It goes without saying that 2000 was a boom year for adolescent pop, with the music on the heaviest and lightest ends of the scale unapologetically targeted at teens — to wit, romper room antagonists Fred Durst and Christina Aguilera. On the flip side, it wasn’t a bad year for golden agers, either, with Tina Turner commanding the year’s highest tour grosses and the Beatles topping charts in every territory short of Tom Hanks’ island.
It’s only if you already have your driver’s license, but not yet your AARP card, that you might have felt a little let down by the year in music. It’s that negligible little 18 to 58 demographic that looks like the biggest loser as we round up the annum’s victors and vanquished.
WINNER PEACH-FUZZ SOUL PATCHES ‘N Sync busted SoundScan’s first week record and won 2000’s top sales honors with the 9.9 million selling ”No Strings Attached.” In the ”we should all be so bruised” category, the Backstreet Boys’ ”Black & Blue” (4.3 million after six weeks) was considered a disappointment for lagging behind.
LOSER THE CLASS OF ’96-’97 If you really want a whiff of disappointment, check out No Doubt (1.1 million), the Offspring (695,000), Green Day (676,000), Smashing Pumpkins (521,000), the Wallflowers (378,000), and Marilyn Manson (294,000). But for bona fide belly flops, there was no beating the Spice Girls’ 126,000 selling ”Forever.” Only three years ago, the Girls moved more than 40 times that many and had the year’s best seller. Can ‘N Sync look forward to the same cold shoulder in 2003? Maybe not, but you can bet Scary is sticking pins in Justin’s action figure as we speak.
WINNER MASS MERCHANDISERS AND SUPERSTARS In May, the FTC abolished the music industry’s minimum advertised price (MAP) policy. That freed superstores like Best Buy to advertise best sellers by the likes of Britney and Limp Bizkit for below wholesale prices as low as $10 to lure customers who’ll theoretically get distracted by higher ticket items on their way to the ‘N Sync aisle. As a consequence, probably more 13 year olds bought microwaves than ever before in history.
LOSER MUSIC-ONLY RETAILERS AND UP-AND-COMING ACTS While album sales were up 4 percent, the increase was a not so bullish 1.6 percent among beleaguered music chains. Unlike general merchandise superstores, shops that sell only CDs can’t afford to drop below wholesale, alienating kids who saw DMX going for a ten spot elsewhere. And with the world’s Wal-Marts selling more of the blockbusters than ever, but not bothering to stock lesser acts, lower profile artists languished amid the boom.
WINNER HATE SPEECH Eminem’s critics were a nation divided…even within themselves. An EW reviewer awarded ”The Marshall Mathers LP” an A- for artistry and D+ for moral turpitude; a New York Times critic punished Eminem’s ”unacceptable” homophobia by downgrading the album to the bottom of his top 10. Customers weren’t so conflicted: ”Mathers” wound up the year’s second highest seller (7.9 million). Limp Bizkit user their ”M:I2” track to bemoan how ”hate is all the world has seen lately,” then contributed their fair, profane share with ”Chocolate Starfish…” (3.7 million). They’re the haters you playa haters love to hate to love!
LOSER HAT SPEECH The civil alternative to all this vitriol, country music, continued to tank, the genre’s 8 percent market share just half what it was in the go go, Garth driven early ’90s. Two megaselling holdovers, the Dixie Chicks’ ”Fly” (6.2 million to date) and Faith Hill’s ”Breathe” (4.5 million total), made this static format feel healthier than it is. Pipsqueak Billy Gilman (1.2 million) and awards hoarder Lee Ann Womack (977,000) provided hayseeds of hope.
WINNER WOMEN IN THONGS Sisqó (4 million albums to date) made sure no child of the ’90s would ever need to happen upon mom’s Victoria’s Secret catalog to learn about undies.
LOSER WOMEN IN ROCK Fearsome femmes from the Dixies to Destiny’s Child ensured there was no major gender gap in any genre — except that backward little format known as rock, where women were so invisible, Lilith Fair seemed as distant and irrelevant as Watkins Glen. Joan Osborne (85,000 units), we hardly knew ye.
WINNER EARNESTNESS Okay, so any wave of neo- sincerity could hardly match the combined neo- gangsta posturing of Eminem, Bizkit, and Kid Rock (a combined 4.8 million of his two latest albums), or hot newcomers Papa Roach (2.7 million) and Linkin Park (691,000). Yet Creed, possibly history’s straightest faced rock band, was also the year’s biggest, adding 6.6 million to ”Human Clay”’s 8.6 million total. And U2’s return to pre- irony, ”All That You Can’t Leave Behind,” sold 1.6 million in nine weeks, quickly surpassing the sum total of sales for 1997’s ”Pop.” Who knows? In 2001’s pop smorgasbord, there may even be room for a little uplift amid the rage, sniggering, and puppy lust.