Stay Classy…The Top Entertainers of the 00s

brent johnson looks at the top musicians, actors and artists from the Aughts …

This decade’s pop-culture is hard to define.

The ’60s were about rebirth and rebellion — the British Invasion, flower power, Bonnie & Clyde, The Graduate. The ’70s were about introspection and flare — singer-songwriters, disco, punk, The Godfather, Star Wars. The ’80s were about glitz and excess — Duran Duran, synthesizers, John Hughes. The ’90s were about sturdiness –college rock, Seinfeld, Titanic.

The Aughts? There was a lot of pop and rap. Reality television. The Matrix. Transformers. Paris Hilton. What the hell will people remember about the ’00s a decade from now?

Looking back, it was really a mixed bag of everything. It’s the age where the Internet took over, where we could search for everything in a second. And with the world at our fingertips, we searched for things that grabbed our attention quickly. Lady Gaga, Lou Bega, Rock Of Love.

So the performers of the decade? To me, they’re the ones who were omnipresent — on TV, radio, films, magazines.

1. Will Ferrell

He started the decade as the last true breakout star of SNL. From there? He lorded over the loud, random, hilarious blowhard comedy that defined the decade’s laughs. No one in the world makes me laugh as often as he does.

2. Britney Spears

Christina technically had more hits. But Britney set the new-pop generation in motion — and she gave it the most memorable moments: the brilliance of ‘Baby, One More Time.’ The shock of the Madonna kiss. Her infamous meltdown and underrated comeback.

3. Radiohead

In a decade where pop, R&B and rap ruled, Radiohead managed to become one of the biggest, most daring rock bands ever. So they’re not The Beatles, but they’re the closest the last decade has to a classic band.

4. Johnny Depp

He was always a great, risk-loving actor. But this is the decade where everyone noticed — if only because he cleverly donned mascara and a pirate hat.

5. Beyonce

Remember Destiny’s Child? It’s a tad tough with all the solo hits she’s had. But they were the modern-day Supremes. And then, as a independent lady, Beyonce became the modern-day Diana Ross.

6. Russell Crowe

He’s been a bit forgotten — what with all the phone-throwing and bad attitudes. But his early-decade work — Gladiator, A Beautiful Mind, Cinderella Man — is easily the Aughts’ best acting.

7. Alec Baldwin

What an interesting, eclectic actor he’s become. This decade, he scored an Oscar nom (for The Cooler), solidified himself as SNL’s most consistently funny host and became the highlight of one of the decade’s most shining sitcoms (30 Rock).

8. Bruce Springsteen

The man managed to be relevant for the fourth straight decade — and became our national music-meets-politics spokesperson. Even if his music has become repetitive and paint-by-numbers, we need the Boss.

9. Kanye West

Yes, he’s a sharp producer — a man who makes rap both radio- and experiment-friendly. But he makes my list for three things: his amazingly grating-yet-magnetic ego, channeling ODB by upstaging Taylor Swift and his underrated rap on Estelle’s ‘American Boy,’ one of the decade’s best singles.

10. Ricky Gervais

He edged out Larry David, the other great TV maven of the ’00s. Mostly because he perfected television that melds drama with comedy in the original British version of The Office. And then there’s his offbeat standup and scene-stealing awards-show appearances.


  1. This list explains a lot about you. Son, we need to talk. I’ll give you 3 out of 9 and I can’t judge RG since I never saw him perform.