10. Daft Punk - "Discovery" (2001)
It's everything a pop album should be: fun, memorable, catchy and exciting. I also appreciate Daft Punk for continuing to make the music video a viable pop culture staple (it noticeably began to die in the 2000s as Music Television stopped featuring...music).
Best Track: "Digital Love" (Yes, this decision was partly influenced by the wonderful Gap commercial featuring the lovely Juliette Lewis).
9. Coldplay - "A Rush of Blood to the Head" (2002)
Their debut album "Parachutes," while very enjoyable, was never really in contention to be on this list. "A Rush of Blood to the Head," their great followup is their best album, through and through. Though my affection for Coldplay has cooled considerably (to say the least) since I first listened to this album back in 2002, this is a masterwork and has the distinction of being the only album on this list on which I can successfully cover every song (real talk). Does that speak to the simplicity of their music? My twelve years of piano lessons in no way have made me some musical genius, so it very well may, but there is such a noticeable drop off in quality between this album and their followup. They never made anything quite so brilliant. (For the record, I don't blame Gwyneth Paltrow, who married Chris Martin after this album was released, but before "X&Y" came out. People need to stop hating on Gwyneth Paltrow). Also check out their Live CD, which features many tracks off of this album and a few unreleased ones as well.
Best Track: "Amsterdam" Hard to choose, but man what a beautiful song.
8. Ray LaMontagne - "Till the Sun Turns Black" (2006)
His second appearance on this countdown, Ray LaMontagne surpassed his own greatness in every way with this one. Again, even if you're not familiar with this album, you may well have heard several of its tracks. "Be Here Now," has been appropriated to death in commercials, television and film (most notably and best in the trailer for 2006's Away From Her). While there are one or two duds on this album (songs I skip over every time they pop up on the iPod), the gems are exceptional.
Best Track: "Can I Stay."
7. The Streets - "Original Pirate Material" (2002)
This album holds such a dear place in my heart. I saw him live in Atlanta and it was a glorious show. This British rapper was such a unique find in the 2000s. His tracks are funny, honest, touching and delightfully grimy. His subsequent releases are worth a listen as well, but unfortunately don't hold a candle to this great debut.
Best Track: "Geezers Need Excitement"
6. Damien Rice - "O" (2002)
It's hard to think of Damien Rice without thinking of a lovely, pixie-haired Natalie Portman strolling confidently down the streets of London during the first frames of 2004's Closer (incidentally, one of the best films of the 2000s). Jude Law couldn't keep his eyes off of her, as the song "The Blower's Daughter" reiterated. The equally lovely track "Cold Water" is later used to underscore the film. Like Ray LaMontagne, Damien Rice's music had the benefit of being featured (almost ubiquitously) in film and television. He was everywhere, even if you didn't realize it and for good reason. This was an amazing, soulful and haunting debut from the Irish singer-songwriter.
Best Track: "Older Chests"
The top 5 to be featured in the next post (obviously)