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Nobody likes you when you’re 23

Celebrating the best albums of the year 2000
From+historic+rap+releases%2C+beloved+debuts+and+misunderstood+eras%2C+the+year+of+2000+had+some+of+the+most+important+album+releases.+While+not+all+of+the+albums+topped+the+charts%2C+each+album+was+able+to+make+its+own+individual+mark+within+their+musical+audience+as+all+of+the+artists+brought+a+new+creative+drive+that+the+media+had+yet+to+see.+Two+decades+later+and+these+albums+are+still+celebrated+for+their+production%2C+talent+and+controversy.
Mikalah Owens
From historic rap releases, beloved debuts and misunderstood eras, the year of 2000 had some of the most important album releases. While not all of the albums topped the charts, each album was able to make its own individual mark within their musical audience as all of the artists brought a new creative drive that the media had yet to see. Two decades later and these albums are still celebrated for their production, talent and controversy.

Pop-punk band blink-182 famously said “Nobody likes you when you’re 23” on their hit “What’s My Age Again?” off their breakout pop punk album “Enema of the State” in 1999. Some of the biggest albums of 2000 showed artists and music groups like *NSYNC, Eminem and Linkin Park reflecting on themselves and the news and media around them. It has been 23 years since these albums were released and still the media and fans are still praising these classic albums. 

“No Strings Attached” by *NSYNC

(Photo by *NSYNC)

Released: March 21, 2000

Genre: Pop 

When *NSYNC dropped “No Strings Attached,” the album sold 1.2 million units on its first day, and by the end of the week, the numbers doubled to 2.4 million — a bar that no other artist would pass for 15 years. 

“No Strings Attached” was not just a generic pop album that released in 2000. “Bye Bye Bye” begins with a climbing string crescendo that bleeds into Justin Timberlake’s nasal falsetto and a quickly ad-libbed “Hey, hey” bursting into the song’s five-part harmony. Due to the band’s histrionic annunciation of vowels, the following track, “It’s Gonna Be Me,” is one of the catchiest songs I’ve ever heard. A Barbie-inspired music video helped “It’s Gonna Be Me” top the charts, depicting the band dressed as dolls in a store trying to get the attention of the Barbies; it was so popular that 15 years later, pop-punk band Fall Out Boy recreated the video and even included *NSYNC’s very own Joey Fatone in their hit “Irresistible.” The following tracks on the band’s breakthrough album successfully experiment with other genres such as R&B, electronica and even country, making “No Strings Attached” a fun and essential 2000s record.

“The Marshall Mathers LP” by Eminem

The Marshall Mathers LP - Album by Eminem | Spotify
(Photo by Eminem)

Released: May 23, 2000

Genre: Rap

Only a year after Eminem dropped his bombastic album, “The Slim Shady LP,” he released the bitter “The Marshall Mathers LP.” His junior album doesn’t pull any punches and is out of control, unsettling and grotesque due to Eminem’s unapologetic yet memorable lyricism. Eminem famously tells a story on track three, “Stan.” A tale told from the point of view of Stan, the self-proclaimed biggest fan of Eminem’s alter ego, “Slim Shady.” Stan’s idolatry becomes a sick obsession and leads to an early death. “Stan” spawned an award-winning video that is now legendary. Featuring English singer Dido, the six-minute video was heavily edited by most outlets for both length and language. 

Eminem stepped away from his “Slim Shady” alter ego entirely with track seven, “The Way I Am.” In the fiery, narrative hit, Eminem tells the media nobody can change him through inflamed lyrics. Eminem even famously calls out *NSYNC saying, “I’m not Mr. *NSYNC, I’m not what your friends think, I’m not Mr. Friendly.” The “Slim Shady” alter ego steps back into the spotlight with the next track, “The Real Slim Shady.” Similar to “The Way I Am” this vulgar song shows Eminem’s authentic self as he scathes the music industry and speaks on how disruptive his music career has been. The vile, yet creative and impressive lyrics and flow that come out of “The Slim Shady LP” are what made Eminem a household name in rap and was just the beginning of his respective career.

“White Pony” by Deftones

Deftones - White Pony - Amazon.com Music
(Photo by Deftones)

Released: June 20, 2000

Genre: Rock, Nu metal 

Coming off of the massive success of their sophomore album, “Around the Fur,” Deftones took a risk slowing their metal-inspired sound down with “White Pony.” In the late ‘90s, Deftones gained success with singer Chino Moreno’s authoritative vocal range balancing out blaring metal guitar riffs. Instead, on “White Pony” Deftones focused more on Moreno’s lyricism, which came off as more horror-inspired and was influenced by The Misfits. An example of this is seen in “Digital Bath,” as Moreno writes about slasher-inspired fantasies. However, the band does not completely stray from their metal roots and uses Moreno’s recognizable screaming range in “Elite” and in the band’s best-selling song, “Change (In The House of Flies).” The production on “White Pony” flows effortlessly as the more aggressive songs compliment the more melodic songs, letting Moreno’s erratic lyrics shine — making it one of the band’s best albums.

“Kid A” by Radiohead

Kid A - Wikipedia
(Photo by Radiohead)

Released: Oct. 2, 2000

Genre: Alternative, Indie 

Following the release of the breakthrough album, “OK Computer,” Radiohead continued their success with “Kid A” — an album that needs more than one listen to understand fully. When making their fourth album, “Kid A,” Radiohead successfully made a complete stylistic change at the height of their popularity. Upon first listening to the album, it sounds like background music that belongs in a low budget sci-fi film. The bands inventive sound is due to the uncanny songs being controlled by a soundboard, rather than the angst filled guitars or brooding piano structures fans had previously applauded. 

The album opens with “Everything In Its Right Place,” which was the first song singer Thom Yorke wrote for the album, about feeling drained after a show on their 1997 “OK Computer” tour. The fourth track, “How to Disappear Completely” carries Yorke’s emotion thoroughly and compliments the album, following Yorke’s talented voice with an uneasy orchestra and grieving lyrics, making it the strongest song on the album. “Kid A” is tied together well with “Motion Picture Soundtrack,” as Yorke’s tone sounds similar to how it did on “OK Computer;” however, the band successfully departs from earlier guitar-led songs and moves onto more complexing, electronica-driven music. This album features more diverse instrumentation, including programmed electronic beats, strings and jazz horns. Although “Kid A” is far different than Radiohead’s past releases, it is still able to get the melancholic drive Radiohead fans wanted — it just takes a few more listens to fully digest it.

“Warning” by Green Day

Warning (Green Day album) - Wikipedia
(Photo by Green Day)

Released: Oct. 23, 2000

Genre: Acoustic Rock 

Six years after Green Day broke into mainstream music with their punk album, “Dookie,” they changed their punk reputation with the release of “Warning.” Fans claim this to be Green Day’s departure from punk. Sure, Green Day turned down some of the gain and distortion on their amps with this album, but that doesn’t mean they lost their edge. The fifth track, “Castaway,” is a fun song that follows the bright, open guitar chords and fast drum beat Green Day is known for. 

Notably, “Warning” was a maturing album for the band, since they were settling down with families and singer Billie Joe Armstrong was desperately trying to reach sobriety. The 10th track, “Waiting,” stands out to me the most on the album since it highlights Armstrong’s unique vocal range and vulnerable lyricism. Another track that allows Armstrong’s distinctive voice and self-exposed lyrics to shine is “Macy’s Day Parade.” The simplicity of the track, primarily just being Armstrong and a down-tuned acoustic guitar, makes the song even more personal. A lot of people didn’t like this record because it sounded different from “Dookie,” but what would be the point of that? There are only so many times you can repeat the same trick before you fall into self-parody. 

“All That You Can’t Leave Behind” by U2

All That You Can't Leave Behind - Wikipedia
(Photo by U2)

Released: Oct. 30, 2000

Genre: Alternative, Rock 

U2’s 10th album opens with one of the band’s most applauded songs, “Beautiful Day.” U2 took subtle risks with this album, choosing not to dive as dark or politically, like they did on their past album, “War,” but the band still managed to avoid a full pop album. U2 made the fan-favorite ballad “Stuck in a Moment You Can’t Get Out Of,” after close friend of the band Michael Hutchence’s unexpected death. The song’s cathartic journey allowed U2’s singer Bono to reflect on the conflicting emotions after his friends death. Even though Bono was struggling to make sense of the loss, he was determined to compose a tribute that would capture their bond. Bono flawlessly captured the confusion, anger and grief with this hit, making it one of the band’s best tracks. 

The sixth track, “In A Little While,” is similar to “Stuck in a Moment You Can’t Get Out Of,” for the song reflects on past experiences. The song allows guitarist Edge to control the track with a beautiful rhythmic delay in the riff and Bono to move his raspy lower register voice to a soprano-driven melody.  The best way I can describe this album is that its entire tracklist, especially “Wild Honey,” should be the soundtrack to an indie coming-of-age movie. “All That You Can’t Leave Behind” stands as one of U2’s more experimental albums, but still remains as a critcal record for the mature band. 

“Hybrid Theory” by Linkin Park

Hybrid Theory - Wikipedia
(Photo by Linkin Park)

Released: Oct. 24, 2000

Genre: Nu metal 

Linkin Park became one of the biggest bands in the 2000s due to their talent of being able to blend Mike Shinoda’s rapping and Chester Bennington’s metal screams into successful hits. “Hybrid Theory” serves as Linkin Park’s debut album, as well as one of the most successful and standout debuts of the 2000s. The second track, “One Step Closer” steals the album’s spotlight as Bennington’s ruthless lyrics blend well with his fierce voice and Brad Delson’s simple, yet fervent guitar riff. 

“One Step Closer” matched the alternative angst 2000 was thriving on and became one of the year’s most popular songs. Following the success of “One Step Closer” came “Crawling” and “In The End.” These memorable songs allow Bennington’s poignant lyrics and wide vocal range to effortlessly blend in with Shinoda’s rap flow. From Shinoda and Bennington’s fluid approach to bigger hooks, it is easy to see how “Hybrid Theory” would go on to inspire a generation of artists decades later.

“Stankonia” by Outkast

Stankonia - Wikipedia
(Photo by Outkast)

Released: Oct. 31, 2000

Genre: Hip Hop, R&B 

André 3000 and Big Boi start this essential rap album with the unapologetic, ‘90s gangster rap-inspired hit, “Gasoline Dreams.” The track describes corrupted problems in life: drugs, racism and pollution. The rap duo manages to stay on beat successfully while taking subtle shots at society. An interlude follows the ending of “Gasoline Dreams,” transitioning to a collected, sleek tone with the hit “So Fresh, So Clean.” 

Starting with a slow R&B inspired melody, the track perfectly transitions into impressive, fast-paced bars done by André 3000 and Big Boi. The following track, “Ms. Jackson” is an instant sing-along due to André 3000’s humorous and creative annunciation and adlibs. “Ms. Jackson” is also credited as being the hit that launched Outkast into the mainstream. “Stankonia” remains a hit album because of Outkast’s talented rap flow, lyrics and production.

“Parachutes” by Coldplay

Coldplay - Parachutes - Amazon.com Music
(Photo by Coldplay)

Released: Nov. 7, 2000

Genre: Indie Rock, Post-Britpop 

The mellow opening song, “Don’t Panic” sets the tone for Coldplay’s impactful debut. The infectious echoing drum beat, organized by Will Champion, matches flawlessly with singer Chris Martin’s dejected lyrics and Jeff Buckley and Damon Albarn inspired tone. The lovestruck hit, “Yellow,” helped put Coldplay on the map and became the band’s first Billboard hit. “Yellow” is lyrically unique due to the interspersed metaphors of color, but it is able to capture the experience of love and longing in a way no one had been able to before. One of the best parts about “Parachutes” is that it does not just have one mood or tone, nor is it just about love or loss; it tackles many trials and errors of life. From the difference of tone with “Trouble” and the folksy twang of “Parachutes” to the slow brewing arrangement of “Spies,” “We Never Change” and “Sparks,” listeners catch a glimpse of a band discovering their own sound and gaining confidence.

“The W” by Wu-Tang Clan

The W - Wikipedia
(Photo by Wu-Tang Clan)

Released: Nov. 21, 2000

Genre: Rap 

While the signature ‘90s New York quick-witted sound is still in force, group leader RZA slows down the Wu-Tung Clan’s “The W” by adding punctual strings in the tracks and adding in more jazz elements. The album really kicks off with the third track “Hollow Bones,” with a plucking guitar structure built around the rap group. Being able to rap on their own beat is what makes the Wu-Tang Clan stand out as one of the most impactful rap groups since they didn’t rely on production made beats — they relied on their breath control, rhyming and lyrics. 

I Can’t Go To Sleep” is a valuable song on the album, touching on drugs, poverty and guns, yet Wu-Tang Clan is able to get through the hard-hitting song without it sounding like they’re talking at you. Instead, the band is blazoning these issues with their emotional lyrics and tone, allowing the listener to hear and understand the anger spitting from their adamant bars. While this may not be the most listened to album of the iconic rap group, it’s still a necessary listen to help understand the fundamentals and creative drive of the group.

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About the Contributor
Mikalah Owens, Staff Writer
Pronouns: she/her Grade: 12 Years on staff: 2 What is your favorite piece of literature? “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape” by Peter Hedges. Who is your hero? That’s tough. I wanna say Henry Rollins since he’s gone through so much trauma and has overcome that and grown as a person; that’s really inspiring. Realistically, probably my Uncle. If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be? I don’t know… probably fries or something.
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  • W

    Will GonsiorOct 24, 2023 at 12:30 pm

    When I said I would always comment on these I meant that literally… they’re so fun and well written! 2000 was such a good year for music, especially with Coldplay and Outkast in particular being in peak form in a way that neither are right now, for different reasons.

    U2 are of course my favorite band, and I loved the commentary on Stuck in a Moment and “In A Little While.” I’m still not a huge fan of “Beautiful Day,” which is definitely catchy but sounds like one of the lesser offerings from 2010s Coldplay. U2 peaked at Zoo TV, but Original Soundtracks 1 and Pop still had such a creative spark about them. As good as it is, “All You Can’t Leave Behind” feels like the cliff album to me. Maybe my 13th-ranked U2 album? This feels right:
    1. The Joshua Tree
    2. Achtung Baby
    3. Zooropa
    4. Boy
    5. War
    6. No Line on the Horizon
    7. Pop
    8. Rattle and Hum
    9. The Unforgettable Fire
    10. Original Soundtracks 1
    11. October
    12. How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb
    13. All that You Can’t Leave Behind
    14. Songs of Surrender
    15. Songs of Innocence
    16. Songs of Experience

    Reply
  • E

    Emily EarlyOct 23, 2023 at 9:47 am

    soo many albums to celebrate!! great piece, mikalah!

    Reply