The start of the new millennium was difficult for the music industry. Online file sharing, artists bypassing record labels, and the widespread closure of record stores all affected. Yet, it did not stop pop music to prosper and launch new male artists to stardom. Here are some of the top male pop stars who rocked the charts in the 2000s.
Ludacris is arguably the most successful and influential rapper who benefitted from the rise of the Dirty South movement at the start of the new century. In 2000, he signed to Def Jam South and became the rap subsidiary’s flagship artist. His first studio album, ‘Back for the First Time,’ featured the massive hit ‘What’s Your Fantasy?” It was only the start as he spawned hit after hit singles, such as ‘Stand Up,’ ‘Money Maker’ and ‘Runaway Love.’
Touting his captivating, soulful vocals, Akon launched a series of hits, crossing from different genres, from R&B to hip-hop, dance and pop. His debut album ‘Trouble’ was released in 2004 and produced hits, such as ‘Lonely’ and ‘Locked Up.’ His sophomore album, ‘Konvicted’ enjoyed even more significant success. It featured collaborations with famous artists Snoop Dogg in ‘I Wanna Love You’ and Eminem in ‘Smack That.’
Ne-Yo actually entered the pop scene as a songwriter for the smash hit ‘Let Me Love You’ by Mario in 2004. It wasn’t long enough for Ne-Yo to make a name for himself as an artist. Two years later, he released his debut album ‘In My Own Words,’ which gave him his smash hit ‘So Sick.’ He released two other albums, ‘Because Of You’ in 2007 and ‘Year Of The Gentleman’ in 2008, with the latter giving him a Grammy award for the Best Contemporary R&B Album category.
4. Enrique Iglesias
Enrique Iglesias is a multi-platinum pop artist renowned for his musical versatility in both the Spanish and English language. A year before the start of the new millennium, he released ‘Enrique,’ his first English album and spawned the hit ‘Bailamos’ for the flick Wild Wild West. In 2001, he sold over 10 million records worldwide through his album, ‘Escape,’ that solidified his status as one of the best bilingual artists of the decade.
5. Lil Wayne
Starting as a preteen rapper delivering Dirty South sound to becoming a more mature and prolific artist brimmed with witty and dense rhymes, the 2000s saw Lil Wayne launch into stardom. While his first two albums in the decade, ‘Lights Out’ and ‘500 Degreez’, gained minor attention. He started to get noticed through his Carter series, ‘Tha Carter’ in 2004, ‘Tha Carter II’ in 2006, and finally his best-selling record ever, ‘Tha Carter III’ in 2008.
6. Robbie Williams
Sustaining a pop career that lasted for almost three decades, Robbie Williams sure has left a mark in the 2000s. He’s one of the most prosperous artists that hailed from the U.K., selling over 75 million records worldwide and responsible for the smash hits, ‘Rock D.J.,’ ‘Feel,’ and ‘Eternity.’ Aside from the chart-topping singles, William is also renowned for his charismatic live performances that broke records during his time.
7. Jesse McCartney
In the turn of the century, Jesse McCartney morphed from a teen heartthrob to a renowned pop performer. In 2004, he released his debut album ‘Beautiful Soul’, which single of the same name instantly became a worldwide hit. McCartney tried to shift to rock style in his sophomore album, ‘Right Where You Want Me’ but earned minimal success. He regained popularity again through his third album, ‘Departure’, which featured ‘Leavin” his biggest hit to date.
8. Aaron Carter
Aaron Carter debuted in the late nineties and gained popularity in Germany, Australia and the United Kingdom. But, it was in 2000 when Aaron had his most successful album internationally, ‘Aaron’s Party (Come Get It), which reached 3x Platinum status. It sold over 3 million copies in the U.S. alone. A colossal feat, Guinness Book of World Records cites Carter as the youngest singer to spawn four successive top ten singles in the United Kingdom.
9. Jay Sean
Renowned for his dynamic singing and songwriting, Jay Sean delivered international smash hits like ‘Maybe’ and ‘Ride It’ in the late 2000s. However, his most significant break happened when he signed a deal with Cash Money Records and released his catchy electro-pop R&B single ‘Down That catapulted him to the mainstream pop scene in the United States.
10. Daniel Bedingfield
Daniel Bedingfield is a contemporary singer-songwriter who made a name for himself during the early 2000s. His debut album, ‘Gonna Get Thru This,’ produced the hit of the same name, which was a dance-R&B-pop hybrid. His next two hit singles sported a whole new different sound, the ballad ‘Never Gonna Leave Your Side,’ and the love song ‘If You’re Not The One.’
11. Jason Mraz
Jason Mraz is a witty wordsmith with a dynamic sound, crossing different genres, like Reggae, Jazz, Rap, Scat and Pop. Since he entered the mainstream in 2002 with his single ‘The Remedy (Don’t Worry), he continued to craft songs with enticing melodies and lyrics blending humor and honesty. Other of his hit singles include ‘A Beautiful Mess,’ ‘Geek In The Pink,’ and ‘I’m Yours.’
12. Michael Bubble
Drawing inspiration from classical singers like Tony Bennett and Frank Sinatra, Michael Buble became the crooner of the new millennium. He launched into popularity through his jazz standards and adult contemporary pop singles. In 2003, he released his major-label self-titled debut album, which helped him win the ‘New Artist of the Year’ at the Junos. Four years later, his album ‘Call Me Irresponsible’ cracked the Billboards and earned him his first Grammy for the Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album category.
13. John Mayer
John Mayer rose to popularity through his Grammy-award winning hit ‘Your Body Is A Wonderland’ in 2002. The song was off of his debut album, ‘Room for Squares, which peaked at number nine in the Billboard 200 charts. Since then, John Mayer started to explore with his musical approach and went from adult-contemporary to blues-rock, soul and pop in the process. He won another of his multiple Grammys for the song ‘Daughters’ from his album’ Heavier Things’ in 2005.
A whip-smart rapper with pop appeal, Nelly debuted in 2000 with his album ‘Country Grammar’ and produced the hit ‘Hot.’ He continued to scorch the hit chards spawning hit after hit like ‘Grillz,’ ‘Hot In Herre,’ and ‘Dilemma’ with Kelly Rowland. His distinct twangy rapping approach, blending urban and country simultaneously, is what set him apart from other rappers in the decade.
15. 50 Cent
50 Cent lived a relatively dramatic life before his rise in 2003. His mother died from a drug deal, and he was shot nine times before even releasing his first album in the turn of the century. Thanks to Eminem, 50 Cent signed to Shady Records and rose quickly to success through the hit song ‘In Da Club.’ His lyrical content, like most rappers, centered on actual experiences, such as crimes, drugs, and imprisonments.
16. Jay Z
With a prosperous career starting in the nineties, Jay Z was inescapable at the start of the new century. In 2001, he released yet another successful album, ‘The Blueprint.’ While the events before the record’s release were controversial, it solidified Jay Z’s status as one of the best rappers in the music pop, banking on his pop, confessional, expressive, and unfading music.
Usher has been a force in the pop R&B scene in the early 1990s. By the 2000s, he scored massive sales and remained as one of the prominent figures in his genre. He released the album 8701 in 2001 and spawned hit singles, ‘U Got It Bad,’ ‘U Don’t Have To Call,’ and ‘U Remind Me.’ The latter won Usher his first Grammy for the Best Male R&B Vocal Performance category.
18. Kanye West
Kanye West was first renowned producing smash hits for major artists, like Jay Z, Ludacris and Alicia Keys. While he had worked on an album for himself, its launch was delayed numerous times. Finally, in 2004, he released his debut solo record ‘The College Dropout’ and transformed him into a star. It focused on themes, like education, racism, consumerism, and his religious stands.
19. Justin Timberlake
First gaining popularity as the lead vocalist of the ’90s pop band ‘Nsync’, Justin Timberlake embarked on a solo career in 2002 with his debut album, Justified, and received critical acclaim. Deviating from the teen pop style, Timberlake dwelled on a heavy R&B approach and produced hits, such as ‘Rock Your Body’ and ‘Cry Me A River.’ The album peaked at top two of the Billboard charts and sold over 7 million copies worldwide.
With his rapid, flawless, and nimble style, Eminem quickly became one of the greatest rappers of his generation. Clearly, it was the Eminem show in the 2000s as the white boy rapper sold over 32 million albums, beating household names, ‘Nsync, Britney Spears, and the Beatles. What made Slim Shady stand out is that he never held back on integrating controversial issues in his work. Then, blending it his incredible musicality, Eminem brought a new way of how rap should sound.
Amidst all the issues that haunted the music industry, these male artists found a way to break into the mainstream and made the 2000s a vibrant decade. Who’s your favorite of them all?