Gerry Hassan has taken a break from imaging the future of political policy development and posted on his top 60 albums of the noughties. And as befits a leading public intellectual, his choices are placed firmly within a socio-cultural context. Here is how he introduces his Top Ten:
Then there is the state of music which engages with and shapes the political mood. Given what has happened in the last decade: Bush, Blair and the march of the neo-liberals, where are the subtle albums and songs about the state of democracy in Britain, America, and the never-ending wars? Green Day’s ‘American Idiot’ hardly counts as a learned tome; instead where are the equivalents of the Specials ‘Ghost Town’ and even Pink Floyd’s ‘The Final Cut’, an album subtitled ‘A requiem for the post-war dream’?
Gerry is knowledgable about contemporary music, and such a huge fan of Gil Scott Heron must be a man of taste. Still, I confess most of his Top 60 choices are alien to me, because I let the noughties drift by in much the same way as the 90s...listening to Aretha Franklin, Sam Cooke, Otis Redding and an infinite variety of Motown compilations.
I do find time for contemporary artists linked by a thread to such soul greats. But Gerry would probably consider the lyrical content of their work neo-liberal. I have daughters. We share common cultural ground in our enthusiasm for all things urban. When they were young I played them Aretha, they played me Alicia. So my musical decade is very different from Gerry's. It is defined by MTV Base of an evening, Trevor Nelson on Saturday afternoon and Beyonce for breakfast. From Missy Elliot Getting her Freak On at the start of the noughties, to Will.i.am giving it Boom Boom Pow at The End, R n' B is so driven, life-enhancing and exciting, you can almost forget the passing of time. It's been called brash, sexist and materialistic. Translate that as joyful, sexy and escapist. You can enjoy it and still see through all the misogynist nonsense - we regularly scream mock outrage at the groupie fantasies of the male stars. We love the divas, the dances, camp jokes about bouncing out of the after party on 24s...Beep Beep! Yes, even sleazy old R Kelly and his outsized wheels are venerated. I am sure Demos once wrote a paper on the dangers of that...
Outkast: Hey Ya! Yes this picture is exploitative, but in a post-modern way...
Mary J Blige: Family Affair. Produced by God, sorry, Dr Dre
Pharrell Williams: Frontin' Boy genuis in a rare bashful moment
Missy Elliot: Work It I'd also feel like doing this if I had just lost six stone
Beyonce: Crazy in Love Noughties Anthem, has to be
Tweet: Oops (Oh My) For lovely ladies without a lumber
Usher: Yeah Not one for the feminist consciousness raising group, but perfect for every other occasion
Kanye West: Gold digger/Diamonds are from Sierra Leone It not always about range rovers you know
R Kelly: Ignition Dare you not to dance
Eve ft Gwen Stephani: Let Me Blow Ya Mind Real girl power..samples one of the first reggae crossover hits