"I'm Sprung" by T-Pain
You might not even be able to think of how this song goes, but it gets distinction as T-Pain's first single, and you DO know T-Pain. Other artists have quietly used auto-tune, but T-Pain was the first to come out as shamelessly pro-auto-tune, using it as a music tool, an instrument in its own right.
In modern pop culture, auto-tune infected everything. It wasn't just T-Pain and his many imitators that noticed. Time wrote about it, Kanye West used it to make his worst album ever, Jay-Z attacked it in a single that firmly established Jay-Z as the Ornery Grandpa [OG] of hip-hop and an entire Internet meme was created based around the idea of auto-tuning things that wouldn't traditionally be auto-tuned.
Don't believe me? Check out the wildly popular Auto Tune the News series, or this catchy jam that's just the result of mixing auto-tune, Carl Sagan and Stephen fucking Hawking. I said "everything." Don't test me on this.
"Hey Ya" by Outkast
I figured one of us should pick a song that doesn't suck. This was not a bad decade for music. If anything, technology did more for music than any other form of media besides the infotainment dick joke. We got unauthorized brilliance like the Grey Album and Wilco's "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot," Panda Bear and Radiohead wove sonic soundscapes perfect for our new headphoned listening habits. The Strokes, The White Stripes and The Walkmen made rock and roll sound like a good night out feels: From the invigorating beer buzz, to the lucid shit talking, to the sobering up during a fist-fight.
But Outkast gets my nod for showing us just how awesomely weird the mainstream was willing to get. After hip-hop and rock spent the 90s awkwardly pawing one another to the strains of Limp Bizkit and Korn, Outkast finally made us believe the two most important sounds of the past 40 years might finally get together and make beautiful, weird love.
"Bombs Over Baghdad" tore out of the gate in 2000 with a furious mixture of gospel, hip hop, electric guitar and what an alien abduction might sound like on LSD. But with "Hey Ya," everything seamlessly came together on a dance floor full of people trying to figure out how to shake their ass like a Polaroid picture.
"Your Body is a Wonderland" by John Mayer
John Mayer started it with this song. And yes, that is an official statement of blame. If you know anybody that wears two-hundred dollar slacks but no shoes, it is John Mayer's fault. If you know anybody that brings a guitar to a coffee shop instead of a laptop, it is John Mayer's fault. If you've ever had a girlfriend who has asked to see your poetry, and been disgusted when you had none to show, it is John Mayer's fault. If you've ever had diarrhea, it is John Mayer's fault (possibly).
Before John Mayer, if you told somebody their "body was a wonderland" you'd be arrested for sexual harassment and criminal lameness. Half the music in this decade was about the favorite colors of women named Madison and Jennifer, penned by guys who call everybody "friend," and drink Jack and Cokes "for the street cred." And that was all due to the influence of one man. That man is a son of a bitch. His twitter feed is surprisingly funny, but that does not clear him of Son of a Bitch status.
"My Humps" by The Black Eyed Peas
Proving everything Borat set out to imply, "My Humps" represents, in my mind, the moment at which a large sector of society decided to say, "You know what? We don't care about ideas, or thought, and we're not ashamed of that. We just want to dance and take E and buy ices and you can shut the hell up about it. Now let us LITERALLY GET RETARDED IN HERE."
I'd call it a brave coming together of the masses, if it didn't make me so achingly angry all the time I'm awake. The lyrics to "My Humps" are pointless, ugly drivel you can shake your ass to, and I think we're in for quite a long spell of that. On the bright side, by covering the song in a way that showed her intellectual superiority to something, Alanis Morissette finally proved she knows what irony is.
"Have you Forgotten?" by Darryl Worley
In a way, we were all country music singers after 9/11, with our flag pins and bumper stickers, hungry to see America kick ass.
By the time this Iraq War anthem came around and literally asked, "Have you forgotten" that Saddam Hussein attacked the World Trade Center, many of us furrowed our brows, stroked our fake Uncle Sam beards and said, "Waaaaait a second...that doesn't quite sound right."