With the advent of the Internet and iPods changing the music industry forever, the 2000s were defined by the growth of options and genres for music fans to dive into. From pop to rap, nu-metal to pop-punk, we look at 31 of the best musicians of the 2000s.
Founded in 1992 by Andre 3000 and Big Boi, Outkast is considered one of the greatest hip-hop groups of all time. While they made a name for themselves throughout the 1990s, they gave the world their biggest commercial successes in the early years of the 2000s.
Marshall Mathers, better known as Eminem, signed with Dr. Dre’s label in the late 1990s, but it was his first two releases of the 2000s – The Marshall Mathers LP (2000) and The Eminem Show (2002) – that catapulted him to international superstardom. In 2002, he starred in a fictionalized version of his life in the movie 8 Mile, and gave the world his biggest hit on the soundtrack, “Lose Yourself.”
3. Foo Fighters
The 2000s may not be remembered as the era of rock and roll, but if any band carried the torch for the genre during the decade, it was Dave Grohl’s Foo Fighters. They began the decade by winning the Grammy for Best Rock Album in 2001 with There Is Nothing Left To Lose, featuring iconic tracks like “Learn To Fly.” They then repeated the feat in 2008 for their album Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace.
While Radiohead had established themselves as a leading alternative rock band in the 1990s, the 2000s saw the band enter a new, more experimental phase of their journey. The 2000 album Kid A is considered one of the best albums of all time, followed by Amnesiac (2001) and Hail To The Thief (2003).
When Coldplay gave the world their song “Yellow” in 2000, they established themselves as one of the leading bands of the coming decade. Their subsequent albums, A Rush Of Blood To The Head (2002), X&Y (2005) and Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends (2008), earned them multiple Grammy Awards and were among the best-selling albums of the decade.
6. Kanye West
Initially recognized as a producer, Kanye West became a household name with his albums in the second half of the decade. Starting with The College Dropout (2004), he continued to dominate the decade with Graduation (2007) and his iconic 808s & Heartbreak (2008). Today, he remains a cultural institution in his own right.
After making a name for herself in the 1990s as the lead singer of Destiny’s Child, Beyoncé Knowles established herself as the queen with her album Dangerously In Love (2003). Her albums B’Day (2006) and I Am… Sasha Fierce (2008) will establish her as one of the greatest divas of all time.
8. Avril Lavigne
The queen of pop punk catapulted to the top of the charts with her debut album Let Go, released in 2002. With iconic tracks like “Complicated” and “Sk8er Boi,” Avril Lavigne dominated the airwaves throughout the decade. She continued to release hit records throughout the 2000s, including 2004’s Under My Skin and 2007’s The Best Damn Thing.
9. The White Stripes
Leading the garage rock revival, Jack and Meg White’s band, The White Stripes, brought the power of raw blues to the stage and radio. With 2001’s White Blood Cells and 2003’s Elephant, they ushered in a new era of rock. Their hit “Seven Nation Army” is one of the most iconic rock songs of all time, and they continued to dominate the decade with Behind Me Satan in 2005 and Icky Thump in 2007.
10. Lupe Fiasco
Lupe Fiasco became one of the biggest names in rap when he released his first record in 2006, Lupe Fiasco’s Food And Liquor. The album came about after Jay-Z helped him sign with Atlantic Records. He followed up with Lupe Fiasco’s The Cool (2007), which contained his biggest hit, “Superstar.” These albums received constant airplay and won numerous awards and nominations.
11. Linkin Park
Formed in Agoura Hills, California, Linkin Park catapulted to international superstardom with their album Hybrid Theory (2000). With hits like “In The End” and “One Step Closer,” the album is one of the most successful nu-metal albums of all time. It earned them several Grammy nominations and awards.
12. Britney Spears
At the beginning of the 21st century, no pop star was bigger than Britney Spears. With her first two albums, …Baby One More Time in 1999 and Oops! I Did It Again in 2000, she established herself as one of the most popular and best-selling musical artists of all time.
While Usher Raymond IV rose to fame in the 1990s, her career was defined by her mega-success in the 2000s. While his 2001 album 8701 spawned hits like “U Remind Me” and “U Got It Bad,” it was his 2004 album Confessions that cemented his place as one of the decade’s top artists.
14. Maroon 5
With their 2002 album Songs About Jane, Maroon 5 established themselves as one of the best pop-rock bands of the decade. With hits like “Harder To Breathe,” “This Love” and “She Will Be Loved,” they won the 2005 Grammy for Best New Artist.
15. Green Day
While Green Day made a name for themselves in the punk scene during the 1990s with releases such as 1994’s Dookie, they re-emerged at the top of the music world with their 2004 punk rock song, American Idiot.
16. Red Hot Chili Peppers
Like Green Day, the Red Hot Chili Peppers rose to fame long before the 2000s, but their 1999 record Californication helped them become one of the most popular and influential bands of the next decade.
17. Fall Out Boy
Fall Out Boy had their first underground success with their debut album, Take This To Your Grave, in 2003. The album remains one of the most influential pop-punk albums of the decade. They then released their seminal album, From Under The Cork Tree, in 2005, which contained the megahits “Sugar, We’re Goin Down” and “Dance, Dance.”
Barbados-born pop star and entrepreneur Rihanna first came to public attention with Music Of The Sun (2005) and A Girl Like Me (2006), which showcased the Caribbean influence of her home country. It was her 2007 album, Good Girl Gone Bad, that made her an international superstar.
19. Carrie Underwood
Carrie Underwood was catapulted to superstardom when she won the fourth season of American Idol in 2005. The ensuing single, “Inside Your Heaven,” was the number one most popular song of all time.
20. Arcade Fire
The Canadian indie rock band catapulted onto the global music scene with their debut album, Funeral, in 2004. It is often cited as one of the best albums of the decade, with many publications ranking it as their top pick. The album’s release made them instant indie rock stars.
The Jeff Tweedy-led alternative rock band first gained notoriety in the 1990s, but it was their 2001 record, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, that would be their magnum opus. In a crazy twist, Wilco recorded the album with Reprise Records, who didn’t like the album so much that they gave the band the recordings and the rights to the music for free.
22. The Strokes
When the Strokes, led by Julian Casablancas, released their 2001 EP, The Modern Age, major labels rushed to sign the independent artists. After signing with RCA Records, they released their debut album, Is This It, in 2001. With hits like “Someday,” the album remains one of the best indie rock albums of all time.
23. Alicia Keys
Talented singer and pianist Alicia Keys introduced herself to the world with her 2001 debut album, Songs In A Minor. The single “Fallin’” topped the Billboard charts, and the album earned her five Grammy Awards. She followed up with The Diary of Alicia Keys in 2003, which included hit singles like “If I Ain’t Got You” and “You Don’t Know My Name.”
24. System of a Down
System Of A Down is one of the most popular heavy metal bands of the 2000s. After releasing their self-titled debut in 1998, they had planned to launch their second album with a free concert in Hollywood. However, nearly 15,000 people showed up at a much smaller venue, and when the show was canceled by authorities without much explanation, angry fans stormed the stage and destroyed much of the band’s equipment.
Shawn Carter, better known as Jay-Z, rose to prominence in the 1990s but has been a central figure in music as a leader and collaborator throughout the 2000s. His 2001 album The Blueprint was an instant classic, followed by The Black Album in 2003 and American Gangster in 2007.
An R&B princess, Aaliyah was discovered at the age of ten on Star Search. While her first hits came out in the 1990s, by the turn of the 21st century, she was on the verge of becoming the queen of pop culture. She starred alongside Jet Li in the 2000 film Romeo Must Die, and the single “Try Again,” which she wrote for the film, reached the top of the charts solely through radio.
27. Norah Jones
Norah Jones released her first album, Come Away With Me, in 2002, and established herself as one of the world’s top jazz and pop artists. The record won her Grammy Awards for Album of the Year, Record of the Year and Best New Artist.
While U2 was on top of the world in the 1980s, the quality of their work declined throughout the 1990s. That all changed in 2000 when they released All That You Can’t Leave Behind. Hit songs like “Beautiful Day” earned them seven Grammy Awards, and they returned to the top of the charts.
29. Lady Gaga
Though Lady Gaga didn’t hit the scene until late in the decade, she’s had a monstrous impact. With her 2009 album, The Fame, she became a household name with hits like “Just Dance” and “Poker Face.” The album reached number two on the Billboard 200.
30. Good Charlotte
Pop punk had its heyday in the 2000s, and no band embodied the energy of the movement better than Good Charlotte. While their self-titled debut album in 2000 was well received, they achieved international superstardom with their 2002 album, The Young And The Hopeless.
In the 1990s, Shakira established herself as a major diva in Spanish-speaking countries. But in 2001, she switched to English with her hit record, Laundry Service. She followed up with Oral Fixation, Vol. 2 in 2005, which included her mega-hit, “Hips Don’t Lie.”