15 Of The Greatest And Most Famous British Singers Of The 2000s

Written by Laura Macmillan
Last updated

During the turbulent times of the 2000s, the United Kingdom found solace in creating new music that would impact the globe. The world saw a second British Invasion, and soul artists like Amy Winehouse, Natasha Bedingfield, and Duffy topped international charts.

The 2000s hearkened back to earlier years, but they also saw the development of a new genre: grime. From grime pioneers like Kano to R&B classics like Adele and Estelle, the decade was a crucial time in the development of British music.

In this post, we’re going to take a look at the talent of 15 of the greatest and most famous British singers of the 2000s. Let’s get started.

1. Chris Martin

Born in 1977 in Exeter, South Devon, Chris Martin is an English singer and music producer most famous for headlining the rock band Coldplay.

Martin went to University College London, where he met guitarist Jonny Buckland. The two decided to start a band with their friends, and as Coldplay, they released their first album, Parachutes, in 2000. It went on to earn the band a Brit Award for Album of the Year in 2001 and a Grammy Award in 2002.

Coldplay succeeded commercially and embarked on several world tours. The band rose to the top of British alternative rock music, but Martin continued releasing solo songs, collaborating with the Chainsmokers, Dua Lipa, Avicii, and Kanye West.

2. Adele

Next up, born in 1988, we have Adele, who is a singer and songwriter from Tottenham, London.

Her big break came in 2006 when XL Recordings noticed her talent and gave her a record contract. She became an instant star with her 2008 album 19. It featured the songs “Chasing Pavements,” ”Make You Feel My Love,” and ”Cold Shoulder,” all of which are doing very well.

Since then, Adele has released four albums, as well as the single “Skyfall” for the James Bond movie of the same name, and remains one of the most famous singers in the United Kingdom.

3. Duffy

Born in 1984 in Bangor, Gwynedd, Aimee Anne Duffy is a Welsh songwriter and singer who has been active since 2004. As a teenager, she started performing in a number of local bands before relocating to Chester.

In 2007, she signed her first contract with A&M Records and made her first major television appearance on Later with Jools Holland.

She came second behind Adele in a BBC experts poll deciding who would be the biggest breakthrough acts for 2008. That year, Duffy released her debut album, Rockferry, which was critically acclaimed and topped the charts in multiple countries.

Her most prominent single was “Mercy,” which was released in 2008 and brought Duffy considerable international success and remains her most recognizable song.

4. Damon Albarn

Born in Whitechapel and growing up in Leytonstone, East London, Damon Albarn is a singer famous for being the frontman for two prominent British rock bands, Blur and Gorillaz.

Albarn helped found Gorillaz in 1998, and the group enjoyed success with their hit single “Clint Eastwood” in 2001. As a member of Gorillaz, Albarn uses the name 2-D, and he has contributed to songs like “Feel Good Inc,” “Dare,” and “Melancholy HIll” under that name.

He has earned multiple awards nominations as an individual and with his two groups. Aside from his music, Albarn is a political activist and has received an OBE from the British government.

5. Amy Winehouse

Born in Southgate, North London, in 1983, English singer Amy Winehouse was active from 2002 to 2011.

Winehouse started composing songs when she was just 14 and signed a record deal with 19 Management when she was 19. She found commercial success with her jazz album Frank and rose to fame due to her deep voice and rebellious signature style.

Winehouse found inspiration in jazz, soul, and R&B and had a number of top 10 songs like “Back in Black,“ “Rehab, “ and “Valerie,“ which brought her international acclaim before her death.

6. M.I.A.

Mathangi Arulpragasam is an English singer, rapper, and activist. Born in the Hounslow district of west London, she became famous under the stage name M.I.A. Her style is a blend of electronic, dance, and world music.

Her parents are from Sri Lanka, and M.I.A. often sings about politics, social issues, and immigration.

M.I.A. got her first taste of the music industry with the pop-punk band Elastica. However, she gained international attention as a solo artist with her single “Paper Planes” in 2007.

Her first album, Arular, was nominated for a Mercury Award, while her second album Kala earned her commercial success.

In 2019, M.I.A. was made an MBE by the British government and dedicated the honor to her mother.

7. Leona Lewis

Singer-songwriter Leona Lewis was born in 1985 in the Borough of Islington and grew up attending theater and singing schools.

In 2006, Lewis won The X Factor television competition and shot to fame. Simon Cowell signed her to his record label, Syco Music, and she subsequently signed a contract with J Records in 2007.

Lewis’s debut single, “Bleeding Love,” topped the UK charts in 2007. That same year, her album Spirit quickly soared into popularity and became one of the best-selling albums of the decade.

Worldwide, Lewis has sold more than 35 million records and has three Grammy nominations.

8. Natasha Bedingfield

From West Sussex, Natasha Bedingfield was born in Haywards Heath and grew up in a musical family. As a teenager, Bedingfield and her siblings started a band, and she appeared on a friend’s record when she was 14.

Bedingfield moved to London to pursue a degree in psychology, but she decided to create music instead. She wrote worship songs for Hillsong United UK and rose to success.

In 2004, Bedingfield released her hit song “Unwritten,” which led to a Grammy nomination. Her career continues to flourish, and she has sold over 10 million records.

9. Estelle

R&B singer Estelle was born in the Hammersmith neighborhood of West London and grew up around reggae and American gospel music. She is famous for her unique sound, a mix of soul, reggae, R&B, and hip-hop.

In 2000, Estelle started working at a record shop and singing at clubs in London. A few years later, she met Kanye West at a restaurant in Los Angeles, and he introduced her to John Legend, which changed her career for the better.

Legend helped her release her debut album, The 18th Day, in 2004. Four years after, Estelle broke into the mainstream with her second album, Shine.

10. Craig David

Next up we have another R&B singer. Craig David grew up in the Holyrood estate of Southampton, England. His father, a reggae bass player, stoked David’s interest in music when he was young. As a teenager, he began MCing with his father’s encouragement.

In 2000, David released his first album, Born to Do It. It was an instant success. Songs from the album “Fill Me In,” “7 Days,” and “Walking Away” were all hits; the first two #1 in UK charts. He followed it with five more solo albums. David has sold over 15 million records overall.

David has collaborated with big names like Kano, Sting, and Diplo. He has an MBE, two Grammy award nominations, and several top 40 songs in the UK.

11. Robbie Williams

Born in Stoke-on-Trent in 1974, Robbie Williams got his initial break as part of the boy band Boyzone in the 1990s.

In the 2000s, Williams enjoyed considerable success as a solo artist. Five of his albums reached #1 in the United Kingdom between 2000 and 2006, selling millions of copies and earning him numerous accolades.

His most well-received songs from these albums are “Rock DJ,” ”Somethin’ Stupid” (featuring Nicole Kidman), “Radio,” and “Something Beautiful.”

At one point, he was so popular in the UK that there was even speculation that he might replace Pierce Brosnan as James Bond after the Irish actor left the role in 2001.

13. Joss Stone

Famous for her R&B and blue-eyed soul style, we have Joss Stone. This talented singer-songwriter was born in Dover, a ferry port in southeast Kent, and grew up in Ashill, Devon.

Stone found inspiration in the music of Aretha Franklin, and she soon began to develop a distinct style. Her impressive vocals led her to focus on singing competitions, and she started her career at age 13. 

In 2001, Stone won a BBC Television talent show, which launched her into the public eye. She topped the UK charts with her album Mind Body & Soul and won a BRIT Award in 2005.

14. Kano

British singer and rapper Kano has been active since 2000. He played a significant role in shaping English music in the 2000s and has won the Mercury Prize and a MOBO award.

He grew up in East Ham, London, and was one of the early pioneers of the grime genre. In 2004, he released his first single, “Ps and Qs.” It was an instant success within the underground grime scene and pirate radios.

Kano found critical and mainstream acclaim with his album Made in the Manor. He moved into acting and found an international platform for his music with his role in Top Boy.

15. Alexandra Burke

Ending our list, we have contemporary R&B artist Alexandra Burke, who was born in the Borough of Islington in 1988.

Burke auditioned for the reality competition show The X Factor in 2005, but the contest eliminated her due to her young age. A few years later, she worked with vocalist Mariah Carey and successfully won The X Factor in 2008.

Her cover of “Hallelujah” was the top single in the UK in 2008, and her 2009 album, Overcome, also hit #1 on the UK charts.

Since then, Burke has expanded her career and started singing in musicals. She has appeared in The Bodyguard and Sister Act while she continues to release albums.

Summing Up Our List Of Famous 2000s British Singers

As seen above, the 2000s saw the development of new genres, blended sounds, and rising stars. From the eclectic style of Damon Albarn to the warm vocals of Craig David, British music from this era has something for everyone.

Amy Winehouse introduced a new age of female soul and Robbie Williams dominated with his electrifying style. Meanwhile, M.I.A. brought social issues into their lyrics, and Adele helped bring British music to the mainstream for the rest of the world.

We hope you continue to learn more about music in the United Kingdom and that you enjoy listening to these influential singers!

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Laura has over 12 years experience teaching both classical and jazz saxophone and clarinet. She now resides in California where she works as a session and live performer.