By: Scott Yager
Clarification: Before you wonder where certain bands are on this list, let me clarify some of the criteria I used to narrow down the music pool to choose from. One might consider any band with a guitar to be rock music, which would include John Mayer, Maroon 5, and Coldplay, all of which put out five star albums over the last decade. With the exception of Coldplay though, none of those bands really got represented on rock radio (K-ROCK or KROQ) so I left them off. Coldplay, I left off because they really aren’t a ROCK band, or at least a rock band based on the definition I have established. Personally, I find it annoying when they get to go home with a “Best Rock Song” or “Best Rock Album” Grammy (which they did this past year) when maybe one out of every hundred people actually considers Coldplay to be a ROCK BAND. Radiohead, another iconic band that have been put under the ROCK label, really aren’t anything like your typical rock band either, and thus, they are absent from this list as well. Bands like Death Cab For Cutie are a little too hard to define and, in the interest of comparing bands that are more or less like-minded in their sound and place in the music landscape, they too are not on this list. Before you go apeshit about why your favorite album was not on here, think for a moment about whether or not they really should be put into the category of ROCK.
The 00’s decade is a very tough decade to analyze because it was almost two separate decades blurred into one. From 2000 to around 2002 we were still stuck in the 90’s. The rap-infused rock of Korn and Limp Bizkit was still big, and that trend in music was prolonged mainly by a little album called Hybrid Theory by Linkin Park. Now, Hybrid Theory is an every track classic, perfectly designed to create the next wave of music for the times. Those times however were about to change. The most well crafted rock-rap album ever made, not only did this album keep this type of music at the forefront of the rock world for longer than it should have been, it catapulted Linkin Park into being one of the biggest rock acts of the 00’s. Now, with that being said, the reason it is so low on this list is because the album seemed to do more for the 90’s and that decade, stringing it along into the 00’s for as long as it could, then it did for turning the 00’s into what they would later become.
The event that is not directly responsible for but can be linked to this sudden change in rock music is also the most characterizing event in our recent American History, September 11th, 2001. Not on this date specifically, but in the months and years shortly following the vicious attack on New York City, it seemed as if we were making a major shift in our tastes as rock music consumers. By 2002, save for ironically, Linkin Park, gone were the days of rock-rap bands topping the charts and leading the pop culture war. What took their spot was an onslaught of new sounds, including but not limited to a more garage oriented type of music that seemed to take us back in time, while also reinventing what music would sound like in the future. It is to the bands like The Strokes, The White Stripes and The Hives that we owe this drastic change in rock music, and that is why one of those bands makes this list. Along with that new wave of rock music came another sound, a much more independent and dance-infused sound that is represented by two other bands on this list. With the advent of iPods and file sharing, gone were the days of “the charts” or TRL telling us who the IT bands were. In the new millennium, a decade jumpstarted by one of the most selfishly hateful acts ever committed on American soil, we as music consumers decided we wanted something new and different, something that we could identify ourselves by. In fact, being as far from the stereotypical sound of 90’s rock as possible was an attribute that most defining bands of the 00’s all have in common.
Linkin Park’s Hybrid Theory kept the 90’s rock sound alive well into the 00’s and made them one of the biggest bands of THIS decade. That is due entirely to the brilliant chemistry those guys have as recording artists and performers. However, by doing so they accomplished more for the sound of the last decade than they would for the formation of the sound of the next one. For this reason and this reason alone, Hybrid Theory sits at number 10, in the spot that puts it closest to where it truly belongs, #1 on the previous list (the list of the 90’s). We all know that it’s one of the most enjoyable albums ever made and you can’t help but remember the times in which you first heard it. It’s just a shame that when you remember those times, even though it was technically in the year 2000, you still feel like you’ve put yourself back in the 90’s, and for the purpose of this list that is a decade we are not concerned with.
Quick Note: Because this list is only 10 albums long and there are obviously dozens and dozens of albums that are deserving of this list I have chosen to only use one album per band. For instance, The Chili Peppers should be on here for both By The Way and Stadium Arcadium, but they will only be represented by the latter, in an effort to not seem redundant and give every band their fair share. If a band did have more than one great album this decade that will most certainly be mentioned below.
10. Hybrid Theory – Linkin Park (2000)
All you can say about this album has already been said. Every song is fantastic and HT is one of the few albums you can literally listen to in its entirety over and over again. It turned Linkin Park into one of the biggest bands of the decade even though they really didn’t go along with any of the other twists and turns the rock ‘n’ roll landscape went through in the 00’s. They managed to cling onto the sound that developed during the late 90’s and were so good at it, with both Theory and Meteora that they maintained their success even in a time period where everything else around them was changing drastically. With their last album, Minutes to Midnight (2007) they attempted to move slightly closer to the middle than ever before, and we all know how that turned out. A band that has their fair share of haters because let’s face it, they really shouldn’t be relevant anymore, Linkin Park are just too damn good to go quietly into the night. Do not be surprised if they remain important in the next decade as well, even if they don’t abandon their late 90’s sound.
Also could be on here for: Meteora (2003)
9. Infinity on High – Fall Out Boy (2007)
Say what you want about them but without Fall Out Boy, punk music would almost have not existed in the 00’s. With Green Day taking their sound and turning into something bigger, something better, and something more than punk, there was room for a band to grab the bull by the horns and represent the music of the Warped Tour on the radio and on television for all those young aspiring music fans out there. Under the Cork Tree, one of the catchiest albums of the 00’s, contained songs like Dance, Dance, which were truly inescapable for a large part of the decade. Their follow-up album however, Infinity on High, was even better. Corks made them popular but Infinity on High was the album that made fans realize that popularity was not going to water down this band at all. This Ain’t a Scene, It’s a God Damn Arms Race is one of the few punk tracks of the 00’s that is truly memorable. Probably the most polarizing band on this list, Fall Out Boy has their lion’s share of haters as well. Because they appeal to such a younger audience it is understandable that the more mature rock fan might think that they don’t deserve to be on here and that they were carrying on a sound that should have died long ago. I for one disagree and feel like there is always room for good punk out there, especially pop-punk. Punk is the music that gets young people excited about music. Sure most of these kids grow up to possess broader and more “educated” tastes in music but if it wasn’t for bands like Fall Out Boy to lure in all those cute little girls with pink hair and dudes with chain wallets there would be WAY too many wiggers out there. Patrick Stump’s brilliant vocal melodies are the most innovative instrument to be added to the punk genre since Gwen Stefanie and No Doubt hopped on the scene in the 90’s. You know Fall Out Boy when you hear them and whether you love them or hate them, they represented punk in the 00’s and so they deserve a spot on here. They also should be credited with discovering another band sitting on this list at the number six spot.
8. You Could Have It So Much Better – Franz Ferndinand (2005)
A band that could have two albums on this list, FF, like another band a little higher on this list, are an essential part of one of the major new sounds that rock music took on in this decade. The Glaswegian indie band managed to take a very European sound that had mainly been reserved for the hipster section of an American music store and turn it into pop rock, a genre of music that managed to branch off into several different sectors in the 00’s decade. With songs that make you want to dance like Do You Want To and radio hits like The Fallen, FF made it a lot easier to accept the incoming force that would become the indie rock phenomenon of the decade.
Also could be on here for: Franz Ferndinand (2004)
7. Stadium Arcadium – Red Hot Chili Peppers (2004)
No band has gradually redefined and progressed their sound in such a profound way than the Chili Peppers. A band that started as an upbeat funk band with hits like Give it Away and Suck My Kiss, the Peppers used the 90’s as a way to fine-tune their craft and gradually become one of the most original groups in the world, creating brilliant melodic anthems like Under The Bridge and The Other Side. Californication came out in 1999 and turned them into a band noticed by the Grammys as well as the VMAs. In the 00’s we got By the Way, another fantastic album, as well as this double album masterpiece which showed everyone that the spunky dudes who wore socks on their genitals are still in there, they are just a little more mature and and creative now. Dani California and Snow were two instant classics, just a few of the great tracks on an album that truly could not have been contained on one disc. Back when CDs were still purchased, this band proved that not every double album has to be a gimmick and some bands do have what it takes to put out twice as many songs without watering down the content. One of modern rock’s few truly great bands, they used the 00’s to make their sound even more relevant than ever before, becoming enjoyable to fans of all ages.
Also could be on here for: By the Way (2002)
6. A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out – Panic! At the Disco (2005)
Chances are if you are mad about Fall Out Boy being on here than you are going to be mad about PATD as well. If that is the case then…well, tough shit. Even though Fall Out Boy discovered these guys and it is clear they have similar sounds, no one can deny that most of the songs on PATD’s debut album are more innovative, catchy and energizing than anything FOB has ever put out. The most inspiring new pop-punk band of the decade, it really seemed like these guys could do no wrong. From their catchy singles like I Write Sins Not Tragedies to the other gems on the record you wouldn’t know unless you had the balls to buy it (or steal it from your little sister) PATD made people believe that maybe this music was coming back to life. The fact that most of these dudes couldn’t even legally buy alcohol when they made this record made their breakout success all the more impressive. Their second release ended up being the classic sophomore slump and reminded people that maybe this was just a flash in the pan, but flash in the pan or not, A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out was one of the most exciting debuts of the 00’s and will always remind a large amount of people about the decade that was.
Before we get to the TOP 5, here are a few Honorable Mentions:
Death Magnetic – Metallica (2008)
The fact that this band managed to make their best record in twenty years in 2008 is so fucking cool. Didn’t have the mass appeal to make this list but the fact that it represents the greatest metal band to ever exist and their still being relevant going into 2010 makes it worth mentioning for damn sure. Also, if you listen carefully during football games on CBS you’ll notice that during almost every highlight they use a looping guitar riff from this amazing album.
Songs for the Deaf – Queens of the Stone Age (2002)
Another nominee of SONG OF THE DECADE has to be No One Knows, by QOTSA. This album rocked and reminded people of how good of a drummer Dave Grohl is, something that hadn’t really been discussed since the days of Nirvana. Go With The Flow is another great one and, in an odd way, these guys could be considered somewhat of a precursor to the Franz Ferdinand/Killers sound that took over later in the decade. Let’s be clear though, these guys rocked out a lot harder (due mostly to DG). This would probably be number 11 on the list if there was a number 11.
All That You Can’t Leave Behind – U2 (2000)
Like it or not, U2 is still the biggest band in the world. Throughout this last decade, even though their efforts have not matched anything from the 90’s or the 80’s U2 catalog, you have to admit that All That You Can’t Leave Behind from 2000 came pretty damn close. When you think of the more recent defining U2 songs you obviously come to Beautiful Day and Walk On, both of which were on this album. Although this album came at the beginning of the decade it is more of a representation of U2 as a band, who put out a few other solid albums since then, all of which pretty much just continue to embody the U2 sound we have come to know and love over the past several decades.
One by One – Foo Fighters (2002)
The Foo Fighters are one of those bands that put out so many albums this decade that their body of work seems excellent, but it is hard to name a specific album that deserves to be on this list. If you took every Foo Fighters song from 00-09 and put them on an album you might have a top five album on this list but all the great songs seemed to be pretty spread out. This album had All My Life and Times Like These, two unbelievable songs by Dave and the crew, so I will give this an honorable mention. Don’t get me wrong, The Foo Fighters are one of this decade’s biggest bands but for some reasons none of their albums really get me excited when you name them. Like U2, they are another band where everyone somehow knows all their songs, but few people can actually remember ever purposely listening to one of them. That’s not to say they aren’t great, they just became such a huge part of the radio scene that no one ever felt the need to explore their entire albums for anything more.
Keep it with The Campus Socialite tomorrow to see the top 5 albums of the 2000s.