Can you believe 2003 was 10 years ago? Time flies for sure. In 2003 I was 20 years old, a sophomore at the University of Colorado, Boulder and counting the days until the big 2-1. Also, apparently, I was jamming out to a pretty wide variety of music since the top singles on the Billboard charts included country, gangster rap, hard rock and some pop songs that are still popular a decade later. I also find it interesting that two of our generation’s biggest pop icons – Justin Timberlake and Beyoncé – went out on their own the same year. Let’s take a look back at what was coming out of radio speakers in 2003:
“Cry Me a River” – Justin Timberlake: Clearly a jab at former flame Britney Spears, this song was as ubiquitous as the video. Part of his debut solo album, the unfortunately titled Justified, the song began what has turned into an amazing non-boy band career for Timberlake that no one could have predicted.
“In Da Club” – 50 Cent: Back when Fiddy was Eminem’s protégé who was known for being shot multiple times and surviving, his first single blew the rap world away and got everyone across the country dancing in whatever club they could find. The song has since sold over two million copies and earned 50 Cent two Grammy nominations.
“Picture” – Kid Rock featuring Sheryl Crow: This song was a big step in a different direction for Kid Rock who had not yet done the crossover country thing. The acoustic rock ballad duet with the legendary Sheryl Crow was a huge hit and one of my favorites for sure. If this song doesn’t bleed heartache I don’t know what does.
“Bring Me to Life” – Evanescence: Showcasing Amy Lee’s range along with the band’s ability to rock your face off, this song was the perfect example of why rock/metal bands should try to find extremely talented front women whenever possible (i.e. the No Doubt plan). Thanks to this song, Evanescence won a Grammy for Best Hard Rock Performance and a nomination for Best Rock Song.
“Crazy in Love” – Beyoncé featuring Jay-Z: Without a doubt the most popular song of 2003, this song was synonymous with ubiquitous. Those horns! Beyoncé on her own! With Jay-Z! Those dance moves! The single has sold more than eight million copies worldwide and is one of the best-selling singles of all time. “Oh oh oh oh oh oh”….little did we know we were witnessing the beginning of a dynasty.
“Miss Independent” – Kelly Clarkson: Fresh off the American Idol train as the show’s first winner, Clarkson was a new face with a big voice and this was the first single off her debut album. And what a debut it was. The song garnered Clarkson a Grammy nomination for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance – not bad for your first try.
“Hey Ya!” – Outkast: What can I say about this song? It taught us how to “Shake it like a polaroid picture” and answered the age old question: “What’s cooler than being cool?” Ice cold! It also features one of the catchiest beats in history and some serious Andre 3000 fashion. The song won a Grammy for Best Urban/Alternative Performance, reached the top five of most of the charts it entered and in 2009 was named by Billboard as the 20th highest selling song of the 2000s decade in the United States.
Nice job 2003! Those are some big hits that have maintained popularity 10 years later and shot the artists to stardom in ways they probably couldn’t have imagined at the time. Will we say the same thing in 2023 about this year’s songs? I hope so…