The first decade of the 21st century was an amazing and creative period. If the 90’s were a decade when Generation X migrated from adolescents into adulthood, then the 2000’s were a decade where this generation blossomed and began to truly influence the world. Brought up on Rock & Rock, R & B, Hip Hop, Alternative Rock, Metal, Jazz, Techno, and many other sounds, Generation X would be the first generation in a long time to see the sudden and dramatic evolution of the music business and the methods that music could be enjoyed.
With the rapid rise and fall of Napster, music lovers realized that both music could be downloaded onto a computer without purchasing anything at a store and could be stored on computers, mp3 players, and smart phones. This let to the rapid end of music stores like Tower Music and Wherehouse Music. Both ended a long, successful enterprise of running retail music stores. Raised on these music stores as both primary destinations to purchase music and casual spaces to hangout at with friends, Generation X was left wanting for another method of buying and experiencing music.
In the wake of these retailers demises, open access to music burgeoned as online music applications and websites began to emerge and compete with one another. Pandora, 8Track, IHeart Music, and many other music sites offer music based on users interests in music artist or songs. Soon these sites would soon include online radio stations such as SomaFM, Slacker Radio, DI, and many other stations.
In last several years, Spotify has entered the market offering access to music artist’s library of albums with commercial sponsorship. Access to music videos became the domain of YouTube and many other video sharing sites.
The ability of online viewers to share their favorite videos and music also became synonymous with this era of online music. Social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter became the best sources of advertising for music producers as fans began sharing their favorite bands and videos on these websites. New social networking sites like SoundCloud, Last.fm, Tastebuds.fm, and many more began to show up focused on music tastes and sharing.
This month GROM Audio is featuring a concise collection of favorites that evoke the spirit of popular music during this decade and the revolution of innovation that inspired them.
Invention in music also occurred among these artists who began experimenting with their sounds and incorporate other genres to create new and exciting music. Outkast’s breakthrough single “Hey Yah,” this duo paid homage to past R&B and Soul artists while imprinting their own vision in this remarkable track. The song was written by Andre 3000 in 2003 for Outkast’s double album, Speakerboxxx/The Love Below. The song mixes funk, rap, and Rock & Roll to a create hybrid celebration of past masters and contemporary genius.
Outkast was an influential Hip Hop group inspiring and revolutionizing their genre of music during this decade. Coming out of East Point, Atlanta, Georgia in 1992, Andre Benjamin (Andre 3000) and Antwar “Big Boi” Patton formed Outkast as a Hip Hop duo that fused funk, techno, psychedelia, and gospel sounds. The duo has been celebrated as both Hip Hop artists and Alternative artists. Their double album Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, which “Hey Yah” was featured, allowed the duo to express each other’s unique vision for Outkast—Speakerboxx was Big Boi’s artistic vision, while The Love Below was Andre 3000’s artistic vision.
This was also a period where the traditions of the singer/songwriter were reborn into this era’s popular music vision. Artists were creating melodic music that fit into the melodies of the decade, focusing on their personal insights and experiences. “100 Years” by Five for Fighting. The song, which chronicles the milestones in singer’s life, was released in 2003 on Five for Fighting’s album The Battle for Everything.
Five for Fighting is the stage name for the American singer/songwriter Vladimir John Ondrasik III. As an artist, Ondrasik performs piano inspired ballads and rock songs. Beginning with his debut album Message for Albert in 1997, Five for Fighting slowly but progressively became more successful with each follow-up album. “100 Years” was released in Five for Fighting’s third album and reached number one on Billboard’s Hot Adult Contemporary Chart.
In an era of digital music and rock guitar, Five for Fighting’s music focused on piano and other traditional instruments. The embrace of this kind of music led to era filled with ballads less entrenched in metal riffs and drum machine rhythms, and more inclined to keyboard phrases and simple, elegant vocals.
This is seen perfectly in the song “Clocks, ”a major success for the rock band Coldplay, which features a looping riff of piano chords, to be a piano ballad. The song’s trance-like lyrics of contrast and urgency helped create a major hit for the band and led to the decade’s focus on popular singer/songwriter focused music.
Coldplay, as an Alternative rock band, was formed in England. They reached worldwide success with their single “Yellow” in 2000 from their debut album Parachute. They released “Clocks” from their second album A Rush of Blood to the Head in 2002. This song, among many others, further inspired this decade-long fascination with piano ballads and helped the band to become one of the biggest acts of that time.
This era also saw punk reinvented as a kind of popular rock music. The music was still amped up with angst, rebellion, and anger; however, now it was designed to appeal to an audience interested in energetic melodies and guitar riffs. Such a song is “The Middle,” which was a hit single by the punk pop band Jimmy Eats World. The song features animated guitar riffs and an elevating melody. Released in 2001, Jimmy Eats World’s hit became a top five Billboard hit in 2002. Featured in their album Bleed American, the song represented a new direction for rock music during the decade.
Jimmy Eats World was formed in 1993 in Arizona and became a major influence for popular Alternative Rock bands. Their breakthrough happened nearly a decade later in 2001 with the release of their album Bleed American. “The Middle” was one of four songs released as a single from that album and reached number one on the Hot Modern Rock Tracks chart.
Rock music also began experimenting with digital sounds, mixing old fashion rock with modern dancing sounds. Released on The Killer’s second studio album Hot Fuss, “Mr. Brightside” was originally released in 2003 with limited success; however, it was rereleased in 2004 and became a number one in hit in both the US and the UK. The song was named “Song of the Decade” in Britain by radio stations Absolute Radio and XFM, meanwhile social network site Last.fm revealed that it was the most listened to track since the site began its online music service. It had over 12.2 million plays.
The Killers are an alternative rock band from Las Vegas, Nevada. They were formed by Brandon Flowers and three others in 2001. Their name came from a logo on the bass drum of a fictitious band in a music video by the band New Order in their single “Crystal.” The Killers mixed techno sounds into their alternative, hard rock music. They became one of the biggest rock acts in the first decade of the 21st century, selling over 22 million albums throughout the world. Their live performances have spanned the globe, playing for audiences in more than fifty countries in six continents.
The 21st century offered many amazing new sounds, inspired by music from the previous century and reinvented for the new century. As this decade came to an end, music would continue to change in the 2010’s. With the explosion of access to many more artists via online music websites, the general public has literally been flood with an immense variety of content.
There is so much music that has been released since the turn of the century. With this small playlist of music gems, GROM celebrates this new era of music now and looks towards the future.
Enjoy the playlist @ https://soundcloud.com/treamwith/sets/playlist-of-the-21st-century
Images credit: YouTube