The Year in Music: 2000
Pop's Tots Do Battle, Napster Courts the Big Guys
By Kevin O'Hare
WHETHER SPINNING the dials or scanning the charts, it sometimes seemed like the entire world of music had been whittled down to just three sounds in 2000—teen pop, hip-hop, and raging rock.
Out of the Studio, Into the Courtroom
While 'N Sync, Britney Spears, and Sisqo battled Eminem, Nelly, and Limp Bizkit for chart superiority, some of the year's most significant noise was being made far from studios and concert stages. Instead, the rattle that will likely resonate the longest was taking place in courtrooms and boardrooms where the war over Napster was being waged with a vengeance.
Napster creator Shawn Fanning was only 18 when he wrote the source codes that shook the music world to its very foundation. His free, Internet song-swapping service turned him into a Time magazine cover boy and the darling of downloaders everywhere. But Napster also came under heavy legal fire this year from the five giants of the recording industry—Warner Brothers, EMI, Sony, BMG, and Universal—who sued to shut down the service, citing alleged copyright infringement.
Napster Becomes Legit
A federal judge agreed with the labels, but after gaining a temporary reprieve in July, Napster shocked web-surfin' freeloaders worldwide by going legit. In October, Fanning and company entered into an agreement with corporate kingpins Bertelsmann—BMG's parent company. If it proceeds on plan, the reported $50 million deal will still allow music lovers to download music through Napster, but this time for a fee that will include artist royalties. The prospect outraged many Napster devotees, and the legal wrangling with the other labels is likely to continue well into 2001. How it all turns out remains to be seen, but there's little doubt that Fanning revolutionized the way music will be heard and how it will be marketed from this point on.
Musically, there were highlights and lowlights aplenty in 2000. Here's a look at some of the most memorable artists and some of the most memorable moments from Y2K.
Star of the Year
He may be vile, violent, decrepit, insensitive, moronic, misogynistic, homophobic, offensive, and repugnant, but Eminem's ability to throw down rhymes that outraged nearly everyone helped The Marshall Mathers LP rack up massive sales throughout 2000. No one caused more controversy, and no one played on the fear and loathing of the post-Columbine world more effectively.
Album of the Year
U2, All That You Can't Leave Behind (Interscope)
Who would have predicted this? At a time when rock was taking a backseat to rap, teen pop, and the anger-management types, the seemingly faded, 22-year-old band from Ireland returned to its rock roots with one of the crowning achievements of its career. Muscular arrangements, explosive guitar riffs, and unforgettable songs like "Beautiful Day," "When I Look at the World," and "Stuck in a Moment You Can't Get Out Of" helped to make this one for the ages.
Hip-Hop Album of the Year
Outkast, Stankonia (Arista)
Lacing its street rhythms and rapid-fire rhymes with heavy doses of funk helped Outkast to go way beyond the standard confines of hip-hop nation on this, the band's fourth album. Get a listen to the pounding "Gasoline Dreams'' and the furious "B.O.B.'' ("Bombs Over Baghdad''), then track over to the erotically-charged "I'll Call Before I Come'' or richly-detailed sagas like "Ms. Jackson," and you'll be hearing a crew that's passionate, pure, and more musically adventurous than any of its contemporaries.
Song of the Year (tie)
"Who Let the Dogs Out," Baha Men
OK, it was ridiculously overplayed by the time baseball teams took it over during the playoffs, but it was fun—especially from an obscure act that had been kicking around the Bahamas for more than 20 years.
Penned from an anguished child's perspective, this was quite simply the best song ever written about divorce.
Cool Trend (for compulsives)
Self-produced live albums
Pearl Jam released 25 double-disc live albums from its European tour and proceeded with plans to beat the bootleggers and do the same thing again with discs documenting the group's year 2000 concerts across the U.S.
Roadwreck of the Year
Diana Ross announced plans for a Supremes' reunion tour of mega-sized venues. Trouble was, she forgot to include the original Supremes—a continuation of their never-ending bickering over bucks. The fiasco turned into one of the year's biggest flops and the tour came crashing to a close shortly after it began.
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
The group's first tour since 1974 was one of this year's most successful.
The Smashing Pumpkins
After 13 years together, The Smashing Pumpkins called it quits, closing the curtain with memorable shows in their hometown of Chicago.
Rookie of the Year
The St. Louis hip-hop artist burst through to nationwide stardom with his Country Grammar debut disc, which proved that there's a whole lot more to rap about than just East Coast vs. West Coast turf wars.