These Were The Biggest Cultural Trends of the 2000s
Trends will always come and go, but given enough time, a trend may enjoy a comeback. Think about it. In the last 10 years, everyone was crazy about the trends of the '90s. Now, with 2020 approaching, it's time to revisit the biggest cultural trends that kicked off the start of the new millennium.
Of course, most of the fashion trends should probably stay in the 2000s and never come back, but some of our favorite toys, TV shows and music are already making their way back into the cultural zeitgeist. So bust out your flip phones and get ready to relive the biggest trends of the 2000s.
The iPod/Mp3 Revolution
In 2001, Apple changed the way we listened to music forever with the release of the iPod. Songs were compressed into digital MP3s, allowing listeners to carry their entire music libraries in their pockets. Each new iPod release marked a music industry milestone, but record labels still faced brand new challenges.
Rise of the Reality TV Game Show
Game shows underwent a major shakeup thanks to reality TV. Viewers tuned in by the millions to watch casts of contestants get eliminated week after week. Each show had its own take on the format: American Idol searched for the next music legends, Survivor left tribes of strangers on deserted beaches and America's Next Top Model looked for the next big supermodel.
Graffiti Art Moves Inside Galleries
When graffiti entered the 21st century, it finally became acceptable to combine street art with studio work. The art world embraced graffiti and spent millions on the efforts of urban contemporary artists. By the end of the decade, longtime graffiti artist Shepard Fairey’s iconic Hope portrait of President Barack Obama saturated the political and cultural worlds alike.
The Lord of the Rings Effect
Before everyone had a favorite dragon on Game of Thrones, The Lord of the Rings trilogy dominated the world of fantasy entertainment. In 2001, 2002, and 2003, each film delighted fans and critics. The final film, The Return of the King, won 11 Academy Awards and is considered one of the most influential fantasy films of all time.
News Gets Ironic
As the MTV generation faced adulthood, comedian John Stewart took over for Craig Kilborn as host of Comedy Central's The Daily Show. The comedian's brand of political satire transformed the show into an entertaining, yet respected, form of journalism.
Hip Hop’s Global Domination
With the ‘90s era of gangsta rap long gone, hip hop needed something wild. Beyoncé and Jay Z announced they were "Crazy in Love" with high energy and funky horn samples, Gnarls Barkley went "Crazy" and blended rap with electronica, Missy Elliot created some outrageous videos that were beyond nuts, and Kanye West just went legitimately crazy. Finally, hip hop had embraced a new sound that fused together personality, high energy, sophisticated sampling and a newfound confidence that dominated the airwaves.
Blogging Goes Mainstream
"Blog" had the honor of being Merriam Webster’s Word of the Year in 2004. In that year, blogs became very popular and influential in the fashion, music and news industries. Suddenly, nightly news programs brought on bloggers with high numbers of weekly viewers to offer their spin on topics.
Hipsters Dominate Counter Culture
Hipsters in the 2000s were dripping in irony while dressed in American Apparel knockoffs. They represented less of a trend than a cultural shift in consumer behavior. To be a hipster, you had to rebel against cultural norms while embracing a curated value system via consumerism.
The Social Media Frenzy
In one decade, MySpace, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and countless other social media competitors changed the way the world communicated. It was a revolutionary concept: Update your friends, family and even fans with online posts about your daily life. At first, everyone tried to get online and upload as many photos and life updates as possible. What could go wrong?
Razor Scooters Hit the Sidewalks
In that period of a child's life when a bike was too dangerous but staying indoors was out of the question, a Razor scooter became the perfect gift. The first edition of the sleek, silver Razor came out in 2000 to huge success.
The NYC Post-Punk Revival
Rock music enjoyed a major resurgence in the 2000s. Grunge was long gone, and the only sign of rock was the waning rap-metal blend of acts like Limp Bizkit and Korn. Enter the New York post-punk revival. Bands like The Strokes, Interpol, The Rapture and The Walkmen brought garage-punk energy mixed with electronica and dance elements, recharging 2000’s radio airways.
Low. Cut. Everything.
It all started at the 42nd Grammy Awards on February 23, 2000. Jennifer Lopez wore the dress. You know the dress. The tropical green Versace dress that was so low cut you wondered what would happen if a stiff breeze kicked up. After that fashion milestone, everyone went low cut.
Focus Features Breaks Barriers at The Box Office
In 2002, production company Focus Features released its first film and never looked back. The company’s first 10 years of filmmaking brought alternative, emotion driven narratives to the big screen in ways that had never been done before. Suddenly, big name actors were taking career risks, like Jim Carrey in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Bill Murray in Lost in Translation.
The Tabloid Socialite Takeover
Some of the stars on the covers were actresses; others were singers. But it didn't matter, really. Tabloid magazines and gossip sites like TMZ and Perez Hilton followed privileged, jet-setting socialites on a daily basis, snapping endless photos and bombarding them with endless questions. Paris and Nicky Hilton would party all night with Lindsay Lohan and Nicole Richie, and we couldn’t get enough.
The Manufacturing of Mashups
The more that music went digital, the harder it was to keep track of musical property. In the 2000s, Mixtape DJs made their mark on the music scene, combining anywhere from two to twenty songs in one track. The more manipulated the songs sounded, the less likely you were to get sued.
The Olsen Twins Layer Up
In the ‘90s, child stars Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen were squeaky clean starlets with a brand of harmless entertainment that made them tiny media moguls. In the 2000s, they turned their eyes to the fashion world and became bohemian bombshells and billionaire designers.
Auto-Tune Takes Over the Charts
T-Pain’s 2005 single "I’m Sprung" was an R&B jam that embraced what Cher perfected in 1998 with "Believe": autotune, the amazing sound editing tool intended to correct vocal imperfections without anyone noticing. But T-Pain leaned in on the device, making it part of his futuristic, R&B sound.
Nintendo Revolutionizes Video Games
Want to go bowling, play carnival games and attend a workout class? Great. All you need is your living room and the Nintendo Wii. Nintendo's innovative 3D motion detection device and motion-sensitive controller made the Wii the most important Christmas toy to get in 2006.
Boys embraced the bleach in the 2000s. It didn't matter the color; guys just wanted to have hair that popped. Eminem and Ryan Seacrest were bleached beyond white, while the boys of N*SYNC wore every color of the rainbow in spiked styles to look even more alien.
Uggs Invade Feet Around the World
These unisex sheepskin boots originated in Australia and New Zealand and supported your feet in warm, comfy layers of fleece. On the outside, tanned sheepskin was paired with a synthetic sole on the bottom. Sounds like a perfect slipper for wearing around the house in the wintertime, right? Wrong. In the 2000s, people inexplicably wore these boots everywhere.
MTV Takes a Trip to the Jersey Shore
By 2009, no one cared about what happened at the Video Music Awards since Madonna famously locked lips with Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera. Instead, everyone tuned in to see the latest hijinks from Snooki, DJ Pauly D, JWoww and The Situation. MTV's original format for filming strangers in a house had grown stale, but focusing on the guido subculture within New Jersey’s Seaside Heights proved to be a smash.
Juicy Couture Redesigns Loungewear
Madonna, ever the trendsetter, was actually the first celebrity to get a custom designed Juicy Couture tracksuit. After she first rocked the look, the world was instantly drawn to matching velour tracksuits. Jennifer Lopez, Paris Hilton and every girl in high school rocked this bedazzled, casual look.
Bratz Break Up the Barbie Business
At first, these cartoonish dolls were failures. Their oversized heads, exaggerated facial features and tiny little bodies made them even less realistic than the iconic Barbie doll. But their commercials were sassy, sparkly and appealing. The dolls weren't interested in raising a family or having careers. They wanted to party with their girlfriends. Suddenly, young girls wanted to be Bratz.
The Celebrity Rehab Crisis
Respect for a person's mental health was still years away from the public's consciousness in the 2000s. So, whenever a troubled Hollywood A-lister sought treatment for issues related to weight loss, addiction or anxiety, it became headline news ripe for scrutiny and gossip. These were very different times.
Dressing Down with Von Dutch
In the 1950s, Von Dutch was an angry hot rod enthusiast who painted cars into masterpieces. In the 2000s, his ancestors turned his logo into the must-have trucker hat of the young Hollywood elites. No red carpet was complete without Ashton Kutcher, Gwen Stefani and Britney Spears all wearing the same cap.
The Emo Parade
If you weren't into the post-punk explosion of the early 2000s, then you could head into Hot Topic and check out the black parade of emo culture instead. The emo generation started out in the early 2000s, with emotional music from alternative rock bands like Jimmy Eat World, Saves the Day and Dashboard Confessional.
Hip Hop Invades Your Closet
Without the threat of violence associated with ‘90s rap, the hip hop industry was able to branch out and capitalize on all the attention. Thanks to countless music magazines and a colorful collection of music videos, hip hop stars cashed in with their own clothing lines and apparel stores.
Livestrong Bracelets Don’t Live Forever
Launched in 2004 as a fundraising item to support people affected by cancer, the yellow, silicone gel bracelets were everywhere. Upwards of 80 million people purchased the bracelet made famous by Lance Armstrong, a medal-winning cyclist and the leader of the Lance Armstrong Foundation.
Experimental Soundscapes and the New Weird America
In 2000, Radiohead released Kid A, a haunting, experimental foray into electronic rock. It represented a shift for music to embrace digital technology and produce something scary. Lyrics like "Ice age coming! Ice age coming! Throw it in the fire..." and "We're not scaremongering...This is really happening," played in shopping malls and nightclubs, embodying a new chapter in music that was alarming and challenging.
Ed Hardy and Christian Audigier Bedazzle Everything
The work of Ed Hardy and Christian Audigier couldn't be ignored in the 2000s. No matter how hard you tried to avoid them, they were simply everywhere. No spray tanned nightclub attendee was complete without rocking one of their bedazzled, signature T-shirts.