The downside to being a Taibbi fan is he works for Rolling Stone, a mendacious rag unworthy of his skill. It kinda ruins the thrill of reading another takedown of Wall Street's rampant kleptocracy when blaring at you from the side is a shiny add for The 100 Best Albums of The 2000s!
It goes without saying that out of 100 entries only a handful will be any good - let alone the complete absence of the truly great. But that's Rolling Stone for you, a strident crusader for the bland middle.
The 2000s - or Zeroes if we're being honest with ourselves - was a terrible decade all around but particularly in the realm of popular music. Rock started the decade in nu metal and ended in preciously twee "indie" noodling. Rap, that once frightening beat of black revolutionaries, was so defanged and co-opted that it entered what a good friend of mine dubbed its hair metal phase, exploding into a self-parody of bling and bitches. In between, the once somewhat wild lands of radio-friendly pop were bulldozed to make room for Disney factories, furiously cranking out one starlet after another to the joy of pedophiles the world over. Like so much else in the Zeroes, music came out a loser.
And the winners? This'll be ugly but history never has neat moral lessons - the winners of the music world in the Zeroes were country and Eminem. It's fitting almost, a reflection of the phony Red vs. Blue culture war that so enraptured Americans while Bush pulled a Boris Yeltsin and auctioned off everything not nailed down to rapacious megacorps. Country was Bush's theme music through all this, an idiot twang-pop celebrating itself no matter how miserably it fails. On the counter-side, you had Eminem stirring up controversy by using the exact same language rap and hip-hop have used for the past twenty years - only the enterprising white cracker dropped all the uses of "nigga" that made squishy suburbanites so nervous about singing along. Now the middle-class white folks could properly enjoy the music of "the streets" without having to concern themselves with all that economic and systemic injustice stuff. Mouthing fake rebellion from within a womb of privilege - if there is a more apt metaphor of liberalism in the Bush years I don't want to know about it...
What's that you say? At least we got the great internet mp3 revolution to knock the wind out of the monsters at the RIAA? Sorry but no - piracy was never as big or important as everyone made it out to be and will be even less so in the future thanks to industry-friendly regulations, DRM, and iTunes.
Co-opt, commercialize - that's been the guiding philosophy of popular music ever since Elvis. The Zeroes were only different in that for once not one genuinely decent tune could break into the great media mind-warp.