"The 90s crooners, like Alanis Morissette, Jewel, Tori Amos, and Paula Cole— who have a story of their own, gave way to the scene dominating performers like Nelly Furtado, Michelle Branch, and Vanessa Carlton— whose songs of the early 2000s seem to be undying mainstays of summertime road trips and sunlight-y commercials. But ten years or so after these artists' almost unprecedented debuts, we're left with a couple questions, mostly, "Whatever happened to, you know, what's-her-name…"
1. Michelle Branch
Michelle Branch's "The Spirit Room" dropped in 2001, giving the world the sing-tastic singles "Everywhere," and "All You Wanted" --both hallmarks of the era, angsty-- and maybe a little bit stalker-ie.
While "All You Wanted" charted higher, "Everywhere" really encompassed the essence of the era.
After "The Spirit Room," Branch released "Hotel Paper" in 2003, offering the harder-hitting "Are You Happy Now?" --Which did really well. Unlike the rest of the album. Branch's success was fleeting, but fell into her hand, again, when she formed the band "The Wreckers" with Jessica Harp-- giving the world "Leave the Pieces." Not much else has been heard from Branch, but she's continued to make music (and get married, and raise a kid). Her next album is "West Coast Time," and is due out in 2013. But her first few songs are eternal!
2. Vanessa Carlton
Vanessa Carlton walked a bit harder of a road than Michelle Branch, success-wise anyway. 2002's "A Thousand Miles" was pretty much the only song she produced that took the world by ear and screamed wonderful, joyful, annoying melody into it.
"A Thousand Miles Away" opens with a laugh-inducing, unforgettable, twinkling measure that recalls sights of the Wayans brothers dressed in white-face and drag. Any cognizant person from this era could probably sing far too much of this song.
Carlton's "Be Not Nobody" produced two other (less iconic) singles. "Ordinary Day," however, is still a classic of the period that will induce the urge to sing. "Pretty Baby" holds its own melodically, but was quite a bit less successful... As were Carlton's following attempts at charting. Listen to "Nolita Fairytale" from 2007's "Heroes & Thieves" and you'll pretty much see what happened. There were problems at the label, so Carlton left. She continues to make music-- similar in style to her older stuff, though a bit darker at times. "Rabbits on the Run" dropped in 2011 to okay reviews and less than stellar sales.
3. Nelly Furtado
Nelly Furtado came onto the scene with "Whoa, Nelly!" in 2000. "I'm Like a Bird," being emblematic of the decade's spirited scene, shot up the charts and remained on the radio for what seemed to be a REALLY LONG TIME...Which was surely alright with Furtado, I mean, she won a Grammy® for it!
Furtado's magnum opus opens with dramatic strings, brings in a little percussion, then goes into a nice slighted compliment with the vox. From music to lyrics the song really set a standard for the genre.
Furtado's first album presented a folky, fun-loving, Canadian twenty-something to the world. But that image didn't stay for long. (Well, it stayed long enough for 2003's "Folklore," but...) Furtado kind of disappeared after "I'm Like a Bird" and the funky second single from the album, "Turn Off the Light." It wouldn't be until 2006's aptly titled "Loose" that the world would again be dominated by Furtado's tunes. "Promiscuous" reached number one on Billboard's-- well, like, all of their charts. The song's sound, and Furtado's new image, was so different that people had to reacquaint themselves with the artist. The racy new persona held throughout the album, which produced a handful of singles, including "Maneater" and "Say It Right"; but again, Furtado slipped into the shadow darkness of music's fast-paced pop scene.
BUT THEN... (after an album in Spanish and a best-of album...)
"The Spirit Indestructible" was released in September 2012 and performed...well, less than superbly. The album's more dynamic and melodically interesting than the previous, more successful LP "Loose," but has yet to even yield a comparably prosperous single. The most interesting aspect, though, is how different it is from Furtado's tracks from "Whoa, Nelly!"
The three above aren't the only icons from the era. A couple artists like Sheryl Crow, Paula Cole, and Jewel stayed in the scene from the 90s, producing songs like "Soak Up the Sun," "Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?," and "Foolish Games" which are just as much part of the image of the early 2000s as any other. Artists like Anna Nalick, with "Breathe (2am)," came onto the scene a little bit later, perpetuating the style for a little while longer as pop music pushed into a new direction. Each of these artists have continued making music-- having varying levels of success. And most of them have albums due out in 2013! That being said, everything these artists contributed to pop music will last in the canon of songs that are beautifully, wonderfully, joyfully a little bit annoying.