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Top Ten Albums of 2003

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1. Fountains of Wayne- “Welcome Interstate Managers”
2 (tie). Led Zeppelin- “How the West Was Won”; The Beatles- “Let It Be… Naked”
3. Dave Matthews- “Some Devil”
4. The Jayhawks- “Rainy Day Music”
5. Damien Rice- “O”

6. Warren Zevon- “The Wind”
7. Barenaked Ladies- “Everything to Everyone”
8. Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks- “Pig Lib”
9. Liz Phair (self titled)
10. Triumph the Insult Comic Dog- “Come Poop With Me”

Honorable Mention: Brand New- “Deja Entendu”; Outkast- “Speakerboxx/The Love Below”; Jason Mraz- “Waiting For My Rocket To Come”; Alicia Keys- “The Diary of Alicia Keys”; Pete Yorn- “Day I Forgot”; John Mayer- “Heavier Things”, Jesse Harris- “The Secret Sun,” The Shins- “Chutes Too Narrow”; The Strokes- “Room on Fire,” The White Stripes- “Elephant.”

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About Stephen Silver

  • BrownBoognish

    This list sucks. Dave Matthews is lyrically the worst popular song writer of modern age. Fountains of Wayne do indeed rule, but to put the new liz phair on there is a total travesty. Her new work is by far the worst garbage she has ever produced.

  • matt


    what about rufus wainright?

    Best album of the year. Period.

  • Whether DM is a good songwriter or not doesn’t affect whether he put out a good album. There are plenty of horrible songwriters out there whose music is still entertaining and worth investing in. While it’s not on my list, Some Devil is really quite good.

    Maybe Stephen should have included some criteria of why he considered each album worthy of inclusion on the list. I admit I’m a little surprised to see Phair’s new album on any top 10 list, too, but the man’s got his reasons, I assume. I’d liked to have seen them for all of his choices (we are Blogcritics, afterall – not Bloglisters.

    And Matt, I agree about Wainwright – he’s not number one for me, but he’s on my list.

  • Not to put too fine a point on it, but whaa?: Whether DM is a good songwriter or not doesn’t affect whether he put out a good album.

    How are you going to have a good album if the compositions aren’t there? Just playing random notes? If there’s no good songs, then how are you playing anything good?

  • BrownBoognish specifically points out Matthews’ lyrics as being “the worst,” to which I replied that that does not necessarily mean that he put out bad music. Remember, songs are musical passages that have singing (as opposed to instrumentals,) so unless he’s a cappella, there’s another important component that can make up for less than stellar lyrics – the music. I can overlook subpar lyrics (because, with most artists, lyrics are the last thing I care about, unless they’re Elvis Costello and a few others in which case that’s the most important part of the music) if the music is sufficiently intriguing, and in Some Devil‘s case, this is true.

  • True, lyrics are not the only part of the song, and indeed the less critical part of composition. You can have an outstanding song with meaningless lyrics, but even great lyrics won’t make up for a poor melody.

    Even a capella, you can have something outstanding with uninteresting lyrics, if the tune and the harmonies are good. You can get something really good just singing “la, la, la” if the melody carryied by the words is good.

  • Aside from Warren Zevon (and that was somewhat of an Academy Lifetime Acheivement vote — yes, a good album, not great) I didn’t get any of these effluvia from the record biz.

    I think 2003 was the year the mainstream record biz bored itself and its audience to death. They and radio have spent so much time chasing each other up their respective asses, they finally managed to reach a singuarility horizon.

    Who knew Stephen Hawking would apply to the music business?

  • BrownBoognish

    I agree, artists with terrible lyrics can still create good albums. I think Dave Matthews is just in general a terrible songwriter, both musically and lyrically.

  • Umm, this list is terrible. Is one of the requirements for your list that the album has to be on a major label? If you want the real list of the best albums of 2003, I have it posted on my website http://blog.blameitoneve.com/archives/000405.php

  • Except for Warren Zevon and Stephen Malkmus, they’re not too bad.