gotta get around to writing a best of 2003... i'll have it done by 2005, i swear.
i'm not even sure i heard 50 new albums in 2003, so a top 50 is probably out. maybe a top ten.
Top Ten Songs, Albums, Technologies, Members of En Sync and/or Phenomena for 2003
1) electroclash (or synth-tron or whatever poncey name you prefer). my main touchstone here was the incredible ghostly records compilation "disco nouveau", which came packaged in a beautiful booklet filled with profuse details about the genre's origins and inspirations. really the only excuse for buying cds anymore is to get an artifact like this. "disco nouveau" actually came out in 2002, but if you're going to be a stickler for "accuracy" and "rules" then i might as well give up this journal altogether.
part of electro-clash's appeal (to me, anyway) is its roots in 80s music, the classic rock of my generation. it's depressing actually-- the 80s are back in every way. economically, socially, politically. we have a spiraling budget deficit, a war with no real criteria for victory, an administration packed with arch-conservatives and religious zealots, hostility to governmental regulation... not to mention an installment of "grand theft auto" modeled after frickin' miami vice. miami vice!! have they no shame?
anyway, even though the 80s were a pretty shitty decade overall, you can't front on the tunes. new wave (or whatever) bands like depeche mode, gary numan, tears for fears pioneered a warm synth sound that you can still hear in many of today's best electro-clash (or whatever) artists. it's a pretty straight line from erasure to solvent, from soft cell to legowelt, from giorgio moroder to... well, everybody.
i remember seeing this shirt once that commented on rave: "DISCO STILL SUCKS AND YOU STILL NEED DRUGS TO ENJOY IT." i always thought that was a bit harsh. it's true there's a lot of cheesy disco, but if you've ever listened to giorgio moroder's classic "i feel love" (with donna summers), you know there's more to it than lame divas and saturday night fever. "i feel love" futuristic, minimal sound (icey arpeggios of synths) came literally decades ahead of its time. the other huge tune i heard from moroder this year was "the chase", from the soundtrack to midnight express. these songs are genius! in fact, i'll put them in my list even though they came out in the late 70s.
disclaimer: i don't actually know what an arpeggio is. help a brother out.
2) giorgio moroder - "i feel love", "the chase"
3) ishkur's guide to music - clearly the best music website to come out (or at least be heavily revised) in 2003. if you find yourself getting irritated during discussions that involve semi-words like "neurofunk" and "synthtron", you probably wouldn't like it too much. but for music nerds like myself, ishkur's guide to music was a welcome new resource to argue about. iskhur's categories and taste were questionable, but the real value of the site was the huge selection of song samples provided. combined with slsk, you had tthe makings of a classic library. (i'd never heard underground resistance's "adrenaline", nor giorgio moroder's "chase"... how did life go on?)
uh oh only a few more minutes in this internet cafe.
3) mp3 revolution. itunes + slsk + year end lists = HEAVEN ON EARTH! THE PROMISED KINGDOM!
4) best commentary on the ipod - penny arcade
5) best singles (which maybe were 2003, maybe not) - erlend �ye "the athlete"; matthew dear, "but for you"; the shins "saint simon"; kanye west "through the wire"; legowelt, "disco rout"; lowfish, "no longer accepting complaints"
6) good places to hear about music in 2003: theavclub, pitchforkmedia, epitonic, simon reynolds blog, your friends who like indie rock and klezmer.
7) best show i saw in 2003: either yo la tengo or belle & sebastian
8) worst show i saw in 2003: radiohead
9) overrated: critical darling dizzee rascal, whose top single "i luv you" was a harsh screechy mess that one could admire without particularly wanting to listen to.
10) greatest mc: ME. god on the mic. vocal presence was in full effect.