Music/Popular Culture

The Holy Trinity of Nu-Wave: 30-Day Song Challenge, the Sequel, day 12 – a song you love from the '00s

If you’ve been following the series, you may have noticed that instead of simply offering up a song that fits the criteria (“a song you love from the ’00s”), I’m trying to write about songs that are in some way definitive. Maybe it was something that typified a dominant movement, or perhaps it was a tune that marked an important point in my personal narrative. Whatever, I’ve been trying to write a series not just about songs, but about significant songs. And that’s what I’m going to keep doing, starting right now.

I have argued that the defining album of the 2000s decade was Green Day’s American Idiot, and I see no reason to back off of that. However, the most notable trend of the decade was the ascendance of “Indie.” Now, it should be obvious that Indie, as a signifier, simply covers too much ground to be of a lot of help in conveying a sound. Like “Rock” or “Alternative,” it’s a category of sub-genres, and a broad one.

One particular mode of Indie, though, stands out. I have always called it “Nu-Wave” – it’s that collection of bands who take their cues from late-’70s New Wave (The Dead ’60s, Kaiser Chiefs, The Fever, The Strays, Franz Ferdinand, etc.) or the soup we have come to call “80s music” (The Killers, Interpol, Editors, The Stills, TV on the Radio, She Wants Revenge, The Mary Onettes, Shiny Toy Guns, and a zillion others). And what a surprise to see Joy Division emerge as such an important influence on a generation of bands we had no idea was paying attention, huh?

As is true with any musical style wave, 95% of it is disposable. As is also true, you may not know who the alpha talents are for a few years. I’ve always felt like the third album was where you really got a sense for how good an artist really was, and as we awaited the arrival of The Killers’ Day & Age I suggested that maybe they were about to establish themselves as the best band of the Nu-Wave.

Didn’t quite happen the way I thought it might, although D&A was a good CD. The other two bands I saw vying for that title were Franz Ferdinand (which got  better with every release) and Interpol, but Interpol was in the process of ceasing to matter. Meanwhile, with 2009’s In This Light And On This Evening Editors were making a case that they were the band we thought Interpol might turn out to be.

It’s still hard to say who “the best” is, and it really doesn’t matter, probably. What does matter is that something very freakin’ cool happened in the ’00s and we should enjoy it before the next wave of grunge comes along to make us all feel even worse about life than we already do.

So today, I’m going to cheat. Instead of a song, how about three songs from three outstanding bands who are still defining the sound of a generation? We’ll start at the beginning – I remember the day my buddy Jeff Lindquist turned me on to this band he’d found through an unsigned acts site. Damn, they were good.

Next up, Franz sure benefited from listening to Wire, didn’t they?

Finally, Editors are the best of the Joy Division thread of Nu-Wave. This is “Papillon.”

Enjoy your Friday, folks.

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