When recognizing the great artists of the last decade, we must give a standing ovation to Taylor Swift. Red, released nearly ten years ago now, was hailed by fans and critics alike as the pinnacle of Taylor’s musical artistry. That was, of course, before the release of Folklore and Evermore. These folksy and enchanting sister albums have truly set Taylor apart from the regular pop crowd. As always, she has shifted into a new genre with seemingly effortless grace.
is undoubtedly one of the most popular artists that have arisen in the last decade. His career began with the success of “White Iverson,” a song that was originally treated as a one hit wonder. This was, of course, before the release of his album Stoney, which featured radio favorites such as “I Fall Apart,” and “Congratulations.” Although Post Malone himself referred to the album as “mediocre,” it was met with great commercial success. He has become a household name over the past few years, likely because of both his melodic distinctiveness and the fact that most people kind of just want to drink a beer with him…
has been a fan favorite since the release of Good Girl Gone Bad in 2007. Her hit song “Umbrella” immediately topped the charts and has remained one of the most prominent pop songs of the 2000s. Rihanna soon became much more than your average pop singer with the 2016 release of Anti. It’s clear that she took more artistic control over her latest album, departing from dancehall hits to create something more personal and soulful. That’s not to say that the album is entirely downtempothe songs range from moody melodic intensity to synth based, psychedelic groove. A pleasant surprise from beginning to end.
Lorde began the decade strong, with the release of Pure Heroine skyrocketing her to fame in 2013. Her portrayal of the escapist teen, disillusioned with her “tornup town,” struck a chord with young suburbanites worldwide. In her 2017 album Melodrama, she introduces fans to the dizzying excitement and heartache of young adulthood. Parties and pining and all of the emotion that exists in between, this album is the full Gatsby experience.
Harry Styles became a phenomenon the moment he stepped onto the X-Factor stage in 2010. One Direction blew up on a worldwide scale, spawning the sort of fandom that rivaled those of previous 90’s boy bands. After a split that left girls across nations in mourning, Harry released his first solo self-titled album, which deviated strongly from the pop sound of One Direction. This new album was described by Rolling Stone as invoking “an intimately emotional Seventies soft-rock vibe.” His most recent funk-pop hit, “Watermelon Sugar”, was a welcome distraction for many during the rocky year of 2020, and was awarded a Grammy for greatest popsolo performance. In light of his solo success, it isn’t a far off assumption to say that more Grammys are sure to come.
Lana Del Ray:
has long been known as a pioneer of modern Americana. Her first few albums aggrandized the aesthetic of a sensual Hollywood lifestyle, but she has come a long way since then. As assumed by the name, her newest album, Chemtrails Over the Countryclub, is a disillusioned look into “the price of fame” and wealth in a world that’s falling apart. From slow sultriness to dreamlike melancholia, Lana never fails to make us swoon.
Frank Ocean’s debut album Channel Orange, released in 2012, was an immediate game changer with its range of upbeat songs and heartbreaking ballads. The following release of Endless, an experimental concept album, reminded fans, as if they needed it, of Ocean’s artistic brilliance. Ocean’s talent for leaving fans at once satisfied and hungry for more had audiences immediately devouring his next album, Blonde, which showcased a depth of emotion that would bring a tear to the stoniest of listeners. His ability to create innovative songs that never fail to feel tragic and hopeful all at once is unmatched and will forever be the source of many a nostalgic car ride.
Though there are many other albums to consider when thinking of Mac Miller’s expansive musical career, his last melancholic work of art feels like an all encompassing dedication to a long and beautiful history. Mac Miller’s posthumous album, Circles, is a genuinely heartbreaking farewell from an artist that cultivated a profound respect from both the rap community and fans worldwide. From the first titular song, Miller showcases a poignancy that strikes a chord in anyone who has ever felt that perpetual lost feeling: “And I cannot be changed, I cannot be changed, no, trust me, I’ve tried / I just end up right at the start of the line, drawin’ circles.” Although we will forever wonder how he would have continued to grow as not only a rapper but an artist, this final introspective project feels like the perfect epilogue to a story of both hope and suffering.