1. Beyoncé - This Destiny's Child diva has grown with those of us who began listening to her in the '90s. The metamorphosis she has experienced through her decision to go solo in the beginning of the decade has resulted in an unrivaled level of sophistication and hit-making that can only be the product of pure talent.
2. Coldplay - A band that epitomizes an age of technology instrumentally, Coldplay manages to create music that is resounding both to the ear and in its message. The band has existed solely within this decade has very much exploded in the past 10 years, escalating them to be hailed as one of the best live bands of our time. Lead singer Chris Martin further represents music of the 2000s in his political and moral pursuits.
3. Eminem - Selling more records than any other artist of the past 10 years and receiving several awards and honors in the meantime, Eminem made his mark with tight, provocative and fresh albums like The Slim Shady LP and The Marshall Mathers LP. The genre of hip-hop very much ruled music this decade, so though Em's most recent releases have been highly disappointing, his impact in the early 2000s is enough to place him at No. 3.
4. Kanye West - Though Kanye rides the same wave that Eminem did to the top music of the decade, The College Dropout is considered by more than just rap fans to be the greatest album of the past 10 years. Kanye's influence has extended far beyond his ability to write rhymes (Let's be honest: If that was all he had going for him, he probably wouldn't have even been on here) to his talent as a producer and as a vanguard in the music industry.
5. The Killers - Las Vegas natives The Killers have put on quite a show with their creative music videos and elaborate live shows. With universally well-liked and catchy music, the Killers are so very contemporary and who doesn't love/get the chills every time they listen to "Mr. Brightside"?
6. Lil' Wayne
7. Death Cab for Cutie
9. Norah Jones
10. Justin Timberlake
11. Modest Mouse
12. The Arcade Fire
13. Green Day
14. The Shins
16. Kelly Clarkson
17. The White Stripes
18. Bright Eyes
19. Britney Spears
20. Taylor Swift
21. Black Eyed Peas
22. Alicia Keys
23. 50 Cent
24. Fall Out Boy
While some artists on the list can be undoubtedly justified as "this decade's bests" (take Norah Jones - who has the talent, influence and acclaim statistically), others aren't so easily categorized. While Britney Spears may be one of the biggest single-producers of the decade - and ever - the quality of her music and influence is largely debatable. Similarly, what Death Cab and The Arcade Fire lack in widespread popularity, they make up for in genuine artistry, characterized by lyrical genius and superior musicality, respectively. Also note that some artists who have recently struck platinum (or just plain genius) aren't included because their "staying power" is still unsure, just as artists who may continue to sell quality records but had their heyday in earlier decades are excluded. And of course, this list is unabashedly, unapologetically biased.
Best Baroque Pop (aka little bands with a big sound)1. Sea Wolf - Leaves in the River
2. Bright Eyes - I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning
3. Andrew Bird - Armchair Apocrypha
4. Coldplay - Parachutes
5. Ra Ra Riot - The Rhumb Line
6. The Arcade Fire - Neon Bible
7. Dear and the Headlights - Small Steps, Heavy Hooves
8. Death Cab for Cutie - Plans
9. Manchester Orchestra - Mean Everything to Nothing
10. MGMT - Oracular Spectacular
Best Folk Fusion Artists
1. Conor Oberst
2. Colin Meloy
4. Iron & Wine
5. Johnny Flynn
6. Bon Iver
7. The Weakerthans
8. The Great Lake Swimmers
"Who Let the Dogs Out?" - Baha Men
"Complicated" - Avril Lavigne
"Collide" - Howie Day
"You're Beautiful" - James Blunt
"What Would You Do?" - City High
"Blue" - Eiffel 65
"Bad Day" - Daniel Powter
"Butterfly" - Crazytown
"Stacy's Mom" - Fountains of Wayne
"Shake It" - Metro Station
The millennium may have started with a scare about a non-existent computer crisis and led us to a very existent economic crisis, but the one good thing we can take out of the last 10 years is great filmmaking.
Toward the start of the decade, Peter Jackson delivered movie-goers absolute brilliance three years in a row. The best of the decade goes to three movies in one; an epic journey of almost 12 hours of inspired filmmaking and storytelling, the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Pixar also hasn't failed to make a fantastic animated movie yet in the 2000s - some of their best include Monsters, Inc. (2001), Finding Nemo (2003), Ratatouille (2007), Wall-E (2008), and Up (2009). Along with these great films, here's a list of some other favorites throughout the last 10 years:
A Beautiful Mind
Catch Me If You Can
Gangs of New York