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100 Best Albums of the Decade

The most important music of the '00s as chosen by more than 100 artists, critics and industry insiders

Posted Dec 09, 2009 9:00 AM

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100. Leonard Cohen
10 NEW SONGS
Sony, 2001

99. The Hold Steady
ALMOST KILLED ME
French Kiss, 2004

This Brooklyn-via-Minneapolis bar band took the world by surprise. They bashed out Seventies-style riffs as Craig Finn spluttered his one-liners about killer parties gone bad, from "She gets low in her seat when she gets high in her car" to "Mary got a bloody nose from sniffing margarita mix." The songs had a Springsteen-size cast of characters, lost kids staggering through America in search of sex, drugs and salvation. The band sounded so real and raw, so loaded with compassion and wit and raunch, they became a word-of-mouth sensation. Suddenly the 2000s didn't look so hopeless after all.

98. TV on the Radio
RETURN TO COOKIE MOUNTAIN
Interscope, 2006

97. Wilco
SKY BLUE SKY
Nonesuch, 2007

96. The Streets
ORIGINAL PIRATE MATERIAL
Vice/Atlantic, 2002

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95. Alicia Keys
SONGS IN A MINOR
J Records, 2001

94. The Libertines
UP THE BRACKET
Rough Trade, 2002

93. Johnny Cash
UNEARTHED
Lost Highway, 2003

92. Bon Iver
FOR EMMA, FOREVER AGO
Jagjaguwar, 2008

One of the all-time great breakup albums, not to mention one of the era's surprise success stories. Justin Vernon, recovering from the end of a relationship and the collapse of his band, retreated to a cabin in rural Wisconsin with his acoustic guitar. He spent the winter chopping wood, growing his beard, and writing these songs, lamenting, "Can't you find a clue/When your eyes are painted Sinatra blue?" Despite the stark folkie sound, it's warm and caressing, with Vernon's falsetto the kind of voice that can keep you welcome company on a bad-whiskey night.

91. The Hives
VENI VIDI VICIOUS
Burning Heart, 2000

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90. Amadou & Miriam
DIMANCHE A BAMAKO
Nonesuch, 2005

89. Radiohead
HAIL TO THE THIEF
Capitol, 2003

Here's something you don¹t find every day: an underrated Radiohead album. Hail to the Thief, like everything else the band has done, perplexed fans at first, bristling with punk anger and art-rock ambition. But anyone can hear the raw emotion, especially in the way Thom Yorke combines his fiercest political rage with fatherly devotion in eerie ballads like "A Wolf at the Door" and "I Will." The guys later claimed they should have trimmed some of the extra tracks, but what fun would that be? The dazzling overabundance of ideas makes Hail to the Thief a triumph, from the guitar monster "2 + 2 = 5" to the slow-burning live staple "There There."

88. Brian Wilson
SMILE
Nonesuch, 2004

87. Gnarls Barkley
ST. ELSEWHERE
Downtown, 2006

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86. The Postal Service
GIVE UP
Sub Pop, 2003

85. Coldplay
VIVA LA VIDA
Capitol, 2008

84. Eminem
THE EMINEM SHOW
Interscope, 2002

83. The Black Keys
ATTACK & RELEASE
NoneSuch, 2008

If you're going to do a song called "Psychotic Girl," you may as well make it sound like it was bashed out by a couple of psychotic dudes. And the old-school blues-rock duo from Akron, Ohio, was more than happy to oblige. Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney were bringing the garage-rock noise when people dismissed the sound as a fad, but by teaming up with Danger Mouse, they were still topping themselves with their fifth album. Intended as a collaboration with Ike Turner, who died before it could happen, this down-home guitar ruckus could have come from any decade — but fit right into this one.

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82. Queens of the Stone Age
RATED R
Interscope, 2000

81. Ryan Adams
GOLD
Lost Highway, 2001

80. Kings of Leon
YOUTH AND YOUNG MANHOOD
RCA, 2003

79. The New Pornographers
ELECTRIC VERSION
Matador, 2003

This oddball indie-rock all-star team is one of those "only in the 2000s" stories. A.C. Newman, brilliant Vancouver songwriter and hard-luck veteran of the Nineties rock boom, retreats to his bedroom and writes a bunch of songs that would have been perfect AM-gold radio nuggets in the Seventies. He picks up a band to join him, including country vixen Neko Case and literary balladeer Dan Bejar. Then, to everyone's shock, the band becomes a hit, and just keeps getting better. This sophomore album is full of cheery guitars, loopy keyboards, and sly pop ditties like "The Laws Have Changed."

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78. Sufjan Stevens
ILLINOIS
Asthmatic Kitty, 2005

77. Yo La Tengo
AND THEN NOTHING TURNED ITSELF INSIDE OUT
Matador, 2000

76. Sigur Rós
()
Matador, 2000

Definitely not one for the Miley fans — over an hour of Icelandic psychedelia, with eight untitled tracks sung in an imaginary language the band made up themselves. But in any language, Sigur Rós created a stunningly widescreen work of beauty. Singer-guitarist Jónsi Thor Birgisson bowed his axe for an ungodly level of reverb, yet the mood was peaceful, fleshing out the slow-motion melodies with piano, church organ, and the female string quartet Amiina. In the 12-minute climax "Untitled #8" (also known as "Poppaglio," or "The Pop Song"), you can hear the almost telepathic communication between the musicians, as Birgisson brings the guitar thunder.

75. Arcade Fire
NEON BIBLE
Merge Records, 2007

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74. Red Hot Chili Peppers
STADIUM ARCADIUM
Warner Bros., 2006

73. Coldplay
PARACHUTES
Capitol, 2000

72. Franz Ferdinand
FRANZ FERDINAND
Sony, 2004

Everything got a lot livelier when these mod Scottish dance-whore boys showed up, wearing tighter trousers and flaunting catchier tunes than any band out there. The Franz lads declared their mission was making "music for girls to dance to," with frantic guitar jitters and a disco sense of melodrama in hits like "Take Me Out," "Michael" and "Darts of Pleasure." Alex Kapranos' vocals are full of smeared-mascara goth sex as he sighs pick-up lines like "I can feel your lips undress my eyes." Kanye West called them "white crunk music," Lil Wayne covered "This Fire" and the band has kept girls dancing all decade long.

71. Bright Eyes
LIFTED OR THE STORY IS
IN THE SOIL, KEEP YOUR EAR TO THE GROUND

Saddle Creek, 2002

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70. Sleater-Kinney
THE WOODS
Saddle Creek, 2002

69. Missy Elliott
UNDER CONSTRUCTION
Elektra, 2002

68. U2
HOW TO DISMANTLE AN ATOMIC BOMB
Interscope, 2004

67. Björk
VESPERTINE
Elektra, 2001

Björk carried on through the decade with notable left-field projects, but Vespertine is a one-of-a-kind item in her one-of-a-kind career. It's her most experimental yet disarmingly personal music, using glitch-riddled electronics, harps, bells, vintage music boxes and Icelandic folk sounds to create a hushed, strangely intimate mood. Björk sings about love and romance all over the album, in cerebral sex ballads like "Heirloom" and "Unison." When she gasps and whispers her way through "Cocoon," shocked to find herself in the presence of a boy "restoring my blisses," she captures the sound of two lovers nestling on a melting iceberg.

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66. Antony & the Johnsons
I AM A BIRD NOW
Secretly Canadian, 2005

65. Manu Chao
PRÓXIMA ESTACIÓN ESPERANZA
Virgin France, 2001

In Europe and Latin America, Manu Chao has long been a rock god on the scale of Bob Marley. But here in the U.S., it took this 2001 gem to give music lovers a taste of his wild-ass greatness. A Spaniard born in France, Chao rocks his acoustic guitar to horns and beatboxes, full of crackpot humor, singing in English, Spanish, French or whatever language he feels like at the moment. "Me Gustas Tu" is the one for the ages: a lazy reggae-rock guitar riff, a chorus you can't stop singing even if you don't get the language, and Chao rambling about crucial topics from politics to marijuana.

64. Gillian Welch
TIME THE REVELATOR
Acony Records, 2001

63. Kanye West
808S AND HEARTBREAK
Roc-A-Fella, 2008

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62. Johnny Cash
AMERICAN III: SOLITARY MAN
American Recordings, 2000

61. The Shins
OH, INVERTED WORLD
Sub Pop, 2001

60. Phoenix
WOLFGANG AMADEUS PHOENIX
Glass Note, 2009

59. Interpol
TURN ON THE BRIGHT LIGHTS
Matador, 2002

These dapper New Yorkers may have been the first band in history cocky enough to name the first song on their debut album "Untitled" — and that barely begins to hint at their mind-boggling pretensions. ("Stella Was A Diver And She Was Always Down," for fuck's sake.) Yet they crafted one of the decade's great guitar epics, demanding rapt attention for 49 expertly paced minutes of arty post-punk melodrama. From gothed-out power-drone ballads like "Hands Away" to the hard-charging Rock Band fave "PDA," Interpol capture the moment on a late-night city street when the crowd suddenly vanishes and loneliness stares you in the face.

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58. Danger Mouse
THE GREY ALBUM
Self-Released, 2004

57. Death Cab for Cutie
TRANSATLANTICISM
Barsuk, 2003

56. Vampire Weekend
VAMPIRE WEEKEND
XL Recordings, 2008

Vampire Weekend came out of Columbia University in the late 2000s, showing a pronounced affinity for boat shoes and button-downs as well as an intimate knowledge of African guitar music. Their debut backed up massive press buzz with suavely seductive pop-rock songs about college campuses and trysts with Benetton-wearing ladies. Ezra Koenig's Paul Simon-esque melodies were as refined as his education, floating over bright keyboards and Afropop-tinged grooves. Koenig had a term for VW's music: Upper West Side Soweto. However you label the sound, it was manna for indie-boys and Molly Ringwald girls all over the world.

55. Robert Plant and Alison Krauss
RAISING SAND
Rounder, 2007

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54. Norah Jones
COME AWAY WITH ME
Blue Note, 2002

53. Kings of Leon
ONLY BY THE NIGHT
RCA, 2008

52. M.I.A.
ARULAR
Interscope, 2005

51. Spoon
KILL THE MOONLIGHT
Merge, 2002

Though it came out in 2002, this masterwork of spiky texture and bummed-out sentiment seems even more appropriate for 2009, when a dismal economy makes college grads scramble even harder for jobs they hate. But Spoon's Britt Daniel made his gnomic soliloquies about directionless youngsters both humane and hooky, and he and his bandmates got tons of mileage out of a spare, signature sound, tossing in rollicking piano, sax and cold-eyed stomp. And not even the Shins or Death Cab came up with anything as insanely gorgeous as "Paper Tiger," a cryptic-but-sweet love song with budget-Radiohead sonics.

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50. Bright Eyes
I'M WIDE AWAKE IT'S MORNING
Saddle Creek, 2005

Conor Oberst, the folkie boy-child from Omaha, started putting out his own indie records at 13, so he was a weathered vet by the time he made this Gram Parsons-inspired gem. Oberst sounds youthfully self-absorbed and all the better for it, with acoustic guitars, earnest poetry and harmonies from Emmylou Harris herself. "Lua" is a heart-shredding love song about a doomed girl whose heart is too heavy for him to lift. But he vows to try anyway, and the melody gives him — and us — some badly needed strength.

49. Fiona Apple
EXTRAORDIONARY MACHINE
Epic, 2005

This was the record that made Kanye West want to be the hip-hop Fiona Apple. Yet during the three years Apple labored over this ambitiously ornate song cycle, fans wondered if the album would ever see the light of day. After recording with producer Jon Brion, she scrapped the results and rerecorded most of the album from scratch. But with the pained, confessional balladry of "O' Sailor" and "Red Red Red," Apple sings with enough emotion to make Machine worth every day of the wait.

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48. TV on the Radio
DEAR SCIENCE
Dear Science DGC/Interscope, 2008

Infernal visions! Portents of doom! Awesome keyboards! One of the decade's most innovative bands greeted the end of the Bush era with a cry of horror. But David Sitek's production also brought pop clarity to the New York quintet's blend of soul, punk, Afrobeat and doo-wop. Amid the desolation, Tunde Adebimpe and Kyp Malone sang of having sex ("Lover's Day"), defying the man ("Red Dress") and glimpsing better days ahead ("Golden Age"). Alternative title: The Audacity of Hope.

47. Fleet Foxes
FLEET FOXES
Sub Pop, 2008

The most inviting song set to come out of the freak-folk/beard-rock movement was a reminder of the simple power of harmony. On elegant pastoral jams like "Tiger Mountain Peasant Song," 22-year-old Robin Pecknold used CSNY-style timbres to build a clapboard-church choir of sound that seemed to exist in its own world. The fact that bands like Grizzly Bear and the Dirty Projectors subsequently pushed intricate, multipart vocals to the forefront may be a coincidence. But it probably isn't.

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46. Justin Timberlake
FUTURESEX/LOVESOUNDS
Jive, 2006

Was this the teen-pop Kid A? On his second solo joint, the Timber-Snake teamed up with Timbaland for an avant-garde sprawl of abstract electronica and hallucinatory space funk, all in a heroic quest to bring sexy back. Both guys were on a historic creative roll, willing to try anything. "LoveStoned/I Think She Knows" was their madcap peak, flowing from hip-hop bump-and-grind to an ambient wash of Interpol-inspired guitar drone. It was like sexy never went away.

45. Kanye West
GRADUATION
Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam, 2007

Kanye's third album was his tightest and sleekest yet, with the Louis Vuitton don picking designer beats to match his designer clothes: There was the Steely Dan-sampling "Champion"; "Stronger," which cribbed from Daft Punk; and even a Chris Martin hook on "Homecoming." Kanye was more self-obsessed than ever, but the music's hypnotic sheen helped his fame-sucks rants go down easy. "I'm doin' pretty good as far as geniuses go," he rapped on "Barry Bonds." No one argued.

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44. System of a Down
TOXICITY
American, 2001

The most political metal record of the decade somehow managed to be the weirdest and most intimate as well. Paired with Rick Rubin, the Armenian-American band exploded time signatures and conventional rock-speak, denouncing drug laws and druggies, praising spirituality while cracking dirty jokes. Musically, System crushed, juicing prog-metal with Eastern rhythms and surprising beauty — most amazingly on "Chop Suey!," a breathtaking rant ballad haunted by suicide and religious abandonment. Neither System nor any other metal band has come close to replicating Toxicity, which is as mind-boggling today as it ever was.

43. The Killers
HOT FUSS
Island, 2004

So what if they were from Vegas, not the U.K., and the year was 2004, not 1983? The Killers were determined to be Duran Duran anyway. Hot Fuss was a blast: Irresistible synth-bolstered grooves and lyrics about sex, dancing, jealousy and gender-bending, blasted out by Brandon Flowers in the world's greatest bad British accent. A couple of years later, Flowers would develop a Springsteen fixation and a preposterous mustache. But Hot Fuss was the Killers at their sleazy best, singing about boyfriends who look like girlfriends, and dragging dance rock from the hipster fringes back to the down-and-dirty mainstream.

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42. Elliott Smith
FIGURE 8
Dreamworks, 2000

Elliott Smith's remarkable melodic sense had its perfect yin-yang match in the bottomless darkness of his lyrics. Figure 8, the last album Smith completed before committing suicide in 2003, was his most ornamented work. Yet there is joy in even the busiest arrangements: Dazzling music-hall piano drives the Beatlesque "In the Lost and Found (Honky Bach)/The Roost"; a guitar curlicues like wild ivy on the morbid power-pop number "L.A." It's hard to imagine the wave of rustic, gorgeous music coming out of Smith's adopted home, the Pacific Northwest (Fleet Foxes, the Decemberists), without this haunted high-water mark.

41. Arctic Monkeys
WHATEVER PEOPLE SAY I AM, THAT'S WHAT I'M NOT
Domino, 2006

Now this was one strange Brit-pop success story: Where were the fashion statements and model girlfriends? It turned out that all the Monkeys needed to conquer the world was scrappy, lager-fueled tunes about being young and bored in a bleak steel town. Alex Turner sang about waiting all week for Saturday night, only to strike out with the same local girls he bombed with last week. Thanks to Turner's big bag of creaky melodies and the band's snaggletoothed guitar attack, even America couldn't resist pub-punk gems like the raging, sexy "I Bet You Look Good on the Dance Floor."

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40. Kanye West
LATE REGISTRATION
Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam, 2005

The College Dropout introduced the world to a polo-shirt-wearing preppy who merged backpack-rap politics and bling-rap materialism. But it was on Late Registration that Kanye really started showing off, calling in L.A. pop geek Jon Brion to co-produce an album that ranged from triumphal autobiography ("Touch the Sky") to witty club pop ("Gold Digger") to heartstring-tuggers ("Hey Mama"), packing in Chinese bells, James Bond themes and Houston hip-hop. The end result was a near-perfect album that remade the pop landscape in Kanye's own oddball image.

39. Kings of Leon
AHA SHAKE HEARTBREAK
RCA, 2005

The Followill brothers grew up in Tennessee with a Pentecostal preacher for a daddy. But Lord knows even down-home boys fall prey to the sinful temptations of the rock & roll life, and every last one of those temptations gets chronicled in lip-smacking detail on Aha Shake Heartbreak. The Kings' second album is a hilariously raunchy Southern-rock travelogue about all the girls they met on tour for their first album. Songs like "Slow Night, So Long" and "Taper Jean Girl" are populated by gold-digging mothers and groupies with motel faces; the grooves are as sweaty as a long shag, and the hard-edged guitars aim below the Mason-Dixon Line.

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38. Ryan Adams
HEARTBREAKER
Bloodshot, 2000

"When you're young, you get sad, then you get high," whooped Ryan Adams on his solo debut. As the leader of alt-country heroes Whiskeytown, Adams had written his fair share of songs about youth, sadness and altered states. But Heartbreaker gave these themes a classic heft, in weather-beaten country-folk songs that marked Adams as an heir to the Band and Gram Parsons. Best of all was the slow-rolling "In My Time of Need," an alternately devastating and transcendent neo-Dust Bowl ballad. "Can you take away the pain of hurtful deeds?" he sang, sounding plenty sad, but not quite so young, or so high.

37. 50 Cent
GET RICH OR DIE TRYIN'
Shady/Aftermath/Interscope, 2003

In Fiddy's hands, the thug life was not merely a lifestyle — it was a code, an ethos, a Zen path to showbiz glory. When Dr. Dre and Eminem unleashed him in 2003, America couldn't get enough of the ripped, tatted, bullet-riddled stud. 50's debut was full of dark, nickel-plated songs where he played up his hardcore image, but he also had no shame making songs for the ladies: With hits like "In Da Club," he packed dance floors at discos and bar mitzvahs alike. Fun fact: Get Rich or Die Tryin' went nine-times platinum, making 50 the first rapper to sell a million for each time he had gotten shot.

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36. U2
NO LINE ON THE HORIZON
Interscope, 2009

U2 aimed sky-high on their 12th album, recording with Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois and combining lessons from all over their career: their Joshua Tree-era anthems; their abstract, modern Nineties; and the renewed focus of their last decade. The result was an open-hearted disc with dizzying high points: The joyous "Magnificent," the locomotive title track, the party-hearty "I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight." Bono infused everything with gospel yearning, even when he expressed doubt and dislocation in "Unknown Caller" — but most clearly, and gorgeously, on the on-your-knees testimonial "Moment of Surrender."

35. PJ Harvey
STORIES FROM THE CITY, STORIES FROM THE SEA
Island, 2000

Polly Harvey, happy? It was a surprise: Harvey had spent four records howling her sexual obsessions and romantic disappointments over stark postmodern blues. But album number five found her in New York and in love, crowing, "I'm immortal/When I'm with you" in the surging opener, "Big Exit." Her guitar attack was still forceful but softened around the edges by marimba, piano, organ and guest vocalist Thom Yorke. The result was lusher than anything she had recorded but also vibrant and catchy as all hell, especially the garage-y "Good Fortune" and the yearning "A Place Called Home" — mash notes to lovers in the big city.

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34. OutKast
SPEAKERBOXXX/THE LOVE BELOW
Arista, 2003

It sounded crazy: For their fifth record, both members of hip-hop's most creative duo would record his own LP. What they ended up with was hip-hop's White Album, an overlong but thrilling behemoth fueled by weed, ego and a thousand old funk records. Big Boi's pulverizing Speakerboxxx deepened OutKast's adventures in crunk. Far wonkier was The Love Below, where André 3000 tried to be Prince, Beck and George Clinton all at once, crafting tunes as bright and strange as his wardrobe — including the smash "Hey Ya!" and "Roses," which "really smell like poo-poo."

33. Daft Punk
DISCOVERY
Virgin, 2001

The French techno duo taught a generation of indie kids to dance with this international club hit, building a disco empire out of house bass lines, off-kilter keyboards, mysterious robot vocals and a stack of old Chic records. Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo never liked to show their faces, but for all their glitz and sci-fi costumes, they sounded inescapably humane. Their 1970s sci-fi moves were a true time warp — like watching TRON and Saturday Night Fever morph into the same movie. And with the Wurlitzer burble of "Digital Love," they made the Supertramp-keyboard sound seem funky.

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32. Lil Wayne
THA CARTER III
Cash Money/Universal Motown, 2008

Between 2006 and 2008, Lil Wayne went on an astonishing creative bender, churning out mixtapes, lending his amazing rasp to other people's hits and earning that Best Rapper Alive tag. When it came time to release a proper album, we expected a letdown. Instead, he made a pop-rap masterpiece, complete with fizzy Auto-Tune novelties, a Hurricane Katrina elegy and the classic "Dr. Carter," in which Wayne dons scrubs to resuscitate hip-hop. He likened himself to Biggie Smalls and to E.T., and no one argued. "I am so far from the others," he rapped. "I can eat them for supper/Get in my spaceship and hover."

31. My Morning Jacket
Z
ATO, 2005

These Kentucky boys took a giant leap forward on their fourth album — giant enough to take them from a jammy Americana band to awe-inspiring purveyors of interstellar art rock. Jim James' songs were shorter and more focused than ever before, from the pummeling "Gideon" to the playful "Wordless Chorus," where James boasted appropriately, "We are the innovators/They are the imitators." My Morning Jacket infused Z with both Eno-esque keyboards and sculpted guitars, but also Skynyrd-style riffs and bar-band grooves. The result brought Radiohead down South and rocked with supersize soul.

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30. Radiohead
IN RAINBOWS
Self-released, 2007

After the pay-what-you-like release hoopla died down, what were Radiohead fans left with? One of the band's best albums: expansive and seductive, full of songs they had been fleshing out live for a couple of years. You can hear the musicians' exhilaration all over the tracks, from the shivery tambourine buzz of "Reckoner" to the jagged guitar waves of "Weird Fishes/Arpeggi." These are the most intense love songs Thom Yorke has ever sung, especially "All I Need," and the warm live-percussion feel gives the whole album the vibe of a hippie jam session. One that's taking place at the end of the world, of course.

29. Sigur Rós
ÁGAETIS BYRJUN
Fatcat, 2000

Beautiful and alien, Ágaetis Byrjun was like being plunged into an Atlantis where language, gender and songforms were largely indeterminate. Sigur Rós conjured magic with drones, using strings, brass, electronics and guitars that took Jimmy Page's bowing technique to new heights. But the showstopper was Jónsi Birgisson's otherworldly voice, swooping between tenor confessions and falsetto ballet. Filmmakers Wes Anderson and Cameron Crowe have since used Byrjun in their soundtracks, but it was tough to beat the movies that this music conjured inside your own head.

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28. Yeah Yeah Yeahs
FEVER TO TELL
Interscope, 2003

Ladies and gentlemen, Karen O! The Yeah Yeah Yeahs' debut introduced the world outside New York to the beer-swilling frontwoman, who sounded like she'd eaten Pat Benatar for breakfast while rocking out to Siouxsie and the Banshees. The gorgeous ballad "Maps" was the surprise hit, but most of the album found O spitting fiery slogans — "We're all gonna burn in hell!" — like a crazed art-school diva. With Nick Zinner dishing thick, badass riffs and Brian Chase laying down thudding drums, this was vicious garage punk that put fear into the hearts of bass players everywhere.

27. The Flaming Lips
YOSHIMI BATTLES THE PINK ROBOTS
Warner Bros., 2002

Wayne Coyne took two decades and a long, bizarre road through drug-addled metal and alt-pop before he nailed the Pet Sounds in his psychedelia. Yoshimi is a delightful iridescent bomb of buoyant electronics, imaginary Japanese animé and plaintive vocal surrender. The real war — inside the steam clouds of synthesizer and Cat Stevens echoes on "Fight Test"; under the tubular-bell sunshine of "Do You Realize??" — was between Coyne and his insecurities. The Lips' 10th album was Coyne's first as a wide-open songwriter — inviting and vulnerable — and the result was total, dazzling victory.

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26. Cat Power
THE GREATEST
Matador, 2006

Chan Marshall's early career was defined by haunting tunes and onstage meltdowns that were literally showstopping. The Greatest marked a turning point for the Georgia native: Recording in Memphis with former members of Booker T. and the MG's and Al Green's band, Marshall delivered a sensuous, grooving masterpiece, driven by gentle funk, lilting country and a voice that sounded weathered by bad love and two packs a day. Songs like the rootsified "Empty Shell" drew you into Marshall's world, but instead of making you feel her pain they invited you to follow her dreams.

25. Radiohead
AMNESIAC
Capitol, 2001

The greatest sequel since The Godfather: Part II. Amnesiac was the second half of the one-two punch Radiohead began with 2000's Kid A. It was smoother on the surface yet just as disorienting underneath, delivering the rock guitars that its predecessor held back, but in all kinds of warped and mutated forms: "Knives Out" soared like vintage Smiths, and "I Might Be Wrong" rode an Allman Brothers riff into the trip-hop hinterlands. The piano nightmare "Pyramid Song" remains terrifying, even if nobody has ever figured out what the hell Thom Yorke is saying — probably not even Thom Yorke.

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24. Bruce Springsteen
MAGIC
Columbia, 2007

From the squalling guitars in "Radio Nowhere" to the true patriotism in "Long Walk Home," Magic was about life during a wartime built on lies. The returning vet in "Gypsy Biker" arrived in a coffin; "Last to Die" crackled like "Thunder Road" headed for a cliff ("Who will be the last to die for a mistake?"). But for every shiver of fear, Springsteen and his reunited E Street Band defiantly gunned their Seventies party power, mixing echoes of the Beach Boys and Born to Run in "Girls in Their Summer Clothes" and "Livin' in the Future." The implied message on those tracks: Sometimes it's worth proving that the devils aren't calling all the tunes.

23. D'Angelo
VOODOO
Virgin, 2000

The decade's most magnificent R&B record was also its most inventive — so far ahead of its time that it still sounds radical. The Virginia-born sex mystic spent almost five years on this suite of experimental make-out ballads, with collaborators like the Roots' ?uestlove. Voodoo pushed old-school soul and funk into a futurama of pelvic-raygun bass lines and zero-gravity polyrhythms. As he testifies in "Chicken Grease," "I'm like that old bucket of Crisco/Sitting on top of the stove." Always a mystery man, D'Angelo vanished almost immediately and hasn't been heard from since — but the way Voodoo lingers in the mind, he'll get a warm welcome whenever he returns.

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22. Green Day
AMERICAN IDIOT
Reprise, 2004

The Nineties' most irrepressible punk brats grew up with a bang. They also proved they could take on the kind of gargantuan old-school concept album that nobody else seemed to have the guts to try. Not only did they pull it off, they made one of the era's lasting albums, raging against political complacency of mid-decade America with a Who-size sense of grandeur. From the nine-minute epic "Jesus of Suburbia" to the punk nugget "Extraordinary Girl/Letterbomb," they zeroed in on the rock audience's political outcasts and misfits as Billie Joe Armstrong snarled, "Welcome to a new kind of tension/All across the alien nation."

21. Coldplay
A RUSH OF BLOOD TO THE HEAD
Capitol, 2002

In the early '00s, starry-eyed Brit-pop boys doing a cuddly version of Radiohead were a dime a dozen. (Remember Starsailor?) It was Coldplay's second album that showed they were true contenders. Songs like "Green Eyes" and "The Scientist" brought back the comforting melodies of "Yellow" but revealed a band that was restless and hungry: The twinkling sonics suggested prime Smiths or U2. And darker stuff like the austerely beautiful death meditation "Amsterdam" and the OK Computer-worthy "God Put a Smile Upon Your Face" showed the group had more than arena anthems on its mind.

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20. Amy Winehouse
BACK TO BLACK
Universal, 2007

It's hard to recall, before the tabloid barking drowned out all else, how fresh this sounded — how funny, hip, instantly classic. Producer Mark Ronson, with help from a band of devoted soul revivalists, conjured golden-era sounds with a sample-sculpting hip-hop edge. Winehouse, a tatted 23-year-old with a beehive crown, matched that spirit, cussing, cracking wise and casually breaking your heart. Her triumph triggered a resurgence of R&B traditionalism. But it also kicked open the mainstream door for pop oddballs from Lily Allen to Lady Gaga. Let's hope Winehouse and her fuck-me pumps stride back one day.

19. The White Stripes
WHITE BLOOD CELLS
Sympathy for the Record Industry, 2001

The third album by Jack and Meg White was the right dynamite for a mainstream breakthrough. Jack's Delta-roadhouse fantasies, Detroit-garage-rock razzle and busted-love lyricism all peaked at once in tracks like the low-budget-Zeppelin opener, "Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground," and the rattling-pop delirium of "Hotel Yorba." White Blood Cells was also the first time, on record, that the Stripes' strict power of three — Jack's serrated guitar and brittle yelp with Meg's maternal-John Bonham boom — actually felt like an integrated band, bonded by roots and subversive delight.

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18. MGMT
ORACULAR SPECTACULAR
Columbia, 2008

Two hipster geeks from Wesleyan plug in their rad vintage keyboards, pick out some fetching headbands and compose a suite of damn-near-perfect synthesized heartache. The songs on Oracular Spectacular get even better if you tune in close to the vocals — but you don't have to figure out a single word of "Kids" to feel the poignant kick of that massive nine-note keyboard hook. The whole album is an odd collection of Seventies psychedelic love-bead sensibility and Eighties New Wave cool — but there's also a sense that MGMT only could have happened right now.

17. Beck
SEA CHANGE
DGC, 2002

Sea Change was Beck's Blood on the Tracks: an acutely personal reflection on the end of an affair scored with desolate magnificence (lamenting strings, starbursts of guitar and miles of echo) and sung by the eternally boyish Beck in a manly, mortally wounded tenor. Producer Nigel Godrich, fresh from the harrowing modernism of Radiohead's Kid A, used pithy scarring electronics and desert-midnight suspense to heighten the pathos in songs like "The Golden Age" and "Guess I'm Doing Fine." In turn, Beck — stripped of hip-hop pastiche and sampled clutter — finally sang like the Bob Dylan of his generation, with vivid, lonesome honesty.

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16. OutKast
STANKONIA
Stankonia LaFace/Arista, 2000

Only one crew in the universe had the juice to turn "Power music! Electric revival!" into a headbanger rock chant as well as a dance-floor battle cry. Not satisfied with ruling hip-hop, André 3000 and Big Boi decided to warp into rock gods, drum-and-bass hipsters, Quiet Storm hot-tub smoothies and wacko bohemian artistes. Stankonia outmuscled all the rap-metal clowns on the radio, but invited them to the party along with everyone else. From the futuristic "B.O.B." to the sentimental "Ms. Jackson" to the groupie-praising "We Luv Deez Hoez," they proved that they were the kings — and cooler than Freddie Jackson sipping on a milkshake in a snowstorm.

15. Bruce Springsteen
THE RISING
Columbia, 2002

When the 9/11 attacks brought down the Twin Towers, shattering the nation and the lives of so many on Springsteen's home turf, he had to respond. The result was an extraordinary 15-song requiem that searched for meaning in the inexplicable tragedy while saluting the grace and courage of the dead and those who mourn them. Songs like "Into the Fire" were starkly beautiful short stories, but it was the sound of the record — the almighty roar of the E Street Band, captured by producer Brendan O'Brien — that lifted the songs skyward. The Rising was the first E Street album since the Eighties and kicked off Springsteen's history-making creative resurgence.

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14. Jay-Z
THE BLACK ALBUM
Roc-A-Fella, 2003

OK, so the retirement didn't last long. Jay-Z's vaunted "farewell record" is still one of the greatest albums by the rapper who is (if he says so himself) "pound for pound . . . the best to ever come around." With a phalanx of production all-stars on hand (Just Blaze, Kanye West, the Neptunes, Timbaland), Hova gazed back and gloated — retelling the story of his rags-to-riches rise ("From bricks to billboards, grams to Grammys"), brushing the dirt off his shoulders, and body-slamming the critics, the police and just about everyone else in the walloping rap-rock epic "99 Problems." He should retire more often.

13. U2
ALL THAT YOU CAN'T LEAVE BEHIND
Interscope, 2000

"We're re-applying for the job [of] best band in the world," said Bono in 2001. After a decade dabbling in postmodernism, electronica and orange goggles, U2 transformed back to a world-beating pop band on Behind, an album that oozed arena-scale romance. Joshua Tree producers Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois came back to the fold, and Bono was Bono again, at once grandiose, warm and optimistic. "Beautiful Day" and the rafter-shaking "Elevation" were vibrant hits, and every song seemed somehow offhand, making this U2's most casual-sounding album — and an astounding comeback.

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12. LCD Soundsystem
SOUND OF SILVER
DFA/Capitol, 2007

James Murphy had already proved his kung-fu as the most badass electro-punk producer in clubland, with DFA, the label he co-founded. But not even fierce fans dreamed he'd make a masterpiece like Sound of Silver. Every track sounded like a different band's greatest hit, from the political punk goof "North American Scum" to the Detroit techno trip "Get Innocuous!" to the synth-pop breakup lament "Someone Great." "All My Friends" was huge, sweeping, ferociously emotional, disco keyboards and rock guitars pulsing as Murphy looked back on a youth of killer parties and silent mornings — a perfect song, from a perfect album.

11. Bob Dylan
LOVE AND THEFT
Columbia, 2001

The blood and glory of 1997's Time Out of Mind had raised the bar: This was the first Dylan album in years that had to live up to the fans' expectations. He didn't just exceed them — he blew them up. Dylan sang in the voice of a grizzled drifter who'd visited every nook and cranny of America and gotten chased out of them all. Love and Theft was full of corny vaudeville jokes and apocalyptic floods, from the guitar rave "Summer Days" to the country lilt of "Po' Boy." Dylan kept rambling through the album as if this time there really was no direction home, with his weathered voice hitting ragged triumphs in song after song.

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10. Kanye West
THE COLLEGE DROPOUT
Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam, 2004

If this debut album was all Kanye West ever managed to accomplish, he still would have made his mark on history, beating the "producer tries to rap" jinx once and for all. But he was just introducing himself. West sounded determined to cram everything he loved about music into each one of his hip-hop grooves, even if that meant sampling Bette Midler and claiming, "The way Kathie Lee needed Regis/That's the way I need Jesus." Maybe all he wanted to do was become an international superstar, but in the process, Kanye expanded the musical and emotional language of hip-hop. His R&B-flavored productions ran the range from the gospel riot "Jesus Walks" to the Luther Vandross tribute "Slow Jamz." Calling himself the "first [rapper] with a Benz and a backpack," he challenged all the rules, dancing across boundaries others were too afraid to even acknowledge. Every track was a bold move. But for this guy, bold was never going to be the problem.

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9. M.I.A.
KALA
Interscope, 2007

The London-via-Sri Lanka art-punk funkateer came on like she knew she was kind of a big deal, and it didn't take her long to convince everyone in earshot. On her second album, she restyled hip-hop as one big international block party, mixing up a whole sound clash of beatbox riddims, playground rhymes, left-field samples and gunshots. It's a dance-off in a combat zone. Full of political fury and musical imagination, Maya Arulpragasam proved she could steal beats from anywhere — the Pixies, the Modern Lovers, Sri Lankan temples, Bollywood disco soundtracks — and turn it all into a party chant. From "20 Dollar" to "Bamboo Banga," she rolls from one Third World battleground to another: "Price of living in a shantytown just seems very high/But we still like T.I./But we still look fly." Kala lives up to the world-hopping promise of the Clash, so it makes cosmic sense that she sampled them in "Paper Planes" — which bizarrely blew up into a Top 10 pop smash in the U.S. Joe Strummer would have been proud.

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8. Bob Dylan
MODERN TIMES
Columbia, 2006

Except for the curious reference to Alicia Keys in "Thunder on the Mountain," these 10 songs of gnarly jump'n'grind, sung with the scoured growl of a drifting cowboy, sounded like Bob Dylan could have cut them 50 years earlier with Muddy Waters' band, and written them 20 years before that. Mother Nature's revenge, silk-suited robber barons, the spiritual and romantic salvation always just beyond reach: Modern Times is history repeating itself, in Dylan's specific echoes of Slim Harpo and Memphis Minnie, and his refusal to bend even in the harshest winds. "I'll be with you when the deal goes down," Dylan sings with cracked but firm comfort. The apocalypse is unrelenting: His rewrite of the Waters gallop "Rollin' and Tumblin'" is crammed with doom and ghosts. But Dylan's snarl cuts through the darkness like a light on a road ahead. "Heart burnin', still yearnin'," he sings in "Ain't Talkin'," the album's last song, a proud walk through a scorched Earth that Woody Guthrie would have recognized in an instant.

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7. Eminem
THE MARSHALL MATHERS LP
Aftermath/Interscope, 2000

"They said I can't rap about being broke no more," cried Eminem over the opening bars of his second album. Lucky for him, there was lots that he could rap about: celebrity and its discontents; Oedipal fantasies; murder fantasies; arson; self-mutilation; drug addiction; Britney Spears; Fred Durst; "Blood, guts, guns, cuts/Knives, lives, wives, nuns, sluts." The result was a masterpiece of psychodrama, 18 tracks that solidified Em's position as the new decade's most fascinating pop star and rap's most inventive new voice. Moralists slammed Eminem for everything from homophobia to misogyny to inciting America's teens to kill their . . . wives? Push past the surface, though, and Slim Shady's peppy pop-culture spoofs ("The Real Slim Shady"), macabre short stories ("Stan") and horror-movie narratives ("Kim") are distinguished not so much by their shock value as their sheer rhyme skill. Hip-hop fans knew what they were hearing, though, and responded right away to raw virtuoso displays like "The Way I Am."

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6. Arcade Fire
FUNERAL
Merge, 2004

Loss, love, forced coming-of-age and fragile generational hope: Arcade Fire's debut touched on all these themes as it defined the independent rock of this decade. Built on family ties (leader Win Butler, his wife, Régine Chassagne, his brother Will) and a rich, folkie musicality, the band made symphonic rock that truly rocked, using accordions and strings as central elements rather than merely as accessories, with a rhythm section that never let up. Songs like "Wake Up," "Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)" and "Rebellion (Lies)" were simultaneously outsize and deeply personal, like the best pop. But for all its sad realism — "I like the peace in the backseat," sings Chassagne at the album's end, knowing the sense of security is utterly false — this was music that still found solace, and purpose, in communal celebration, as anyone who saw them live during this period can attest. The upshot was an album that repaid countless listens — and made a generation of young rockers grateful for those childhood cello lessons.

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5. The White Stripes
ELEPHANT
V2/Third Man, 2003

After they grabbed the world's ear with White Blood Cells, it turned out Jack and Meg were just getting warm. They went from minimal to maximal on Elephant, with a hot-blooded rock throb that blew every other band off the radio. In these savagely honest love-and-marriage songs, Jack White fleshes out the story of two scared kids in love, building a fort to keep the outside world at bay — but being unable to figure out why they keep ripping each other apart. It's a sad story, but that doesn't keep the guitar boy and the drummer girl from having a filthy good time together, from twisted acoustic soul ("You've Got Her in Your Pocket") to electric-blues freakery ("Ball and Biscuit"). They struggle to hold it together in "The Hardest Button to Button." And when they cut loose for the depraved sex stomp "Seven Nation Army," the music lets you know why this bond was worth fighting for. In "Hypnotize," Jack yelps that he wants to "be your right-hand man until your hands get old." There's no doubt he'll die proving it.

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4. Jay-Z
THE BLUEPRINT
Roc-A-Fella, 2001

Unlike many of Jay-Z's records — the retirement and comeback discs, the movie soundtracks, the posse albums and "rock" albums — The Blueprint didn't have a gimmick. It rounded up a bunch of surefire beats and turned the greatest rapper on Earth loose.

Presto: Jay-Z's best record, and one of the finest rap albums of all time. Much credit is due to producers Just Blaze, Timbaland and especially Kanye West, who made his name with relentlessly catchy tracks like "Izzo (H.O.V.A.)." The old-school soul samples give the record a lush feel, but Blueprint was recorded at the height of Jay-Z's feud with Nas, and he was out for blood. Punch lines arrive fast and furious — "Sensitive thugs/You all need hugs," he quips — but what really stands out is the rapper's sheer musicality: the new flows, timbres and tones that Jay-Z unveils in every song, with a virtuosity that marked him a vocal stylist on par with pop's greatest singers. "I'm the compadre/The Sinatra of my day," he rapped. For once, he wasn't talking trash.

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3. Wilco
YANKEE HOTEL FOXTROT
Nonesuch, 2001

Wilco's great leap forward was a mix of rock tradition, electronics, oddball rhythms and experimental gestures: a new vocabulary for an overwhelmed, dislocated age where we'd need to draw on both history and invention to survive. It is deeply tuneful but also fragile and unsteady. Its pretty acoustic-guitar melodies battled noise, skidded into dissonance or got chopped off abruptly. Its lyrics pitted hope against doubt, with all bets off. "You have to learn how to die," crooned Jeff Tweedy, "if you wanna . . . be alive."

The music was magnified by what came afterward: the band being dropped by its label; Wilco becoming new-media poster boys via the then-radical move of streaming their record for free ahead of the CD release; and, maybe most of all, the attacks of 9/11. The latter added metaphoric weight to songs about love and war, shaky skyscrapers and American flags. But nearly a decade after that perfect storm of history, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot sounds just as jagged and beautiful.

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2. The Strokes
IS THIS IT
RCA, 2001

Before Is This It even came out, New York's mod ragamuffins were overnight sensations, jumping from Avenue A to press hysteria and the inevitable backlash, all inside a year. Julian Casablancas, guitarists Nick Valensi and Albert Hammond Jr., bassist Nikolai Fraiture and drummer Fabrizio Moretti were primed for star time, updating the propulsion of the Velvet Underground and the jangle of Seventies punk with Casablancas' acidic dispatches from last night's wreckage. Everything happened fast in "Barely Legal" and "Hard to Explain" — the attraction, sex and disappointment — but there was no missing the burn marks left by the guitars and Casablancas' vocals, mixed to the fore and ringed with distortion like he was singing from a pay phone. We got only two more albums from the Strokes, but they inspired a ragged revolt in Britain, led by the Libertines and Arctic Monkeys, and reverberated back home with the Kings of Leon. And for the bristling half-hour of Is This It, New York's shadows sounded vicious and exciting again.

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1. Radiohead
KID A
Capitol, 2000

"Kid A is like getting a massive eraser out and starting again," Thom Yorke said in October 2000, the week this album became the British band's first Number One record in America. "I find it difficult to think of the path we've chosen as 'rock music'."

In texture and structure, Kid A, Radiohead's fourth album, renounced everything in rock that, to Yorke in particular, reeked of the tired and overfamiliar: clanging arena-force guitars, verse-chorus-bridge song tricks.

With producer Nigel Godrich, Yorke, guitarist Ed O'Brien, drummer Phil Selway, bassist Colin Greenwood and guitarist Jonny Greenwood created an enigma of slippery electronics and elliptical angst, sung by Yorke in an often indecipherable croon. The closest thing to riffing on Kid A was the fuzz-bass lick in "The National Anthem"; the guitars in "Morning Bell" sounded more like seabirds.

The result was the weirdest hit album of that year, by a band poised to be the modern-rock Beatles, following the breakthrough of OK Computer. In fact, only 10 months into the century, Radiohead had made the decade's best album — by rebuilding rock itself, with a new set of basics and a bleak but potent humanity. Yorke's loathing of celebrity inspired the contrary beauty of "How to Disappear Completely," with its watery orchestration and his voice flickering in and out of earshot. His electronically squished pleading in "Kid A" sounded like a baby kicking inside a hard drive.

Ironically, Radiohead, by the end of this decade, had fulfilled much of that modern-Beatles promise by following rock's first commandment: Go your own way.

"Music as a lifelong commitment — if that's what someone means by rock, great," Yorke said in that 2000 interview. By that measure, with Kid A, Radiohead made the first true rock of the future.

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The Voters

Each voter was asked to list his or her 25 favorite albums and songs of the past decade, in order of importance. Ballots were tabulated and weighted according to a methodology developed by the accounting firm of Ernst & Young, under the supervision of the editors of Rolling Stone.

PLUS: Go inside the planning of Rolling Stone's decade-end issue with our behind the scenes video and see how our panel of over 100 artists, journalists and insiders voted. Watch Video | See Ballots

?uestlove The Roots

Pelle Almqvist The Hives

Jeff Ament Pearl Jam

Nicholaus Arson The Hives

Devendra Banhart

Kevin Barnes Of Montreal

Rostam Batmanglij Vampire Weekend

Guy Berryman Coldplay

Mark Binelli Contributing editor, Rolling Stone

Mary J. Blige

Nathan Brackett Deputy managing editor, Rolling Stone

Laurent Brancowitz Phoenix

Isaac Brock Modest Mouse

David Browne Contributing editor, Rolling Stone

Jonny Buckland Coldplay

Solomon Burke

Cliff Burnstein Q Prime Management

Patrick Carney The Black Keys

Will Champion Coldplay

Brian Chase Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Robert Christgau Journalist

Jarvis Cocker

Wayne Coyne The Flaming Lips

Cameron Crowe

Will Dana Managing editor, Rolling Stone

Britt Daniel Spoon

Anthony DeCurtis Contributing editor, Rolling Stone

Dion DiMucci

Jon Dolan Journalist

Jenny Eliscu Contributing editor, Rolling Stone

Missy Elliott

Michael Endelman Senior editor, Rolling Stone

Jason Fine Executive editor, Rolling Stone

Bill Flanagan MTV Networks

Caleb Followill Kings of Leon

Jared Followill Kings of Leon

Matthew Followill Kings of Leon

Nathan Followill Kings of Leon

Nicole Frehsée Assistant editor, Rolling Stone

David Fricke Senior writer, Rolling Stone

Caryn Ganz Deputy editor, RollingStone.com

Billy Gibbons ZZ Top

Mikal Gilmore Contributing editor, Rolling Stone

Andy Greene Assistant editor, Rolling Stone

Kirk Hammett Metallica

Will Hermes Senior critic, Rolling Stone

Brian Hiatt Associate editor, Rolling Stone

Christian Hoard Contributing editor, Rolling Stone

Mark Hoppus Blink-182

James Hunter Journalist

Jim James My Morning Jacket

Nick Jonas Jonas Brothers

Craig Kallman Atlantic Records

Lenny Kaye Patti Smith Group

Mark Kemp Journalist

Kid Cudi

Ezra Koenig Vampire Weekend

Lenny Kravitz

Damian Kulash OK Go

Miranda Lambert

Adam Levine Maroon 5

Alan Light Journalist

Lil Wayne

Kurt Loder MTV

Melissa Maerz Journalist

Shirley Manson Garbage

Thomas Mars Phoenix

Chris Martin Coldplay

Mac McCaughan Merge Records

Colin Meloy The Decemberists

M.I.A.

Tom Moon Journalist

Tom Morello

Fabrizio Moretti The Strokes, Little Joy

Kevin O'Donnell Assistant editor, Rolling Stone

Yoko Ono

Jonathan Ringen Assistant managing editor, Rolling Stone

Chris Robinson The Black Crowes

Jody Rosen Senior critic, Rolling Stone

Rick Rubin

Austin Scaggs Contributing editor, Rolling Stone

Evan Serpick Journalist

Rob Sheffield Contributing editor, Rolling Stone

Mike Shinoda Linkin Park

Neil Strauss Contributing editor, Rolling Stone

Patrick Stump Fall Out Boy

John Sykes Playlist.com

Touré Contributing editor, Rolling Stone

Jeff Tweedy Wilco

Lars Ulrich

Metallica

Andrew VanWyngarden MGMT

Steven Van Zandt The E Street Band

Butch Vig Producer

Wale

Barry Walters Journalist

Gerard Way My Chemical Romance

Jann S. Wenner Founder and editor, Rolling Stone

Pete Wentz Fall Out Boy

David Whitehead Maine Road Management

Will.i.am Black Eyed Peas

Douglas Wolk Journalist

Adam Yauch Beastie Boys

VIEW FULL LIST: 100 Best Albums of the Decade
View List: The 100 Best Songs of the Decade
The Ballots: View Handwritten Votes
MORE OF THE BEST: The Best Albums, Songs, Artists, Movies and more of the 2000s and Beyond

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Albums of the Decade

1 | Radiohead: Kid A

2 | The Strokes: Is This It

3 | Wilco: Yankee Hotel Foxtrot

4 | Jay-Z: The Blueprint

5 | The White Stripes: Elephant

6 | Arcade Fire: Funeral

7 | Eminem: The Marshal Mathers LP

8 | Bob Dylan: Modern Times

9 | M.I.A.: Kala

10 | Kanye West: The College Dropout

11 | Bob Dylan: Love and Theft

12 | LCD Soundsystem: Sound of Silver

13 | U2: All That You Can't Leave Behind

14 | Jay-Z: The Black Album

15 | Bruce Springsteen: The Rising

16 | OutKast: Stankonia

17 | Beck: Sea Change

18 | MGMT: Oracular Spectacular

19 | Amy Winehouse: Back to Black

20 | The White Stripes: White Blood Cells

21 | Coldplay: A Rush of Blood to the Head

22 | Green Day: American Idiot

23 | D'Angelo: Voodoo

24 | Bruce Springsteen: Magic

25 | Radiohead: Amnesiac

26 | Cat Power: The Greatest

27 | The Flaming Lips: Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots

28 | Yeah Yeah Yeahs: Fever to Tell

29 | Sigur Rós: Ágaetis Byrjun

30 | Radiohead: In Rainbows

31 | My Morning Jacket: Z

32 | Lil Wayne: Tha Carter III

33 | Daft Punk: Discovery

34 | OutKast: Speakerboxxx/The Love Below

35 | PJ Harvey: Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea

36 | U2: No Line on the Horizon

37 | 50 Cent: Get Rich or Die Tryin'

38 | Ryan Adams: Heartbreaker

39 | Kings of Leon: Aha Shake Heartbreak

40 | Kanye West: Late Registration

41 | Arctic Monkeys: Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not

42 | Elliott Smith: Figure 8

43 | The Killers: Hot Fuss

44 | System of a Down: Toxicity

45 | Kanye West: Graduation

46 | Justin Timberlake: FutureSex/LoveSounds

47 | Fleet Foxes: Fleet Foxes

48 | TV on the Radio: Dear Science

49 | Fiona Apple: Extraordionary Machine

50 | Bright Eyes: I'm Wide Awake It's Morning

51 | Spoon: Kill the Moonlight

52 | M.I.A.: Arular

53 | Kings of Leon: Only By the Night

54 | Norah Jones: Come Away With Me

55 | Robert Plant and Alison Krauss: Raising Sand

56 | Vampire Weekend: Vampire Weekend

57 | Death Cab for Cutie: Transatlanticism

58 | Danger Mouse: The Grey Album

59 | Interpol: Turn on the Bright Lights

60 | Phoenix: Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix

61 | The Shins: Oh, Inverted World

62 | Johnny Cash: American III: Solitary Man

63 | Kanye West: 808s and Heartbreak

64 | Gillian Welch: Time the Revelator

65 | Manu Chao: Próxima Estación Esperanza

66 | Antony & the Johnsons: I Am a Bird Now

67 | Björk: Vespertine

68 | U2: How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb

69 | Missy Elliott: Under Construction

70 | Sleater-Kinney: The Woods

71 | Bright Eyes: Lifted or the Story is in the Soil, Keep Your Eart to the Ground

72 | Franz Ferdinand: Franz Ferdinand

73 | Coldplay: Parachutes

74 | Red Hot Chili Peppers: Stadium Arcadium

75 | Arcade Fire: Neon Bible

76 | Sigur Rós: ()

77 | Yo La Tengo: And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out

78 | Sufjan Stevens: Illinois

79 | The New Pornographers: Electric Version

80 | Kings of Leon: Youth and Young Manhood

81 | Ryan Adams: Gold

82 | Queens of the Stone Age: Rated R

83 | The Black Keys: Attack & Release

84 | Eminem: The Eminem Show

85 | Coldplay: Viva La Vida

86 | The Postal Service: Give Up

87 | Gnarls Barkley: St. Elsewhere

88 | Brian Wilson: Smile

89 | Radiohead: Hail to the Thief

90 | Amadou & Miriam: Dimanche a Bamako

91 | The Hives: Veni Vidi Vicious

92 | Bon Iver: For Emma, Forever Ago

93 | Johnny Cash: Unearthed

94 | The Libertines: Up the Brackett

95 | Alicia Keys: Songs in A Minor

96 | The Streets: Original Pirate Material

97 | Wilco: Sky Blue Sky

98 | TV on the Radio: Return to Cookie Mountain

99 | The Hold Steady: Almost Killed Me

100 | Leonard Cohen: 10 New Songs

View List: The 100 Best Songs of the Decade
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The Ballots: View Handwritten Votes
MORE OF THE BEST: The Best Albums, Songs, Artists, Movies and more of the 2000s and Beyond