A Look Back At The Last Decade Of Music

The Set List

By Brian Washburn

The Noughties. The 2000s. A decade of music stealing, line-pushing, shocking, startling, breathtaking, revolutionary and impacting music news. Whatever you want to call it, 2000-2010 was a decade that truly revolutionized the music industry.

Headliners like Kanye West, Michael Jackson, Eminem; events shocking, scary and Britney Spears involving; and debacles like Guns N Roses’ more-than-a-decade in the making “Chinese Democracy” reigned supreme.

Five albums had a hand in changing the face of the music industry and taking it to a place where some never thought it would go.

The year was 2001 and rap and the bubble-gum pop fad of the ’90s was still ringing in music nation. But then a four-piece underground rock-pop band from Arizona decided to shake up MTV with the release of their third-album. Jimmy Eat World’s “Bleed American” blew up MTV and radio on the strength of the singles “The Middle,” “A Praise Chorus” and “Sweetness.”

Although “Bleed American” didn’t revolutionize rock, this album took a genre of rock and brought it into the limelight. The album put the pop back into rock after a slew of nu-metal disasters. JEW’s heartfelt lyrics and catchy hooks gave teens everywhere a reason to put their hearts-on-their-sleeves and show their true emotions.

Other rock, pop-punk and alternative bands and musicians who would come to dominate the decade (everybody from My Chemical Romance and Fall Out Boy to Dashboard Confessional and Underoath) would not have had the opportunity to shine without the help of JEW and the previous decade’s Blink 182’s “Enema of the State”.

Death Cab for Cutie’s 2003 release “Transatlanticism” helped propel underground indie music to the mainstream. From the singles (“The New Year,” “The Sound of Settling”) to the popular indie favorites (“Title and Registration” and “A Lack of Color”), “Transatlanticism” brought pop sensibilities into a genre previously associated with underground fascination and a “no selling out rule” and gave the genre a mantle in maintream music without changing who the band set out to be originally.

Though scenesters and music hipsters already had the Seattle four-piece’s back catalog, along with a music collection consisting of several prominent indie bands of the decade like The Shins and Sufjan Stevens, “Transatlanticism” — and with help of the name-dropping, short-lived, much-loved teen melodrama “The OC” — moved the indie movement bands onto the mix CDs of those looking for the slow, emotive feelings they had found on their older siblings’ albums by The Smiths and The Cure.

It was the hip-hop and rap genre that dominated the late ’90s and created a culture and empire. Kanye West’s “The College Dropout” was the poster child of this movement.

The rap genre not only relied on the image of hardcore gangstas, drug-dealing (and taking), gun-toting and ghetto-living, but they championed their reputations. Many of those albums cemented their place in music history: Eminem’s “The Marshall Mathers LP,” Jay-Z’s “The Blueprint” and 50 Cent’s “Get Rich or Die Trying.”

But Kanye’s 2004 release of “The College Dropout” changed the image, flipped the bad reputation and gave mainstream relevance to issues being dealt with personally and socially. Kanye moved the hardcore rap genre from its rough-and-tough persona and hard-hitting lyricism to a mellow, easy-grooving, glamorized, designer-loving way of life, now bragged about by the rest of the hip-hop community.

Though the rap and rock genres had their sparks and changes throughout the decade, it was the recording industry that possibly witnessed the most changes. And they were not all for the best for the financial end of things.

From the Napster backlash, to the Hiroshima-like destruction of record sales, to the emergence of a complete makeover in the way people get, listen and create music, it has been a rough decade for the Recording Industy Association of America.

And the iPod has to be the tech gadget/savior of the decade for music fans.

Two albums gave hope to music fans and changed the industry. Radiohead’s “In Rainbows” shattered the conventional way of distributing music and proved it could work. It established the “pay-what-you-will” mode and basically “gave the finger” to major labels and major music industry players. The band gave fans a cheap, easy solution to legally get their music.

The self-proclaimed “best rapper alive” proved he could give out hundreds of songs for free and still sell a mil in one week. Lil’ Wayne’s “Tha Carter III” sold more than a million copies in its first week of release in 2008. While this number does not seem extraordinary considering the number of bands that reach platinum status, it is an unheard of number in this day and age.

Weezy did this while he also gave out free mix tapes and EPs prior to the release of “Tha Carter III.” Although he didn’t take the rap to the next level — he does have astounding freestyle talent though — he proved that when an artist is hot, people will pay even after receiving free EPs.

This decade will go down in history as a decade of music change and mobilization. From tastes, to music distribution, the nation’s love for music is evolving and there is no telling what or who the next fad, technology or iconic musician will be. Let’s just hope the next 10 years are as entertaining as the past 10 have been.

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