1. Detroit, 1999 — Look, if you need an explanation: The Kid Rock/ICP/Eminem trinity, the Secret International Pop Society, the Demolition Dollrods, DJs Assault and Godfather, the techno pantheon, His Name Is Alive, the White Stripes, the Go, Ebeling Hughes, Windy & Carl, and on and on. And that’s on a slow day!
2. The Donnas — Four California girls on a mission to prove that pop rock can be fun and mean something to folks other than shriveled punks who remember when Blondie, the Ramones and Motley Crüe moved "the kids."
3. Emo-Core — Where indie-rock had tendencies toward precious ambivalence, its successor-of-sorts, emo — a heavy-duty post-punk marriage of hardcore and vast melodicism — looks deep inside, pulls out the findings and wears them on its musical and lyrical sleeve.
4. Rock en Español — This loose moniker inappropriately employed to describe a diverse uprising of great Latino rock bands as varied as Cafe Tacuba and Sepultura (and not including Ricky Martin) does indicate encouraging cultural vitality in the old rock perro.
5. The death of irony — There’s nothing more dangerous than irony in the hands of a writer or musician who doesn’t have the chops to handle it with delicacy. So, it’s a welcome change to see that more and more bands and musicians "mean it."
6. Booty/Bass — Now that music’s not quite as territorial and more music lovers are indulging in the whole buffet of sounds, booty has wiggled its electro-sex hump into the behinds of not only the dance floor mavens, but post-rock aficionados, rockers and the kids with the bump in the trunk. At least someone’s having sex.
7. Arena-rock remission — Yup, it seems as though even the mighty Smashing Pumpkins aren’t guaranteed platinum status anymore. While the Rolling Stones, inexplicably, continue to sell out stadium tours, more and more formerly bigger-than-Jesus bands are playing "intimate" concerts, ostensibly "for the fans," but it smells like a waning monopoly on an ever-more-diverse marketplace to me.
8. Community and educational radio — No surprise to the conspiracy theorists among us, but those sneaky kids on the lower frequencies are experts at musiculture infiltration. They have been for years, with a free rein to create radio that provides an island of respite and sonic reinvigoration in a sea of repetitive commercial lunacy. WCBN-FM 88.3 — Ann Arbor, CJAM-FM 91.5 — Windsor, WDTR-FM 90.9 — Detroit, WHFR-FM 89.3 — Dearborn, WXOU-FM 88.3 — Rochester, and on and on. Find out what that knob is for on your car stereo and tune in.
9. The Flaming Lips — Just because you’re on a major label doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to stop chasing down wild and wonderful visions of what popular music can sound like. Don’t believe me? Strap on the headphones and get lost in the Lips’ new album, The Soft Bulletin, then go out there and make a difference today!
10. Jukeboxes — So long as there are these communal machines of musical plenty and you’ve got a dollar or two, you can usually patch together a mix of oldies, goodies, far-out sounds and guilty pleasures. And you get to share it with the rest of the folks around the bar. The aural equivalent of a secret Santa. You get the gift of music, but you’re not sure who from. Viva la jukebox!