It seems that a common rite of passage in blogging is to tip someone’s dozing sacred cow, and this may be my first blaspheme. Thanks to Melissa Gira for our conversation last month, in which we determined that Pulp’s “Disco 2000” was a far superior end-of-millenium anthem than Prince’s “1999“.
Here’s the video to the former, a bit different than the version on the album, but an entertaining watch anyway:
Now I know, these are apples and oranges; Pulp’s tune is a bleak tale of unrequited love with a chance of redemption at the end, while Prince’s is a doomsday party song; I can’t help it if I categorically value the best of the former genre over the best of the latter. Still, let’s consider them side-by-side. “1999” of course is a far more widely canonized work; we’re all familiar with its basic sentiment of ‘getting one’s kicks before the whole shithouse goes up in flames’. The notion of end times gets no play in “Disco 2000”, penned some twelve years nearer to the close of the century. Most of the song is spent reflecting on times past; the year 2000 is only relevant in contrasting the childhood wonder and hope for the future with the dreary reality of the present. (Side note: I was introduced to this song late in high school, and so tend to associate it with Chris Rock’s disillusioned opening monologue at the 1999 MTV Video Music Awards, around 2:18 in the clip).
The really lovely bit of “Disco 2000” is the very end, where, despite the past filled with shyness and shame, years of desperation, and the indignities of growing up, the speaker dares to look for a spark with his old crush. So while Prince is all, “Shit’s almost over, but this is gonna be awesome,” Jarvis Cocker and company shrug and say, “It’s not awesome. It’s never been awesome; it’s been quite rubbish. But it’s not over, we’re still here, so let’s try this.” There’s something brave to me about that small, glum hope.