Top 20 music releases of the 2010’s

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Lance Jenson, Student Writer

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From underrated rarities to the overplayed power hits, presented to you is a ranked list of the top 20 releases of the 2010’s to commemorate our movement into the next decade.

 

20. .5: The Gray Chapter – Slipknot (2014)

Certainly not Slipknot’s heaviest release, but loved by fans nonetheless, the first entry on our list is .5: The Gray Chapter. The first album without late bassist Paul Gray and former drummer Joey Jordison, The Gray Chapter can be best remembered by its extensive focus on melodic vocals, a change never explored much in former albums aside from Vol. 3: (The Subliminal Verses). While this is evident in hits like “The Devil In I” and “Killpop,” their brutal Iowa era style shows in the relentless fan-favorite “Custer.” Songs like the beautiful tribute to Gray, “Goodbye,” and the closing track, “If Rain Is What You Want,” are what really tie The Gray Chapter together, showing Slipknot follow new creative paths and move on with their first LP of the 2010’s.

19. American Tragedy – Hollywood Undead (2011)

Rap rock group Hollywood Undead’s sophomore album American Tragedy is an album heavy with emotional baggage, something slightly uncharacteristic of a band whose first album was chock-full of men in their early-20’s singing about their insatiable appetite for the Los Angeles party scene. The third track, “Comin’ In Hot,” is the band’s reminder that the party never ends; however, the album’s tone shifts dramatically just tracks later, and the boys’ ability to show off their poetic side comes in just as hot with “Hear Me Now” and the cheerfully dark “Bullet.” American Tragedy would certainly not be the end of Hollywood Undead, and after giving the album a listen, it is clear how it managed to debut at number 4 on the Billboard 200.

18. Crybaby – Lil Peep (2016)

To call Lil Peep game-changing is an understatement, and his mixtape Crybaby lets his influence show. The record, along with its title single, helped blast Peep into fandom on Soundcloud. Coming in at a time when emo rap was growing in popularity on the internet, Crybaby boasts a sound that many would come to associate with the growing “sadboi” culture online, featuring samples of “The No Seatbelt Song” by Brand New on the title track, Oasis’ “Wonderwall” on the fast-paced “Yesterday,” and the dramatic filtered vocals of fellow GothBoiClique member Yung Bruh (also known as Lil Tracy) on “White Tee.” With songs focusing on heartbreak, depression, and Peep’s rather illicit methods of coping, Crybaby is a release worth diving into; perfect for those mellow nights that beg for an outlet.

17. Everything Will Be Alright In The End – Weezer (2014)

Everything Will Be Alright In The End was the Weezer album that everybody was praying for. After hitting a bump in the road following a creative journey that almost cost the band their entire fanbase with Raditude and Hurley, Weezer decided to go back to their roots and bring back the fuzzy alternative that sat well with their audience. A pleasant surprise for all, EWBAITE is full of the classic “Weezer sound” and holds many examples of the members taking creative dives that show off their talent without falling out of touch with what they do best. Songs like “Back to the Shack,” which acknowledge this return, are paired with typical love songs that make up Weezer’s library like “Da Vinci” and “Go Away” to create one of the most immersive Weezer records to date. To top it all off, the last three tracks, dubbed “The Futurescope Trilogy,” include some of the best instrumentation they have to offer and are their way of ending the selection with a bang.

16. Raw Wave – Drakulas (2016)

Hailing in from Austin, TX, the Drakulas are a band that combines the visuals of a 70’s nostalgia junkie with the raw sounds of punk and the spacey sounds of synth-pop – without the synth, at that – to create what can be likened to a hard-rocking, risque rendition of The Killers. The brainchild of Riverboat Gamblers’ Mike Wiebe, Ian Walling, and Rob Marchant, Rise Against’s Zach Blair, and current keyboardist Daniel Fried, the Drakulas provide a fresh contribution to the Austin punk scene, as well as the underground in general. This group is nothing short of a super-group, and their release Raw Wave, with the frantic “VHS” and “Neon Town,” is the most sinfully exciting release to happen to punk in years. For an exhilarating experience, this album is definitely worth a listen.

15. Dirt Road Anthem – Jason Aldean (2010)

At a time when stadium country was reaching its peak, the genre was in dire need of something rejuvenating for the field. Jason Aldean came to the rescue with the single “Dirt Road Anthem” off of his fourth album My Kinda Party. Blending elements of stadium country with rock and roll while creating a rhythmic flow in each verse, the genre began to see its niche merging with hip-hop come to the forefront. While not written by Aldean himself, he still blew away listeners with this cover of Brantley Gilbert and Colt Ford’s original song, so much so that it very quickly became one of country’s highest bestselling songs.

14. Zombie – Bad Wolves (2018)

What seemed to be another song lost in the 90’s, “Zombie” by The Cranberries resurfaced in a heavy, modernized take by supergroup Bad Wolves. Following the untimely death of Cranberries singer Dolores O’Riordan, Bad Wolves would decide to pay homage to the late musician by covering one of her biggest songs. Fitting the theme of its parent album, Disobey, the new “Zombie” was an opposition spun to focus on the relentless wars going on worldwide, a fitting topic for this rendition of a song originally critical of the Troubles in Northern Ireland. This would be the song to build the foundation for one of metal’s most impacting, upcoming bands, clearing the way for Bad Wolves to tear it up in the world of music.

13. One More Light – Linkin Park (2017)

Their last single prior to what became another tragedy in the music industry, “One More Light” was yet another example of how Linkin Park could truly evolve their sound to elements never before explored by the band. The airy, soft ballad served as a reminder to those grieving over the loss that they are not alone in the process. Unfortunately, just two months following the title album’s release, the song quickly became a memorial for the late Chester Bennington, Linkin Park’s lead singer who met an untimely death by suicide that July. This song will forever hold a special place in the hearts of the fanbase and the rock and roll community alike.

12. Nightmare – Avenged Sevenfold (2010)

Starting off the 2010’s with a bang, Avenged Sevenfold put out the heavy, unforgettable Nightmare. A bittersweet release for the crew, being their first album without drummer James “The Rev” Sullivan following his unfortunate passing in 2009, Nightmare proved itself to be one of the greatest pieces ever dedicated in memoriam. The title track is a high energy thriller that shows off Avenged Sevenfold’s radio-friendly (for metal) side, but their versatility seeps through in the following with songs like the ballad written in tribute to the Rev, “So Far Away,” and the theatrically crafted, eleven-minute closer, “Save Me.” Nightmare is yet another fantastic performance by the band, incorporating elements of their former work with something nightmarishly new. This is, and forever will be, one of the best albums to come from the band.

11. Old Town Road – Lil Nas X (2018)

Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road” came into the mainstream highly unexpected. The hit started off with reasonable attention from the media, but as time went on, it exploded with massive success. The track reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 the week of April 13, 2019. By its second week at number one, the song saw a remix featuring country legend Billy Ray Cyrus, helping earn it more listeners across the board. It was later remixed by Diplo, while a third remix was made featuring Young Thug and Mason Ramsey, and its fourth and final remix featured rapper RM from k-pop group BTS. The song’s reign finally ended after 17 weeks (the longest for any song in the Billboard’s history) when Billie Eilish’s “bad guy” took the number one spot on August 17.

10. 1-800-273-8255 – Logic (2017)

At a time when pop and hip-hop saw a shift in demographics, it saw a shift in lyrical content as well. “1-800” is a social milestone, seeing an important moment where mental health and suicide were explicitly tackled in the music industry, something seen as taboo and reserved for more underground music for years. Mainstream fans were able to use this song in the public to draw attention to suicide prevention, a cause that’s been growing in support over the past few years. Logic’s best contribution to music served as a reminder for everybody to keep their heads up and look out for one another when times seem their toughest.

9. Everybody Wants – The Struts (2016)

As newcomers to the music scene, The Struts took everybody by surprise with their phenomenal debut album, Everybody Wants. Based in Derbyshire, England, this Britpop crew combines classic rock of the British Invasion and the new melodic qualities of today’s pop to make an energetic revival of what the Rolling Stones were in their prime. Receiving lots of airplay, the Stones-esque “Kiss This” and anthemic “Could’ve Been Me” are what slingshot this album into the playlists of many. A breath of fresh air with a touch of nostalgia, The Struts’ introduction to the mainstream was something that would come to change the ever-evolving sounds of alternative and pop.

8. Untitled – Rammstein (2019)

2019 became one of the most important years for music, and that is because of the resurgence of metal’s biggest names. The entire metal community saw the beginning of this movement when the year’s album lineup was slowly announced throughout the last quarter of 2018, and one of the first releases to mark the start of this wave was neue deutsch härte band Rammstein’s Untitled in May. The album charted very high worldwide and saw hits like “Deutschland” and “Ausländer” that make this powerful piece a statement in the world of metal. Soon following this were albums from Motionless in White, Volbeat, Slipknot, TOOL, Korn, and names of the like.

7. L’enfant Sauvage – Gojira (2012)

French progressive death metal band Gojira is one of the most important bands in the metal world, and their 5th studio album L’enfant Sauvage (meaning “the wild child”) was one of the best to bless the decade. While their music saw a heavier death metal sound in their early career, Gojira evolved to include melodic elements in their music beginning with this album, utilizing it to build upon the lyrical themes of societal abandonment and the concept of a “wild child” being brought up in an environment very unlike human society. Blending beautifully rhythmic lead guitar with the brutal blast beats typical of drummer Mario Duplantier, Gojira’s signature, in-your-face sound meets excellent storytelling to create one of the best listening experiences to date.

6. Because the Internet – Childish Gambino (2013)

Because The Internet, the second studio album release from Childish Gambino (the rap project of actor Donald Glover), is a hip-hop record that screams the word “unique.” The album was created with the idea that the internet has changed the music industry, and Glover attributes much of his success to that concept. The technologically centered theme manifests itself in tracks like “II. Zealots of Stockholm [Free Information],” “II. Earth: The Oldest Computer (The Last Night),” and the interlude “Dial Up.” Much of the album’s success, however, comes from the undeniably catchy singles “IV. Sweatpants” and “V. 3005.” While definitely only a fraction of Gambino’s entire library, Because the Internet is by far one of his most essential releases, and is something not to be missed.

5. Night Visions – Imagine Dragons (2012)

Night Visions was a breath of fresh air for the radio listeners of the early 2010’s; it offered a sound that would shape the future of music. Imagine Dragons’ debut album mashed together the harsh rhythmic properties of alternative rock and the dreamy oblivion of alt-pop to set a precedent for 2010’s alternative as a whole. To break the commonality of mindless heart songs that plagued the radio waves, Imagine Dragons popularized the idea of self-care through the optimistic “Radioactive” and the deep “Demons” that detailed the internal struggles that people face on the daily, making such topics less stigmatized to speak of in the mainstream. Powerful and uplifting, Night Visions was perfect enough to blast Imagine Dragons to be “on top of the world.”

4. Exmilitary – Death Grips (2011)

A mixtape released following their debut eponymous EP, Death Grips’ Exmilitary set the stage for what would be the trademark attitude of one of the world’s most interesting musical groups. The Sacramento-based, experimental hip-hop group showed their capabilities to sample just about anything and everything, from the opening track “Beware” using clips from an infamous Charles Manson interview to the brash and gritty “Spread Eagle Cross the Block” sampling an overdriven clip of Link Wray’s “Rumble.” Because of classics “Guillotine” and the re-released “Takyon,” Death Grips saw what would launch them into underground success and gather themselves a cult following that has left their listeners “noided” for years to come.

3. Random Access Memories – Daft Punk (2013)

The fourth studio album from this veteran duo of the French house scene, Random Access Memories by Daft Punk is one of the funkiest additions to their discography to date. Despite being EDM wizards, Daft Punk were never ones to shy away from live instruments in the studio, and this album is the perfect example, as it takes the use of instruments to the next level and even outdoes electronic sampling. The album’s first single, “Get Lucky” features Nile Rodgers of disco fit Chic and Pharrell Williams, and it became one of the biggest summer jams of 2013. With other groovy songs like “Lose Yourself to Dance” and “Give Life Back to Music,” and the spacey instrumental, “Contact,” the sound of Random Access Memories is an album adaptive to any mood imaginable, having a vibe as diverse as its sound.

2. beerbongs & bentleys – Post Malone (2018)

Post Malone’s sophomore album comes a year and some change after his first release Stoney, and establishes the reasons why he has become so increasingly popular and one of the world’s best Top 40 artists. Comprising of trap-laden beats interwoven with compressed guitars and airy synthesizers, Post’s sound saw its greatest evolution in the spring of 2018 upon b&b’s release, and his hits “Better Now” and “rockstar” allowed him to become one of the highest-ranking crossover artists, landing on the R&B/Hip-Hop and Mainstream charts. Post has said from time to time that he grew up exposed to many different genres, and that is something that appears very boldly with beerbongs & bentleys.

1. Meliora/Popestar – Ghost (2015/16)

Meliora and the follow-up EP Popestar, featured in the later-released deluxe edition of the album, are what established Ghost’s willingness to make dramatic changes in sound, producing hits such as “He Is” and “Square Hammer,” and rock-solid sleepers like “Mummy Dust” and “Absolution.” The elaborate 70’s hard rock-infused elements of this modern metal masterpiece complement the band’s stage persona: lead singer Tobia Forge’s character Papa Emeritus III and his backing members, the Nameless Ghouls. These inclusive releases and the band’s unforgettable presence are what the rock/metal community will always attribute to the group’s explosive entrance into the mainstream, earning themselves constant praise as one of the greatest artists of the decade.

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