Christina Aguilera defeats Britney Spears in the Battle of the Midriff-Baring Blondes (i.e., wins the Best New Artist Grammy). The first words of her acceptance speech are "Oh my god, you guys!"
Pop goes the world: 'N SYNC sells 2.4 million copies of No Strings Attached (Jive) in its first week of release, a sales record which still stands. To date it has sold over 15 million copies.
Metallica files suit against Napster, accusing internet pirates of stealing their booty er, royalties.
Pop goes the world, part two: Britney Spears releases Oops! ... I Did It Again (Jive). Album title will take on extra meaning in 2004, when Spears takes the vows twice in a single year (her first marriage is annulled after 55 hours; her second produces a pair of sons in quick succession).
Eminem releases The Marshall Mathers LP (Aftermath). Two years later, he picks up a Best Song Oscar for "Lose Yourself," the theme from his critically-acclaimed 8 Mile. Eminem's cinematic success was not to be repeated by his otherwise successful protégé, 50 Cent (see: 2005's dismal Get Rich or Die Tryin').
Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water (Interscope) drops; it's an early contender for worst album title of the decade. Related: "Limp Bizkit" is probably the worst band name of all time.
Jennifer Lopez has the number one album (Epic's J.Lo) and movie (The Wedding Planner) in the country. Media frenzy peaked with Bennifer fever (2002) and national-punchline Gigli (2003).
Mariah Carey's downward spiral begins, including a bizarre appearance on MTV's Total Request Live and the ill-timed release of Glitter, soon after the September 11 attacks. Carey later reclaimed her pop-diva throne with 2005's The Emancipation of Mimi (Island).
Aaliyah dies in a Bahamas plane crash.
America: A Tribute to Heroes airs on all major networks. It's the first in a series of concerts featuring big-name performers that would crop up after every major disaster throughout the decade, including the Indonesian tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, and the death of Michael Jackson.
Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes dies in a car crash in Honduras.
R. Kelly is charged with having sex with a minor after a certain videotape goes viral. "Trapped in the Closet," his 22-part 2005 "hip-hopera," proves even more fascinating.
Kelly Clarkson wins the first season of the hugely popular talent contest American Idol. In Clarkson's wake: pop stardom, fellow success stories like Carrie Underwood (and failures anyone seen Taylor Hicks lately?), a zillion rip-off competition shows, a thousand moments of zen with Paula Abdul, and the baffling "Claymate" phenomenon.
Michael Jackson. Blanket. Balcony.
Whitney Houston informs Diane Sawyer that "crack is wack."
Famed producer and legendary oddball Phil Spector arrested after a woman he'd just met, actress Lana Clarkson, is shot to death in his mansion.