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100 Great Albums From 1985-2005: A List

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After Spin published their list of the Best 100 Albums released between 1985 and 2005, other Blog Critics decided to publish their own personal lists. Now, I’m giving it a try.

This list is biased in one very important way. It only consists of albums I’ve actually listened to. Oh, and this is a list and not a ranking. The order doesn’t matter. I’m someone who can’t even name their favorite Kool-Aid flavor (too many good ones), so I’m not going to actually rank these albums.

Doing this list made me realize just how hard it is to come up with lists like this. The tough part for me was actually coming up with 100 albums. There are a lot of albums I like, but I didn’t think they were worthy of this list. I may regret putting some albums on this list and I’ll probably realize that there are some great albums I like that I have forgotten about completely.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy this list in its (im)perfect glory and maybe consider checking out an album or two. I’ll put some brief comments next to the more, um, surprising choices on this list.

1. OK Computer by Radiohead
2. Music Has The Right To Children by Boards Of Canada-I love this album. There are only a few albums that can create a truly indescribable mood. This is one of them
3. Be by Common
4. Illmatic by Nas
5. The Low End Theory by A Tribe Called Quest
6. Endtroducing… by DJ Shadow
7. The Chronic by Dr. Dre
8. Bad by Michael Jackson
9. The Mirror Conspiracy by Thievery Corporation-This is the best chillout record I’ve ever heard.
10. Since I Left You by The Avalanches-I think if those opposed to sampling heard this album, they’d change their minds.
11. 12 Play by R. Kelly
12. Talkie Walkie by Air
13. ATLiens by OutKast-It’s not as experimental as their later albums, but it’s well-produced and filler-free.
14. The College Dropout by Kanye West
15. Only Built 4 Cuban Linx by Raekwon
16. Miss E…So Addictive by Missy Elliott-I put this album on here because I think this is the best album she’s ever done.
17. The Grey Album by Danger Mouse/Jay-Z-Just because it’s a famous bootleg doesn’t mean it’s not great.
18. The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill by Lauryn Hill
19. Dig Your Own Hole by The Chemical Brothers
20. Dummy by Portishead
21. Doggystyle by Snoop Dogg
22. Rooty by Basement Jaxx
23. Ready To Die by The Notorious B.I.G.
24. Supreme Clientele by Ghostface Killah-Along with Raekwon, Ghostface Killah has put out the best of the solo albums by Wu-Tang Clan members. This is my favorite of his.
25. Things Fall Apart by The Roots
26. Get Behind Me Satan by The White Stripes
27. A Rush Of Blood To The Head by Coldplay
28. Me Against The World by 2Pac
29. Psyence Fiction by U.N.K.L.E.
30. Moment of Truth by Gang Starr
31. Play by Moby
32. Speakerboxxx/The Love Below by OutKast
33. Discovery by Daft Punk
34. Demon Days by Gorillaz
35. De La Soul Is Dead by De La Soul
36. Arjuna Original Soundtrack: Into The Another World by Yoko Kanno-Even though she composes music primarily for anime series and movies, I think Yoko Kanno is a brilliant composer. This album is organic, strange, and unlike anything I’ve heard.
37. Quality Control by Jurassic 5
38. Franz Ferdinand by Franz Ferdinand
39. New Sacred Cow by Kenna
40. The Lion King Original Soundtrack by Various Artists
41. Kid A by Radiohead
42. American Idiot by Green Day
43. Hellsing Original Soundtrack: RUINS by Yasushi Ishii-Okay, another anime soundtrack. This and the first soundtrack are full of fun, classic-style rock.
44. Now Here Is Nowhere by Secret Machines
45. Vespertine by Bjork
46. Midnight Marauders by A Tribe Called Quest
47. Niun Niggung by Mouse On Mars-This is very unusual electronic music that is also surprisingly accessible and organic.
48. Batman Soundtrack by Prince
49. Cowboy Bebop Original Soundtrack 1 by Yoko Kanno-There is a ton of wonderful music from this show, but this is the best album.
50. Rhythm Nation 1814 by Janet Jackson
51. Life After Death by The Notorious B.I.G.
52. Aaliyah by Aaliyah
53. Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) by Wu-Tang Clan
54. The Marshall Mathers LP by Eminem
55. The Carnival by Wyclef Jean
56. Elephant by The White Stripes
57. Homogenic by Bjork
58. Like Water For Chocolate by Common
59. Geogaddi by Boards Of Canada
60. You’ve Come A Long Way, Baby by Fatboy Slim
61. Voodoo by D’Angelo
62. Black On Both Sides by Mos Def
63. Electric Circus by Common
64. Phrenology by The Roots
65. Melody A.M. by Röyksopp
66. Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex O.S.T.+ by Yoko Kanno
67. The Score by The Fugees
68. Chocolate Factory by R. Kelly
69. Get Lifted by John Legend
70. Gorillaz by Gorillaz
71. Design Of A Decade (1986-1996) by Janet Jackson-Yes, this is a best-of collection. I figured that since the songs all fall within the time frame, that it shouldn’t be a problem.
72. By The Way by Red Hot Chili Peppers-I admit that I haven’t heard RHCP’s earlier albums but I really enjoyed this one.
73. Who Is Jill Scott?: Words & Sounds Volume 1 by Jill Scott
74. Vegas by The Crystal Method
75. Aquemini by OutKast
76. 3 Feet High And Rising by De La Soul
77. 2001 by Dr. Dre
78. Odelay by Beck
79. The Diary Of Alicia Keys by Alicia Keys
80. The Bends by Radiohead
81. Songs From The Big Chair by Tears For Fears
82. In Search Of… by N.E.R.D.
83. Wu-Tang Forever by Wu-Tang Clan
84. Mary by Mary J. Blige
85. Surrender by The Chemical Brothers
86. R. Kelly by R. Kelly
87. 8701 by Usher
88. Peoples’ Instinctive Travels And The Paths Of Rhythm by A Tribe Called Quest
89. CrazySexyCool by TLC
90. All Eyez On Me by 2Pac
91. Reasonable Doubt by Jay-Z
92. Hellsing Original Soundtrack: RAID by Yasushi Ishii
93. Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex O.S.T. 2 by Yoko Kanno
94. Kinky by Kinky
95. Word Of Mouf by Ludacris
96. The Understanding by Röyksopp
97. Deadringer by RJD2
98. Mezzanine by Massive Attack
99. Beautifully Human: Words & Sounds Volume 2 by Jill Scott
100. A Grand Love Story by Kid Loco-It’s a shame this album has never been released in America (to my knowledge, at least.)

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  • http://musical-guru.blogspot.com Michael J. West

    I like this list a lot…and the reason I like it is because hip-hop and hip-hop influenced music is so predominant. That’s probably the most honest way to look at the last 20 years of pop music, which you could fairly call the “Hip Hop era.”

    Of course, you might just be a hip-hop fanatic who’s trying to sell us all your favorite rap and electro albums. 😉

  • http://www.utopia2000.org Barry Stoller

    What about New Order’s Substance? These guys had more to do with getting electronic in the US mainstream than any other 80s band.

  • http://www.morethings.com/senate Al Barger

    Outstanding original list. I’m particularly pleased to see another vote for the Batman album, and for Bad.

  • Abba Makama

    Yo! this list is the SH#!only one thing worng! Cold Plays Parchuate album is suppose to be #1.Although i love radiohead but would still pick Coldplay over it! CHOW!!! Abba Makama

    NY fredonia.

  • Mihos

    Great list. But I think Rhythm Nation should have been higher. Bad doesn’t do anything for me. I thought Off the wall,Invincible and Dangerous were much better albums.

    Here is my top 20:

    1. BRAVE BIRD
    AMEL LARRIEUX

    2. GUERO
    BEK

    3. LOVE DELUXE
    SADE

    4. DRUMS ALONG THE MOHAWK
    JEAN BEAUVOIR

    5. HEROES GYPSIES AND THIEVES
    GEOFFREY WILLIAMS

    6. RHYTHM NATION
    JANET JACKSON

    7. WATCHING MY LIFE GO BY
    MICHAEL HEDGES

    8. AALIYAH
    AALIYAH

    9. 20TH CENTURY MASTERS
    THE GAP BAND

    10. TRIUMPH
    THE JACKSONS

    11. UMBRELLA
    THE INNOCENCE MISSION

    12.CITIZEN COPE
    CLARENCE GREENWOOD

    13. THE AWAKENING
    VOODO X

    14. THE WALL
    PINK FLOYD

    15. SO
    PETER GABRIEL

    16. SUPERUNKNOWN
    SOUNDGARDEN

    17. EPONYMOUS
    SEAL

    18. CHALK MARK IN A RAINSTORM
    JONI MITCHELL

    19. A BREAK FROM THE NORM
    BILL WITHERS

    20. HEARTBREAK
    SHALAMAR

  • http://dumpsterbust.blogspot.com/ Eric Berlin

    This list (and others) are for the 1985-2005 period, Mihos.

  • Mihos

    poop
    Ill have to trade Peter Gabriel’s passion for Bill Withers

    Sade’s best of for Pink Floyd the Wall

    and Tracy Chapman’s first album for Michael Hedges

  • jamie

    where the hell is NIN’s the Downward Spiral? That is one of the best of all time!!

  • Abba Makama

    Just wanna lay down my own top ten Ablums from whenever till present date.. and again this is not according to ranking!!

    1. Antics- Interpol

    2. Parachutes- Cold Play

    3. College Drop out- Kanye West

    4. Legend- Bob Marley

    5. Gotta get thru this- Daniel Bedingfield

    6. Black Album- Jay Z

    7. Hopes and Fears- Keane

    8. Is this it- The Strokes

    9. The Slim Shady LP- Eminem

    10. Wu tang Forever- Wu tang clan

  • Juat Blaze!

    Common Lute!!!!!!!!!!Daniel Bedingflied!

  • http://www.salonely.blogspot.com reggie von woic

    Aaliyah by Aaliyah
    R. Kelly by R. Kelly
    Kinky by Kinky
    Gorillaz by Gorillaz
    Franz Ferdinand by Franz Ferdinand
    Mary by Mary J blidge

    …i think artists should take their cue considering that trend.

    -songs in A minor, alicia keys
    -survivor, destiny’s child
    -fallen, evanescence
    -L.A.M.B, gwen stefani