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)

  • Aaron  

    C'mon people, don't complain. Lists like these are obviously inherently flawed. It's interesting to see who gets the highest scores sometimes, but you can't go around saying things like "WTF my favorite band isn't #1?!?!" It's pretty much just opinion. For me, Radiohead has to be my favorite of the decade. Kid A was a fantastic and truly unique record. I can't find anything like it, and believe me, I've looked. But just because this list says otherwise doesn't mean I am wrong. the list can't be "wrong" either. I think we should stop whining that our favorite bands aren't high on the list and just use things like these to find new artists.

  • Rebecca  

    Yes, yes, Radiohead is awesome, but Spoon is as well... Kudos to the boys for not putting out crap and being consistently great. Underrated is right.

  • Matt  

    okay...time to complain:

    of montreal? it's unfair since they've made TONS of albums. 1 of them is bound to be below 80.
    wilco?
    interpol? their 3rd album did fall off

  • Matt  

    The best thing about this list is how it's causing me to double take at some bands that I passed up a few years back. COMPLETELY forgot about Four Tet and Super Furry Animals

  • Matt  

    btw, rage against the machine would have OWNED in this list if they had been around a bit longer (and stayed consistent in their awesomeness).

    and to people complaining about the listing order where U2 is below something like animal collective, well it wasn't taking in to consideration popularity.

  • Matt  

    I thought this list was great! The list showed us bands that have a couple of albums and all of them were pretty good. At first, I was like "where are Peter Bjorn and John?" but then I realized, that some of their albums have kinda sucked. I don't think an artist like that should be included. It asked for best overall artists, and not best albums.

  • Jim SEO  

    Critics' lists and picks are fine for learning about music that is not mainstream but in the end I want to hear my favourite music that speaks to me personally, not albums that are technically better or more 'original.' Another thing about music critics is that they never, ever criticise awful singing. I mean, Tom Waits? Bob Dylan? Jack White? Seriously? When you think about it, what the hell is with that?

  • Paul  

    This is the best music? No jazz category, blues, country, bluegrass, folk, Americana, classical, so forth? Leading off with Indie/Alternative. No slaves to fashion you guys! No dedicated followers of the trendy! Nooooo, not Metacritic! To some of us, Alternative Music should be renamed Alternative to Music. And let's see, Alternative is innovative, even though much of it's influences go back to the 70s, 80s, and early 90s? Shh, let's not admit that most Alternative just apes what went before. Not to mention most rap. There's no formula in those genres. No attempts at commercialism. Indie/Alternative is one of the best selling genres but not commercial? ROTFL! How can you come up with such and extensive list of movie genres and such a myopic list of music? Let us know when you really do a best music list of the decade, will ya?

  • Brad  

    Why is it I can't get through 3 comments in a row without someone whining like a 5-year old about how THEIR choice for #1 isn't #1 on this list, or something similar? This isn't YOUR list. These aren't even Metacritic's choices, you morons. They are based on a variety of different publications' reviews. So slam Pitchfork, Paste, Rolling Stone, Variety, GQ, whatever. And if you've got an issue with it, maybe you shouldn't be putting so much stock in what other people say about albums. Oh, that's right - you don't care. That's why you're here.

    Good grief, what a bunch of pretentious jackasses.

  • Kyle  

    one more SERIOUS omission -- WILCO!!

    2002 -- Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
    2004 -- A Ghost Is Born
    2005 -- Kicking Television (Live in Chicago)
    2007 -- Sky Blue Sky
    2009 -- Wilco (The Album)

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