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A Decade of Compilations

To properly summarize the decade, many music-loving individuals and organizations create lists of favorite albums. I considered doing that, and then realized that all the information is already available. It's right here.

For me, songs tell the real story of my musical decade. The just-completed Top 100 of the 2000's list are songs that my friends and I feel both define and transcend the Aughts, but they aren't necessarily my personal favorites. So what about those?

In the last couple of years I've posted the tracklists for my annual compilations (here's 2007 and 2008; scroll to the bottom), but my compilations from 2000 to 2006 (I didn't start officially making them until 2003, the first three are retroactive) haven't been revealed on the blog.

Let's fix that.

2000

1) The Strokes: Hard To Explain, 2) Ghostface Killah: Saturday Nite, 3) Supergrass: Mary, 4) Lloyd Cole: Past Imperfect, 5) Aimee Mann: Ghost World, 6) Ultimate Fakebook: Tell Me What You Want, …

Top 100 of the '00s: By the Numbers

Songs 10 through 1 of the Top 100 of the '00s are now posted, completing the countdown. I'll wait while you go check it out.

Thanks for coming back. I thought it might be interesting to share some information about the list itself, so here goes.

The Song Selection Process
I thought very hard about the 2000s and spent a lot of time looking through my iTunes as sorted by year. From there I created a four-part ballot for my voters.

Part one: A list of 30 songs. Voters were asked to pick their top 15.
Part two: Either/or options (eg. The Killers' Mr. Brightside or Somebody Told Me?).
Part three: A list of artists for whom I couldn't settle on a single song. Voters were asked to fill in the blank.
Part four: Open nominations.

The hope of all of this was to see some consensus among voters. For the most part, that happened. Because I limited the list to one-song-per-artist, it created some interesting conundrums. For example, Coldplay's Clocks and Viva La Vida both received three…

2009: Thirteen Albums I'm Glad I Bought

Change is in the air. It's actually been there awhile, but I've been trying to ignore it.

Please allow me a slightly awkward extended metaphor. Let's say instead of a music blogger/obsessive I was a professional sports star. Instead of ERA, rebounds, or touchdowns, my statistical categories are CDs bought, CDs reviewed, and number of times posted on the blog.

In my early career I was a phenom, putting up gaudy numbers. Witness:

2003 - 2006
I posted on the blog 155 times, at an average of 4.1 posts per month.
I wrote 135 reviews, 115 of which were of new (at the time) CDs. That's 85%.
87% of my posts were album reviews.
I bought between 80 and 100 new release CDs PER YEAR.

Big numbers, right? That's a stat line anyone can be proud of. But let's look at what happened in the last three years. It's a slightly smaller sample, but only by 2 months (In 2003 I only wrote in November and December).

2007 - 2009
I posted on the blog 167 times, at an average of 4.6 pos…

247. "Weird Al" Yankovic: Off the Deep End (1992)

In my review of the UHF soundtrack, I forgot to mention that I didn't buy it when it came out. I saw the movie, but I didn't even think about the fact that it might have an accompanying soundtrack. 12-year-old Paul was not so quick on the uptake.

So in 1992 when I discovered there was a new "Weird Al" album, I couldn't have been more excited. It had been four years since Even Worse(the last new Al album as far as I knew), and a long four years at that. It was the difference between me being in 5th grade and me being a freshman in high school! Despite that, my love for Al was undiminished. In fact, "Weird Al" Yankovic on the Off the Deep End tour was the first concert I went to of my own volition.

But what about the album itself? Let's dive in.

Parodies
Smells Like Nirvana is Al's take on what would become the most influential song of the decade, Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit (Off the Deep End's Cover also parodies Nirvana's Nevermin…

No More No More Songs About

A couple of weeks ago I introduced what I intended to be a new ongoing feature for 3 Minutes, 49 Seconds. No More Songs About... was to be a forum for me to complain about the proliferation of songs on certain topics. The first entry concerned California.

After some reflection, I've decided not to continue the feature. Here's why: As I've been working on subsequent entries, I'm finding they're all ending up the same: a list of songs on the topic, the conclusion that there are already too many of them, and a plea for songwriters to write about something else. There's not much to that pattern that's worth my time or yours. Plus, I feel like kind of a prick telling songwriters what they should and shouldn't be writing about. It seems vaguely Communist.

However, I still think we could put a moratorium on the following: songs about satellites, New York, and flying; faithful cover songs; and, yes Virginia, new versions of old Christmas standards. Anything you&#…

2009b

Things have been a little quiet around here as I focus my energies on the Top 100 of the 2000's list, but I have do have a couple of annual 3 Minutes, 49 Seconds traditions coming up. One is my end-of-the-year top 10, which I plan to post sometime in the next couple of weeks. The other is the second half of my annual mix CD (see the first here).

The tracklist is as follows:

1. Weezer - (If You're Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To2. Flight of the Conchords – (Too Many Dicks) On the Dancefloor3. Robbie Williams - Bodies4. Phoenix - Lisztomania 5. Wilco - You Never Know 6. Jay-Z - Off That7. Mos Def - Priority8. Grizzly Bear - Two Weeks9. Temper Trap - Sweet Disposition10. The Hopefuls - Idaho11. Brendan Benson - A Whole Lot Better12. Owl City - Tip of the Iceberg13. P.O.S. - Goodbye

246. "Weird Al" Yankovic: UHF (1989)

With four hit albums under his belt and a proven ability to make entertaining music videos, Al got the chance to write and star in his own movie in 1989. The result was the not-spectacular-but-very-watchable UHF (you can read my extended thoughts on it here), about a man who takes over his uncle's TV station.

Of course it came with an album too, but the strange part is that despite being called an "Original Motion Picture Soundtrack" only about half the songs actually appear in the film.

Let's tune in:

Song Parodies
Money For Nothing / Beverly Hillbillies is just what it advertises, the Clampett clan's TV theme song put to the tune of Dire Straits' 1985 hit. Reportedly, using the Hillbillies theme was an old idea of Al's. He'd previously done it to the tune of The Rolling Stones' Miss You, and tried to create a version based off Prince's Let's Go Crazy (Prince declined to authorize it, unsurprisingly). Speaking of authorization, Dire Straits m…

Top 100 Songs of the '00s

Looks like we made it to the end. Yes, the '00s are shutting down, and that means it's time to look back at them and become instantly nostalgic.

So, just like I did for the '70s, '80s, and '90s, I've enlisted some help to create a list of the best songs of the decade. Now, of course "best" is a subjective term, and I realize that the list will not please everyone, nor will it include every single song you think it should. It's not a list of the most popular songs of the decade (you can go to Billboard online for that), nor is it a list of my favorite songs of the decade (that's too self-indulgent, even for me). And the song list pretty much sticks to the hip hop and pop mainstream, with a few detours into the indie world. That mostly means that there are quite a few sub-genres not represented.

Along with my pickers and choosers, I tried to select songs that meant something to the '00s, were memorable, and that will stand the test of time (or…

No More Songs About...California

Yes, that's right, here comes another new feature on 3 Minutes, 49 Seconds. Following in the footsteps of 12 By... and Rock Bottom, I'm proud to introduce No More Songs About.

This one is just like its title sounds. Each time, I'll pick a topic about which I believe there are already too many songs written. I'll look at some of the best songs, some of the worst, and the ones that broke the camel's back.

My first target is the 31st state in the union, California.

Before I get into it, here's my disclaimer. I have nothing against California. I've visited twice (L.A. and San Diego) and loved it both times. I have friends who live there. Inspired by the pioneering visions of Romantic novelists, I really really wanted to move there after I graduated college. And the Beach Boys have a permanent place in my Top 5 Artists of All Time.

But I don't want to hear any more songs about it.

We've gotta start with what should probably be the state anthem, California Lov…

Baby, I'm A Star

In July of 2004 I created a sister blog called Baby, I'm A Star. It took its name from song on/in Prince's Purple Rainalbum/film. The mission of the blog was always intended to be a limited one. I would watch 30 pop music movies from across various categories (biopics, fictional films, documentaries, concerts, etc.) and write a recap/review of each.

Somewhere in 2005 I lost steam and left the project unfinished.

I picked it back up this past July, 5 years later. Since then I've watched 17 additional films, bringing the grand total to 37. Having surpassed the original goal, I now bring the project to a close. It's a bittersweet feeling, and truthfully, I could have gone on forever. As it is, I missed several key films, like Gimmie Shelter, A Hard Day's Night (though I think Help! is better), and Get Rich or Die Tryin'.

From now on the results of this project can be found in the "Related Content" sidebar at the right of your screen, and you can peruse it …

245. "Weird Al" Yankovic: Even Worse (1988)

Here it is, the one that started it all for me. If I gave the impression that I experienced any of the first 4 "Weird Al" albums upon their initial release (well, besides that 45 of Eat It), I'm sorry. That wasn't the case. Even Worse was my first Al album.

I don't remember what attracted me to the Even Worse tape at Kohl's (back when they actually had a music department), but it probably had something to do with the cover. I was a Michael Jackson kid and the proud owner of the Bad album, the cover of which is parodied on Even Worse. No matter, I bought it, and that was that.

But how does it hold up against the odometer of time and with a whole career perspective? Let's find out.

Song Parodies:
There's an interesting pattern in the song's Al chose to parody on Even Worse. I'll see if you can figure it out before I get to the end of this section.

First up is Fat, a take on Michael Jackson's Bad. Al admitted that he formulated the idea for th…

244. Weezer: Raditude (2009)

Two questions:

1) Can an artist who made his name on being an awkward outsider become a everyman populist?
2) Is it possible to write a review of a new Weezer album without negatively comparing it to their first two records?

Surprisingly, the answer to both is yes.

Raditude, Weezer's new album, comes hot on the heels of last year's disappointing Red Album, and it continues (one might even say it cements) the band's curious transformation from intelligent geek rockers to block-headed geek rockers. Weezer's early appeal was frontman Rivers Cuomo's kooky outsider personality, but since the band's return to active duty in 2001, he's been steadily moving away from that. His lyrics have gotten more and more simplistic and generic, even if the sentiment behind the songs was genuine.

Now it seems the opposite has happened. Many of the songs on Ratitude contain that attention to oddly specific detail that distinguished the band's debut and Pinkerton, but what they…

243. "Weird Al" Yankovic: Polka Party! (1986)

Into the life of every musician a little commercial and critical failure must fall, and so it was with Polka Party! It's not Al's Rock Bottom (we'll get to that eventually), but it is definitely ranks with his worst. Tellingly, he didn't even tour behind the album (though he did do a string of dates opening for the reunited Monkees). What happened? The inevitable letdown? Lack of inspiration? Burnout? (It was his fourth album in as many years).
Let's see what we can learn.

Song Parodies
The album opens with Living With a Hernia, a parody of James Brown's Rocky IV song, Living In America (in the film Brown performs it before Apollo Creed comes out and gets beaten to death by Ivan Drago). It's a spirited tune, and Al's actual research into hernias is so impressive that the song could probably be used by medical students to study for their exams (Check out the song's bridge: "You may not be familiar with the common types of hernias that you could get…