revalidation

Top Music Albums in the World: Best Albums of the Decade

More than just merry sounds, Music is a culturally relevant and communicative tool through which artists can express themselves while shaping cultural trends in the same vein. A music album can be referred to as a collection of music recordings or tracks that can be on compact discs, digital platforms, or audio tapes. 

Music, many times, serves as a reflection of the culture of a group of people through the transmission of ideas, emotions, and even identities. This article sets out to compile a list of the top music albums from the past decade that have impacted the music industry and cultural landscape of people in the world. To achieve this, certain standards will be used as evaluatory methods. These standards include critical acclaim, commercial success and cultural impact.

Top Music Albums of the Decade

1. 1989 by Taylor Swift

1989 is a pop music album released on October 27, 2014, by popular American singer and songwriter Taylor Swift. It was released at a time when Swift had yet to re-identify her love for pop music as opposed to country music. 

The music album, which happens to be the fifth studio album by Taylor Swift, is named after the singer's birth year. She reportedly mentioned that the album title depicts a rebirth of her career as a singer and of her artistic leanings.

The music album contains 7 singles out of 13 tracks, some of which include "Shake It Off," released on August 19, 2014; "Blank Space," released on November 10, 2014; and "Bad Blood," released on May 17, 2015.

In creating 1989, Taylor Swift did not incorporate contemporary hip-hop and R&B sounds that were popular at the time; rather, the American singer took her time to center the music album around pop. 

1989 is a music album primarily based on the expression of emotions and reflections on the singer's romantic relationships. The songs, which are inspired by the writer's personal love life, are written in a manner that emphasizes her storytelling ability. 

The album was culturally relevant in that it was both a critical and commercial success, bridging the gap between musical genres and showing people the power of good music, regardless of genre. 

Taylor Swift took to social media to promote this album to reach her younger audience, private listening album sessions with selected fans, and endorsement deals with Subway, Keds, and Diet Coke. 

Commercially, 1989 was released at a time when there had been a decline in the sale of digital records by streaming platforms; however, the album made one million sales within 24 hours of its release. This success made Taylor Swift the first singer to sell a million copies of their album within the first week of release.

1989 won many awards, including Favorite Pop/Rock Album at the American Music Awards, Album of the Year (Western) at the Japan Gold Disc Awards in 2015, and Album of the Year at the iHeartRadio Music Awards in 2016. 1989 also won Album of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Album at the 58th Annual Grammy Awards in 2016.

2. To Pimp a Butterfly by Kendrick Lamar

To Pimp a Butterfly, released on March 15, 2015 by American rapper, Kendrick Lamar is an experimental hip-hop album that makes use of progressive rap, conscious hip-hop and jazz to set the tone for the album. 

The album is Kendrick Lamar's third album and it contains 5 singles, which includes “I”, which was released: September 16, 2014, "The Blacker the Berry", released: February 9, 2015, "King Kunta", released: March 24, 2015, "Alright", released: June 30, 2015 and "These Walls", released: October 13, 2015.

To Pimp a Butterfly is a hip-hop album, however, the rapper makes use of a number of other musical genres in order to achieve the sound he produced. Some of these genres are soul, funk and Jazz. 

Lyrically, the tracks in this album are majorly centered on black American reality: culture, politics, and even police brutality. The lyrics explore discrimination, racism, depression, and inequality and mildly include political commentary in some of the tracks. The rapper reportedly revealed that the theme of the album came to him during his tour of historical places in South Africa. 

The title of the album is catchy and almost oxymoronic, yet it importantly brings Black Americans all over the world together, acting as a representation of their struggles, as a means of expression, as if saying to them, “I see your struggles, and you're not alone.” Thus, the album essentially racially empowers people all over the world.

In the first week of its release, To Pimp a Butterfly sold 324,000 copies in the US. Culturally, the album is a conscious celebration of ‘blackness’, ‘black music’ and Africa as Kendrick Lamar seemingly sought to portray the entirety of Africa in his musical production. 

The album got seven nominations at the 2016 Grammy Awards, out of which it won Best Rap Album and got an Album of the Year nomination. The album also received four other nominations for other collaborations from that year, thereby totalling 11 Grammy nominations, an astounding feat. 

3. Blonde by Frank Ocean

The music album Blonde by American singer, Frank Ocean is also known as Blond. It was released on August 20, 2016 as an exclusive music production on Apple Music and iTunes store. Blonde is the singer's second music album and features “Nikes” which was released on August 20, 2016, making it the only single in the music album. 

The album, however, features other singers in the other 16 tracks, such as Beyonce and Kim Burrell. Blonde is made up of tracks from different musical genres and styles, including R&B, soul, and pop. The album has been greatly lauded for its use of experimental sounds and pitch-shifted vocals, which bring an unexpected quality to the tracks. 

Some of the themes that Frank Ocean explores abstractly in Blonde are masculinity and emotional states that are deeply intertwined with trauma, the search for identity, sexual experiences, loss and heartbreak from the singer's personal experiences.

Globally, this album is of utmost relevance due to its relational quality. Many people all over the world were able to deeply relate to the experiences depicted in each song in the album, thereby, serving as a way to connect people through their experiences.

As a commercial success, Blonde's tracks were streamed about 65 million times, and Forbes estimated that the profit from the album almost reached one million USD. 

In its first week of release, 232,000 copies of Blonde were sold. This great success was said to be a result of Frank Ocean's independent release of the album as a limited and exclusive production on Apple Music and iTunes. 

Conclusion

1989 by Taylor Swift, To Pimp a Butterfly by Kendrick Lamar and Blonde by Frank Ocean are albums that have been greatly lauded by music critics all over the world as excellent productions. However, these songs go beyond that to serve as a form of culturally impactful music with legacies of their own. 

These albums are great recommendations for anyone who would like to experience or re-experience the transformative power of music. 

In the past decade, what albums have struck you as beautifully curated and transformative? And what impact have these albums had on you? Let's have you in the comment section.