JOIN or LOGIN  |  

Albums of the Decade

Music, Year-End, Reader Lists | November 5, 2009

Top 13 Albums of the Decade

Check out our list to see how it compares with our readers' list.

As the end of the decade neared, The Top 13's predecessor site sought submissions from music fans to see what they collectively believed were The Top 13 Albums of the Decade. More than 360 people answered the call and the result, we think, is pretty fantastic. Your Top 13 includes five albums that made our Top 13 and a whole bunch of others that just missed the cut. The commentary with each album is comprised solely of quotes from those participants who ranked that particular album at or near the top of their lists.

You can see the albums that finished 14-50 here.

expand all
Radiohead - Kid A (2000)


Radiohead - Kid A (2000)

1566 points

Harry R The Sgt Pepper's of the 00s, only with better songs. Adam P. N There is a powerful urgency at work on this record, and it remains as immediate and "now" nearly a decade later. Carson O I get lost in it every time I put it on. Hugo D...what gets to me about Kid A is how arrestingly beautiful these songs are, they captured a particular era, but still they prove timeless. Simon L Kid A completely changed my life....The words "headphone album" do not do it justice. Alessandro extraordinary musical experience. Eric M Kid A could not have been created at any other time or by any other makers - this is quintessential turn-of-the-millennium music, and this is quintessential Radiohead. James G...the greatest album made in the last 100 years. Matt F...that album is an experience and once you get it, it becomes a revelation.

Arcade Fire - Funeral (2004)


Arcade Fire - Funeral (2004)

1506 points

David H Whether it's the instrumental arrangements, Win Butler's truly unique vocals, or the powerful storytelling the lyrics exhibit, this is an incredibly beautiful and original album that ranks up there with my all time favorites, not just for this decade. Gordon E Funeral has a timeless charm that makes it instantly seem like an album you've known forever....listening to it is like listening to a story. Stefan manages to tackle the entire human experience - joy, despair, fear, longing, love, anxiety, life, death - in less than an hour....It's at the same time the saddest and happiest album I've ever heard. Pat W The quality of the album became more evident with each listen and it still brings new pleasures with each listen. Christian G The album combines great song writing with a level of theatricality that gives the album a strong theme and serves to hold each of the tracks together.

Wilco - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (2001)


Wilco - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (2001)

1176 points

Matthew T Simply put, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot is a complete album from the opening sonic rhythms to the closing fading organ. It can build you up, it can knock you down, put a smile on your face, make you rethink life, reaffirm the choices you've made and, most importantly, make you appreciate things around you. Amy K The beauty of this record is that it moves different places each time you hear it, a crackle turns into a sonic upheaval that moves you into a new listening space....I love this record. I am grateful for it in my life. Dustin B It's a classic Americana sound with a distinctly chaotic 2000s sound. Andy F YHF defined the decade for was the album that opened the door to an entire world of music for me. Brett B Every song is great, top to bottom. The mix of song styles and lyrical styles, from the straightforward to the more weird and obscure, only serves to emphasize the meaning of each respective song.

Radiohead - In Rainbows (2007)


Radiohead - In Rainbows (2007)

848 points

Brian D...In Rainbows couldn't be put together any more perfectly. Jason S For me, it was a perfect mixture of Radiohead's innovative style and quality songwriting....Exceptional album top to bottom, and their best work since OK Computer. Stefan D It's the warmest, brightest and most varied the group has ever sounded, and although Kid A may be their most groundbreaking, In Rainbows reminds you why there's still no living group that can match them. Christian G In an age when most albums have 2 or 3 singles and 7 or 8 fillers, In Rainbows provides us with a consistent collection of very well crafted music by one of the great bands of our time....Every song is a work of art....a classic album that will be listened to for years to come. Frank F It's a stunning album from a band that needed to come up big after a five-year lull and a below average preceding effort.

The Strokes - Is This It (2001)


The Strokes - Is This It (2001)

520 points

Brian M...not only lyrically powerful, but the tempo, staccato chords, and guitar solos make this album truly noteworthy. Byron M The songs blew me away because of two things: how catchy the songs were, while containing great lyrics and not coming off as too poppy, and just how well all the songs are played. Sounds like perfection to my ears. Adam S Eight years later, and it still destroys. John B...everything an album should be. It used a sound that was old and turned it into something new....With blazing guitar, amazing harmonies, and Julian Casablancas' killer vocals, Is This It is already a classic. John R The 11 songs on Is This It are compact and perfect....Almost anyone can find something in the Strokes - this is one of my top albums of the decade simply because I've never met a person who blatantly dislikes the album. Is This It is universal; a definite document of the decade.

Sufjan Stevens - Illinois (2005)


Sufjan Stevens - Illinois (2005)

506 points

Rodrigo R With his words, Stevens almost rivals Washington Irving as an architect of American folklore. Whether he tackles an infamous serial killer, 20th century myths, or architectural landmarks, he does it with equal amounts of heart and wit....Within its 75 minutes, he gives us more than more artists do in their lifetime. Sergio D It's an amazingly delicate and layered record, with just the right length and cadence. Illinois manages to retain a level of unpretentiousness, innocence and sincerity while still being artistically ambitious - which is rare in an age of musical cynicism....I've never been to Illinois but I feel like I've spent a childhood there thanks to this record. Ethan L Somehow, Sufjan Stevens sets out to make a long concept album about a state filled with ridiculous song titles and shout-outs to cultural landmarks and historical figures – AND STILL kills it.

The White Stripes - Elephant (2003)


The White Stripes - Elephant (2003)

405 points

Theodore M The White Stripes' Elephant came out when I had virtually lost my faith in commercial music. Suddenly though, this record that was straight up blues was topping the charts, winning critics acclaim and being played in my CD player virtually every morning on my way to school....this album proved to be a stellar rock and roll achievement from start to finish. Elephant was more than just a White Stripes record, it was a record that allowed rock and roll to breathe out another fiery gasp of life and it basically said, "We ain't finished yet, mother fucker." John B Elephant is a key rock album. Utilizing a heavy drum sound, and Jack White's amazing guitar skills (which sounds like a bass guitar), the album took the music of the 2000s to the next level. "Seven Nation Army" and its underlying riff is one of the most recognizable riffs in rock history, in a decade where there weren't many of those. An amazing album....

Interpol - Turn on the Bright Lights (2002)


Interpol - Turn on the Bright Lights (2002)

401 points

Tiago G What I like the most about this album is how dark it is yet it contains some of the best upbeat music from the 00s....It has really great melodies and guitar overlaying, which I love... Ethan L The heavy atmosphere, the guitar interplay, the melodic bass runs, the forceful yet nuanced drumming - all the stuff that I'm a sucker for is here. Sam C ...chilling, dark, and yet somehow beautiful. Paul Banks' ambiguous vocals backed by a stunning rhythm section make for a gripping listen. The most gripping of the decade. Joey U It is a triumph in human emotion expression - the lyrics, the music, and the emotions all produce a very heart-felt record about longing and love in the new millennium. Mike A ...the most captivating album I've heard this decade. What I find most remarkable is the band's ability to create an atmospheric sound while simultaneously playing driving, angular guitars.

The National - Boxer (2007)


The National - Boxer (2007)

360 points

Peter O For me, Boxer is a very personal album. When I hear it, my heart aches with nostalgia. Every note tugs on me. Every lyric lingers. The album has seeped so far into my inner psyche, that it's nearly impossible for me to distinguish the music from the experience. Needless to say, it's not an album that can easily be analyzed or deconstructed into thinly cut slices, so I won't even bother to espouse about the precision drumming, flawless sequencing, the indomitable baritone voice, etc. Mike S When listening, there is a vibe of melancholy; however there is a lot of passion in the lyrics. The guitar work is simple but it works well with the theme of the band. The record just brings you right in with "Fake Empire" and "Mistaken for Strangers," and the rest takes care of itself. Fantastic record for a first time listener like I was.

The Flaming Lips - Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots (2002)


The Flaming Lips - Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots (2002)

347 points

Ben H This album should have come pre-packaged with a doobie. It takes a special band to have the confidence to take you through every emotion on a single disc, from sad, to ecstatic, to haunting, and back again. Everyone is so happy to be labeled now a days and be told how they are supposed to sound. The Flaming Lips are a refreshing buck to this trend, and this is their best work. R.P. The 2000s seem like the last decade of the "album," and Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots is indeed an ALBUM. And it's a great one at that. Byron M ...instantly fell in love with the whole album....What really does it for me on this album is Steven Drozd's drumming, highlighted by "In the Morning of the Magicians" and "Are you a Hypnotist??" That, combined with the great mix of electronic sounds, acoustic guitars, and Wayne Coyne's singing and songwriting, makes this a top album for me.

Broken Social Scene - You Forgot it in People (2002)


Broken Social Scene - You Forgot it in People (2002)

310 points

Adam S Patriotism aside (well, not quite), Broken Social Scene remains, to me, the height of indie rock and its biggest singular impact on grander rock narratives. Like no one had since King Crimson, the very existence of BSS pushed gently on the boundaries of what a rock band could be: a central point, an idea, a gravitational force, a unifying ethos around which a (huge) shifting group of people gathered and made (huge) shifting music. Nowhere better than here. J.P. You Forgot It In People was unlike anything I had ever heard before. It knew when to hurry and it knew when to slow it down and take it easy. It knew when to leave a space open and when to fill it till it was bursting. It was all over the place and at the same time it knew exactly what it was and where it was going. The contrasts work and that's why it's a beautiful album.

Wolf Parade - Apologies to the Queen Mary (2005)


Wolf Parade - Apologies to the Queen Mary (2005)

301 points

Colin H ...indie rock at its best - raw, barely-controlled chaos that builds in each song to intense crescendos and moments of sublime beauty....The result is cohesive, with the interplay of their instruments and alternating vocals creating something greater than the individuals, and resulting in a truly powerful album. Angelina C Because "I'll Believe in Anything" will always be the best song to do drunk kitchen sing-a-longs to, and because Spencer's yelpy singing is something that is completely amazing and completely inimitable. Shane Y The powerfully casual and perfectly raw sound created on this album seemed to encompass my present and uncertain future, which I was struggling to control....This is an album that will definitely stay with me for my entire life.

OutKast - Stankonia (2000)


OutKast - Stankonia (2000)

291 points

Harry R A lot of rap these days seems to be obsessed with the cult of personality with emcees bringing the listener into a heightened reality of their own life....But what OutKast offers with Stankonia is a divine cosmic orgy of electronic gospel funk to escape from a world driven crazy by divorce, drugs, violence and neglect. OutKast isn't trying to sell you themselves with Stankonia so much as their own southern fried fantasies of escape. The songs are pretty catchy, too. Max W "Ms. Jackson" and "Bombs Over Baghdad" become two of the defining hip-hops songs of the early 2000s, and they actively illustrate the genre-defying production of the album....The album successfully bridged the gap between introspective hip-hop and southern rap....It's also a great album to get high to!

expand all

Comments Leave a comment


Too bad that Ryan Adams - Heartbreaker (2000) didn't make the top 13. But I'm happy Wilco and Outkast made it.

6:07 AM   Nov 05, 2009


No MMJ??? I'm really surprised that there wasn't a Decemberists album in the Top 50. A good overall list. I'm a little surprised with the dropoff after In Rainbows for points and how far Kid A and Funeral were ahead. Thanks again for doing this.

6:46 AM   Nov 05, 2009


Interesting outcome from the masses. I have to argue with a few choices though - Interpol is bland (though I admit I was grooving to it in the early '00s), Sufjan is unique but dull, and the Strokes, they just never struck a chord with me (zing!). But the people have spoken. Fun to see these results though, nice job compiling.

7:51 AM   Nov 05, 2009


Ugh. Fucking Wilco.

8:11 AM   Nov 05, 2009


Wilco = most overrated band of the decade

8:28 AM   Nov 05, 2009


very constructive.

8:33 AM   Nov 05, 2009

tloveisready ★★

No surprise at all that none of my top 13 made the Top 50 on this site. I fully accept my differences and I celebrate them. Also, the collective Lollaboard has terrible taste in music.

10:43 AM   Nov 05, 2009

tloveisready ★★

Hey B, any chance there'll be links to individual lists like in '07 and '08?

10:44 AM   Nov 05, 2009


My same question T-Love. I had to look through emails to even find out what I selected. I had seven out of the top 50 in my 13. Three in of the top 13 in my 13. What's with the Wilco hatred?

10:59 AM   Nov 05, 2009


I lied. I had four of the 13 and 8 in the top 50

11:00 AM   Nov 05, 2009


wilco is overrated? i was sad to see sufjan and the flaming lips on this list.

1:11 PM   Nov 05, 2009

KungFuJay ★★

I think Sufjan and Flaming Lips deserved the top 13. I was more disappointed that Wolf Parade made it. Mega-victory that Animal Collective didn't make the cut though. Like caseydog, also disappointing no Decemberists albums in the top 50 at all.

1:32 PM   Nov 05, 2009


I am happy with this list but there is a total lack of hip hop. Thank god you already announced the top 13 hip hop albums of the decade or I'd be throwing a fit right now :P

1:53 PM   Nov 05, 2009

tloveisready ★★

For real. Where the HELL is the hip-hop?!?

3:52 PM   Nov 05, 2009


I love every album in the top nine and like the remaining four. Surprised Coldplay made the top 50, that Strawberry Jam didn't, and that College Dropout is so low. And I wish Sigur Rós had performed better.

4:20 PM   Nov 05, 2009


So happy to see Interpol, Stripes, Wilco, and Radiohead on there. Great list everyone.

1:34 PM   Nov 06, 2009

Please Join or Login to leave a comment