CWG's Top 10 Albums of the Decade

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Written By: CWG Staff

CWG Albums of the decade as voted on by CWG staff. It's the end of the decade, and we've done a lot of thinking, not just about booze and whores, but about our favorite things from the past 10 years. Here, we present it to you. If you agree, don't agree, or have a top list of your own, by all means, please fill out the poll below the article.

10. Green Day- American Idiot - American Idiot is the seventh studio album by the American punk rock band Green Day. It was co-produced with longterm collaborator Rob Cavallo and released on September 21, 2004 through Reprise Records.

In mid-2003, the band began recording songs for an album titled Cigarettes and Valentines. However, the master tracks were lost and the band decided to start over rather than re-record Cigarettes and Valentines. They decided to produce a rock opera, inspired by the work of The Who and numerous musicals. It follows the life of "Jesus of Suburbia", a sort of anti-hero created by Billie Joe Armstrong. Following early recording at Oakland, California's Studio 880, the band finished the album in Los Angeles.

The album achieved popularity worldwide, charting in 26 countries and reaching number one in nineteen of them, including the United States and the United Kingdom. Since its release, American Idiot has sold over 14 million copies worldwide, including 267,000 in its opening week. The album won numerous awards including a Grammy for Best Rock Album, and received acclaim by critics.

9. The White Stripes- Elephant - Elephant is the fourth album by the American alternative rock band The White Stripes. Released on April 1, 2003 on V2 Records, the album marks the band's major label debut. Despite this change, Heather Phares of Allmusic believed the album "sounds even more pissed-off, paranoid, and stunning than its predecessor…Darker and more difficult than White Blood Cells."

The record garnered much critical acclaim upon its release, and went on to win a Grammy for Best Alternative Music Album in 2004.

The White Stripes were gaining momentum with their previous three albums and were generally lauded in critical circles. Upon its release, critical response to this album was overwhelmingly positive, and many critics hailed it as the one of the defining events of the 2000s garage rock revival. Uncut magazine remarked that "Elephant is where the tabloid phenomenon of summer 2001 prove they are no flash in the pan by making a truly phenomenal record." David Fricke (with Rolling Stone) called it "a work of pulverizing perfection," adding, "It will be one of the best things you hear all year." and Allmusic said the album "overflows with quality."

Critics also commented on the development of the band. NME noted that "The eloquence, barbarism, tenderness and sweat-drenched vitality of Elephant make it the most fully-realised White Stripes album yet." PopMatters said the album cemented "their evolution from Blind Willie McTell cover band with a pop sensibility to full-fledged, honest-to-goodness rock 'n' roll gods." The album enjoys a metacritic rating of 92. Negative critique, though rare, was centered around the "gimmicks" that surround the music, most notably, the White Stripes' insistence on being called siblings. "So maybe it's time to drop the enigmatic charade," Lorraine Ali (with Newsweek) pleaded, although she concluded, "Elephant still sounds great."

The album debuted at number one in the United Kingdom and reached number six on the Billboard 200 in the US. The album won Grammys for Best Alternative Album and Best Rock Song ("Seven Nation Army"). In 2003, the album was ranked number 390 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. It was also placed thirty-ninth in Channel 4's list of the 100 Greatest Albums of all time. In December 2003, NME made it their Album of the Year.

8. Arcade Fire- Funeral - Funeral is the debut full-length album by Canadian indie rock band Arcade Fire, released on September 14, 2004 in North America by Merge Records and on February 28, 2005 in Europe by Rough Trade Records. It was given its title because several band members had recently lost members of their families: RĂ©gine Chassagne's grandmother died in June 2003, Win and William Butler's grandfather (swing musician Alvino Rey) in March 2004, and Richard Reed Parry's aunt in April 2004.

Preliminary recordings for Funeral were made during the course of a week in August 2003 at the Hotel2Tango in Montreal, Quebec, and the recording was completed later that year.

The album produced 5 singles. The most successful, "Rebellion (Lies)", peaked at #19 on the UK Singles Chart. The album received wide critical acclaim and was nominated for a Grammy Award in 2005 for Best Alternative Music Album. It was ranked eighth in Bob Mersereau's 2007 book The Top 100 Canadian Albums, and #2 on Pitchfork's 200 Top Albums of the 2000s.

7. Deftones- White Pony - White Pony is the third album by Deftones, released in 2000. It is the follow up to Around the Fur, which was released in 1997, and marks a significant growth in the band's sound; incorporating New Wave and shoegaze influences with the alternative metal edge the group had honed and become known for. To this end, it is generally regarded by fans and critics alike as their most mature outing.

The song "Passenger" features the guest vocals of Tool and A Perfect Circle vocalist Maynard James Keenan. The band won a Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance for the song "Elite" in 2001. A total of four different versions of the album exist. On its release date, limited edition copies were released with solid red and black jewel cases. The two different colored cases also featured different insert booklets. Both limited edition versions included the added track "The Boy's Republic", but did not include "Back to School (Mini Maggit)".

The first edition with a grey cover was supposed to be released as the non-limited version of the album. In addition, this version did not feature the track "Back to School". This is the proper version of the album, and "Back to School" was only added as a marketing strategy; Chino Moreno has stated that he wasn't happy about it.

6. Common- Finding Forever - Finding Forever is the Grammy Award winning seventh album by Common, released on July 31, 2007 on G.O.O.D. Music/Geffen Records. Like Common's previous album, Be (2005), Finding Forever is primarily produced by Kanye West.

The album debuted at the number one on the Billboard 200, selling 155,000 units in the first week, becoming Common's first chart-topper. Selling over 500,000 units in the US, it has been certified Gold.

Common explains that "Finding Forever really means to find a place in music where you can exist forever. Music can be forever if you make it from the heart, if you make it from the soul and it’s good. And I look at music like Bob Marley's or Marvin Gaye's or Stevie Wonder's or A Tribe Called Quest's, that's forever music. And I’m continuing on the quest to make forever music."

Common also says: "And now with the death of J Dilla and other things, you start thinking about forever lasting for real through music [...] Jay Dee will last forever through his music and hopefully generations down the line will know about Common through his music. And it's also saying: I been doing this for a nice period of time, so I'm trying to find the place where I can keep existing in the game and make music I love."

5. The White Stripes- White Blood Cells - Considered the band's commercial breakthrough, White Blood Cells peaked at number 61 on the Billboard 200, going Gold and selling over 500,000 units. The album also reached number 55 in the United Kingdom, being bolstered in both territories by the "Fell in Love with a Girl" single and its Lego-animation music video. Stylus magazine rated it the fifteenth greatest album of 2000-2005 while Pitchfork Media ranked it ninth on their list of the top 100 albums from 2000-2004, and twelfth on their top 200 of the 00s. Uncut Magazine placed it first in their list of the greatest 150 albums of the 00s. The album was dedicated to Loretta Lynn, creating a friendship between Lynn and both Jack and Meg White. In 2004, Jack White would produce Lynn's comeback hit album Van Lear Rose.

Redd Kross bassist Steven Shane McDonald created an online-only art project, titled Redd Blood Cells, in which he added a bass track to the otherwise bass-less album. The White Stripes arranged with Steven to take the files down after more than 60,000 downloads. The song "The Union Forever" featured on this album is a tribute to Orson Welles' film classic Citizen Kane. Nearly every line of the song lyrics correspond to dialog or songs from the movie.

4. Jay- Z- The Black Album - The Black Album is the eighth studio album by American rapper Jay-Z, released November 14, 2003 on Roc-A-Fella Records. It was promoted as his final studio album, which serves as a recurring theme, although Jay-Z returned to solo recording with Kingdom Come in 2006.

The album debuted at number 1 on the Billboard 200 chart, selling nearly 463,000 copies in its first week. It received widespread acclaim from most music critics. According to The Rolling Stone Album Guide (2004), The Black Album is "old-school and utterly modern", as it showed Jay-Z "at the top of his game, able to reinvent himself as a rap classicist at the right time, as if to cement his place in hip-hop's legacy for generations to come". Pitchfork Media ranked The Black Album at number 90 on its list of the top 200 albums of the 2000s.

3. Amy Winehouse- Back to Black - Back to Black is the second studio album by English R&B/soul singer and songwriter Amy Winehouse, released in October 2006 on Island Records. The album has spawned a number of singles such as "Rehab", "You Know I'm No Good", "Back to Black", "Tears Dry on Their Own", and "Love Is a Losing Game". Back to Black has received universal critical acclaim, and has been praised for its classic jazz/soul vibe, "vintage production style", accomplished songwriting, and Winehouse's mature and emotive singing style. It has appeared on numerous year-end Top Ten Lists produced by The Austin Chronicle (number four), Billboard Magazine (number three), Blender Magazine (number eight), Slant Magazine (number four), Entertainment Weekly (number two), The New York Times (number three) and Time Magazine (number one).

At the 50th Annual Grammy Awards ceremony, Back to Black won five awards, tying the record (with Lauryn Hill, Alicia Keys, Norah Jones, Beyoncé, and Alison Krauss) for the most awards won by a female artist in a single ceremony. The album won Best Pop Vocal Album, while "Rehab" won Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, Song of the Year and Record of the Year; Winehouse also won Best New Artist. So far, the album has sold over 12 million copies worldwide. With 5.5 million copies sold in 2007 it was the biggest selling album of the year, and stayed on the top 10 best selling albums in the world list in 2008 at number seven.

2. Gnarls Barkley- St. Elsewhere - St. Elsewhere is the debut album by Gnarls Barkley, a collaboration between Danger Mouse and Cee-Lo Green. The album was originally titled Who Cares? in reference to the low sales Gnarls Barkley prematurely predicted their album would experience. It was released on April 24, 2006 in the United Kingdom, where it debuted at number one on the UK Album Chart, and on May 9, 2006 in the United States, although it was available for purchase one week earlier as a digital download in the U.S. iTunes Music Store. It debuted at number twenty on the U.S. Billboard 200, and as of the Billboard 200 issue date of August 5, 2006, it peaked at #4 on this chart.

The album's first single, "Crazy", was the first song to become a UK number-one single based solely on downloads. As of August 22, 2006, the album has been shipped to stores in excess of 1,000,000 units, receiving a platinum certification from the RIAA. By Nielsen SoundScan sales are now at 1,260,535 copies, as of March 15, 2007.

A limited edition deluxe package of St. Elsewhere was released on November 7. The CD+DVD package includes a 92 page booklet, four music videos and bonus songs from live performances. It was also released on vinyl. The album has sold over 5.8 million copies worldwide to date.

1. Radiohead- Kid A - Kid A is the fourth album by the English alternative rock band Radiohead, released in October 2000. A commercial success worldwide, Kid A went platinum in its first week of release in the UK. Despite the lack of an official single or music video as publicity, Kid A became the first Radiohead release to debut at number one in the US. This success was credited variously to a unique marketing campaign, the early Internet leak of the album, or anticipation after the band's 1997 album, OK Computer.

Kid A was recorded in Paris, Copenhagen, Gloucestershire and Oxford with producer Nigel Godrich. The album's songwriting and recording were experimental for Radiohead, as the band replaced their earlier "anthemic" rock style with a more electronic sound. Influenced by Krautrock, jazz, and 20th century classical music, Radiohead abandoned their three-guitar lineup for a wider range of instruments on Kid A, using keyboards, the Ondes martenot, and, on certain compositions, strings and brass. Kid A also contains more minimal and abstract lyrics than the band's previous work. Singer Thom Yorke has said the album was not intended as "art", but reflects the music they listened to at the time. Original artwork by Stanley Donwood and Yorke, and a series of short animated films called "blips", accompanied the album.

Kid A has been considered one of the more challenging pop records to have commercial success, and it polarised opinion among both fans and critics. The album won a Grammy for Best Alternative Album and was nominated for Album of the Year. It also received praise for introducing listeners to diverse forms of underground music. It was named the best album of the Decade (2000-2009) by Rolling Stone magazine.

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