In the last ten years, all the really good music ran screaming from the charts and founds its audience underground. Is that the sound of a 40 year-old muso talking? Perhaps. Perhaps that's what 40 year old blokes have always thought. But I remember all those 40 year old blokes buying Blur and Oasis albums and feeling like a teenager again 15 years ago. And that's how I feel when I listen to the latest by The Indelicates, Cosmo Jarvis or Frank Turner. The difference is none of those artists ever bother the single chart. Because people don't buy singles in the same way they used to. Does the singles chart truly represent what's popular in music anymore? Wiser minds that mine have tried to puzzle that one out. And that's not why I'm here today. I'm just here to conclude my countdown to...
In case you missed 'em:
The first ten years...
The troublesome teens...
20 Is The New Teenage...
And now - the last ten years...
31 (2003) The White Stripes - Seven Nation Army
I surprised myself with this one. I'd pretty much given the year to Stacy's Mom, the ultimate 80's AOR throwback anthem from the mighty, mighty Fountains of Wayne. And then I remembered this little ditty, with the greatest guitar riff of the 21st Century (so far). Damn it if Jack White doesn't steal the crown. But the FoW boys came close.
Do you really care what was Number #1 on my birthday in 2003? For completeness' sake, I'll tell you. Gareth Gates featuring The Kumars - "Spirit In The Sky". I'm starting to regret having a birthday right after Comic Relief.
32 (2004) Morrissey - First Of The Gang To Die
A helluva year to judge. Bowling For Soup's 1985 might have stolen it (even though that does say more about the 80s than the noughties). Or what about Shatner & Rollins together? What do you mean you can't get behind that? OK then, how about Bill's Common People duet with Joe Jackson? Not convinced? Philistines.
You Are The Quarry was Morrissey's great comeback moment, bristling with attitude and energy. He's made better records, but none that managed to catch the zeitgeist in quite the same way. For a moment, he was an international superstar, and First Of The Gang was his tribute to an adoring Mexican fanbase. Not bad for a Stretford lad with Irish Blood & English Heart, or an album that was mostly a great big f-u to his many "enemies" (real and imagined).
In the charts? Cha Cha Slide by DJ Casper. Me neither.
33 (2005) Arctic Monkeys - I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor
"Don't believe the hype," says Alex Turner as he introduces this - a genuine Number One hit single in both the singles chart and mine. Wow - how often does that happen? This takes us back to the days when the internet could actually break a new band. Before everybody jumped on that wagon.
A number of songs came close - my favourite Eels track, Things The Grandchildren Should Know; my favourite HMHB tune, For What Is Chatteris...; even Martha Wainwright's touching tribute to her father, Bloody Motherfucking Asshole; and, of course, anything from Art Brut's glorious debut album. Particularly appropriate would be Bad Weekend, because... well, popular culture no longer applies to me.
Speaking of which: my birthday chart #1? McFly. Less offensive than the rest of this decade.
34 (2006) The Dixie Chicks - Not Ready To Make Nice
There was fierce competition from Jarvis, Guillemots and the Arctic Monkeys. Among others. Not Ready To Make Nice sprang from a battle between the Dixie Chicks and George W. Bush and ended as the Dixie Chicks versus the whole of conservative America. And somehow the Dixie Chicks won. If you don't know the story behind it, it's worth reading this. For that alone, they deserve 2006. Plus, it's nice to have a country record in this chart. Variety is the spice, etc. etc.
35 (2007) Dan Le Sac Vs. Scroobius Pip - Thou Shalt Always Kill
Thou shalt not think any man over the age of 30 who chooses a "hiphop" track as his favourite song of the year is just trying to be cool.
Thou shalt judge this on its own merits, not your own prejudices.
Thou shalt not make repetitive, generic music.
Thou shalt not make repetitive, generic music.
Thou shalt give equal worth to the De La Soul remix.
Thou shalt not look at yourself in the mirror while you're crying: your eyes already know.
Thou shalt not question Stephen Fry.
Thou shalt always kill.
For 60 of my favourite songs from 2007, you can go here. This process gets a whole lot easier now I have a blog to refer back to. The Manics almost clinched the top spot with an amazing single from an incredible album at a point in their career when most bands are winding down and coasting on former glories. It even made #2 in them there meaningless singles charts. But it didn't rewrite the Ten Commandments like Scroobius did.
At #1 in them there meaningless singles charts? Sugababes vs Girls Aloud - "Walk This Way". Another Comic Relief song, I suspect. I'm just glad I've never heard it.
36 (2008) The Indelicates - We Hate The Kids
This record made me feel that same teenage passion for music I'd felt at different points in my life for Bruce, The Smiths, Jarvis et al. If the singles charts truly represented what it feels like to be a teenager, then this song would have been Number One for a year. If the NME had any balls (oh, look, is that Noel Gallagher on the cover again - how cutting edge), The Indelicates would be on the front every week. My favourite single of the 21st Century from my favourite album of the 21st Century by my favourite band of the 21st Century. Not some croaky old fuddy duddies I've been listening to all my life, but a bright, young, vibrant band bursting with ideas and attitude and intelligence.
Every generation gets fooled again
And every generation is to blame...
The rest of 2008 can be found here. Apologies to Elbow: in any other year, One Day Like This would have made it.
(We Hate The Kids might originally have been released as a single prior to 2008, but I only discovered it as part of the Indelicates' debut album, American Demo, and that's why it's here. Just in case you're a pedant.)
And in the charts? Basshunter featuring DJ Mental Theos - "Now You"...
No more music, thank you and goodnight.
37 (2009) Frank Turner - Try This At Home
'Cause there's no such thing as rockstars
There's just people who play music
And some of them are just like us
And some of them are dicks
So, quick turn off your stereo
Pick up that pen and paper
Yeah, you can do much better
Than some skinny half-arsed English country singer
Many of my other favourite songs from 2009 can be found here.
And at #1 in the charts as I turned 37? Another Comic Relief single. A good song, by a comedian I like, but I still prefer the original.
38 (2010) Cee Lo Green - Fuck You
It could have gone to either Frank or The Indelicates again, but I still think the greatest pop single of 2010 was this. (And it was a genuine pop hit too - though swearing always helps that.) Maybe I'm just a sucker for combining classic Motown production values with cuss words. Maybe you think I should have grown out of this record by now? You know what I say to that?
Many more of my favourites from 2010 can be heard here.
And at #1 in the unreal world? Pass Out by Tinie Tempah. At least it's not another bloody Comic Relief song.
39 (2011) Lana Del Rey - Video Games
Once again, both Frank Turner and The Indelicates could have swiped the crown, as could Cosmo Jarvis, Fleet Foxes, Noah & The Whale... any of the artists on this list. But I'd be lying if I didn't choose the most mesmerising record of last year. The album's pretty good too - though it does remind me of Like A Prayer era Madonna a lot more than I expected. Nothing wrong with that though, Like A Prayer era Madonna is my favourite. Nothing on the record is quite as "Joni Mitchell sings in a Twin Peaks bar" as this one song though.
And last year's Number One on the 19th of March? Just The Way You Are (Amazing) by my popstar doppleganger, Bruno Mars. Hoorah!
Which brings us to 40. No idea what my favourite record will be this year... and I don't really care what'll be at #1 as my life finally begins next Monday. Because, you know what? I hate the kids, I'm not ready to make nice, a seven nation army couldn't hold me back, I shalt always kill and I'll probably be the first of the gang to die. Anyone spot a theme? In that case, I'll leave the last word to Cee-Lo...