Let's talk about the best albums of the 2000s, though it surely won't be an easy conversation. While nostalgic, it's no easy task to pick the best of the best in this golden era of music. It’s been over two decades since the start of the 2000s, and music lovers around the world can agree that this decade has left us with some classic albums. From hip-hop to rock, these records provided a soundtrack for our coming of age moments and gave many listeners their first opportunity to connect deeply with music. While there's plenty of good music from other eras, there is no denying that album after album released during these years have earned their place among all-time favorites. The sonic prowess of this decade is indisputable, the only thing left to debate is what's the best of the best from this era.
The 25 Best Albums of the 2000s, Ranked
25. Phoenix - ‘Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix’ (2009)
Top Songs: "Lisztomania," "1901," "Lasso"
To start off our list of the 25 best albums of the 2000s, we have Phoenix at number 25 with their 2009 album, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix. This project helped to close off the decade in true 2000s fashion: it upheld some of the most important sonic principles of the decade, while giving listeners something fresh to feast their ears on.
24. Daft Punk - 'Discovery' (2001)
Top Songs: "One More Time," "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger," "Something About Us," "Veridis Quo"
Daft Punk had a distinct ability to make music that sounded like it was from the future, and such was the truth at the turn of the millenium in 2001, when they dropped off their album Discovery. 2001 felt like 3001, and it was largely thanks to Daft Punk and this notable project.
23. The Hives - ‘Veni Vidi Vicious’ (2000)
Top Songs: "Hate to Say I Told You So," "Declare Guerre Nucleaire," "Main Offender"
The Hives were a quintessential band in the 2000s, and for good reason. Their 2000 album, Veni Vidi Vicious, was a perfect indication of their ability and the angst surrounding them at the time. With some notable hits like "Hate to Say I Told You So" and "Declare Guerre Nucleaire," it's nearly impossible to pass up on this timeless project for our list of the 25 best albums of the 2000s.
22. Britney Spears - ‘Circus’ (2008)
Top Songs: "Womanizer," "Circus," "If You Seek Amy"
Britney Spears was dominating the airwaves in 2008 with her project, Circus. This album donned some very memorable music, including "Womanizer," "Circus," and "If You Seek Amy." She matched a strong vocal performance with equally strong videos to match, and as a result, she stamped herself as a top contender for listeners' attention in this highly competitive era.
21. Eminem - ‘The Eminem Show’ (2002)
Top Songs: "Without Me," "Till I Collapse," "Superman," "Cleaning Out My Closet," "Sing For The Moment"
Whenever Eminem drops an album, it's worthy of everybody's attention, but The Eminem Show was just on another level. In 2002, Eminem blessed listeners with a variety of songs to obsess over, like "Without Me" and "Till I Collapse." This was one of those albums where the majority of songs were standouts.
20. Red Hot Chili Peppers - ‘Stadium Arcadium’ (2006)
Top Songs: "Dani California," "Snow (Hey Oh)," "Tell Me Baby"
At number 20 on our list of the best albums of the 2000s, we have the Red Hot Chili Peppers with their 2006 album, Stadium Arcadium. This project featured some of their most memorable songs of all-time. This album played a strong role in defining the sound of this era, and that is no easy feat.
19. Kanye West - ‘808s and Heartbreak’ (2008)
Top Songs: "Heartless," "Amazing," "Love Lockdown"
Towards the end of the decade in 2008, Kanye West continued his hot streak with yet another absolutely incredible album, 808s and Heartbreak. This project would continue to fuel the fire that Kanye had developed throughout this decade, one that he would continue to stoke through the following decade.
18. The Killers - ‘Hot Fuss’ (2004)
Top Songs: "Mr. Brightside," "Smile Like You Mean It," "Somebody Told Me"
Try and find a person, any person in the entire world, who doesn't know the lyrics to "Mr. Brightside." This song absolutely electrifies any venue, from bar to concert hall. It's one of those special songs that helped to define a decade. However, the greatness of Hot Fuss didn't stop there: "Smile Like You Mean It" and "Somebody Told Me" would both help to make this project one to remember forever.
17. Kanye West - ‘Late Registration’ (2005)
Top Songs: "Gold Digger," "Touch The Sky," "Heard 'Em Say"
Any album from Kanye West during this decade was one to behold. Late Registration in 2005 was no exception to the rule. "Gold Digger" is another one of those songs that helped to define the sound of the decade, regardless of how competitive this era was for song-makers. This project is truly one for the books.
16. 50 Cent - ‘Get Rich or Die Tryin' (2003)
Top Songs: "In Da Club," "Many Men (Wish Death)," "P.I.M.P.," "21 Questions"
50 Cent cemented his status as a legendary rapper with this album. It's got hits on hits on hits, with the top streaming song "In Da Club" hitting a milestone that is rarely reached on Spotify: over a billion streams. That's in an era after he already ran it up with tangible CD sales and iTunes sales. Impressive is an understatement.
15. OutKast - ‘Speakerboxxx/The Love Below’ (2003)
Top Songs: "Hey Ya!," "Roses," "I Like The Way You Move"
"Hey Ya!" is yet another song that broke the one billion stream mark on Spotify, and after selling tangible CDs and iTunes sales. The best part of this album is the depth of quality that's found within. The deep cuts add to the value that's set by the hits.
14. Lil Wayne - 'Tha Carter III' (2008)
Top Songs: "A Milli," "Lollipop," "Mrs. Officer"
In 2008, Lil Wayne dropped off his legendary album, The Carter III, and boy, did he deliver. With hits like "A Milli," "Lollipop," and "Mrs. Officer," it's impossible not to love, and that's not even paying mind to the fact that the entire album is so listenable. It's not easy to curate something that's entertaining from start to finish, but Wayne did it so gracefully with this one.
13. Green Day - 'American Idiot' (2004)
Top Songs: "American Idiot," "Holiday / Boulevard of Broken Dreams," "Jesus of Suburbia," "Wake Me Up When September Ends"
Green Day was another group on a hot-streak in the 2000s, and their 2004 album, American Idiot, was a clear indication of just how serious they were. They were running things on the rock side of music, and if you listen through this album, you'll understand exactly why.
12. Amy Winehouse - 'Back to Black' (2006)
Top Songs: "Rehab," "You Know I'm No Good," "Me and Mr. Jones," "Back to Black," "Tears Dry On Their Own"
While the sudden passing of Amy Winehouse was incredibly tragic, fans across the world are still celebrating her unbelievable contribution to music to this day. Back to Black in 2006 was her way of showing the world just how talented she was, and boy, could she put a project together. "Rehab" may have been the most popular song, but the heat goes far beyond that track.
11. Jay-Z - 'The Black Album' (2003)
Top Songs: "99 Problems," "Dirt Off Your Shoulder," "Public Service Announcement (Interlude)," "Lucifer," "Encore"
Jay-Z means business whenever he drops, and The Black Album from 2003 was no exception to the rule. This project featured some incredibly memorable songs from Hov, which is really saying something. Look at the spotlighted songs above, and try arguing that this isn't one of the best projects of the decade.
10. Eminem - 'The Marshall Mathers LP' (2000)
Top Songs: "The Real Slim Shady," "Stan," "Kill You," "Bitch Please II"
Here we are at number ten on our list, with Eminem's third studio album, The Marshall Mathers LP, which was a notable way to kick off the decade. From the hits to the deep cuts, this album was truly one to remember for decades onwards.
9. Rihanna - 'Good Girl Gone Bad: Reloaded' (2008)
Top Songs: "Umbrella," "Don't Stop The Music," "Shut Up And Drive," "Hate That I Love You," "Rehab," "Disturbia," "Take A Bow"
Rihanna's 2008 deluxe version of her album from the year before was easily one of the most memorable albums of the decade. The project featured a variety of hits, with several songs in the hundreds of millions of streams on Spotify. "Umbrella" with Jay-Z broke the one-billion stream mark on the platform, and only continues to grow.
8. MGMT - 'Oracular Spectacular' (2007)
Top Songs: "Kids," "Electric Feel," "Time To Pretend"
In 2007, MGMT dropped off a project that would help to define the electronic-infused, trippy elements of the decade. Just like we mentioned with Daft Punk, the notion of portraying the future was popular, and for good reason. That was exactly what MGMT did with this special project, and they succeeded, to say the least.
7. M.I.A. - 'Kala' (2007)
Top Songs: "Paper Planes"
We'd be messing up big time if we didn't include M.I.A.'s 2007 album Kala on this list, and that was predominantly due to the prevalence of her hit song "Paper Planes." While it's safe to say that song carried the album, the other songs alongside it make perfect sense given the context. M.I.A. is another one of those artists who have an uncanny ability of sonically predicting the future.
6. Radiohead - 'In Rainbows' (2007)
Top Songs: "Weird Fishes / Arpeggi," "Nude," "Jigsaw Falling Into Place"
While the 2000 album from Radiohead, Kid A, was listed by Rolling Stone as their number one album of the decade, we've got a slightly different thought on it. Kid A played a role in shaping the sound of the decade, but their 2007 album In Rainbows was one of their best ever. Take a listen and try to tell us any different.
5. Kid Cudi - 'Man On The Moon: The End Of Day' (2009)
Top Songs: "Day N' Nite," "Soundtrack 2 My Life," "Up Up and Away," "Hyyerr," "Enter Galactic (Love Connection Part I)," "Pursuit of Happiness (Nightmare)"
This debut album from Kid Cudi in 2009 was one of the most incredible pieces of music from the decade, and that is saying a lot. With no skips across 18 songs, he did what most artists couldn't, and had people scrambling to assess what really qualifies as a "hit," since all 18 songs qualify to some degree.
4. Black Eyed Peas - 'The E.N.D.' (2009)
Top Songs: "I Gotta Feeling," "Boom Boom Pow," "Meet Me Halfway," "Imma Be"
In this list, we've referenced a sonic depiction of the future being popular, and this Black Eyed Peas project was yet another perfect example of that in motion. With hits on hits, and deep cuts to match, this album qualifies for our list in every single area. Even the album art felt like it alluded to the future, while mixing the facial features of each member from the Black Eyed Peas.
3. Kanye West - 'The College Dropout' (2004)
Top Songs: "All Falls Down," "Jesus Walks," "Through The Wire," "Slow Jamz"
On top of containing the music equivalent to Jordan's "Flu Game" with "Through The Wire," this Kanye West album gives listeners a million and one reasons to love it. This is yet another project that refuses listeners the ability to skip any songs, which is no easy feat in music.
2. Jay-Z - 'The Blueprint' (2001)
Top Songs: "Renegade," "Heart of the City (Ain't No Love)," "Izzo (H.O.V.A.)"
At the number two spot for our list of the 25 best albums of the 2000s is Jay-Z with his 2001 project, The Blueprint. Hov left listeners with something to hold onto indefinitely. It never goes out of style, and has no skips across 15 songs. Whether you're a huge fan of Jay-Z or not, this album is undeniably one of the best in the decade.
1. Kanye West - 'Graduation' (2007)
Top Songs: "Stronger," "Good Morning," "Good Life," "I Wonder," "Can't Tell Me Nothing," "Flashing Lights," "Everything I Am"
We've finally reached the number one spot on our list of the 25 best albums of the 2000s, and to no surprise, we've got Kanye West with his 2007 project, Graduation. Not enough can be said about this project to emphasis its quality and importance, from the cover art to every single song within. In our last example of the futurism on display in this decade, we've got the quintessential example of the premise. Kanye was literally predicting the future - from the cover to the songs. "Stronger" was not only the standout song of the project, but arguably the decade as a whole. Again, not enough could be said to emphasize just how fire this special project is. It was absolutely iconic. That's all for our list of the 25 best albums of the 2000s.
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