Having spent the weekend with Pitchfork's Top 500 list (I discovered that I had all of 153, plus some others that I'd never bothered to rip from CD), I've come to the conclusion that music, particularly in the MP3 age, is a really poor way of gauging the zeitgeist.
500 songs and very little that speaks to the alienating jingoism of the Bush years, the haunting disruption of 9/11, the war on terror, the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, the tech boom and bust, the fall of the stock market, the credit crunch, the collapse of the housing bubble. No Ikea, Apple Store, Target, Prius. No Obama. Nothing on the rise of Gen-Y, the middle-aging of Gen-X, or the fading of the boomers into senescence. Nothing, in fact about the way we've lived our lives for the last ten years. Just a lot of timid noise and burble, self-regarding hipsters and in-it-for-the-money pop-stars. Ultimately, little of relevance.
You'll get a much more engaging view of the world if you look at the way TV has changed and altered, both itself and our relationship to the world over the last ten years -- the cool medium only getting colder: emotive 24 hour cable news, so-called reality programming, the ascendancy of HBO-style dramas, Bravo competition shows and TV on DVD, the DVR and the end of appointment viewing. And so on.