The year 2000 got off to a great start simply by virtue of the world not burning down at midnight on January 1.
The dreaded Y2K bug, which many feared would cause global economic collapse when the world’s computers got confused by the switch to a new millennium, had almost no impact. Doomsday prophets had to move on to the Mayan calendar.
But there were still plenty of disasters to go around, both natural and man-made. Russia was committing war crimes daily in Chechnya; mudslides, earthquakes, and flooding accounted for record-setting deaths; George W. Bush won the presidential election in the United States; cartoonist Charles Schulz died, ending Peanuts forever; and the New York Yankees won another World Series, as if they needed it.
There were also some amazing accomplishments. People began living in freaking outer space aboard the International Space Station while, back on Earth, Sony gave us the PlayStation 2, triggering years of extremely rewarding sleep deprivation.
There were no major sea changes in popular music. Teen pop was still big and getting bigger thanks to *NSYNC and Britney Spears. The old guard continued to trudge along, with Santana collecting eight Grammys. The only true surprise was when the public at large suddenly embraced bluegrass via the O’ Brother Where Art Thou? soundtrack, a trend that literally no one saw coming.
And there were some incredibly good records released, which brings us to the best albums of 2000.
This is the fourth such list we’ve done, and it was compiled using data from Discogs users’ Collections and Wantlists. Basically, these are the 25 albums from the first year of each century, beginning in 1970, that appear most often in both data sets. It was collated using one of those computers that didn’t catch fire on January 1, 2000.
Top 25 Most Collected and Wanted Albums of 2000
Scottish brothers Michael Sandison and Marcus Eoin have a gift for making electronic music that’s wholly human. Nothing on In A Beautiful Place Out In The Country sounds cold, although it can sometimes feel like we’re being kept at arm’s length; that seems accurate given the brothers’ well-documented love of reclusion. The prevalent vibes are ambiance and breakbeats, peaking on a radiant title track that’s spiked with laughing children.
It must have been awfully tempting for longtime Modest Mouse fans to cry sellout when the band moved to Epic Records and released The Moon & Antarctica. Many did. But here’s the problem: This record represents such a leap forward in both music and lyrics that you can’t complain without looking butthurt. Isaac Brock explores betrayal, loneliness, alienation, and depression using a variety of metaphors and analogies while the newly trippy music offers the perfect complement.
It’s kind of bizarre that Renegades, most likely the last album we’ll see from Rage, is an album of cover songs — this is, after all, one of the most reflective, thoughtful, and opinionated bands of the modern era. These songs were chosen because they align with the band’s overall political philosophies, and it’s fascinating to see how Rage applies its scorched-earth approach to such a diverse selection of artists. Bob Dylan’s “Maggie’s Farm” has never sounded better.
Johnny Cash and producer Rick Rubin created a cottage industry with their series of “American” albums, which spanned three decades and six albums (the final two were released posthumously). Variously perceived as celebrations and reclamation projects — both are accurate — the concept was to put a giant of American music in a setting that was both traditional and modern, the modern component being some of the material selected. Along the way, Cash delivered spectacular versions of songs by artists as disparate as Nine Inch Nails, U2, Tom Petty, and Soundgarden. This entry is extremely strong and is highlighted by Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down,” Will Oldham’s “I See A Darkness,” Nick Cave’s “The Mercy Seat,” and “Nobody,” a 1905 song written by a black man living under tyrannous racism. Cash, ever the empathetic outsider, chews it up.
Del the Funky Homosapien has never been of this planet, and his alien take on things found the perfect outlet in Deltron 3030’s fantastical science fiction hip-hop. Teamed with Dan the Automator and Kid Koala, Del and company were nearly a decade ahead of the curve when it comes to dystopian visions of the future; Deltron 3030 tells the story of an intergalactic warrior (Del) and his cyborg partner (Dan) as they go into battle with the corporations that have taken over the world. If that sounds painfully familiar, welcome to 2020.
Maynard James Keenan and Billy Howerdel make savagely beautiful music on Mer De Noms, the debut from A Perfect Circle. Howerdel’s compositions are a symphony of guitar textures perfectly recorded and mixed by him, while Keenan’s dark vocal acrobatics are ominously gorgeous. The songs boast an almost physical sense of authority but there’s also an ethereal quality that gives everything a stuck-between-sleeping-and-awake feeling.
Air’s idiosyncratic update of space-age bachelor pad music made the French duo of Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benoît Dunckel ideally suited for movie soundtracks, especially one directed by emerging hipster filmmaker Sofia Coppola. As compared to Air’s usual stuff, the more ambient The Virgin Suicides works better as atmospheric background music, although tracks such as “The Word Hurricane” hold up to any scrutiny.
Dopethrone is like living in the head of an especially brainy 13-year-old stoner who much prefers the worlds created by H.P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard to the one in which he’s stuck. Electric Wizard’s second album is a sword-and-sorcery dirge fantasy with the heaviest guitars in the history of heavy guitars — seriously, they will crush you. What’s great about this record is that you can enjoy it with a completely straight face, a true believer to the end, or embrace its epic scope ironically. Either way is a win.
#16. D’Angelo — Voodoo
Voodoo is so resolutely soulful that it’s almost an insult to call it neo-soul, which is its official designation. While the songs echo multiple aspects of classic soul and funk — along with a few splashes of jazz and rock — the overall vibe is closest to Sly & The Family Stone’s “There’s A Riot Going On.” Both records dig deep into the groove but do so in a loose, almost fractured way that approaches pure art. One of the finest records of the decade. Easily.
An album so good that it caused the band to break up. Well, sort of. Relationship of Command arrived after several years of non-stop work and growing acclaim, and its ever-so-slightly mainstreamed sound — somewhere between hardcore and prog — caught a huge wave of new fans. That led to Cedric Bixler-Zavala and Omar Rodríguez-López losing their minds (which led to them starting The Mars Volta, so yay). Command has an almost palpable energy, and you can feel the building pressure that eventually brought the band down.
It’s no accident that “Beautiful Day” opens All That You Can’t Leave Behind, or that the album is called that. U2 had been slipping for a while attempting to stay culturally current, and you won’t find many people waxing nostalgic over Pop or Zooropa. But when the glorious roar of “Beautiful Day” announced the band’s return to more streamlined, traditional songwriting, it was like the sun breaking through a month of rainy days. The album is filled with gems and unabashed emotionalism, many of them up there with U2’s finest moments.
#13. Madonna — Music
Music is Madonna’s last unqualified worldwide smash, the last to have a No. 1 single (the title track), and is her fifth best-selling album. In other words, it was an event. As on many of her late 1990s records, she was chasing the latest underground trends and tailoring them for the mainstream. When she nails the formula, the result is some of her most enduring music (“Don’t Tell Me,” “What It Feels Like For A Girl,” “Gone”) and some of her strangest, like “Paradise (Not For Me),” a gorgeous ballad for existential androids.
Jack White’s gift is that always sounds so spontaneous when in fact there isn’t anything about his guitar playing or songwriting that isn’t meticulously thought through. Drummer Meg White’s gift is that she’s legit spontaneous and doesn’t care about being meticulous. That’s why the White Stripes made such great rock and roll, and De Stijl is a glorious stroll through the history of rock, pop, and pre-war blues.
Iron Maiden stands alongside Sabbath and Priest as metal’s most enduring and popular bands, and Maiden is the only band to have a record on three of these most owned/most wanted lists (and they have a shot at four with 2010’s The Final Frontier). Brave New World is notable for the return of singer Bruce Dickinson and guitarist Adrian Smith — they had been out of the band for seven and 10 years, respectively — and for just being an awesome record. Now with a three-guitar attack and Dickinson in strong voice, it rips when it needs to and has a few deliciously silly metal moments that should be savored.
The Avalanches claim to have used 3,500 samples to construct this debut album (I didn’t count, tbh), and Since I Left You represents sampling as an art form. It’s a remarkable achievement and explains why it took them 16 years to release a second album. Some of these songs are astonishing, confounding, or both. Only the earliest pressings have the complete samples as Avalanches intended, which is why you’ll pay dearly; the vast majority of samples were cleared, but later pressings either have some parts completely removed or rerecorded. Save yourself several hundred dollars and learn to live with less.
France’s Ludovic Navarre, performing as St Germain, miraculously found a way to make smooth jazz that is absolutely baller. Tourist is his third and best-known album, and its combination of jazz with electronic grooves more commonly associated with dance clubs is an intoxicating mix that works equally well for parties and quiet nights alone.
Experimental chamber music for people who watched Fantastic Planet on repeat when kids, and who also maybe don’t even like chamber music. Dense, psychedelic, simultaneously ambient and aggro, almost heroically ambitious — Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven! is a landmark album in the post-rock movement. More willfully eccentric than most of its peers in the genre, GYBE nevertheless possesses a gift for knowing exactly when to rein it all in and deliver traditionally cathartic release.
Stankonia is a place, state of mind, and one of the most important hip-hop albums to ever come out of the South. Big Boi and André 3000 had already changed everyone’s perception of Southern hip-hop, but Stankonia was a whole new level of creative insanity as OutKast reveled in the indulgence of finally having its own studio. There aren’t many genres of music not represented somewhere on Stankonia, which swerves from truly eccentric (“Toilet Tisha”) to compulsively accessible (”Ms. Jackson”).
Deftones is what happens when kids grow up listening to everything from thrash metal to synth-pop. White Pony was the band’s breakthrough album and at its most experimental, such as on “Teenager” and “Pink Maggit,” Deftones can be low-key thrilling. But White Pony mostly sounds like Metallica and Nirvana had a baby and named it WTF?
Queens of the Stone Age is on fire here, showing off the band’s ability to effortlessly assimilate any genre of music and refashion it as pure QOTSA. Best of all, Josh Homme’s sense of humor reliably keeps everything way closer to self-deprecating than pretentious. Elements of metal, Syd Barrett psychedelia, stoner rock, pop, and even modal jazz show up but it never sounds disjointed unless the Queens want it to. Everyone in the universe refers to this record as Rated R, by the way, and you should, too.
Blind, uncompromising rage was Eminem’s addiction during the early days of his recording career, and one of his most unhinged murder scenarios, “Kill You,” kicks off The Marshall Mathers LP. After more than four minutes of bloodlust directed at pretty much everyone, Em ends the song with one of his favorite tricks: “Just kidding!” The rage sounds a whole lot more sincere, however, and it’s the fuel for this album’s fire. While most of it is specifically directed at others, there’s no escaping the feeling that self-hatred is always lurking just beneath the surface. Add that emotional weight to pristine production and some of the greatest rhymes in rap history and you get an instant classic.
Linkin Park was every suburban white kid’s wet dream when the California band debuted with “Hybrid Theory.” Metal ass-slapping rap? Yes, please, said every randomly angry skateboarder in America. By 2000, there was a nation of middle-schoolers who had grown up with hip-hop and Ozzy, many of whom were enduring the same kind of dysfunctional childhood described so vividly by Chester Bennington in his lyrics. Hybrid Theory would become a massive hit and Bennington a hero; his 2017 death by suicide is still mourned.
And, lo, there shall come a Coldplay, and a deep melancholy will descend upon the earbuds of the world. Coldplay announced itself in 2000 with Parachutes and an inescapable video for “Yellow,” in which Chris Martin walked forlornly along a beach in an oversized hoodie, the very personification of a young heart breaking. This record, much less ornate than Coldplay’s eventual sound, still offers a lot of sad-guy pleasures and “Yellow” remains one of the decade’s great ballads. The bulk of the album is dedicated to the inevitable problems that come when boy meets girl, and the subtly atmospheric music perfectly frames Martin’s expressive voice. It’s a really lovely record and the band should maybe have just stopped here.
Some say Kid A is the best album released in the 2000s, some say it’s easily among the most overrated. Discogs users have made it the site’s most-owned and most-wanted album of the year 2000. Maybe chalk it up to peer pressure? Hard to say, but that’s definitely a helluva drug. Coming off of OK Computer, all eyes were on Radiohead as far as popular culture went, and the dramatic changes to the band’s sound combined with its fan-friendly online release conspired to make Kid A an event. It was required listening then and apparently still is, but not liking it is fine. It’s just a record. Relax.