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

Saw it at the top, got finally motivated to listen to it. No regrets at all. - JoLeKosovo

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

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 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

6 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

7 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

8 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

9 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!

10 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

The Newcomers

? We Got It from Here... Thank You 4 Your Service - A Tribe Called Quest

Most respected comeback album ever? Maybe. A 90s hip-hop band making what many have called one of the best hip-hop albums of the decade. - JoLeKosovo

The Contenders

11 Horror Show - Iced Earth
12 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

13 Lateralus - Tool

One of my favorites - Okk

14 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

15 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

16 Madvillainy - Madvillain

Great, classic hip hop album. - kanoife

17 Crack the Skye - Mastodon
18 Overexposed - Maroon 5
19 Ceremonials - Florence + the Machine
20 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

21 18 - Moby
22 The Inevitable End - Röyksopp

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

23 True Colors - Zedd
24 Yankee Hotel Foxtrot - Wilco
25 House of Balloons - The Weeknd

The weeknd is the best! - Fireboy

26 Random Album Title - Deadmau5
27 Aa - Baauer
28 In Colour - Jamie XX
29 Melodrama - Lorde
30 Destroyed - Moby
31 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

32 .5: The Gray Chapter - Slipknot
33 Lost in the Dream - The War on Drugs
34 Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends - Coldplay
35 21 - Adele
36 Push the Sky Away - Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
37 Collected - Massive Attack
38 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

39 As the World Bleeds - Theocracy
40 Blackstar - David Bowie
41 Merriweather Post Pavilion - Animal Collective
42 Rodeo - Travi$ Scott
43 Overgrown - James Blake
44 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

45 Doo - Wops and Hooligans - Bruno Mars

For a mainstream artist this is actually half decent. - Entranced98

46 The Heist - Macklemore
47 Discovery - Daft Punk

Packed full of absolute classics, this is a golden moment for Daft Punk. It would have been a dream come true if they just stuck with the style they used in this album. - Entranced98

48 The Mountain - Haken
49 Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses - Slipknot
50 The Archandroid - Janelle Monáe

One of the best pop albums I've heard in very long time. Deserves to be in the top ten! - winner333

Usually, when you think of the kind of genres that have concept albums, you think of genres like progressive rock, metal, and hip hop. R&B is just not a genre that does concept albums, with the exception of this brilliant recording. But hell, this album isn't even really all an R&B album when you think about it, because it jumps to so many different genres from classical to folk to hip hop to psychedelic rock. Few artists are able to mix so many genres so well, but Janelle does it flawlessly. The album focuses on a story very similar to the Fritz Lang film Metropolis, with concepts of science fiction and afrofuturism, and lyrical themes of love and identity. Janelle's singing is so intense and emotional, but at the same time, is much more cool and controlled than most other R&B singers. This is one of the most cinematic and massive albums in recent memory, and one of the greatest concept albums of the last few decades. - Mard

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List Stats

300 votes
199 listings
4 years, 60 days old

Top Remixes (14)

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
1. At the Edge of Time - Blind Guardian
2. Demons & Wizards - Demons & Wizards
3. Beyond the Red Mirror - Blind Guardian

View All 14

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