The Quintessential Song of the 2000s

I’m going to just say this: “Cry Me A River” by Justin Timberlake was the best song of the 2000’s, in terms of summing up the decade’s shift in pop music. Here’s why:

1. It straddled the shift in pop artists. Indie stuff aside, this was right when music shifted from boy bands and manufactured stars to emerging solo careers and independent artists. If you missed N’Sync (and you did, don’t lie), this is when you got over it.

2. It straddled the shift in music videos. This is one of the only videos that I actively looked for on TRL and still worth referencing on YouTube.

3. It straddled our opinion of Justin Timberlake. Sure, we all enjoyed “Like I Love You” more than we were expecting to, but this is the song where he earned our respect and we realized he had staying power.

4. It straddled the rise and fall of Britney. As Joe R. on the great Low Resolution pointed out, this was the moment Britney’s image and eventual sanity shattered. We had proof that she had faults. Slutty, cheaty faults.

5. It straddled Timberland’s career. Prior to 2002, he focused mainly on hip hop artists like Aaliyah and Ginuwine. Post JT, trainwrecks like Lindsay Lohan stalk him at parties because they know he can turn any pop artist into gold. This is the album that kicked it off.

6. It straddled the shift between our mild curiosity and crazy obsession with celebrities. Not going to lie, I sort of believed Britney when she said she was a virgin? Not because I cared, but because I didn’t have her vajay shoved in my face every time I turned on my TV or computer. I didn’t care and I didn’t have a cultural obligation to care. Before this video, we weren’t sure why Britney and Justin had broken up… there were rumors that she cheated on Justin with Wade Robson, a choreographer and Michael Jackson protege, but no one knew for certain. And then this video hit – with a Britney lookalike, a Wade-ish dude, subtle clues like a fairy figurine, and the entire story for our entertainment. While TMZ has given us full access to celebrities today, back then it was pretty rare to be a fly on the wall. In short: sofa king awesome. I wish all gossip and dirt resulted in this kind of art.

7. It straddled the moments I did not and absolutely did want to straddle Justin Timberlake.

8. It’s the ultimate SNAAAAAAAP. I spent at least half of this decade as a spurned lover, so I can fully appreciate the vengeful, “Oh yes he did” factor.

When Timberlake sings, “You don’t have to say/What you did/ I already know/ I found out from hiiiim,” he’s gleefully tiptoeing around Britney the same way Bugs Bunny dances around Elmer Fudd.

Plus, you know, it’s simply great. Damn JT. I still adore everything about this song and video… aside from when you make a tear with your finger when you sing the word “cry.” Which you still do. Stop it.

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1 Comment

Filed under Pop Goes The Culture

One response to “The Quintessential Song of the 2000s

  1. The Captain

    Preach on Sister Shortcake, preach on. I’ve been working on my own top five for the decade lists, and this is at the top of my list for favorite songs. This still is amazing to me every time I hear the song and especially everytime I see the video. Every point you made was spot on, but you left out the most important point.

    This video/song is the exact moment when ex-stalking became socially acceptable. Watching this video makes JT seem sympathetic, even though he breaks into Britney’s home and basically humps a chick in her bed, and then sticks around to watch her view the video. This would’ve been wicked creepy in any other decade, but in the 00’s JT was the hero. And just in time for MySpace and Facebook, the ex-stalking mecca. If a guy as cool as Justin can pine over his ex, then clicking on a few uploaded pics on my ex’s profile is no big deal for me.

    Also, great call on the NY resolutions. Months seem so much more manageable than the whole year. Baby steps. Baby. Steps.

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