Michael Jackson’s Thriller, The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Eminem’s The Marshall Mathers LP, Green Day’s American Idiot, and Madonna’s self-titled debut were all remarkable achievements in sound, ushering in new eras of music. These albums captivated audiences in ways that made their works iconic, timeless masterpieces.
Few artists have the ability to hone their talent so successfully as to craft an album that has the ability to define a generation, but when they do, it is magical.
Here is a list that attempts to narrow down the top 10 most captivating albums of this generation. The list includes albums from as early as 2007 to today. In no specific order…
Heartbreak has never sounded so glorious. Adele captivated the world with her best-selling, Grammy-award winning sophomore album 21. From the simplistic perfection of the piano-driven ballad “Someone Like You” and the bluesy brilliance of “Rolling in the Deep,” Adele challenged the very notion of artistry in an age inundated with roaring synths and brassy bass lines.
Amidst one of the most tragic public breakdowns ever, Britney Spears stunned everyone, delivering an exhilarating collection of electropop perfection when most thought her career was heading towards a downward spiral. Instead, Britney released the best and most consistent album of her entire decade-spanning career. In 2012, Blackout still stands as one of the ultimate pop albums of this generation.
At only eighteen-years-old, this country-pop phenomenon put her talent on display in her sparkling sophomore album Fearless. Plenty of pundits have written Taylor Swift off as a cutesy little girl lacking in any real talent, but the symphonic bliss and lyrical genius of songs like “White Horses” and “Fifteen” solidified Swift as the real deal. Without a doubt, Taylor Swift is one of this generation’s biggest and brightest stars.
For nearly a year, during the peak of the success of The Fame and The Fame Monster, Lady Gaga was untouchable—musically and artistically. She shook the musical industry to its core, forcing every pop star in 2010 to play catch up. Gaga took her music to the next level, with visual masterpieces and eye-popping spectacles She made making music, once again, exciting. The industry hasn’t been the same since.
For years Lil Wayne was the self-proclaimed “Greatest Rapper Alive,” but his discography proved otherwise. That is, until Tha Carter III, a brash, unpredictable, whirlwind of irrational, uncontrolled genius. It’s unfocused yet stunningly impeccable. Just take one listen to the implausible “A Milli,” built around this massive, overwhelming production that somehow is outshined by Lil Wanye’s genius delivery and lyrical faultlessness. These moments are plastered throughout Tha Carter III, one of the greatest albums of all time.
Body Talk – Robyn
Every last second of Robyn’s electropop perfection of the Body Talks series is drenched in exhilarating and experimental genius. On paper, Body Talk should have been filled with blunders, from the 3-part concept to the highly untried sound, yet what results is nothing short of amazing. In the last five years, pop has never sounded more incredible than Body Talk.
Graduation – Kanye West
“Bow in the presence of greatness,” raps a confident Kanye West on the album’s standout track “Stronger.” For once, Kanye might be acting a little humble. Graduation, the third five-star album from one of the most dependable music geniuses of this generation, plays like something fit for the gods. Since its release, Graduation stands as one of the most imaginative rap albums of this generation.
My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy – Kanye West
This work of art is without a doubt the single greatest musical offering of this generation. This is not just music, but art in the rarest of exceptional forms. It is immediately timeless, a seamless collection of flaw free songs with a wonderfully complex layer of themes. With My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, Kanye West proves his genius next to the The Beatles and Picasso. He is one of the great artists of this time.
Teenage Dream – Katy Perry
This generations dominating pop album came from Miss Katy Perry, who proved single after single that she is the best and worst kind of sensation; she is irresistible. Even without the gimmicks and remixes, Teenage Dream is one of the best pop albums of all-time. Filled with infectious, fun-filled anthems, it is no wonder that Katy has been able to dominate the charts for nearly two years.
Viva La Vida – Coldplay
Gorgeous doesn’t even begin to describe the wondrous beauty of Coldplay’s finest album, Viva La Vida. Chris Martin’s signature vocals soar over some of music’s most thrilling melodies. Viva La Vida is easily this generation’s most beautiful album. The Grammy’s never made a more obvious mistake than when they somehow didn’t award Coldplay’s standout achievement with the Grammy for Album of the Year.