Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Noughtie: Most Important Artists

Welcome to Part 19 of the Noughtie series. We're almost there now... this is the final listing before the BIG TWO listings. This is the final preview listing. This listing, is the official preview for the big finale, the Top 100 Most Important Songs of the Decade.

So the artists below, they're not my favourite artists. I like some, not others. But, in my opinion, no other 10 artists made a bigger impact on the decade. Put simply, if none of the 10 artists featured in this listing made music in the decade, this decade wouldn't have been the same. So these artists, as you can imagine, will have a big say on who comes out on top when I count down the Top 100 most important songs of the decade. It's getting serious now, so let's get to business.

#10. Muse
Muse have had a great decade. After their debut album "Showbiz" in '99, which was well received yet relatively green, Muse embarked on a journey to take over the world. "Origin of Symmetry" in 2001 was a fantastic album, and raised a lot of eyebrows in the UK, making Muse one of Britain's promising new acts. "Absolution" in '03 solidified their status of one of Britains best bands. In 2004, Muse's performance at Glastonbury has been seen as one of the most fantastic festival gigs of all time, and was reminiscent of Radiohead the year before. The difference was that Muse were entering their peak, Radiohead were on solid ground around the world.
That's exactly what Muse wanted to do next. They had conquered the UK, but they needed to broaden their horizons. They were barely knocking on the door of the US. But in 2006, "Black Holes and Revelations" was the Jack Torrence axe in the door of the US. They finally turned heads on the grand soil of America. And in 2009, Muse continued this vein of form with "The Resistance" a melodramatic Queen-inspired concept album.
Can Muse do better? Well they haven't had a #1 hit yet. But their music has been consistent, their singles are always great. Their biggest hit is "Supermassive Black Hole", which got to #4. Will they? I do feel it may be a matter of time. They just need to have that one song, the one that is universally well liked and for the charts to go in their favour at the same time. Good luck to them.

#9. Arctic Monkeys

Continuing the theme of UK bands, the Arctic Monkeys have also had a great decade. They only released their first album in 2006 but the three albums released in the decade are all huge hits and have been universally well received critically and have sold very well. Man, the anticipation for "Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not" has never been replicated in the decade, in my opinion. It was the fastest selling debut album in the UK, although I'm unsure if it's still got that record. So many people have called the Arctic Monkeys the new Oasis, which is a huge compliment due to the popularity of the Brit-Pop band. However personally, I believe the band play better music, but this isn't a biased listing!
It's difficult to say where the Arctic Monkeys can go from here. They have produced three great albums, all well received, but they can't seem to penetrate America much. They seem to have come to a bit of a halt, and while they are near the top, it's still a long way they can fall if they get complacent. 2 number 1 hits in a row hasn't been replicated, although "Brianstorm" got to number 1. Here's to Arctic Monkey's fourth album being hopefully the one to get the attention of the Yanks, because they deserve it.

#8. Linkin Park

Here we go, we've gone overseas now. Linkin Park have also had a great decade, in the US and the UK. It's rare for a metal band to have such a large fanbase, especially so early in their career, and they've managed to keep a good amount of those fans to this day. "Hybrid Theory" has sold a ridiculous amount of copies, and is still considered one of the best albums of the decade today. As I said, a metal band like Linkin Park getting this popular is an oddity, but they do take it in their stride. Their two lead singers, Chester Bennington, who does the melodies and the screaming vocals, and Mike Shinoda does the rapping. It's unusal that a band with two lead singers have no ego issues whatsoever. It's also a fantastic combination, I love the songs that have both vocalists play sections of the track (Papercut, Bleed It Out), the two styles really blend fantastically well.
It's hard to really talk more about Linkin Park, they're one of those bands who have just done fantastically well, they've made a lot of money on all their albums and singles, but haven't quite got to the top of the charts. I doubt they will to be honest, especially with their sound slightly tweaking nowadays, to suit a more emo audience (that's not a knock on the band, a lot bands evolve their music to the sound of the moment). Kudos to them.

#7. My Chemical Romance

I've discussed a few times about the fact that I don't like this band. But this is an unbiased listing, and like it or not, My Chemical Romance are one of the outstanding artists of the decade. MCR are one of the flag holders for the emo invastion that surged half way though the decade. Songs like "I'm Not Okay (I Promise)" and "Helena" stapled their status as a band with starpower. Teenage girls cried ovr Gerard Way's looks, and all teenage boys modelled their looks after him. "Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge" is an album that is cemented in the decade's history as a band here to stay.
Then came out "The Black Parade". I've got to admit, an emo band, an emo band doing a concept album, an emo band doing a concept album with "Welcome to the Black Parade" as the debut track off the album getting to #1 was one of the shocks of the decade for me. How did that get to #1 in the UK? It's an extremely unfancied track, it's not particulary catchy. But they did it. Kudos to them.
MCR have enough in the bag to pull a large fanbase in the mid-teens department with the look of the band being the prominent selling point, and their talents as a band being tolerable enough for them to continue in their success in the next decade. I'll never like them though.

#6. Blink-182 
It's funny, Blink-182 haven't actually released an album since 2003, yet they've managed to stay extremely relevant through the decade. Their huge three albums (Enema of the State was released in '99, but in 2000 "All the Small Things" is their biggest hit ever) around the start of the decade has cemented them as one of the greatest punk rival bands of the decade. They tweaked their sound with the last album to appeal to the rise in emo music, yet they still had that punk revival edge to their music. They were, sorry, are, just a very likable band. I mean personally, they're okay, but I don't know many people who dislike the band. They have a very loyal fanbase, who are one of the main reasons why they have got back together in the first place.
"All the Small Things" will not be beat. It's one of the most important songs of the decade, quite how important you'll find out in my final listing, but the video, along with the simple lyrics and soft sounding guitars, makes it incredibly relevant. But they did a lot of good, fantastically received songs. They've had a great decade, although most of the actual music making was in the first half of it.

#5. The Killers

We're approaching the big five now. There's a level up from this moment on I think. The five bands I'm about to mention dominated the decade. We're starting with The Killers. The Killers released three albums last decade, all three of them got to #1 in the UK album charts. All three albums were critical and commercial successes. All three albums had huge hit singles off them. That's quite frankly the reason why they're this high on the list. If you listen to the radio that plays songs from the last 10 years, chances are you will hear these songs. Whether it's "Somebody Told Me", "Mr Brightside", "When You Were Young", "Human", or another track, you will hear them. The Killers rocked the decade harder than most bands. They never got a #1 single in the UK, the closest they got was #2 with "When You Were Young". That will be their next target I'm sure, when they release their new album late this year or early next year.
My thoughts on The Killers? They're okay, they make songs that are radio friendly that I can listen to without any problems. There's no song I can say I love by them though#. But once again, The Killers are one of those bands that seem universally popular, I don't hear many haters of The Killers. Maybe I'm not looking hard enough!

#4. Coldplay

That's right Chris Martin, #4 in the most important listing in the world, Johnny Mercyside's Most Important Artists of the Decade listing. He's proud of that. Seriously though I couldn't help but tag that picture!
Anyway, Coldplay feel like they've been around forever. They're fifteen years old now, which is making me realise how old I am. You can like them or you can hate them, but they owned the decade, especially for Britain. No band really has come close to the success and popularity Coldplay have had. When "Yellow" and "Trouble" became huge hits in the year 2000, you could tell that there was something a wee special about the band, they had something that people found appealing. I don't like Coldplay can I say, but regardless, I could see there was something about them. And every album that came out after "Parachutes", the main single from that album took the charts by storm, took its place in peoples homes. You couldn't get rid of Coldplay when they released every debut track off each album. That's "In My Place", then "Speed of Sound", and then finally, "Viva la Vida". Coldplay released "In My Place", crossing their fingers for a #1 hit. It got to #2, beaten by Darius! Remember him!. I#m sure they were absolutely gutted!. Then "Speed of Sound"... got to #2 again. What was #1? Crazy Frog! Bwahaha! Ahem. Sorry. Yes so the streak continued, Coldplay never got a #1 hit. Until... "Viva la Vida" came out. Finally, Coldplay got to #1 in the UK. It also got to #1 in the US, the first time an artist from the UK had done so since the Spice Girls. Absolutely well fucking done. I mean I don't like Coldplay but it's nice when we can crack the US. And Coldplay did that. That's why they're the highest rated band from the UK in this chart. So that means that the other three must be American bands then. Maybe. Anyway, let's go.

#3. Kings of Leon

Kings of Leon were a huge triumph in the decade. They took country music, throttled it into todays garage rock and alternative rock music scene, and made it cool again. The three brothers and cousin from Nashville, Tennessee, home of country music, started off as one of those cool bands that produced high quality singles and very good albums. They became quite popular in the UK, more so than in the US, where their success was slowly built. Songs like "Molly's Chambers", "The Bucket" and "On Call" always made sure they were strong in the UK, while all their albums have gotten in the top 3 in the UK charts. Kings of Leon were hard to dislike, liked to swap beards and hair, and just be a great fucking band.
And then "Sex on Fire" came out. When that song got released, everything changed. Everyone was obsessed with that track, everyone was obsessed with this band. Kings of Leon had made it. The song got to #1 in the UK, it became everyone's favourite song to sing on kareoke, and spent a ridiculous amount of time in the charts. If you live in the UK and was listening to music in 2008 and have never heard this song then you are stupid. "Use Somebody" got released when America stopped sleeping and the Yanks finally paid attention, it got to #4 there and #2 here, resulting in two very strong singles in a row. Kings of Leon also started rocking brilliant tours, they were on top of the world. I can't say any of the bands on this list finish the decade as strong as Kings of Leon do.

#2. Green Day

I'm going to make a confession here. The top three you are going to see today are not in the order they were when I started writing this. The top three have changed places a lot, and I've decided on this. I can't change it now. Disagree? You can debate that.
Anyway, Blink-182 were not the biggest punk rock revival band of the decade. Green Day was. They have tweaked their sound to appeal to a broader audience, and their last two albums have sold a ridiculous amount of records. "American Idiot", if I actually did compile the biggest albums of the decade, probably would have got the #1 spot. Green Day were always in their comfort zone, releasing albums that were quite successful, releasing tracks that were well received, all the way to to "Warning". Green Day were a band that people could depend on to make decent records yet never penetrate the commercial charts. When "American Idiot" came out, everything changed, they became this band that everyone wanted to see, especially live. They were known for their fantastic live sets, and all the singles off the album were just made out of gold, in the critics eye. They made fantastic videos, especially "Wake Me Up When September Ends", everyone loved Green Day. They started to become one of those bands that people hated for being so popular, you know you're doing something right when that happens. And "20th Century Breakdown" may have had mixed reviews, but the album sold fantastically, and "Know Your Enemy" was a decent hit too. Green Day were untouchable towards the middle of the decade, and that's why they're #2.

Before I talk about #1, I just want to talk about some artists that miss out on this chart. Oasis and U2 both had the most amount of #1 hits in the decade. Why aren't they on the list? Can you tell me that they produced huge albums, that were critically and commerically well received? Their singles got to #1, some of their albums did too, but they never maintained the popularity after their released materials surfaced. There aren't a great deal of songs by either artist that really stand out, not as much as the artists above. And artists like Metallica and Kid Rock sold loads and loads of albums, without really denting the singles charts. The same rule applies, very few of their tracks really stand out. I didn't want to include artists like Eminem and Jay-Z as this is predominantely a rock and metal listing, and didn't want rap to take the spotlight. I still pay homage to these alternative rappers in other listings though.

So who's #1? Unfortunately, it's...

#1. Nickelback

Don't hate me, I come in peace. I just can't see past Nickelback really, as the most important artist of the decade. They rocked it from start to finish, consistently in America and the UK. They had loads of hits, they had well received albums, and they've maintained and grew their fanbase. They're definitely the most consistent band of the decade, starting it from "How You Remind Me", easily one of the biggest songs of the decade, and "Silver Side Up" was a mega hit. "Too Bad" was the second single and was also a Top 10 hit in the UK. First single off "The Long Road" ensured that "Someday" would be a huge hit on both sides of the pond, and "Photograph" was a big hit in the UK, and a #1 hit in the US, the first single off "All the Right Reasons".
But the mega hit? The song that wouldn't leave radio stations, music video stations and DFS adverts? "Rockstar". Although it got to #2, the track has gone triple platinum and is one of the most played tracks of the decade. Put it this way, "Bleeding Love" by Leona Lewis was #1 at the time, and while that will be remembered as one of the biggest pop songs, I can see "Rockstar" being remembered better in 10 years time.
The daunting thing for me, as someone who hates Nickelback (although I do have a soft spot for "Rockstar" and "Figured You Out") is the idea that they will be in the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame in the future. If they continue to be relevant, and I can't see them going away, it's only a matter of time. I can see it happening in around 15 or 20 years. And it's quite depressing really. But at the same time, there are so many people who will disagree, that they are a great rock band. That they deserve some respect. They have a lot of haters, they really do, yet it doesn't knock their confidence, or their popularity. They are definitely the rock equivalent of say Justin Bieber or The Jonas Brothers. I just mentioned those two artists on this site, and now people can google their names and get directed here. Shit.

Anyway, there we go. Do you agree? Disagree? Let me know your thoughts. These 10 artists have been very relevant, have sold loads of singles and loads of albums, and have had critical and commercial successes throughout the decade. But am I missing someone? Would you change the order? Should the likes of Oasis, U2 and Metallica have had a place in here and my reasons for leaving them out unjustified? Let me know, comment below. Otherwise I'll be back on Friday, with the final mixtape, the best of a mediocre year in 2009. Take care.

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