Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Top 25 Albums of the Aughts (5-1)

5. Jay-Z - "The Black Album" (2003)
No, I didn't forget it. It's in the top five, right where it should be. Even the most casual listener of hip-hop would be hard-pressed to make a list of the greatest albums of the 2000s and exclude this one. Jay-Z is an artist who I don't adore across the board. I run quite hot and cold on him, but I loved this CD. It's so bold, well-produced and yes, self-aggrandizing (but to its credit). If only it had been his grand finale as planned (he was supposed to retire after this one). It would have been an amazing swan song to a very successful career.
Best Track: "December 4th"

4. M.I.A. - "Kala" (2007)
My first draft of this list also featured M.I.A.'s "Arular," but it was ultimately bumped to make way for superior fare. I like "Arular," don't get me wrong, But with "Kala," she reached new heights. She was truly a unique musical voice introduced in the 2000s because I can honestly say that no one else sounded like her. "Kala" is the perfect representation of this. And like many great albums, I had a hard time selecting a favorite song. But if pressed...
Best Track: "Boyz"

3. Madonna - "Music" (2000)
Nick Davis over at Nicks Flick Picks very shrewdly pointed out that Madonna's music career and acting career always seem to be at odds with each other. They're never simultaneously great, though if you ask me, her acting career has never been "great." The Next Best Thing came out around the same time "Music" was released. While the film sank like a stone, both commercially and critically, "Music" was and is a work of genius. I know she's divisive, but Madonna remains the quintessential pop star, through and through. Her ability to interestingly reinvent herself, the meticulous control she exercises over her own image...these are things to be admired.
Best Track: "Music"

2. Robin Thicke - "The Evolution of Robin Thicke" (2006)
Who knew that Dr. Seaver's son (yes, he is Alan Thicke's progeny) could produce such a soulful, beautiful sound? Just don't call it blue-eyed soul (he hates that term). His voice alternates between a deep, melodic presence and a soft airy falsetto with ease. He's a throwback to the golden age of R&B. Every track on this album (and I mean that without hyperbole) is amazing. I have listened to it start to finish more times than I can count. Even "Would That Make You Love Me," which has some nasty personal connotations involving the ringtone of a malicious ex wasn't ruined for me.
Best Track: "I Need Love" Hard to choose, but this song gives me chills.

1. Kanye West - "Graduation" (2007)
I didn't even have to think about it. I always knew it would be at the top of this list, no matter what the rest were. I didn't love "Late Registration" as much as "College Dropout," so I had my guard up about this one. But he absolutely killed it. And that contest with 50 Cent to see whose album would sell more? was never a contest. 50 Cent's stuff is...cute. But he's no Kanye and I hope he realizes that now. While I'm at it, I'm also going to pronounce Kanye West as the artist of the decade. Between the Taylor Swift kerfuffle, the pronouncement that "George Bush doesn't care about black people," and every other bold/stupid move he made, he backed up the arrogance with impeccable and indelible music. So, I guess he's right. You really can't tell Kanye nothing.
Best Track: "Everything I Am" Kanye at his most honest and raw. This song brings tears to my eyes.

So, for the record, the top 25 albums of the 2000s are...

1. Kanye West - "Graduation" (2007)
2. Robin Thicke - "The Evolution of Robin Thicke" (2006)
3. Madonna - "Music" (2000)
4. M.I.A. - "Kala" (2007)
5. Jay-Z - "The Black Album" (2003)
6. Damien Rice - "O" (2002)
7. The Streets - "Original Pirate Material" (2002)
8. Ray LaMontagne - "Till the Sun Turns Black" (2006)
9. Coldplay - "A Rush of Blood to the Head" (2002)
10. Daft Punk - "Discovery" (2001)
11. Iron and Wine - "Our Endless Numbered Days" (2004)
12. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs - "Fever to Tell" (2003)
13. John Legend - "Get Lifted" (2004)
14. Erykah Badu - "Mama's Gun" (2000)
15. Ciara - "Goodies" (2004)
16. Ray LaMontagne - "Trouble" (2004)
17. Scissor Sisters - "Scissor Sisters" (2004)
18. Feist - "The Reminder" (2007)
19. Green Day - "American Idiot" (2003)
20. Norah Jones - "Come Away With Me" (2002)
21. Kanye West - "College Dropout" (2004)
22. Lady Gaga - "The Fame Monster" (2009)
23. Missy Elliott - "Miss E...So Addictive" (2001)
24. Amos Lee - "Amos Lee" (2005)
25. Common - "Be" (2005)

My Best of the 2000s film list to be published soon...
Also, nominations for the 3rd Annual Pretentious Film Awards will be announced sometime next week.

As always...
Peace, love and pretension.

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