For as long as I could remember, I had imagined the year 2000. When I was a kid the books of the day promised a brave new world of sci-fi in which we’d be flying around in silver suits with jetpacks strapped to our backs; the future would be now and that now would be 2000 AD. Obviously those dreams failed to become reality, but it was still a thrill to finally get to an age that had once seemed so far away. Yet once that moment had gone, 9/11, the Twin Towers and the looming War on Terror made 21st century Britain feel far more like Orwell’s 1984 as the fundamental rights we had historically taken for granted were suddenly seen as impediments to our protection rather than a means of ensuring it.


Ironically, right at the point when our personal rights were really being squeezed and our liberties eroded, pop culture began its own all-out assault on the corporate towers of the music industry. The arrival of mp3 culture changed the very nature of pop music, sparking a revolution in consumerism and creativity that had nothing to do with any individual artist or genre and everything to do with technology. Determined to resist progress of any kind, the industry vented its spleen, ranting long and loud about the supposed psychological impact of getting music for free and how it would lead to a belief that music itself had no specific value, but as ever that bigotry was motived by blind panic and pure greed.


Illegal and legal downloading shattered the music industries monopoly on what was available and its ability to dictate taste. No longer constrained by corporate marketing and payola radio, suddenly we were able to access any music, anytime, anyplace, anywhere. The mp3 revitalised interest in a past that had long been deleted, online digital archives opening the flood gates to every lost album, single and song ever recorded. I launched into a second adolescence where I greedily gobbled up thousands of tracks that had suddenly, magically, become available, not to mention the ever increasing, intimidating amount of new stuff to check out.


Unlike in previous decades, in the new millennium every genre seemed to carry on long past its sell by date, propagating so many offshoots they became impossible to distinguish from each other, so rendering them meaningless. Musicians too carried on regardless, irrespective of old age and irrelevance, more than happy to blaze the heritage trail and rake in the bucks. They had to jostle with kids young enough to be their grandchildren who were reveling in a demystification of computer software that allowed them to create music without ever leaving their bedroom.


Of course, great music is still great music and the noughties yielded as much as any other decade. It’s just that you had to wade through a whole lot more to find it. Inevitably, a lot of new artists did sound like they had been tainted by a past reconfigured to their own design although none of them could really be described as retro in the strictest sense of the word. Equally, apart from the leftfield genius of Missy Elliott, Squarepusher and maybe early grime, they could hardly be described as pointing the way to any kind of future either.


01 EMINEM ‘The Real Slim Shady’ (The Marshall Mathers LP May 2000)

02 DEAD PREZ ‘Animal In Man’ (Let’s Get Free LP June 2000)

03 RADIOHEAD ‘Optimistic’ (Kid A LP October 2000)

04 OUTKAST ‘B.O.B.’ (Stankonia LP November 2000)

05 THE AVALANCHES ‘Frontier Psychiatrist’ (A Side February 2001)

06 DAFT PUNK ‘Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger’ (Discovery LP March 2001)

07 N.E.R.D. ‘Lapdance’ (In Search Of LP March 2001)

08 MISSY ELLIOTT ‘Get Ur Freak On’ (Miss E So Addictive LP April 2001)

09 AIR ‘How Does It Make You Feel?’ (10,000Hz Legend LP May 2001)

10 SQUAREPUSHER ‘My Red Hot Car (Girl)’ (A Side May 2001)

11 THE STROKES ‘Barely Legal’ (Is This It LP August 2001)

12 ROOTS MANUVA ‘Witness (One Hope)’ (Run Come Save Me LP August 2001)

13 THE STREETS ‘Let’s Push Things Forward’ (Original Pirate Material LP May 2002)

14 KANO ‘Boys Love Girls’ (A Side May 2003)

15 DIZZEE RASCAL ‘Fix Up, Look Sharp’ (Boy In Da Corner LP July 2003)

16 KINGS OF LEON ‘Spiral Staircase’ (Youth & Young Manhood LP July 2003)

17 THE LIBERTINES ‘Don’t Look Back Into The Sun’ (A Side August 2003)

18 RYAN ADAMS ‘World War 24’ (Love Is Hell Pt 1 LP November 2003)

19 NICK CAVE & THE BAD SEEDS ‘Nature Boy’ (Abattoir Blues LP September 2004)

20 RUFUS WAINWRIGHT ‘The Art Teacher’ (Want Two LP November 2004)