Greatest Influence 2002 Year in Review

Greatest Influence 2002 Year in Review
The Decline of Major Labels
Global economic doldrums in the record industry and the deepening A&R crisis. Major labels, when will you study your own history closely enough to discover that you flourished most when you invested in long-term careers and, subsequently, released records that people cared enough about to actually want to buy — not just borrow, copy and download. Michael White

Being a fan of Chicks on Speed and Fischerspooner, the popularity of the electro-clash movement hasn't bothered me. Yet. Its harsh synthetic beats mixed with monotone melodies and great fashion sense often creates something delightful and original. But everyone is doing it and I fear that the genre will soon fall prey to the advances of mainstream and mind-numbing success. Carla Gillis

The Electro Fetish of Stephin Merritt
After years of being laughed out of indie rock for electro fetish, Stephin Merritt must be chuckling to himself watching the thrift store prices for vintage synths go through the roof. Now that the Magnetic Fields are label-mates with Wilco, perhaps Merritt's pay day will finally come in 2003. Michael Barclay

The Guitar
Last year was the start of the rock renaissance, and it gathered momentum this year. Most of the 2002's touted bands used a guitar as their primary weapon, and there's no sign of that stopping. The banjo revival is just around the corner. Michael Edwards

Hard Rock
If hard rock has to make a comeback, why rebirth its worst traits? Like the sleazy hedonism. The photo shoots and gig posters with buxom blondes holding the male rock star's axe. These days, we're expected to laugh it off because it's ironic. But it's just bad predictable music about girls and the devil played by mullett-coiffed ding-dongs. Carla Gillis

Live Laptop Performances
This was the first year live laptop performances became feasible for those without Ph.D.'s in software engineering. Finally, expensive studio gear could be left behind, and everything loaded onto a Titanium Powerbook. Aided by programs like Ableton's Live!, electronic bands and performers like Plaid, Akufen and Kid 606 assaulted dance floors worldwide, almost always to high praise. The best have already realised they need accompanying videos or a singer, since watching pale white guys point and click does not make a show. Philip Downey

Long Island, NY
Bands like Glassjaw, the Movielife, Taking Back Sunday, Brand New, the Reunion Show, From Autumn to Ashes and SkyCameFalling are all making post-hardcore a household word. Canadian cities should take Long Island as the prime example of what a musical community should be like: support, shows every night and really amazing bands. Jasamine White-Gluz

Math Rock
All around the country, it seems the kids are starting to crave a little complication in their rock and roll. This year saw a dramatic increase in bands obsessed with odd time signatures and atypical chord progressions. Some fear a new prog generation is upon us while others are grateful that someone finally decided to get smart and put some thought into their music. Either way, math rock is here to stay. Neil Haverty

The Neptunes
Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo basically took over pop music this year, which is pretty weird when you think the duo known as the Neptunes are, in essence, glitch-techno funknoids from outer space — or maybe Virginia. They resurrected Busta with "Pass the Courvoisier, Pt. 2," gave Britney and Justin a bit too much street cred, kicked some evil bass lines for Beenie Men, wasted minimalist thumpers on homeboys Clipse and even released their own rap-rock-funk fusion as N.E.R.D. But mostly, they made Nelly's "Hot In Herre" which, despite my early distaste has electro-funked its way into my heart. Do you have any idea how often people say "it's hot in here" in everyday conversation? A lot, and every single time we all thought, "so take off all your clothes." Which is hilarious. Joshua Ostroff

Producers of hip-hop and to a greater extent, R&B, are taking a technological leap and bring African-American funk back to its experimental roots. The bass-twitching grind coupled with the digital lyrics-in-reverses on Missy Elliot's "Work It" is the finest example of this next shit. While the IDM snobs keep their noses stuck in their laptops out of ignorance, everyone from No Doubt to that kid from *NSync is turning to the Neptunes for that perfect beat and amazingly, the collaborations are more than just listenable. While none of this has really had a transformative effect on the lyrical content of either contemporary R&B or pop music, the rhythmic foundations for an aesthetic revolution have certainly been laid. Prasad Bidaye

No Idea Records
Located in the Florida punk town of Gainesville, this is the label that introduced us to Hot Water Music a few years back. They've been putting out solid stuff for a while and it looks as if they may give Lookout Records a run for their money as your number one source for cheeky pop punk. Rob Ferraz

Sadly, grunge is back, proving once and for all how little innovation actually takes place in the mainstream, and that given enough time, they can ruin just about anything. The Vines. Puddle of Mudd? These j-brones need to have their copies of Bleach and Nevermind taken away from them post-haste. Creed, Nickelback, Theory of a Deadman? If I'm Eddie Vedder, someone is getting their ass kicked sooner rather than later. And, if you want to talk garage rock revival, Mudhoney went back to the garage 14 years ago. Chris Gramlich

'70s Garage Rock
With bands such as the Hives and the Vines emerging with an in your face attitude mixed with an equally straight up sound, you only had to look back a couple of decades to see that bands like MC5 and the Sonics started what these boys have obviously grown up on and in turn, successfully brought into the mainstream without a gasp of controversy. Stacey Abramson

The Synthesiser
With bands like Ladytron, not since the early ‘80s has the synth been so popular. After a decade of post-grunge aftermath, this versatile instrument has been welcomed back, blurring the lines between new wave, rock, pop and electronic. Coreen Wolanski

Unplugged Production in World Music
Just as ‘80s production had shiny synths, the ‘90s, breakbeats, this is the current trend. Salif Keita, Youssou N'dour and Baaba Maal recorded acoustic albums with hyper-real, stoner-friendly mixes. David Dacks