The decade-end artist recap ranks the best-performing acts of the past 10 years (from Dec. 4, 1999, to Nov. 28, 2009) based on activity on two charts: the Billboard 200 albums list and the Billboard Hot 100 songs tally.
The hip-hop king first graced the Hot 100 chart Feb. 27, 1999 with "My Name Is," then racked up another 27 entries from 2000 onward. On the Billboard 200, all five of his sets released in the decade reached No. 1. Additionally, his debut album, "The Slim Shady LP," debuted and peaked at No. 2 in the spring of 1999, but continued to chart in 2000.
Beyoncé's solo career began in the '00s, notching 23 Hot 100 singles and five No. 1s. On the Billboard 200, she's racked six entries, including three studio efforts that all went to No. 1.
As for Nickelback, its entire Hot 100 history is contained in the '00s and it started off well with its first No. 1, "How You Remind Me." The rock act has since earned five more top 10 singles. The group's last four albums reached the top 10 on the Billboard 200, including the No. 1 set "All the Right Reasons," which spent 156 weeks on the list.
While Eminem is the decade's top artist, he was never the top performer for any single year as reported in Billboard's annual Year in Music issue. In 2000 and 2001, Destiny's Child netted the prize, followed by Nelly in '02, 50 Cent in '03 and '05, Usher in '04, Chris Brown in '06 and '08, Akon in '07 and Taylor Swift in '09.
Eminem helped kick off the decade with a bang, as his second set, "The Marshall Mathers LP," was one of five albums in 2000 to sell at least 1 million copies in one week. On the Billboard 200 dated June 10, 2000, it opened at No. 1 with 1.8 million, just a week after Britney Spears' "Oops! . . . I Did It Again" debuted at No. 1 with 1.3 million and two months after 'N Sync set the one-week Nielsen SoundScan sales high of 2.4 million with "No Strings Attached." "Strings," the pop quintet's second album, tops the decade-end Billboard 200 albums tally, ahead of Usher's "Confessions" (No. 2) and Eminem's "The Eminem Show" (No. 3).
All told, of the 20 biggest one-week sales frames for an album in SoundScan's 18-and-a-half-year history, 14 of them were in the 2000s. On the flip side, of those 14 weeks, only three of them came in the last half of the decade, thanks to the debut weeks of 50 Cent's "The Massacre" (2005, 1.1 million), Kanye West's "Graduation" (2007, 957,000) and Lil Wayne's "Tha Carter III" (2008, 1 million).
So what happened in the late '00s? The collision of supernova-bright pop stars in the early 2000s with the limited availability of commercial singles yielded tremendous album sales achievements and Billboard 200 triumphs. However, by the middle of the decade, those wild and crazy days were mostly a thing of the past, thanks to the single biggest thing to change the music industry and Billboard's charts in 2000s: the Internet.
Once consumers popularized file-sharing services and utilized digital retailers like Apple's iTunes store, the Billboard 200 started to reflect many music buyers' desire for single-song purchases instead of a full album (or even more worrisome, no purchase at all).
In the first half of the 2000s, the No. 1 album on the Billboard 200, on average, sold 399,947 copies in a week. On the Hot 100 Singles Sales chart-which tracked physical singles-the average at No. 1 was just 43,895. Move forward to the second half of the decade, and the No. 1 on the Billboard 200 averaged 286,540, while the No. 1 on Hot Digital Songs averaged 154,445.
Digital retailers provided a jolt of energy to the charts after SoundScan began including download sales in its tallies in 2003. By that point, physical singles were essentially absent from the market, so the availability of individual song downloads juiced the sales/airplay hybrid Hot 100 chart. In turn, the 51-year-old list transformed from a ranking of officially promoted singles to an all-encompassing, anything-goes tally where numerous songs from one act could all chart concurrently.
Case in point: The young, digitally oriented fans of 15-year-old singer Justin Bieber recently drove all seven of the songs on his debut CD, "My World," onto the Hot 100, even though not all of them were being officially promoted to radio stations or retailers as "singles."
Speaking of dizzying digitally driven feats, the reigning best-selling digital song of all time, Flo Rida's "Low" (5.2 million and counting), is anything but "low" on the decade-end Hot 100 songs recap, as it's ranked No. 3.
Ahead of it at No. 2 is Usher's inescapable 2004 single "Yeah!," while Mariah Carey's "We Belong Together" tops the decade-end list.
Usher takes the title of the Top Hot 100 Artist of the Decade, which can't be much of a surprise considering his stranglehold on the tally from 2001 through 2008. In that time, he racked up 13 consecutive top 20 singles, with seven of them reaching No. 1. And, those seven chart-toppers collectively spent 41 weeks at No. 1-the most weeks atop the list for any act in the decade.
With Carey's crowning of the decade-end Hot 100 songs list with "We Belong Together," she now owns the most popular songs of the '90s and the '00s, as her duet with Boyz II Men, "One Sweet Day," was No. 1 on the '90s-end recap.
"We Belong Together" spent 14 weeks at No. 1 on the Hot 100 chart during the decade, tying the Black Eyed Peas' "I Gotta Feeling" for the most weeks atop the list in that span. The Peas' anthem is at No. 5 on the decade-end Hot 100 Songs retrospective, one step below the duo/group of the decade, Nickelback, with "How You Remind Me."
Collectively, the top nine finishers on the Hot 100 Songs recap spent 90 cumulative weeks at No. 1, thanks in part to the one-two punch of "Together" and "Feeling." The highest-ranked non-No. 1 song on the Hot 100 songs review is at No. 10: "Apologize" by Timbaland featuring OneRepublic. The song peaked at No. 2 for a month, but due in part to its lengthy 47-week chart run, it ranks higher on the Hot 100 Songs recap than many No. 1 hits. "Apologize" not only lingered for nearly a year on the Hot 100, but it spent 25 weeks in the top 10-the most of any single in the past decade.
On the Hot 100 Songwriters decade-end tally, Timbaland finishes atop the list, courtesy of the performance of the 63 charted hits he wrote or co-wrote in the decade. Directly below Timbaland at No. 2 on the list (viewable in full at Billboard.biz) is Pharrell Williams, one-half of the production duo the Neptunes. On the Hot 100 Producers recap, the Neptunes come out on top while Timbaland is at No. 2.