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The News Website for Glendale High School


The News Website for Glendale High School


The 10 Best Albums of the 2010’s


This past decade has provided us with amazing music and a vast amount of new talent, both good and bad, breaking into the scene. While every decade of music has been influential in its own way, the 2010’s have been different due to the rise of popularity of the internet and social media. While the internet has been in existence since the late 1990’s, it hasn’t played a huge role in music. 

Thanks to online applications, like Napster and Facebook, in the late 2000’s, artists started to realize the vital role that the internet could play in their careers. This has led to huge fan bases for artists, who stay connected through social media websites, like Instagram and Tumblr. This has led to better advertising through YouTube and more recently Tik Tok.

Artists are able to directly communicate with audiences like never before, through Twitter and fan forums, that help them pump out work that is valued by everyone. 

For this list, I have picked the top ten albums of the decade that most changed the music scene. These aren’t all albums that I necessarily enjoyed the best, and I tried removing as much subjectivity as possible, but there is some obvious bias. There are thousands of genres and albums that were amazing these past 10 years, but the ones listed below are the most memorable.

10. Love Yourself: Answer (2018) – BTS

This is the album from the East that broke the West in 2018. To understand the popularity of this album, one must understand the rise in popularity of K-pop in America. When analyzing subject matter, instrumentals and just lyrics in general, K-pop is almost identical to western pop, but the difference is advertising and production value. This is an industry that differs from the music industry in the west in that it trains its singers from a young age. Here that is called being industry plants, and many people frown upon it, because it disconnects the artist from the audience. 

That didn’t seem to stop bands like BTS though, having an enormous following of teenage girls in the west. The album Love Yourself: Answer is not their first or last album. They have a huge discography, since they need to constantly pump out music for the industry in South Korea. But this album seemed to result in the largest spike of a following in BTS, and in turn, it popularized Korean pop in the US. 

Just like we had the Belibers and Directioners, the idea of teenage girls being attracted to a group of attractive-looking male singers is not a new concept. What makes the devotion to BTS different is the embracing of foreign music in America, which was not so common in the past. Many foreign genres did not do well in the US due to having different sounds. After the release of this album, not only did people start listening to South Korean music, there also happened to be a spike in genres like Japanese pop (J-pop), English drill, and Latin pop.

9. Room 25 (2018) – Noname

Noname is probably one of the most talented singers in the music industry as of right now. She is an independent artist who makes R&B and rap songs similar to no one else. Her second album Room 25 broke the industry by doing very well commercially. Not only did this album cement her as one of the best R&B singers, she also created her own genre.

Noname is a singer that is using instrumentals and has a voice that can be found nowhere else. She is also a rapper, but her style is so different and sounds soothing, and every word is crystal clear. She has made this perfect mix of jazz, R&B, and rap, and we are here for it. There are other women in the music industry now that are creating their own voices, like Rico Nasty and Tierra Whack, but Noname seems to have the upper hand in having a better voice, intricate instrumentals, and better stories. 

She has started a new genre that will shape the direction that R&B will take in the next decade for sure, because no one is doing what she has done, and continues to do, to this day.

8. Bon Iver (2011) – Bon Iver

Ever since Bon Iver’s album For Emma, Forever Ago (2007), the band has only been going up, not only in the sphere of folk singers, but also in the rap and alternative/experimental scenes. Lead singer Justin Vernon’s different vocals make him truly stand out from his peers. 

It’s really hard to pin down what genre to place this band in, because their sound is so different but their compositions resemble folk music, especially on this album. But Bon Iver also mixes in electric guitars and even some bass, making it hard to hold them into one genre.

Every song on this album offers a different composition with a different arrangement of instruments. Vernon also started experimenting with his own voice, with obvious modifications in some of the songs like “Hinnom, TX” and “Beth/Rest”, while using a more acoustic approach on songs like “Wash.” and “Holocene”.

Overall, this is an album for a rainy day, but it is also an album that drew the likes of Kanye West and Kid Cudi in order to use Vernon’s vocals on a lot of their future albums. In a way Bon Iver has been a staple of pop culture because of how mainstream artists have taken a liking to Vernon’s voice, and the band has been given a bigger platform for a genre that is otherwise not as popular.

7. Current (2015) – Tame Impala

This synth-pop, contemporary R&B album would be the last thing that would be expected in a music culture that relies on heavy 808s, but Tame Impala managed to make it work. With songs like “Let It Happen” and “The Less I Know the Better”, the album made the rounds in the pop circles, but it also caught the attention of many rappers.

Tame Impala’s psychedelic rhythms and sound caught the attention of the likes of Tyler, the Creator, Frank Ocean and even Kendrick Lamar. Working with these artists, Tame Impala helped compose a lot of these artists’ discographies. Through these works, they started moving into more mainstream artists like Rihanna and ASAP Rocky.

An honorable mention should also be made to Thundercat’s 2018 album Drank. This is also a great album, because he produces sounds similar to Tame Impala, but he relies more on beautifully-composed bass solos.

6. IGOR (2019) – Tyler, the Creator

Tyler, the Creator is perhaps one of the most creative artists of our generation that continues to break barriers. Tyler has been consistent with his album releases from Goblin to IGOR, and there have been a lot of struggles that finally landed him his first Grammy. 

Tyler was once known as the troublemaker of the music industry, with music publications misinterpreting his earlier pieces like “She” from Goblin and his single “Bastard”. He continued to shock his audiences and critics with extremely vivid storytelling, through his alter egos in each album, telling stories of betrayal, love and loneliness.

IGOR is the story of a lovesick guy named Igor who falls in and out of love with his interest as the album progresses. While his previous album Flower Boy is more relaxed and relies on Tyler himself, IGOR is a story of passion and love and how they affect the main character. 

This album became historic once Tyler won his first Grammy for it. This was a shock in the hip-hop community, because Tyler was a sort of villain in the industry, a non-conformist. But the win proved how the underdogs can still come out on top, not to mention the fact that he gave one of the greatest Grammy performances of all time. 

5. Finally Rich (2012) – Chief Keef

Chicago Drill and SoundCloud rappers alike have one man to thank for their success: Chief Keef. Before we analyze Chief Keef’s album, an honorable mention is also deserved for Waka Flocka’s 2010 album Flockaveli

From “Love Sosa” to “Get Them Bands”, this album paved the way for future Chicago Drill artists like King Von, Quando Rando, Lil Durk, Lil Reese, and G Herbo. They have created a genre that has recently seen a boom in listenership, due to their portrayal of gang life and the generic flaunting of luxurious materials. Before all these artists could make a living though, it was all thanks to Chief Keef’s famous lyrics, “Chief Keef ain’t all this, Chief Keef and all that” that broke the rap scene. 

This album also brought about the rise in popularity of SoundCloud rappers. The reason for this is that Finally Rich was an album that was different from rap albums of the time by artists like Drake and Big Sean, because it was angry and loud and relied on a lot of improvisation. When looking at the SoundCloud rappers of the time, like XXXTentaction, Ski Mask and Lil Uzi, they were also bringing the same energies to the scene, with different, loud and heavily ad-libbed music.

4. The Idler’s Wheel (2012) – Fiona Apple

Fiona Apple has been an impactful artist in the music industry since the late-90’s, influencing many modern pop, funk and R&B artists. The full name of this album is The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do, but it is just referred to as The Idler’s Wheel. This is one of those unskippable albums, where every song is just pleasing to the ear. 

What makes Apple stand out from other artists is her experimental, yet eerily enjoyable, music and beautiful voice. She can be found under both the pop and alternative labels by music listeners, because even though she is very well-known in the music industry, having won multiple awards, she is not so well-known publicly, especially among the younger generation.

Songs like “Valentine” and “Hot Knife” just give one goosebumps because of her relaxing and soothing voice. Her compositions are just extraordinary and easy to follow, her subject matter is so interesting and her storytelling skills are like none other. She is the mother of pop.

All readers should listen to this album if they appreciate listening to music and want something new. It really makes you feel such a ray of different emotions and maybe it will prompt you to listen to her other works.

3. Up All Night (2011) – One Direction

Up All Night would be one of the most important albums of all time, because even though the songs are just generic pop songs and teen bops, this initiated the comeback of boy bands. 

After winning Britain’s Got Talent, Harry Styles, Zayn Malik, Louis Tomlinson, Liam Payne and Niall Horan came together, under the management of Simon Cowell, to form One Direction. Before One Direction, pop boy bands were not around and were more common in the punk and emo spheres. After the first track, “What Makes You Beautiful”, their teenage fans were sold. 

Throughout their 6 years, this band put out amazing records, riding on their mostly young girl fan base, and paved the way for future boy bands, such as 5 Seconds of Summer and Why Don’t We. While the popularity of Western boy bands has faded, this trend has continued with K-pop in the west, with similar fanbases sprouting up for bands such as BTS and Blackpink in recent years.

2. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010) – Kanye West

Kanye West has been one of the most, if not the most, influential figures in music for the past two decades. He completely dominated the late 2000’s, with his albums Late Registration and Graduation. After he had cemented his place in popular music, he had it all until the 2009 Video Music Awards. His famous interruption of Taylor Swift at the VMA’s has still followed him to this day, but at the time it really impacted not only his fame but his mentality.

This incident prompted him to retreat off the grid to Hawaii. He started inviting a variety of artists to his island studio, including John Legend, Jay Z and many more. Not only did he invite artists, but he also invited top music engineers that were experienced in different forms of music to help create different genres.

This now iconic moment resulted in the creation of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. This album is not only iconic for its songs but also for how it boosted many talents to the mainstream, including Nikki Minaj, Bon Iver and Kid Cudi. 

“Runaway” is probably one of the most beautiful and simple songs of the last ten years, and he even performed it when he returned to the VMA’s the following year, confirming his comeback into the pop scene. 

1. To Pimp A Butterfly / Untitled Unmastered (2015) – Kendrick Lamar

This album has been named as the album of the decade by many music heads, and it definitely has lived up to that title. To be clear, Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City and DAMN were also worthy candidates, but To Pimp a Butterfly has influenced our generation the most. It includes “Alright” and “King Kunta” as the pop songs that were blasted on radios. “These Walls” and “You Ain’t Gotta Lie” are there for an R&B vibe. “For Free” is there for jazz, and Lamar’s observations of society can be found in the songs “U”, “I”, “Institutionalized”, and “The Blacker the Berry”.

There are more songs on the album and all are stories that serve as Lamar’s thoughts on society and his struggle with, not only systemic racism, but also the hypocrisy in himself and in his community. 

While many albums can also fit these criteria, the reason why this album stands out is because of the song “Alright” and it’s famous phrase, “We gon’ be alright.” This phrase was used during the Black Live Matter movement and became an anthem of a sort. If that was not enough, Lamar also released the Untitled Unmastered tracks that are an extension of the original album. This includes more experimental songs and a more jazz approach to the album. 

Overall these ten albums seem to not only impact the music industry but the pop culture we know today. Whether the effects of these impacts were good or bad for society is a different debate.

About the Contributor
Rafayel Hovhannisyan
Rafayel Hovhannisyan, Staff Writer
Rafayel is a senior at Glendale High School. He has been part of many clubs and organizations at school, including Band Club, Cinema Club and CSF, but he has taken a break from all clubs and organizations during senior year to focus on extracurricular activities. He enjoys reading philosophical and political theories, his favorite authors are Ray Bradbury and Friedrich Nietzsche, and he enjoys music and movies to the point where he can give hour-long lectures about any movie or song that comes to mind.
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