Written by: Nic Gouveia (nicgo.ca)
If you can count from zero to nine you’ve probably figured out we just closed out the decade and are now in the magical tweens. What… no fanfare? No fear of global catastrophe? No fuzzy webcast of Geraldo Rivera in some south pacific island as confused natives wonder ‘what backwards country would send an idiot to cover the sunrise?’ No, huh? I’m not surprised. TV and movies tell us the world’s going to end in 2012 and Rivera is dead. Wait? He’s not? Oh well, better luck next year.
To my point, why not put something together for you good people to read and subsequently argue with each other about? Good idea, no? Here’s a list of artists who actually made something worth illegally downloading buying this decade. My rules, for what it’s worth, are this. No artist gets on twice (even though some deserve a second or third album on the list) and my selection criteria consists of a mix of creativity, impact on career and impact on the music scene. Enjoy…
1) Radiohead - Kid A (2000)
No, Kid A wasn’t anything like The Bends or O.K. Computer and I’m not here to argue which of the three albums are better. My point is, while Radiohead enjoyed their largest level of popularity; the band drew a line in the sand and abandoned the clichéd rock structures for a wider range of instrumentation and styles. They risked everything and albeit polarizing for fans, Kid A set Radiohead apart from an army of lock-stepping acts and produced the most creative pop-rock composition of the decade… in my opinion of course.
2) Coldplay - A Rush of Blood to the Head (2002)
It’s hard to argue that Coldplay wasn’t the biggest band of the past decade, so why isn’t their masterpiece at the top of my list? A Rush… certainly cranked out the sales, hit singles and critical kudos to qualify it among the top of the list but here’s the catch… the album was fairly formulaic and lacked creative growth to set it apart from their earlier release Parachutes. As predictable as it is, A Rush… is still a fantastic album and deserving of it’s spot.
3) The White Stripes – Elephant (2003)
The definition of a monster, Elephant takes from it’s name. The album is loud, smart and without a doubt will make your floor rumble after a few minutes. (Point speakers towards the floor for maximum effect) All kidding aside, Elephant was brilliantly written and likely will be one of those albums that stands the test of time.
4) Arcade Fire – Funeral (2004)
It’s not often when a band comes along and defines an entire scene with one album. It’s even rarer when they do it on the first try but so was the case for the genre defying Montreal act. Funeral is a beautifully dangerous ride that covers just about every emotion in the human psyche. And all this, without the contrived attitude found in the baroque indie landscape. Perhaps that’s why Arcade Fire enjoys a little something called commercial success.
5) Alicia Keys – Songs in A Minor (2001)
For my money, Alicia Keys is the greatest solo artist of the decade and Songs in A Minor gives me about all the evidence I need to prove that point. Mixing contemporary R_B with retrospective soul, Songs… is a uniquely personal journey featuring the vocal range, creative genius and musical talent seldom seen from such a young artist.
6) Green Day – American Idiot (2004)
With comparisons to albums like Dark Side of the Moon, Green Day catapult themselves from clever punk pubas, to raw storytellers in an almost theatrical and poignant release.
7) Kanye West – The College Dropout (2004)
Love him or hate him, Kanye West’s first studio album is a raw autobiographical opus that discards the materialism of the hip-hop scene and stands as an example of what the genre could and should be.
Queens of the Stone Age – Songs For The Deaf (2002)
You call it stoner rock, I call it music to fuck to. Songs for the Deaf is a hard as nails, pedal to the metal, desert rat symphony. You’ll likely feel dirty after listening to it but you probably won’t mind.
9) The Strokes - Is This It (2001)
Is This It was the anthem for teenage youth of the last decade… frenetic, uncompromising and utterly raw. And like being a teenager the time flies so fast, you only really appreciate it after it’s over.
10) System of a Down – Toxicity (2001)
A throwback to the lunatic metal scene of the sixties, Toxicity employs a freestyle approach to social and political themes and thrash forward in what seems like a doomsday soundtrack.
Not to leave my countrymen behind here are my top five Canadian albums of the decade.
1) Arcade Fire – Funeral (2004)
2) Alexisonfire - Watch Out (2004)
3) Broken Social Scene – You Forgot It In People (2002)
4) Metric - Old World Underground, Where Are You Now? (2003)
5) Feist - The Reminder (2007)
Popularity: unranked [?]