The 10 best albums of the 2010s: Staff Picks

Schreiber Staff

10. 21 by Adele
Adele’s album 21 is truly one that embodies all that was the 2010s. Her album released in 2011 was
both a political and radical statement critiquing society’s stance that female artists must conform to one

body mold, thriving off sexual imagery. There is no trickery involved in 21; it is simply a forty-eight-
minute compilation of intense emotion, melancholic piano backing, and powerhouse vocals. As Adele

herself says, “I don’t make music for eyes. I make music for ears.”
9. Currents by Tame Impala
Yes, Tame Impala is a band, but it is also just one man. Every Tame Impala record is completely
recorded, produced, mixed, and mastered by an Australian named Kevin Parker. Parker tours with four
other musicians to play live shows, but these touring members do not participate in the recording
process. Prior to 2015, Tame Impala released two full length albums, Lonerism and InnerSpeaker, both
of which received widespread critical acclaim for their innovative psychedelic rock style. With Currents,
Parker went in a bit of a different direction, and began to incorporate more elements of pop and disco
into his production. The result is a thirteen track, fifty-one-minute project that has the capability to take
the listener on a journey throughout the songs. Although Tame Impala had hits before, none was bigger
than “The Less I Know The Better,” the seventh track on Currents. With an incredible bass line and an
addicting chorus, this track went viral across the internet and eventually gained Platinum status in the
United States. The influence of this project throughout music is undeniable. Kevin Parker has facilitated
a shift towards a more psychedelic sound for artists across the board in both pop and hip-hop. That
includes Rihanna, who published a cover of the album’s closer, “New Person, Same Old Mistakes,” and
Travis Scott, who collaborated with Parker to make “Skeletons,” a track off of Scott’s most recent project,
Astroworld. Elements of Parker’s unique sound can be seen permeating almost every style of modern
music, and fans are excited for the release of his new album The Slow Rush, which is scheduled for
release in 2020.
8. Lemonade by Beyonce
Lemonade is the sixth album by American singer Beyoncé, released on April 23, 2016.
Lemonade incorporates a variety of genres, including pop, reggae, blues, rock, hip hop, soul, funk,
Americana, country, gospel, electronic, and trap. It features guest vocals from James Blake, Kendrick
Lamar, The Weeknd, and Jack White, and contains samples of several hip hop and rock songs. The
album debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200, selling 485,000 copies in its first week of sales
and earning Beyoncé her sixth consecutive number-one album on the chart. As of December 2016,
Lemonade has sold over 1.5 million copies in the United States, making it the third-best selling album of
the year in the US. It was also the best-selling album of 2016, according to the International Federation
of the Phonographic Industry, with 2.5 million copies shipped globally. Not only did Beyoncé’s album sell
out and reach new heights in the music industry, but in various song lyrics she references the disloyal
actions of her loved one. This album is in stark contrast with her previous albums that dealt with less
heavy topics.
7. Blonde by Frank Ocean
Frank Ocean has always been known to possess the remarkable ability of telling stories through his
music. While this is impressive in and of itself, he managed to grow even more from that, becoming, as
a Pitchfork reviewer writes, “an avatar for all of our fluid modern ideals.” No matter your music taste, it
can be unanimously understood from the first listen of Blonde that the album pushes the boundary of
what a major pop star can release. Though it’s intriguing and seemingly unidentifiable sound, Ocean
tells stories and produces catchy tunes without using drums in more than half of the seventeen tracks.
From the first hit track, “Nikes”, to a spoken story in the form of Facebook Story, Ocean produces an
aesthetic that is unparalleled and evokes strong emotions out of avid listeners.
6. Red by Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift is one of the most talented female artists and uses a twist of genres in all her music. Red
was released in early 2012, which is when Swift tried to push her music outside of its traditional
boundaries, to stray into the gray area between pop and country. The young artist expanded the way in
which she sang and the topics she sang about. Nevertheless, she still wrote songs about love and its
fugitive presence and songs about obsessive relationships. One of the most popular songs in the album
is “We are Never Ever Getting Back Together.” Along with this track, most of Swift’s songs have
meanings related to her ex-boyfriends such as Joe Jonas, John Mayer, and Taylor Laughtner. Swift is
known for writing tacky love songs about loving or leaving her boyfriends. Red is, in many ways, a
transition album. It traverses Swift’s country roots and enters proper pop territory, a sphere she would
eventually dominate with her colossal album 1989 two years later.
5. Acid Rap by Chance The Rapper
Chance the Rapper brilliantly combines hip-hop, rap, gospel, and R&B in his critically acclaimed
sophomore mixtape, Acid Rap. Released just a year after his debut tape, 10 Day, Chance’s work
reached number five on the Billboard Top 200. With its gospel riffs notably in opener “Good Ass Intro,”
to its enthusiastic singing in “Favorite Song” and hard-hitting rap in “Cocoa Butter Kisses,” this project
brings together the sources of music from his life in Chicago while reminiscing about his family. Chance

dives into his life in Chicago and brings gospel, rap, hip-hop and R&B into one masterful production with
Acid Rap.
4. AM by Arctic Monkey
AM is probably the most famous album of English indie rock band Arctic Monkeys. The single
“Do I Wanna Know?’ was the first song by the band to enter the Billboard Hot 100. The album
broke a record in the United Kingdom, as Arctic Monkeys became the first independent-label
band to reach number one in the UK within their first five albums.
3. + by Ed Sheeran
In September of 2011, Ed Sheeran released his debut album “+” which marked the beginning of his pop
career in the United States. Various songs in this album topped the charts such as “The A Team” and
“Lego House”. This album is written all by Ed himself, and it shows many sides of him as an artist. “+”
also created a brand for Ed Sheeran as a man with just his guitar, no band or background music. This
collection of songs shows Sheeran’s ability to combine soft tones with influences of hip hop.
2. American Teen by Khalid
In March of 2017, American pop singer Khalid released his debut album, American Teen. This album is
one of the most memorable of the decade and reached number nine on the US charts. This album
entails 15 songs that fall under the contemporary R&B and alternative R&B genres; some fan favorites
include “8TEEN” and “Young Dumb & Broke.” This album has reached great successes because the
lyrics are both catchy and relatable to teenagers worldwide.
1. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy by Kanye West
My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is Kanye’s magnum opus. It is said that throughout the
months this project was recorded in a secluded studio in Honolulu, Hawaii, all artists were dressed in full
suits. These sessions had a certain seriousness about them, and it was clear to all those who were
present that they were making something special. And they delivered: this album contains some of the
best feature verses of all time, including the world’s introduction to Nicki Minaj on “Monster”, and Justin
Vernon’s unique voice on “Lost in the World.” This album is consistently amazing from start to finish and
offers a deep insight into Kanye’s mental struggles as his life becomes consumed by fame. It has
memorable hits, like “POWER” and “All of The Lights,” but also has incredible slower tracks like
“Runaway” and “Blame Game.” All thirteen tracks on this project have innovative beats produced by
West alongside some of hip-hop’s biggest producers like Mike Dean and RZA. Even the album’s closer,
“Who Will Survive In America,” which is simply a sample of a spoken-word poem by a Chicago jazz
musician Gil Scott-Heron, is backed by a groovy yet experimental drum beat. Kanye took no shortcuts on
this album, and it paid off as he created what is undeniably the best album of this decade.