Friday, September 3, 2010

Pitchfork Names Top 200 Tracks of the '90s, Timbaland Productions Make List

The staff over at Pitchfork just released their "Top 200 Tracks of the 1990s," and probably to no one's surprise, Timbaland's name can be found all over the list (some songs are discussed in "pre" and "post" Timbaland terms, which really shows his influence on popular music). While Timbo himself didn't make the list as an artist, three of his produced tracks are among the top 200, and one of those even made the top 10! Here are the three songs that made the list, and what the Pitchfork staff had to say about them:

8. Aaliyah
"Are you that Somebody"
[Atlantic; 1998]

Late-90s Timbaland was the epitome of audacious, screwball production genius, and Aaliyah was his ideal foil, a sultrily cool singer who did for melodic tension-and-release what other R&B singers were doing for showy melisma. Subsequently, "Are You That Somebody" sounds outlandish to the point where it comes across like a challenge from producer to singer-- and it's a challenge easily met. Tim's beat is borderline ridiculous, a rubbery, surreptitiously funky bounce that sounds like "Looney Tunes" composer Carl Stalling had been commissioned to rework a Catfish Collins chicken-scratch guitar riff.

But the aspects that might come across as goofy at first-- the baby coo sourced from Prince's "Delirious"; the beatboxing that sounds like broken castanets; the fact that it first emerged on the soundtrack to the Eddie Murphy version of Dr. Doolittle-- are offset by Aaliyah's characteristically deft performance, balancing an uncanny ability to wring new angles out of a deceptively simple melody and the chops to let her singing naturally jump from smooth longing to nimble rhythmic counterpoints. The moment in the chorus where her voice finally wraps itself entirely around that stagger-step beat and rolls out with the same fluidity as the frenetic bassline-- "causeIreallyneedsomebody/tellmeareyouthatsomebody"-- is everything great about late-90s R&B in one burst of inspiration. --Nate Patrin

33. Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliott
"The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)"
[Elektra; 1997]

If you were a rap hit in 1997, there's a ballpark 70% chance Puff Daddy was your midwife. (Diddy actually wanted Missy Elliot for Bad Boy on the strength of her work with Timbaland on Aaliyah's records, and praise be that she went her own way.) This was not the weather for slinky, weird rap debuts, but being unprecedented is usually marketable somehow. (Didn't hurt that Hype Williams put her in what looked like a trash bag for the video.) A relief from stereotypes, sexier than most sex talk-- visionary stuff rarely makes the Top 10 anyhow. --Mike Powell

104. Ginuwine
[550 Music/ Sony Music Entertainment/ Epic; 1996]

Wherein the sound of a burping processed voice personifies sex. That belching roll came courtesy of Timbaland in his first jaw-dropper, and Elgin Lumpkin-- Ginuwine's wisely ditched government name-- obliged with the sort of on-the-nose sexual metaphor that made 90s R&B such a delightfully literal piece of American musical history. "If you're horny, let's do it; ride it, my pony." That is a masterful exegesis on cut-to-the-chase. But though Ginuwine has become a genuinely underrated R&B figure-- time is unkind to the lot-- Timbaland used "Pony" to catapult himself into the conversation for most innovative and exciting producer of the half-decade. Indeed, he did most of his best work, including albums for Aaliyah, Missy Elliott, and Playa and stunning select single and remix work for Jay-Z, Jodeci, and Usher in the years that followed.

But "Pony" remains an indefatigable thing, a signifier for "different" R&B, challenging in its strangeness-- the burping, the quiet moan on the intro, those skitting hi-hats, the mechanical hissing of pistons-- that it remains an inspiration 14 years on. Timbaland did more sensual work at almost the exact same time as he worked with Aaliyah on her One in a Million but he never unleashed such unbridled, skin-pressed sex on wax again. --Sean Fennessey

Since Pitchfork decided the list should only name one song per artist, "One in a Million," "Hot like Fire," "Make it hot," and "Sock it 2 Me" received honorable mention type of accolades.

Peep the full list Here

Congrats, Timbo!!!

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