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Free, easy music distribution over the internet caused underground music scenes to explode as the 2000s began - these styles were characterized in part by musical retromania, and the reappropriation of styles from the 60s, 70s and 80s. The huge variety of music produced in the decade can make it hard to summarise as a whole.

Mainstream pop music enjoyed continued success, taking on more influences from hip-hop, R&B and electronica. Electronica and dance music grew more sophisticated as the decade went on. Big beat, house, drum and bass, ambient and IDM continued to be evolve. Dubstep emerged in the middle of the decade and went on to become hugely popular. Electronica and indie rock began to have more of an impact on the mainstream in the late 2000s.

Cerebral underground hip-hop provided an alternative to flashy Gangster Rap. Scene, or 'Emo' culture emerged in the mid-2000s, turning the pop punk and nu metal of the 1990s into post-hardcore. Metal itself continued to divide into countless subgenres. Indie and hipster culture gave birth to genres such as Electroclash and the Post-Punk revival, and later renaissances in Psychedelic, Garage Rock, Shoegaze and Folk Rock. Many artists straddled more than one of these movements.

Portable music devices and online downloads changed the way music was consumed, with people often opting to purchase singles instead of full albums. There has been some debate over the naming of the decade, which has been referred to as the zeros, the oh-ohs, the 2000s the aughts, and the naughties. .

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