Most of it would have no business on Top 40 radio waves. The dubstep album, which, to many, is the dubstep album, is a hodgepodge of beats and warped vocals. But what makes it stand out from many others in that genre is its ability to make people revisit their confusion over dubstep. It’s oddly approachable, catchy, and can float effortlessly in the background. “Archangel” is such a stunning track, and it gives way to other gems throughout, but Untrue is best experienced as a whole, not as individual tracks.
After the release and subsequent popularity of the single “Creep,” it could have been assumed that Radiohead was set to be another moody pop-rock band of the time. With OK Computer they showed the world what they were really about. Delving into topics as large as consumerism and politics, the band succeeded in creating the gloomy atmosphere they would become known for. Whereas “Creep” was catchy and simple, the tracks on OK Computer were complex, at times ethereal, and genre blending. Thom Yorke’s voice feels as much an instrument as any of the pieces used. Singer-songwriter is a term that brings certain things to mind—simplicity, well-thought-out lyrics, gentleness. In the right hands, however, this type of music can be as exciting as any grand score from an 8-piece band.
For proof, just look to one of the greatest of all time, Paul Simon. Graceland , Simon’s seventh solo album, is infused with a unique African element, which helps the songs feel fresh in a genre often ragged on for being stale. It won the Grammy for Album of the Year in 1987 along with countless other awards. Do we really need to sell you on the greatest album from the most important group in musical history? Probably not, so why don’t we just go with some basics. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was ranked the greatest album of all time by Rolling Stone . Club , The Daily Telegraph , Paste , Pitchfork , and countless other publications. It’s the most perfect album on a list of perfect albums. With the release of Homework , in 1997, Daft Punk floated into the periphery of popular music. Songs like “Around the World” got them noticed, but it wasn’t until the release of their sophmore album, Discovery , until the robotic French music makers were loved. Released in 2001, Discovery is a digital dance-y record with catchy hits like “One More Time” and “Digital Love” mixed in with songs that float effortlessly in the background like “Nightvision.” It’s an audible journey full of beeps and blips and a ton of cool. The obvious choice when it comes to Weezer is The Blue Album . We mean, it is the one with all the hits—”Buddy Holly,” “Say It Ain’t So,” “My Name Is Jonas.” The Blue Album is great. Pinkerton is packed with songs just as catchy and poppy as the first album from Weezer, only they’re filled with far more emotion. Rivers Cuomo set out to write songs that were more honest and true to his feeling of loneliness at Harvard, and one listen to Pinkerton will show you just how far he went. After the album came out, it received mixed reviews, probably because of how different it was from the lighthearted Blue Album , and those reviews pushed Weezer back into the fun, slightly goofy sound you can find on their albums today. That, coupled with the fact that Pinkerton is actually really great, has given the album a cult-like following. Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) was the album that launched a ton of careers. Besides being the first Wu-Tang album and thus introducing the world to the likes of RZA, Ghostface Killah, ODB, Method Man, and more, Enter the Wu-Tang is credited as the album that established the East Coast Renaissance in hip-hop. The sound is raw, utilizing beats and clips from martial arts movies and soul tracks. The album gave us hits like “Protect Ya Neck” and “C.R.E.A.M.,” but there isn’t a track on the record that falls short of greatness. Recorded in California, in 1976, Rumours is one of the most wonderfully perfect albums from the second the needle drops til it comes to a scratchy halt. You can credit the heavy lyrics to the inner-band turmoil that existed right before they entered the studio to record. In fact, the only song that everyone collaborated on is “The Chain.” The process produced a record that sounds like a therapy session, with powerful tracks from Lindsey Buckingham, Stevie Nicks, and Christine McVie all tossed together. Instead of a shouting match, you, the listener, was gifted a series of calmly composed masterpieces of heartbreak. When Kendrick Lamar released Good Kid, M.A.A.D City , he released something more than a great rap album. The record, which came out in 2012, somehow sounded both fresh and classic at the same time.
It felt fresh thanks to an atmospheric, spacy sound and production work from the likes of Pharrell Williams. Yet, at the same time, it felt like a complete throwback, an album that was plucked from the heyday of Compton artists like Dr. Though it was his sophomore album, Good Kid, M.A.A.D City really introduced the world to Kendrick Lamar’s unique brand of rapping and telling a story in the process. If an artist is lucky, their debut album will have a few songs hit the airwaves.
In fact, they may even consider themselves lucky with one. Their self-titled debut featured so many songs that made the radio that you might mistake it for a Greatest Hits record. If you grew up in the 1970s, the album forms some of the soundtrack from your youth, and many of the tracks are still being played on classic rock radio today. Some time in the distant future, when all genres have evolved into something unrecognizable, people will look back on Led Zeppelin IV as the album that is rock. Both a commercial and critical smash hit, Led Zeppelin’s fourth studio album is filled with some of the most iconic rock songs of all time—”Going to California,” “Black Dog,” and a little ditty called “Stairway to Heaven.” While Led Zeppelin is no doubt one of the most important rock acts in history, it’s not as if every album they put out was perfect.