The Decade in Music: Top 50 Moments


Billboard Artists of the Decade

The 2000s saw record-breaking album sales and outrageous celebrity scandals, the births of exciting new technologies and the deaths of larger-than-life icons. But what music events will the decade-gone-by be remembered for most? The Billboard staff spent weeks remembering, over-analyzing, and often arguing about the top stories of the last 10 years. Now it's your turn to join in our fun.

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Em & Elton Hook Up

Eminem's "Marshal Mathers LP" offended just about everyone on some level. Yet, it was the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation that hit the highest roof when the album was nominated for four Grammys in 2001, proclaiming that Em's rhymes were particularly hateful towards homosexuals. Mathers shot backby joining hands with openly-gay icon Elton John during the performance of his hit "Stan" at the awards show. The display of brotherly love didn't sway the 200 GLAAD protesters picketing outside the Staples Center, but Em walked away with a Best Rap Album award nonetheless.

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Axl Finally Brings "Democracy" to Fans

For 15 years, Axl Rose was rock's own boy who cried wolf, always promising but never delivering a new Guns N' Roses album. Then, after several lineup changes, a botched tour and at least two concert riots, "Chinese Democracy" finally hit the shelves through an exclusive partnership with Best Buy. Sadly, fans didn't see the album as the year's best buy -- the release sold less than 600,000 copies and failed to welcome many new fans into Axl's jungle.

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Reggeaton Goes Global

Reggae, dancehall and hip-hop music were merged together long before Daddy Yankee ignited his "Gasolina," but it took more than a decade for Reggeaton to find favor outside of Latin America. Enter N.O.R.E., whose 2004 hit "Oye Mi Canto" broke down languge and cultural barriers and finally took the genre to the U.S. charts. Daddy Yankee's ubiquitous jam soon followed, and Reggeaton lit a fire on dancefloors around the world around that has yet to burn out.

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Mariah Momentarily Loses Mind

She's had more number ones than any diva in history, but Mariah Carey wasn't always on top. In fact, Mimi went as low as she could go in 2001 during a cringe-worthy appearance on MTV's TRL that featured the most famous striptease in pop history. After the bombing her "Glitter" soundtrack got her dropped from from a lucrative contract with Vrigin records later that year, it seemed like Carey was down for the count. But the girl with the platinum pipes came back fighting with 2005's "Emancipation of Mimi," which spawned the decade's No. 1 single and proved that Mariah and pop success really do belong together.

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RATM Rages Again

They threw in the towel in 2000, but Rage Against the Machine resurfaced at the 2007 Coachella festival to rock the angry masses once more. The appearance was publicized as a one-off gig to voice Zack de la Rocha and co.'s opposition to the Bush Administration's right-wing agenda. But after drawing Coachella's largest crowd to date, RATM appeared at 37 more festivals around the world over the next two years, leading to a healthy surplus of cash in the band members' ATM machines.

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Osiris, Big Baby Jesus, Dirt McGirt, Ol' Dirty Bastard… Russell Tyrone Jones was a man of many monikers. But all of his personas were silenced in 2004 when, just two days before his 36th birthday, the outrageous, eccentric and unpredictable rapper died of a lethal mixture of cocaine and the prescription drug Tramadol while working at the Wu Tang studios in New York. His untimely departure leaves a gaping a hole in the still-functioning Clan that will never be filled.

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Lolla Takes Over Chi-Town

After struggling to resurrect his famed Lollapalooza tour in 2003 and 2004, organizer Perry Ferrell decided to change his tune and let the fans come to him. Following the lead of stationary music events like Bonnaroo and Coachella, Ferrell's traveling circus sprouted roots in downtown Chicago in July '05. Featuring eclectic lineups and affordable three-day packages, the reborn Lollapalooza was a huge success, and its arrival marked the beginning of America's full-on love affair with the summer music festival.

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The Ringtone Takeover

By now, even your 70-year-old grandmother has a ringtone. The downloadable tunes have proved to be not just a fashionable way to broadcast your favorite T-Pain song to the world, they also provide a solid revenue stream for a struggling music industry. Therefore, it only made sense for us to begin tracking sales of the tones to see exactly which ones were causing the most buzz. (What is the all-time king of the Billboard ringtone chart, you ask? Click the video to the right to hear for yourself.)

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A Heroic TV Tribute

Ten days after the September 11 terrorist attacks, actor George Clooney organized the "America: A Tribute to Heroes" concert to raise money for victims and their families. The event, broadcast commercial-free and uninterrupted on 35 network and cable channels, featured performances by 21 artists, including Bruce Springsteen, whose "City of Ruins" became an anthem of hope for a country in mourning. Altogether, the telethon raised about $30 million, which was donated to the United Way.

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Spice Girls Still Spicy

Pop fans the world over shed a tear in 2001 when Britain's Spice Girls decided to break up the band. But hearts were mended in 2007 when the Baby, Scary, Sporty, Ginger and Posh announced they'd be reforming for their first tour since '99. The reunion concerts -- which included a 17-night stand at London's 02 Arena -- was a smashing success, earning the group $70 million, as well as a Billboard Touring Award for Top Boxscore, proving that Girl Power is alive and well.

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