America is always a bit wishy-washy when it comes to pop music, and the last decade was no exception. At some times pop was embraced whole-heartedly for what it was, at others the genre seemed silly and too commercial. Overall, though, we should be proud of the pop music and culture that came out over the course of the last ten years. Here is a list of the ten finest individuals who kept us singing in the shower and glued to YouTube.
The Ten Best Popstars of the 00’s
Why she’s on the list: Kylie scored her second U.S. ever with 2001’s Can’t Get You Out of My Head, beat breast cancer and released four danceable albums. Like a fine Australian Wine, Ms. Minogue only gets better with age.
Listen to: “Like a Drug,” “Love at First Sight”
Why he’s on the list: He’s English, gay, dreamy and 99% of his music videos are pure gold. Prepare to swoon.
Watch: “Friday’s Child,” “Leave Right Now”
Why she’s on the list: Although she emerged in late 2008, Lady Gaga quickly won over the world with her smart songs and wacky fashion. Muppets were harmed in the making of this popstar.
Listen to: “Dirty Rich,” “Teeth”
Why he’s on the list: Kanye is outrageous. His ego is huge, and he says and does things that are way out of line. Plus, he makes genre-blurring music that you can dance to!
Listen to: “Homecoming,” “Paranoid”
Why she’s on the list: Peaches excels at making listeners feel naughty with her well-crafted songs of sex and gender bending. It’s a credit to Peaches’ skill that the shock value never wears off. Tasty!
Listen to: “Mommy Complex,” “Two Guys (For Every Girl)”
Why she’s on the list: By harnessing a bevy of chaotic sounds, M.I.A. took over art schools nationwide. Third world is the new first world.
Listen to: “U.R.A.Q.T,” “Boyz”
Why she’s on the list: While no one was looking, Rihanna transformed from a sun-kissed Islands girl to a tough-as-nails robot that couldn’t stop stuttering Umbrella. When everyone was looking she got beat up by Chris Brown, only to release her fourth album months later. Let’s hope this android doesn’t run out of steam anytime soon.
Listen to: “If I Never See Your Face Again,” “Disturbia”
Why she’s on the list: Sasha is the Hulk to Beyoncé’s Bruce Banner. As far as I’m concerned, Ms. Fierce is the one that gave us “Crazy in Love” and “Ring the Alarm”, not Ms. Knowles. You like her when she’s angry.
Listen to: “Diva,” “Ring the Alarm”
Why he’s on the list: Producer, remixer and proper pop star, everything Calvin Harris touches turns to fun!
Watch: “Girls,” “Yeah Yeah Yeah La La”
Why she’s on the list: Through a clever use of radio edits, she simultaneously conquered country and pop music. If a teenage girl needs a friend, T. Swift is there.
Listen to: Just turn on your radio and go to any station.
The Five Worst Popstars of the 00s
For every proper popstar, there are at least a dozen terrible ones waiting around the corner to sully the face of music with their uninspired tunes. The rise of reality TV and the Disney Channel gave tone-deaf record producers plenty of ammo. Dig a trench and avoid these misfires as best you can.
Why she sucks: The glue that holds the worst girl group in history (The Pussycat Dolls, as if you had to ask) together, Nicole released some music videos as a solo artist that were basically porn. Thank God the album never surfaced.
Worst “song”: “When I Grow Up”
Why she sucks: She’s boring, she can’t sing, she’s tacky. These are not the qualities of a popstar.
Worst song: All of them?
Why she sucks: After her creative peak in the late 90′s, Madonna spent this decade releasing bland flavored bubblegum pop, and riding the coattails of younger stars. Let’s put the nail in the coffin, shall we?
Worst “song”: “Spanish Lesson”
Why they suck: They both sold out to reality TV before releasing albums that sounded like crappier versions of everyone else’s music.
Worst songs: “Shadow,” “I Belong to Me” (respectively)
Why she sucks: She’s makes “High School Musical” costar Vanessa Hudgens look good.
Worst song: “Headstrong”
There you have it; a look back at 10 years’ worth of popstars, both good and evil. These are the men and women who helped to make the past decade iconic, memorable and fun. We can only hope that the next decade will deliver us more catchy, creative songs, and go light on the derivative drivel that too often sours the airwaves. Here’s to a brighter tomorrow!Contact Miles Johnson.