The Decade In Music

To compile a list of the best musical works of the 1960s one would not have to look much further than the pop sales charts, where the greatest artists of the day (such as The Beatles and The Rolling Stones) could be found. But, compiling a list for the past decade, one has to delve into blogs, social networking sites and music magazines to discover the great music the aughties had to offer.

It’s a blessing and a curse. The blessing is the joy of the discovery, finding the diamonds among the musical stones (and not just the Rolling ones). There is simply more choice and one can focus energy on favorite genres, whether it’s rap, dance or country. The downside is that boring has become the new mainstream, and great musical acts can get lost among the glut of garbage.

Thankfully, these year-end and decade-end lists give us a chance to push our favorites, who may have been overlooked the past decade. Since my favorite genres are rock (especially indie rock) and alt folk, those are the artists that are most represented.

What albums meant the most to me? “Funeral” is a dreary choice for a title, but the songs contained within were anything but — hopeful, euphoric, symphonic, they announced the arrival of the decade’s best new band, Arcade Fire. The indie band’s second album, the dark and beautiful “Neon Bible,” confirmed their epic talent. The National was another exciting talent on the indie front, especially with the brooding, narcotic “Alligator,” while The Killers made an impact on the sales charts and in live shows by adding a twist to the best of ’80s indie music.

Veterans such as U2 (three exemplary albums) and Lucinda Williams (four) showed the younger generation how it’s done. Speaking of elder statesmen, Leonard Cohen offered up a great studio album (“Ten New Songs”) and the decade’s best live album (“Live in London”).

We had to say goodbye to the brilliant Australian cult band the Go-Betweens, who reunited early in the decade to release three wonderful albums before singer-songwriter Grant McLellan died of a heart attack in 2006. Their swan song. “Oceans Apart,” is one of the great underlooked albums of the decade.

What wasn’t overlooked? Catchy singles. They reigned in the era of the download — “Hey Ya” by Outkast, “Crazy” by Gnarls Barkley; “Crazy in Love” by Beyonce; “Since U Been Gone” by Kelly Clarkson; “Paper Planes” by MIA. They were rightfully hits. With the omnipresence of YouTube, the most popular way to digest music has become a bite at a time.

But I’m not ready to write an obit for the album yet. These 100 works prove there’s plenty of life in them as an artform.

100 great albums

1. Funeral, Arcade Fire (04)
2. Alligator, The National (05)
3. How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, U2 (04)
4. Essence, Lucinda Williams (02)
5. Turn on the Bright Lights, Interpol (02)
6. Oceans Apart, The Go-Betweens (05)
7. Hot Fuss, The Killers (04)
8. Ten New Songs, Leonard Cohen (01)
9. Red Dirt Girl, Emmylou Harris (00)
10. GIve Up, Postal Service (03)
11. No Line on the Horizon, U2 (09)
12. Escondida, Jolie Holland (04)
13. Neon Bible, Arcade Fire (07)
14. I Am a Bird Now, Antony & the Johnsons (05)
15. World Without Tears, Lucinda Williams (03)
16. You Are Free, Cat Power (03)
17. Comfort of Strangers, Beth Orton (02)
18. All That You Can’t Leave Behind, U2 (00)
19. Chutes Too Narrow, The Shins (03)
20. Our Shadows Will Remain, Joseph Arthur (03)
21. The National, The National (01)
22. Day & Age, The Killers (08)
23. Bright Yellow Bright Orange, The Go-Betweens (03)
24. Is This It, The Strokes (01)
25. Extraordinary Machine, Fiona Apple (05)
26. Distortion, Magnetic Fields (08)
27. Up Against the Legends, The Legends (04)
28. A Rush of Blood to the Head, Coldplay (02)
29. Van Lear Rose, Loretta Lynn (04)
30. Siberia, Echo and the Bunnymen (05)
31. Elephant, The White Stripes (03)
32. Back to Black, Amy Winehouse (07)
33. Live in London, Leonard Cohen (09)
34. Gold, Ryan Adams (01)
35. The Living and the Dead, Jolie Holland (08)
36. Boxer, The National (07)
37. American Idiot, Green Day (04)
38. Dangerous Game, Mary Weiss & The Reigning Sound (07)
39. Sonic Nurse, Sonic Youth (04)
40. Bachelor No. 2 (or, the Last Remains of the Dodo), Aimee Mann, (00)
41. Sea Change, Beck (02)
42. Friends of Rachel Worth, The Go-Betweens (00)
43. Daybreaker, Beth Orton (02)
44. Yankee Foxtrot Hotel, Wilco (01)
45. Come Away with Me, Norah Jones (02)
46. The Rising, Bruce Springsten (02)
47. Stumble Into Grace, Emmylou Harris (03)
48. The Reminder, Feist (07)
49. i, Magnetic Fields (04)
50. The Covers Record, Cat Power (00)
51. White Blood Cells, White Stripes (07)
52. Love and Theft, Bob Dylan (01)
53. Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers & Bastards, Tom Waits (02)
54. Springtime Can Kill, Jolie Holland (06)
55. Our Love to Admire, Interpol (07)
56. Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers, The National (03)
57. Justified, Justin Timberlake (02)
58. De Stijl, White Stripes (00)
59. Little Honey, Lucinda WIlliams (08)
60. Slideling, Ian McCulloch (03)
61. Come to Where I’m From, Joseph Arthur (00)
62. The Greatest, Cat Power (06)
63. Wincing the Night Away, The Shins (07)
64. Volume One, She & Him (08)
65. The Marshall Mathers LP, Eminem (00)
66. American III: Solitary Man, Johnny Cash (00)
67. Speakerboxx/Love Below, OutKast (03)
68. All I Intended to Be, Emmylou Harris (08)
69. Parachutes, Coldplay (00)
70. Franz Ferdinand, Franz Ferdinand (04)
71. The Drift, Scott Walker (06)
72. Fashionably Late, Linda Thompson (02)
73. West, Lucinda Williams (07)
74. Antics, Interpol (04)
75. Modern Times, Bob Dylan (06)
76. FutureSex/LoveSounds, Justin Timberlake (06)
77. Transatlanticism, Death Cab for Cutie (03)
78. Old Kit Bag, Richard Thompson (03)
79. Rather Ripped, Sonic Youth (06)
80. Dear Heather, Leonard Cohen (04)
81. Vespertine, Bjork (01)
82. Vampire Weekend, Vampire Weekend (08)
83. Lost in Space, Aimee Mann (02)
84. Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, The Flaming Lips (02)
85. Redemption’s Son, Joseph Arthur (02)
86. The Eminem Show (02)
87. Viva La Vida, Coldplay (08)
88. Fleet Foxes, Fleet Foxes (08)
89. Time the Revelator, Gillian Welch (01)
90. Under the Blacklight, Rilo Kiley (07)
91. Songs in a Minor, Alicia Keys (01)
92. Oh, Inverted World, The Shins (01)
93. Illinois, Sufjan Stevens (05)
94. Dimanche a Bamako, Amadou & Miriam (05)
95. @#&! Smile, Aimee Mann (08)
96. Icky Thump, The White Stripes (07)
97. Sam’s Town, The Killers (06)
98. Person Pitch, Panda Bear (07)
99. Nuclear Daydream, Joseph Arthur (06)
100. In Rainbows, Radiohead (08)

15 great soundtracks
1. Wicker Park (04)
2. The Twilight Saga: New Moon (09)
3. The O.C. (six volumes)
4. Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist (08)
5. Weeds (four volumes)
6. Juno (07)
7. There Will Be Blood (08)
8. High Fidelity (00)
9. Kill Bill Vol. I and II (03-04)
10. Dancer in the Dark (00)
11. Marie Antoinette (06)
12. The Royal Tenenbaums (01)
13. Across the Universe (07)
14. Happy Endings (05)
15. 21 Grams (03)

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1 comment for “The Decade In Music

  1. March 5, 2010 at 12:42 am

    Eminem has all of my respect. Best rapper IMO.

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