The Top Albums, Songs and Artists of the Decade

It's been a pretty lousy decade in many ways (think George W. Bush, etc.), but, when it comes to music at least, it's been a great ten years.

 

From Bob Dylan's continued renaissance, to the emergence of Jack White as one of music's most inspired artists, to the revolutionary new sounds being created by the likes of M.I.A., to the hip hop genius of Jay-Z and Kanye West, it's sure been an exciting time to be a music fan.

 

So here they are, my picks for the best music of the last ten years:

 

ALBUMS

 

THE TOP 30 ALBUMS OF THE PAST 10 YEARS:


#30. Johnny Cash: AMERICAN IV: THE MAN COMES AROUND (2002)
I've been a big fan of the Man In Black ever since a family friend gave me both Johnny Cash at San Quentin and Johnny Cash At Folsom Prison back when I was a little kid. So I was perhaps more excited than most when Johnny made his big comeback in the nineties, with the help of producer Rick Rubin.

Released less than a year before his death, this fourth installment in the American Recordings series - and fourth collaboration with Rubin - saw Johnny in much frailer voice than the first three times around. But that famous deep voice of his hadn't lost a thing when it came to conveying emotion and it could even be argued that his frailty actually added something in that regard.

The highlight here is obviously "Hurt", a Trent Reznor song (originally recorded by Nine Inch Nails back in '94) that Johnny makes all his own (much like Hendrix did with Dylan's "All Along The Watchtower" a few decades earlier). Considering his well-publicized battles with drugs and alcohol throughout his life, the song seems like it was written specifically for him. The video remains one of the greatest ever made (see Top Songs list below).

Some may say that American III: Solitary Man (released in 2000) is in fact the better album, but for lifelong Johnny Cash fans like myself, this album is, emotionally at least, the superior record.

#29. Lil Wayne: "THA CARTER III" (2008)
Believe the hype, this guy is the real thing. And it all comes together on this, the best hip hop album of 2008. A sprawling album that would be a classic if all it had to offer was the irresistible "Lollipop" and the absolutely awesome "A Milli", a song that just might be the single best rap performance of the decade. But of course it offers so much more than just those two killer cuts. There's "Mr. Carter", "Let The Beat Build", "Phone Home", "Shoot Me Down" and "Dr. Carter", just to name a few.

#28. The White Stripes: GET BEHIND ME SATAN (2005)
On this, their fifth record, Jack and Meg White branch out and add a few more instruments to the mix. It's still stripped-down rock 'n' roll, just with a few new sounds thrown in. And once again, like its two immediate predecessors, the songs are outstanding: "My Doorbell", "Little Ghost", "Blue Orchid", and "I'm Lonely (But I Ain't That Lonely Yet)" being just a few of the highlights.

#27. U2: ALL THAT YOU CAN'T LEAVE BEHIND (2000)
U2 return with their first great album since 1991's classic Achtung Baby and, man, is it ever a beauty! They then carry this newfound inspiration right through the entire decade, though nothing ends up topping this one.

Most powerful track: "Walk On", written about (and dedicated to) the Burmese Mandela, Aung San Suu Kyi, imprisoned for most of the past 20 years by that country's junta for the simple "crime" of winning the 1990 elections. Watch and listen here. Lyrics here.

#26. Amy Winehouse BACK TO BLACK (2006)
Before becoming tabloid fodder, Amy Winehouse became a star due to this fantastic album of modern-day soul. Producer Mark Ronson gives the sound an old-school Motown feel, mixing R&B, soul, jazz, rock & roll, and ska influences effortlessly into a beautiful whole. Amy gives it everything else - amazing songs, a great voice and a whole lotta passion.

#25. Green Day: AMERICAN IDIOT (2004)
Some people were surprised that a punk (or pop-rock-punk) band would come out with an intelligent album with a message like this, but whoever thought such a thing was forgetting that The Clash was, besides being the greatest punk band and one of the greatest rock 'n' roll bands of all time, perhaps the most intelligent band in the history of rock music. They were also all about the message. So, in that fine tradition, Green Day stepped up and made the best album of their career. And it rocked!

#24. MGMT: ORACULAR SPECTACULAR (2008)
The best dance album of the decade, and I'm not talking about some disco, clubbing dance music here; no, I'm talking about the best rock 'n' roll dance album of the past ten years. Others, like Scissor Sisters and Gnarls Barkley, may have produced better singles, but no one else produced such a consistently great album of rock-infused dance grooves. The highlight may be the tongue-in-cheek send-up of the rock star lifestyle, "Time to Pretend" (see and listen below), but the whole album is full of equally great stuff.

#23. Solomon Burke: DON'T GIVE UP ON ME (2002)
The greatest comeback of the decade. As with Johnny Cash in the nineties, a dedicated producer can work miracles when it comes to reinspiring a once-great artist to newfound greatness. And in Burke's case that producer/passionate fan was Joe Henry.

An electrifying r&b/soul album from one of the original masters. A great collection of songs from big-name songwriters like Tom Waits, Van Morrison, Brian Wilson, Bob Dylan and Elvis Costello, most written specifically for this record. And the whole thing was recorded in just four short days - just like back in the sixties when Burke had his first go round with greatness.

#22. Kanye West: THE COLLEGE DROPOUT (2004)
As a rapper he may be nowhere near as great as the likes of Jay-Z and André 3000, but overall this guy was the greatest hip hop artist of the decade. And The College Dropout was a stunning debut. The skits may have been annoying, but with songs as great as "Jesus Walks" this guy was possibly already as great as he claimed to be. And he was just getting started.

#21. Fleet Foxes: FLEET FOXES (2008)
Most beautiful harmonies of the decade. And some of the sweetest melodies too. And you want beards? These guys had some of the best beards of the decade as well. Last year I had this at #9 on my Top Albums of 2008 list, but another year has shown it to be much better than first thought. Subtle masterpieces tend to do that. Grow with time. Like beards.

#20. John Legend: GET LIFTED (2004)
One of the most soulful hip hop records ever. Every song is great. Getting production help from his mentor Kanye West didn't hurt obviously, nor did Kanye's guest spots.

#19. Jay-Z: THE BLACK ALBUM (2003)
Jay-Z's masterpiece. And he can stop boasting about being "the best rapper alive" now. We know already. And, in case anyone still had any doubts, he annihilates them with the greatest rap song of this (or any?) decade, the brilliant "99 Problems" (see Top Songs list below).

#18. Bruce Springsteen: MAGIC (2007)

Bruce's best album of the decade, in a decade that featured quite a few great Bruce albums. His hardest rocking album in 25-30 years and, inspired by the Bush regime, perhaps his angriest and most political. I wasn't bowled over by this to the same extent that some were (in other words, for me it doesn't rival his earlier masterpieces from the '70s and '80s), but it's unquestionably a fantastic album.

#17. M.I.A.: ARULAR (2005)
Coming out of nowhere with a startling fresh and original sound all her own, M.I.A. created a masterpiece with her very first release. And it wasn't even her best album of the two she released this decade.

#16. My Morning Jacket: Z (2005)
The follow-up, Evil Urges, may have been more ambitious and wide-ranging in scope, but song for song this is Jim James and co.'s best album of the decade.

By seamlessly blending their love for classic and southern rock with more modern influences like Radiohead, these guys have created a forward-looking classic rock sound all their own. And, whether you prefer this or Evil Urges, this band (along with Kings of Leon and The White Stripes) is making some of the best rock 'n' roll being created today.

#15. Kings of Leon: BECAUSE OF THE TIMES (2007)
Whereas Jim James and co. are mixing the old and the new, I'd say that the Followill brothers (and their cousin) are the best straight-up old-school rock band of the decade, specializing, as they do, in making nothing but good ol' fashioned down and dirty rock 'n' roll. A bit of Skynyrd, a huge dose of Stones and a touch of Memphis soul thrown in - these guys, quite literally, rock!

Some prefer their earlier two albums, and it was Only By The Night, released the following year, that took them to superstar status, but to my ear this remains their best album so far. And it would seem they're only getting started.

#14. OutKast: STANKONIA (2000)
A hugely ambitious album from hip hop's most dynamic duo. They simply set out to make a hip hop masterpiece and they fully succeeded. "Ms. Jackson", "B.O.B." and "So Fresh, So Clean"... need I say more?

#13. Ryan Adams: HEARTBREAKER (2000)
Channeling the spirit of alt-country godfather Gram Parsons, Adams comes up with the album of his career, on his very first (solo) try. He'd make other great or near-great albums throughout the decade, but nothing really came close to topping this.

#12. Kanye West: GRADUATION (2007)
The third in Kanye's trilogy of genius. The songs are amazing ("Stronger", "Homecoming", "Good Life", "Champion", etc. etc.), the guest spots, as always, top notch (Lil Wayne, T-Pain, Mos Def, and Chris Martin), and the samples brilliant, most strikingly the Daft Punk sample used on "Stronger". A man at the top of his game.

#11. Vampire Weekend: VAMPIRE WEEKEND (2008)
One of the most original-sounding bands to appear in this or any decade. Paul Simon, The Talking Heads and others may have mixed African rhythms and rock before, but nothing's ever sounded quite like this.

I initially only ranked this album as the 13th best of 2008, but after another full year of listening joy I realize how wrong I got it back then. I'd now say this was the second best album released that year.

#10. Bob Dylan: LOVE AND THEFT (2001)
Sounding world-weary like no one else before, yet at the same time full of humor and occasionally even joy, this album, coincidently released on September 11th 2001, is all dark and brooding one minute and calling out for you to get up and boogie the next. An album that embraced Dylan's passion for roots music - whether it be the blues, folk, country or even jazz. If it was from the first six decades of the 20th century this record embraced it. More than any other Dylan album, Love and Theft was all over the musical map. And what a joyful trip it was... and still is today.

#9. Wilco: YANKEE HOTEL FOXTROT (2002)
As bandmates Jeff Tweedy and Jay Bennett battled it out and Tweedy battled his ongoing demons, beautiful music was created.

Beautiful melodies, distortion, country, folk, rock - it's all here is a glorious mix. They're labeled "alt-country", but this is great rock 'n' roll pure and simple.

Famously, the album was rejected by the band's record company, Reprise, and they had to shop it around to find a label that was interested in releasing one of the best albums of the decade. Nonesuch Records had the common sense necessary.

#8. The White Stripes: WHITE BLOOD CELLS (2001)
Some consider this to be the highlight of Jack and Meg's illustrious career and I certainly love it with a passion, but I happen to think they made another album that was even better (see below). "Hotel Yorba" was a 2-minute piece of absolute brilliance (see Top Songs list below).

#7. Kanye West: LATE REGISTRATION (2005)
The best of Kanye's first three instant classic releases. A perfect album... excepting those annoying skits, of course.

Sure, the bravado, boastfulness and ridiculous antics can be more than a little hard to take, but there's no denying the guy's got the talent to back it up.

Check out my full Kanye rave here: The Kanye West Rave

#6. Todd Snider: EAST NASHVILLE SKYLINE (2004)
Some of the best stories of the decade from one of the greatest storytellers of the past 20 years. Folk and country-infused rock. Perhaps the album I listened to the most all decade.

Read my full Snider rave here: The Todd Snider Rave

#5. Bob Dylan: MODERN TIMES (2006)
The third in the trilogy of late-era classics that reestablished Dylan as one of the most relevant and on-top-of-his-game artists working in the music industry today. If anyone had doubted his return to brilliance was for real after Time Out Of Mind and Love and Theft, they could no longer doubt it after this. And it shot to #1 on the Billboard album chart to boot. Who in their right mind would have thought such a revival possible back in, say, 1987?

Less eclectic than its predecessor, Love and Theft, this is more of a straightforward rock 'n' blues album. The songs here rank with the best of Bob's career, particularly the mesmerizing "Workingman's Blues #2" and "Ain't Talkin'".

#4. The Strokes: IS THIS IT (2001)
Reclaiming, along with The White Stripes, rock 'n' roll from the likes of Britney Spears and N'Sync (and all the rest of the poseurs), The Strokes exploded out of nowhere in 2001 with one of the great rock albums of all time. Few albums have had such an impact on the world of popular music. Rock 'n' roll, and specifically guitar-based rock, was back!

Interesting fact: Americans buying this album were cheated out of one of the two or three best songs after "New York City Cops", with it's refrain "New York City cops/They ain't too smart", was removed when the album was released in the U.S. three weeks after 9-11.

#3. M.I.A.: KALA (2007)
Along with Jack White, the most revolutionary musician of the decade, taking music in a whole new direction. After creating a brand new sound with 2005's Arular, M.I.A. was back just two years later taking that sound to a whole new level while creating an absolute masterpiece with sounds, samples, beats and grooves from all over the globe. What's that you say about a sophomore slump?

#2. The White Stripes: ELEPHANT (2004)
The greatest album from the greatest rock band of the decade! And they did it almost exclusively with just two instruments: guitar and drums. Oh and then there were the incredible songs, fantastic lyrics, great rock 'n' roll attitude. And it all came together in the truly anthemic and absolutely awesome "Seven Nation Army" (see below).

Check out my full rave here: The White Stripes Rave

#1. Bob Dylan: TELL TALE SIGNS (2008)
There's nothing on here to rival The White Stripes or M.I.A. for revolutionary new sounds. No, revitalizing the world of rock 'n' roll was a job for others. Bob Dylan simply spent the past decade making brilliant music, music that reaches decades into the past much more than into the future. And this is the album of the decade based on the simple fact that it has the best collection of songs of any album released over the past ten years. We're talking about a thing of majestic beauty. Every song is stunning.

So what if, technically speaking, this may not even be a studio album, no other album this decade was this cohesive and mindblowingly good. An absolute masterpiece, whether you have the two-disc version or the three.

As I wrote last year when this album topped my Best Music of 2008 list: "Who would have thought that a collection of outtakes and alternate versions of previously released tracks from the years 1989-2006 would be this good and would sound so little like a compilation and so much like an incredibly coherent album? But it does. And it's not just good, it's the Best Album Of The Year."

Well, you can now make that: The Best Album Of The Decade.

Read my three (yes, 3) full Tell Tale Signs raves here:

Bob's Back: Tell Tale Signs of Joy... and A Complete Lack of Judgement

Tell Tale Signs of Genius: Dylan's Best Album of The Past 20 Years? (Rave #2)

Dylan's Tell Tale Signs: The $175 Third (Disc) Rave

 

ANOTHER 20 ALBUMS TO ROUND OUT THE TOP 50 ALBUMS OF THE DECADE:


Radiohead: KID A (2000)

Todd Snider: HAPPY TO BE HERE (2000)

Various Artists: O BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU (2000)

Gillian Welch: TIME (THE REVELATOR) (2001)

Norah Jones: COME AWAY WITH ME (2002)

Bruce Springsteen: THE RISING (2002)

Warren Zevon: THE WIND (2003)

Bruce Springsteen: WE SHALL OVERCOME: THE SEEGER SESSIONS (2006)

Red Hot Chili Peppers: STADIUM ARCADIUM (2006)

Lilly Allen: ALRIGHT, STILL (2006)

Todd Snider: THE DEVIL YOU KNOW (2006)

The Raconteurs: BROKEN BOY SOLDIERS (2006)

Radiohead: IN RAINBOWS (2007)

Wilco: SKY BLUE SKY (2007)

My Morning Jacket: EVIL URGES (2008)

Kings of Leon: ONLY BY THE NIGHT (2008)

Santogold: SANTOGOLD (2008)

Bon Iver: FOR EMMA, FOREVER AGO (2008)

Neko Case: MIDDLE CYCLONE (2009)

The Avett Brothers: I AND LOVE AND YOU (2009)

 


SONGS

 

THE TOP 60 SONGS OF THE DECADE:


#60. Jason Mraz: "I'm Yours" Listen

#59. Kanye West feat. T-Pain: "The Good Life" Listen

#58. Jenny Lewis: "Acid Tongue" Listen

#57. Alicia Keys: "Fallin'" Listen

#56. Bon Iver: "Skinny Love" Listen

#55. Loretta Lynn & Jack White: "Portland, Oregon" Listen


#54. Neko Case: "Never Turn Your Back on Mother Earth" Listen


#53. Animal Collective: "My Girls" Listen

#52. Lilly Allen: "Smile" Listen

#51. Vampire Weekend: "The Kids Don't Stand A Chance" Listen

#50. Vampire Weekend: "Oxford Comma" Listen

#49. Kanye West: "Stronger" Listen

#48. Kings of Leon: "Use Somebody" Listen

#47. Green Day: "American Idiot" Listen

#46. Phoenix: "Lisztomania" Listen

#45. OutKast: "So Fresh, So Clean" Listen

#44. OutKast: "Hey Ya!" Listen

#43. Wilco: "Hate It Here" Listen

#42. Michael Franti and Spearhead: "We Don't Stop" Listen

#41. Jay-Z and Alicia Keys: "Empire State of Mind" Listen

#40. John Legend: "Used To Love U" Listen

#39. Rihanna feat. Jay-Z: "Umbrella" Listen

#38. Lilly Allen: "The Fear" Listen

#37. MGMT: "Time To Pretend" Listen

#36. The Rolling Stones and Buddy Guy: "Champagne & Reefer" Listen

#35. Santogold: "L.E.S. Artistes" Listen

#34. Coldplay: "Yellow" Listen

#33. Kanye West: "Jesus Walks" Listen

#32. My Morning Jacket: "I'm Amazed" Listen

#31. The White Stripes: "My Doorbell" Listen

#30. Powderfinger: "My Happiness" Listen

#29. Bruce Springsteen: "Pay Me My Money Down" Listen

 

#28. Kanye West: "Gold Digger" Listen

#27. The Strokes: "Last Nite" Listen

#26. Michael Franti and Spearhead: "Hello Bonjour" Listen


#25. The White Stripes: "You Don't Know What Love Is (You Just Do As You're Told)" Listen
Jack and Meg channel Led Zeppelin and cut one of their hardest, and catchiest, tunes ever.

#24. Wilco: "I Am Trying To Break Your Heart" Listen and Listen (solo acoustic version)
The best song on Wilco's best album, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. This is the song that opens that fantastic album and it features all the elements that make it the terrific album that it is: wonderfully sad and melancholy lyrics and a beautiful melody mixed with a bit of distortion.

#23. Todd Snider: "Iron Mike's Main Man's Last Request" Listen
A song off of his album East Nashville Skyline that highlights Snider's brilliance as a songwriter, telling a little humorous story about Mike Tyson through the perspective of one of his bodyguards. This is, after all, the guy who, after getting mugged, wrote a song about the mugging through the eyes of his muggers.

#22. Pearl Jam: "Just Breathe" Listen
One of Eddie Vedder's most beautiful moments ever.

#21. Lil Wayne: "Lollipop" Listen
What would rap, or rock for that matter, be without sexual innuendo, double entendres and songs about fellatio? And this is one of the great ones.

#20. U2: "Moment of Surrender" Listen
Another classic U2 ballad, in the tradition of "Walk On", "One" and "Bad". And, like "Bad", this one also deals with the struggles of heroin addiction.

#19. Todd Snider: "Conservative Christian Right-Wing Republican Straight White American Males" Listen
Summing up life in Bush's America - with humor and a great tune - in a little over 3 minutes.

#18. OutKast: "Ms. Jackson" Listen
The greatest song ever written to an ex-mother-in-law. And can anyone resist André 3000's gift for rapping?

#17. U2: "Walk On" Listen
As mentioned above, this song , one of the most inspiring from a band that's all about inspiring songs, is about Burma's Aung San Suu Kyi.

#16. Amy Winehouse: "Rehab" Listen
Sadly, this song predicted Winehouse's descent into addiction, but if you're going down why not announce it with one of the greatest songs of this, or any, decade.

#15. Dixie Chicks: "Voice Inside My Head" Listen
Producer Rick Rubin once again inspires greatness. "Not Ready To Make Nice", from the same album, was good. This is better. A heartwrenching song to a never-born baby from a long ago abortion.

#14. Bruce Springsteen: "The Wrestler" Listen
Inspired by the great Mickey Rourke film of the same name, Bruce creates one of the best songs of his career.

#13. Bob Dylan: "Workingman's Blues #2" Listen
The highlight off of Modern Times, an album that had more than its fair share of highlights. As I said when I placed this at #5 on my list of The 25 Greatest Dylan Songs of The Past 20 Years: Simply majestic!

#12. Bob Dylan: "'Cross The Green Mountain" Listen
Lyrically one of Bob's finest moments.

It's one thing to attempt to sum up the horror and tragedy of the American Civil War in eight short, mournful minutes... but it's quite another to actually succeed.

#11. Eminem: "Lose Yourself" Listen
Eminem's finest moment. From the soundtrack to his semi-autobiographical, Curtis Hanson-directed film, 8 Mile.

#10. Johnny Cash: "Hurt" Listen
A song (and video) that can break your heart each time you hear (and watch) it. The pinnacle of Johnny's late-career renaissance.

#9. Beyonce feat. Jay-Z: "Crazy In Love" Listen
An incredibly infectious hook and great vocal performances by both members of the music world's most famous couple.

#8. Scissor Sisters: "Take Your Mama" Listen
After "Crazy", the best dance song of the decade. And almost as addictive.

#7. Gnarls Barkley: "Crazy" Listen
The most outrageously contagious hook of the decade. Who could get this thing out of their head back in the summer of '06? And who would want to?

#5. (Tie) The White Stripes: "Hotel Yorba" Listen and "Seven Nation Army" Listen
These two songs are so perfect in so many ways, I simply couldn't choose one over the other. One, "Seven Nation Army", highlights the harder, more bluesy side of The White Stripes, while the other, "Hotel Yorba", is a two minutes piece of pure pop bliss that highlights their equally awesome acoustic sound.

#4. M.I.A.: "Paper Planes" Listen
The perfect M.I.A. song, bringing together everything that makes her so amazing: a killer tune, trippy lyrics, an incredible beat, awesome sound effects, and musical grooves, sounds and samples from who-knows-where around the globe.

#3. Jay-Z: "99 Problems" Listen
Best rap song of the decade. Best rock song of the decade. Rick Rubin and Jay-Z work their magic.

#2. Bob Dylan: "Red River Shore" Listen
How do you make the second best song of the decade? Well, take a simple, beautiful, melancholy melody, add a great vocal and musical performance overseen by a producer as truly gifted as Daniel Lanois, and then throw in some poetic, somewhat mysterious lyrics that seem to tell a slightly different story with each new listen and, there you go, you have yourself one of the greatest songs of the decade. It's that simple.

Recorded in 1997 for the Time Out Of Mind sessions, but, incredibly, kept in the vaults for 11 long years, this lost, forgotten gem was finally released in 2008 on Tell Tale Signs.

#1. Bob Dylan: "Mississippi" Listen
This song was already one of the best of the decade when it was released in its electric version on 2001's Love and Theft, but when I heard the acoustic version(s) on Tell Tale Signs in 2008 I nearly lost my mind. This isn't simply one of Bob's greatest songs this decade, it's actually one of his greatest songs of his entire career. Which in turn makes it one of the greatest songs of the entire rock 'n' roll era. A sublime masterpiece.

Read more about both of these (and other) recent Dylan classics here: The 25 Greatest Dylan Songs of The Past 20 Years

 

ARTISTS

 

ARTISTS OF THE DECADE:


Bob Dylan
What a decade! Three brilliant albums (Love & Theft, Modern Times, and Tell Tale Signs), one great album (Together Through Life), and even a X'mas album done for charity thrown in at the very end of the decade just for fun (Christmas In The Heart, which includes a fantastic polka version of "Must Be Santa"). Bob also starred in a film called Masked and Anonymous, from director Larry Charles (Borat; Bruno) that featured some great music. He also hosted a fantastic radio show, Theme Time Radio Hour, once a week from 2006 onwards. And he wrote a fascinating autobiography, Chronicles Vol. 1, that, though somewhat guarded, was much more revealing than anyone had ever expected. And through it all let's not forget that he also continued his Never Ending Tour, which featured about 100-110 shows per year on average... every year of the decade... all over the world... and he's almost 70 years old now!

Was this guy full of inspiration or what?

And anyone who has suffered through Bob's dry spells (much of the '80's, for instance), knows what a joy it is to see him once again so inspired, and consistently creating works of pure genius.

Jack White
Four amazing albums with The White Stripes, two great ones with The Raconteurs and one pretty good one with his third band, The Dead Weather. And not to forget his work producing Loretta Lynn's excellent comeback album Van Lear Rose, featuring the awesome duet between him and Loretta, "Portland Oregon". No one, save Bob Dylan, was on a roll this past decade quite like the irrepressible, insuppressible, unstoppable, incorruptible Jack White.

Kanye West
Three brilliant albums, many great guest spots, and some of the best production work in hip hop (Jay-Z, John Legend, and numerous others)... oh and a fourth album (808s & Heartbreak) that's pretty damn great as well.

Todd Snider
Five fantastic albums, an excellent live album, a great 8-song EP and a stage show that is as hilarious and entertaining as anyone's, Todd Snider was truly on fire all decade long.

Bruce Springsteen
The Boss, like Dylan before him, caught a second wind of inspiration and creativity this past decade. Five great albums. A reunited E Street Band. Massive tours. And a restless spirit that saw him going from stadium tours with The E Street Band, to solo acoustic albums and tours, to a fantastic leap into traditional folk songs with The Seeger Sessions album and tour. It would seem Bruce is as inspired now as at any other time in his storied career.

Honorable Mentions: M.I.A., U2, Radiohead, Wilco, Kings of Leon, Jenny Lewis (of Rilo Kiley), Jim James (of My Morning Jacket and Monsters of Folk).

 

Producers of The Decade:

 

T-Bone Burnett

 

Rick Rubin


Kanye West



And so there you have it, my picks for all the best songs, albums, artists (and even producers) of the decade.

This list, like all such lists, is obviously subjective and will probably piss some people off. But, hey, that's all part of the fun.

If you think I missed something obvious or you really disagree (or agree) with some of my picks, leave a comment. Perhaps you have a Best Song pick that you think others should hear, leave the link. Or perhaps you want to leave a Top Songs or Albums list of your own. Go ahead. The more comments the merrier.

Here's looking forward to another great ten years of music.

Mike Cowie (Oredakedo)
Friday, January 15th, 2010

 

POSTSCRIPT (MARCH 2010): The last album to be cut from my shortlist - and therefore my #51 album of the decade - was Neil Young's Prairie Wind, but on further listening I'm starting to think it really should have made the Top 50. It's such a great album, in the subtle, country-folk tradition of those earlier Neil classics, Comes A Time and Harvest Moon.

 

And now check out my picks for The Top 15 Albums and 25 Songs of 2009

 

And make sure to check out My Picks For The Top 100 Films of The Decade

 

And the Biggest Dicks of The Decade: 2000-2009

 

And here are my 2008 music picks: The Best 20 Albums and 50 Songs of 2008: Dylan Tops Both Lists

 

And my 2007 picks: My Picks For The Best 15 Albums and 40 Songs of 2007
 
And for more music raves and reviews click here: Music Homepage

Or here: Music: Album and Concert Raves

And for all things Bob Dylan click here: The Bob (as in Dylan)

MikesAndDislikes Home

Great list, Mike!

Not being a big hip hop/rap fan, I’d probably leave off Jay-Z and Kanye West, though.

 

I’d also add:

Daniel Lanois – Here Is What Is and Shine

Interpol – Turn On the Bright Lights

PJ Harvey – Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea

The National – The Boxer

The Good, the Bad & the Queen

k.d. lang – Hymns of the 49th Parallel

Robert Plant & Alison Krauss – Raising Sand

Ryan Adams - Cardinology

Cat Power – The Greatest

Willie Nelson – Moment of Forever

Yusef – An Other Cup

Leonard Cohen: I’m Your Man soundtrack (primarily for Antony’s, “If It Be Your Will”)

Carlee

Some other great albums

Some of my faves from the decade that you didn’t mention would be The National's 2 albums (Alligator, and The Boxer), Interpol (Turn on the Bright Lights), Iron & Wine (his first 2 cds), Spoon (Gimme Fiction and Kill the Moonlight), Franz Ferdinand (self-titled), and a Scottish group called Ballboy (The Sash My Father Wore and Other Stories).

 

Out of the ones you listed, I’d put Magic, The Rising, American Idiot, The Man Comes Around, and Elephant and White Blood Cells, and MGMT and Kid A near the top. So difficult to put numbers to my favourites, but I’d probably say Magic or The Boxer are my favourites.

 

I need to get a My Morning Jacket album and spend some time with it.

 

I like your top singles list – some great songs there. Although I never need to hear “I’m Yours” by Jason Mraz again.

Greg

Magic

Springsteen's Magic tops the 2000s for me as the #1 album. I would have put Love & Theft ahead of Modern Times, but the whole numbering thing is largely arbitrary and fluid.

 

Three Kanye albums and nothing by the great Marshall Mathers? And Lil Wayne...I just do not get that guy.

 

I am happy to see you got it right with Amy Winehouse – what a talent; I loved that album. MGMT’s stuff is also great. I have a friend in NY who is hugely into Vampire Weekend, and since you like it as well, I can now give it a spin. Also would like to try the Ryan Adams...I always thought he was a bit of a poser but if Gram Parsons is mentioned, he must have at least a smidgeon of authenticity.

 

For the record, lately I have been listening to lots of Fairport Convention, Jethro Tull, Hank Williams, Levon Helm and Blue Rodeo. I am a huge Blue Rodeo fan and their new double-disc “The Things We Left Behind” is another in a 20-year string of gems. They are all amazing players and Greg Keelor is way up near the top on my list of favourite Canadian songwriters ever. Plus their stuff is generally easy to play on guitar (unlike, say, Bruce Cockburn’s). I also have a soft spot for Insane Clown Posse, but I can’t realistically defend that position.

 

There you have it – I am hopelessly stuck in the past. But I am open to trying anything credible.

Jim

Tell Tale Signs

Looks like I'm behind the times here in South Africa. Enjoyed your posts on this special album. I was in a CD shop a few months back , pretty pissed off as my wife had been conned into buying some special vouchers through the CD shop and I was looking for something to buy to simply finish the vouchers and close the bloody account off. Tell Tale Signs was there, had a quick look and thought what the hell lets give it a go.

 

Now I'm a big fan, but I seem stuck in the 60s and Blood on the Tracks and considering I never meet any fans in real life I seem to live in my own Dylan bubble, not discussing or listening with anyone. This album has blown my out of my apathy . Time to go and explore the full catalog of the man' music. It gets better on every listen. Andrew

punk rocks

Any idiot who is surprised that a real punk band would come out with an intelligent album with a message is, well, and idiot, and has obviously not listened to much punk rock.

Yep..

i'd have to agree..

Mississippi!!

Thank you so much for choosing Mississippi as the best song of the decade!!! I have been thinking I'm crazy for being so in love with that song. I have learned more/experienced more/listened more to that song than any other in the last decade. It is stunning in its majesty triumph and pain. I would rank it up next to Visions of Johanna as one of Bobs all time great song. (Probably also tied with Sad Eyed Lady)

"Visions of Johanna"

Funny you should mention "Visions of Johanna". That's my all-time favorite Dylan song. Mike Cowie

Bob Dylan

You are the first critic I read that I agree with 100% on Bob Dylan. My favorite Dylan album is Tell Tale Signs and I cannot ever listen to Mississippi enough. You have validated me. I am going to have to listen to some of your other picks on other albums etc. I am an old fart (56) and don't get out much.

Dude you gotta get out more.

Dude you gotta get out more. And get a bass guitar.

Get out more?

Dude, you gotta find more time to listen to music rather than slagging it. And get a tuba.

A tuba. Exactly. Like The

A tuba. Exactly. Like The Roots. Any kind of bass will do. Its the soul of Rock n' Roll And I wasn't slagging music dude. My comment was my reaction to what i see as an incredibly narrow field for 30 albums deemed to be the best of the decade. Mike, don't you listen to any Canadian music? Not to have Cancon for its own pitiful sake, but there were some truly fantastic albums made in this country over the last decade. Any of a number of them are glaring omissions. And where are the Arctic monkeys? The Yeah Yeah Yeah's, Radiohead, and Damian Marley to name just a few possible others. And The Clash Live at Shea just cause they are the fukin' Clash. And you know i like to ride ya; But The White Stripes x 3? They are kinda awesome sure, but what could of been. What could have been. dean

Yep, there is some pretty great Canadian music out there

That's more like it - an articulated response. Really, we could all grumble that some of our favourites aren't listed, but it's not our list. I think Mike has put together a pretty eclectic list of music. Do I agree with all of his selections? Not really. That's the beauty of being able to post - you can share with people the reasons you like/dislike something. So thanks for your second, more explanatory posting. Carlee