Top Ten Albums That Prove That Not All 21st Century Music Is Bad

There are a lot of people out there who think that all modern music (especially popular music) is never up to par with music from the 20th century. And to those people I say, consider taking a listen to these albums and maybe having a change of heart. These are some of the most brilliant recordings to ever be released, and they were all released in the last ten years.

The Top Ten

1 To Pimp a Butterfly - Kendrick Lamar To Pimp a Butterfly - Kendrick Lamar

This could very easily already be the greatest hip hop album of the decade. It reaches incredibly deep, philosophical levels with such compassion, understanding, and wisdom with its lyricism and production. This album is based on a metaphor for metamorphosis and the life of a black man in America. It also focuses on other topics like racial equality, depression, and many others. The concepts in this album are so complex that I haven't even fully understood the message yet. Throughout the album, there's a spoken word interlude that repeats in between most of the tracks, but it adds a new line every time it comes up. I won't spoil what it builds up to at the end of the album, but it is just beautiful. Lamar's flow and delivery is always incredibly interesting and ambitious. The music is also mind blowing, with Dr. Dre, Flying Lotus, Pharrell Williams, and several others on production. The beats on this album are just as emotionally captivating as the lyrics, mixing elements of soul, ...more - Mard

Compared to Marvin Gaye's masterpiece; "What's Going On? "

No contest.

One Of The Greatest Rap Albums Of The 21 Century - FettiMC

Watch that black boy fly

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2 My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy - Kanye West My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy - Kanye West V 1 Comment
3 Blurryface - Twenty One Pilots Blurryface - Twenty One Pilots
4 Ys - Joanna Newsom Ys - Joanna Newsom

This is easily the most magical and enchanting album I have listened to an a long, long time. Every one of the five songs on the album is like a musical fairy tale. None of the songs have choruses or anything like the typical song structures, they're much more like stories. It has such an old-fashioned Renaissance sort of feel, but at the same time, it's so unlike anything else that has ever been released. One of my favorite things about this album and her other albums is her voice, but I understand that many people can't stand her voice. It's certainly an acquired taste. She has such a uniquely passionate voice, and while it still has that nasally, high pitched sort of quality, it's much more restrained on this album, which actually adds a lot more emotion. The instrumentation is fantastic with the orchestra, and Joanna's harp is as beautiful as it's ever been. This album is just like musical fantasy novel, and it's easily one of the best folk albums of the last several years. - Mard

5 Donuts - J Dilla Donuts - J Dilla

When I tell people that this is an instrumental hip hop album, they are always very confused. "Isn't the rapping the whole point of hip hop? How do you have a hip hop album without rapping? " Well, the truth is, the music is just as important as the rapping, and at times, can be even more captivating than the rapping. J Dilla was one of the most important and innovative producers in hip hop, even before the release of this album. He's somehow able to take a 7-second loop of some old obscure 60s soul song, add a thick drum beat to it, and make it sound absolutely fantastic. I actually think that rapping would ruin this album, because the beats are just so perfect. Yes, the album has occasional chops of speech, but even those kind of connect in a way and make it seem like there is a deeper meaning to the album, even without actual lyrics. This album is jam packed with so many amazing and ambitious ideas, and it just goes to show you that instrumental music can be so much more affecting ...more - Mard

15, 20 minutes for dilla to make a beat

6 The Marshall Mathers LP - Eminem The Marshall Mathers LP - Eminem

Yeah it's better than most rap albums today - bobbythebrony

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7 Run the Jewels 2 - Run the Jewels Run the Jewels 2 - Run the Jewels

Another hip hop album! Truly great hardcore hip hop is a pretty rare find these days, and this album was a big breath of fresh air for the genre. This album features two of the biggest names in modern underground hip hop, El-P and Killer Mike. The always amazing production of El-P, who has produced several other significant hip hop releases (The Cold Vein, Movies For The Blind), is just as fantastic as usual here. Killer Mike has a superb flow, and the two MC's just have a great chemistry. It's aggressive, it's catchy, and it's a modern classic of its genre. - Mard

8 To Be Kind - Swans To Be Kind - Swans

Swans are a band that have been making music since the early 80's, and have released several fantastic albums throughout their career (Soundtracks For The Blind, Children Of God). After a 14 year hiatus, in 2010, they released My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky, which introduced a more post-rock / noise-rock sound that was a little different than anything else they had done. The album was decent, but then they released The Seer in 2012, which was an awesome album. There was no way that they would ever be able to live up to that release. But just like Kendrick Lamar with TPAB, Swans topped their previous album with 2014's absolutely fantastic To Be Kind. Like their last couple records, this is a very layered and detailed post-rock album with a ton of feedback and drone passages. The atmosphere of the album is made perfect by the great production, and Michael Gira's vocals are wonderful, being both calm and mild to fierce and intense. Simply put, not only is this arguably ...more - Mard

Now, be warned: this isn't an easy listen. 2 and a half hours long and very thought-provoking: but it's super rewarding. - WonkeyDude98

9 Hybrid Theory - Linkin Park Hybrid Theory - Linkin Park

Depressing album that was obviously written for depressed teens. But there's some good stuff on here, if I'm to be perfectly honest. - IronSabbathPriest

One of the first albums of the 21st century. Still think it's bad? It's Linkin Park's breakthrough, you know!

10 Emotion - Carly Rae Jepsen Emotion - Carly Rae Jepsen

The Contenders

11 Illinois - Sufjan Stevens Illinois - Sufjan Stevens

Sufjan Stevens is without a doubt one of the most important figures in the folk revival that's been going on during the past several years, along with Joanna Newsom and others. The reason he's especially beloved, though, is the way he pushes the boundaries of the genre. Even today, most ordinary folk music is all acoustic, and while he's not the first person to experiment like this, he does it in his own unique way, with ambient, dark, and electric elements. He's also a remarkable multi-instrumentalist, playing the majority of the instruments of the album. He plays guitar, piano, bass, drums, oboe, flute, sax, banjo, accordion, and many more. His soft, high vocals do a great job of showing both happiness and heartbreak, and the emotion on this album varies a lot, going from very melancholic and gloomy to pleasant and light-hearted. This is just a wonderfully majestic, ambitious, and engaging neo-folk album, and one of the best ever. - Mard

12 Beyond the Red Mirror - Blind Guardian Beyond the Red Mirror - Blind Guardian V 1 Comment
13 Astoria - Marianas Trench Astoria - Marianas Trench
14 Overexposed - Maroon 5 Overexposed - Maroon 5
15 Seven Seals - Primal Fear Seven Seals - Primal Fear

Released in 2005, this has been the most successful attempt to revive traditional metal of Judas Priest type by adding some fresh air. Songs are perfectly written and performed - memorable riffs, choruses, solos. Awesome twin lead guitars, harmonies. All band members showcase musicianship - remarkable vox, drums, guitars, bass.

There is no bad song on this album but 'All For One' stands out with its riff and even more - with the creative drumming in the middle. 'Diabolus' is flawless, too - epic and beautiful start to finish. 'Evil Spell' is a cool experiment - thrash beats on a non thrash song (I like it). 'Demons And Angels' is pretty fast and touches on speed metal. - Metal_Treasure

The purest form of metal music is back (2005).
All For One, Diabolus, Demons And Angels, The Immortal Ones, The Union. - Metal_Treasure

16 Southern Family - Dave Cobb
17 The Epic - Kamasi Washington The Epic - Kamasi Washington

Jazz is easily one of the most under appreciated genres in music history. Sure, it was really popular in the 40's-70's, but nowadays, few people talk about the amazingness of the genre, and I think a big part of that is because we haven't had a truly amazing jazz release in quite a long time. This album, though, proves that jazz is alive and well, and sounds just as good as it ever has. Before the release of this record, Kamasi Washington had already made somewhat of a name for himself by playing saxophone for Flying Lotus and Kendrick Lamar, and now this is his debut solo album. The first word that comes to my mind when I think of this album is HUGE. This is an absolute BEHEMOTH of an album, clocking in at over THREE HOURS LONG, with a FULL ORCHESTRA and CHORUS! For a genre that so often consists of only four or less musicians on one album, this is truly an ambitious effort. Some might say that the album is a bit too over the top, and I understand that feeling, but I think that all ...more - Mard

18 Ocean Eyes - Owl City Ocean Eyes - Owl City
19 Demons & Wizards - Demons & Wizards Demons & Wizards - Demons & Wizards

No bad songs on this album. Supreme modern vocals. Great riffing.
Path Of Glory, Heaven Denies, Fiddler on the Green, My Last Sunrise, Tear down the wall, Poor Man's Crusade, Blood On My Hands - Metal_Treasure

20 True Colors - Zedd True Colors - Zedd
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List StatsUpdated 26 Feb 2017

200 votes
160 listings
1 year, 195 days old

Top Remixes (14)

1. To Pimp a Butterfly - Kendrick Lamar
2. Run the Jewels 2 - Run the Jewels
3. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy - Kanye West
1. To Pimp a Butterfly - Kendrick Lamar
2. Ys - Joanna Newsom
3. Sunbather - Deafheaven
1. Ocean Eyes - Owl City
2. Hello My Name is - Bridgit Mendler
3. Red - Taylor Swift

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