Chart Watch

Chart Watch Extra: The Top 20 New Acts Of The 2000s

Chart Watch

Linkin Park this week pulls ahead of Nelly as the top-selling album artist to emerge in the 2000s. The Los Angeles-based rock group has sold 21,223,000 albums. Nelly has sold 21,215,000. The two acts first hit The Billboard 200 within four months of each other in 2000.

To mark the occasion, here's a list of the top new acts of the decade. Of the thousands of acts that have made their first appearances on The Billboard 200 since Jan. 1, 2000, these are the 20 that have sold the most albums. The list includes six pop stars, five rock groups, four rappers, three country acts and two R&B divas. It features four acts that won Grammys as Best New Artist, two who won American Idol and one (Carrie Underwood) who managed to win both.

Artists who emerged early in the decade stood a much better chance of making the list than artists who broke through later. Sales peaked around 2000, and have been dropping since about 2004. So it's hard for even the hottest acts of recent years to compete with the eye-popping sales totals from the turn of the last decade.

Here are the top 20 new acts of the 2000s. The tally after the artist's name is the total number of albums that the artist has sold, as of this week. I also identify when the artist first cracked the chart, and the title of their best-selling album. Finally, I show where the act ranks on Nielsen/SoundScan's running list of the 200 best-selling artists in its history, which was the source from which I extracted this list.

1. Linkin Park, 21,223,000. Linkin Park is the decade's #1 new group and #1 new rock act. The band's 2000 debut album, Hybrid Theory, is its best-seller, with sales of 9,623,000 copies. It spawned the #2 hit, "In The End." The band was nominated for a Grammy as Best New Artist of 2001, but lost to Alicia Keys (who is #8 on this list). Linkin Park will expand its lead whenever it releases its long-awaited follow-up to 2007's Minutes To Midnight. Top 200 rank: #52.

2. Nelly, 21,215,000. Nelly, 34, is the decade's #1 new male artist and #1 new rap artist. Nelly's 2000 debut, Country Grammar, is his best-selling album, with sales of 8,456,000 copies. It spawned a pair of top 10 hits, "(Hot S**t) Country Grammar" and "Ride Wit Me" (with City Spud). In addition, Nelly has appeared in movies, including The Longest Yard. Top 200 rank: #53.

3. Nickelback, 19,414,000.  The Canadian rock group is the decade's #1 new foreign act. It first charted in 2000 with The State. Nickelback's fifth album, 2005's All The Right Reasons, is its best-seller, with sales of 7,196,000 copies. The album spawned three top 10 hits, "Photograph," "Far Away" and "Rockstar." Top 200 rank: #63.

4. Josh Groban, 19,147,000. Groban, 28, is the decade's #1 new pop artist. He first charted in 2001 with Josh Groban. The classical-crossover star's third album, 2003's Closer, is his best-seller, with sales of 5,759,000 copies. It spawned the Hot 100 hit "You Raise Me Up." Top 200 rank: #67.

5. Rascal Flatts, 19,083,000. The trio is the decade's #1 new country act. It first charted in 2000 with Rascal Flatts. The band's third album, 2004's Feels Like Today, is its best-seller, with sales of 5,140,000 copies. It spawned the top 30 hit, "Bless The Broken Road." Top 200 rank: #69.

6. Norah Jones, 16,728,000. Jones, 30, is the decade's #1 new female artist. The jazz-influenced pop vocalist's 2002 debut, Come Away With Me, is her best-seller, with sales of 10,515,000 copies. It won Grammys for Album of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Album. It also spawned the top 30 hit "Don't Know Why," the Grammy winner for Record and Song of the Year. Jones also won as Best New Artist of 2002. Top 200 rank: #88.

7. 50 Cent, 15,589,000. The rapper, 34, first charted with Guess Who's Back? in 2003. His breakthrough album, Get Rich Or Die Tryin', appeared six weeks later. It remains his best-seller, with sales of 7,873,000 copies. The album spawned back-to-back #1 hits, "In Da Club" and "21 Questions" (with Nate Dogg). 50 Cent was nominated for a Grammy as Best New Artist of 2003 (but lost to Evanescence, which is #18 on this list). He also starred in the 2005 movie Get Rich Or Die Tryin.' Top 200 rank: #102.

8. Alicia Keys, 15,520,000. Keys, 28, is the decade's #1 new R&B artist. Her 2001 debut album, Songs In A Minor, is her best-seller, with sales of 6,202,000 copies. It spawned the #1 smash "Fallin'," the Grammy winner for Song of the Year. The album won a Grammy as Best R&B Album. Keys also won as Best New Artist of 2001. Top 200 rank: #105.

9. Coldplay, 14,426,000. The rock band is the decade's #1 new British act. The group first charted in 2000 with Parachutes. Its 2002 sophomore album, A Rush Of Blood To The Head, is its best-seller, with sales of  4,650,000 copies. The album won a Grammy as Best Alternative Music Album and spawned the top 30 hit "Clocks," the Grammy winner for Record of the Year. Top 200 rank: #113.

10.  Ludacris, 13,411,000. The rapper and movie star first charted in 2000 with Ludacris Presents Incognegro. His best-seller is his third chart entry, 2001's Word Of Mouf, which has sold 3,616,000 copies. The album spawned four top 30 hits, including "Move B***h" (with Mystikal & the Infamous 2-0), which made the top 10. Ludacris, 31, has appeared in such movies as 2 Fast, 2 Furious, Crash and Hustle & Flow. Top 200 rank: #120.

11. 3 Doors Down, 12,472,000. The rock band's best-seller is its 2000 debut album, The Better Life, which has sold 5,550,000 copies. It spawned three chart hits, including the #3 smash, "Kryptonite." Top 200 rank: #135.

12. John Mayer, 11,467,000. Mayer's best-selling album is his 2001 debut, Room For Squares. It has sold 4,308,000 copies. The album spawned a pair of top 20 hits, "No Such Thing" and "Your Body Is A Wonderland." The pop star, 31, was nominated for a Grammy as Best New Artist of 2002, but lost to Norah Jones. He has since made up for that loss, winning seven Grammys. Top 200 rank: #149.

13. Avril Lavigne, 11,404,000. The pop star, 24, is second only to Nickelback as the decade's top new Canadian act. Lavigne's 2002 debut, Let Go, is her best-seller, with sales of 6,724,000 copies. It spawned three top 10 hits, "Complicated," "I'm With You" and "Sk8er Boi." Like Norah Jones and John Mayer, Lavigne was nominated for a Grammy as Best New Artist of 2002. Top 200 rank: #152.

14. Keith Urban, 10,858,000. The country star, 41, is the oldest solo artist on the list, which just means he was a little late getting started. Urban, who was born in New Zealand, first charted with Keith Urban in 2000. His third album, 2004's Be Here, is his best-seller, with sales of 3,639,000 copies. The album spawned four top 40 hits, including "Days Go By." Top 200 rank: #159.

15. Beyonce, 10,565,000. Beyonce, 27, debuted with Destiny's Child in 1998 and emerged as a solo artist five years later. Her 2003 solo debut album, Dangerously In Love, is her top-seller, with sales of 4,688,000 copies. The album, which won a Grammy as Best Contemporary R&B Album, spawned back-to-back #1 hits, "Crazy In Love" (with Jay-Z) and "Baby Boy" (with Sean Paul). Beyonce is second only to Alicia Keys as the decade's top new R&B artist. Top 200 rank: #168.

16. Kelly Clarkson, 10,276,000. Clarkson, 27, was the Season 1 champ on American Idol. The pop star first charted with Thankful in 2003. Her 2004 sophomore album, Breakaway, is her best-seller, with sales of 6,086,000 copies. Breakaway, which won a Grammy as Best Pop Vocal Album, spawned four top 10 hits, including the #2 smash "Since U Been Gone." Top 200 rank: #178.

17. Pink, 9,998,000. Pink, 29, first charted with Can't Take Me Home in 2000. The pop star's top-seller is her 2001 sophomore album,        M!ssundaztood, which has sold 5,419,000 copies. The album spawned three top 10 hits, including the party classic "Get The Party Started." Top 200 rank: #184.

18. Evanescence, 9,965,000. The rock group won a Grammy as Best New Artist of 2003. Evanescence's 2003 debut album, Fallen, is its best-seller, with sales of 7,269,000 copies. The album spawned two top 10 hits, "Bring Me To Life" and "My Immortal." Top 200 rank: #186.

19. Kanye West, 9,922,000. The rap star's top-seller is his 2004 debut, The College Dropout, which has sold 3,135,000 copies. The album, which won a Grammy as Best Rap Album, spawned three top 15 hits, including "Jesus Walks" and "All Falls Down" (with Syleena Johnson). West, 32, was nominated for a Grammy as Best New Artist of 2004, but lost to Maroon5 (which didn't make the list). West has more than made up for that loss, amassing 12 Grammys. Top 200 rank: #187.

20. Carrie Underwood, 9,748,000. The country star, 26, was the Season 4 champ on American Idol and later won a Grammy as Best New Artist of 2006. Her 2005 debut, Some Hearts, is her best-seller, with sales of 6,815,000 copies. The album included her chart-topping Idol coronation song "Inside Your Heaven" and the top 10 hit "Before He Cheats." Top 200 rank: #192.

A final note: Kanye West always seems to be complaining that he doesn't win enough Grammys, but he has stockpiled 12 of the awards, as many as any artist who emerged in the 2000s. (Alicia Keys has also won 12.) Oddly, such Grammy-friendly artists as Nickelback, Josh Groban, Rascal Flatts and Avril Lavigne have won no Grammys. Maybe they should follow West's lead and show a little attitude!

 

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