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DID YOU READ

The Naughts: The Song of ’00s

The Naughts: The Song of ’00s (photo)

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The film industry may be currently going through a crisis, but it’s got nothing on the music biz. Over the past decade, there was a paradigm shift in the industry and huge, fundamental changes in the way people discover, buy and listen to music. Ten years ago, the idea that everyone would cease going to record stores to flip through plastic discs and would instead buy music digitally, completely devoid of a physical medium, only existed in a fringe world called Napster.

Now record stores are all but gone, and the album as an art form exists only in the fringe world of purists. We’ve become slaves to the mp3 single and the little sweatshop-produced devices we rely on to listen to them. The new Luddite is just the poor iPhoneless wretch who manages to get by with only a BlackBerry.

The volume of music has changed too, in both decibels and quantity. Bad recording habits created a culture of one-upmanship and ever increasing levels of compression during mastering — that’s why CDs and mp3s sound like crap next to a good LP (on a record player with a decent needle). With the rise of digitized delivery, the way we hear music has become the auditory equivalent of a traffic jam, a deafening pile-up of Ford F-150s all adorned with a deafening pair of rubberized truck nuts, each louder than the next.

When Radiohead sang “Anyone can play guitar and they won’t be a nothing anymore” in the early ’90s, many of us took that to heart. Maybe too many — it sometimes seems like everyone under the age of 35 is either in a band, starting a band or quitting a band. What stands out above all the noise of the Naughts and captures its tone all at once? What tune, chosen to play on some future soundtrack, would sum up exactly what post-millennial era the movie we’re watching takes place in?

Music is such a personal thing, more so, really, than film, and perspective here is tougher. While Radiohead seems an obvious emblematic choice for the era, “Knives Out” and “Pyramid Song” just don’t hold up objectively — this isn’t about the best band or my personal decade. (If that were the case, I’d be choosing from among Fleetwood Mac, Philip Glass and Velvet Underground records.)

In a decade of war and great political upheaval, maybe a song like Brooks & Dunn’s “Only in America” would be a fairer choice, a track that was used constantly by Bush and the GOP starting back in 2000 and heavily recycled in 2004 to draw lines in the sand between Democrats and Republicans and who had country music on their side. Incredibly, President Obama used this same song for his inauguration in 2009, confounding many and making this flag-waving hit the biggest song in American politics.

12082009_HeyYa3.jpgBut is that who we are? Have the last ten years been a tug of war over “Only in America,” a battle for the heartland and the twangy sound of the red-blooded blue collar voter? A large portion of the country would say you betcha. But the true character of this decade has been just the opposite of that — something less serious, with more shake in it. The fact is, most people have little connection to politics outside of election years, and even less connection with our ongoing wars. To honor the Naughts, we need something with more baby dolls and suga in it.

Something glossy, something shiny, something universal — like Outkast’s “Hey Ya!”.

Yes, “Hey Ya!” been ubiquitous since it “put the world on fire,” as a friend of mine in the biz put it — from the first episode of “Entourage” to the beloved “Hey Ya! Charlie Brown Christmas.” It speaks to everyone, but isn’t about anything. It’s a jumble of jive talk and good times, but also has a great honesty about a generation with a score of double zero: “Thank God for Mom and Dad for sticking two together ’cause we don’t know how!” (“This is a celebration of how men and women relate to each other in the 2000s,” André Benjamin told VH1.) It topped the charts in 2003, as the U.S. military went to war in Iraq and the rest of us went to the mall. It struck at the height of hip hop, and more than that, the heart of pop.

If “Hey Ya!” doesn’t feel heavy enough to be emblematic of the closing decade, well, for all the ’00s’ weight, we remain a nation of lightweight plastics, obsessed with entertainment and celebrity. Perez Hilton called “Umbrella” the best song of the last ten years — you can’t even set up a Ponzi scheme on taste like that, but it’s what we’re awash with, easy metaphors and color-saturated tweens. There are graver candidates for tune of the times — take Arcade Fire’s “Rebellion (Lies),” which would be the melodramatic echo in what quiet moments of introspection were left, post-“Hey Ya!”, over, the flagship song on an album (“Funeral”) that influenced and launched an armada of indie bands. But for all its earnestness, the sound of “Rebellion (Lies)” is easily washed away. Ten years from now, when it comes on the radio (or stream cast, or whatever we’re listening to by then), it’ll just blend into the many emo refrains played by those many bands from across suburban North America that the Arcade Fire inspired.

12082009_HeyYa2.jpgNo, what will endure as the soundtrack of our Naughts lives is the genre-busting anthem where Andre 3000, ice cold, told us all to “shake it like a Polaroid picture…” (which, by the way, is the wrong thing to do). And maybe it’s fitting that the most famous line in music in this decade of debacles, fraud and bad fiscal advice perpetuates a complete fallacy.

I don’t mean to hate. “Hey Ya!” has proven to be genius, handsomely delivered pop that remains undeniably unforgettable, sugar spun the finest of the fine, and, in these days of niches within niches, maybe the last giant crossover hit that the world could sing along with. As frivolous as “Hey Ya!” may at first seem, compelling questions and honest admissions exist in its funny funked world. “Why are we so in denial, when we know we’re not happy here?” At the Naughts’ end, André 3000’s musings are at once a battle cry and a weary plea. We just wanna shake it.

This feature is part of the Naughts Project.

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Rev Up

Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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GIFs via Giphy

Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.

via GIPHY

Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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