When Rock Ruled The World At The Turn of the Century

Linkin Park shot to legendary status in one go with Hybrid Theory.

Twenty years ago, at the beginning of the 21st Century, rock was at the beginning of a golden period. A genre that had struggled throughout the nineties, particularly in the mid-section of the decade, rock was looking fairly weak for some time, but in 2000, a resurgence that had begun at the latter end of the previous millenium was about to hit its stride.

Sure, pop was big. The likes of Robbie Williams, Destiny's Child and Dido were all making waves, but something sparked in rock music for a few years that put it at the top of the music tree. Not only were the old guard about to embark on something of a renaissance, with Bruce Dickinson's return to Iron Maiden set to reignite their success, but the pop-punk and rock bands of the time were to light a brief but bright flame that many of us still remember fondly to this day.

Let's list some of the records that came out between 2000 and 2003:

Iron Maiden - Brave New World (2000)

Linkin Park - Hybrid Theory (2000)

Disturbed - The Sickness (2000)

The Offspring - Conspiracy of One (2000)

Papa Roach - Infest (2000)

Feeder - Echo Park (2001)

Muse - Origin of Symmetry (2001)

Ash - Free All Angels (2001)

Sum 41 - All Killer No Filler (2001)

Blink-182 - Take Off Your Pants and Jacket (2001)

Queens of the Stone Age - Songs for the Deaf (2002)

Foo Fighters - One By One (2002)

Red Hot Chili Peppers - By the Way (2002)

Feeder - Comfort in Sound (2002)

Good Charlotte - The Young and the Hopeless (2002)

The White Stripes - Elephant (2003)

Muse - Absolution (2003)

Linkin Park - Meteora (2003)

The Darkness - Permission to Land (2003)

Evanescence - Fallen (2003)

Look at that list. Doubtless there are many that deserve to be on there that aren't, but that is a formidable list of albums that went beyond where many rock bands before them did. The likes of Feeder and Muse were getting A-List representation on BBC Radio 1 in the UK, fully immersing them into the mainstream and ensuring that guitar bands were the order of the day. Linkin Park, meanwhile, were busy becoming possibly the biggest band on the planet at the time, with their unique combination of rap and metal.

The White Stripes released 'Seven Nation Army', with one of the most iconic riffs of all-time, Good Charlotte brought American suburbia to our homes and Evanescence's 'Bring Me To Life' brought a whole new audience to nu-metal. It also became a meme in more recent years, which is almost a shame as that song's reputation overshadows what was a brilliant record.

Muse are one of the few bands whose current success matches - or even eclipses - that of their earlier days.

Rock has never died and it never will, but during this period at the start of the century, it truly ruled the world and became mainstream in a way that it perhaps never will again. An onslaught of creativity and originality, combined with some more poppier elements in the likes of Blink-182 and Feeder, made rock the most popular genre on the planet at the time.

Not that it was easy for them. There was a lot of pushback from the media; critics weren't on board with a number of these bands, with NME taking any opportunity it had to whack a bad review on Feeder and the entire genre of nu-metal being ridiculed at every turn. But what matters is what the people think, and the people loved what they were getting. The sound of the music perfectly gelled with the culture at the time, creating a love affair that is now a fond piece of nostalgia for millions of us.

Against all the odds, being a previously declining genre in the crosshairs of the media, rock took over the world for a few years. It was a brief moment in the mainstream sun but a beautiful one nonetheless, and though it didn't last, nothing ever does. Sure, rock remains huge, with Muse's level of fame only continuing to grow while the likes of Green Day's American Idiot from 2004 did well despite the slow decline. But to this day, it hasn't quite hit those heights again. It's worth noting how big rock was in the 1970's, with Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Fleetwood Mac, Sex Pistols and The Clash all having huge success about 25 years beforehand. Is rock on a cycle? If so, we'll find out soon enough. But for now, whilst we are in lockdown, it wouldn't hurt to revisit that golden period. Whether it be Muse, Sum 41, Linkin Park or Papa Roach, you'd do well to remind yourself of the magic we were presented with at the time. The majority of these bands are still going today, a fact which no doubt owes itself to their success at the time. Some phenomenal music came from that period, so dig out your old CDs and cassettes like it's 2002 and reminisce on those times; it's not like we've got much else to do anyway.


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