A decade that lacks definition
ISUPPOSE there is a kind of symmetry to the fact that a decade that began with unfounded fears of the nation being brought to a standstill by a millennium bug is ending with similar fears of another bug sweeping the nation. But when it comes to summing up the “Noughties”, the tenuous link between a computer virus and a flu virus is about as far as I can get. I tend to look back and remember decades in the context of music, which might explain the difficulty I have trying to encapsulate the defining features of the past 10 years. So, the Seventies were about punk, once I’d overcome a brief flirtation with one or two dubious prog rock bands, the Eighties were dominated by synthesisers and Live Aid, and the Nineties by Britpop and the Oasis-Blur feud. But the Noughties? I can’t – at least at this point – look back and decide what musical phenomenon defined the Noughties. You can’t count Michael Jackson’s death because that brought down the curtain on a career rather than lifting one (and I certainly won’t remember it for being the decade that witnessed the reunion of Spandau Ballet, though I bet they do). I suppose it has been the decade of reality TV propelling unknowns with sometimes questionable talents into the limelight. That hardly seems a cultural phenomenon worth celebrating or defining a decade. Perhaps the problem is that there is now so much “product” out there and getting to it has never been easier. Downloads, ringtones, reality TV shows, bands coming out of retirement, SuBo, box sets with previously unreleased outtakes of bands making tea – there’s almost too much choice these days. I’ve joined the revolution and like everyone else, carry more or less my entire music collection on an iPod or some other player. It’s great, of course, but discrimination rather goes out the window, as does poring over 7in sleeves and album liner notes. Perhaps the Noughties – at least in musical terms – is the decade that showed that there can sometimes be too much of a good thing. Or in the case of anything Simon Cowell might be connected with, too much of an average thing.