Music has always played a role in helping to define cultural moments throughout history. Stacker set out to find the best albums of the 21st century, compiling data from Metacritic (as of October 2022). Albums have been ranked based on their Metascore, which represents an aggregation of critical reviews. Only albums with seven or more reviews were eligible. EPs, box sets, reissues and compilations have not been taken into account.
Some of Stacker’s discoveries, like Ashley Monroe, Jamey Johnson and the legendary Loretta Lynn, might have listeners singing along or even forget about the outside world for a few minutes. In the realm of pure pop, Self Esteem’s latest album “Prioritise Pleasure” is hailed as 45 minutes of melodic bliss.
On the other end of the spectrum, there’s no shortage of music to get angry and let it all out. Hear the rumbling grindcore of Napalm Death, the metalcore of Converge, the electronica punk of Primal Scream, the black metal of Deafheaven and the sounds of Polish extreme metal band Behemoth that continue to vex the authorities in their home country.
Discover artists who pay homage to their predecessors who helped shape the world we live in today. Poet Jamila Woods offers thoughtful rhythm and blues portraits of legends like James Baldwin and Muddy Waters; Rapsody has written songs for its heroes, from Sojourner Truth to Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey; and Wadada jazz composer Leo Smith honored 10 pivotal years in the civil rights movement.
Be transported far away by the West African sounds of Ali Farka Touré and Bassekou Kouyaté, or step back in time with Woody Guthrie recordings from the 1940s or a 1992 Nirvana concert in Britain. Then there’s the tempting option of just dancing, which many say is good for body and soul. Hear the hip-hop sounds of Missy Elliott, the hard-hitting dubstep of British band Burial and Frank Ocean’s rousing collection of rhythm and blues, neo-soul and pop.
Read on for the 100 best albums of the 21st century, according to critics.
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