Do you remember the music of the 2000s? It doesn’t feel that long ago, but a lot has happened since those early days of the internet. Remember Heelys, Blockbuster, and Lip Smacker? These were all kind of a big deal back then.
Of course, the best music is always represented by the best singers, and in this guide, we look at the best 2000s singers and popular music artists.
Beyoncé Giselle “Queen Bey” Knowles-Carter is considered one of the greatest entertainers of her generation, and while she remains prolific to this day, in the 2000s, she would appear on Destiny’s Child’s Survivor, 8 Days of Christmas, and Destiny Fulfilled, as well as Dangerously in Love, B’Day, and I Am… Sasha Fierce as a solo artist.
And let’s face it – that transition from Destiny’s Child’s lead singer to solo artist was pivotal.
And speaking of pivotal, how about those 2000s Beyoncé bangers? “Survivor,” “Bootylicious,” “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It),” and “Telephone” to name a few.
Good-looking, ultra-talented, and popular. What more could a guy ask for? And having found fame, John Mayer played it up, sometimes just to entertain his spontaneous whims.
At his parent’s urging, Mayer would enroll in the Berklee College of Music in 1997 instead of skipping college altogether to pursue music. It didn’t stick. After two semesters, Mayer left college and headed straight to Atlanta to form a duo called LoFi Masters.
That didn’t stick either, so Mayer finally decided it was time to go solo. He got some help from local producer Glenn Matullo to put together his independent EP, Inside Wants Out.
In the early 2000s, Mayer would benefit from an online following, which got the attention of Aware Records. Aware would release Mayer’s internet-only album, Room for Squares. It ended up being somewhat of a sleeper hit, but sure enough, it produced several radio hits, including “Why Georgia,” “No Such Thing,” and “Your Body Is a Wonderland.”
Mayer would follow it up with Heavier Things in 2003, Continuum in 2006, and Battle Studies in 2009. During this time, Mayer would also form the John Mayer Trio, which has technically never disbanded, though they only have one live album to their name.
Mayer remains steady in his career overall and had several releases through the 2010s and one in the 2020s as well.
Award-winning classically trained pianist and singer-songwriter Alicia Keys may have gotten her start in the mid-90s, but her breakthrough success would not arrive until 2001, with Songs in A Minor.
The argument could certainly be made that the rest is history, but the 2000s would also see the release of The Diary of Alicia Keys in 2003, As I Am in 2007, and The Element of Freedom in 2009.
See “Fallin’,” “A Woman’s Worth,” “If I Ain’t Got You,” “Butterflyz,” “How Come You Don’t Call Me,” “Superwoman,” and “Put It in a Love Song.”
Speaking of guys that seem to have it all, there’s Australian/American country superstar Keith Urban. He can’t seem to teach a guitar lesson to save his life (although he tries), but that is negligible considering his prowess as a singer and guitarist, not to mention his good looks.
Urban’s music career has its roots in the 1990s. In his early years, he would sign to EMI in Australia, release his self-titled album, win awards, sing backing vocals on INXS’s “Shining Star,” appear in music videos, and more.
While many artists seem to experience tumultuous ups and downs and “paying their dues” on the way to the top, Urban’s trajectory is more like a steady upward climb to the top.
In the 2000s, we would see the release of Golden Road (2002), Be Here (2004), Love, Pain & the Whole Crazy Thing (2006), and Defying Gravity (2009).
If you haven’t heard songs like “Somebody Like You,” “Who Wouldn’t Wanna Be Me,” “You’re My Better Half,” “Once in a Lifetime,” and “Sweet Thing,” you’re either living under a rock or you’re just not a country fan (which his excusable).
Singer, songwriter, and actress P!nk got her start with the R&B girl group Choice, along with Chrissy Conway and Sharon Flanagan. Once record executive, record producer, and A&R representative L.A. Reid got wind of their work, he signed them to a record deal.
Things weren’t okay with Choice, though, because while they did record an album, it was never released. Reid told P!nk it was time to go solo, or she wouldn’t have a career. Even if it was an ultimatum, Reid was right, because P!nk’s first solo single, “There You Go,” would go on to become her first top 10 hit.
The 2000s would prove fruitful for P!nk, who released Can’t Take Me Home, Missundaztood, Try This, I’m Not Dead, and Funhouse.
Check out “Don’t Let Me Get Me,” “Family Portrait,” “Who Knew,” and “So What.”
Robbie Williams experienced breakthrough success in the late 90s. The path to that point, however, wasn’t exactly trouble-free. Besides joining the boy band Take That and releasing music, his drug and alcohol habit would quickly escalate, nearly to the point of overdose.
Williams didn’t like all the ballads he felt he was forced to sing in the group and didn’t think his input was being taken seriously. The group decided to pre-empt Williams’ departure and shared with him their intentions to tour without him. Williams left the group in 1995.
Williams would soon garner the attention of the press, however. It didn’t hurt that he was seen hobnobbing with the members of the English rock band Oasis at the Glastonbury Festival. He shared his plans to go solo with the press, though he would end up having to face legal battles with Take That before finally securing the right to start his solo career.
In the late 90s, Williams would release Life thru a Lens and I’ve Been Expecting You. But with his former troubles behind him, Williams would embrace the 2000s, which ended up being his most prolific period, with six studio albums.
His 2000 release, Sing When You’re Winning alone would spawn multiple hits like “Rock DJ,” “Kids,” and “Better Man.”
Canadian singer and songwriter Avril Lavigne signed a two-album contract with Arista Records at the tender age of 16. Her debut album, Let Go, featuring the singles “Complicated” and “Sk8er Boi” went on to become the best-selling album of the 21st century by a Canadian artist.
Let Go, of course, came out in 2002, and the 2000s were foundational for the then-young up-and-comer. Lavigne would make good with 2004’s Under My Skin and 2007’s The Best Damn Thing. Lavigne has remained active throughout the 2010s and 2020s as well.
Also see “I’m with You,” “Take Me Away,” “Together,” “Fall to Pieces,” “Forgotten,” and “Keep Holding On.”
Singer, songwriter, and actress Lady Gaga is considered one of the most versatile acts in the entertainment industry. Her early Halloween antics would largely be labeled brilliant retrospectively.
Lady Gaga’s music career did not get underway until 2005, however, and her breakthrough would not arrive until 2008 with The Fame and the 2009 reissue, The Fame Monster.
Her rise to fame, though, would be stratospheric. And with bangers like “Poker Face,” “Just Dance,” “Bad Romance,” and “Telephone,” who’s left to argue the point (yes, that was a rhetorical question)?
Best known as the lead singer, pianist, and rhythm guitarist of Coldplay, Chris Martin is a singer, songwriter, musician, and philanthropist.
Co-founding Coldplay in 1996, the band would lay the groundwork to becoming an international sensation in 2000 with their debut album, Parachutes.
During the 2000s, Coldplay would also release A Rush of Blood to the Head in 2002, X&Y in 2005, and Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends in 2008.
Bands like Imagine Dragons, Snow Patrol, The Fray, OneRepublic, Maroon 5, James Blunt, Keane, and others all owe something to the sound of Coldplay, which is owing a great deal to Radiohead and U2. But on that basis alone, Martin can certainly be considered widely influential.
For a trip down memory lane, see “Yellow,” “The Scientist,” “Viva La Vida,” and “Clocks.”
Colombian singer and songwriter Shakira would first breakthrough into the Latin scene in the mid-90s to early 2000s. She would then begin to find success with an English-speaking audience in 2001 with “Whenever, Wherever.”
Following the release of Laundry Service in 2001, ageless beauty Shakira would go on to release Fijación Oral, Vol. 1 as well asOral Fixation, Vol. 2 in 2005, and She Wolf in 2009. Shakira has continued her success streak into the 2010s and the 2020s as well.
If you need a refresher, I recommend “Hips Don’t Lie,” “Don’t Bother,” and “Give It Up to Me.”
Singer, songwriter, and pianist Norah Jones has sold more than 50 million records worldwide. The most crucial period in her career was undoubtedly the 2000s, as she was ultimately named the top jazz artist of the 2000s and made it to number 60 on Billboard’s artists of the 2000s chart.
Jones’ career would get a bit of a push after meeting and working with Peter Malick. Jones would go on to sign with Blue Note in New York City where she began to blaze her career trail.
In the 2000s, Jones would release Come Away with Me in 2002, Feels Like Home in 2004, Not Too Late in 2007, and The Fall in 2009.
I don’t think singer-songwriter Taylor Swift needs much of an introduction. Her songwriting career began at the tender age of 14, and by 2005 she had signed with Big Machine Records to become a country artist.
Her 2000s releases, Taylor Swift, and Fearless, of course, would be marked by the country-pop style that would propel her to superstardom.
I know people like to make a big deal about how artists reinvent themselves, but moving from country pop to pop is not a big leap by any stretch of the imagination, so let’s leave that part alone.
Swift would lay the foundations of her career in the 2000s, with “Teardrops On My Guitar,” “You Belong With Me,” and “Love Story” being some of her best from the time.
Jamaican rapper, singer, and actor Sean Paul is among one of the most prolific artists in the genres of dancehall and reggae, with most of his albums being nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album.
Paul would get his start in the mid-90s, collaborating with Jeremy Harding and gradually gaining local attention. His second album, Dutty Rock, would receive heavy airplay and rotation on BET and MTV.
His first single, “Gimme the Light,” would become an international hit, reaching number seven on the Billboard Hot 100.
Sean Paul would release Stage One, Dutty Rock, The Trinity, and Imperial Blaze, all in the 2000s.
English singer and songwriter Amy Winehouse would, unfortunately, be one of a handful of famous musicians whose life would be tragically cut short. She would join the likes of Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, and Jim Morrison in the 27 Club in 2011.
The Amy Winehouse effect, for better or for worse, is like that of a religious martyr figure, and modern artists – especially English and Irish singers but also Australian, American, and Canadian singers – owe a great deal to her singing style.
Think Lewis Capaldi, Adele, Sam Smith, James Arthur, Dean Lewis, James Bay, Tones and I, and Shawn Mendes, among many others.
If you need to study up again, see “In My Bed,” “What Is It About Men,” “Stronger Than Me,” “You Know I’m No Good,” “Rehab,” and “Tears Dry On Their Own.”
Singer, songwriter, actress, and TV personality Christina “Voice of a Generation” Aguilera rose to fame in 1999 with her debut album with familiar singles like “Genie in a Bottle” and “What a Girl Wants.”
Effectively, in the 2000s, her career was just beginning. Aguilera would release Mi Reflejo, My Kind of Christmas, Stripped, and Back to Basics, of which Stripped was probably the most influential and telling of future career moves as well.
See “Beautiful,” “Stripped,” “Can’t Hold Us Down,” and the sizzling hot “Dirrty.”
Best known as the lead singer of emo-drenched hybrid nu-metal rock band Linkin Park, singer Chester Bennington demonstrated that as a vocalist he could go from gentle to screaming at the drop of a pin.
Before Linkin Park, Bennington had stints with Sean Dowdell and His Friends? As well as Grey Daze. Bennington nearly quit music altogether before Zomba Music A&R rep Jeff Blue set up an audition for him with Xero, the band that would eventually become Linkin Park.
The band spent the better part of five years working on their debut album, Hybrid Theory, but their effort paid off, as the album went on to sell more than 4.8 million copies in its debut year (of 2000) alone.
A case could certainly be made that Hybrid Theory represented some of their strongest work, but the Park would also release Meteora in 2003, and Minutes to Midnight in 2007.
If you need a refresher, see “In the End,” “One Step Closer,” “Crawling,” “Bleed It Out,” and “Numb.”
As the highest-grossing female artist worldwide, singer, songwriter, and actress Madonna hardly needs an introduction. Some might think her highest period of production was in the 80s and 90s, but she has remained very relevant through the 2000s, 2010s, and even into the 2020s.
In the 2000s, we would see the release of four studio albums – Music, American Life, Confessions on a Dance Floor, and Hard Candy.
All her releases did well, but 2005’s Confessions on a Dance Floor was a huge winner, and her Confessions Tour would become the highest-grossing for a female artist at the time. You might recall “Hung Up,” “Sorry,” “Get Together,” and “Jump.”
There was a time when Gwen Stefani was best known as the lead singer of No Doubt, I’m not sure that’s the case anymore. If she’d reached the stratosphere with No Doubt, her solo career sent her straight through the stratosphere in the 2000s.
No Doubt would still release Return of Saturn in 2000 and Rock Steady in 2001, but the band would go on hiatus shortly after, prompting Stefani to embark upon a solo career in 2004.
Her debut studio album, Love. Angel. Music. Baby. Would spawn multiple recognizable hits, including “Hollaback Girl,” “What You Waiting For?,” “Rich Girl,” and “Cool.”
Her second solo album, The Sweet Escape, also did all right for her.
Having won the first season of American Idol, singer, songwriter, author, and TV personality Kelly Clarkson would rise to fame in 2002. Her debut single, “A Moment Like This,” would rise to the top of the US Billboard Hot 100 and was even the country’s best-selling single of the year.
Her 2003 debut, Thankful, was soon to follow and it debuted at the top of the Billboard 200 chart.
Clarkson decided that she wanted a new image, though, so she would go pop rock with her 2004 release, Breakaway, which spawned multiple hits, like “Since U Been Gone,” “Behind These Hazel Eyes,” and “Because of You.”
Her career would get off to a running start, and she would follow up with two additional albums in the 2000s – My December, and All I Ever Wanted. Clarkson’s release schedule remains steady and consistent to this day.
Canadian singer and songwriter Michael Bublé has helped renew public interest in traditional pop standards and the Great American Songbook.
His debut album would make it into the top 10 in Canada and the United Kingdom in 2003. Subsequent releases would only help him expand his reach into the U.S. and Australia.
In his early career, he would release BaBalu in 2001 and Dream in 2002. 2003’s Michael Bublé would be his breakthrough, and in the 2000s, he would also release It’s Time, Caught in the Act, Call Me Irresponsible, and Crazy Love.
Some fantastic moments include “Fever,” “Cry Me a River,” “Me and Mrs. Jones,” “Lost,” “Save the Last Dance for Me,” “Sway,” “Everything,” “Home,” “Haven’t Met You Yet,” and “Feeling Good.”
Mariah “Songbird Supreme” Carey is a singer, songwriter, record producer, and actress possessing an astounding five-octave vocal range with command over her whistle register.
Carey would find success in 1990 with her self-titled debut album, with five singles reaching the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart. You could say the rest is history, but the full-frontal vocal assault would continue well into the 2000s, which ended up being a very productive period for her.
In the 2000s, we would see the release of Glitter, Charmbracelet, The Emancipation of Mimi, E=MC², and Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel.
Now, the early 2000s would come to represent a bit of a slump for Carey, as the 2001 romantic musical drama Glitter, and its soundtrack, both flopped. Carey would return to the top with The Emancipation of Mimi, however, especially with the release of “We Belong Together,” which made it to the top of the Billboard Top 100.
Having found success as an actress in the 90s, actress, dancer, and singer Jennifer Lopez (or J.Lo) would go on to launch her music career in 1999 with her debut studio album, On the 6. This album helped paved the way for the Latin invasion of the late 90s and early 2000s.
Lopez would continue her work as an actress while maintaining a relatively prolific release schedule in the 2000s with J.Lo, This Is Me… Then, Rebirth, Como Ama una Mujer, and Brave.
The 2000s would not prove the most successful period for Lopez, though Como Ama una Mujer garnered the highest first-week sales for a debut Spanish album in the U.S. The 2000s were nevertheless foundational for Lopez, who found prominence once again by becoming a judge of American Idol and releasing Love? in 2011.
You may recall “Love Don’t Cost a Thing,” “Jenny from the Block,” “I’m Real,” “Get Right,” “All I Have,” “Ain’t It Funny,” and “Play.”
R&B singer-songwriter and recording artist Usher started singing in local singing competitions at the tender age of 12. His self-titled 1994 debut album, Usher, was a modest success with the singles “Can U Get wit It,” “Think of You,” and “The Many Ways.”
There was a bit of a backlash, because upon the release of the album, Usher was only 15, and he was singing about sex – something the public didn’t immediately accept.
It was enough of a push for him to reach new plateaus of success, however, and his second album, My Way, helped him reach the top of the charts with “Nice & Slow.” “You Make Me Wanna…” and “My Way” did all right too.
In the 2000s, Usher would release three studio albums – 8701, Confessions, and Here I Stand.
Some of his standout hits from the time include “Yeah!” “My Boo,” and “Love in this Club.”
In his early days, singer, record producer, and entrepreneur Akon built a relationship with music mogul Devyne Stephens. Akon would regularly turn to Stephens for mentorship, and Stephens would eventually sign him to his production company.
Akon’s 2004 studio debut, Trouble, spawned multiple singles – “Locked Up,” “Lonely,” “Belly Dancer (Bananza),” “Ghetto,” and “Pot of Gold.”
Akon ultimately got his start in the early- to mid-2000s, which proved foundational to the success he enjoys today. We saw the release of Trouble in 2004, Konvicted in 2006, and Freedom in 2008.
Singer, songwriter, and actress Miley “Pop Chameleon” Cyrus is one of few child stars who would also go on to remain successful as an adult. In the 2000s, she would be regarded as the “Teen Queen” of pop culture.
In the mid to late 2000s, Cyrus would take on the role of Hannah Montana, a name that would practically become synonymous with Miley Cyrus.
Those Hannah Montana records ended up doing quite well for her, paving the way for her future success as a solo artist.
In the 2000s, we’d see the release of Hannah Montana in 2006, Hannah Montana 2 in 2007, Hannah Montana: The Movie in 2009, and Hannah Montana 3 also in 2009.
While her career may not have followed the trajectory of a Miley Cyrus, Hilary Duff’s most prolific period as a singer was indeed in the 2000s, with four solo albums, including Santa Claus Lane, Metamorphosis, Hilary Duff, and Dignity.
Her concert tours all took place in the 2000s as well – Metamorphosis Tour, Most Wanted Tour, Still Most Wanted Tour, and Dignity Tour.
Of course, Duff has had a more prolific career in TV and film, and How I Met Your Mother fans will recognize her as Sophie Tompkins in the Hulu spin-off How I Met Your Father.
Singer, songwriter, rapper, actor, dancer, and record producer Ne-Yo was originally part of an R&B group called Envy. The group disbanded in 2000, but Ne-Yo was determined to get a foothold in the music industry, writing songs for other artists before kickstarting his solo career.
Though he was signed to Columbia Records, they ended up dropping him before he could release his first album. R&B singer Marques Houston got wind of Ne-Yo’s “That Girl,” however, and when he released it as a single in 2003, Ne-Yo gained widespread recognition as a songwriter.
Ne-Yo would continue to write, and when he wrote Mario’s “Let Me Love You,” it became a number-one hit, ultimately leading Jay-Z to sign Ne-Yo.
Ne-Yo’s time had finally come, and in 2006, he released his debut album, In My Own Words. The album spawned several respectable hits, including “So Sick,” “When You’re Mad,” and “Sexy Love.”
Ne-Yo would follow it up with Because of You in 2007, and Year of the Gentleman in 2008.
Country singer Carrie Underwood was the winner of the fourth season of American Idol in 2005. Her debut single, “Inside Your Heaven,” rose to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart, a feat never before achieved by a new artist. Not to mention, she became the only solo country artist in the 2000s to have a chart-topping song on the Hot 100.
In 2005, she would release her debut album, Some Hearts. Crossover singles like “Jesus, Take the Wheel” and “Before He Cheats” helped it become the best-selling solo female debut album ever in country music.
Her unprecedented success only grew with two additional 2000s releases – 2007’s Carnival Ride and 2009’s Play On. And these only set the stage for what was to come in the 2010s and the 2020s, which have proven very productive for Underwood so far.
Top 2000s Singers, Final Thoughts
Who are your favorite singers? What do you like most about them?
The above are undoubtedly some of the most widely recognized and influential, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t other great singers out there. Keep exploring if you’re curious.
We hope you enjoyed this guide, and we’ll see you again soon.