What Was I Thinking?: Dance Music Crossovers of the Early Aughts – The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

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Hello there and welcome back to the sordid and occasionally unfortunate chronicles of my (that is, Glenn Jackson’s) musical past. If you’ll recall, the first edition of What Was I Thinking took a few moments to analyze Nelly’s “Hot in Herre,” a particularly popular anthem of my high school days. Now, we set our scopes a little wider, heading fearlessly forward (or backwards as the case may be) into the land of “dance-music-crossover-hits-from-the-early-aughts” — a category that includes such notable artists as Daft Punk, Fischerspooner, and the Chemical Brothers, and (for better or worse) was hugely important to my musical upbringing.

Looking back, a few of these tracks sound better than I thought they would upon revisiting. In particular, Chemical Brothers’ “Star Guitar” and Telepopmusik’s “Breathe” fall squarely in line with my current musical tastes. On the other hand, some of these songs are embarrassingly bad, but no collection of the dance tracks which populated my high school soirees would be complete without a few cringe-worthy clunkers. Let’s dive in!

THE GOOD:

The Chemical Brothers “Star Guitar”
This is just such a great song, and perfectly titled at that. I like tracks that just find a good sample and stick with it, and that’s basically all this one does. Also, the Michel Gondry-directed video is absolutely superb.

Daft Punk “One More Time,” “Harder Better Faster Stronger”
Daft Punk has obviously made a huge name for itself in recent years, but they were not the mega-super-duper-intergalactic-stadium-filling stars they are now back when these songs came out. Still, in my little world, these two tracks were inescapable, mostly due to the dance music mixes which filled my mornings every weekday (thanks to San Diego’s Jammin’ Z90 station and one DJ Slide).

Telepopmusik “Breathe”
How could someone not like this song? It’s so smoky, so classy, and yet so poppy and catchy. What the hell ever happened to these guys, by the way?

Modjo “Lady”
This one barely makes “the good” list, but it’s hardly “bad” or “ugly” either. Really, it’s all about that groove, just too funky to hate on. The lyrics I could really do without, but the strength of the track really does make it all work.

THE BAD:

Benny Benassi “Satisfaction”
Yeah, with hindsight, this song is pretty bottom-of-the-barrel. Dancefloors didn’t seem to mind it 10 years ago though, and really sad night clubs probably still rock this from time to time now.

Fischerspooner “Emerge (Dave Clarke Remix)”
This one isn’t so bad on its own, but for way too long after its release, both the original and Dave Clarke’s remix were inescapable—whether it was in commercials, movie trailers, or other sorts of unavoidable media it was almost impossible to, uh, emerge free from this buzzing dance tune.

Alice Deejay “Better Off Alone”
Not to sound like one of those guys—especially because it’s embarrassing—but I was into this song before everyone else. Okay, that’s not true, but what I’m trying to say is that I was bumping this song (having downloaded it from Napster) on CD-Rs and in my room before this tune officially blew up on the radio. All said though, it’s still a pretty terrible song.

THE UGLY:

Dirty Vegas “Days Go By”
Honestly, the beat isn’t that bad, but that vocal refrain is just so annoying. Can someone explain how this became a hit? I smell some payola!

DJ Sammy “Heaven”
Do I really have to tell you why this is so bad? Somehow this track got a lot of radio play for a three or four-month period my freshman year of high school. Even then, it was clear this song was cheeseball city through and through, and was best avoided at all costs.

Eiffel 65 “Blue”
Okay, technically this song came out when I was in middle school, but it is such a terrible song that I wanted to include it here, just for the sake of again asking, “What the **** was I thinking?”

Words by Glenn Jackson

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