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

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.

It's stupidly good. It's stupid how good it is. It is frustrating how gosh darn good this album is

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

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2 My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy - Kanye West

This is an intriguing piece of masterpiece that proves rap is still a great genre. - AlphaQ

What?! Kanye West?! Really?! Yes, Kanye West. Really. I wanted to make sure that hip hop was getting a lot of focus on this list, because it's definitely the most common target for the whole "wrong generation" argument. Modern hip hop gets so much hate because everyone says that it's all about "money" and "hoes" and "cars". And while that is often true, there is so much popular hip hop music out there that is truly meaningful. Now you might be thinking, "But Kanye West is such an ass! How could this album possibly change anyone's opinions of him? " Well, in this album, he reveals himself to be... An egotistical fame whore. And on this album he is very up front and honest about it. But the thing is, he's never insulting your intelligence by kidding you or himself about his success. And, of course, like any great hip hop release, the production on this album is top notch. There is so much going on on every track, but it never feels messy ...more - Mard

3 At the Edge of Time - Blind Guardian

Greatest Album of the 21st Century - christangrant

4 Kid A - Radiohead
5 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

This also proves you that some Hip-Hop from the 21 century isn't bad. - Mumbizz01

Pretty Amazing - VideoGamefan5

6 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

7 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

8 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

9 Blurryface - Twenty One Pilots

Great album! Very interesting and bouncy. 9/10

I like how the Top 3 albums are rap and pop. - AlphaQ

Yep, And You Can't Shut Up About How Much You Hate Linkin Park, But Yet Go Praising This - VideoGamefan5

10 Beyond the Red Mirror - Blind Guardian

Amazing symphonic metal, 2015 (concept album).
Top notch musicianship. Godly singer with great vocal technique.
A perfect example of modern sounding melodic music yet classy and complex enough to be called ART.
Try "The Throne", "The Ninth Wave", "Distant Memories", "The Holy Grail", "Sacred Mind", "Miracle Machine". - Metal_Treasure

The Contenders

11 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

12 Horror Show - Iced Earth
13 Hybrid Theory - Linkin Park

Well considering my two favorite albums of all time were made in the 2010s (though neither of them are on the list), I guess that makes sense. (Feed the Machine by Nickelback and Blind Man Walking by Cadillac Sky)

Best album - DarkBoi-X

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!

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14 Emotion - Carly Rae Jepsen
15 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

16 Madvillainy - Madvillain

Great, classic hip hop album. - kanoife

17 Lateralus - Tool

One of my favorites - Okk

18 The Marshall Mathers LP - Eminem

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

Awesome Rap Music - VideoGamefan5

One best hardcore rap albums ever next to straight outta compton best songs
1 Kill You"
2 "Stan
3 Who Knew
4 The Way I Am"
5 "The Real Slim Shady"
6 Remember Me
7 I'm Back"
8 Marshall Mathers
9 Bitch Please II
10 "Criminal

19 American Idiot - Green Day

One of the best concept albums of all time. If that doesn't prove that we donèt have good music, I don't know what will. - hockeyvampire

20 Astoria - Marianas Trench
21 Crack the Skye - Mastodon
22 Overexposed - Maroon 5
23 Southern Family - Dave Cobb
24 Ceremonials - Florence + the Machine
25 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

26 The Inevitable End - Röyksopp

Absolutely beautiful - I have this album and still love it to bits. - Entranced98

27 House of Balloons - The Weeknd

The weeknd is the best! - Fireboy

28 True Colors - Zedd
29 Yankee Hotel Foxtrot - Wilco
30 Random Album Title - Deadmau5
31 Aa - Baauer
32 In Colour - Jamie XX
33 Melodrama - Lorde
34 Destroyed - Moby
35 Night Visions - Imagine Dragons

Overrated Crap Album By Talentless Hack Band Only For Idiots - VideoGamefan5

36 Cloud Nine - Kygo

This might not be everyone's cup of tea but fans of very modern electronic music are in for a treat here. - Entranced98

37 .5: The Gray Chapter - Slipknot
38 Lost in the Dream - The War on Drugs
39 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

40 Recovery - Eminem
41 Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends - Coldplay
42 21 - Adele
43 Push the Sky Away - Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
44 Collected - Massive Attack
45 As the World Bleeds - Theocracy
46 Blackstar - David Bowie
47 Merriweather Post Pavilion - Animal Collective
48 Rodeo - Travi$ Scott
49 Overgrown - James Blake
50 Boxer - The National

Talk about post-punk revival. You would think that with all the problems in modern society, we would have a lot more true punk music being popular. No, of course punk isn't dead, and The National help to prove it. You could say they're not really a punk band in the traditional sense; they don't rock out at all, there's none of that anger you hear with bands like the Clash or the Sex Pistols, but they definitely have the right state of mind, and that's really what punk is all about. This album really gives us those politically charged lyrics about current events that we need in modern society. Their previous album was more focused on inner struggles and personal identity, and this album focuses on the struggles of others. Of course, we can't just focus on the lyrics, because the music on this album is also certainly something to behold. The rhythms are magnificently complex, and as catchy as some of the songs are, they all have a foreboding undertone that perfectly matches the lyrics ...more - Mard

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List Stats

200 votes
197 listings
3 years, 279 days old

Top Remixes (18)

1. To Pimp a Butterfly - Kendrick Lamar
2. Run the Jewels 2 - Run the Jewels
3. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy - Kanye West
1. Lateralus - Tool
2. Kid A - Radiohead
3. Crack the Skye - Mastodon
1. To Pimp a Butterfly - Kendrick Lamar
2. Ys - Joanna Newsom
3. Sunbather - Deafheaven

View All 18

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