In music, the charts were dominated by pop, rock and hip-hop, with the later generation becoming increasingly prominent, accompanied by the sounds of the super-production duo of Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo’s The Neptunes flooding the airwaves. High-speed internet proved a double edged sword for the industry, as while digital sales through services such as the iTunes Music Store provided frictionless access to a huge catalogue of artists and songs like never before, there was also a significant increase in illegal file sharing through services such as Napster, although the good would eventually prevail.
In movies, a rise in computer-generated imagery would see animation houses such as Pixar gain traction, as well as increasingly sophisticated digital scenes giving rise to epic fantasy series’ being brought to life on the big screen, including the Lord of the Rings trilogy and start of the on-screen Harry Potter franchise, as well as laying the foundations for the superhero genre that would become so dominant in the years since. It was hard to change television channels during primetime in the early 2000s without seeing some form of reality TV, be it The Apprentice, Pop Idol, Big Brother, or some other similar format that would become cult viewing for many.
With Microsoft entering the video game console market with the Xbox, there was suddenly real competition to the established players of Sony, Sega and Nintendo. Similar to the movie industry, the period would establish the dominance of gaming franchises, such as Grand Theft Auto and Call of Duty that would go on to become vast online multiplayers in later years and redefine the marketplace, causing the video game business to eventually become larger than movies and music combined.
Top flight sports would see a period of dominant forces, such as Michael Schumacher’s five back to back championships for Ferrari in Formula 1, and the English Premier league ruled by the “Top Four” of Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United. The Summer Olympics would take place in Sydney in 2000 and return to their home in Athens in 2004, with the later event being particularly memorable for swimmer Michael Phelps winning eight medals, putting him well on the way to being the most decorated Olympian of all time.
While so much was turning digital, in particular print media that moved online, and to very early e-readers, architecture and art were two areas where this could not directly happen, but technology did have a peripheral effect. In construction, the increasing availability of computer aided design resulted in more organic structures such as the so-called Gherkin in London, and sophisticated modelling allowed for even taller builds, such as Taipei 101, which was the tallest building in the world upon completion in 2004. In the art market, there was a consolidation of the names that have come to define the contemporary market with the likes of George Condo and Damien Hirst presenting new works and exhibitions, while being regular fixtures of the auction market.
The dawning of a new millennium certainly provided plenty of ingredients for the cultural landscape to change, even if it were to not happen as the clocks rolled over.