Ten Years of Metacritic: The Best Music of the Decade

  • Comments: ↓ 226 user comments
  • Publish Date: December 15, 2009

The top albums of the decade

ImageHappy to be at #1

Naturally, when you think '00s, one artist jumps immediately to mind: Brian Wilson. Okay, so maybe the former Beach Boy seems an unlikely chart-topper for the current decade, but his 2004 album SMiLE -- a mere 37 years in the making -- tops our chart of the best-reviewed albums of 2000-09. Long considered one of the great lost albums in rock history, this "teenage symphony to God" proved to be equally acclaimed once it surfaced. Is it really the top album of the decade? We have a feeling there may be some comments posted below about that topic.

Beach Boys aside, the genre most represented in our list of highest-scoring albums below is "indie/alternative" (again, if this is indicative of anything, it's of the types of albums both covered by Metacritic and favored by music critics), occupying 17 of the 40 spots. Rap was next, with nine albums (including two from OutKast, the only artist to appear twice in the top 10), followed by electronic, with seven.

The 40 Best-Reviewed Albums on Metacritic.com, 2000-09
  Album Year Metascore Users
1SMiLE by Brian Wilson2004977.9
2Van Lear Rose by Loretta Lynn200497 9.0
3Stankonia by OutKast2000958.4
4Savane by Ali Farka Toure2006948.2
5Madvillainy by Madvillain2004938.7
6Love And Theft by Bob Dylan2001938.8
7Boy In Da Corner by Dizzee Rascal200492 9.0
8Elephant by The White Stripes2003928.2
9A Grand Don't Come For Free by The Streets2004917.7
10Speakerboxxx/The Love Below by OutKast2003919.1
11Canto by Los Super Seven200191 8.0
12From Here We Go Sublime by The Field2007906.5
13Illinois by Sufjan Stevens2005908.8
14Original Pirate Material by The Streets2002908.9
15Alice by Tom Waits2002909.5
16Is This It? by The Strokes2001908.6
17Funeral by Arcade Fire2004909.4
18London Zoo by The Bug200890 6.0
19Untrue by Burial2007907.4
20XTRMNTR by Primal Scream2000908.7
21Z by My Morning Jacket2005908.2
22Since I Left You by The Avalanches2001899.3
23Rounds by Four Tet2003898.9
24Neon Golden by The Notwist200389 9.0
25Modern Times by Bob Dylan2006898.4
26Miss E... So Addictive by Missy Elliott2001897.9
27HoboSapiens by John Cale2004899.5
28Bachelor No. 2 (or, the last remains of the dodo) by Aimee Mann2000899.4
29Fed by Plush2008897.6
30Last Exit by Junior Boys2004898.2
31Merriweather Post Pavilion by Animal Collective2009898.5
32Songs For The Deaf by Queens of the Stone Age2002899.2
33Wearemonster by Isolée2005898.3
34Hell Hath No Fury by Clipse200689 8.0
35Chutes Too Narrow by The Shins2003889.2
36Yours, Mine & Ours by Pernice Brothers2003889.2
37Hypermagic Mountain by Lightning Bolt2005886.2
38Ta Det Lugnt by Dungen2004889.3
39Dear Science, by TV on the Radio2008889.1
40Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... Pt. II by Raekwon200988 9.0

Albums released between January 1, 2000 and December 31, 2009 and having 7 or more reviews in Metacritic's database were eligible for the above list. Reissues, EPs, live albums, holiday albums, greatest hits albums, and other compilations are excluded. All Metascore data is from December 11, 2009. The Metascore is a weighted average of scores from top professional critics, on a scale from 0 (bad) to 100 (good). User scores represent an average of scores assigned by Metacritic.com site visitors.

Next, let's look at the decade's top-scoring albums in various categories and genres. We'll start with debut albums, a group that contains some genuine classics. Note that the same fine print beneath the table above applies to all of the lists below as well.

The Best-Reviewed Debut Albums on Metacritic.com, 2000-09
  Album Year Metascore Users
1Boy In Da Corner by Dizzee Rascal200492 9.0
2From Here We Go Sublime by The Field2007906.5
3Original Pirate Material by The Streets2002908.9
4Is This It? by The Strokes2001908.6
5Funeral by Arcade Fire2004909.4
6Since I Left You by The Avalanches2001899.3
7Last Exit by Junior Boys2004898.2
8The College Dropout by Kanye West2004889.2
9Arular by M.I.A.2005887.9
10For Emma, Forever Ago by Bon Iver2008889.4
11Fleet Foxes by Fleet Foxes 2008878.5
12Franz Ferdinand by Franz Ferdinand2004878.4
13The Creek Drank The Cradle by Iron & Wine2002878.9
14Mass Romantic by The New Pornographers2000879.7
15Mirrored by Battles2007867.9
16Hercules And Love Affair by Hercules And Love Affair 2008866.4
17 The Decline of British Sea Power by British Sea Power 2003868.6
18Thunder, Lightning, Strike by The Go! Team2005868.6
19LCD Soundsystem by LCD Soundsystem2005867.6
20The Futureheads by The Futureheads2004868.8
The Best-Reviewed Pop/R&B Albums on Metacritic.com, 2000-09
  Album Year Metascore Users
1Robyn by Robyn 2008868.4
2Beautifully Human: Words And Sounds Vol. 2 by Jill Scott2004869.2
3Don't Give Up On Me by Solomon Burke2002859.3
4BLACKsummers'night by Maxwell2009859.2
5The World Has Made Me The Man Of My Dreams by Me'Shell NdegéOcello2007849.1
6Love vs Money by The-Dream2009838.8
7New Amerykah: Part One (4th World War) by Erykah Badu2008838.4
8Love Behind The Melody by Raheem DeVaughn200883 8.0
91st Born Second by Bilal2001829.6
10Cookie: The Anthropological Mix Tape by Me'Shell NdegéOcello2002829.6
11Come Away With Me by Norah Jones2002828.3
12Lay It Down by Al Green2008818.8
13Back To Black by Amy Winehouse200781 8.0
14Anniemal by Annie2005818.4
15St. Elsewhere by Gnarls Barkley2006818.3
16Music by Madonna2000808.8
17Tasty by Kelis2003809.1
18Mama's Gun by Erykah Badu2000809.8
19Confessions On A Dance Floor by Madonna2005808.5
20The Scene Of The Crime by Bettye LaVette200779 9.0
The Best-Reviewed Indie/Alternative Albums on Metacritic.com, 2000-09
  Album Year Metascore Users
1Elephant by The White Stripes2003928.2
2Illinois by Sufjan Stevens2005908.8
3Is This It? by The Strokes2001908.6
4Funeral by Arcade Fire2004909.4
5XTRMNTR by Primal Scream2000908.7
6Z by My Morning Jacket2005908.2
7Neon Golden by The Notwist200389 9.0
8HoboSapiens by John Cale2004899.5
9Bachelor No. 2 (or, the last remains of the dodo) by Aimee Mann2000899.4
10Fed by Plush2008897.6
The Best-Reviewed Rap Albums on Metacritic.com, 2000-09
  Album Year Metascore Users
1Stankonia by OutKast2000958.4
2Madvillainy by Madvillain2004938.7
3Boy In Da Corner by Dizzee Rascal200492 9.0
4A Grand Don't Come For Free by The Streets2004917.7
5Speakerboxxx/The Love Below by OutKast2003919.1
6Original Pirate Material by The Streets2002908.9
7Miss E... So Addictive by Missy Elliott2001897.9
8Hell Hath No Fury by Clipse200689 8.0
9Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... Pt. II by Raekwon200988 9.0
10The College Dropout by Kanye West2004889.2
The Best-Reviewed Electronic/Dance Albums on Metacritic.com, 2000-09
  Album Year Metascore Users
1From Here We Go Sublime by The Field2007906.5
2London Zoo by The Bug200890 6.0
3Untrue by Burial2007907.4
4Since I Left You by The Avalanches2001899.3
5Rounds by Four Tet2003898.9
6Last Exit by Junior Boys2004898.2
7Wearemonster by Isolée2005898.3
8Up In Flames by Manitoba2003888.6
9Arular by M.I.A.2005887.9
10Kala by M.I.A.2007878.2

Finally, let's conclude on a down note -- literally -- with a look at some of the artists whose Metascores trended downward throughout the decade. (There is no corresponding upward chart because there were surprisingly few artists whose scores consistently increased over the past 10 years.)

Going Down: Artists With Consistently Decreasing Metascores, 2000-09
Artist Metascores (in Chronological Order) Total Decline
The Dandy Warhols 80 73 57 46 ↓34
Jesse Malin 84 76 67 61 ↓23
Outkast95 91 72↓23
Badly Drawn Boy 78 77 60 57 ↓21
The Strokes90 78 69↓21
Eminem 79 75 64 59 ↓20
Jurassic 577 76 57 ↓20
Devendra Banhart 88 82 79 69 68 ↓20
Jet 70 62 51 ↓19
Richard Ashcroft70 61 52 ↓18
Xzibit75 59 57 ↓18
Bob Dylan93 89 76↓17
Buck 6585 71 68↓17
Busta Rhymes 77 65 64 60 ↓17
Franz Ferdinand87 83 70↓17
Dizzee Rascal 92 87 78 75 ↓17
Sugar Ray 71 68 54 ↓17
Trembling Blue Stars 78 73 61 ↓17
Polyphonic Spree84 70 68↓16
Asobi Seksu80 69 64↓16
M8386 76 70↓16
Plaid81 72 65↓16
Dolly Parton86 73 70↓16

Coming soon ...

We'll continue our best music of the decade coverage with a roundup of lists from top music critics and publications.

We're sorry, but comments are closed for this article.

Comments (226)

  • Brian  

    john frusciante released a good 10 albums, 6 of which were easily gold....
    and also elliotts smith.....thats all, surprised to not hear more about them....
    some good names up there though...

  • cheap bed in a bag  

    Ya these may be the best reviewed of the decade but they are definitely not artists that I listen to often, I would get annoyed by 90% of this list after a few listens.

  • sarah  

    I did forgot to comment on this list and yes I got a pretty big opinion on what I think of it. I can say I only recognize 2 of the groups in the top 14 on their top 20 of the decade and of course that would cause me to disagree with much of it, if not almost all of that list, but everyone has their own opinions and definitely own taste in music. White Stripes was the only one I can say I would listen to out of the 2 bands I recognized. Spoon I only knew because of the song names they listed at the beginning and sorry for spoon lovers but please!! Oh and for the top rappers of the decade Eminem I think should of had a whole lot better chance for the #1 spot. I can't believe he didn't even make the top ten !! He did not deserve to be in the #16 spot at all, at least #3 but that is even being a little to generous to someone else. Outkast did have a great run but come on!! Even though I do love OutKast so much better then that snub nose baby Kanye West I think he would be closer to #1 then them. He did have a few songs I did like. Love Lockdown is my favorite from him. Missy Elliott best women rapper ever and deserves to be #3 on the rap category and prolly of all time not just in the last decade, well so far, cause lil mama can really spit and with alot of style but she needs to get herself back out there more because Nicki Minaj is the shhh right now! She has really got her name out fast and definitely deserves to be on the rap list as well!! I love everything about her and the way she does her thing. She kind of reminds me of a sexier version of Missy Elliott actually !! Bjork, really though, how in the world did she make any list that was talking about top music. I just can not believe the amount of groups or people on these lists that i have never heard of or not heard much of. Maybe I would enjoy them if I i did listen to some of them, I just figured this being a top of the category lists there would be more I could agree with or at least more I could recognize. I think they should of considered more bands in the song writing category instead of who they have on there. Not even one country band in the list I think maybe one female country song writer/singer made it . I think it can be pure magic when a band can come together to create a song especially country songs. Sometimes those are the best. Also where is all the rock, the metal ?!? I am a huge fan of the stuff and would love to see that music on one the these lists. Better then all this indie music crap that should not be paired with alternative music. I think the range in alternative music is a little to broad as it is. Like putting Weezer and System of the Down together in the same category is a bit nuts. They both are great and deserve to be somewhere on a top list but not together in same category. Oh sorry about the almost duplicate comments on incubus. Didn't even realize I sent comment. thought it erased so rewrote it and realized it after second one was sent. Sorry, I know I have talked way to much as is. Just one of those nights when I just gotta be heard. (plus bored as hell and can not sleep)

  • sarah  

    oh my i forgot incubus!! how did i forget them. ok top 21 of all time. sorry to post myself again but they r in my top 10. So hopefully you can understand why i had to come back to mention them. Oh and they r in top 5 for the lyrics they can come up with. You know they are growing as song writers but from the beginning they have seemed to always write from very intense personal thoughts and experiences which always makes their music so much more appealing. You can feel more of a connection not just to the words but also to them. Plus i think its just so completely sexy to hear someone belt out their own song or a hardcore metal melt your face off guitar solo!! Okay I really am done this time. Don't think i left anyone or anything else out. I pretty much wrote a book the last three comments so i am really done. Thanks if anyone actually read my rantings and hopefully if so you would of agreed with me if you took the time to read all of this!!!

  • sarah  

    oh my i forgot incubus!! how did i forget them. ok top 21 of all time. sorry to post myself again but they r in my top 10. So hopefully you can understand why i had to come back to mention them. Oh and they r in top 5 for the lyrics they can come up with. You know they are growing as song writers but from the beginning they have seemed to always write from very intense personal thoughts and experiences which always makes their music so much more appealing and I just think it means more when you know what they are singing about really comes from them. You can feel more of a connection not just to the words but also to them. Plus i think its just so completely sexy to hear someone belt out their own thoughts and feelings in song whether in their lyrics or a hardcore metal melt your face off guitar solo!! Okay I really am done this time. Don't think i left anyone or anything else out. I pretty much wrote a book the last three comments so i am really done. Thanks if anyone actually read my rantings and hopefully if so you would of agreed with me if you took the time to read all of this!!!

  • sarah  

    oh and one more thing most of the names i mentioned i believe wrote most all their own songs and that to me elevates them even further. I understand co writers or even using other people's music EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE if what they use really means something to them or says what they want in a way they didn't think of but to make your whole career singing another person's thoughts and feelings and seem to get all the credit is just wrong. I don't believe the writers/composers get nearly enough credit and the bands/solo artists who also write their own music don't either. I just get really bothered when I hear how brilliant a singer is when the only thing they do is sing what they pick from a list or told to. I just wanna hear more credit go to where it is really deserved. A real artist even in music has to have there own ideas and voice or they really can not be considered an artist to me they are just a copycat. That is why I think cover bands can never REALLY make it big unless the singer has kick ass vocals to carry them because god forbid they have there OWN thoughts and voice good enough to be heard. Okay I am finished ranting now, its nice to have a place to do so especially when i don't have to hear anyone disagree with me.

  • sarah  

    my top 20 overall bands and/or singers of all time r Aerosmith, Sublime, Avenged Sevenfold, Radio Head, Rascal Flats, Travis Tritt, Pink, Matchbox 20, Ozzy (of course), Flyleaf, Death Cab for Cutie, Janis Joplin, Slim shady, Shania Twain, Elvis, Stevie Wonder, Weezer, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Garth Brooks, and Snoop Dogg. A very diverse selection I know but that top 20 I have grown up with and will never change for me. Maybe can add to it but I will never remove any of them. Wanted to go up to 40 but thought that would be a little overkill.

  • sarah  

    I believe Avenged Sevenfold is the best heavy metal band of not just this decade but probably the decade before that. They kick some major ass and its not just because of the mind blowing guitar solos and crazy drumming but the lyrics are wicked as well

  • Honey  

    Kelly Clarkson’s “Breakaway” is missing from the database. I believe it’s a critic favorite and would’ve given her a much higher average rating had it been taken into account. On another side note, poor Bjork, now if she didn’t release those pointless soundtrack albums…

  • Making Beat guy  

    I would probably have to go along with the show BET had on about the best rappers of the last 10 yrs. I really believe that Eminem and Lil Wayne are leading the pack. They are both close to or at the top with the amount of money they made and the quantity of hit the produced.

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