Music

Listen up: these are undeniably the 8 best albums of the decade

Prepare to shout at your computer as you peruse this 'super objective' and 'completely unbiased' list

15 December 2019 - 00:00 By
Before Kanye West was a self-promotional lunatic, he was a musical genius, which is why two of his albums have earned spots on this list.
Before Kanye West was a self-promotional lunatic, he was a musical genius, which is why two of his albums have earned spots on this list.
Image: Gary Gershoff/WireImage

One of the best and most entertaining ways to pick a fight this festive season is to sit someone down, feed them a couple of drinks and then rope them into a debate about the best albums to have come out this decade.

Despite evidence to the contrary, most people seem to labour under the illusion that they can somehow be objective.

Sure, there's a difference between music that's technically made well and music that sounds like a toddler banging their head on a piano. But for all intents and purposes, the difference between a good and a bad song is the difference between eggshell white and vanilla.

Nonetheless, it's a fun discussion to have – so if you feel like spending the next few minutes shouting at a website, we've compiled a super objective, completely unbiased list of what are undeniably this decade's best albums.

1. MY BEAUTIFUL DARK TWISTED FANTASY (2010) - KANYE WEST 

Long before Kanye West was a self- promotional lunatic, he was a genius. This is a statement of objective fact proven by the masterpiece that My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy was. It was grandiose, gloomy, uplifting and downright majestic.

Every artist featured on the album brought their A game and Kanye West the producer brought a level beyond that. This album launched and revived careers while simultaneously establishing West as something more than a mere producer. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is unequivocally the best album to come out this decade.

Stand-out songs: The entire album.

LISTEN | 'All of the Lights' from Kanye West's album 'My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy' [WARNING: explicit lyrics]

2. BLACK SANDS (2010) - BONOBO 

Earlier this year Simon Green AKA Bonobo came to the country and presented an aural demonstration of why Black Sands was such a phenomenal album. Combining live instrumentation with lush, sexy electronic beats and tasty nodules of jazz, this album was versatile enough to get you onto the dance floor or play at a house party where infinity pools, sunsets and hand-crafted cocktails are the order of the day.

Stand-out songs: El Toro, Black Sands, Kiara, Stay The Same

LISTEN | 'El Toro' from Bonobo's 'Black Sands' album

3. AM (2013) - ARCTIC MONKEYS 

Born in the last days of rock's mainstream relevance, AM was full of the greasy, bad boy attitude that had made rock 'n' roll so appealing in the first place, and layered on top of that was the band's front man, Alex Turner, at the peak of his writing powers. This was an album for smokers who wore white shirts and leather jackets but didn't know how to fight. It was for late-night drunk texts and the kind of reckless love that bubbles up after your fourth tequila.

Stand-out songs: Arabella, Do I Wanna Know, I Want It All, I Wanna Be Yours, R U Mine?

LISTEN | 'Arabella' from the Arctic Monkey's album 'AM'

4. YEEZUS (2013) - KANYE WEST 

Easily Kanye's most divisive album, Yeezus nonetheless showcased just how far outside the box Kim Kardashian's husband could get. Featuring aggressive techno laser synths, amusingly vulgar lyrics and ominous percussion, Yeezus is probably West's darkest, most passionate and craziest album - and it felt like art. Like a piece by Ayanda Mabulu, it was the type of art that people either love or hate but that no-one can stop talking about.

Stand-out songs: Hold My Liquor, I'm In It, I Am a God

LISTEN | 'Hold My Liqour' from Kanye West's album 'Yeezus' album [WARNING: explicit lyrics]

5. TO PIMP A BUTTERFLY (2015) - KENDRICK LAMAR 

The truth about Kendrick Lamar is that while he is an interminable bore, his musical ability cannot be denied, and with To Pimp A Butterfly (TPAB), the LA-based rapper basically took hip-hop, flipped it on its head and spun it like a drunk on a merry-go-round. Drawing from soul, jazz, spoken word and West Coast rap, Lamar managed to deliver an album that was conscious, unapologetically black and on the cutting edge of the zeitgeist.

Stand-out songs: King Kunta, Alright, Complexion (A Zulu Love)

WATCH | The music video for 'King Kunta' from Kendrick Lamar's album 'To Pimp A Butterfly'  [WARNING: explicit lyrics]

6. IN COLOUR (2015) - JAMIE XX 

You'd have been hard pressed to find a better album to get you in the mood for a night of youthful shenanigans than Jamie XX's 2015 debut album. Fusing airy harps, sparkly synths and ethereal basslines, this album felt like the soundtrack to a night pregnant with possibility.

Stand-out songs: Loud Places, Obvs, Girl, The Rest Is Noise

WATCH | The music video for Loud Places (ft Romy) from Jamie XX's album 'In Colour'

7. SEPTEMBER 5TH (2016) - DVSN 

As sexy-time albums go, you're not going to find much better. Between the just plain erotic voice of Daniel Daley and the '90s- meets-2010s production of his groupmate, Nineteen85, this Canadian RnB duo managed to make the background music to the sex lives of millennials across the world. Access to exes, Tinder, strip clubs, drunk I-miss-you texts, this album is what you need to listen to if you want to get an idea of what your millennial/Gen Z kid's love life looks and feels like.

Stand-out songs: With Me, Too Deep, Do It Well, Hallucinations, Angela, The Line

LISTEN | 'With me' from DVSN's album 'September 5th' [WARNING: explicit lyrics]

8. 4:44 (2017) - JAY-Z

Just when everyone thought that hip-hop's elder statesman had fallen into mediocrity, Sean Carter, AKA Beyoncé's husband, dropped arguably his best work since 2000. With 4:44 Jay-Z showed us all what mature rap could sound like. Eschewing talk about yachts, bikinis and cars, he instead showed us a man wracked with guilt over cheating, a father trying to build a future for his children, a song dealing with his mother being lesbian and gave us investment tips, all without being condescending.

Stand-out songs: 4:44, Marcy Me, Smile, Legacy

WATCH | The music video for '4:44' from Jay-Z's album of the same name [WARNING: explicit lyrics]