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)

  • your father, from th  

    you ipod toolbag, here's a handy and timely list for your consumption

  • Jeremiah  

    It's wonderful to see Brian Wilson getting his just desserts from the critics -- "Smile" is a tremendous achievement, if only because of the struggle Wilson went through to record it after 37 years. Granted, arguments could be made that it only received the highest rating due to an overwhelming number of Baby Boomer critics living out their fanboy fantasies of playing the record on their turntables back in '67. Regardless, "Smile" is a brilliant symphony; a love of labor by a man for whom love and mercy are more than just a peacenik slogan.

  • gaddic  

    This list is utter garbage
    Metacritic is a poor music critc aggregator when it comes to rapmusic
    Where's Nas on the rap artist list?
    How can Rolling Stone's "Artist of the Decade" be behind the likes of a pop sounding band like OutKast
    The fact is this site use mainstream "white" music critcs that barely know anything about Hardcore rap music Hiphop magazines like XXl HipHopDx and The Source(Sometimes) are where real non-pop audience rap heads should look to for reviews

    Seriously Metacritic is only half-accurate when it comes to movies
    everything else is the opposite of credible

  • Nik  

    Im pretty sure Mastodon would have made this list easily if Metacritic had even included "leviathan" (one of the most critically acclaimed albums of this decade) on its webpage, it astounds me that they dont have a rating for it.

  • Number One! «  

    [...] For those who don’t know, Metacritic is a site that analyses the critics scores from a number of magazines and websites and comes up with a combined score for movies, albums etc. Clearly it is difficult to always take a subjective piece of writing and assign a score, but it is probably the most scientific way available of gauging critical opinion. And on that basis, SMiLE is the number one album of the decade! Yes, indeed. See for yourself here. [...]

  • Joe Rogers  

    THANK YOU for giving Sleater-Kinney's 'The Woods' the respect it deserves!! Most definitely a powerhouse album that deserves all the hype.

  • Alex  

    A little floored that Kid A didn't make the list. As much as I hear "This topped our lists for the decade," the publications and their ACTUAL scores for the album certainly don't show that opinion...

  • overmatik  

    Ok, so there's no Tool with Lateralus, there's no Tears for Fears with Everybody Loves a Happy Ending, there's no...

    The poor qualitty of mainstream music in this decade is only surpassed by the low quality of the critics.

  • pete b  

    Just because your mom tells you that you have excellent taste in music doesn't mean it's true. The people who have reviewed these albums have a background in music and have some platform from which to speak. Just because Avril and Fall Out Boy don't top this list doesn't mean the list blows.

  • dp  

    "Most of these highly reviewed bands come off as gross noise to me, and most people I talk to say I have excellent taste in music."

    You talk to the wrong people.

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