Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Best Albums and Songs of the Decade

In order to keep Kanye West from dominating this inherently absurd endeavor, I imposed a couple of rules on myself. I could list nothing from 2009 and no artist could appear more than once. Radiohead's not here. That's on purpose. I shudder to think, however, of the unintentional omissions that are bound to keep me up at night.

The 25 Best Albums

1. Johnny Cash- My Mother's Hymn Book 2004
Redemption songs.

2. Kanye West- Graduation 2007
There's a lot to loathe about Kanye. There's even more to love.

3. Wilco- Yankee Hotel Foxtrot 2002
C'mon- break my heart again.

4. The Hold Steady- Separation Sunday 2005
A mash up of "Janie Jones" and "Thunder Road"? I'm in heaven.

5. Super Furry Animals- Rings Around the World 2002
The DVD version changed the way I experience recorded music.

6. Robert Glasper- In My Element 2007
Breaking rules and dissolving divisions.

7. The Streets- A Grand Don't Come For Free 2004
My personal soundtrack from a parallel universe.

8. Gillian Welch- Time (The Revelator) 2001

9. D'Angelo- Voodoo 2000
A long and loopy groove.

10. Ralph Stanley- Ralph Stanley 2002
America doesn't get much older or weirder than this.

11. The White Stripes- White Blood Cells 2001
The decade wouldn't have been nearly as good without Jack White.

12. Rodney Crowell- The Houston Kid 2001
The living and breathing successor to Johnny and Townes.

13. Jay-Z- American Gangster 2007
I hear your gasps. Yes, I prefer this homage to Marvin, Isaac and Curtis to The Blueprint.

14. Solomon Burke- Don't Give Up On Me 2002
I love the new school, but Solomon's still out there.

15.. Chris Whitley- Rocket House 2001
Unless you count Jack White, Whitley was the last great blues artist.

16. Bob Dylan- Love and Theft 2001
My man had his best decade since the '70s. Imagine that.

17. Arvo Part- Alina 2000
Even better than silence.

18. Cat Power- The Greatest 2006
I know these places well.

19. Jimmy Scott- Mood Indigo 2000
Ignore the jazz hands on the cover. This stuff is no joke.

20. Tool- Lateralus 2001
And I don't even smoke.

21. Brad Mehldau- Live 2008
There's hope yet.

22. Los Hombres Calientes- New Congo Square 2001
Of all the Marsalis brothers, it's Jason who makes my list. Go figure.

23. Juana Molina- Son 2006
Crazy pretty.

24. Joe Strummer- Streetcore 2003
I miss him so much.

25. Gregory Hickman-Williams- Passages 2006
My status as the most visible of the late vocalist's advocates saddens me. Please join me.

The 25 Best Songs

1. Mystikal- Bouncin' Back (Bumpin' Me Against the Wall) (YouTube) 2001
Ferocious post-9/11 defiance from New Orleans.

2. M.I.A.- Paper Planes (YouTube) 2008
I've impatiently waited for the pop music of the future to arrive. It's finally here.

3. The Hidden Cameras- AWOO (YouTube) 2006
Liberation and relief.

4. The Thrills- One Horse Town (YouTube) 2003
No comment.

5. Brother Ali- Forest Whitiker (YouTube) 2003
Keeping it real.

6. E-40- Tell Me When To Go (YouTube) 2006
Hip hop now provides most of my rock'n'roll kicks.

7. Nas- Be a... Too (YouTube) 2008
Nas airs it out.

8. Public Enemy- Harder Than You Think (YouTube) 2007
Just like that.

9. Metric- Monster Hospital (YouTube) 2005
Bobby Fuller meets Saddam Hussein.

10. Dizzee Rascal- Sirens (YouTube) 2007
A convincing foretelling of doomsday.

11. Marvin Sapp- Never Would Have Made It (YouTube) 2007
Gospel's popularity is a contrary indicator.

12. The Flaming Lips- Do You Realize? (YouTube) 2002
Right back at you, Wayne.

13. Macy Gray- I Try (YouTube) 2000
I can't play it off.

14. Lil Wayne- Shooter (YouTube) 2006
Weezy whispers.

15. Young Jeezy- Go Crazy (YouTube) 2005
Thug motivation, indeed.

16. Mary J. Blige- Family Affair (YouTube) 2001
I've heard this more often than any other song this decade. And that's alright with me.

17. TechN9ne- Einstein (YouTube) 2001
Leiber & Stoller's song has been replaced.

18. Drowning Pool- Bodies (YouTube) 2001
Nothing wrong with me.

19. Amy Winehouse- Rehab (YouTube) 2006
I'm pulling for you, Amy.

20. Outkast- Hey Ya (YouTube) 2003
Ice cold.

21. Missy Elliott- Get Ur Freak On (YouTube) 2001

22. Taking Back Sunday- Cute Without The 'E' (Cut from the Team) (YouTube) 2002
Timeless teen angst.

23. T.I.- Be Easy (YouTube) 2003
The South rose again.

24. Snoop Dogg featuring Pharrell- Drop It Like It's Hot (YouTube) 2004
I'm not convinced that Pharrell isn't from another planet.

25. Brakes- Heard About Your Band (YouTube) 2005
My life is laughable.


Don't Need Anything said...

i still cant get over that taking back sunday song 7 years later. damn.

Happy In Bag said...

I genuinely love it, DNA. And I toyed with including like-minded songs by Blink, Coheed, etc. But 25 is a small number....

The DLC said...

Had almost forgotten about Mystikal somehow. According to Wikipedia he's due for release next month.

Happy In Bag said...

That prison sentence thing can be a career-killer, DLC. The man's personal conduct, however, does nothing to diminish the power of my #1 pick.

Keaton said...

SO excited to see The Streets in the mix. A Grand Don't Come For Free was such a step out of what we're used to hearing. We're commenting on the "best of the decade" lists over at - Come check it out!

Happy In Bag said...

"It was supposed to be so easy!" Keaton. Hey, are you AudioADD guys familiar with Kansas hip hop artist XV? His song A.D.D. is unbelievable:

bigsteveno said...

I wouldn't have chosen the Rocket House album, but it's great to see some love for Chris Whitley. I think he was a major artist who never got his due.

Happy In Bag said...

Whitley's best recordings were from the '90s. You're right about that, Steve. Still, I almost went with the weird covers album featuring Martin and Wood from MM&W. I like it a lot.

Rick in PV said...

Song of the decade: "Wraith Pinned the Mist And Other Games" by Of Montreal. ("Sunlandic Twins" CD, 2005) Such an instant classic that within a year of its release it became the jingle for Outback Steakhouse. The lyrics "Let's pretend we don't exist; let's pretend we're in Antarctica" became "Let's go Outback tonight ..."

The DLC said...

"Things we lost in the fire" by Low is on my list

Happy In Bag said...

Oh man, The DLC, that's a fine pick.

Happy In Bag said...

I forgot all about Of Montreal while compiling this list, Rick. I'd definitely find a place for them in my top 100.

Rick in PV said...

Of Montreal's glitter-drenched show at the Bottleneck a few years back was epic! Also trippy was Super Furry Animals at the Granada circa '06, with its video accompaniment ... Can you tell I like psychedelic pop?