The last decade gave us the iPod and the digital single. At the same time, it brought back vinyl. We witnessed the fall of Napster and the rise of iTunes.
And it finally gave us a new Guns N Roses record.
A lot of things changed in the aughts, especially the way records are bought and sold (and stolen through downloading). Today, fans have more access to their favorite bands than ever before through online videos, fan sites, music news pages and social networking.
The music during that time was a diverse lot, facilitated by the prevalence of downloads and mp3 players. We danced to “Hey Ya,” rocked out to Green Day (again), laughed at that treadmill video from OK Go and brought sexy back.
Here it is, the music that defined the last 10 years.
Nebraska Artist of the Decade: Conor Oberst
He helped bring the Omaha music scene into national prominence. He was called the next Bob Dylan. He sang with Bruce Springsteen. He performed as a band, as a solo artist and in a supergroup. He created his own record label. The bulk of Oberst's work was in the ‘00s, starting with 2000's “Fevers and Mirrors” by Bright Eyes and continuing with two solo records, one with Monsters of Folk and seven more Bright Eyes records (including one Christmas, one live and one of rarities). Those recordings made many best of lists, and songs that were placed in movies. “Cassadaga” won a Grammy for album art, and Oberst was named songwriter of the year by Rolling Stone in 2008. To put it simply: The ‘00s were all his.
Album of the Decade
“Yankee Hotel Foxtrot” by Wilco
When Wilco holed up in their Chicago loft to record this album, the band tried everything. The group experimented with strange rhythms and odd instrumental breaks. This experimentation was paired against beautiful guitar melodies and Jeff Tweedy's cryptic lyrics. But beyond the music, the story behind the record is just as important, defining the era in which it was produced. After the record was complete, Reprise Records, (a subsidiary of Warner Bros.), rejected it and Wilco was let out of its contract. The group posted the entire thing on its Web site and streamed it for free. Fans downloaded it and copied it and passed it around, which the band encouraged. Fans weren't the only ones who loved it. Critics did, too. Record labels took notice, and eventually “Foxtrot” was purchased and released by Nonesuch Records, which also happens to be a subsidiary of Warner Bros. The record's story is the story of a band realizing how to use the Internet to its advantage. It's also the story of a major record label understanding neither good music nor the Web, and paying the price for it. Twice.
“American Idiot,” Green Day An indictment of politics and current culture, Green Day told the story of Jesus of Suburbia over punk rock riffs and plenty of power chords. And nearly everyone listened. And then pumped their fists.
“In Rainbows,” Radiohead Released on the Web with a “name your price” model. They showed everyone that there was a new way to release music. Oh yeah, the album was pretty great, too. “All of it rocks,” said Rolling Stone, and “it delivers an emotional punch that proves all other rock stars owe us an apology.”
Song of the Decade
“Hey Ya” by Outkast
A weird combo of acoustic guitar, simple drum beats, handclaps and lyrics about Polaroid pictures, this song is just as strange, yet incredibly stirring, as it was the first time you heard it. Andre 3000's funkiness is all over this tune, from the dance beat to yelling “Alright-alright-alright-alright...” and making shout-outs to the ladies and the fellas. It may have been released in 2003, but it still makes us “shake it” every time it comes on.
“Crazy In Love” by Beyonce Knowles
On her debut album, and especially with this song, Beyonce went above and beyond anything she had done with Destiny's Child. The horns, the hook and the inclusion from Jay-Z could seem over the top, but made it into an anthem. “History in the making,” Jay-Z says in the intro. Indeed, sir.
“Clocks” by Coldplay
The falling, eloquent yet simple piano melody is the template for every Coldplay song, and definitely one of the group's best.
“Crazy” by Gnarls Barkley
When a rapper and indie producer get together, no one really thinks “sensational pop duo.” But Cee-Lo and Danger Mouse did so, creating a soulful pop anthem that everyone got behind.
Artist of the Decade
He brought sexy back. He took part in a wardrobe malfunction. He put his, uh, anatomy in a box. He even wrote “I'm Lovin' It,” the theme to the McDonald's commercials. No musical artist was more present in the musical world (he collaborated with Timbaland, the Neptunes, Madonna, the Black Eyed Peas' will.i.am, Nelly and many others) and even crossed over into other realms of pop culture (the McDonald's commercials, multiple acting roles, hilarious stints on Saturday Night Live). Let's not forget his time in ‘N Sync, where he wrote many of the group's singles and was the star singer. In the beginning of 2000, ‘N Sync sold 2.4 million copies of its album, “No Strings Attached,” in the record's debut week, setting an all-time record that will probably never be matched in today's iTunes-centric world. To date, the album has sold 11.1 million copies worldwide, the second best-seller of the decade. Who did they lose to? The Beatles. Yeah, the only group that could beat the boy band was the Fab Four.
Eminem: While we're talking about album sales, let's visit Eminem. The guy sold 32.2 million in the aughts, beating the Beatles by more than 2 million copies. Let's not forget that Eminem (real name Marshal Mathers) released two of the best rap albums during that time: “The Marshal Mathers LP” and “The Eminem Show.”
Kenny Chesney: This guy dominated country music (and crossed over to the pop arena) for the last 10 years, selling millions, selling out arenas and even making a cowboy hat look cool. From his country, twangy tunes (“There Goes My Life”) to his islandy vibes (“No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems” or “Beer In Mexico”), Chesney covered it all.
Jay-Z: He may have sang about his “99 Problems,” but Jay-Z didn't seem to have a single one this decade. He released some of his best work (“The Blueprint” and “The Black Album”) before retiring. Then he came back swinging, knocking it out of the park with “Kingdom Come.” He also parlayed his success and fame into one of the most lucrative record deals of all time with touring giant Live Nation.
Band of the Decade
This band, unlike few others, is a child of the 2000s. Their first record, “Parachutes,” was released in March 2000 and shot through the roof. From there, the band has only created more music and found more success, releasing single after popular single including “Clocks,” “Fix You,” “Speed of Sound” and “Viva La Vida.” No band was as prolific or as big a part of the music-listening public's life.
Green Day: These punks found initial success in the ‘90s, but it took the ‘00s for them to grow up. Their popularity was waning when “Warning” came out in 2000, but 2004's “American Idiot” shot them through the roof. They secured their place with another No. 1 record, “21st Century Breakdown,” in 2009. Both records had adult themes, taking on popular culture and presidents.
Nickelback: Yeah, this may be the band that produced the, ahem, brilliant “Photograph” and “How You Remind Me,” but they definitely felt omnipresent, appearing on your hard rock radio station and on the pop station. And probably appearing about 19 times for concerts in your town.
Best Musical Moment on Film
“Tiny Dancer” scene in “Almost Famous”
In the middle of Cameron Crowe's send-up of ‘70s rock culture, friends reconcile on a tour bus by belting out Elton John's “Tiny Dancer.” Did anyone watch that scene and not sing along? It was a musical moment of at-one-ness that wasn't just in the film, it reached out into audiences around the world at the same time.
Best Music Video
“Here It Goes Again” by OK Go
After seeing this video, who hasn't wanted to line up a few treadmills and skate across them? These guys turned what once was a TV phenomenon (videos on MTV) into an Internet one (viral videos on YouTube).
Worst Song of the Decade
“Lips of an Angel” by Hinder
While singer Austin Winkler maintains this song is not about cheating, it's hard to see where this track, about a guy who gets a secret phone call from his ex while his girlfriend is in the other room, isn't about cheating. After calling her “honey” and talking about how it's “hard to be faithful,” this song sounds like a heartfelt tune about being a dirtbag. It's basically the template for every terrible power ballad ever: rock guy strumming an acoustic guitar while singing poorly written love lyrics. But instead of wanting to hold up your lighter in tribute to the band, it makes you want to light your hair on fire.
“London Bridge” by Fergie
Basically a poor ripoff of Gwen Stefani's “Hollaback Girl,” but much more sexual, which I'm sure is what was missing from “Hollaback Girl” in the first place.
Song that we really liked at first, but grew to hate
“Paper Planes” by M.I.A.
Remember the first time you heard that song? Someone was bobbing his head, someone said, “Are those gunshots?” and another person asked, “Can you burn me that?” Man, what a great song. It sampled “Straight to Hell” by the Clash, gunshot noises and a cash register and featured M.I.A.'s rap-singsong about being a “bona fide hustler.” Then it was in a trailer for “Pineapple Express.” OK, some mainstream exposure. No big deal. After that, a remix and the original were in “Slumdog Millionaire” for some inexplicable reason. Then came a ridiculous amount of radio play and everybody you knew saying, “That's, like, my favorite song! Did you know that M.I.A. is from Sri Lanka?” By the time the song appeared in a trailer for Michael Moore's “Capitalism: A Love Story,” the song was dead to us. To all you filmmakers and DJs, thanks a lot for ruining it.
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