23 December 2019

NMW's Top Albums of the Two-Thousand Tweens!

We might not even do a 2019 music recap this year, but going back through this decade we have had some fantastic musical moments. As typical, I'd like to break this down into what I consider the only three big genres of music: POP, Hip-Hop, and Rock. Let's list our Top Three in each category (in order!):

POP:

Rainbow (2017) - Ke$ha



This was a revolutionary album by the Pop Queen. Yes - Pop Queen! Ke$ha sheds her greased up glitter persona for something more mature and soulful, but still full of her unique brand of energy. After a hellish few years she turns her tragedy into triumph without a single note of auto-tune to prove she has always had the legitimate vocal chops. She does and this is a bowlful of positive vibes where every track is a glamour bomb.

Bangerz (2013) - Miley Cyrus



2013 was peak Miley and with songs like "We Can't Stop" and "Wrecking Ball" at the forefront it seemed like this was just an obnoxious party album. She showed surprising maturity, though with a collection of heartfelt tracks that signaled maybe there's more to this girl than a wild partier. "Oh Darling", "Maybe You're Right", "Adore You" all make this album one I keep going to.

anti (2016) - Rihanna



Your #1 pop album of the decade, I could listen to this every day. Rihanna pours all her relationship angst into this with little care for song length, track listing, or anything to make a conventional pop album. The most bankable song is "Work" which blew up big, but there's a lot of drug-addled pain behind everything else. Drug-addled love, too. There is more of the latter and this album keeps thumping between Caribbean hymns, club beats, and guitar riffs to come together for a complete experience.

Hip-Hop:

To Pimp a Butterfly (2015) - Kendrick Lamar



Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City is a fantastic debut but part of it still has that stitched together, mixtape feel. TPAB blasted Kendrick onto the main scene as a tour de force of rap artistry for the current generation. I listened to this over and over again and it's one of the few albums that I have completely saved as a constant YouTube playlist. It's full of radio-friendly beats as well as the more biting politically conscious tracks that Kendrick has jumped ahead on.

My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010) - Kanye



I listen to a lot of Kanye, and although I have typically leaned on Graduation, MBDTF may be his greatest album ever, and for sure this decade. There's a lot here. He spits ironic rhymes and wordplay motivated with both earnest goofiness and racial change. He tries new musical techniques like fusing dozens of voices on "All of the Lights." He expands length with "Runaway." He practically debuts Nicki Minaj with "Monster." It's a majestic achievement, fueled by a lot of his pre-Kardashian pain. It's a triumph.

Run the Jewels 2 (2014) - Run the Jewels



Every single track here is hot as hell. Never a mainstay until they landed "Legend Has It" in front of the Black Panther (2018) trailer, RTJ has been cranking out some of the best hip-hop tracks of the decade. The beats are the best around and Killer Mike's brutal bellow complements LP's acerbic fire like few rap duos out there. Their second album is their most defined, unencumbered by expectation or novelty. It's the best hip-hop album of the decade and maybe my favorite overall.

Rock:

Modern Vampires in the City (2013) - Vampire Weekend



This is weird to say, and correct me if my zeitgeist detector is off-base, but I feel like most of the decade transition sounded like Vampire Weekend. It's that twinkly kind of soft alt-rock that sounds emo except for the subject matter. This is their best album and one I keep going back to when I want to hear something that sounds like the early part of this decade. As is apparent, that statement makes me feel crazy because I don't believe it's a sentiment anyone else feels. What say you?

Pure Comedy (2017) - Father John Misty



Father John Misty launched with his first album, I Love You, Honeybear, which introduced his socially conscious folk rock attitude to the world, but he canonized his long form folk poetry with Pure Comedy. It's a scathing critique of just about everything evil in the world to the tune of humble folk beats. It'll make your head spin and also totally depressed and also totally happy.

Plastic Beach (2010) - Gorillaz



NMW's pick for the overall #1 album of the decade is one that launched nearly ten years ago. I've been a Gorillaz fan since the beginning (they're just about the only band whose every album I own). Plastic Beach traded the haunts of Demon Days for sunshiny island tunes, but stirred it with a corroded chemical bath that gives the entire optimism an maladious subtext. The entire album pumps with this and it's one of the most coherent and thematically consistent I've ever heard or have yet to hear. It's the best.

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