The cassette tape introduced music to the public in a whole new way. For the first time, music became portable and people everywhere could listen to their favorite tracks on the go using their car stereos and Walkmans. During the ‘80s and early ‘90s, it wasn’t uncommon to see joggers with headphones on running to the beats of the latest pop songs, or teenagers swapping cassettes on the school bus. Music was finally accessible every minute of every day, and people around the world were relishing in the new technology that allowed that to happen.
However, quicker than its popularity rose, the cassette tape was ousted by the CD in the mid-‘90s. Portable CD players replaced Walkmans on store shelves and car stereos were outfitted with CD capabilities instead of cassette players. Cassette tapes were fading out before our eyes.
In spite of the significant decrease in cassette tape sales, record labels continued to release hot new albums on the format in high numbers until the early 2000s. In fact, some record labels continue to release their artists’ music on the format to this day. There has been a recent surge in cassette popularity in indie communities, giving tapes another chance to see the light of day in the digital age. Yet for the most part, cassette tapes are obsolete.
There isn’t technically a “last” album released on cassette tape since some artists are still releasing music on the format today. However, the last major releases on cassette were in the early 2000s, so the most popular albums of that era can be considered the last widespread music releases on cassette.
Here are some of the last major releases on the cassette tape from the 2000s:
No Strings Attached - NSYNC (2000)
No Strings Attached was NSYNC’s third studio album, followed by their self-titled and Home for Christmas albums. This album featured some of their greatest hits, including “Bye Bye Bye” and “It’s Gonna Be Me.”
Oops!... I Did it Again - Britney Spears (2000)
Britney Spears' second studio album broke the record for the highest debut-week album sales for a female artist in 2000, a record that wasn’t broken until fifteen years later by Adele’s 25. Her sophomore album features some of her most famous tracks, including “Oops!...I Did It Again” and “Lucky.”
The Blueprint - Jay-Z (2001)
Jay-Z’s The Blueprint was released at a tumultuous time in his life and American life, as it was released on the day of the September 11th attacks. In spite of this, the reception of his album was universally positive, with some critics even labeling it “the best hip-hop album of all time.” This album also featured Kanye West as a producer, giving him recognition and status as a talented producer.
Is This It - The Strokes (2001)
The Strokes are often credited with the return of the garage rock genre in the early 2000s. Their breakout album “Is This It” was a massive success, with hits like “Someday” and “Last Night” breaking into the mainstream.
The Eminem Show - Eminem (2002)
Eminem’s fourth studio album, The Eminem Show, was his third album in four years to win the Grammy Award for “Best Rap Album.” This album features tracks like “Sing For The Moment” and “Cleanin’ Out My Closet” among other favorites.