Ghostface Killah's hip-hop epic manages to move from crime narrative to life on the streets to general bizarreness like a dream sequence involving Spongebob banging the Eisleys. It's catchy, it's hardcore, it's personal, and it's massive.
See the full review, "Best album of the decade".
Sleater-Kinney's mix of rhythm and melody is unsurpassed in the rock world. One Beat, their most diverse album, moves from insanely catchy pop-punk like "Oh!" to Motown-esque tinges on "Step Aside" and Rolling Stones-inspired paean to motherhood in "Sympathy." Every song is good, most are great.
Rilo Kiley's ability to turn tragic stories into gorgeous pop/rock reaches its apex on Under the Blacklight. "Silver Lining" and "15" are stunningly beautiful tales of lives gone astray, while "Breakin' Up" is the most joyous breakup song imaginable.
See the full review, "Mass appeal done right".
Out of nowhere, Radiohead went from somewhat experimental rock band to bizarre, still-immensely-popular, insane soundscape/rock/electronica on Kid A. That it worked is one of the marvels of modern music.
Kanye's debut shattered expectations of what to expect from a producer/rapper, from a debut album, and from a mainstream hip-hop artist in general. He put his insecurities and desires on full display, and backed it up with his at-the-time shockingly new production. Top that off with "Jesus Walks" and you've got a winner.
This is the clear #1 if it's a single album, as about half the songs on each part are magnificent. That said, there's still enough here to call it one of the best of the decade. The litmus test: if "Hey Ya!" comes on the radio, are you gonna grin and dance, or turn it off? I sure can't turn it off.
See the full review, "Biggest isn't quite best".
Just song after song of power pop goodness. The insane catchiness of upbeat songs like "Letter from an Occupant" or the title track are balanced with slower beauty like "Jackie" or "The Fake Headlines." If you haven't heard The New Pornographers, check them out - they're darn hard to dislike.
Oakland's funky Marxist hip-hop stars strike again with an occasionally dizzying album ranging from anthemic bangers like "Laugh, Love, F*ck" to hilarious societal indictments like "We Are The Ones." The album's highlight is "My Favorite Mutiny," a who's who of "socially conscious" hip-hop, featuring Black Thought of The Roots and Talib Kweli, who, along with The Coup, are all at their rabble-rousing best.
Talib Kweli's masterpiece veers wildly all over the place both musically and thematically, and still manages to make it make sense. Songs about crime, parenthood, love, and more all cohere into an album about life itself.