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From U2 to Radiohead: The 20 greatest rock albums of the 2000s


Were the 2000s the beginning of the end for the rock era?

While the genre undeniably still boosted a tremendous amount of commercial clout and numerous artists continued to push creative boundaries, the cultural domination of rock music definitely declined in the new millennium. Pop and hip-hop stars became the music industry’s most talked-about artists, but rock and alternative still carried significant critical weight.

As acts like Britney Spears and the Backstreet Boys dominated the airwaves early in the ’00s, and acts like Lady Gaga and Beyonce dominated later, rock artists still found their way onto popular playlists. At the turn of the century, it looked like the Strokes would be the one rock band to stem the pop tide. And bands like Green Day, Coldplay and the always-formidable U2 were still capable of churning out blockbuster albums. From a creative standpoint, bands like Radiohead and the White Stripes were going on album runs the genre hadn’t seen since the classic rock heyday of The Beatles and The Who.

Here’s a look at twenty of the most brilliant and era-defining mainstream and alternative rock albums from the 2000s.

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  1. National TV on Fire on May 3, 2014 at 9:08 pm

    *Groan* Nice list guys, not formulaic at all. (To be fair, the inclusion of Yoshimi was pretty cool. And Wincing the Night Away was unexpected, but the choice for it over other Shins albums wasn’t defended at all.)
    As soon as I saw the tags I was in for praise being heaped on some undeserving acts.
    Stadium Arcadium was a painful embarrassment for RHCP defenders, with songs like the cringe inducing “Hump the Bump”, the entire thing being a retread of Californication musically and the general public finally catching on to the fact that Anthony Kiedis is a hack lyricist and songwriter.

    So Coldplay (A band you guys admit everyone loves to make fun of) gets Brian Eno to polish up their sound into something marginally less boring and suddenly it’s one of the 20 best albums of the last 10 years? Why? How? Couldn’t you find anything else to listen to last decade?

    In pointing out the whole “old” and “new” Weezer/Green Day deal and how you’re praising the sell out version, I’d be stating the obvious. Who-esque… sure. Cause when I think The Who, I think of 36-year-olds wearing guyliner while expressing their (righteous) anger at Bush by saying exactly fuckall in the most banal trite manner possible.

    U2 is another band that people will continue to heap praise upon no matter how banal they get. They might have had something interesting to say once, not anymore.

    I never understood the appeal of the Strokes either, but that’s probably just me.

  2. James Wheeler on March 24, 2017 at 1:09 pm

    um, this is just kinda Rolling Stone’s list without the Springsteen. I agree with National TV on Fire. Can’t you find any good music to listen to? uninspired.