, we never lost our house, and we always had enough food on the table, even though we occasionally struggled for money when I was a little kid. I grew up in the suburbs of Richmond, VA, went to a pretty decent high school, and then went on to a little private college in Lynchburg, VA. This charmed life, however, does not stop me from belting out Anthony Hamilton’s songs (badly) when I’m alone. Much of his music deals with painful topics, like growing up in the ghetto, being betrayed by a woman he loves, etc. There’s even one that pleads the case of an unborn child to a mother considering abortion (“Can I Live”). Anthony Hamilton’s voice is smooth and beautiful, reminiscent of the great Motown singers, and there is a strong vein of spirituality that runs through many of his songs. I just can’t pull myself away from his songs, so I’d like to share one with you. This is “Comin’ From Where I’m From.”

Tasty Foods #1: Tater Soup

So, I believe in the introduction post, I said something about posting some recipes that I have found to be tasty, and I haven’t really done that. I’ve really only been cooking regularly for about 6 months now, but I’ve come to enjoy it. In fact, it’s become one of my favorite hobbies, and while I’m certainly not the greatest cook in the world, I’ve become reasonably competent at it. (I know that’s encouraging, right?) It’s a bit of a challenge sometimes, because I am pretty picky and my tastes run to the unsophisticated (mmm chicken fingers…pizza. What’s that? Vegetables, you say? No thanks….) My husband, on the other hand, will pretty much eat anything (or at least try it once). Even though we were both raised in the same town with fairly southern families, his tastes are much more southern than mine. He loves sweet tea, gravy, and green beans cooked with ham or fatback (if you don’t know what fatback is, well… perhaps you’re better off). I, on the other hand, am not a tea drinker, I prefer the gravy at least a foot away from my turkey, and fatback makes me ill thinking about it. There is also the issue of seafood: he loves it, I can’t get past the smell and the way it looks to even try it.

However, in our experimentations while living together, we have decided on plenty of recipes that we both like. Today, I bring you potato soup! I originally got the base for this recipe from Yahoo! Food (yes, I’m on Yahoo! a lot… don’t judge), and then we modified it by throwing random stuff into it and it came out pretty darn tasty. If you like super thick soup (and we do), you can add flour to it. Start with a couple of tablespoons full and add more if you want it.

Ingredients:

– 6 potatoes, peeled, washed, and cubed

– 1 14.5 oz can of chicken broth

– 1 medium onion, chopped

– 2 tsps butter (or margarine)

– 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream

– 3-4 cloves of garlic

– parsley, salt, pepper, and seasoned salt to taste*

Steps:

1. In a medium pot over medium heat, combine potatoes and broth and let simmer for about 20 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, in a separate skillet over medium heat, saute the onions and garlic in the butter for about 5-10 minutes.

3. Add the onion/garlic, cream, and seasonings to the potato-broth mixture and stir well.

4. Let simmer for 10-15 more minutes. Serve with cheese on top if you want.

*I kind of wing it when I add spices/seasoning, so I usually can’t provide an accurate estimate for how much I add in.

 This goes pretty well with some crusty bread, and it’s a good thing to make when it’s cold or when you want some comfort food. Hope you like it.

I’d Love to Change the World

Today, I bring you the delightful guitar picking and good intentions of Ten Years After. This song, “I’d Love to Change the World” was originally recorded in 1971 and appeared on the band’s album “A Space in Time.” I think the song sums up the mood of the 1960s and early 1970s quite well (at least, the mood as I understand it 5 decades later). It discusses the desire to do good in the world, but also the confusion and fear over a rapidly changing society. I think it’s still a remarkably current song. Not to mention the fabulous guitar and bass playing =)

Edit: Ok, I added a different video. Hopefully this one won’t get taken down.

(I do not own this song, nor do I claim the rights to it. I just wanted to share it with people so they can experience the awesomeness too!)