Inspired by the book by Robert Dimery, 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die, I decided to think up a slightly shorter list of 21 albums you should hear before you die. To make it more interesting I challenged myself to pick one album from each year I’ve been alive thus far, in line with Dimery’s listing by decade. So, the year is 1997…
1. Blur – Blur (1997)
Like all of their albums that aren’t Parklife, this one is underrated. I don’t know how an album that begins with Beetlebum and Song 2 isn’t better known, but there you go. Apart from that this album features some personal Blur favourites, namely Coxon’s acceptable love song You’re So Great. There’s also a sneaky Bowie feature hidden in there, on M.O.R.
2. Ray of Light – Madonna (1998)
Okay I’m doing this all off the top of my head, so honestly I’m just making sure early on this isn’t just a list of average indie albums (sorry, Manics). The title track and Frozen are the big highlights of Madonna’s seventh studio album and are two of the first songs I ever remember knowing. Bonus nostalgia points for Madge.
3. Enema of the State – Blink-182 (1999)
Choosing songs to pick out from this album is like picking a favourite child (probably). Going Away to College and Adam’s Song are two masterpieces that always get the hairs on the back of my neck alert. Many non Blink fans just assume they’re a band that sing about farts and ADHD but this is one of their albums that shows their talent most prominently. But I’m not arguing against that assumption entirely…
4. Oops!…I Did It Again – Britney Spears (2000)
I mean, obviously. I have a habit of controversially preferring people’s second albums to their significantly more successful debuts, and here is an example. Stronger is one of her…strongest singles and deserved much more attention. Aside from that, this album features many tracks about the struggles of womanhood (What U See) and fame (Lucky), before the struggles even really hit her. *sniffles*
5. Is This It – The Strokes (2001)
An album that needs no introduction. With singles Last Nite and Someday, this album definitely/maybe influenced the following decade’s new surge of indie music. It made many of us, such as Alex Turner, just want to be in a band. An album to fall in love with guitars to.
6. The Coral – The Coral (2002)
Not only are this band from somewhere with a special place in my heart, they are good at doing the whole making music stuff. Their debut album was an instant classic and one of few albums I never tire of listening to. Their strongest music is definitely found here, not only with infamous track Dreaming of You, but on songs such as I Remember When and Goodbye.
7. Fallen – Evanescence (2003)
Put your anti-Goth agenda to one side, because this album cannot be swept under the rug. I know from my own experience that this was an album that made kids fall in love with music, everybody at my primary school knew this. Most famous for Bring Me To Life, Evanescence’s debut album is track by track a masterpiece. Beautiful vocals, beautiful lyrics and beautiful music. Don’t deny yourself this amazing 49 minute long experience.
8. The Libertines – The Libertines (2004)
Back on UK soil for 2004, and back to the second albums. The self-titled second studio album from the Libertines is an all-time favourite. It is full of nostalgic melodies, beautiful lyrics and probably drugs. No matter what you think of Pete Doherty’s offstage (and onstage) antics, you cannot deny him bragging rights for this piece of history. My favourites are Can’t Stand Me Now, The Man Who Would Be King and What Katie Did, the latter being a namesake for many twitter accounts.
9. Demon Days – Gorillaz (2005)
Who’d have thought a band you can’t see would make it onto my snobbish list? And what CAN’T Damon Albarn do? (I hope at least one person has only just found out it’s him). Anyone who says Feel Good Inc., DARE and Dirty Harry aren’t absolute bangers is an absolute liar. The album as a whole is just like those singles, so you’d be wrong to not hear it before you inevitably die.
10. The Black Parade – My Chemical Romance (2006)
*Insert high G note here* I’ve recently been questioning Arctic Monkeys’ new thematic album, but maybe I’m just being unfair by comparing it to this album. Nothing competes. The music that created a whole new era of emos. Welcome to the Black Parade is their most successful single in the UK and presumably everywhere else too. And I understand why. This rock opera tells the story of a cancer patient coming to terms with his death and reflecting on his life. Half the time you’d never tell because in true MCR style, it is depressingly upbeat.
11. Favourite Worst Nightmare – Arctic Monkeys (2007)
Aaaaand, here they are! Their debut album (here we go…) would have featured in my list if only it didn’t include Mardy Bum. But you can’t always get what you what. Nevertheless, this is Arctic Monkeys and Alex’s hair at their prime. Every song on this album is fantastic I actually cannot flaw it, which is saying something because I find a flaw in most things. *cough*mardybum*cough* I’ll pick some favourite tracks otherwise I’ll talk about this album forever: Only Ones Who Know, Do Me A Favour, The Bad Thing, 505.
12. 808s & Heartbreak – Kanye West (2008)
Before his recent MAGA (not the LUF kind) outburst I was a massive Kanye defender. Regardless of his strange new political stance, I can’t deny this album it’s place as a 2008 highlight. It features my favourite Amazing and other populars like Heartless and Love Lockdown. It’s just one of those albums where everything goes and flows. Class in my humble opinion. Come back, old Kanye, Donald Trump hates black people too.
13. West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum – Kasabian (2009)
I genuinely didn’t know the name of this album until just now when I googled it. But what. An. Album. Although it includes the kinda overrated Underdog and Fire, it’s still Kasabian’s strongest work in my opinion. Tracks better than the latter two worth mentioning are Where Did All The Love Go?, Fast Fuse and Vlad the Impaler. Bop after bop – to use 2009 lingo.
14. Disc-Overy – Tinie Tempah (2010)
I can’t lie, 2010 wasn’t very great for music. HOWEVER this album does have some corkers on it, namely Pass Out, Frisky and Miami 2 Ibiza. Don’t pretend you don’t know all the words to at least one of those. I was a big fan of this album but can’t name anything else the rapper has done since then. Oh well, this is a good enough legacy.
15. Wasting Light – Foo Fighters (2011)
This is getting significantly harder as time goes on, it’s almost as if music used to be better. *takes off tin foil hat* Nah, good album though. Has a favourite Foos song of mine and many others, Walk, and just a few bangers as usual. Not too great but still better than most other albums out this year lol. Maybe listen to it before you die, up to you x
16. Born to Die – Lana del Rey (2012)
The world should have ended in 2012 because since then it’s just been Elizabeth aka Lana trying to make a better album than this, and she will never achieve it. Masterpiece after masterpiece, no overstatement. I never even used to listen to her until I was made to see her live and now I am in love with both her and this album. Born to Die, Video Games and Summertime Sadness on the same album I mean??
17. 180 – Palma Violets (2013)
Okay so I fucking love this album and they just went and disappeared after giving us this?? Best of Friends is enough to make me cry and the rest of the album is just as perfect. It showed such promise, and although they didn’t live up to this promise, it’s still worth a few hundred listens. NME even used them as a cover instead of Arctic Monkeys for once in their life so it must be pretty good.
18. Futurology – Manic Street Preachers (2014)
The year U2 forced their album onto people’s phones, I should have known it’d be difficult to find a good album from this year. It was between the Manics’ 900th album and Morrissey’s 1000th album, World Peace Is None of Your Business. By no means their best work, but like I suggested, shit year. Walk Me to the Bridge is v good and worth the throne for this paragraph. A lot of politics, a lot of self reflecting. Just typical Manics really.
19. My Love is Cool – Wolf Alice (2015)
One of my favourite bands. They currently have two very strong albums to their name and if you haven’t listened to them I really would recommend. Hence their debut being on this list. Lisbon is probably the best, closely followed by Silk and Bros. The whole album is class just listen, it’s worth 40 odd minutes of your time.
20. Blossoms – Blossoms (2016)
Don’t say I didn’t warn you this list could just become a load of indie music. I just couldn’t leave this out, purely because I look like a member of this band. Their music is alright too. Seriously though, Charlemagne, Blown Rose and My Favourite Room are instant gig classics and there’s not really a weak song on their debut.
21. After Laughter – Paramore (2017)
Talk about a regeneration. Everybody’s favourite emo gal Hayley Williams and her ever changing band mates brought out the most unexpected album of the decade so far with After Laughter. It includes funky tunes like Rose Coloured Boy and Told You So. But don’t worry too much, the lyrics are still emo as fuck.
And there we have it. 2018 hasn’t ended yet, but I hope the best album isn’t Tranquillity Base Hotel & Casino. Which I’m listening to right now and STILL can’t get used to. Oh well, just one of them.
Now get out there and listen to all these albums because one day you’re gonna DIE and I wouldn’t want you to miss out x