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Yoo Jin Bae / Sun Sketch Artist

December 12, 2019

The Sun’s Top 100 Albums of the Decade

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If our list looks fundamentally different than most other major publications, it’s because it should be. We’re student journalists, so we’re younger and thus our interactions with music are inherently different. You can call it recency bias, but there’s more to it than that — our oldest staff member was 11 at the start of the decade. There’s no objective way to rank music, but this is our best attempt.

 

  1. Playboi Carti — Die Lit

Dan Moran ’21: Personally, this is my album of 2018 and one of my top 10 albums of the decade. But I’ve also unironically texted a friend “++slatt**!” at some point in the past year, so maybe take my opinion with a grain of salt. Either way, this is a really fun album to listen to, and baby voice Carti has something unique for everyone.

Spotlight Track: “Flatbed Freestyle”

 

  1. Ariana Grande — Sweetener

Jeremy Markus ’22: “pete davidson” is the most tragic song of 2018, don’t @ me.

Spotlight Track: “no tears left to cry”

 

  1. B.o.B — The Adventures of Bobby Ray

JM ’22: After releasing a series of mixtapes (including the presumptive Who The F#*ck Is B.o.B?), Bobby Ray Simmons burst on to the scene with a Grammy nomination for his debut studio album. Packed with incredible features from Janelle Monáe, T.I., Lupe Fiasco and Bruno Mars, among others, this album truly has a vibe for everyone. Don’t worry that B.o.B is a flat-Earther conspiracy nut now. He was cool once.

Spotlight Track: “Airplanes, Pt. II (feat. Eminem & Hayley Williams)”

 

  1. Noname — Room 25 

DM ’21: Our consensus 2018 Album of the Year, Room 25 is a gorgeous, colorful album that quickly became every music critic’s dream review. While this album was great, it didn’t quite have the staying power to move up higher on this list.

Spotlight Track: “Ace” featuring Smino and Saba

 

  1. Taylor Swift — Red

JM ’22: Somehow, the AMA’s Artist of the Decade only has one album on our list, and it’s at 96. I’m not saying our list is bad, but Pete. C’mon man.

Spotlight Track: “I Knew You Were Trouble.”

 

  1. Anderson .Paak — Malibu 

James Robertson ’21: Anderson .Paak has been fastidiously making a unique blend of hip hop, neo-soul and rap, with Malibu defining his style. He seamlessly blends these styles together while his charismatic mic presence steals the show. “Heart Don’t Stand A Chance” and “Come Down” are standouts, presenting his bombastic and ambitious songwriting and vocal presence. Since Malibu, Anderson .Paak has been on a tear, producing album after album of solid music and rising to stardom.

Spotlight Track: “Come Down”

 

  1. Lana Del Rey — Lust for Life

Peter Buonanno ’21: LANA LANA LANA LANA

Spotlight Track: “Lust for Life”

 

  1. Mac Miller — Faces

DM ’21: This is technically a mixtape, but it merits inclusion on this list. With every bloated, hour-long album release we’re constantly reminded of how rare it is to have a project this long be this high quality. Faces was always a disturbing mixtape, showing the height of his drug use at a point when it seemed like he didn’t care if he lived or died, but it’ll give you chills listening to it following his overdose.

Spotlight Track: “Friends” featuring Schoolboy Q

 

  1. Future — Hndrxx

PB ’21: Hndrxx is the album that stems from the dark, crooning side of Future. The album is the most sophisticated of all Future’s albums, maybe only worse than DS2, which makes the list a ways up. If you are looking to listen to something which sounds completely different than what you typically associate with the godfather of Atlanta rap, Hndrxx is for you.

Spotlight Track: “Coming out Strong” featuring The Weeknd

 

  1. Pusha T — Daytona 

DM ’21: This is Pusha T at his best — from baiting Drake back into their beef to bars best accentuated by Push’s signature “YEUGH” adlib, this is everything you hoped a Pusha T project could be.

Spotlight Track: “If You Know You Know”

 

  1. Blood Orange — Angel’s Pulse 

DM ’21: It’s surprisingly difficult to pick a favorite from Blood Orange’s discography, but Angel’s Pulse has to be it for me. Man, if Dev Hynes could sing, this would be the greatest album of all time.

Spotlight Track: “Benzo”

  1. Kacey Musgraves — Golden Hour

Pete Buannano ’21: SPACEY KACEY. Golden Hour won album of the year at the Grammys this year for a reason. If you want to feel like a Space Cowboy for an hour, go listen to this album. It’s vibey, romantic and just a really fun time.

Spotlight Track: “Slow Burn”

 

  1. Earl Sweatshirt — I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside

DM ’21: Whoever thought depression rap could be this good? This is Earl fully separating from his Odd Future style and giving us a classic in the process. Songs like “Grief” really capture what it feels like to simultaneously be drunk, depressed and angry, and that’s no small feat. As someone who neither likes shit nor goes outside, this is a one-of-a-kind album.

Spotlight Track: “Mantra”

 

  1. LCD Soundsystem — This is Happening 

Richard Beezley ’22: You have to dance to it to understand it. You’ll put on this album, and you’re in the backyard with your friends Isaac and Kevin, and you know that someday it will all be over, and you’re struck with simultaneous longings, for youth, for permanence, for holding onto your emotions while you still have them all, for what can’t be expressed in words but can be felt. You’ll be fine, but you have to keep dancing. The jester leads, the people follow.

Spotlight Track: “Dance Yrself Clean”

 

  1. Skepta — Konnichiwa 

DM ’21: If Nike tracksuits had a soundtrack, it would be this album.

Spotlight Track: “That’s Not Me” featuring JME

 

  1. Lady Gaga — Born This Way

JR ’21: How do you follow up two of the most decade-defining albums of the early 2000s? By making another decade-defining pop album featuring some of the best pop songs of the decade, “Born This Way,” “The Edge of Glory” and “You and I.”

Spotlight Track: “Born This Way”

 

  1. Clipping. — Splendor and Misery

JM ’22: Splendor and Misery was just the second music album ever nominated for a Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, and for good reason. Daveed Diggs’ complex bars weave an intricate and compelling tale about a slave uprising and a computer falling in love — in space!

Spotlight Track: “Air ‘Em Out”

 

  1. Drake — If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late

Zachary Lee ’20: It was “6 PM In New York” and I was enjoying the “Company” of my mates when the “6 God” “Legend” himself Drake dropped this album and man, he was coming in with a different type of “Energy” on this. Instead of one band, he’s channeling the energy of “10 Bands.” On first listen, there was “No Tellin” who it was because I swore “Madonna” herself was crooning and spitting. Though initially I wasn’t “Used To” Drake’s style, the “6 Man” is trying to “Preach,” not just rap. “Wednesday Night Interlude” will make you question how well you “Know Yourself,” whether “Now and Forever.” This is the cure for any heartbreak because after this “Jungle” of an album you won’t care about anyone but “You and the 6.” “Star67.”

Spotlight Track: “6 PM In New York”

 

  1. Blood Orange — Negro Swan 

DM ’21: This is one of the more creative albums on this list — Dev Hynes created it using whatever instruments he found laying around. It also unapologetically breaks down Hynes’s anxieties regarding being a black queer artist in 2019 in a unique way.

Spotlight Track: “Chewing Gum” featuring ASAP Rocky and Project Pat

 

  1. D’Angelo — Black Messiah

RB ’21: The murky funk of Black Messiah often leaves D’Angelo sounding like a background singer on his own songs, but that’s sort of the point. He isn’t the namesake of the album, either: The Black Messiah hasn’t arrived yet, not by a long shot. If you’re still waiting for him or her, and you want to have a good time in the meantime, give this album a listen. 

Spotlight Track: “Really Love”

 

  1. Beach House — Bloom

Ramya Yandava ’21: On their fourth record, Beach House refines the sound and lyrical themes of their past three, resulting in a bittersweet and lush exploration of youth, nostalgia and memory. Layered harmonies and delicate vocals coalesce, poignantly capturing the feeling of trying to hold onto a beautiful moment just before it’s gone forever.

Spotlight Track: “Myth”

 

  1. Grouplove — Spreading Rumors

Maddy Rutowski ’20: The beauty of Spreading Rumors is its ability to operate as a collection of short stories: Each song on the album tells a different, creative narrative, with its own sonic profile. Each song is a separate entity, connected to the other tracks only by Christian Zucconi’s impassioned, belted vocals. “Schoolboy,” an emotive rock ballad, and “Ways to Go,” an upbeat techno track, are two songs that perfectly capture the album’s emotional and melodic range. Both are fantastically crafted and equally catchy despite being so different. That is the beauty of Spreading Rumors: Its illustrative story-telling via evocative lyrics and melodies.

Spotlight Track: “Ways to Go”

 

  1. Chris Stapleton — Traveller

PB ’21: Chris Stapleton’s Traveler is a country-folk masterpiece. Not much needs to be said about this one … if you don’t know it, listen to it right now.

Spotlight Track: “Tennessee Whiskey”

 

  1. Modern Baseball — You’re Gonna Miss It All 

DM ’21: Modern Baseball wrote the book on what I *thought* college was going to look like when I was 15. Cornell hasn’t quite gone that way, but listening to this album, it’s fun to pretend.

Spotlight Track: “Two Good Things”

 

  1. Meek Mill — Dreams and Nightmares

Cory Koehler ’21: As Meek Mill’s first studio length album, Dreams and Nightmares took listeners on a ride through the Philly hood life, its ups and downs. His success that stemmed from this hit should come as no surprise with how tremendous the pounding tracks emphasize ongoing gains. The flows cemented here will forever serve as an emblem to the classic street style side of the rap game and cut Meek Mill’s name out as an influence to the many that have followed in his footsteps.

Spotlight Track: “Dreams and Nightmares”

 

  1. 6lack — East Atlanta Love Letter

PB ’21: East Atlanta Love Letter should have a Grammy for Album of the Year. The recording academy is just dumb. 6lack is probably the most underrated artist in hip hop. With songs like “Switch” and “Pretty Little Fears” which features J. Cole, this album is pure fire. It’s sad, dark and yet still an absolute banger.

Spotlight Track: “Pretty Little Fears” featuring J. Cole

 

  1. Mac Demarco — Salad Days

Stephanie Tan ’22: A bittersweet, carefree album with spunk, Mac DeMarco combines so much in this project. Kinda like a mixed salad. But with better flavor.

Spotlight Track: “Chamber of Reflection”

 

  1. Eminem — Recovery

JM ’22: This is like the “old man yells at a cloud” meme, but at least it has substance. I’m not sure why 2009’s Relapse has developed a cult following and this album hasn’t, but I’ll take creative wordplay/dad jokes over bizarre accents any day.

Spotlight Track: “On Fire”

 

  1. Princess Nokia — 1992 Deluxe

Tyler Brown ‘22: Alt-rap music was changed forever when the character that is Princess Nokia graced us with her presence in the music scene. 1992 Deluxe is a spunky, saturated and sexy narrative of this empowered woman about how she faces existence in the context of her identity and physical space of living. Tracks like “Brujas” is an example of such a narrative, followed by slightly slower alternatives to this story-telling process like “Goth Kid.” Nokia is a pivotal artist of this decade; hopefully, she will be given more opportunity to be recognized in the industry than she currently is as she is bursting with such talent and spirit. #JusticeForGeminis

Spotlight Track: “Tomboy”

 

  1. Turnover — Peripheral Vision

DM ’21: This album came out of left field in 2015 — a pop-punk band flawlessly transitioning to dream pop without missing a step still doesn’t make sense. This is a great introduction into dreamier soundscapes, and the perfect album to listen to while you fall asleep with the TV on and wake up when the sun sets and realize your day is wasted.

Spotlight Track: “Dizzy on the Comedown”

 

  1. 100 gecs — 1000 gecs

JM ’21: This is apparently a really important album, but none of us have listened to it. Ergo, it’s ranked 70th.

Spotlight Track: “800db cloud”

 

  1. Migos — Culture

CK ’21: Trend-setting beats and sounds gave Migos just what they needed in order to perfect one of their most legendary albums. Hype, mean street songs like “T-Shirt” flex off the energy that Migos are capable of while the unforgettable “Bad and Boujee” trudges forward on a crystalline, deeper beat. With unstoppable singles and rock-solid accompaniment, Culture made Migos timeless on its own, paving the way for the rap genre’s last trap wave.

Spotlight Track: “Kelly Price” featuring Travis Scott

 

  1. Kanye West — The Life of Pablo

PB ’21: The Life of Pablo should be higher on this list; too bad there are just so many good albums out there. It is undoubtedly Kanye’s most personal work, and its production value reinvented hip hop for many. It allowed artists like Chance to shine and brought us iconic lines about bleached a*******. Kanye is the GOAT … and yes TLOP is probably my most listened to album of all time.

Spotlight Track: “Saint Pablo”

 

  1. Jai Paul — Leak 04-13

RB ’21: This isn’t the album; to believe the tracklist, only one song, the incredible “Str8 Outta Mumbai,” is finished. Some may mourn for what could have been, if Paul’s music had never been leaked to the world and his vision was fully achieved. Others know that the sloppiness is the vision, and will be too busy grooving to think about what could have been.

Spotlight Track: “Str8 Outta Mumbai”

 

  1. Title Fight — Hyperview

DM ’21: This album sounds like what chlorine and bleach smell like, but in an appealing way. It remains an absolute tragedy that Title Fight pivoted to this style only to fall off the face of the Earth.

Spotlight Track: “Your Pain is Mine Now”

 

  1. DIIV — Is the Is Are

Stephen Yang ’22: Is the Is Are represents the dream-pop and shoegaze revival that originated in Williamsburg, Brooklyn in the latter half of the 2010s. The record speaks to many on a personal level as the first-person narrative of frontman Zachary Cole Smith explicitly deals with his own experience struggling with substance abuse. Out of the cluster consists of Beach Fossils, Wild Nothing and Melody’s Echo Chamber, Is This Is Are represents the rawest yet the most authentic from the scene.

Spotlight Track: “Under the Sun”

 

  1. Earl Sweatshirt — Some Rap Songs

DM ’21: This is one of those albums that critics seem to love way more than the rest of the world. We’re critics, and we’re here to tell you this is a beautiful album.

Spotlight Track: “Red Water”

 

  1. Four Tet — There Is Love in You

SY ’22: There Is Love in You remains the most cohesive record in Four Tet’s 20 years of career in music. Its artistry lies in its album listening experience rather than remixes dissected into small parts by DJs. The album’s emphasis on love is a rarity in this decade defined by depression. The upbeat disco beat in the record serves as a potent force of the revival of the heyday of the dancefloor in the 1990s.

Spotlight Track: “Angel Echoes”

 

  1. Bonobo — Migration

SY ’22: In the ambient, downtempo world of electronica, Migration is the kind of record that you can spin on repeat when you are enjoying your morning shower on Sunday before your brunch date. The melancholic intensity is atmospherically layered in this most sophisticatedly crafted record by Bonobo, a.k.a. Simon Green. The disco-inspired closing track “No Reason” featuring Nick Murphy’s vocal is the perfect example of the music you need to have a chill dance party in your own room.

Spotlight Track: “Migration”

 

  1. Thom Yorke — Anima

John Colie ’23: Everyone’s favorite introverted British singer and climate-change activist returns to create songs examining our deepest forms of anxiety and worries about the emerging dystopia from which there seems to be no escape. Highlights include the songs Last I Heard (…He Was Circling the Drain) with its hypnotic and unsettling lyrics and synthesizer sounds and Dawn Chorus, played live by Yorke’s parent band Radiohead but only finally released now. Depression, dreams, ambiguity and the eventual subjugation of society never sounded this great.

Spotlight Track: “Dawn Chorus”

 

  1. Bon Iver — Bon Iver

PB ’21: Bon Iver is what cemented the Justin Vernon-led group in the alt world. After the widely successful and critically acclaimed For Emma, Forever Ago, this album proved Vernon wasn’t a one-hit-wonder. It’s a beautiful album and stunning in every manner.

Spotlight Track: “Holocene”

 

  1. Kero Kero Bonito — Time ‘n’ Place

RB ’21: Artistic maturation doesn’t always mean taking away all the fun. Time ‘N’ Place has some of the greatest pop songs you’ll hear from any artist making music today, while replacing much of the sugared cutesiness (which still made for great music) of their earlier work with melancholy remembrances of things past. It’s bittersweet, and that’s a more addicting sweetness than any other kind. Also, “Swimming” is the greatest song of all time.

Spotlight Track: “Swimming”

 

  1. Isaiah Rashad — The Suns Tirade

RB ’21: He’s telling you about his life, about his friends, about where he grew up and about the vices that could have destroyed him. He wants you to know he’s alright now, but that it might not stay like that forever. Isaiah Rashad is a man of contradictions, a wise fool. And the songs, the beats, the features, everything is unimpeachable. What more do you want from him?

Spotlight Track: “Tity and Dolla”

 

  1. Vince Staples — Summertime 06

DM ’21: Vince Staples is one of the most compelling artists today, and this album was his introduction to the mainstream. Summertime 06 is dark, sharp and extremely well thought out — just like the artist behind it.

Spotlight Track: “Señorita”

 

  1. Halsey — Badlands

PB ’21: I never thought Halsey would make a list like this, but when it comes down to it, Badlands is a glorious piece of fiction. It’s like listening to a novel. The world the album paints is vivid. But above all else, Halsey is just a badass. I can remember many a high school night belting “New Americana” while driving down backroads … God, I was such a nerd. Also, Halsey is my celeb crush; she’s dope.

Spotlight Track: “Roman Holiday”

 

  1. Hozier — Hozier

JR ’21: Hozier’s eponymous album put him on the map. “Take Me to Church” was a smash hit out of nowhere, but his work is so much more diverse. He pulls from classic rock, soul and most uniquely, Irish folk to produce an eclectic collection of excellent songs. Not only are the songs musically and lyrically interesting, but his fans are lovers of all types of music. Hozier continues to make his extremely accessible brand of Irish rock and soul.

Spotlight Track; “Take Me to Church”

 

  1. The 1975 — I Love It When You…

JR ’21: The 1975 remain an alternative darling, producing thoughtful and fun music calling back to 80s stylings of gated drums and lead synths. Frontman Matty Healy pulls from his struggles with substance abuse and mental health to produce many vulnerable and introspective tracks, such as “Nana,” while they use frenetic tracks like “Love Me” to vent their frustrations and let loose. Their throwback musical style has been emulated countless times, revealing just how influential their music has been.

Spotlight Track: “Love Me”

 

  1. Slowdive — Slowdive

DM ’21: Slowdive came back from the dead at a time when no one cared about shoegaze to release an all-time great album, reminding everyone that shoegaze doesn’t always have to sound like TV static.

Spotlight Track: “Sugar for the Pill”

 

  1. Willow Smith — Ardipithecus

Odeya Rosenband ’22: It turns out that some children of celebrities may actually deserve (some of) their hand-me-down clout. On her debut album, Willow Smith apparently gave her neck a break, whipping her hair back and forth no longer, and emerged on her own path at her own pace, with pop plausibly behind her. There’s no doubt that Willow is completely convinced of her own coolness, but that’s what makes this album so engaging. While most people may flock to her other relatives, I’ll maintain my focus on the wokest Smith in the game.

Spotlight Track: “Marceline”

 

  1. Kanye West — Yeezus

DM ’21: I am of the opinion that this is the best Kanye album, yet here it is, buried in the middle tier of our rankings. Kanye conflating himself with God on this album would be ridiculous if he wasn’t on a literal God level with this album. Yeezus is the literal antithesis of Jesus Is King, both in terms of subject matter and quality.

Spotlight Track: “New Slaves”

 

  1. Kamasi Washington — The Epic

RB ‘21: It is remarkable that The Epic will most likely be the only jazz album on a majority of the decade’s end lists soon to come out. It is even more remarkable that Washington has become so popular without drawing the ire of the steadily dwindling purist fanbase of the genre. Most remarkable of all is that, even after you strip away all of the nonsense hype surrounding it, The Epic stands on its own, a well-crafted continuation of late 20th-century jazz excellence.

Spotlight Track: “Clair de Lune”

 

  1. Björk — Vulnicura

RY ‘21: This is a breakup album, but not the sort you might be used to. Of course, with Björk, the unexpected is to be expected, but here, the Icelandic singer-songwriter outdoes herself, presenting an astonishingly direct study of heartbreak and loss. Starkly vulnerable lyrics, dark cello lines and sumptuous instrumental arrangements combine to create an emotional tour de force. This is Björk “fine-tuning [her] soul” at its best.

Spotlight Track: “Lionsong”

 

  1. Iceage — Plowing Into the Field of Love

SY ‘22: Danish punk band Iceage stepped up their game with their third album Plowing Into the Field of Love. Through the record, the band reinvented the possibility of punk music during an era when guitar music is claimed to be dying. While the chaotic and turbulent touch of their earlier work as angsty teens remains, the album is completed with an elegant touch to wrap up the emotions they unleashed with frontman Elias Bender Rønnenfelt’s howling vocal.

Spotlight Track: “On My Fingers”

 

  1. Vampire Weekend — Contra

TB ‘22: Vampire Weekend is a band that we cannot dismiss given the virtual impact of their presence during the earlier half of the decade [insert literally any given post on Tumblr]. Tracks like “White Sky” embody the band’s use of experimental vocals and punk-esque instrumental accompaniment to create a holistic, carefree album, almost transporting you to a remote, beachy location along the west coast. Their usage of slightly nonsensical lyrics adds to the band’s image as a care-free, groovy, kaleidoscopic style that landed this album on our list.

Spotlight Track: “Horchata”

 

  1. Rosalía — El Mal Querer

DM ’21: There are certain albums you listen to where you know the artist wasn’t creating it with you in mind, yet it’s so good you have no choice but to love it. El Mal Querer is the perfect example of this: I’m sure Rosalía wasn’t picturing a group of Cornellians loving flamenco pop, yet here we are. Our favorite Catalan artist bridges so many different genres, building and expanding upon flamenco music to take the genre to places it’s never been. This album is so good I might have to brush up on my Spanish just to get the full effect.

Spotlight Track: “NANA (Cap.9: Concepción)”

 

  1. Arctic Monkeys — Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino

RY ‘21: Arctic Monkey’s sixth album is strange. Strange in a good way. It’s pretty much a moon landing conspiracy come to surreal, bass-heavy life. If you were expecting the band to continue in the pop-esque vein of their last album, well, let’s just say this isn’t it. It is, however, an immensely rewarding listen, threading together themes of technology-driven alienation, fake-news anxiety, and the superficiality of consumer culture with Alex Turner’s trademark humor and insight.

Spotlight Track: “Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino”

 

  1. The xx — Coexist

RY ‘21: Doubling down on the sound that made their first album an instant success, the British indie group pares back their austere, minimal style all the more, resulting in a work that is almost achingly beautiful. Coexist is the sort of album you just have to let wash over you, to let each echoing beat and raw vocal build up into a slow, hypnagogic apotheosis of emotion. What results is one of contemporary music’s most haunting portraits of intimacy.

Spotlight Track: “Angels”

 

  1. Childish Gambino — Because the Internet

JM ‘22: This selfish asshole left Community to pursue his musical career (with LeVar Burton?) and then had the nerve to drop this masterpiece. On second thought, I’m okay with it. I <3 you, Donald Glover.

Spotlight Track: “IV. Sweatpants”

 

  1. Grimes — Visions

PB ’21: Pitchfork wrote that this album is “Anchored to the digital imagination but unbridled from its skittish anxiety and concerns.” Wow, that’s deep as hell. Give it a listen.

Spotlight Track: “Oblivion”

 

  1. Alabama Shakes — Sound and Color

JR ‘21: Alabama Shakes’ 2015 record, Sound & Color brought blues music back to relevancy, along the back of a garage-blues rock aesthetic and the unparalleled talent of frontwoman Brittany Howard. Her raw and authentic vocal prowess is a force. Sound & Color presents both the edge of blues and soul music and the luscious counterpart. “Don’t Wanna Fight” and “Sound & Color” typify this dichotomy.

Spotlight Track: “Don’t Wanna Fight”

 

  1. Brockhampton — Saturation Trilogy

PB ‘21: WHAT ARE THE RULES FOR BREAKFAST TODAY? If you’re Brockhampton on the Saturation Triology, rules don’t apply to you. Rarely do you see a new group produce this quality content so soon into their career. The Saturations are before Ameer was booted, before the group matured. It is raw Brockhampton. And it shows why they are the baddest fucking boy band in the world. Saturation II is the best of the set.

Spotlight Track: “Bleach”

 

  1. Lianne La Havas — Blood

JR ‘21: Lianne La Havas’s 2015 Blood is a peppy, mature, and focused work of pop/RnB songs. “Green & Gold” and “What You Don’t Do” remain timeless songs that will be enjoyed far beyond this decade. Her refined songwriting ability is complemented by her unbelievable singing voice, which is undoubtedly one of the best in the business.

Spotlight Track: “Ghost”

 

  1. Tame Impala — Currents

MR ‘20: Perhaps Tame Impala’s most iconic album to date, Currents retains the band’s traditional synth-psychedelica aesthetic while creating some more mainstream hits that are palatable for the less-adventurous listener. This album has some of the band’s most popular songs, like “Eventually” and “The Less I Know the Better,” both of which you have likely heard while shopping at Urban Outfitters. There’s not a single track that isn’t worth a listen, but “‘Cause I’m a Man” stands out from the rest. The song’s sexy slow burn will make you feel invincible, a feeling only Tame Impala’s music can create.

Spotlight Track: “Let It Happen”

 

  1. J Cole — 2014 Forest Hills Drive

PB ’21: TRIPLE PLATINUM; NO FEATURES. As a North Carolina native, the release of 2014 Forrest Hills Drive was just about the greatest cultural moment I can remember. I mean how could an album with a song dedicated to losing one’s virginity not make every top 100 list out there. I know there are a lot of J. Cole haters, but frankly, all of them don’t know what they are talking about. J. Cole just may be a top 5 rapper of the modern age. And this album was his masterpiece.

Spotlight Track: “’03 Adolescence”

 

  1. Jamie xx — In Colour

Emma Plowe ‘23: How many drugs are you on? “In Colour” will make you feel like you’re on all of them at once. The album is all over the place with dance music, soothing vocals, Young Thug, chill soundscapes and steel pans. Jamie xx breaks out of The xx’s middle school vibe and establishes his own unique sound perfect for studying? The airport? A small party? I have no idea what in what context Jamie envisioned the album playing, but it seems to effectively squeeze itself into any atmosphere.

Spotlight Track: “Just Saying”

 

  1. The Weeknd — House of Balloons 

Nkemdirim Obodo ’22: Recently referred to as “haunted strip club music,” House of Balloons is a The Weeknd staple. You don’t have to be “High for [It]” or “Coming Down” to enjoy this trippy album.

Spotlight Track: “House of Balloons/Glass Table Girls”

 

  1. Lana Del Rey — Norman Fucking Rockwell!

RY ‘21: Norman Fucking Rockwell! is a watershed moment for Lana Del Rey. It’s not so much that Del Rey turns away from her usual themes as sees them—and indeed, herself—in a new light. Here, she deconstructs the stereotypes that have defined her for almost a decade as America’s Old Hollywood sugar baby pop queen of tragedy to produce a work that is bursting with hope, beauty, love and authenticity.

Spotlight Track: “Venice Bitch”

 

  1. Future — DS2

DM ‘21: DS2 is what it feels like to root for the supervillain. It’s dripping in self loathing and painkillers, but somehow we all still use this as the soundtrack to turn up to. Future’s run of projects from Monster to Hendrixx is (nearly — Young Thug had a similar run) unmatched, and DS2 is the crown jewel.

Spotlight Track: “Thought it Was A Drought”

 

  1. Original Broadway Cast of HamiltonHamilton

JR ‘21: Hamilton was a revolutionary musical, bringing hip-hop and rap to Broadway, and in the process, bringing a Broadway musical to the popular consciousness for the first time since Wicked in 2003. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s highly researched, refined, and creative blend of rap and traditional musical theater blew audiences away and created new opportunities and awareness of men and women of color in musical theater. “My Shot” and “Schulyer Sisters” are highlights of the top musical of the decade.

Spotlight Track: “Guns and Ships”

 

  1. Frank Ocean — Channel Orange 

PB ’21: Its funny that you think this needs a blurb. This is Frank Fucking Ocean we are talking about here.

Spotlight Track: “Pyramids”

 

  1. Young Thug — Barter 6 

When Barter 6 came out in 2015, there was no one else in hip hop who sounded remotely similar to Young Thug; now it seems like every new rapper is a thugger clone. If you haven’t listened to this album yet, indulge on Young Thug’s eccentricities and turn this shit up full blast, I promise you’ll enjoy it. I mean, he manages a 12-second “skrrrrt” adlib on “Halftime.” Have you ever tried that? It’s impossible. This album came out almost five years ago but it’s by far the most consistent album in my everyday listening.

Spotlight Tracks: “Halftime” and “With That”

 

  1. Crystal Castles — Crystal Castles II

SY ‘22: Long before the invasion of the nuisance of e-boys and e-girls, the electronic duo consists of Alice Glass and Ethan Kath introduced our generation of angsty teens to music that is actually fueled with anger and despair –– witch-house. Partly recorded in an abandoned church in Iceland without a heater, (II) is loaded with abrasive synths and screeching vocals that illustrates burning witchcraft in an icy, barren land. The track “Baptism” especially highlights the long-term mental abuse Alice Glass experienced from the power imbalance between her and Kath. Problematic? Yeah. A great piece of art? Yeah. 

Spotlight Track: “Baptism”

 

  1. Drake — Take Care

PB ’21: Remember when Drake was good? ME TOO! Take Care was the highlight of my early adolescence. When my middle school girlfriend broke up with me and called me a turd, hi Sammy, I listened to this album on repeat for about a week. “Marvin’s Room” is easy to pick as the best song on the album, but there really isn’t a bad track. “Underground Kings,” “HYFR” and “Shot for Me” are sleeper songs that should be on everybody’s playlist.

Spotlight Track: “Headlines”

 

  1. Beyoncé — Lemonade

ST ‘22: The queen’s greatest “Fuck you.”

Spotlight Track: “6 Inch”

 

  1. Disclosure — Settle 

SY ’22: Settle is the album that brought alternative electronica to the forefront of the mainstream and challenged the inundation of the vulgarity of EDM. For people who have never been exposed to the genre, the listening experience of Settle could not be more friendly. Heavily featuring big-name vocalists including Jessie Ware, London Grammar, and Stan Smith, the album is the culmination of the historical shift toward the dreamy world of lush synth and chill beat in the UK in 2013.

Spotlight Track: “Help Me Lose My Mind”

 

  1. Travis Scott — Rodeo

DM ’21: Remarkably, this album got snubbed by just about every other publication’s decade list. However, none of us here work for Pitchfork (though not for a lack of trying) so we’re ready to give this album its due. His melodies are beautiful and he has an incredible knack for earworms: I mean, who else could have me quietly humming a hook that’s just him saying “Pornography” over and over again? You know the singles from this album — namely “Antidote” — but the album cuts like “Apple Pie” and “Maria I’m Drunk” are incredible.

Spotlight Track: “90210”

 

  1. Janelle Monáe — Dirty Computer

JR ’21: Janelle Monáe pulled out all the stops to craft a unique blend of pop, hip-hop and funk. Her irresistible charisma carries her through a flurry of deeply sexual, political, and catchy tunes. “Make Me Feel” and “Crazy, Classic, Life” are standouts among an album of standouts. Dirty Computer solidified her presence in the top echelon of pop.

Spotlight Track: “Django Jane”

 

  1. FKA Twigs — LP1

TB ’22: LP1 was FKA Twigs’s first full-length album, created with such innate craft and experimental value. Delivering airy yet powerful vocals, Twigs recounts different experiences with lovers and emotions that are intertwined with magnificent production and digital sounds. This 2014 record was ahead of its time. Twigs trailblazing a new path for unorthodox artists in the industry, putting emotional, feminine, and lustful feelings at the center of the conversation of her album. Twigs is truly an innovative mind who has redefined alternative music as we see it today because of how classical her singing abilities are, meshing them with slightly dissonant instrumentals that create a uniquely cacophonic album.

Spotlight Track: “Two Weeks”

 

  1. James Blake — Overgrown

SY ’22: Settle is the album that brought alternative electronica to the forefront of the mainstream and challenged the inundation of the vulgarity of EDM. For people who have never been exposed to the genre, the listening experience of Settle could not be more friendly. Heavily featuring big-name vocalists including Jessie Ware, London Grammar, and Stan Smith, the album is the culmination of the historical shift toward the dreamy world of lush synth and chill beat in the UK in 2013.

Spotlight Track: “Retrograde”

 

  1. Kendrick Lamar — To Pimp A Butterfly

PB ’21: This is objectively the one ranking we are most scared about making. Many place TPAP in their top 5. But we want to call it out for what it is. Cultural significance aside, GKMC is the better Kendrick album. And we needed to show that somehow. But it still deserves a very high spot on the list.

Spotlight Track: “u”

 

  1. Flying Lotus — Cosmogramma

SY ’22: Cosmogramma is the culmination of Flying Lotus’s double-identities –– a hip-hop artist and an electronic producer. The album is highly influential in the 2010s and gave rise to the universal blurring and blending of hip-hop and electronica. Drawing elements from lucid-dreaming and out-of-body embodiment, the album was an Afrofuturist work of art. It is bewildering and challenging, yet if you fully immerse yourself in the sensory overload, like what people did before the streaming age, it is surprisingly playful and potent.

Spotlight Track: “Do The Astral Plane”

 

  1. Beyoncé — Beyoncé 

PB ‘21: Every wonder why Beyoncé is that famous. Here you go!

Spotlight Track: “Drunk in Love”

 

  1. St. Vincent — Masseducation

Olivia Bono ’20: Coming off her 2015 Grammy win, St. Vincent maintained her hot streak and outdid herself with Masseduction. It’s full of synth-heavy tracks with a heavy beat, haunting lyrics and St. Vincent’s signature, often-breathy voice layered over it all. You might know this album best from Bojack Horseman’s use of “Los Ageless” or maybe just from that point at 3am when you’ve reached the end of your studying playlist and Spotify starts improvising, but if it hasn’t yet hit your radar—you’re missing out on some of the best electropop of the decade.

Spotlight Track: “Sugarboy”

 

  1. Tame Impala — Lonerism 

MR ’20: Tame Impala’s sophomore album is a trippy, symphonic cocophy that somehow works fantastically. Quick, upbeat drum hits under long synth chords, marked by Kevin Parker’s Lennon-esque vocals, make for a hypnotic work of art that manifest waves of color and twinkling stars in your mind. Each track is iconic, but two standouts include “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards,” a melancholic ballad you cannot help but belt along to, and “Sun’s Coming Up,” a multi-dimensional track you really have to listen to in order to understand. Lonerism is a psychedelic masterpiece everyone should listen to, in full, at least once.

Spotlight Track: “Music to Walk Home by”

 

  1. Lana Del Rey — Born To Die

TB ’22: Epitomizing the Tumblr persona of the early 2010s, one could not talk about the top albums of the decade without acknowledging such an impactful persona that is Lana Del Rey. The artist’s debut studio album took the world by storm, with classic hits such as “Diet Mountain Dew,” “National Anthem” and “Carmen,” the artist encapsulated the dichotomy of bad bitch energy and sad girl sounds with Born to Die. This album transcends single-genre classification with its mixture of classical, electronic, alternative, and underlying hip-hop roots, something many artists are too scared to do in fear of not being understood or taken seriously, especially women in the music industry. Despite this, Del Rey constructed a beautiful and bittersweet album that did not die with time, much like Tumblr. Sorry, Tumblr.

Spotlight Track: “Diet Mountain Dew”

 

  1. SZA — Ctrl 

PB ’21: SZA’s Ctrl is a masterpiece. Her voice is sultry and seductive, and it is paired perfectly with 808 infused R&B Beats. It’s one of those albums that can be played in any scenario, whether it be a party or a bedroom ;). What I’m really trying to say is that this album is a sex playlist staple. I mean … come on … if you don’t fuck to this album, are you really doing it right?

Spotlight Track: “Love Galore” featuring Travis Scott

 

  1. Mitski — Be the Cowboy 

Last year, the highly talented and articulate Mitski sat comfortably at number three on “The Sun’s Top 10 Albums of 2018.” She continues to invoke some unknown longing emotion inside our heads that made us recognize her impact and cultural influence on this decade. She is an important figure in our music world just because of how her presence as an Asian woman in the alternative scene while vocalizing her thoughts on social issues such as mental health as it relates to the formation of a relationship. As such, we decided to commemorate her record yet again. Channeling cognizant thoughts of being in a toxic situation with someone you found so pure in “A Pearl” and the beautification of heartbreak in “Pink in the Night” Mitski truly encompasses the feelings of falling into the chiasmic pit of love, and somehow finding a way to climb out of the cavernous hole, slowly falling out of such a coveted feeling. With a background in music education, Mitski demonstrates her precise command of a song and the feeling around it, making her one of the most coveted artists of our decade.

Spotlight Track: “Nobody”

 

  1. Sufjan Stevens — Carrie & Lowell

Greta Gooding ’22: Carrie & Lowell is a haunting ode to Midwestern childhood and is Sufjan Stevens’s greatest work to date. The autobiographical concept album explores nostalgia and grief with whispery musings and swelling falsetto coupled with American folk motifs. Listen to this album if you want to feel like you’re from the middle of the country or cry partly because you have no idea how it feels to be heartbroken in Middle America.

Spotlight Track: “The Only Thing”

 

  1. Clairo — Immunity

TB ’22: Clairo’s debut album Immunity is one that a person can listen to over and over again and hear new sounds, vocals, and lyrical implications every time. From the hypnotic lyrics to the complex and mesmerizing production, Clairo has done something quite special with her first album. She is ranked so high because of how unique and simply angelic her sound is, producing tracks such as “Feel Something” and “Sinking,” sifting through her emotions on her connections with other humans and how her battle with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis affects such interactions. Clairo’s honesty and saturated vulnerability gush such passion and sentiment that I have not seen in so long; I cannot wait to hear what comes next from this artist. Also, Clario is the best one and done from Syracuse since Carmelo Anthony.

Spotlight Track: “Bags”

 

  1. Deerhunter — Halycon Digest

SY ’22: Deerhunter has eight albums under their belt, but Halycon Digest remains as the record that people will always come back to. As an album rooted in the nostalgia of the joy of music discovery, the album is an ever-growing grower for its youthfulness that bears resemblance to the heyday of the preceding decade. Its stripped-down simplicity leaves room for ample possibilities for the revisiting of the past and the reimagination of the future. Drawing elements across psychedelic rock, ambience, shoegaze, and noise rock, Halcyon Digest sheds light on the future of rock music, which has largely been proven to hold true in 2019.

Spotlight Track: “Desire Lines”

 

  1. Rihanna — ANTI

JM ’22: I don’t care what anyone says, Rihanna is the Queen of Pop, and ANTI proves it. I’m not gonna bother supporting my argument because if you disagree, you’re wrong, and there’s nothing I can do to help you.

Spotlight Track: “Love On The Brain”

 

  1. Arctic Monkeys — AM

RY ’20: For their fifth album, Arctic Monkeys reinvent rock-and-roll. They also manage to reinvent themselves — yet again — by introducing a more polished production, a greater depth of layering and a menacingly seductive, darker sound to their already impressive repertoire of musical tricks and treats. Though AM decidedly brings the band further into the mainstream, they lose none of their artistic integrity here, building on the backbone of lyrical zaniness and heartfelt emotion that defines all their best work.

Spotlight Track: “Do I Wanna Know”

 

  1. Fiona Apple — The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do

RB ’22: Without the sweeping maximalist accoutrements of her earliest material, without Jon Brion’s production and without fear of sounding unhinged, crazy and deranged, Fiona Apple throws herself entirely into songs about heartbreak, lust but most of all, disgust. Self-loathing in music isn’t really unique or new, and so she uses self-awareness, irony and humor to make the moments of blunt confession stronger and more emotionally compelling than what you’re likely to hear from any other singer-songwriter since Elliott Smith.

Spotlight Track: “Every Single Night”

 

  1. Lorde — Pure Heroine

JM ’22: Perhaps the best part about this album is the double entendre in the title. Pure Heroine both establishes Lorde as a feminine champion and compares the album to a highly addictive drug. The cover art even evokes lines of heroin. Also, the music is pretty good.

Spotlight Track: “Royals”

 

  1. Beach House — Depression Cherry

TB ’22: The melodramatic, paradoxical album title really says it all for this one, folks. Beach House’s fifth studio album — comprised of a simpler arrangement style and reverberating-esque style vocals — is a collection of songs that deserves a spot at the top of this list. Their most popular song, “Space Song” is the third track on this record, utilizing an immaculate combination of control over synths and electronic production, the artists re-tell an experience of feeling so distant from their lover, yet utilizing ~space~ in other songs such as “Days of Candy” to think of the sweeter moments of these snippets of time, reminiscing in a way, about the ebbs and flows of intimate interactions, ultimately reconstructing these seemingly inconsolable relationships and weaponizing them to grow, remembering them as candied, rose-colored pockets of time that happened once before. This a timeless record, perfect for a car ride, a post-breakup crying session or an album to play at your wedding.

Spotlight Track: “Space Song”

 

  1. Solange — A Seat At the Table 

EP ’23: While it’s a window into the soulful internal world of black femininity, A Seat at the Table is also deeply personal. The album is filled with raw emotion illuminated by Solange’s ethereal voice. “Cranes in the Sky” dives into a profound struggle with sadness, while “Don’t Touch My Hair” is a celebration of black history, beauty and independence from the white gaze. If Beyoncé doesn’t do it for you (how??), give the other Knowles sister a listen.

Spotlight Track: “Cranes in the Sky”

 

  1. Adele — 21

PB ’21: Remember the Adele album that everyone went crazy for and then it just wasn’t good? This is not that. This is the good Adele album. Chances are if you know an Adele song, it’s from this album.

Spotlight Track: “Rolling in the Deep”

 

  1. Kanye West — My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

PB ’21: Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is one of the greatest pieces of art ever. Full disclosure, I am what The Sun has deemed a “Kanye Boy.” However, for those unaware — potentially kids who are a bit too young to truly understand the Kanye hype or perhaps those boomers out there who just don’t know why Kanye is so famous — MBDTF solidified Kanye as the greatest musical mind of the 2000s and 2010s. Every piece of this album is stunning, and if you haven’t heard it, you can’t say that you are a true fan of music. One must look no further than “Runaway” to understand what makes this album so perfect. And while Kanye certainly has his problems, “let’s have a toast for the assholes” because MBDTF deserves every bit of acclaim it has received.

Spotlight Track: “Gorgeous” featuring Kid Cudi and Raekwon

 

  1. Kendrick Lamar — good kid, m.A.A.d city 

DM ’21: This is as close to a perfect album as possible. If you’ve only heard the singles, take a minute to dig into this album. There’s an absolutely incredible story told in the skits and throughout Kendrick’s lyrics, and his style makes it feel like he’s telling it directly to you. It’s very evident that he pored over every single word throughout this album, and tracks like “Backseat Freestyle” and “The Art of Peer Pressure” paint an incredibly vivid picture of Kendrick’s adolescence. There’s also standout track “m.A.A.d city,” which may be the most audacious, layered single of the decade.

Spotlight Track: “Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst”

  1. Frank Ocean — Blonde

PB ’21: Frank Ocean gifted Blonde to August of 2016. Since then, it has been widely hailed as one of the best albums of the modern age. When it arrived after months of teases and fake release dates, all of Reddit and Twitter acted like a sugar-crazed kid at a candy store. It seemed that Frank Ocean took over national news for 48 hours, at least in my circles, (and this was in the middle of the Trump campaign). The hermit artist supported the album with a few shows, but soon returned to his reclusive ways. We are still awaiting its follow-up album, but the fact that most Frank Ocean fans, like me, are still as loyal as a puppy who’s been fed French fries to the recluse is a testament to just how special Blonde is. “Self Control” is the obvious answer as to what song best represents this album, but the only correct way to listen to this album is in its entirety (alone, crying, with a pint of mint chocolate chip ice cream … speaking from personal experience).

Spotlight Track: “Pink + White”