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Well, we’ve already done best songs of the decade (Stendhal list here, Linus list here).

Let’s try best albums.

Top ten, no order:

Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot

Sometimes a band’s conflicts lead to trauma and the end of creativity. Every so often, they lead to acts of genius. Yankee Hotel Foxtrot is the latter. Haunting, with the right amount of Jim O’Rourke production foolery to bring alt-folk back to the future. Along with Kid A, this stands as the entryway into the fragmented, technological and alien world of the 21st century.

Track:  “Jesus, Etc.”

Radiohead – Kid A

Speaking of which, it’s practically cliche to say that this is one of the greatest albums of all time, but why the hell not? I would point out, though, that the 00s have led to a decline in melody and a rise in the focus on rhythm — whether in hip hop, pop or rock. In this case, the layered polyrhythms and hidden downbeats frame a world out of sync, out of balance. Yorke’s vocals never sounded better, and although OK Computer opened the door, this is the album that separated Radiohead from the league of ordinary bands.

Track: “Everything in its Right Place”

Bruce Springsteen – The Rising

When an American icon is destroyed, it takes an American icon to speak back. Harold Bloom suggested that no work has yet stepped into the void to respond to 9/11, but I think Springsteen does the job as he does any job — workman-like, plaintive, heartfelt. These are the songs of a man punched in the heart, who doesn’t know what to do. If I think back to the helplessness of the first days of the post-9/11 world, I cannot help but think of this album’s conflicted moans. Sure there’s too many toe-tappers, but Springsteen could only do what he knew how to do.

Track: “My City of Ruins (live)

The New Pornographers – Mass Romantic

I fell in love with Neko Case when I heard Mass Romantic. “Indie rock” was just another confusing genre with no borders and no standard-bearer. I still said the word “pop” with a disdainful sneer. That changed with the New Pornographers. They were strange, harmonically complex, and unapologetic pop, of a strain that I had never heard. Yet even years later, hearing “Letter from an Occupant” brings the feeling of toe-tapping, sing-along despite its relative age. All the power pop to follow is still playing catch-up to this album.

Track: “My Slow Descent into Alcoholism”

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Antville has a list of the 101 best music videos of the 2000s, and the list is fairly canonical. I recommend a look.

I would, however, like to point out five of the best videos not included on Antville’s somewhat limited list…

M83 – Don’t Save Us From the Flames: A sweet unrequited high school love story with a great tune, plus girl on bike meets dream boy on bike in ghost outfits! Come on, don’t pretend like you didn’t enjoy it.

Juvenile – Get Ya Hustle On: Post-Katrina, Juvenile’s drug rap seems somehow anachronistic, but the video itself highlights the relevance of the genre. The rather blunt political imagery — marching street thugs in Cheney and Bush masks, a rims-clad Escalade towed by horses — has nothing on the stark image of a man amidst the rubble holding a sign: “STILL HERE.” Katrina changed everything, and nothing.

Kanye West – Throw Some D’s (remix): Kanye’s old ass cousin? Stripping sign-language translator? Spirit fingers for Alicia Keys? “That just happened.”

Electric Six – Gay Bar: OK, it’s a gimmick. But how could you go wrong with Abraham Lincoln(s) in various states of undress? Also, bonus points for bleeping out “war” and “nuclear war.”

E-40 – Tell Me When To Go: This Face alone would have sold me on this video, but everything about it screams the do-it-yourself amateur joy of hyphy. I love how E-40 has just the right amount of nonchalance to carry this video; he vaguely acknowledges the camera, but on the whole, it’s clear that he is enjoying himself behind that smirk. Hip-hop had suffered from a downer phase, before the ignorant bliss of hyphy brought it back. Then Soulja Boy and Auto-Tune had to come ruin things…

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