Tuesday, December 22, 2009

This Is Ludicrous

Tim McGraw has the most popular song of the decade based on radio play?!?!?

Ok, so I live in an area of the country where country radio, for all intents and purposes, doesn't exist. So, by that margin, the song should be a crossover hit, a Carrie Underwood or a Rascal Flatts, a song that is everywhere and everyone knows it. Now, I am still amazed that there are "popular" songs that I don't know. Maybe I do know this "Something Like That" if I heard it, maybe it's that countryish song making the rounds that I can never pin on down who sings it. But no, as this song was big in 1999-2000. Is that really fair? It's older than all the other songs on the list! It had the most time to get played! How in the world did it beat out "Smooth", Rob Thomas and Carlos Santana's blockbluster that was everywhere those two years? It had radio play on several different formats!

Let's go down this list.

Some of them are so obvious. "Drops of Jupiter"? Dear God, that's a song no one can forget, still completely memorable. (I might still know every word of it.) "Low" is also unmistakable, completely owning 2007 just like "Drops of Jupiter" owned 2001. You can't help but sing along to both of them. Usher owned 2004 (forgive me for overusing the verb, but it's true), and it's a song, like "Low", that defined the decade. My local Top 40 radio station named "Yeah!" their top song of 2004, a rare case of it matching the reality.

Album rock is a radio genre I'm not super-familiar with, mainly because rock stations have gone through myriad format changes in the last several years, so it's too hard to decipher when there's only one or two in a given market. Staind was one of those early '00s bands that bored me to tears; I found Aaron Lewis' vocals to be whiny and monotone, and I couldn't stand "It's Been Awhile", in addition to all their other leaden singles. The fact that the band fizzled out dampers the honor; it's like awarding Creed the label.

"Last Resort" is also an odd song to win "most played" status. Obviously Papa Roach's biggest hit, they scored huge on TRL back in the day (remember, it was in 2000, so this was a big deal), and it being such an angry song, it connected well with the teenagers (me included). The band itself also fizzled out somewhat, sticking to genre formats; like the rock problem above, they need a place to go.

And of course, to the Urban label, aka rap for many of those who don't speak radio. "Drop It Like It's Hot", Snoop. One of those hits that's big, but sticks around for awhile. Like Lil Jon, it was great to parody, which extended its life; all I think of is a haze of marijuana smoke and some ho'ed-out girls in black leather nothings droppin' to their knees. Completely awful in so many ways, but so effin' catchy. Snoop never had it so good.

I can't speak for the other categories, including country. But Urban Adult Contemporary? Who knew such a thing existed, besides Billboard aficionados?

It's interesting to look at the dates--2004 comes across like a banner year here--but it also makes sense that nothing from this year or last made the cut; time works on your side in these categories, with things hitting in the middle of the decade doing well because they have time to bubble, to grow and be loved, without being completely forgotten or even overexposed, which is what more recent hits turn into before they have time to fade away and rediscovered.

Of course, such a short list based on radio play ignores bigger trends and the bigger artists, but that is what other lists--iTunes downloads, album sales--pick up. Notice there is no Beyonce, Destiny's Child, Rihanna, Maroon 5, Kelly Clarkson, Coldplay, Norah Jones, Green Day, Kanye West, Jay-Z...all of these artists made the '00s, and one hotshot single, when many of them had multiple, won't cover the impact they had.

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