The Best Ten Albums Since 2000

There have been many advancements since 2000. The World Trade Center incident occurred. Wikipedia, Twitter, and YouTube were launched, and hurricane Katrina flooded New Orleans. The first African American president was elected. It is easy to look only at the natural catastrophes and political events when examining the past fifteen years. However, much more has changed– including music. The evolution of music is rapid and unpredictable. A large majority of music turns out to be repetitive or bland. On rare occasion, a sparkling gem can be found in a pile of otherwise monotonous rubble.

 

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1. Ben Folds Five – Rockin the Suburbs (2001)

Ben Folds has always stood out as an impressive musician. A native of North Carolina, Folds created a band in 1995, and has been producing music, with or without his band, since. Sprinkled with sarcasm and peppered with profanity, Rockin the Suburbs is a unique piece of work. Each song is craftily written and overflowing with emotion. This sentimental, unpredictable piano-rock album has something in it for everyone.

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2. Maroon 5 – Songs About Jane (2002)

It is said that there isn’t a second chance at a first impression. That is very true with Maroon 5, perhaps the biggest breakout artist of 2002. Songs About Jane, their debut album, contains an assorted variety of bluesy, funky numbers (“This Love”) to faster, rockier pieces (“Harder to Breathe”). This passionate collection of music is still heard in echoes from some of their later pieces. The same glossy, passionate, almost-boy-band will go on to achieve unmatched success in the pop world thanks to the same types of hits present on Songs About Jane.

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3. Panic at the Disco – Pretty. Odd. (2008)

The alternative genre is often overlooked and drowned out thanks to the incessant airplay of pop music on many radio stations. This is for the worst, as many alternative artists focus on a smaller niche of a larger genre. For example, All Time Low, a punk-pop boy band, sounds like an odd mash up of  a predictable pop tune with a whiny emo lament. This is exactly the case when examining Panic at the Disco. The entirety of  Pretty. Odd. is a quirky mashup of sounds and songs which mold the work into one of a kind.

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4. Jack’s Mannequin – Everything in Transit (2005)

Jack’s Mannequin, beginning at first as Andrew McMahon’s solo project, is truly a one of a kind band. Everything in Transit is overflowing with first person stories sung in a convincing, authentic fashion. It can be considered a concept album, as the majority of the songs focus on McMahon’s life. Formerly the lead singer of Something Corporate, McMahon seemed to have experienced a plethora of problems. The album describes, sometimes more ambiguously than the listener would wish, the struggles of getting accustomed to normal life after Something Corporate disbanded, various relationship problems, and McMahon’s battle with Leukemia. The album is an emotional rollercoaster, carrying the the listener through the same struggles that McMahon faced on a daily basis. Anything from depressive, disillusioned tunes to happy, clappy, bouncy singalongs thrive on Everything in Transit.

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5. NeverShoutNever – Harmony (2010)

Much like Justin Bieber, Christopher Ingle, (also known by his original solo project, nevershoutnever!) achieved massive success at a young age through the internet. Gaining fame through his MySpace account, Ingle quickly acquired a record deal. He later changed his solo project into a full band, and changed the name to NeverShoutNever. Producing a mere 5 albums in six years, Ingle ensured that each collection of songs sounded a bit different. In my personal opinion, Harmony outdoes all of the other NeverShoutNever albums by a longshot, even though it is one of the earlier albums produced. The collection of music spills over with irresistible, bob-your-head tunes and soft, introspective melodies. Filled half with syrupy love songs and half with thoughtfully crafted, contemplative rhythms which stay almost exclusive to the singer songwriter category, Harmony does not disappoint. Although the album is an alternative piece, as it is definitely out in left field, as much of Ingle’s natural talent morphs the piece into an almost singer-songwriter type of piece. This oddball piece of work is extremely unique, even inside the alternative genre.

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6. Bruno Mars – Doo Wops and Hooligans (2010)

Pop music has evolved more drastically than virtually any other genre out there. It is constantly changing– being morphed by new artists with new sounds. Doo Wops and Hooligans, Bruno Mars’ first piece of work, is a prime example of this. After years of predictable, cliche choruses (think Kylie Minogue and Christina Aguilera), it is nice to finally hear a new voice with new music. Doo Wops and Hooligans mixes unpredictable, unforgettable tunes like “The Lazy Song” and “Grenade” with sophisticated synth rhythms. Each song is laced with catchy,sing-along verses. Mars’ raspy voice prevails strongly on the majority of the tracks, which make the album exceptional. Doo Wops and Hooligans is not that different from other pop music, it is simply better.

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7. Jason Mraz – Waiting For My Rocket to Come (2002)

Waiting for My Rocket to Come, Mraz’s first album, exhibits a youthful genuineness which is dulled in much of his later work. The banjo enthused “Curbside Prophet” or the more sincere, slower paced “You and I Both” are sure to resonate with virtually any type of audience.
Mraz’s silky smooth vocals mesh perfectly with what sounds like impromptu, quick, catchy lyrics, showing off the artists beginnings as a coffee house performer.

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8. Mat Kearney – Young Love (2011)

The authentic storytelling style Kearney exhibits, mixed with hip-hop influences, make Young Love his best album to date. The songs on this collection have the listener crying in empathy at one moment and smiling along, bobbing their head the next. The gradual change in emotion, and in musical style, create a diverse piece of art. Young Love is a clunky mixture of adult alternative, hip hop, and reggae (among others) which seamlessly and surprisingly combine to create a fun, lighthearted, summer soundtrack.

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9. Childish Gambino – Because the Internet (2013)

After getting his fill of acting and comedy, Donald Glover (also known as Childish Gambino) decided to take a crack at rapping, and didn’t do a shabby job, either. Gambino effortlessly spits clever rhymes underneath unpredictable beats. The awkwardly pieced together album has a few radio-ready singles, although the other songs are by no means unworthy to listen to. The playfully crafted rhymes float between a one-of-a-kind cleverness and an oddball ambiguity. At one moment, you’re bobbing your head to the chorus, and the next, you’re over your head in vague allusions and complicated rhyme schemes. Don’t get me wrong– this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. As long as you’re willing to listen, Because the Internet possesses a uniqueness unheard of in any hip-hop, funk, pop or alternative album of the past decade and a half.

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10. Michael Bublé – It’s Time (2005)

Bublé has developed an impressive portfolio – winning several Grammys, Juno Awards, and an American Music Award, among others. His success may be attributed to a variety of things– mainly the type of music he performs. Going back to the classic Frank Sinatra style of song, It’s Time shows off Bublé at his best. His golden, seamless voice resonates on remakes such as “Can’t buy me Love” and “How Sweet It Is”. He performs these covers cleanly– without leaving an overdone, raunchy aftertaste that many cover bands manage to create. Bublé’s sophomore effort brags openly of his golden voice just as it did in his self titled debut album, Michael Bublé. If anything, Michael Bublé has only gotten better his second go-around.