Vote: Who Is the Celebrity of the Decade?
By Mike Hess Posted Dec 16th 2009 07:44AM
Just who is the celebrity of the decade? Oh, the choices! We could go on forever, and while many A-listers have been nothing short of astounding -- be it in their craft or just in terms of overall presence and behavior -- over the last 10 years, we had to narrow it down to six for sanity's sake. So, PopEater is asking you, our fine readers: Which celebrity made the most impact in the 2000s? Consider their full story -- ups, downs, rebirths, scandals and all. A few of our choices have certainly struggled at times while others remained fairly trouble-free, but it's their overall accomplishments and newsworthiness that put them in our top list. So, do your part, PopEater faithful, and help declare the biggest celebrity of the decade. Need a little help deciding? After the jump, we explain why we picked these six.
In the year 2000, if someone said to you that Justin Timberlake -- who at the time was the blond-dyed, curly-haired, Britney-dating, falsettoed leader of boy band *NSYNC -- would be perhaps the top male pop artist in both sales and credibility at the end of the decade, you would have either laughed or cried.
Somehow, though, Timberlake was one of ... well, he's the only boy-bander who was able to break out of the cookie cutter shell and establish himself as a serious and dominant solo artist.
Towards the end of his *NSYNC days, Timberlake could easily have become another music industry victim. He was dating Britney (never an easy thing to do), the boy band trend was dying (whew!) and he needed his own sound and image. Out of nowhere, Timberlake showed he could be Jekyll and Hyde when it came to pop -- churning out outright celebratory and danceworthy tunes ('Rock Your Body') one minute, and vengeful Britney-bashing breakup tracks ('Cry Me a River') the next on his solo debut album, 'Justified.' It was at this time in 2002-2003 when the world realized JT was for real.
Another sign of JT's invincibility and staying power came during the 2004 Super Bowl, when a swift hand movement made him one half of 'Nipplegate' -- Janet Jackson's infamous "wardrobe malfunction" ... a term he (or at least his PR team) coined. A quick apology and some time out of the spotlight let the scandal blow right by.
As the decade went on, Timberlake continued to shatter expectations and grow as an artist. On first listen, his 2006 smash hit 'SexyBack' seemed like a bit of a mess. On tenth listen, it was an infectious dance staple that still gets crowds moving. Add in 'My Love,' 'What Goes Around' and his ambitious 'FutureSex/LoveSounds' became one of the decade's best pop albums. So much for being a token boy bander.
Though Timberlake hasn't released much since 2006's 'FutureSex,' there's a very good chance that when he does unleash his next album on the world, we'll all be dancing and nodding our heads to it.
Of the six celebs eligible for this honor, Britney Spears has had the most weathered and dramatic journey of all. In 2000, she was pop music's new queen -- a brilliantly marketed blend of cutesy goodness and sexy badness. In 2006, she was a freight train off the rails, quickly spiraling towards being a publicist's worst nightmare. Now, in 2009, after all of the ups and downs, Britney's back on top of the music world -- proving that divorces and head shavings can't keep greatness down.
Britney started off the decade by absolutely demolishing the record charts, selling more than 1.3 million copies of 'Oops! I Did It Again' in the album's first week. Months later at the MTV Video Music Awards, she sizzled on screen in a nude-colored outfit. Britney was growing up.
Three years later, Britney made similar waves when Madonna passed the pop torch onto her via her tongue during a French kiss at the 2003 VMAs. Why is this even mentioned? Because it's easily one of the top 5 most memorable pop moments of the decade. However, that smooch came close to being the kiss of death for Britney.
In 2004, Brit married her high school boyfriend Jason Alexander for 55 hours ... and then a year later, she tied the knot to Kevin Federline. Two children, a reality show and a whole bunch of drama later, we all know how that worked out. In 2006, the couple was kaput, and Spears was in dangerous waters.
2006-07 saw Spears at her lowest point. Her divorce sent her spiraling into a downfall, including the infamous shaved head incident, an umbrella attack on photographers, rehab visits and more. This was erratic at its most severe, and many thought Spears could never recover and come back to her pop greatness.
After a very rocky return to stage during 2007s VMAs with an awkward and ill-fitting rendition of her new tune 'Gimme More,' Spears continued to dig herself deeper into the pop ditch, thanks to a wild relationship with paparazzo Adnan Ghalib. She was in the headlines every day thanks to her behavior and sheer who-knows-what-will-happen-next allure.
Then, in 2008, after starting the year by being rushed to a hospital and being placed under a psychiatric hold, Spears slowly began turning things around. She ditched Adnan, reached a custody settlement with Federline, and topped the charts again with her "comeback" album 'Circus.' A year later in 2009, Spears was back on top of the charts again with 'The Singles Collection,' riding the strength of the album's blatantly sexual ode-to-threesomes single '3.'
It's that type of highs-and-lows ability to overcome adversity that put Britney on this list.
Coming into the 2000s with plenty of steam thanks to her 'Girl, Interrupted' Oscar win, Angelina Jolie always had the talent and looks to become what she is now -- perhaps the most famous female celebrity in the world. It's how she got there that makes her so compelling, though.
For Jolie, much of her rise to infamy comes from her life, both romantic and humanitarian. She started out as a hypersexual, man-stealing Hollywood wild child and turned into a globetrotting, charity-focused, altruistic U.N. spokesperson. That's not to say that she's not a great actress -- she's an Oscar winner and has had multiple nominations -- just that when a headline somewhere blares "Jolie," there's a good chance it's about behind-closed-doors than on-screen.
Jolie got her first glimpse of the tabloid culture in 2000 when she planted a kiss on the lips of her brother, James Haven, after she won her Oscar for 'Girl, Interrupted.' A slew of headlines questioning her relationship with James began to circulate, with many speculating Jolie's words saying she was "so in love" with him were more than just sisterly. A month later, she checked herself into the UCLA Medical Center's Neuropsychiatric Institute. Then, a month later, she married Billy Bob Thornton, with whom she shared the screen in 'Pushing Tin' ... much to the dismay of his girlfriend, Laura Dern. Not helping the "odd couple" questions that surely come with dating so far out of your age (and other) range, the two became infamous thanks to their penchant for making out at every lens-snap and oversharing details of their sex life.
This wouldn't be the last time Jolie begins a relationship with an already-accounted-for co-star.
In 2002, the world got its first glimpse at Jolie's motherly side when she adopted a Cambodian boy which she named Maddox. Unfortunately for the child, she and Thornton divorced a year later, and the bad news for Jolie only continued when her father -- actor John Voight -- went on 'Access Hollywood' and sobbingly pleaded with Jolie to get help for her "serious mental problems."
Two years later, Jolie and her romantic life were back in the headlines, as rumors of a torrid affair with Brad Pitt on the 'Mr. & Mrs Smith' set began making their rounds. Though they both denied it, Pitt later split from wife Jennifer Aniston, and the two begin their relationship that continues to this day.
Since then, Jolie and Pitt have had three children together -- baby Shiloh in 2006, and twins Vivienne and Knox (born 2008) -- while also adopting another boy named Pax, bringing their brood to six when you include Zahara, a girl Jolie adopted in 2005.
Throughout it all, Jolie tempered any ill will towards her romantic leanings by pursuing humanitarian efforts and charity work across the world. Whether it's Darfur, Pakistan or New Orleans, Jolie and Pitt -- who by now are simply known as the all-power Brangelina -- become synonymous with celebrity altruism.
Good headlines or not, (Br)Angelina is the couple of Hollywood, and there's no denying that.
Much like Justin Timberlake, Beyonce Knowles started out the decade as the shining star of a group. From the minute she strutted down the street in her straw cowboy hat in 'No No No,' it was clear that Beyonce was bound for greatness -- and that's exactly where she stands today.
Knowles was solo-bound even when she was with Destiny's Child, but it wasn't until 2003 when she smashed all expectations and naysayers with the horn-heavy 'Crazy In Love,' a tune that still gets regular radio airplay almost seven years later. The song, coincidentally, featured rapper Jay-Z, who would later go on to marry Beyonce.
During the decade, Knowles also made her mark on the big screen. She was the sexy female lead Foxxy Cleopatra in 'Austin Powers in Goldmember,' and later starred in the very well-received 'Dreamgirls.'
But it's Beyonce's pipes and dance moves that pay the bills, and that's where she excels. 2006 saw the release of 'B'Day,' and the charts were quickly dominated by her break-up hit 'Irreplaceable,' which was the top single for 10 weeks straight.
Two years later, Beyonce added a twist of edge to her bubbly persona, dropping 'I Am ... Sasha Fierce,' showing off her more sinister alter ego to the world. As big as the single 'If I Were a Boy' was, it was 'Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)' and the video for it that brought Beyonce into another stratosphere of success. One of Beyonce's best moments also came as a result of the success of 'Single Ladies,' when she gave up her 2009 VMA podium to Taylor Swift after Kanye West interrupted her earlier in the night, proclaiming that 'Ladies' was "one of the greatest videos of all time."
He was right. The choreography, format, lighting and attitude of the 'Ladies' video were all perfect. Beyonce knew it. We knew it. Kanye knew it. Hell, Taylor probably knew it -- but still, Beyonce's class-act gesture of chivalry was A+ in our eyes.
It's hard to say how Beyonce could get any better, but we're sure she will somehow.
Nobody in 2000 could have foreseen what a trying decade Tom Cruise had ahead of him. He was the go-to Hollywood hunk who was sure to bring in major box office. Somehow, though, in the middle of the decade his acting was trumped by his personal life -- namely his religion -- as well as his love life. Gone was Nicole Kidman, here was the much-younger Katie Holmes ... and TomKat was (and still is) on the prowl.
When it comes to movies, Cruise was more hit than flop at the box office early on in the decade. 'Mission: Impossible' and 'Minority Report' in 2000 and 2002 respectively more than made up for the impossibly confusing 2001 film 'Vanilla Sky.' Other films like 2003's 'The Last Samurai' allowed Cruise to show off his acting chops in between action flicks.
In 2005, though, Cruise seemed well on his way for another blockbuster movie and payday with the Stephen Spielberg-directed 'War of the Worlds.' It was all-but-guaranteed this was going to be huge. Then, the press tours began -- and Cruise became unhinged.
His erratic and often testy behavior with crowds and the media (anyone remember the Matt Lauer stand-off and Oprah couch-jumping incident?) took attention away from the film, as everyone was wondering what the heck got into Cruise. It was also at this time that he began his relationship with Holmes (hello, TomKat!), and their age and personality differences caused many to question just how they worked as a couple.
Still, no matter what everyone said or thought, Tom and Katie thrived as a couple, and in April of 2006, they welcomed a baby girl -- Suri -- and later married in November of that year.
Thanks to his controversial showdown with Lauer about psychiatry, Cruise's belief in Scientology became a constant source of intrigue for the public.
The Scientology Video
Then, in 2008, Gawker.com published a video not meant for the public to see of Cruise discussing Scientology with his fellow members. In it, Cruise is seen cackling sharply at times, discussing the nuances of various levels of the religion. To quote Gawker's Nick Denton: "If Tom Cruise jumping on Oprah's couch was an 8 on the scale of scary, this is a 10."
Cruise's ability to bring in huge numbers took a major hit thanks to his off-screen behaviors. Movies like 'Lions for Lambs' and 'Valkyrie' underperformed, and nobody could figure out just how to renew his career. That was, until Ben Stiller came around and gave him the cameo of a lifetime in 'Tropic Thunder,' where Cruise played a fat, bearded, cold-hearted but rap-loving movie exec. It showed Cruise in a comedic light at the perfect time, and made people laugh with him for the first time in quite a while.
Where will Cruise's career go from here? Unfortunately, all doesn't depend on his movie choices, but more on how he can maintain his image -- and composure.
Before you scoff, allow us to explain this one. Yes, we get that Paris Hilton shot to fame without doing a whole lot. She went to a bunch of red carpet events, made a sex tape that got leaked and acted like a rich, entitled buffoon on a reality show. In standard Hollywood terms, that's not a stacked resume, but think about it: Paris' path to stardom set the standard for countless celebs today in many ways. Allow us to expound.
That reality show she did? 'The Simple Life'? Remember, where she and Nicole Richie left Beverly Hills for humble, Middle America, performing blue-collar tasks like waitressing and scooping horse manure. If that show hadn't existed, we proclaim that the following shows wouldn't have existed: 'Keeping Up With the Kardashians,' 'Dirty Jobs,' 'The Girls Next Door' and countless other reality-esque programs. Why? Because whether it's dirt or ditz these shows are promoting, Paris and Nicole did it first.
Paris somehow made it her job to be famous and look good at events where other famous people are. Thousands of red carpet appearances with interchangeable poses (seriously, check out this mesmerizing YTMND) made her a nightclub staple ... which then led to her huge denouement ... her booze-fueled arrest and subsequent jailing.
In 2007, Paris was clearly made an example of when a judge sentenced her to 45 days in jail for violating her probation after she was arrested for drunken reckless driving. While many celebs before (and after) her were given a slap on the wrist for similar or worse offenses, Hilton got the brunt of the legal system. On the day of sentencing, it was a media madhouse outside of her home. Crying hysterically in the back seat of an LAPD police cruiser, Hilton was taken to jail and served her time.
Since then, she's kickstarted a music career, dabbled in acting and done some charity work -- all thanks to her new view on life post-jail.
Still, Miss Hilton pioneered the ditzy semicelebrity craze, and for that, we have to simultaneously tip our hat and raise our nose.
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