Out of all the post-Nirvana alternative bands to break into the pop mainstream, Green Day were second only to Pearl Jam in terms of influence. At their core, Green Day were simply punk revivalists who recharged the energy of speedy, catchy three-chord punk-pop songs. Though their music wasn’t particularly innovative, they brought the sound of late-’70s punk to a new, younger generation with Dookie, their 1994 major-label debut. Dookie sold over ten million copies, paving the way for a string of multi-platinum releases that opened the doors for a flood of American neo-punk, punk metal, and third wave ska revivalists. More than a decade later, as many of their former contemporaries settled into retirement, Green Day remained at the forefront of popular music with albums like the Grammy-winning American Idiot.
Green Day arose from the Northern California underground punk scene. Childhood friends Billie Joe Armstrong (guitar, vocals) and Mike Dirnt (bass; born Mike Pritchard) formed their first band, Sweet Children, in Rodeo, California when they were 14 years old. By 1989, the group had added drummer Al Sobrante and changed its name to Green Day. That same year, the band independently released its first EP, 1000 Hours, which was well-received in the California hardcore punk scene. Soon, the group had signed a contract with the local independent label Lookout. Green Day’s first full album, 1,039/Smoothed Out Slappy Hour, was released later that year. Shortly after its release, the band replaced Sobrante with Tre Cool (born Frank Edwin Wright III), who became the band’s permanent drummer.
Throughout the early ’90s, Green Day continued to cultivate a cult following, which only gained strength with the release of their second album, 1992’s Kerplunk. The underground success of Kerplunk led to a wave of interest from major record labels, and the band eventually decided to sign with Reprise. Dookie, Green Day’s major-label debut, was released in the spring of 1994. Thanks to MTV support for the initial single, “Longview,” Dookie became a major hit. The album continued to gain momentum throughout the summer, with the second single, “Basket Case,” spending five weeks on the top of the American modern rock charts. At the end of the summer, the band stole the show at Woodstock ’94, which helped the sales of Dookie increase. By the time the fourth single, “When I Come Around,” began its seven-week stay at number one on the modern rock charts in early 1995, Dookie had sold over five million copies in the U.S. alone; it would eventually top ten million in America, selling over 15 million copies internationally. Dookie also won the 1994 Grammy for Best Alternative Music Performance.
Green Day quickly followed Dookie with Insomniac in the fall of 1995; during the summer, they hit number one again on the modern rock charts with “J.A.R.,” their contribution to the Angus soundtrack. Insomniac performed well initially, entering the U.S. charts at number two and selling over two million copies by the spring of 1996, yet none of its singles — including the radio favorite “Brain Stew/Jaded” — was as popular as those from Dookie. In the spring of 1996, Green Day abruptly canceled a European tour, claiming exhaustion. Following the cancellation, the band spent the rest of the year resting and writing new material before issuing Nimrod in late 1997. Three years later, their long-awaited follow-up, a refreshingly poppy record titled Warning, was released. Another long wait preceded 2004’s American Idiot, an aggressive rock opera that became a surprise success — a chart-topper around the world, a multi-platinum Grammy winner, and easily the best reviewed album of their career. Green Day reveled in the album’s success, hitting numerous award shows and performing as part of Live 8 in July 2005. That fall brought the release of Bullet in a Bible, a concert album that documented the trio’s expansive Idiot live show.
With their popularity and commercial viability restored, Green Day took on several small projects before returning to the studio. They contributed a cover of John Lennon’s “Working Class Hero” to the charity album Instant Karma, appeared in The Simpsons Movie, and recorded an entire album of ’60s-styled rock & roll under the alias of Foxboro Hot Tubs. While presenting an award at the Grammys in early 2009, the band announced the impending release of Green Day’s eighth album, 21st Century Breakdown, which had been recorded with veteran producer Butch Vig. In May of 2009, 21st Century Breakdown was released, picking up where American Idiot left off, as another ambitious punk rock opera. The album was a commercial success, selling over 215,000 copies in its first three days of sales. In 2009, American Idiot was adapted for the stage, and the following year, Green Day lent their talents to the original cast recording, combining a driving score with Broadway vocal arrangements. The band released the live Awesome as F**k in 2011.
During the summer of 2012, Green Day unveiled their ambitious plans for the fall and winter: they would release not one but three new albums. The records — ¡Uno!, ¡Dos!, ¡Tré! — would appear in September 2012, November 2012, and January 2013, respectively, with each individual bandmember gracing one of the album covers on his own. The first, appropriately called ¡Uno!, was preceded by the disco-rock single “Kill the DJ” and the anthemic arena rocker “Oh Love.” ¡Uno! was set for a splashy release in September 2012, but the weekend prior to its release Billie Joe Armstrong had an onstage breakdown during a set Green Day played at the iHeartRadio Music Festival in Las Vegas. Days later, it was announced that Armstrong entered rehab for undisclosed substance abuse; not long afterward the band’s touring plans for 2013 were canceled. ¡Dos! arrived as scheduled in November 2012 and ¡Tré! was moved up to a December release.
English MC Tinie Tempah (Patrick Chukwuem Okogwu, Jr.) hails from South London. He was in his teens when he issued his first single, “Wifey,” which packed sweetened swagger and became a hit in the underground. Tinie subsequently established the Disturbing London (aka DL) label and released 2007’s Hood Economics: Room 147: The 80 Minute Course, a mixtape featuring drop-ins from Chipmunk and DVA. The Parlophone label took note and signed the rapper, whose 2010 singles “Pass Out” and “Frisky” topped various singles charts in the U.K. The tracks led to The Disc-Overy, Tinie’s proper debut album, issued later in the year.
Justin Timberlake may be the quintessential pop star of the new millennium, a star who jumped from platform to platform on his way to establishing himself as something bigger than a star: he was a self-sustained empire. Timberlake began his rise as a TV star, performing on The New Mickey Mouse Club as a child in the ’90s, but he earned his superstardom as one of the frontmen for *NSYNC, the most popular boy band of the turn of the millennium. Justin stepped away from the band just as its popularity crested, releasing the sleek Justified in 2002, its hit singles “Cry Me a River” and “Rock Your Body” establishing him as a force outside the group and he consolidated that success in 2006 with FutureSex/LoveSounds, the album that generated his biggest hit, “SexyBack.” After reaching this pop peak, he decided to pursue other ventures, choosing to concentrate on acting and entrepreneurship. Recurring appearances on Saturday Night Live proved to be among the show’s most popular spots and he received acclaim for his performance in the 2010 Oscar-winning film The Social Network. Additionally, Timberlake established his own fashion imprint and record label, opened several restaurants, and, in 2011, invested in MySpace.
Timberlake’s journey to stardom began in Memphis, Tennessee, where he was born on January 31, 1981. He began performing early, appearing on the televised talent competition Star Search at the age of 11, singing under the name of Justin Randall. This was his first step into the big leagues, leading to him securing a spot on The New Mickey Mouse Club in 1993. This cast would prove to be filled with future stars; in addition to Timberlake there were the pop singers Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera, actor Ryan Gosling, and JC Chasez, who’d later join Justin in *NSYNC, the group manager Lou Pearlman assembled in the late ’90s. Pearlman formed *NSYNC after the cancellation of The New Mickey Mouse Club in 1994, taking Timberlake and Chasez as his anchors and adding Joey Fatone, Lance Bass, and Chris Kirkpatrick.
*NSYNC began their march toward stardom in 1996 when their first album appeared in Europe. Two years later, their eponymous debut was released in the U.S. and the group scored hits with “Tearin’ Up My Heart,” “I Want You Back,” and “(God Must Have Spent) A Little More Time on You.” The latter reached the Top Ten, paving the way for the smash success of No Strings Attached in 2000. Upon its release in March 2000, the album sold an astonishing 2.4 million copies in its first week, setting a record that is unlikely to ever be broken. After generating the singles “It’s Gonna Be Me” and “Bye Bye Bye,” the group set to work on its next album, 2001’s Celebrity. It was another massive hit, launching the Top Ten singles “Pop,” “Gone,” and “Girlfriend, but it proved to be the group’s last album, as Timberlake’s popularity was quickly eclipsing that of the rest of the group.
It didn’t take long for Justin to release his first solo album. Justified appeared a little over a year after Celebrity and its gleaming, stylish surfaces — partially produced by the Neptunes and partially produced by Timbaland — suggested a new, mature, adventurous musician who was as much an R&B vocalist as he was a pop singer. Timberlake supported the album with a co-headlining tour with Christina Aguilera in 2003 and he ruled the airwaves with the singles “Like I Love You,” “Cry Me a River,” Senorita,” and “Rock Your Body,” not to mention the “I’m Lovin’ It” jingle for McDonalds. He weathered a scandal in early 2004, when he tore off part of Janet Jackson’s costume during their halftime duet at Super Bowl XXXVIII, but he bounced back nicely, winning Grammys that year for Justified and “Cry Me a River.” He also launched William Rast, a clothing line.
As he worked on his second album with producer Timbaland, Timberlake found time to resume his acting career, taking on key roles in Southland Tales, Black Snake Moan, and Alpha Dog. Before any of these films appeared his second album, FutureSex/LoveSounds, was released, preceded by the single “SexyBack,” a cool synthesized groove in the vein of Prince that established the tone for the album. “SexyBack” stayed at number one for seven weeks and its two sequels, “My Love” and “What Goes Around…/…Comes Around Interlude,” also reached number one over the following year, a year that also saw Justin launch an international tour in support of the album.
Following the completion of the FutureSex/LoveSounds tour, Timberlake slowly stepped away from music. He sang with Madonna on her 2007 single “4 Minutes” and appeared on 50 Cent’s “Ayo Technology” that same year, and he had other musical endeavors over the next few years, but his main focus was acting. Beginning in 2006, he frequently performed on Saturday Night Live, in 2007 he had a voice role in Shrek 3, and in 2008 he had a lead part in Mike Myers’ The Love Guru. Two years later, Timberlake had his greatest acting success as Sean Parker in David Fincher’s The Social Network; he quickly followed this with roles in Bad Teacher and Friends with Benefits. In January 2013, after investing in three Los Angeles and New York restaurants, as well as MySpace, he released a new single, “Suit & Tie,” co-produced with Timbaland. Along with a glitzy performance at the 2013 Grammy Awards and another SNL appearance, it set the stage for The 20/20 Experience, released that March. Later in the year, he appeared in the Coen Brothers film Inside Llewyn Davis.