The Ten Most Important Artists Of The Last Decade (Full List) « Leading Us Absurd

The Ten Most Important Artists Of The Last Decade (Full List) « Leading Us Absurd.

I was looking at this this list (I didn’t read the articles because I don’t really care about any of these bands) and I realized, I am so out of touch with mainstream music that I couldn’t really say who the most important, vital and necessary bands of the last decade.

Part of this is because I’ve never found pop music all that sustainable. I look at that list and I don’t know that any of those artists, aside from Danger Mouse, made any music that is particularly memorable outside of the short time period it was made. Some of it is just down right offensive (both in content and bland music; see Lil Wayne and Kanye West) or just boring. Sure, Jay-Z writes some okay songs from time to time and can write some sick hooks.And yes, Green Day is arguably the last, stadium rock band left in the world. But the lyrics are more pedestrian than insightful and the music is a lite version of the Who, without a drummer who gets so fucked up every night he has to be resurrected and still kills the shit.

Even Danger Mouse, whose work I enjoy is mostly fragmented over all the different projects he works on. Is he a producer, musician? What is his cannon? It’s hard to fit it all together in any context. It makes him an interesting artists, but it also feels like everything he works on he just applies his own style to the style of the artists he’s working on.

Further, how are these artists important? I certainly don’t hear bands influenced by these groups that are making music that is worth a damn. That to me is important, how music and art lends itself to new creativity. Sure, there are a million wanna be Jay-Z clones out there, but none of it’s worth a damn. Death Cab For Cutie has inspired plenty of bands that are more low-key and amazingly less interesting than they are. Green Day, what the hell have they done in the last decade that has made anyone want to pick up a band. Fall Out Boy was an equivalent to Green Day as far as I am concerned.

Further, there isn’t any band on this list that pushed forward, supported with any relevance or started anything in culture that was worth a damn. Kanye, Lil Wayne and Jay Z gave us more of the same of misogynistic, vacant consumer consumption celebration. Hip-Hops been doing that for three decades. Britney gave us a mirror to see how we tear women down and music that gets worse and worse over time. I don’t even know that The Strokes or Death Cab or even Radiohead had a large enough audience to be even relevant outside of the circle in which college kids spend a twenty to go see them. Green Day gave us eyeliner on boys, a cultural revolution started by Bowie and perpetuated ad nauseam by hair metal. No one cares. The White Stripes, mediocre, truly. I mean, Jack White is kinda a mad scientist, but musically The White Stripes were a backdrop to what he would create outside of music making.

These are also all just the opinions of a guy that listens to music that is full of the repetitive use of feedback to hide the simplicity of the music. I get it, people who buy this stuff aren’t totally invested in the challenging sounds that are so easy to find. But I just don’t think that music was impacting the culture and making important inroads into society like it once did. Further, nothing in the mainstream is really pushing the technology of music making forward, not for good anyway. We did get the auto-tune thanks to Brit and Kanye. But that was an embarrassing hiccup for both of those artists.

I know, this is me hating on shit most people like. Whatever, I just want to know why the integrity of popular music has sunk so low. Madonna said some shit about gender, sexuality and the role of women in society while making great music. Hendrix was the best guitar player of his time AND wrote great songs. Even Bob Dylan, whose voice I can’t stand, was a poet and wrote songs that are timeless, not only in their message but in their ability to constantly be reinterpreted. These things make artists important.

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2 thoughts on “The Ten Most Important Artists Of The Last Decade (Full List) « Leading Us Absurd

  1. As the author of the list I’d like to point out a couple of things. You said yourself that you don’t care for mainstream pop music and/or newer music. With a few exceptions most of the artists on that list are not to my personal taste – I tend to listen to music that was made decades before I was born or from when I was growing up.
    I do agree with you that the bar has sunk for music. The idea that Britney Spears would be on a list like this is actually pretty funny, but that’s my point…whether you like her or not she’s has to be on there. Unfortunately we live in an era where artists aren’t allowed to develop themselves in the same vein as a Dylan or Hendrix. The record industry doesn’t work that way. Also unfortunately, so many artists have already laid the foundation for being groundbreaking and innovative that we have to acknowledge that artists who re-hash older styles (ie – The Strokes and The White Stripes) are important to this generation.
    But hey…most critics are full of shit anyway. And that’s half the fun.

  2. Matt,

    Actually, I need to correct you. I am hoping to actually write further on the topic of new vs old music. There was an article on the Onion AV about just this topic. But, much like Ian MacKaye before me, who was actually in an important band of a decade, twice, the music of now is always more vital and important than the music of the past. Simply because it is the music of now, it’s relevancy and currency existing amongst all the wave lengths.

    However, the democracy that technology has allowed for westerners and those privileged elsewhere to make music more accessible has made so called mainstream artists less important. It has also, unfortunately lowered our standards. Further, as the dollars spread thinner, a corporations job is to squeeze the most out of it. Everyone on that list you wrote (and please don’t take this as a personal attack, this is just an observation of the artists, not your insight) is a safe bet. It’s sex and violence and a little intrigue or cuteness. That shit, unfortunately sells.

    So instead of EL-P being consumed by the masses with his transgressive, personal and often horrifying stories that actually say something about the human psyche and the human condition of the 21st century, we get baller ass Jay Z rapping about how he runs New York and how awesome he is cuz he fucks Beyonce and used to sell coke. Nothing about what he has to say is important, at least not to me. El-P telling a story about dating a younger woman and the inherent differences in both the psychology and sexuality between himself and the woman is both fascinating and speaks to me at a realistic level that I can relate to. Not because I am dating a 20 year old currently, but I understand what the sexualization of women does to society and individuals. That to me is important to not only hear, but to absorb and understand and reflect upon.

    And to a certain extent, it is harder to be ground breaking. Lady Gaga probably has the same impact on young women as Madonna did in the 80’s and 90’s. Maybe she’s culturally relevant and pushing the boundaries. Maybe “Born This Way” is helping the cultural revolution. But again, I grew up with Madonna to help me along that path. Lady Gaga isn’t necessary for me, so it makes it hard to really talk about her specifically. But she’s an artist I can’t argue against, where are the Nicki Manaj’s and Jessie J’s of the world I just find contrite and boring. I find the inherent sexism of mainstream hip hop deplorable. And yet we celebrate it (Tyler the Creator, from what I’ve told is singing about rape in violent, disgusting matter. Haven’t checked it out myself, but seriously, this gets celebrated in mainstream criticism) to no end.

    Anyway, I hope you didn’t take my rant as a personal attack. It’s not just your list, but lists like this in general that I find difficult. I don’t see artists on there that I think are that important. I think they exist, but not in the mainstream. The mainstream and cultural relevancy died a long time ago and I think that can be honestly said by looking at content. But thanks for your comment. I appreciate the dialog. After all, the writers at Pitchfork and Rolling Stone and Spin aren’t engaged with their readers and thus, the relevancy of there work, as far as I am concerned, in the technology and open communication age is moot. But that’s a rant for another time. Cheers.

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