I waited a little too long to post this, and now every publication has posted their lists. So be it. But I've been working up to this since I posting my top artists of the last 20 and 30 years, and I am glad to post my top 10 artists of the decade.
1: U2 In retrospect, U2 ignited the music of this decade for me. Coming out of the 90's I was bogged down by Eminem, Britney Spears and the boy bands. Rock was looking for a new hero. What they got was an old one. The opening lines of "Beautiful Day" said it all for me: "The Heart is a bloom, shoots up from the stony ground." Rock wasn't dying, it was waiting to be reborn. Throughout the decade U2 provided that combination of spark and poetic lyrics that makes Rock the music that I love. A thank you to U2 for keeping it going 30 plus years after you started.
2: Cold Play It was really hard to choose between U2 and Cold Play. In the end, Cold Play is compared to U2, not the other way around. Chris Martin and company took a familiar sounds (guitar, piano, harmonies) and added their own passion to it. Their albums are great, and their singles are amazing as well. "Fix You" paints such a great picture you can really feel the emotion behind it. That will earn you a place in my music library any time.
3: Beyonce Talented. She can sing, dance, act, whatever you want. Yet what really sets her apart for me is that her songs are all wholesome in a way. When many artists are writing songs about how to score with the girls in the room, Beyonce comes with "Put a ring on it." She's never in controversies and is always smiling. And she has tons of great hits, and maybe the best video of the decade. Oh, and she was in a little group called Destiny's Child which had a pretty good career too. Pretty good decade. Here is her video for "Single Ladies" that Kayne West is such a fan of.
4: Justin Timberlake Justin is on here for all around talent. We found out from N'SYNC that he could sing and at least look good dancing. And between the boy band and his solo career he's had a good number of hits. But I've been most impressed with his work on Saturday Night Live. Seriously, he should be a permanent cast member. Not just the songs he sings, but how he has the comedic timing to pull each gag off is impressive. Remember, it's not common practice for pop star to poke fun of themselves on national TV! Here is a video of Justin on SNL with Beyonce none the less (ignore the first few seconds...and the end...)
5: The Killers I really thought they were a one hit wonder when I heard "Somebody Told Me." Turns out nobody told me how rocking these guys are. I love the passion Brandon Flowers puts into all his vocals on top of the driving music the band lays down. Every album is great loaded with powerful hits. In fact "Sam's Town" is for sure one of my favorite albums of the decade.
6: Snow Patrol I actually first heard Snow Patrol on a PS2 game. But when the hits of "Final Straw" started getting played on the radio I knew this group had something special. And as great as that album was, "Eyes Open" was special. It is the album from this decade I most enjoy listening start to finish with the way it ebbs and flows. A great band I hope to hear much more from.
7.: Green Day What I like the most about Green Day was their confidence to try new things in a big way. While their music sounded similar, their approach was different. "America Idiot" was supposed to be an album to show people Green Day's frustration with the Bush administration. Think about that, a punk group made a heavily political rock opera. AND it sounded pretty dang good. That's how I will remember Green Day.
8: John Mayer In a decade when songs started sounding predictable and trite, Mayer was able to raise the bar in my mind. His songs were a great blend of interesting chords and catchy melodies. And he has some skills on the guitar. The fact that I hear people complain that he rips off Stevie Ray Vaughn and Jimi Hendrix tells me he's doing something right!
9: Radiohead As I have mentioned, I am still in the discovery phase as a fan of Radiohead. But what I can tell you is that I missed out on them, and I am making up for lost time. A great band full of outside-of-the-box songwriting.
10: The Strokes Why include a band that only had one great album? Because that album is a great example of alternative music of the decade. Gone were the riffs and screams of grunge, replaced by driving guitars and tactful guitar solos. I hear a lot of the influence of The Strokes in Snow Patrol and The Killers, so I must give props to a band that gave me hope for the decade. Ok, I wasn't thinking about the entire decade at the time, but it did give me hope!