16 Most Influential Albums of the 2010s

It is hard to believe that the first official decade of the 2000s is officially going to be behind us in less than a month’s time. In this decade, there have been a handful of albums that have been released to large and minor successes. Below is a look at 15 of the most influential albums over the course of the last decade released from all genres. See where your favorites make the list.

In this decade, there have been a handful of albums that have been released to large and minor successes. Below is a look at 15 of the most influential albums over the course of the last decade released from all genres. See where your favorites make the list.

Jay-Z “4:44” (2017)

The stakes for HOV’s most recent solo release were set remarkably high. Set to be a reply to his wife’s album a year prior, Jay-Z responded with a bold, simplistic album that answered unanswered questions previously existing, while also exploring dynamic sounds he had avoided in his time as an artist. The album ranks as one of HOV’s top 5 in his discography.

Rihanna “ANTI” (2016)

After taking the largest gap in her string of consecutive releases, Rih returned with one of the most anticipated albums of 2016. After false start singles “Four Five Seconds” and “BBHMM”, she returned with a set that set a new bar for her ability to have a cohesive body of work. Highlights on the album include the bedroom banger “Kiss It Better”, the hit “Needed Me”, and the critically acclaimed “Same Ol’ Mistakes”.

Katy Perry “Teenage Dream” (2010)

After a late entry into the 2000s pop arena, Perry came swinging for gold in 2010 with the blockbuster album “Teenage Dream”. With monumental singles like “California Girls”, “Firework”, and “ET”, the album produced five #1 singles on the Billboard Hot 100 and became one of the biggest pop albums of the entire decade.

Justin Timberlake “The 20/20 Experience” (2013)

Seven years had existed between JT’s magnum opus, “FutureSex/LoveSounds” and this offering. Instead of trying to reinvent the wheel or create something completely from scratch, he united his strengths from the former with a fresh twist to make something special. With mega hits “Mirrors”, “Suit and Tie”, and “Not a Bad Thing”, the album is a fine follow up to his 2006 release and one of the best albums of this decade from any genre.

Ariana Grande “thank u, next” (2019)

No longer seen as a new Mariah Carey, Ms. Grande delivered the greatest album of her career this past year. With sassy hooks (“7 rings”, break up with your girlfriend, i’m bored”), powerful vocals (“fake smile”, imagine”), and an effortless flow, the album is a bold statement from one of pop’s most promising stars.

Nicki Minaj “Pink Friday” (2010)

Ego aside, no person can deny the caliber of talent that Nicki Minaj introduced the world to on her debut album. The list of hits from this offering is endless. The production was sleek, the bars were bold, and the star was born. The album would set Minaj up for a ride on top for a long time.

Drake “Take Care” (2011)

Arguably his greatest work, “Take Care” takes a Drake of soft and somber and puts him up against an edgy, hip-hop bold megastar in the making. With star-studded collaborations from Stevie Wonder, Lil’ Wayne, Nicki Minaj, and Rick Ross, the album is one of the greatest rap albums of the entire decade, and possibly of all time.

Cardi B “Invasion of Privacy” (2018)

Love her or hate her, Cardi released one of the most dynamic works of this past decade. The genius blend of styles was on full display with hit singles “I Like It” and “Bodak Yellow”, which both would top the Billboard Hot 100.

Taylor Swift “1989” (2014)

Transitioning from country to pop, all eyes were lined up to see what Swift was going to do…and she did THAT. With an impressive run of hit singles such as “Shake It Off”, “Blank Space”, “Style”, and “Bad Blood”, Swift cemented her legacy as the new queen of pop music, a title yet to be taken from her.

Frank Ocean, “Channel Orange” (2012)

A bold introduction highlighting the evolving world of contemporary music, and highlighted by his now public sexuality, Ocean created one of the most timeless records of 2012. While the follow up, “blond”, was also a largely acclaimed success, this one set the stage for his future in the limelight largely due to the success of the single, “Thinking Bout You”.

Bruno Mars, “24k Magic” (2016)

Mars released two other highly successful albums earlier in the decade, but nonetheless, this one was a whole different kind of monster. Bruno displayed an ability to blend all current forms of music with seamless soul on standouts “Versace on the Floor”, “Calling all My Lovelies”, and “Finesse”. The follow up to this one is highly anticipated.

Beyonce, “Lemonade” (2016)

Queen Bey had already changed the world in 2013 with her surprise self titled album. However, its highly anticipated follow up was a beast of its own. An album deep rooted in heartbreak, pain, and love, the autobiographical nature of the album made it 2016’s boldest released. After being criticized for underutilizing her vocals on her previous album, the pipes came to play on this one with tracks “Sandcastles”, “All Night”, and “Love Drought”. From start to finish, the finest set the queen has put forth to the masses.

Kanye West, “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” (2010)

He may be the most controversial figure in the world, but his genius can’t be disputed. 2010’s finest work was that of Mr. Kanye West and the fine production, samples, lyrics, and themes showcased that Mr. West was in a class of his own seven years into his reign as a rap’s top guy. No album he’s released since has been able to top the success of this one.

Kendrick Lamar, “How to Pimp a Butterfly” (2015)

No album has defined an entire decade quite like the political statement that glorified Lamar from rapper to undisputed poet like this one. The album is often referred to as the greatest cohesive work of this decade.

Adele, “21” (2011)

But when you name the albums that define our decade, no album made the impression that Adele’s sophomore album made on the 2000s. Becoming the first album in over five years to sell over 10 million copies in the United States, three #1 singles, and a sweep at the Grammy Awards, Adele threw her name into the hat as the new great diva of this generation. She remains the constant blend of nostalgia and present soul. No album has defined our decade, quite like this one has. 

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December 11, 2019

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