(t5!) My Decade in Lists 2010s: Albums

Who even listens to albums anymore?

As it became easier to access individual tracks and to create contrastive playlists, the “album” lost its appeal this decade. Gone are the days when we waxed poetic about the strategic ordering of tracks, when we argued the ideal album closer, when we proudly displayed the stacks of CD’s next to the living room sound system. But even though its cultural relevancy is diminished, it doesn’t seem proper to do a Best of the Decade list and not include albums. Listing albums is how it all started for me.

I started ranking albums back in 2004 with my 4th generation iPod. There is a feature in iPods for assigning a star ranking to each song, which I aggregated into an average ranking for albums—five stars for a song I love, four for a song I like but not enough to endorse, two for a song I don’t like but can tolerate, and one for an automatic skip (I don’t give 3-star ratings because my appreciation of a song should be binary. Either I like it or I don’t. A 3-star rating would give a “neither” option). Over the years of listening to music, I have properly given a ranking to every album I listened to.

But as my obsession evolved, the quality of my lists should improve alongside it. In theory, my favorite album should include my favorite songs, right? However, my old ranking system didn’t differentiate my favorite song from my 700th favorite song, where both equally get a five-star rating. Because I also have a ranking of the songs that I like, I realized that I can leverage that information and improve the reliability of my album rankings. I have a ranking of a 1000 of my favorite songs from the 2010s coming up later, and I correlated each ranking to a score. I accumulate the scores they got from the rankings, along with my favorite songs that fell outside of 1000 (those only get a score of 5) and the tracks that are 4’s and 2’s and 1’s of the album. As a result, I get a final average, which is sorted from best to worst for this list I’m about to unveil.

Only albums and mixtapes officially released between 2010 and 2019 are included in this list, and EP’s, compilation albums, and movie soundtrack albums are not.

Here is the Spotify playlist.

And with that, here are my 200 favorite albums of the 2010s.



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#200: Cardi B – Invasion Of Privacy
April 6, 2018 / release date
Atlantic / label
Trap Rap / genre

What’s the story behind the album?
“Breakout hit Bodak Yellow had many writing Cardi off as a one-hit wonder, but this album is bold enough to solidify her as a real contender in the rap game.”
 —The Sydney Morning Herald

Bodak Yellow | I Like It | I Do | Spotify

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#199: Sun-El Musician – Africa To The World
April 20, 2018 / release date
EL World Music / label
World Music / genre

What made this album significant?
“And he managed to blend electro with South African house to create an album that can be enjoyed by locals and has great potential to be exported, which, according to the title, is one of his biggest goals.”
 —Okay Africa

Akanamali | Sengimoja | Sonini | Spotify

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#198: Gang Of Youths – Go Farther In Lightness
August 18, 2017 / release date
Sony Music Australia / label
Indie Rock / genre

What is the story behind the album?
“An hour-plus concept record about the aftershocks of a cancer diagnosis, a baby’s passing and depression could easily come off as macabre or punishing. What’s amazing, then, is how open and free Go Farther constantly feels.”
Sputnikmusic

What Can I Do If The Fire Goes Out? | Atlas Drowned | The Deepest Sighs, The Frankest Shadows | Spotify

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#197: Run The Jewels – Run The Jewels 2
October 24, 2014 / release date
Mass Appeal / label
Hip Hop / genre

What made this album significant?
RTJ2 is a steamroller of an album, packed with enough assonance and alliteration to school an AP English literature class.”
Slant

Oh My Darling Don’t Cry | Close Your Eyes (And Count To Fuck) | Lie, Cheat, Steal | Spotify

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#196: Mitski – Puberty 2
June 17, 2016 / release date
Dead Oceans / label
Indie Rock / genre

What was the album’s best element?
Puberty 2 exposes new dimensions to Mitski’s voice, revealing its true richness and range. Mitski is an exceptionally keen observer of the human condition…”
 —A. V. Club

Once More To See You | Fireworks | Your Best American Girl |  Spotify

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#195: Men I Trust – Oncle Jazz
September 13, 2019 / release date
Return To Analog / label
Sophisti-Pop | Indie Pop / genre

What made this album significant?
“The lounge-funk Canadians excel at making music that’s optimistic, soothing and comforting like a warm blanket. It’s essential listening for anybody feeling overwhelmed. Compositions that are relaxing but have enough toe-tapping rhythm and character that they avoid being soporific..”
 —God Is In The TV

Tailwhip | Say Can You Hear | Show Me How |  Spotify

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#194: Tinashe – Aquarius
October 7, 2014 / release date
RCA / label
Alternative R&B | R&B / genre

What is the album’s best element?
“Compared to Christina Aguilera, another mentioned inspiration, Tinashe’s voice is almost always quiet and soft, yet her ability is considerable, and she packs a wide variety of approaches.”
 —AllMusic

Bet | 2 On | All Hands On Deck |  Spotify

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#193: Owel – Owel
January 18, 2013 / release date
[self-released] / label
Emo / genre

What made this album significant?
“Owel utilizes these sounds, as well as a strong control over song flow, in order to maximize an emotional effect in the listener and build up to big moments to make them even larger.”
 —Muzik Discovery

Snowglobe | Burning House | Death In The Snow |  Spotify

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#192: G.O.O.D. Music – Cruel Summer
September 18, 2012 / release date
G.O.O.D. | Def Jam / label
Hip Hop / genres

What made this album significant?
“Big difference here is that the arrogance canon isn’t aimed at anything particular, as West and company put their middle finger up “To the World,” because those shoes are just so damn stylish you don’t need a reason to tolerate anyone, anywhere, anytime.”
 —AllMusic

 Clique | Mercy | New God Flow |  Spotify

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#191: Stella Donnelly – Beware Of The Dogs
March 8, 2019 / release date
Secretly Canadian / label
Indie Folk | Singer-Songwriter / genre

What made this album significant?
“Wonderfully fearless from start to finish, Donnelly speaks up for those who either won’t or can’t. Referring to herself as a “shit-stirrer”, Beware of the Dogs proves that Donnelly is anything but: her outspokenness is completely justified.”
 —The Line Of Best Fit

Mosquito | Boys Will Be Boys | U Owe Me |  Spotify

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#190: SBTRKT – SBTRKT
June 28, 2011 / release date
XL / label
Dubstep / genre

What’s the story behind the album?
“And in SBTRKT’s eponymous debut album we see the crystallisation of everything the scene has been doing, the fruiting of that 2-step influence, and a stunning indication of where UK dance music is right now.”
 —God Is In The TV

Hold On | Wildfire | Living Like I Do |  Spotify

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#189: The Internet – Hive Mind
July 20, 2018 / release date
Columbia / label
Neo-Soul / genre

What made this album significant?
“Melding Motown melodies and pop chords for heartbreak and house party listeners alike, Hive Mind is a triumph.”
 —NME

Stay The Night | It Gets Better (With Time) | Beat Goes On | Spotify

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#188: Wild Nothing – Nocturne
August 28, 2012 / release date
Captured Tracks / label
Dream Pop | Indie Pop / genre

What was the album’s best element?
Nocturne proves that Tatum is firmly at the centre of the Wild Nothing universe, and around him orbits his dreams, influences and abilities, which seem to stretch out infinitely.”
 —Beats Per Minute

Shadow | Midnight Song | Paradise | Spotify

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#187: Mr Twin Sister – Mr Twin Sister
September 23, 2014 / release date
Twin Group/Infinite Best / label
Dream Pop | Downtempo | Alternative Dance / genre

What was the album’s best element?
“There’s a sense that the band is inquisitively exploring the far reaches of the album’s fluid spaces right alongside the listener, and this feeling is strengthened by unusually revealing lyrics that speak to a growth that’s both personal and artistic.”
 —Pretty Much Amazing

Rude Boy | Blush | Crime Scene |  Spotify

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#186: Octo Octa – Resonant Body
September 6, 2019 / release date
T4T LUV NRG / label
Deep House | Breakbeat / genre

What’s the story behind the album?
“Described as her most spiritual and nature-connected work, she recorded it in a cabin in New Hampshire, and there’s something free and open about it that sounds unconfined by the pressures of a city environment.”
 —AllMusic

Move Your Body | Spin Girl, Let’s Activate! | Power To The People |  Spotify

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#185: Four Tet – There Is Love In You
January 26, 2010 / release date
Domino / label
Electronic / genre

What was the album’s best element?
“Instead, Hebden does his contemporaries in The Field one better by using repetition as the beginning of the experiment, rather than its final resting place, as if thinking, ‘The music’s going to move in circles; now, how to interrupt those perfect curves?’”
 —A.V. Club

Angel Echoes | Love Cry | Plastic People | Spotify

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#184: Classixx – Hanging Gardens
May 14, 2013 / release date
Innovative Leisure / label
Electropop / genre

What’s the story behind the album?
“It’s a solid debut for the duo that places them up near the top echelon of their neo-disco contemporaries.”
 —AllMusic

Holding On | A Fax From The Beach | A Stranger Love | Spotify

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#183: Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool
May 8, 2016 / release date
XL / label
Art Rock / genre

What made this album significant?
“The melodic sweetness and sometimes gentle ambience of Moon Shaped Pool may represent Radiohead at their least bloodthirsty and most accessible, but there are depths and riches here to suggest a work of total self-assurance.”
 —The Telegraph

Burn The Witch | Daydreaming | True Love Waits | Spotify

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#182: SOPHIE – Oil Of Every Pearl’s Un-Insides
June 15, 2018 / release date
MSMSMSM | Future Classic / label
Post-Industrial | Art Pop | Bubblegum Bass / genre

What made this album significant?
“In its flows and breakings, it echoes and repeats a fractured self, locating this fracture as something aimed toward futurity, toward a new image of pop music, toward a new mode of being and becoming, toward a new way of moving limbs on a dancefloor with others. It’s incredible.”
 —Tiny Mix Tapes

It’s Okay To Cry | Is It Cold In The Water? | Immaterial | Spotify

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#181: Joji – Ballads 1
October 26, 2018 / release date
88rising / label
Alternative R&B / genre

What’s the story behind the album?
“It’s … refreshing so early in the record to both see how much his music has matured and how much attention he’s putting into his music.”
 —Northern Transmissions

Slow Dancing In The Dark | Wanted U | Why Am I Still In LA |  Spotify

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