Let's look at some of the many ways the 2000s tanked musically. Sure, we can look on the sunny side and find the silver lining - but those linings came with some very dark clouds that washed out the musical landscape. Based on input from the Songfacts Community, here's a consensus of what happened in the 2000s music scene that rubbed us the wrong way.
The scourge of music technology! The most hated development in music since disco, Auto-Tune is that digital process which "corrects" pitch in vocal and instrumental performances. Now anybody can "sing"! Actually, your voice gets partially replaced with a robot voice. And it sounds that way. The more off-key you are, the more the robot voice takes over. You can literally record your dog, run it through Auto-Tune, and have a barking, singing robot. Of course, the technology will become more fine-tuned and less noticeable over the decades to come, so that we'll all eventually be listening to seemingly-perfect vocals with nothing but cold machinery behind them, and actual human singing will become a feat no more remarkable than playing a chess computer to a draw.
American Idol and Guitar Hero
Harmless, right? After all, it's just plain good fun, isn't it? Well, sort of. Winners of American Idol and players of the Guitar Hero / Rock Band series of video games start to think of themselves as musicians on the same level as professionals - and American Idol contestants get treated that way by the media, until the next season. Our beef is with the amateur-hour effect on music - and the fact that more bands are making their music "Guitar-Hero friendly," in the hopes of spreading their fame through the game. This causes the intricate solos to be replaced by Fisher-Price 1-2-3-4 riffs that a toddler could play.
Speaking of television, have you noticed that all TV channels start out with a specific category of content, and then they all gradually mush into the same pot of cognitively impaired "reality" shows? So, MTV and VH1, as you expand from one to two to five channels, could you, I dunno, show just one music video? Like, per year? Just humor us on this.
Music Genres We're Sick Of
Grunge is the cockroach of rock; it does not evolve because it accidentally found the perfect survival strategy the first time, so now it only needs to worry about reproducing itself as fast as possible. Emo, nu-metal, and sludge are all pretty widely hated and yet adored by a tiny cult. Good rap and hip-hop are awesome, but... is there any left? They're losing steam. Seriously! Go out and shock people again, rap and hip-hop! House/dance/techno is disappearing up its own derivative backside. And, oh, country, pop, and gospel get picked on, but no different from any other decade. Goth is still stuck in Hot Topic, and the more goths complain about Hot Topic, the more we see shopping there.
Everybody hates hipsters, which is silly, because hipsterdom is based on hating yourself. We should be caging them with Juggalos and making them fight to their death, except they'd both enjoy it too much (for opposite reasons, of course).
The Old Guys are Still Popular
Think about that. Do you know why Ozzy, Iron Maiden, AC/DC, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and The Cure are still touring and finding a new generation of fans? It's because we haven't found a replacement yet! This is painful and embarrassing. We're going to end up with Ozzy hobbling out onto the stage (The Canceled Retirement Tour 2033) with a walker and a colostomy bag going, "You haven't found anybody to fill my shoes yet? I'm bloody tired!"
The Good Really Did Die Young
Now, has anybody noticed how music in the 2000s felt as if something were eerily... missing? It's almost like we had a lost decade there, where culture should have moved forward. Like there's a hole. Well, here's your answer. Between AIDS and drugs, a whole generation of musical talent got wiped out. Here's a list of just some prominent prodigies of music who overdosed on heroin, and the ages they would be in 2010, had they not checked out:
Kurt Cobain, Nirvana (42)
Bradley Nowell, Sublime (41)
Sid Vicious, Sex Pistols (52)
Layne Staley, Alice in Chains (42)
Andrew Wood, Mother Love Bone (43)
Jonathan Melvoin, Smashing Pumpkins (48)
Bobby Sheehan, Blues Traveler (41)
Hillel Slovak, Red Hot Chili Peppers (47)
There's the hole! Each of these would most likely have had the peaks of their careers during the 2000s. Sure, others stepped in to fill their absence. But what could we have had, if they'd stuck around?
The Music Business Went to War with Music Fans
From the notorious Sony/BMG rootkit (which they will never live down, and rightly so) and other draconian DRM schemes, to the outrageous and frivolous lawsuits of the RIAA, an attempt was made by big business to enslave music itself. So much so, that musicians actually turned to distributing their content online - even for free! Turning their back on the path to stardom and fame, because they, like the consumers, were tired of getting screwed and back-stabbed by the industry. Can you imagine that there was a time when you could just buy a record and play it for a houseful of friends, or make a mix tape of your favorite songs from your CD collection, and not fear being sued for millions and having your life ruined? That day must come again, if music is ever to draw a free breath.
Now, here's some developments that had a con to each pro:
The digital age, along with all its blessings, also kind of killed the album. Oh, yes, albums are still out there. But they're getting to be a rare expenditure. Remember (or ask grandpa if he remembers) the beauty of a gatefold double-album LP that came with a book of lyrics and awesome cover art and maybe graphics, photos, and other feelies? You're going to miss that more and more. A 99-cent single download to your iPod just doesn't feel the same. It's harder to wrap up 1s and 0s and give it to someone for Christmas.
MP3s became the default, most portable music file format... but come on, let's admit that it's also the lowest quality format you could have. Almost anything sounds better, and yes, now that we have fancy media players and better speakers, we can hear the difference.
The new digital distribution culture gave music freedom from industry - but at a price. That price is: "Have you heard Deliberately Obscure Album Title by Band You Never Knew Existed? It totally rocks!" Without the support network of big labels, studios, and radio networks, huge bands are coming and going out there with only a fraction of the population hearing about them. Add to that the massive improvements in technology so that now you can literally record in your garage and distribute over the Internet, and we have hundreds of start-up bands on our too-listen-to list that we may never discover. Indie music suffers the same problem as all indie media.
Bands Everybody Hates
By reading the comments on our forums, drawing Tarot cards and shaking tea leaves, we've compiled this list of artists almost universally hated by the people who pay attention. Of course, it's a subjective opinion.
Nickelback We don't even have to explain this one. And we aren't going to try. If you don't know this one, ask around. Exercise will do you good.
Britney Spears In the '90s, we only hated Spears because of her music. But in the '00s, we have more of the same music to hate her for, and in addition she also started to do a lot of talking, which made everyone hate her more.
Soulja Boy "Soulja Boy play Tic Tac TOOOOE, Soulja Boy rake with a HOOOOE, Soulja Boy done stub 'is TOOOOE, To the toilet got to GOOOO" (dink dunk duh duh, dink dunk duh duh).
Fall Out Boy This is your music on Ritalin. Any questions? By the way, we have to mention their video for "I Don't Care" - because nothing says "bad boy who needs to be spanked and sent to bed without supper" like mimicking a street-mime, showing your wilted little dinger on the street to disgusted ladies, and fighting an old man for his walker.
Backstreet Boys/ Nsync Haven't we been complaining about these guys since the Bronze Age? Why are they still here?
Miley Cyrus/ Jonas Brothers The next generation of the above entry, courtesy of that gorgon of American media that fouls all that it touches. We're talking about you, Mickey.
Performers Everybody Hates
As opposed to the perceived lack of talent in the above paragraphs, these are the artists people hate more for their off-stage antics than on:
Lil' Wayne/ Kanye West We get that the goal of bad boy rappers isn't to make friends, but we can't find any socially redeeming qualities for these two no matter how hard we look. By the way, there's a famous meme here (started at an awards ceremony) that we am not invoking. You're welcome! No, don't say it! Stop that! Arrrrgh! We can hear you thinking it!
Fred Durst He's the Limp Bizkit front-man. First there's the asinine attitude where he's constantly getting into fights with other nu-metalers. Next, he claims to have gotten "nookie" from both Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears, who have both come forward to say that did not, in fact, happen. Now he secretly tapes himself having sex and posts it online without the woman's consent - gee, Fred, you wouldn't be insecure about anything, would you? Now add the legal charges - assault, battery, reckless driving (hit two people), and making a criminal threat, for which an Orange County, California court gave him a slap on the wrist - and it becomes evident that he's just a rude, mean jerk. Remember what Bill Murray said about Mr. Peck towards the end of Ghostbusters? That's what we think must be Fred Durst's problem.
Metallica Oh, how the mighty have fallen! 1980s Metallica: Ass-kicking metal gods. 2000s Metallica: Wimpy, whining wet blankets.
Prince Another fallen mighty. Prince, the once-inventor of "the Minnesota sound," has now tumbled all the way to being an egomaniac jerk who throws hissy fits about what you call him, sues mommies for daring to use his music in the background when they post their baby dancing to it on YouTube, and has become quite pushy about his new religion.
Lady Gaga We're going to reserve a spot here. She's kind of new on the scene, give her time. But lots of people seem not to like her already. Yeah, she's parading around in goofball costumes that look like she rolled in glue, sprinted through Toys-R-Us, and wore whatever stuck. Yes, she's been over-provocative. But what do you want? She's a pop diva! Would you show up at a Motorhead concert and complain because it's too loud?