For many of us who grew up reading the internet’s first cultural retrospective essays, some might feel strange seeing that era itself finally age into its own evaluations. Particularly when, recalling that 2002-2010-ish musical timespan, we can’t for the life us remember or necessarily even access large portions of it. As a generation of kids adjusted to digitally consuming culture instead of physically purchasing it, not much thought was understandably given by said kids about preserving those new files and libraries, specifically music.
Yesterday over at Esquire, longtime culture critic (and former MTV heyday personality) Dave Holmes penned a great examination of what he dubs The Deleted Years—the mid-aughts’ post-iPod, pre-Spotify timespan in which music collections were dubiously stored in various Windows and Mac folders at best, and actively overwritten or accidentally deleted from MP3 players at worst. The dive into the era of JoJo, Tapes n’ Tapes, and Duffy (all very real and at one time very ubiquitous) presents a good argument as to why this chapter of popular music feels so ghostly and nebulous, drawing from a variety of factors like digitization, as well as the decline of both televised music videos and Top 40 charts.
“It’s not that each era hasn’t had its own one-hit wonders and flashes in the pan, but in the Deleted Years, everything came together to make music feel especially ephemeral,” he writes. “The charts lost their significance, the value of a song plummeted, the gatekeepers became redundant.”
Holmes’ piece doesn’t really take into consideration that most the era’s songs are all still readily accessible, if not more so than when they first were released (we present you with undisputed proof of JoJo, Tapes n’ Tapes, and Duffy). Still, there’s something to be said about the fact that, in order to rediscover them, one needs to actually remember these artists in the first place, which is kinda the whole problem when your long-dead Zune is missing a charger and gathering dust on your bookshelf.
If nothing else, readers would also do well to take Holmes’ recommendation to dig up Blue Merle, for old times’ sake. (Personally, we recommend We Are Scientists’ “With Love & Squalor,” which still rips, goddamnit).
You know what they say: “Die a Libertine, or live long enough to see yourself become a Subway.” Or something. Whatever. We’re gonna go spend the rest of our day moodily listening to “Up the Bracket” and “Young for Eternity” on our headphones. Don’t bother us.