Staff Picks: Albums of the last decade

Ben Hume, Web Editor

Trevor Tyle’s Pick: Adele – “21”

In the past 10 years, there have been few albums to sell as many copies, win as many awards or heal as many hearts as Adele’s sophomore offering, “21.” Inspired by a romantic separation, “21” chronicles the most devastating moments of one’s life and crafts a narrative that simultaneously shatters and mends the heart. From the soaring vocals of “Rolling in the Deep” to the painstakingly poignant lyricism of “Someone Like You,” on “21,” Adele captures a feeling all too familiar for anyone whose heart has been broken. 

 

With over 30 million copies sold worldwide, “21” was the best-selling album of the decade and is considered one of the best-selling albums of all-time. Credited with “reviving” the music industry in an era of rapidly declining sales, the album earned Adele three number-one singles, six Grammy Awards — including Album, Record and Song of the Year — and the coveted ranking of “Greatest Billboard 200 Album of All-Time.” 

 

Though the eminence of an artist’s work can seldom be linked to sales, “21” is a musical rarity, blurring the lines between quality and commercial success. It was not just an album, but rather, an event. At 21 years old and with only one record under her belt, Adele had already composed her magnum opus — a timeless body of work that will forever stand the test of time, stealing and stitching our broken hearts in the process. Emotional, honest and movingly authentic, “21” evokes a sentiment that transcends any particular decade. In spite of this, it defined the 2010s, and there will likely never be another album quite like it again. 

 

Lauren Karmo’s Pick: BORNS – “Dopamine”

This album has a special place in my heart because it’s the album of the summer, every summer. Every time I hear “Electric Love,” I think about driving around with my friends to get ice cream and scream the lyrics out the window. I think about lying on the beach and jumping in the ocean. Every other song on this album has some sort of summer memory, from afternoon hangouts around town to midnight adventures where no one else matters. Hearing “American Money” and “Holy Ghost” reminds me of falling in love, over and over again, like it’s the hottest day of July and everything is perfect. Every second of this album makes me feel like I’m getting a shot of dopamine injected directly in my veins, and I can’t get enough.

 

Michael Pearce’s Pick: Drake – “Take Care”

As the resident hip-hop boy of The Oakland Post, I feel a little lame not picking something more rappy than this. But this album was my favorite thing ever when I was in like, eighth/ninth grade, and nostalgia is one hell of a drug. “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” and “To Pimp A Butterfly” are better albums, but this one was my favorite of the decade. I genuinely like and can listen to almost every song on this album, and that is rare. This is Drake’s best album, and he dominated this decade. This album also has huge chart-topping singles on it like “Take Care,” “Headlines” and “Marvin’s Room.” For me, that’s important when picking a favorite album. This album is what launched Drake into the music scene as a serious artist, because it’s good as hell. I don’t care if it isn’t heavier rap, it’s classic.

 

Katie Valley’s Pick: Panic! at the Disco – “Vices and Virtues”

Panic! at the Disco’s “Vices and Virtues” is a monumental album to represent the decade because it strikes a cord in all former emo kids.

 

Released March 22, 2011, as a duo by vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Brendon Urie and drummer Spencer Smith, the album is the band’s third studio work. Every single track hits listeners right in the feels, bringing them back to their emo days for 38 whole minutes.

 

Songs like “Ready to Go (Get Me Out of My Mind)” and “Memories” invoke feelings that cannot be described. The album also features lead single, and arguably one of P!ATD’s best songs, “The Ballad of Mona Lisa.”

 

Ask any big P!ATD fan, and they’ll tell you that “Vices and Virtues” is iconic, but it’s difficult to say why. It includes mesmerizing lyrics, like the chorus of “Nearly Witches (Ever Since We Met…)”: “Ever since we met, I only shoot up with your perfume. It’s the only thing that makes me feel as good as you do.”

 

Mixed with more lighthearted tracks like “Sarah Smiles,” the album proudly displays P!ATD’s lyrical — and poetic — mastery.

 

I’ll also note that had the choice been extended to include albums from 2008, my top choice would have likely been a tough decision between P!ATD’s “Vices and Virtues” and Fall Out Boy’s “Folie à Deux,” another life-changing album.

 

However, as a former emo myself (please do not try to find any pictures of seventh-grade me), “Vices and Virtues” is THE album to listen to when I’m in my feels and want to scream out sentimental lyrics.

 

Rachel Basela’s Pick: Daniel Caesar — “Freudian”

Where gospel and R&B intertwine, Daniel Caesar blended the line between the two genres when creating “Freudian” in August of 2017. 

Some notable tracks on the album include “Best Part,” “Take Me Away” and “Blessed.” Caesar’s voice is toned and smooth, and after seeing him live in 2018, I can confidently say this artist doesn’t rely on heavy production for his vocals.

His music is blended and each song flows into the next. The production of the album can be compared to the way Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” takes small ideas, puts them into songs, and molds each tune into one larger moment in time. One cannot exist without the rest.

“Freudian” defined my decade because of its impact on my idea of love, whether that was romantic, platonic or self. The album came out as I was nearing the end of my time in high school, so it molded my perception of how I treated myself and my loved ones as I entered adulthood.

As we enter a new decade, I plan on carrying these ideals of 2017 into my future relationships. Caesar has a way of making the hard times sound beautiful, and “Freudian’s” impact on me as a young adult will carve out a pattern for the years ahead.

Ben Hume’s Pick: Lorde – “Melodrama”

Lorde deserves this pick more than anyone else, but “Melodrama” wouldn’t have been my first pick just a few months ago. I was reminded of the stellar album early this year despite it being released in 2017 and I just couldn’t stop listening to it — it was so good it knocked off longtime favorites like Muse’s “Drones” and Hippocampus’s “Landmark” for the prestigious title.

 

After just one listen, you can understand why I quickly fell in love with the music. Lorde’s songwriting and vocals work beautifully together in the more popular singles like “Green Light” and “Homemade Dynamite,” and her talent as an artist of such a young age is mind blowing. I always love the electropop baseline of “Supercut” just as much as I love the gut-wrenching acoustic melody of “The Louvre.” Across all of these different sounds, Lorde still manages to keep a consistent theme and pull you through a rollercoaster of emotions. 

 

Albums like this don’t come around often. This was not a collection of songs that she was working on that she threw together and called an album, this was carefully crafted from top to bottom to be a single listening experience, and it succeeded with flying colors. Her genuine experiences with early adulthood and companionship show in the theme of every song. If you haven’t already listened to it, put aside 40 minutes and give it a try. As someone who doesn’t even frequently listen to pop music, I can tell you it will be worth your time.