By Jack Sharkey, March 3, 2017

Every Friday during 2017 we’re going to offer up five songs from each of the last fifty years that tell the story of music as it existed during that year, and how that music ultimately played a role in getting us to where we are today. We're taking the journey backwards for a different persepctive on how music has evolved over the past half century. Week 9 is all about 2008.


Like every subjective list of art, we hope this will at times make sense and at others spark debate (and maybe even a little criticism). Take the trip with us in 2017 as we look back on the music that got us to where we are today.



Guitar-based rock still had a slight hold on the charts during the year, but artists like Chris Brown, Flo Rida and Kanye West were making it obvious that there were major shifts happening in popular music. A year after iTunes and six years after Napster, the ways consumers consumed music were also starting to change, but in 2008 no one really knew the avalanche of technology to come.



Rise Above This - Seether Rock got heavy in the late 90s and early 00s, but Seether mixed the heaviness rock fans had come to expect with a sense for melody and hook that harkened back throughout the Classic Rock era.



It's Not My Time - 3 Doors Down In 1992 Nirvana changed the world, but not permanently. Three Doors Down (along with Seether) carried the flame of the scene created by Nirvana infusing it with a post-modern melodic sense, but as the decade progressed the flame would cool down becoming more of a niche than a mainstream movement. Every genre has it's time in the sun. 



No One - Alicia Keys  Every decade has it's very own powerhouse chantuese who rules music and fashion for a few years before someone new comes along to take her place. That hasn't happened with Keys just yet. The thing to take away from this song is the sparse mid-range and chording arrangement which would become the paradigm for popular music for the next ten years (and counting). Also, an early appearance of the Millennial Whoop that would soon become a necessary ingredient in the formula



No Air - Jordin Sparks ft. Chris Brown After a string of hits that let him rule 2008, Chris Brown became the "It" guest artist. So, if you were an American Idol alum and your label (and TV production company) needed you to have a hit - fast - Chris Brown's was the first number that popped up on your producer's speed dial. The instrumentation again is sparse and somewhat automated (it's easier and cheaper to make a record with one synth and a drum loop than it is to hire all of those pesky musicians).



All Summer Long - Kid Rock Of course, another quick way to have a hit is to let someone else's hit be your hit. Even better is making two other hits your hit. All Summer Long was a giant hit, in two different decades (the 70s and the aughts), that can't be denied. But the thing is, the audience wants what it wants and you really can't fault an artist for giving the people what they want.

Follow 50 Years - 50 Songs - 50 Weeks on Spotify