Throughout the course of musical history, there have been a number of “peaks,” where undeniable talent combined with visionary innovation to unleash truly spectacular sounds on the listening public. For example, Rolling Stone Magazine’s Top 5 albums of all time were released in a three year stretch from 1965-1967; that is a clear peak in musical achievement. Likewise, many people would agree that the music world witnessed new heights with artists like Billy Joel and Bruce Springsteen rising out of the crowd. Speaking about genre specifically, rap saw a pinnacle with NWA and its aftermath of hugely successful artists, especially on the west coast. And of course, no one can deny the monumental achievement that was the Top Gun soundtrack in 1986.
Unfortunately, it seems as though we have gone a while without a peak year music. Whether it is due to a dearth in talent or poor taste on behalf of pop producers/the American people, it just seems that we’re experiencing a dry spell in the 21st Century. I’m sure that there are people who will argue that we haven’t seen any golden years since Nirvana took the world by storm. But I’m here to say not so fast. Are we, perhaps, lacking music that we will want to tell our kids about some day? Sure. However, I think we are too quick to forget about that one, magical year where the stars aligned to produce a series of pop hits so magnificent that 365 days was barely enough to hold them. The year? 2007.
***From this point on, most of my 2007 musical information will come from the Billboard Year End Hot 100 from 2007. I acknowledge that a few of the songs came out in 2006, but it is still a valid representation of the musical climate of the year. If, say, the “Macarena” was still on the Year End charts, I would certainly include that in a piece about 2007 music as well.***
The Heavy Hitters
The number one song on the Billboard Year End Hot 100 Chart? “Irreplaceable” by the one and only Queen Bey herself, Beyonce. After 2007, you could never say “to the left” without having this catchy beat stuck in your head. Coming in at number two was another huge name, as Rihanna (featuring Jay-Z) laid down perhaps her greatest song ever, “Umbrella.” Fergie and Akon both landed three songs in the Top 20, and Carrie Underwood, Gwen Stefani, and T-Pain all found their way into the Top 10. Justin Timberlake dropped FutureSex/Love Sounds at the end of 2006, and that carried him to 3 Top 40 hits as well. Almost all of those names still hold some relevance in the music world, and Beyonce, Rihanna, and Carrie Underwood all still stand strong at the top of their genres. 2007 was a big year for some big names.
The Rappers We Let Become Famous
Here’s a list of “artists” that we propelled to fame, even if it was just for a hot second, in 2007: Shop Boyz, Mims, Soulja Boy Tell’Em, Unk, Huey, Fat Joe, Hurricane Chris, Rich Boy, Baby Bash. This list is like The Avengers of mediocre rap. These guys all put out one or two songs that were overly sexual and had very simple beats and choruses, and they all became instant hits among suburban middle schoolers. They were all mildly offensive, and some even had cool choreography, which made favorites at Bar Mitzvahs and school dances. I don’t know if any other point in history had this many random rappers on pop radio, but I suppose that was the beauty of 2007.
In a beautiful combination of star power and artists that maybe couldn’t become famous at any other time in history, 2007 witnessed the meteoric rise of Akon. Konvicted, released at the very end of 2006, went triple platinum by the time 2007 was over. I remember first hearing this strange R&B/Hip-hop fusion, playing from a friend’s iPod Mini, and being dumbstruck. “Smack That” and “I Wanna Love You” were both mega-hits on the radio. The lyrics to both of those songs are vulgar enough that I wouldn’t want to post them here, but they were being played in carpool lines across America. I love that Akon became famous for those two songs, and I love even more that he showed 0ff his sensitive side with “Don’t Matter”. If I had to pick one, singular reason why 2007 represented a peak year in music, I would probably pick Konvicted.
We Didn’t Let Angst Die Completely
Looking back, the early 2000’s featured a lot of “rock” music with a probably unnecessary amount of angst. Good Charlotte, Creed, Nickelback, 3 Doors Down, Linkin Park, and Fall Out Boy are just some of the notable bands that shredded during the early part of the 21st Century, and I suppose we just got a little tired of it. However, that doesn’t mean that we weren’t willing to sprinkle in a few big-time bangers into the Hot 100. Nickelback gave us “Rock Star” (meh) and, more importantly, “If Everyone Cared.” Hinder tugged at our heartstrings with “Lips of an Angel,” Fall Out Boy and Linkin Park stayed relevant (“Thnks Fr Th Mmrs” and “What I’ve Done,” respectively), and Daughtry had a massive year post-American Idol. 2007 brought us into the age of random hip-hop artists getting famous with inappropriate radio bangers, but we didn’t forget our roots.
Honorable Mention: Sean Kingston
At age 17, Sean Kingston dropped Sean Kingston in early 2007, leading to huge success with “Beautiful Girls,” “Me Love,” and “Take You There.” What have you done lately?
People like to bash 21st Century music, and they might be right. But 2007 put together a collection of artists, beats, and straight up BANGERS too diverse and well-rounded to be ignored. 2007 deserves to be seen as a peak in music history, and a pinnacle of innovation.
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