Welcome to The 50, a Rhapsody scheme in which we attempt to compile the biggest, best, most historically remarkable songs of every year. Our list of 50 tracks -- presented here in no particular order, ideally flowing like a time-traveling DJ set -- has been argued over and (grudgingly) agreed upon by our full editorial staff. Please enjoy.
Ah, 2000. At the turn of the new millennium, we were all very busy. We were busy "surviving" the Y2K bug. We were busy "electing" George W. Bush (seriously? did that really happen?!). We were busy downloading music from free (though illegal) file-sharing sites. But mostly, we were apparently busy listening to a LOT of hip-hop. And hip-hop artists were very busy keeping us supplied with a vast wealth of tracks -- and infiltrating just about every other genre at the same time. Backpacker and indie hop were blooming all around the country, from the West Coast (see: Jurassic 5) to the East Coast (see: Dead Prez) to the Midwest (see: Slum Village). Meanwhile, the South was hitting its stride in various locales, from C-Murder in NOLA to Three 6 Mafia in Memphis, from Luda in ATL to Nelly in STL (we know -- technically not the South, but Nelly's singsongy "country grammar" style played up St. Louis' southern exposure). In the mainstream arena, artists like Lil Kim, Da Brat and Trina were reminding us that female emcees could be a force to be reckoned with, while emcees like DMX and Jay Z were getting downright pop-friendly with their dancefloor-ready club cuts.
Similarly, stars like Destiny's Child, P!nk and even 'NSYNC were incorporating hefty hip-hop elements into their R&B-infused pop. In fact, "pop" itself was becoming a very diverse space, one that included country artists like Faith Hill and The Dixie Chicks, alt rock(ish) stars like Coldplay, dance-friendly R&B singers like Debelah Morgan, Latin crossovers like Ricky Martin and electronic oddlings like Moby. In the straight-up dance pop category, we were immersed in the era of the former (Disney) child star-turned-kinda adult pop star, à la Britney, Christina and myriad boy bands.
Rock was also a pretty diverse landscape, encompassing hardcore and pop punk acts like At the Drive-In and blink-182; mopey indie rockers like Yo La Tengo and Radiohead; ferocious grrrl acts like Sleater-Kinney and PJ Harvey; and all manner of post-grunge/metal-tinged hard rock, from 3 Doors Down to Creed. Meanwhile, R&B was having a very neo moment, with artists like Erykah Badu and Jill Scott dropping old-soul grooves that synced up nicely with similarly hued cuts by indie hip-hoppers like Common. But the truth is, the thing that was keeping us all the busiest, that occupied our minds, that kept us all up at night in 2000 was one simple yet mind-boggling question: Who let the dogs out? Who? Who? Who? Who?