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best album covers of the decade

Channelling the sonic signifiers of 1970s/early-1980s soft-rock into 11 hook-heavy pop-rock songs – six of which were singles – Haim’s big choruses and bigger charisma saw everyone from Calvin Harris to Bastille vying to become part of their extended family. ‘Monks’. 4. RD, After the huge success of her 2012 debut ‘Born To Die’, Lana Del Rey suggested she might not ever make another album. She laid rich and hypnotic vocals over sirens, attacking the clutches of fame and celebrating the nighttime dreams of house parties going nowhere. And yet the form … Swoon-a-rama. 13. Goosebump moment: The glittery synth sadness of ‘Hang With Me’. From pop to rock to rap, here are the best albums from the 2010s — or, as some might even say, the best albums all time. Her cover for first album ‘LP1’ was true to form. ‘Liability (Reprise) 11. ‘I Want It All’. Metronomy – ‘The English Riviera’ (2011). Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti – ‘Before Today’ Goosebump moment: The beautiful nostalgic haze of ‘Step’, which contained the graceful observational nugget “Wisdom’s a gift but you’d trade it in for youth”. 28. Goosebump moment: Guest vocalist Roxanne Clifford’s detached declarations of “I’m in love” on the subtle swing of ‘Everything Goes My Way’. ‘Green Light’ 2. Where now he’s making music purely for the big guy in the sky, here, ‘Ye was declaring himself a deity on the urgent rush of ‘I Am A God’. Goosebump moment: The breezy sonics of ‘T-shirt Weather in the Manor’ bottle the optimism of being a teenager in the city and make it impossible not to feel warm, fuzzy and nostalgic for hotter days. Fuzz - Fuzz (2013) 2. She banked everything on becoming Grimes, a decision that cost her friendships and relationships and left her without a permanent home for a time. Designed by Darren Hughes it's a devastatingly effective comment on violence and suitably adorns a record packed full of political muscle. Artwork: Dan Hillier, 7. The Horrors – ‘Skying’ Artwork: Neil Krug In 2015, the strain became too much for Hayley Williams – the only constant in the band over 16 years – and she stepped away to focus on her health. Lana was the first contemporary sad girl who sang. You can almost imagine yourself right there. The world's defining voice in music and pop culture since 1952. Through a lens of summertime nostalgia, he crafted warped synth-pop romance as golden as the beach cruises they could soundtrack and set Metronomy free to explore increasingly weirder worlds. The effect of that on modern music? ‘Visions’ sounds exactly like what it is: an album crafted as a midpoint between R&B and IDM in an insomniac chemical rush by a woman who with equal love for Nine Inch Nails and K-pop. Everyone has a family, or doesn’t, and we’ve all been shaped by the people around us. ‘Black Skinhead’, 3. He even managed to make the good old fashioned institution of marriage sound cool. The ageing hipster was done with the scene he created on 2002’s ‘Losing My Edge’. How the hell do you follow ‘To Pimp A Butterfly’? ‘Hold My Liquor’, 6. The edges would get smoothed over later on, but this is the band at their purest. It’s testament to how successfully the sisters lived up to the promise of their raucous live shows and early ‘Fleetwood Mac meets Destiny’s Child’ billing with this debut that by the end of the year nobody was mispronouncing their name. It was almost certainly a pisstake, but it’s hard to be completely sure: Claire Boucher is a woman with form when it comes to pushing limits for the sake of her art. The artist has since readjusted her relationship with her country, namely by dropping the stars and stripes from her iconography in 2017. Jonathan Barnbrook wanted to tinker with one of Bowie’s classic covers for his comeback album ‘The Next Day’ – a way of both remembering and dismantling the past – and said: “It had to be an image that would really jar if it were subverted in some way and we thought ‘’Heroes’’ worked best on all counts.”. Goosebump moment: A powerful slice of dialogue before ‘Corn on the Curb’ pretty much sums up the brave intent behind this record: “Everyday bro, we’ve got to stay battling, gotta stay fighting, gotta stay striving, gotta stay dreaming, gotta stay believing, gotta stay scheming.” RB. ‘A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships’, ‘I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It’. CK. This is rap’s own ‘Bitches Brew’. In their own words: “Once you hit day nine, you start accessing some really crazy shit. ‘Flower Boy’ showed its creator in a more vulnerable – and altogether more interesting – light, helplessly lovestruck and skipping among the flowers. ‘Born to Die’ had the hums of someone who has loved, the performance of someone who has been hurt. 4. Before ‘2’, Mac was touring half-empty venues out of his car. 16. In a lesser musician’s hands it would have screamed dad-rock, but the lushness of ‘Lost In The Dream’ connected with everyone from Glastonbury’s Pyramid Stage crowd to The BRIT Awards, where they were nominated for Best International Band. ‘Poetic Justice [Explicit]’. And their one and only album ‘Go Tell Fire To The Mountain’ was a hungering slab of supercharged indie rock, lorded over by Ellery Roberts’ feral and unholy snarl. ‘Oblivion’ 4. EH, On her third record, Solange Knowles invited her listeners to pull up a chair, and listen to her lived experience as a black woman in the United States of America. Rococo 5. Artwork: George Condo, 6. You can almost imagine yourself right there. It must be perfect timing,” .Paak observes on ‘The Season’, summing up the ‘Malibu’ listening experience perfectly. Goosebump moment: When the title track shifts from a sludgy, steady march into a whirlwind of wild riffs and Ellie’s strained, sharp shrieks. 15. It forced the world to pay attention through whirlwind vignettes and an inherently moreish format, cementing her as a fresh, innovative force in rap. JB. The cover art of Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti’s 2010 album suggested you might be in for some cosmopolitan Ramones-esque rock ‘n’ roll. In their own words: “I’ve found, about five years down the line from writing the first song for that record, that I am surprisingly similar to the person in those songs – mostly in the way that I have a strong sense of who I am but not a clear idea of where I’m going.” Lana Del Rey, NME, December 2016. Until then, the rapper ruled over barbed caricatures and shock-value slurs; in playing these cruel characters, his satirical alter-egos felt in danger of lending a voice to bigots. ‘Thinking About You’. 18. Bangers are interspersed with vital commentary of his ‘Boy Better Know’ world, while a rich host of guests (Wiley, Novelist, Jme) ensured it met extremely high expectations. The world's defining voice in music and pop culture since 1952. “Let the vagina have a monologue” she declared on ‘Django Jane’; “This pussy is gonna grab you back” she warned on ‘I Got the Juice’. MIA‘s fourth was global in its scope but its targets were focussed, taking to task the Super Bowl organisers who lambasted her middle finger raising antics during her half-time show appearance with Madonna as damned her copycat imitators by way of glitchy garage, rough and ready R&B with a helping hand from controversial Wikileaker Julian Assange. Kanye West – ‘My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy’ (2010). Fuzz - II (2015) 4. ‘UGH!’. This was a sumptuous but subtle and artfully applied palette of art rock and chamber sounds layered over scenes of Thom Yorke’s existential conundrum, tortured by groupthink propaganda and his own heartache. RD. 3. Rather than make a loosely related collection of songs, Lorde set ‘Melodrama’ out over the course of a house party. All of the personas are consumed by guilt and vanity while grappling with the acknowledgement that acceptance is hard-won. After trying on goth-rock and expansive soundscapes, here they turned to new wave and shoegaze. 6. Key track: ‘Never Fight A Man With A Perm’, Goosebump moment: “I’m a real boy, boy, and I cry, ”stutters Joe on ‘Samaritans’. Young Kendrick discovers his talent over the course of the narrative, with ‘Backseat Freestyle’ recounting early lyrics with which he attempted to will himself into superstardom: “All my life I want money and power… I pray my dick get big as the Eiffel Tower/So I can fuck the world for 72 hours”. 17. JM, 15 years into their career and light years from their deathcore beginnings, the Sheffield band embarked on an odyssey in sound, turning in a pop-metal album that touches on ambient and electro-pop with cameos from Dani Filth and Grimes. Million Dollar Man 11. There have been a few changes since we first unveiled numbers 50 through 26 because, well, curating this was hard. The UK Albums Chart is a music chart compiled by the Official Charts Company (OCC) that calculates the best-selling albums of the week in the United Kingdom. The debate over the greatest ever Kanye album may rumble on for eternity, but it seems silly to suggest that anything but ‘MBDTF’ is his masterpiece. 20 years on from their iconic self-titled debut, there were those that thought Slipknot may well be done. Goosebump moment: Lead single ‘Unsainted’ sounded exactly as you’d hope Slipknot would sound in 2019. The lyrics of ‘Let England Shake’ took almost two years to perfect, as she digested works on the First World War, the Bosnian conflict and the war on terror, trying to make the words work as standalone poetry. It sold more copies than One Direction’s ‘Up All Night’. 6. “How did you find me here? Try this: Halsey – ‘Hopeless Fountain Kingdom’, Tracklist: 1. Goosebump moment: Boucher’s soft chirrup of “see you in the dark night!” on ‘Oblivion’, a song inspired by her experience of a violent assault. He had the assistance of a who’s who of production legends (Rick Rubin), experimentalist artists (Arca, Evian Christ) and new-gen artists (Travis Scott). The euphoric ‘On Hold’ – built around a stuttering Hall & Oates sample – has Jamie xx’s dancefloor credentials written all over it, and ‘Say Something Loving’ is Romy Madley Croft and Oliver Sim’s shimmering power ballad moment. The best album covers of all time: 50 coolest album covers Classic designs. ‘Lost’. Wasted Hour 12. Sprawl I (Flatland) 15. So, in short: a bit of a weird one. SM, After lingering in the shadows of cult cool, ‘Currents’ was Tame’s stepping-out-into-the-spotlight moment – a huge album featuring some of mastermind Kevin Parker’s biggest pop songs yet. While intended to be LCD’s swansong, ‘This Is Happening’ felt so complete in its nine songs of oh-so-human electronica that it inspired a wave of emulation of their sentimental but self-aware take on dance-punk, later begging their return. The first and best album by Velvet Underground, the psychedelic New York band fronted by Lou Reed, is known by fans as ‘the banana album’ due to the eye-catching illustration on its cover. TH. But now, the urgency and fearlessness of the artist have punctured the mirage beautifully. With ‘I Love You, Honeybear’, Josh Tillman crafted a paean to that heady, bewildering feeling while managing to resist falling back on cliché. When he heard an early version of the album, he told NME it made him think of forests – so he painted over the portraits with trees instead. Still only three or so years old, Beyoncé’s sixth studio album has already had a huge impact on what came after it. This past summer, Grimes did a very celebrity thing and shared her fitness routine with the world. Key track: ‘Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?’, which somehow delivers on Turner’s ludicrous hype quoted above. And just like that first album, it’s cohesive magic: shimmering flecks of light from a disco ball condensed into a single record. We thought the robots might have abandoned us forever. Kendrick Lamar – ‘Good Kid, M.A.A.D City’, 10. You have no stimulation, so your subconscious starts filling in the blanks. Over Kanye-produced beats, the Virginia Beach rapper wheeled off enthralling bars about selling drugs (well, what else?) This is what he sounds like when he’s really concentrating, something that, arguably, he has never truly managed since. Hey, if Pitchfork can do it I can too. 5. Off to the Races 3. RD, The title of Slowthai’s debut album is perhaps a contradiction. NK, It’s not often that an artist is able to put their name on the map in just ten minutes. A work of extraordinary empathy and insight, Kendrick Lamar’s second studio album – and commercial breakthrough – wove a bighearted tale about his upbringing in LA’s infamous Compton neighbourhood, as he rejected the temptations of gang culture and instead embraced a life of rhyme. Like this? This was pop music, but nothing like before. Artwork by: Dave Konopka (Battles bassist) “My story is far from finished,” Drake presciently declares. AT, “Are you done digging your grave yet?” If ‘The Hunter’ seems a little on the nose today, it’s worth bearing in mind that ‘Are You Satisfied?’ arrived in 2015 – right on the precipice of Brexit, Trump and real panic about climate change. Drake used much of the 80-minute run time to explore relationships, vulnerability and the trappings of fame – all while still finding plenty of time for braggadocio boasts. 1’). ‘Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?’. An album given a score of 90 or above made the best list, and any album with a score of 50 or lower made the worst list. SM, The French version of Christine and The Queens’ ‘Chaleur Humaine’ followed a slow-burning trajectory at first, but gradually the rest of the world started to catch onto this subversive pop innovator. EH, For her fifth record, Beyoncé pulled off pop’s biggest heist, disappearing off the face of the earth to make a visual masterpiece behind closed doors, with a ring of secretive collaborators. 11. With an all-star cast of collaborators including Lou Reed, Snoop Dogg, Kano, Mos Def and Bobby Womack, it seamlessly collected genres like a treasure seeker sifting through the sand of its imagined seaside world, finding gold in each song. “The truth is I am a toy that people enjoy/‘Til all of the tricks don’t work anymore,” she concluded on ‘Liability’. Try this: Queens of the Stone Age – ‘…Like Clockwork’ KP. She’d just emerged victorious from a Royal Rumble of superstar rappers involving Jay-Z, Rick Ross and Kanye himself. Why not a war songwriter? “Everybody’s getting younger – it’s the end of an era, it’s true,” mourned frontman James Murphy on opener ‘Dance Yrself Clean’. 2. Goosebump moment: The aural nectar of every time those luscious three-way harmonies kick in. Like this? The cover for Marling’s fourth album was just as stark and arresting as her forensic album ‘Once I Was An Eagle’. Before he went all-out gospel with ‘Jesus Is King’, Kanye combined elements of praise music – a soaring choir here, a religious lyric there – with filthy dispatches from the front line of celebrity. Goosebump moment: The imperious meta-pop takedown of her image of a serial Dater who uses her exes as score-settling songwriting fodder on ‘Blank Space’, using a humour and lightness of touch she’s never equalled. Previously masters of after-dark electro, ‘The English Riviera’ marked something of a transition for Metronomy. The best album covers of all time: 50 coolest album covers Classic designs. LC, Taking mainstream UK rap in a fresh and vital direction, J Hus‘s debut album blended bashment and Afrobeat to create the kind of sound that could turn the driest house party into a full blown rave. It was a decade that began without direction, the ash of the '60s waiting to fall off the spliff. In their own words: “I was wanting to show the way history repeats itself, and so in some ways it doesn’t matter what time it was, because this endless cycle goes on and on and on.” Polly Harvey, NME, January 2011, Key track: ‘The Words That Maketh Murder’, Goosebump moment: The moment in ‘The Words That Maketh Murder’ when Harvey invokes the ghost of Eddie Cochran’s Summertime Blues with pitch-black irony: “What if I take my problem to the United Nations?”, Like this? The Oxford quintet’s second album landed at a crossroads. Like this? ‘After Laughter’ is the triumphant sucker-punch that followed: here the void collides with angular neon on Paramore’s tensely-sprung voyage into 80s pop. ‘Money Trees’. It’s also a deeply emotional record, revealing its innermost heart with the ghostly, melancholy coda of ‘Skin’ and ‘Know the Way’. But ‘Yeezus’ remains futuristic, flawless and impeccable. Artist: Jay-Z Album: "4:44" (2017) They say rap is a young man’s game; it’s not. Artwork by: Michelle Henning LC. George Condo’s artwork for ‘My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy’ is a head-turner alright: an image of a naked West straddled by a female with no arms but wings instead. Happy New Decade! ‘New Slaves’, 5. As a note, the scores listed throughout the piece were accurate at the time of publication but are subject to change. The 1975 have built a reputation for crafting wide-ranging, thought-provoking albums and ‘A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships’ was no different. ‘Love Me’ took on selfie culture, while ‘She’s American’ rolled its eyes at a Stateside lover obsessed with status. 14. ), but it was certainly easier than now. Features Best Albums Of The 2010s: 30 Classics That Defined The Decade. Unthinkable narcissists, all thanks to social media introspective track make the old... Dollar Cost ’ is actually God 2012 ( when was it ever Matty Healy, NME feature. Icon on the map in just ten minutes thanks to social media time for British music, but what. On eligible orders, somewhere in the end of it the beginning of Me a... Producer Alan Smyth, as did his confidence in showcasing it, this pretty specific tale is actually universal throughout. Attacking the clutches of fame and celebrating the nighttime dreams of house parties going nowhere from 2010-19 scene. 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