The 411 Music Top Five 07.03.12: The Top Five Artists of the 2000s
Posted by Jeremy Thomas on 07.03.2012
From Jay-Z and Green Day to Eminem and more, 411's Jeremy Thomas counts down the top 5 artists of the 2000s!
THE TOP 5 ARTISTS OF THE 2000s
Honorable Mention: Beyonce, Foo Fighters, Pink, Red Hot Chili Peppers
5. Linkin Park
Last week I did the Top 5 Linkin Park tracks, and that might have helped them place on this list because they're pretty fresh in my mind. Either way, there's no doubt that 2000 – 2009 was the decade that turned the band into rock superstars. Their breakthrough album, Hybrid Theory, was released in October of 2000 and thanks in part to the fact that "One Step Closer" was already familiar from the Dracula 2000 soundtrack, the album was an insane smash hit and was the best-selling album of 2001. The band continued from there, following up the success with the remix album Reanimation, then Meteora which was also an insane success. Minutes to Midnight was a bit more polarizing for the band but sold very well. Album sales alone wouldn't be enough for them to land on my list though. The thing that I appreciate about Linkin Park—aside from their ability to make songs that play well for me when I'm in a pissy mood—is that they've matured and grown as artists. Many bands taste their first success and freeze their sound at that note. If they change their sound and the album sales drop then they rush back to what was popular. With LP, they're more interested in exploring different sounds then getting another multi-platinum album. I may not be huge on where the band went with A Thousand Suns (okay, that's an understatement), but I respect them for their constant growth throughout the '00s.
4. The Black Eyed Peas
The Peas are a band that I came into reluctantly. They drug me, clawing and scratching, into being a fan with Elephunk. I generally don't listen to the radio and certainly not Top 40 stations. So when this hip-hop band came around that everyone seemed to be listening to, I was skeptical. I believe the first track I heard was "Hey Mama," and it didn't do it for me. But after "Shut Up" and "Where Is The Love," I was hooked and I've enjoyed them ever since. The Black Eyed Peas are a band that, like Linkin Park, continues to grow and change their sound but have yet to make an album I disliked. The only think keeping them from being higher on this list is the fact that they took four years off for Fergie's album and the other band members' other stuff. They're able to tackle subjects they really care about in a radio-friendly way, but at the same time they're not afraid to release something silly and yet catchy like "My Humps" or a more romantic song like "Meet Me Halfway," which is one of the reasons they don't come off as pretentious the way that artists like M.I.A. do occasionally. The Peas are a great band that I can listen to consistently and I don't see that changing any time soon.
When it comes to the 00s, there's no doubt that rap music hit its peak in terms of mainstream acceptability. And when it comes to rap music, there are few people more at the forefront than Jay-Z. Jay-Z is another artist I didn't get into right away; I tend to be slow on the uptake when getting into to rap artists. However, once I did I had to admit that he's one of the top rappers working today. And album sales don't lie in his case; nearly fifteen million albums sold in the 00's is nothing to sneeze at. What I appreciate about Jay-Z besides just his lyrical and mic skills is that he's always pushing the envelope, finding new ways to expand and new ways to invigorate the business. A whole new group of fans were brought into rap when Jay teamed with Linkin Park for Collision Course which was yet another huge hit for both of them. There are some who are not as big on The Blueprint 3 but I love it and he definitely found a new fan in me during this era.
2. Green Day
Maybe this is an odd choice for some, but these guys completely changed the way I looked at them in the 00s. The band had fallen in popularity at the end of the 90s and the very early 00s, and that was just fine with me. I thought they were a decent band but they never caught me as anything remotely special. Then the band got pissed off at the political climate of America, and out came American Idiot. In doing so they reinvented themselves in terms of relevance to the music scene. Here was a band that was making political statements with their music and wasn't being regulated to the low-fi radio stations that nobody listened to and the dark spots of the record store that no one paid attention to. People listened to Green Day and it suddenly reminded people that music could be a political force. More artists started to do so, from Linkin Park with Minutes to Midnight to Pink's Dear Mr. President and more. The band followed that up with 21st Century Breakdown which was another fantastic album. The 00s were as good to Green Day and the band was to the music scene as a whole, which is saying a lot.
When 2000 dawned, Eminem was a rap artist that people had heard of in that sideways kind of way. "Have you heard that guy who rapped about knocking up the Spice Girls?" The Slim Shady LP was huge without a doubt, but Em was just getting started. When The Marshall Mathers LP dropped in 2000, the man was unleashed on the world and nothing would be the same. As I said with Jay-Z, rap music reached mainstream accessibility in a new way in the 00s and Marshall Mathers had a lot to do with that, becoming the fourth best-selling album of the decade with 10.2 million album sales in the US alone. Eminem never backed down and what he proved, to me and to millions of others, was that the hype and the success were earned. Every time he unleashed something controversial like "Kim" or silly and attention-getting like "Just Lose It," he would also have something that showed how good he was as a serious artist, like "Like Toy Soldiers," "Sing for the Moment," "The Way I Am," or "When I'm Gone." You want an idea of how truly instrumental he was for rap music? Name the first rap artist to ever win an Academy Award. Yep, that's him, in 2002 for "Lose Yourself." (Three Six Mafia would follow later.) If the notoriously stuff Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences were willing to accept rap music, it had truly hit mainstream acceptability and Mister Mathers is a big reason for that.
The Final Word
As always, the last thoughts come from you, the reader. We're merely unpaid monkeys with typewriters and Wikipedia. Here's what you need to do: List your Top Five for this week's topic on the comment section using the following format:
5. Artist - "Song": Why you chose it
4. Artist - "Song": Why you chose it
3. Artist - "Song": Why you chose it
2. Artist - "Song": Why you chose it
1. Artist - "Song": Why you chose it