NSYNC: Suzanne Plunkett/AP

How do Y2K songs by 'N Sync, Creed, and matchbox twenty hold up today? Whitney Pastorek gives 'em another listen

August 15, 2006 at 04:00 AM EDT

This week in 2000: Rating the top 10 singles

Billboard’s top 10 singles from the week ending Aug. 12, 2000:

10. Janet Jackson, ”Doesn’t Really Matter”
This song comes off the Klumps soundtrack, which is kind of ironic if you think about Janet’s recent weight gain/loss. Actually, that’s not ironic at all. Never mind. Anyway, it’s sort of peppy, little-girly, and comes from the late-’90s school of lots of (literal) bells and whistles in the production. My favorite part is the falsetto trill on ”My love / For you / Is unconditional too.” Cute song. Wish it didn’t make me think of Eddie Murphy in a fat suit, though. B+

9. Creed, ”Higher”
Okay, I think I’m ready to speak openly and honestly about Creed, in light of this, their first real pop-crossover hit. So. Set aside for a second that Scott Stapp is perhaps the biggest tool ever to walk the earth, with his Bono mullet and messiah complex and Eddie Vedder-lite vocals and addiction to painkillers or whatever it was that tanked his career. And forget for a minute that every video this band ever made involved them standing on a cliff or in a lake with wind sweeping through their thinning hair. Ignore the ”heavy”guitar riffs here that sound like someone’s mommy didn’t let him listen to enough Judas Priest when he was a kid so he’s acting out now, except he’s scared to really crank it to 11 lest his mommy tell him to keep it down. And finally, pretend that none of these lyrics are kind of about Jesus. What do you have left? A band that sold a bajillion records because of songs that you can probably sing by heart to this very day, despite your best efforts to block them out. Is that so bad? Unfortunately, yes. Yes, it is. I’m splitting this one into two grades: The song gets a C, because it is catchy and when taken alone it really is not as bad as I remember. But to make up for that, the entire existence of Creed gets a D-.

8. Nine Days, ”Absolutely (Story of a Girl)”
Aaah. It’s like Dawson’s Creek cried a river and drowned the whole world when this song comes on. I think, first and foremost, that the success of Nine Days is completely a result of ”Meet Virginia,” that insipid Train song. Which, if you’ll just stick with me here, means that this song is subsequently responsible for the success of ”Drops of Jupiter” and its Worst Line Ever contestant, ”She checks out Mozart while she does Tae-Bo.” Therefore, I must hate this song and everything it stands for. C-

7. Vertical Horizon, ”Everything You Want”
My biggest memory of Vertical Horizon is lying on the couch, suffering through bouts of insomnia and watching VH1 until I fell asleep. Those were dark days. Clearly, so was the summer of 2000. Looking at this countdown, I am noticing a remarkable lack of diversity — it’s all mediocre modern rock and R&B (with one exception; be patient) — and Vertical Horizon don’t even have the distinction of being the only band with a bald lead singer on the charts this year. It’s hard to believe that just seven years after the pinnacle of grunge, rock fans were so eager to lap up generic crap and call it yummy. Good Lord, is this song still playing? C

6. Joe, ”I Wanna Know”
Yo, this is my jam! Unh. Unh. Yeah. Sorry. Just… how many songs can they make with that little dinging bell in the background and the exact same synched-up drumbeat and — holy crap, do you know what I just realized? If you take Brian McKnight’s ”Back At One” and add that little dinging bell instead of the high-hat and take out the nice piano part and also make it kind of less articulate, you get this! Oh my God, I am a genius! C

5. Aaliyah, ”Try Again”
It’s a good thing I find this song enjoyable, or I’d have to disrespect, and then I’d get mail. ‘Cause the poor gal is dead, victim of the 10 billionth rock star plane crash, and speaking ill of the dead is wrong. No problem — like I said, I don’t mind this track. Gotta love anyone who sings on the soundtrack of her own martial arts movie (Romeo Must Die, FYI), and gotta love any song that’s got Timbaland yammering suggestively in the background (hi, Nelly Furtado!). It’s a bit repetitive, is the only thing. But perhaps that is more a postmodern extension of the themes explored in the chorus — ”If at first you don’t succeed / Pick yourself up and try again” — than any sort of lazy songwriting. Yes, I am sure that is it. Please don’t send me mail. B

4. Destiny’s Child, ”Jumpin, Jumpin”
A relic from the era when all Destiny’s Child songs were contractually obligated to contain at least two of the same word, ”Jumpin, Jumpin” is the one about leaving your man at home and going to the club where there are lots of ballers. I don’t really like it. There’s some dischord in the vocals that makes my ears hurt, and Beyoncé hadn’t quite gotten the hang of the freestyle vocal runs that she tosses off with ease nowadays. (Seriously — listen to the squawking she does in this, and then go find a copy of ”Crazy in Love” and tell me if you don’t hear the scary difference.) Again, it’s repetitive, and there’s almost no bass line at all. And while nostalgia is fun and everyone likes to look back and giggle at that crazy time six years ago when Destiny’s Child had four members and Papa Knowles was still pretending like the whole affair wasn’t just a springboard for his bootylicious daughter… they could do better. And they did do better. So. For the fourth time on this countdown: C

3. ‘N Sync, ”It’s Gonna Be Me”
Told you there was an exception. Hey! Boy bands! Remember them? Well, it’s embarrassing-revelation time: I used to have a serious crush on Lance Bass. Given that, I’m sure it will come as no surprise to any of you that I’m still single. But luckily, my taste in music has always been a little better than my taste in men (but just a little), and so I can see that while this track came at the beginning of ‘N Sync’s reign of terror, it was a pale follow-up to ”Bye Bye Bye.” (It also came nowhere close to Backstreet’s biggest hit, ”I Want It That Way,” arguably the best song the genre would produce, unless you’re counting New Kids on the Block’s ”Cover Girl,” which, duh, I totally am.) There’s something kind of one-level about the whole thing, and while it still possesses the fist-pumping downbeats of its predecessor, I certainly did not feel the need to memorize the dance steps. B

2. matchbox twenty, ”Bent”
Did someone say banality? Argh. Today’s list has really beaten me down, kids. The one good thing about this song — off matchbox twenty’s second album, the one after they changed their name from the clearly inferior Matchbox 20 — is that they’ve branched out from using the same three chords over and over again (the G-D-C-D progressions on ”Push” and ”3 AM” are really tragic); the bad thing about this song is that it carries the same sort of chest-baring self-importance that apparently haunted all of the rock songs released this year. Two things stopping it from getting a C like everybody else: the video, in which the rest of the band kicks the crap out of Rob Thomas; and the lingering hints of goodwill Thomas earned with his Santana collaboration, ”Smooth.” B-

1. Sisqo, ”Incomplete”
No, we will not forgive you for ”Thong Song.” Nice try, though. (Also, did Brian McKnight ever call his lawyer about any of these rip-offs?) C+

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