The Decade: A Retrospective Timeline Part II

November 8, 2005 - Guitar Hero is Released
I can't tell you how many times a song has come on and I've heard the comment, "Oh, this is on Guitar Hero". The video game that took karaoke a step further by adding plastic instruments also seemed like a viable alternative to selling CDs for a record industry scrambling for a new business model. Guitar Hero became apart of pop culture, a Dance Dance Revolution for your fingers, so much so that the Beatles were on board by decade's end.

American Idol Runner-up David Archuleta Releases His Inner Rock Star in Guitar Hero Commercial

February 22, 2006 - Coldplay's "The Speed of Sound" Becomes One Billionth Song Downloaded on iTunes
Only three years after the launch of iTunes, the one billionth song was downloaded from the site. The billionth song downloaded was Coldplay's "Speed of Sound" by Alex Ostrovsky of West Bloomfield, Michigan. “Over one billion songs have now been legally purchased and downloaded around the globe, representing a major force against music piracy and the future of music distribution as we move from CDs to the Internet," said Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO.

Coldplay performs "Speed of Sound" on the UK's Top of the Pops

March 11, 2006 - James Blunt Goes No. 1 on Billboard Hot 100
In March of 2006, British singer James Blunt shocked chart watchers when his song "You're Beautiful" went No. 1. It was the first non-hip-hop, non-American Idol coronation song to go No. 1 in America since Nickleback's "How You Remind Me" in 2001 ("Hollaback Girl" was produced by N.E.R.D., so its position as the milestone single has been disputed). "Beautiful" was a turning point for the Hot 100 because after it, the charts were once more diverse. For the remainder of 2006, pop acts like Rihanna, Shakira, and Fergie scored No. 1s alongside Ludacris and Akon. The advent of iTunes democratized the Hot 100, allowing consumers to influence the charts instead of just radio programmers.

James Blunt performs his big hit "You're Beautiful" in Italy.

April 8, 2006 - Gnarls Barkley's Download Only "Crazy" Goes No. 1 in UK
The British singles charts have been more sales oriented than its American counterpart. While the physical single died a painful death in the States, they were still an important part of the British music industry and the weekly charts. With the growing popularity of digital downloads, it was inevitable that a song would come along and top the charts without a physical single release. "Crazy" was that song. On downloads alone, the track went No. 1 for an astounding 9 weeks, an incredibly rare feat in that country.

Gnarls Barkley, dressed in airline uniforms, takes to Top of the Pops to perform a re imagined version of "Crazy"

September 9, 2007 - Britney Spears Performs "Gimme More" at Video Music Awards
By 2007, Britney Spears had come a long way from her ubiquitous squeaky clean sex symbol days at the turn of the century. She had her quickie Las Vegas marriage and canceled her World Tour. She married Kevin Federline, made a reality show and two children with him, and divorced him. She attacked the paparazzi with an umbrella, shaved her hair, and went in and out of rehab for the whole world to see. It was a sickening tabloid fueled reality show that kept the world on the edge of their collective seats. No moment encapsulates Spears' public downward spiral like her VMA performance where she lip sync and half-dances to "Gimme More", a song that both lyrically and sonically describes the state Spears was in at the time.

Britney Spears in what some have called the worst VMA performance of all time

October 1, 2007 - Radiohead Releases Choose Your Price "In Rainbows" Online
Radiohead blew up the Internet and what was left of the record industry when they released their seventh studio album, In Rainbows. Having fulfilled their contractual obligation to EMI, the band could do whatever the hell they wanted with their new material. "Every record for the last four—including my solo record—has been leaked. So the idea was like, we'll leak it, then," said lead singer Thom Yorke. The album was put online for fans to download at allowed them to name their own price. You could be a cheapskate and get it for free, or you could drop $50 right then and there if you thought it was worth it. Some speculated that Radiohead ended up making more money this way then they would have with a normal physical release. For the rest of the decade, the phrase "Radiohead model" was knocked around anytime a band thought out of the box to distribute their music.

The winning fan made video for the "Reckoner" music video contest.

May 27, 2008 - Weezer Releases Video for "Pork and Beans"
The 2000s was a decade where anyone could broadcast a message, and if it was interesting enough, millions of people would tune in and watch it. YouTube was the perfect medium for wannabe entertainers seeking an outlet. In the latter half of the decade, it seemed like new viral videos popped up on a weekly basis. Some videos had people who intentionally wanted their 15 minutes of fame, while the fame was probably unwanted for those starring in embarrassing clips. While everyone was nostalgically poking fun at the 80s, Weezer was doing the same thing to the 00s before they were even over. The band packed every YouTube star into their ironic "Pork and Beans".
How many viral video stars can you spot?

June 17, 2008 - Lil Wayne Sells 1 Million Copies of "Tha Carter III" in a Week
As album sales continued to spiral south, 50 Cent's 2005 album The Massacre seemed destined to be the last to post a million plus sales the first week of its release. Three years later, Lil Wayne proved everyone wrong when Tha Carter III stormed the charts with similar numbers. Wayne's route to impressive first week sales seemed counter-intuitive, he flooded the Internet with free music. Offering free mixtapes, demand for his full length album built and buzz on the blogosphere reached dizzying levels. When he dropped Tha Carter III, the buying public responded. Maybe free music is the way to go.

Lil Wayne's first No. 1 hit, "Lollipop".

November 24, 2008 - Kanye West Releases "808s & Heartbreak"
Kanye West's 808s & Heartbreaks was a game changer. It was one of the most controversial records of the decade with many embracing Ye's transition from rapper to pop star and his heavy unashamed used of auto-tune, while many thought it was trash. The record was such a landmark because it was one of the few records of the decade that showed an artist using their music to tell their story. Sure, everyone from Christiana to Ashlee Simpson has promised that they would show you the "real me", but each attempt fell flat on its face. Unfortunately, Jay-Z's announcement that auto-tune was dead along with West's VMA outburst minimized the record's importance as time wore on.

The artsy music video for "Heartless", 808s & Heartbreak's most successful single.

February 7, 2009 - Kelly Clarkson Breaks Record Again
The Hot 100 during the late 2000s became a battleground for breaking and re-breaking the record for largest jump to No. 1. The initial record was set by the Beatles in 1964 when "Can't Buy Me Love" leaped 27-1 in a single week. That record stood until 2002 when Kelly Clarkson laid waste to it with a 52-1 jump of "A Moment Like This". Each record happened for its own quirky reason. The Beatles had released dozens of songs on a handful of American labels without much success and then their television exposure on The Ed Sullivan Show shot them from obscurity to massive success overnight. Similarly, Clarkson received huge exposure after winning American Idol and her debut single was released the week following her win which made for a lot of pent up demand. When Billboard began incorporating digital sales into the singles charts, the whole game changed. To break the record, an artist would need to release a song to the radio only for a few days so it would barley make the Hot 100, and then release the song digitally and sell bus loads of it. Maroon 5 broke Clarkson's record in 2007 with "Makes Me Wonder" followed by T.I. breaking it in 2008 with "Whatever You Like" and breaking it once again with "Live Your Life" featuring Rihanna. His new record lasted a week until Britney Spears re-set it with "Womanizer". Kelly Clarkson finally retook the position for biggest leap to No. 1 in 2009 when "My Life Would Suck Without You" pole vaulted 97-1.

Kelly Clarkson performs her second record breaking hit "My Life Would Suck Without You".

April 18, 2009 - Black Eyed Peas Begin 24-week Run at No. 1 on Billboard Hot 100
As music continued to fragment and the task of getting the whole world to pay attention to one artist for even more than a few days became harder and harder, a few things happened in 2009 to show that it was still possible. Of these three events, two involved some of the greatest artists of all time from decade's past. Only one involved a current act. The Black Eyed Peas shattered the record for most consecutive time at No. 1 when "Boom Boom Pow" topped the charts for 12 weeks and was immediately followed by "I've Gotta Feelin'" which stayed in the penthouse for 14 weeks. That's six months. Half a year. I'm sure the Peas would love to interpret that as meaning they are among the greatest musical acts of all time, but it really came down to Americans not getting tired of these two songs for a very long time as well as no other songs being able to garner enough digital downloads and radio airplay to take them down.

The Black Eyed Peas go Boom Boom Pow at the Much Music Awards.

June 25, 2009 - Michael Jackson Dies
On the eve of his highly anticipated This Is It show, Michael Jackson was rushed to a hospital and declared dead shortly thereafter. News of the singers death blew up the Internet, and soon radio stations switched to an all Michael format. The self proclaimed King of Pop's catalog of music stormed the iTunes store, and in the following weeks, Michael Jackson albums outsold the Black Eyed Peas The E.N.D., the first time an older album had outsold a newer release since Soundscan began tracking album sales in 1992. Michael Jackson's death brought together the world for a single musical force in a way that few artists could have ever done and even fewer will be able to do in the future.

Footage from Michael Jackson's concert rehearsal was turned into a movie and a cash cow called This Is It.

September 9, 2009 - The Beatles' Remastered Catalog, Rockband Game Released
On the prophetic 9/9/09, the Beatles released their entire body of work digitally remastered as well as their very own version of the successful Rockband video game. Only a few months after the death renewed interest in Michael Jackson and his music, many saw this as the Beatles opportunity to do the same. Although the Beatles failed to garner the sales that Jackson did, they did manage to outsell many new releases and by the end of the year, Billboard decided to count older albums in its flagship album chart, the Billboard 2000.

The Beatles' Rockband commercial.

September 13, 2009 - Kanye West Interrupts Taylor Swift During Acceptance Speech
Taylor Swift's "You Belong With Me" beat out the superior and more culturally significant "Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)" by Beyonce for Best Female Video at the 2009 Video Music Awards. A drunk Kanye West took to the stage, as he often does, but instead of wanting an award for himself, he stood up for Beyonce (who later won the Moonman for Video of the Year). The word "jackass" was thrown around quite liberally, including by Barack Obama, Taylor Swift became America's sweetheart, and Beyonce, who gave up her mike time to Swift came out a hero.

Kanye West gives his PR team the biggest headache of their careers.

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