The 411 Music Top Five 12.16.13: Top 5 2000s Acts
Posted by Jeremy Thomas on 12.16.2013
From Kanye West and Megadeth to Eminem, the White Stripes, Green Day and more, the 411 staff count down the top 5 acts of the 2000s!
THE TOP 5 2000s ACTS
Criteria: The 411 Music Zone concludes its trip through the decades of popular music with the '00s! The 2000s were a decade that some music fans bemoan and others lionize. It saw the near-downfall of rock music while pop and rap became the dominant genres on the charts. We have a little of most of that in our lists this week, which are looking at the best acts to exist from 2000 through 2009.
Honorable Mention: Kreator, Lamb of God, Iron Maiden, Arch Enemy, Slipknot, System of a Down
5. Heaven and Hell
I started racking my brain for bands that I felt had an on the last decade, this was one that kind of hit my like a ton of bricks and made me say, ""of course"! Heaven and Hell are an odd pick for this list, because when you look at who I have left off in favor of this band, I look like a jackass, but I feel that this band WAS that damn important to music (and metal, but mostly metal). This was the incarnation of Black Sabbath that was created in 2006 after Ronnie James Dio and Tony Iommi wanted to do some Black Sabbath stuff, but didn't want it to be confused with the Ozzy line-up, so they made this band. This took the 'Mob Rules' line-up and gave us what is the best thing that we could have gotten out of any incarnation of Black Sabbath at this point in time. Their single album, 'The Devil You Know' was by far the best album to come out in the decade, and really showed that the kings of metal had still not left their throne. Sadly, Ronnie James Dio died the year after the album came out, so the band was discontinued, but for a one album band, this was probably the best thing we could have gotten!
Time for me to defend another choice! Just as I said last week, I am probably the biggest Megadeth fanboy I know (besides maybe my best friend Nick), and maybe me putting them all the way up here is proof of that bias, but I think out of every thrash band that has clawed its' way back to quality after the deathbed that was the 90s, this band did the best. Kreator is the only one that I see coming in at second, because all of the other bands didn't get started until the end of the decade, and Megadeth, I feel got started in 2005. In 2001, they had, 'The World Needs a Hero', which besides a few songs, was pretty unremarkable. But once Dave Mustaine took a lot of time to get better, and reform Megadeth following nerve damage to his arm and drug addiction, he came back with a firestarter in, 'The System Has Failed'. This was a great return to thrash form for them and it continued all the way until what is, in my opinion, a new opus for them in, 'Endgame'. I see that album as their best since the early 90s, and one of THE great thrash albums to come out of the 2000s. There was a lot of neo-thrash coming out in that decade, but this was the one incredible album to come out from one of the cornerstones of American Thrash. Sadly, they wouldn't continue the trend of building upon each album and making them better, but in terms of a comeback,they did a great job of orchestrating one, and in my mind, proved why they're thrash legends even further.
3. Killswitch Engage
Fun fact, this is the band that got me to where I am today. They were the first metal band that I could call myself a fan of. They are probably one of the few metalcore bands that I can also still call myself a fan of out of the ones I used to like, because As I Lay Dying lost their luster, and All That Remains went to shit after the awesome,'The Fall of Ideals'. Though I've become a bigger Trivium and Shadows Fall fan than I was back in the day. But that being said, they are probably one of the most accessible, yet still substantial bands in the genre that I feel hold up over time. They took the music world by storm as their accessible style starting catching on with lots of different types of people, and they started selling. That came when Howard Jones (not that 80s one) was their vocalist, and while I loved them with him as their singer, I have always been more partial to Jesse Leach, whose voice and lyrics are more to my liking. But they are by far one of those bands that I will never stop loving, and 'Alive or Just Breathing' is one of my favorite albums of all time, and I am not kidding in that statement, either!
2. Amon Amarth
If I didn't have them on this list, I'm pretty sure my house would have been pillaged and burned by vikings. Their sound hasn't really changed all that much over the years, and the five albums that they released over the 2000s did have a similar sound to them, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. Because just like Motorhead and AC/DC, even though they aren't a very varied band, they are still amazing all the same. They're by far one of the most consistent metal bands of the decade. Almost every song they released was great, and they almost always seem to work. Ironically enough, I feel like that they got better as the years passed, 'With Oden on Our Side' is my favorite, but 'Twilight of the Thunder God' was also great, and an incredible follow-up. I feel like talking about them don't do them justice, so go ahead and listen to the song below, and judge for yourself!
It's funny that I put what I felt was the most consistent band of the decade at two, because I'm putting the most creative band of the decade at one. Opeth have become one of the most popular bands in metal over the year, and it's really no surprise, because the band is full of great musicians, and they play two very distinct styles that meld very well. They play a progressive style of death metal that was their calling card early on, but as the albums passed,they started adding into traditional progressive rock and acoustic passages to their music. This starting becoming prevalent with their first album of the decade, 'Blackwater Park'. It did a great job of balancing those two sides of the band. Songs like Harvest (which is my favorite thing to serenade a lady with....not that it's worked), Blackwater Park, and The Drapery Falls (The Drapery Falls and Ghost of Perdition were my first two Opeth songs, they hooked me, for sure) are real highlights that show the band at their finest. After that they released two albums one after the other, 'Deliverance' was their heaviest album since 'My Arms, Your Hearse', and showed that they still had a bite, while, 'Damnation' was all progressive and acoustic, and a great metal album to buy your one friend that doesn't like metal, it's incredibly accessible. After that, they continued to get more progressive in nature with, 'Ghost Reveries' (which is my favorite by them), and 'Watershed' (which many had thought was a sign for more to come). I feel like they ruled the 2000s in terms of how they built their fanbase album by album, as well as how great their music was in terms of quality. They started out fairly underground, and by the end of the decade, they were a heavy metal household name. They are still one of my favorite bands, though their last album didn't quite do it for me. But that's for the next decade's column. To close, I feel like if you're looking to turn your friend who is into the bands because they mix screaming and singing like the metalcore bands I mentioned with Killswitch Engage, let them try this band on. They do take some patience, but it all pays off. One final story, I found this band, Children of Bodom, Death, and UFO through Megadeth's iHeartRadio station that Dave Mustaine used to run, it was amazing. Just like this band!
Honorable Mention: Beyonce, Foo Fighters, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Outkast, Radiohead
5. 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.
4. The White Stripes
The White Stripes helped bring about as renaissance for garage rock in the turn of the twenty-first century, which was a necessary thing to bring the era of post-grunge dominance to a limping, merciful end. (Not that there aren't some good post-grunge bands out there, but seriously, that movement needed to die.) Now let's add into the plus side that Jack and Meg White seriously knew how to rock. The married couple brought a sense of punk and DIY style to their music, which was the perfect antithesis to the label-backed glamorous post-grunge assholes that we were used to seeing on the radio. Listen, I've got nothing against Nickelback as a rule. While I don't think they're a good band, I do think they are enjoyable. But does anyone get inspired to become the next Chad Kroeger? No. Do people get inspired to be the next Jack White? Yes. Sadly, the difference is that the only thing stopping people from being the next Chad Kroeger is a studio contract and lots of money while what's stopping people from being the next Jack White is something much harder to get: talent. The White Stripes came along and shook us up in a way that we liked. Though the band itself is gone, we'll continue to hear their legacy in White's solo work and that's a good thing for the state of rock music.
3. Kanye West
It's all rap from here on out. When it comes to the 00s, there's no doubt that rap music hit its peak in terms of mainstream acceptability. The Oughts found a new level of predominance for the genre that had long been growing in strength but had never quite dominated the charts at this level before. And Kanye West was one of those guys who really helped with that chart dominance, blending rap in innovative was and shooting straight his own profile through the roof in the process. These days an argument can be made that his personaliy actually overshadows his music, but in the previous decade that was certainly not the case. The College Dropout, Late Registration and Graduation all count as hallmarks of the genre during the decade and while 808s & Heartbreak has a somewhat more divisive reaction it was deeply influential in its own way. Argue that the man's an ass and I won't disagree. Argue that he doesn't belong on the list...well, that's your valid opinion, but I disagree.
When it comes to rap music, there were few people more at the forefront during the '00s 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.
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.
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