Top 20 Albums of the last 10 years

BY DI STAFF | DECEMBER 15, 2009 7:30 AM

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1. Radiohead — Kid A

Exploring the ground between rock and electronica, Radiohead not only spearheaded a new direction in its own catalogue, it also created a new genre of music. Thom Yorke’s voice howls over pulses and synths, finding footing in an exploration of mankind.

2. Outkast — Stankonia

Outkast represents what hip—hop should sound like. The boys not only bring clever lyrics but an original blend of beats that ground themselves between dance and rap.

3. MGMT — Oracular Spectacular

From the catchy opening of “Time to Pretend” to the anthem of “Kids,” MGMT provides some of the best electronic music of the decade. The lyrics don’t hide the theme of having fun, and as the music embraces it, listeners can’t help but feel the same.

4. White Stripes — Icky Thump

It might be safe to say that the last 10 years were the “Years of Jack White,” but nothing reveals his talent more than Icky Thump. Who doesn’t remember screaming “you don’t know what love is, you just do what you’re told” after a breakup.

5. Animal Collective — Merriweather Post Pavillion

Sold as lame hipster rock for most of the decade, Animal Collective burst into the mainstream with 2009’s Merriweather Post Pavillion. Rather than focusing on the spacy, drug—induced ambient noise of its earlier work, the group solidified its sound and pulled together its best album to date.

6. Sufjan Stevens — Illinois

Blending both pop and rock, Sufjan Stevens provided a little bit of everything with Illinois, gaining fans ranging from college students to 45—year—old moms. His tenor voice dances above bouncy, catchy rhythms as he encourages listeners to join his journey.

7. Jay—Z — The Blueprint

Considered by many to be the greatest rapper of all—time, Jay—Z’s The Blueprint proves to be his best. Songs such as “Song Cry” and “Izzo (H.O.V.A.)” show the world that the artist’s talents not only as a lyricist but also as a producer.

8. Modest Mouse — The Moon & Antarctica

Before Modest Mouse delivered “good news” to the mainstream, the Seattle—based band gave the music world a dosage of depression and alternative rock. Although not the most uplifting album, The Moon & Antarctica opens a portal to the most honest, yet frustrating parts of being alive.

9. Queens of the Stone Age — Songs for the Deaf

In a decade full of clone rock ’n’ roll, such as the Nickelbacks and Daughtrys, Queens of the Stone Age emerged as a leader in rock and made Top—40 stations tolerable. Songs of the Deaf, a concept album about driving across the country, represents the group’s best and complete work.

10. Death Cab for Cutie — Transatlanticism

Indie—rock god Death Cab for Cutie was once just a small Seattle band. But after 2003’s Transatlanticism, the group emerged as leaders of the independent movement. Now, Ben Gibbard’s voice can’t help but be associated with broken hearts and lost love.

11. Wilco — Yankee Hotel Foxtrot

It’s hard to place Wilco in a genre. The group blends groove and alternative beats, and there’s just something about Jeff Tweedy’s voice that makes listeners shiver. Wilco is just cool.

12. Bright Eyes — I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning

Hailing from the Omaha music scene, Bright Eyes brings together clever word play and acoustic guitars. I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning captures love, loneliness, and everything found between.

13. Tenacious D — Tenacious D

A tribute to the greatest song in the world? How about the greatest band in the world? Bringing together both comedy and music, Tenacious D is one of the few successful Jack Black experiences.

14. Flaming Lips — At War with Mystics

It’s hard to make a “Best of” list and forget about Wayne Coyne and his crazy antics. The Flaming Lips bring together fun and music to create one of the most spectacular shows on stage.

15. Taking Back Sunday — Tell All Your Friends

The debut album from punk/emo stalwart Taking Back Sunday, Tell All Your Friends shares tales of love and friendship gone wrong with simple, in—your—face punk reminiscent of some of the genre’s greatest. Add in the dueling vocals of singers Adam Lazarra and John Nolan, and you have the perfect recipe to mend a broken heart while rocking out at the same time.

16. Kanye West — Graduation

Despite not being the nicest guy, Kanye West knows how to put together a beat. Graduation provided his finest work yet, with such tracks as “Good Life” and “Stronger” standing out.

17. Coldplay — A Rush of Blood to Your Head

Chris Martin and the boys from England have had quite the run, but they shone with A Rush of Blood to Your Head. Martin’s vocals on such tracks as “The Scientist” and “Warning Sign” not only shape the band’s future but influence what can be defined as pop music.

18. System of a Down — Toxicity

In a time when metal was beginning to feel uninspired, out of nowhere came System of a Down with 2001’s Toxicity. The album was an energetic breath of fresh air that proved how versatile and powerful the genre could be. Serj Tankian’s lyrics take center stage, tackling issues such as the U.S. prison system, the drug trade, and man’s desire for fame and fortune.

19. Lady Gaga — The Fame

Dressed as a used tampon? Check. Faked her own death? Check. Created a dynamite album? Check. And she’s just getting started.

20. LCD Soundsystem — Sounds of Silver

Blending alternative rock and electronica, LCD Soundsystem takes a lesson from Kid A and throws it to a dance beat. Do yourself a favor and celebrate right — pump this up to bring in the New Year.


1. Death Cab for Cutie — Transatlanticism
2. Coldplay — A Rush of Blood to Your Head
3. Lady Gaga — The Fame
4. White Stripes — Icky Thump
5. Wilco — Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
6. Sufjan Stevens — Illinois
7. Radiohead — Kid A
8. Modest Mouse — The Moon & Antarctica
9. Jay-Z — The Blueprint
10. System of a Down — Toxicity
11. Bright Eyes — I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning
12. Outkast — Stankonia
13. MGMT — Oracular Spectacular
14. Tenacious D — Tenacious D
15. Kanye West — Graduation
16. Queens of the Stone Age — Songs for the Deaf
17. Taking Back Sunday — Tell All Your Friends
18. Animal Collective — Merriweather Post Pavillion
19. LCD Soundsystem — Sounds of Silver
20. Flaming Lips — At War with Mystics

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