The #1 rock song of the decade, according to Billboard, was “How You Remind Me” by Nickelback. As Charlie Brown might say, “blech.”
Mainstream rock in the 00s didn’t sound much different from, or any better than, the mainstream rock of the 90s.
But the indie rock scene, on slow burn for so long in the late 80s and 90s, was buoyed by the rise of the internet, both in terms of musicians finding more and more stuff to borrow or steal from and in terms of listeners getting access to the scene. And so this decade was the decade when the indies grew up. Arcade Fire and New Pornographers made arena-sized indie rock; Interpol, The National, and The Strokes reinvented straightahead guitar rock; Animal Collective and Grizzly Bear brought a weird, Brian Wilson haze to the party.
A lot of my favorite rock bands of this decade caught my ear because they reminded me of my favorite rock bands of earlier decades. (Oh god – maybe I am turning into one of those “mature” guys who complains about how the music was better “when we were teenagers.”) Franz Ferdinand’s “Burn This City” was the best Talking Heads song that David Byrne never wrote. Gang of Four begat Bloc Party. Jamie T was the result of the unholy union of Billy Bragg (still going strong), The Clash, and KRS-One. But many others just seemed to come out of nowhere: Joanna Newsom’s epic, harp-driven warbling, for example, or some of Sufjan Stevens’ freak-chamber music.
The best thing about rock in this decade is the way it’s gone all fuzzy around the edges. With Explosions In The Sky’s almost orchestral post-rock, Califone’s explorations of Americana, and the Icelandic string quartet Amina’s chilly, trippy landscapes, it has become almost impossible to draw a line and say, “beyond this, it’s no longer rock.”
Tell us: What was the big story or best music of the decade in rock?