I have never been someone who is quiet about their opinions when it comes to music. And so as the decade comes to a close, it seems only fitting that I rank what I know to be the best albums of the 2010s.
The list began as a Top 10, but then I had way too many ‘Honourable Mentions’ and so it became a Top 25 (still with a few honourable mentions because I’m low key indecisive oops). I also tried to limit myself to one album per artist, but as you will see, this was not a successful endeavor and there are a number of artists with multiple (deserved) appearances. I’m also going to be completely honest – I know that a lot of these albums aren’t necessarily considered the cream of the crop when it comes to musicality, however every single album on this list is here because I associate them with a memory or important time of my life (or I just saw it performed live and it changed me as a person).
It is important to acknowledge that these are my top albums, and so are very skewed towards my personal music taste, which is most definitely centered around pop music. So you will not see the likes of Kendrick and Kanye in this list – I’m not saying they’re not great musicians, they’re just not my personal cup of tea. That being said, I am always open to new music recommendations, so if there is something missing that you believe I would love, I probably just haven’t heard it, and in that case, please please let me know.
Without further a do, here are my Top 25 (and a few extra) Albums of the 2010s
The Wombats: Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life (2018)
Look, I do love this album and it does have a lot of great songs (Turn is undeniably the best) – there’s just albums that I love more.
Beyonce: Lemonade (2016)
I’ve never been a huge Beyonce fan (I’m sorry!) but after having to write a piece for uni on this album in particular, I kind of began to understand all the hype. This album is definitely an icon of the 2010s (just not my personal favourite).
LANY: Make Out EP (2015)
As the first of multiple entries from my ride-or-die band of the decade (according to Spotify I spent 177 hours listening to them this year alone), the only reason this is in the Honourable Mentions and not the actual list is the fact that it is an EP and not a full-length album. This EP gave us (arguably) some of the best music LANY has ever released (Made in Hollywood will never not slap) and it will always have a special place in my heart.
25. Bruno Mars: Unorthodox Jukebox (2012)
I’ll admit, this is a weird choice for me. But I have distinct memories of this CD playing on repeat in our family car before the days of Bluetooth, and so I may have formed a slight attachment to the familiarity that this album provided. This was also right on the cusp of Bruno’s transition between pop and R&B and perfectly combines the best of both worlds. Natalie and Locked Out of Heaven will always slap tbh.
24. Troye Sivan: Bloom (2018)
Troye has been one of my favourite artists since the YouTube and TRXYE days, and there is no denying that he has matured astronomically as both an artist and a person since those days. The only reason this is only just scraping into the list is the emotional attachment I have to Blue Neighbourhood (it’s time will come I promise) over this album. Also, I wouldn’t have minded waiting a little longer for the album if it meant getting more than the (brilliant) 10 tracks we did get. It felt wrong to not include this album at all, especially after finally seeing it live, and so here we are at 24.
23. Charli XCX: Charli (2019)
Charli is easily one of the best songwriters and entertainers on the planet, and her ability to collaborate with literally anyone and still keep her unique sound never fails to astound me. Choosing between this and Pop 2 was difficult, but honestly the fact that Gone ft. Christine and the Queens is one of the best songs of 2019 pushed this baby over the line.
22. Halsey: Badlands (2015)
I like Halsey, I really do. She’s one of those artists that I drift away from but always end up coming back to at some point. For me though, that coming back is always to Badlands. I know that most people prefer Hopeless Fountain Kingdom but I just never got into it. Plus 14-year-old me thought Strange Love was the most relatable shit ever even though my life was NEVER like that.
21. Lizzo: Cuz I Love You (2019)
Full disclosure: I 100% only jumped on the Lizzo bandwagon this year when she blew up, but boy am I glad I did. The title track of the album is easily one of the best tracks of the decade and her ability to shift between rapping, her stunning vocals and playing the goddamn flute is not something that should have flown under the radar for this long. The only reason this isn’t higher is the fact that I haven’t yet had the chance to emotionally attach myself to the album – it will come.
20. Banks: The Altar (2016)
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Banks is one of the most criminally underappreciated vocalists of the 21st century. Fuck With Myself was the first song of hers I heard and ooooooh boy, I was a goner. She has such a unique voice and the way she sings about somewhat taboo topics always has me feeling like a bad bitch.
19. Oh Wonder: Oh Wonder (2015)
I remember first hearing Livewire on one of Connor Franta’s Common Culture compilations and being completely stunned by the harmonies. The combination of Anthony and Josephine’s voices is unparalleled and mixed with the synth style of their music, I always feel like I’m in a dream sequence. This is definitely one of those albums that I forget about for a while and then come back to and wonder why it’s been so long between listens.
18. Hozier: Wasteland, Baby! (2019)
I deliberated over the placing of the next few albums for a long time. Ultimately, the only thing that separates them is my emotional attachment and the memories I associate with each. Hozier is hands down one of the best musicians of the decade and there is no doubt in my mind that he is one of the elusive ‘immortals‘. This album places this high largely due to his unmatched lyrical skill and the song Movement. Special mention to Moment’s Silence (Commoner’s Tongue) which isn’t on this album but was on the 2018 EP Nina Cried Power (I count them as the same era) and deserved better.
17. Florence + The Machine: High As Hope (2018)
If Moderation was on this album instead of just being a randomly released single in the middle of tour, this album would 100% be higher. This tour was the first time I was finally able to see Florence live, so I will always have an attachment to this album. I just have more of an attachment to another of her albums (which you will see soon). Having said that, Sky Full of Song and Hunger will always be two of the best songs ever written.
16. The 1975: A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships (2018)
This was the first The 1975 album release that I was an active fan for, as well as being the first tour I saw them. I have a terrible habit of becoming invested in artists and bands just as their album cycles are ending, and so end up missing their tour – The 1975 is a perfect example of this. I became invested in the middle of the I Like It When You Sleep… era, just after they had toured Australia. But I’m not mad – A Brief Inquiry has the some of the best songs in their discography and getting to experience the anticipation for the first time was pretty great.
15. LANY: Malibu Nights (2018)
What else do you do after a break-up but cut yourself off from the social world and pump out a new album less than a year after the release of your first and then tour the world with 100 shows in 8 months? Because that’s literally what Malibu Nights was. LANY will always be one of the most hardworking bands on the planet and the fan base they have grown is indicative of that. They are the biggest band you’ve never heard of, but not for long (mark my words).
14. Maggie Rogers: Heard It In A Past Life (2019)
I honestly had only heard this album a handful of times before a friend convinced me to review her concert at Enmore and boy oh boy am I bloody glad I did. This quickly became one of my favourite albums, both musically and lyrically. She is America’s answer to Florence and the video of them performing Light On together in South London on a full moon is one of the most spiritual and haunting things you will ever see.
13. The 1975: The 1975 (2013)
The primary reason for the inclusion of The 1975’s first album on this list is my strongly held belief that this will become one of the classic albums of my generation. There is not a bad song on this album (there are definitely the standouts) and I always find myself listening to it without really meaning to. I don’t care how white girl cliche of me it is, Sex will always be one of my all-time favourite songs (14-year-old me also thought this was the most relatable song ever, but there was actually a bit of truth to it this time).
12. Years & Years: Palo Santo (2018)
As far as coherency goes, this is easily one of the most coherent albums of at least the last 5 years. Led by Olly Alexander’s vocals, there is not a bad song on this album, and when paired with the visual element of the Palo Santo short film, which has Alexander play a human used for the entertainment of androids in the fictional world of Palo Santo, the entire concept of the album is made that much stronger. I will always be salty that they never played this album in Australia and I never got to see it live.
11. Hozier: Hozier (2014)
I’ve already spoken about my love for Hozier as a musician, and the fact that his only two albums are present in this list is testament to that. I remember when Take Me To Church first came out and I was still going through my faze of ‘I don’t like popular music because it’s lame’, but then I realised that was dumb because Hozier and this album are both bloody fantastic. It kind of makes me mad that Take Me To Church was the breakout song from this album because while it is a great song, there are so many arguably better songs *cough* To Be Alone and Work Song *cough* that deserved better.
10. The 1975: I like it when you sleep, for you are beautiful yet so unaware of it (2016)
As the highest ranking of the three The 1975 albums, I feel it’s pretty obvious that this is my favourite. The 1975 were my top artist on Spotify in 2016, and a lot of that is due to the release of this album in the same year. Who knows how many times I have played Somebody Else by now (I don’t care how cliche it is, I love that song with my whole heart). This album was definitely more of a pop album than their first, which is probably why I love it so much because I will always be a slut for pop music.
9. Florence + The Machine: How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful (2015)
Sometimes I will briefly forget about this album and then I will come back to it and wonder why I haven’t been listening to it on repeat for my whole life. I feel like Florence is one of those artists who never age, only mature, and this album and High As Hope are testament to that. It still has all the theatricality and madness of the first two albums, but there is an air of wiseness and maturity enveloping the entire record. Also, I held Florence’s hand while she sang What Kind of Man in Sydney and it was one of the most spiritual moments of my life, so this album gets an automatic top 10 on that fact alone.
8. Harry Styles: Harry Styles (2017)
The entire reason that it has taken me so long to post this is because I was waiting for Harry’s new album Fine Line to be released before I made my final rankings. And while I do love Fine Line, it could not outdo my love for Mr Styles’s first self-titled album. I was never a One Direction fan because I thought it was lame and now I see how wrong I was because boy am I in love with Harry and his music. From beginning to end, this album is so coherent and is a brilliant piece of work for anyone’s debut album.
7. Montaigne: Complex (2019)
Y’ALL ARE SLEEPING ON MONTAIGNE!!!!!!! Australian music is bigger and better than ever before, and yet Montaigne (somehow) still flies under the radar and I don’t get it???? This entire album from beginning to end is a work of art and Montaigne dares to address topics that most artists would brush aside immediately (I’m talking Stockholm Syndrome and is this all i am good for?). Also, when she toured this album, she played it in order which is something I think more artists should be doing. In conclusion, y’all need to stop sleeping on Montaigne and give her the credit she deserves.
6. Lorde: Pure Heroine (2013)
Similar to Hozier with Take Me To Church, when I first heard Royals I didn’t want to like it because (to be fair) it was being overplayed. But then I eventually realised this was also dumb and I learned to appreciate it for what it was: a damn good song from a bloody talented 17-year-old. And then I also realised that the entire album was incredible and probably listened to it on repeat for days. It kind of shocks me that this album came out so long ago because it still holds up so well. This was the album that soundtracked my early teen years and I will always have a soft spot for it.
5. LANY: LANY (2017)
There is a reason LANY were my Spotify artist of the decade, and that is I love them and everything they do with my whole heart. I honestly don’t know what I love most about this album: the music, the lyrics, the actual band, the fact that this was the first concert I went to solo or all the friends this album and band have brought me. While musically, this isn’t necessarily the best album on this list, the memories and people that this album introduced me to is something I will always be grateful for.
4. Taylor Swift: Red (2012)
I’m not ashamed to say I love Taylor Swift. Fearless was one of the first albums I owned, but I fell off the train a little with Speak Now and came back toward the end of the Red era (I missed the tour again). This album was the perfect stepping stone between country and pop music and clearly shows Taylor’s skill as a songwriter. All Too Well is, I believe, one of the defining songs of the decade. Not gonna lie, I was genuinely shocked that this album came out in 2012 because it still slaps so hard and always will.
3. Arctic Monkeys: AM (2013)
Arctic Monkeys are one of the very few artists on this list that I haven’t seen live and I am still SO mad at myself for not going when they toured earlier this year. I know it kind of became a white, Tumblr girl cliche to like this album, but I 100% unironically love this album and I’m not ashamed to say that. This is one of the sexiest albums ever made to date, and yet it manages to do what all other ‘sex’ albums can’t: it doesn’t objectify women! Plus Alex Turner’s voice is just super hot tbh.
2. Troye Sivan: Blue Neighbourhood (2015)
Watching Troye turn into a fully fledged pop star has been incredible, but this will always remain one of my favourite albums. This album came out at a time when I was struggling with and discovering my own personal identity and sexuality, so seeing a gay, Australian musician who I already idolised achieve such great success was life-changing. I can’t pick a favourite song on this album because they all have their own unique meaning to me personally, but I did literally sob the last time I heard Heaven live, so that’s probably saying something.
1. Lorde: Melodrama (2017)
I don’t think I can sum up in words how much I love this album and everything it means to me. Green Light and Liability came out at the beginning of my final year of school and then the album was released the day after my 18th birthday, so it was inevitable that I would fall in love with everything about it. Where Pure Heroine soundtracked my early teens, Melodrama soundtracked my late teens: my final year of school and the transition to university. Now I’m just waiting for Lorde to tell me when I can progress to the next stage.
A lot has changed in the music world over the last 10 years, but I think these 25 defining albums prove that it was a decade like no other. Here’s to the next 10 years and more great music from these and so many other artists.
Catch ya on the flip side,