The best and worst albums of the past decade, according to critics

Music has seen some highs and lows this past decade.

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Music has seen some highs and lows this past decade.
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Wondaland Arts Society, Bad Boy Records/Island Records

  • The past decade, 2010 to 2019, was full of both impressive and lacking albums by artists.
  • While “Lemonade” by Beyoncé won over critics, “Love?” by Jennifer Lopez disappointed them, according to review aggregator Metacritic, which pulls reviews from sites like Pitchfork, A.V. Club, and Rolling Stones magazine.
  • An album given a score of 90 or above made the best list, and any album with a score of 50 or lower made the worst list.
  • As a note, the scores listed throughout the piece were accurate at the time of publication but are subject to change.
  • Here are the best and worst albums of the past decade, according to critics.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

“Ghosteen” by Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds from 2019 is said to be both comforting and haunting.

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“Ghosteen” is by the Australian band, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds.
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Ghosteen Ltd

Metacritic score: 97%

“Ultimately, all are visions, alternately haunted and comforting. Subtle evolutions in mood and instrumentation come to peaks that are made all the more stunning by their scarcity.”

Source: The Guardian


“To Pimp a Butterfly” by Kendrick Lamar from 2015 has been called timeless.

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“To Pimp a Butterfly” was released in 2017.
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Aftermath Entertainment and Interscope Records

Metacritic score: 96%

“This is an important–a very important–piece of work that will stand the test of time. It’s also an utter blast to listen to and live with.”

Source: Drowned in Sound


“DAMN.” by Kendrick Lamar from 2017 is praised as an album proving Kendrick is in his prime.

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“DAMN.” set the bar for Kendrick Lamar.
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Aftermath Entertainment and Interscope Records

Metacritic score: 95%

“It’s not what you might have expected or even–on one or two initial listens–have been hoping for from Kendrick Lamar. But this is an artist in his absolute prime: artistically, lyrically and musically.”

Source: Drowned in Sound


“Black Messiah” by D’Angelo from 2014 is lauded as a showcase of the artist’s talent.

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“Black Messiah” showed off the artist’s talent.
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RCA Records

Metacritic score: 95%

“Despite the elongated nature of its creation, Black Messiah is a fluid, confidently cool piece… A real showcase of his incredible talent.”

Source: Clash Music


“My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” by Kanye West from 2010 has been called a game changing album.

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“My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” was applauded by critics.
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Def Jam Recordings and Roc-A-Fella Records

Metacritic score: 94%

“There is no question that this album is a game changer. It’s Kanye West’s greatest work.”

Source: Consequence of Sound


“Lemonade” by Beyoncé from 2016 was lauded as a stunning breakup album.

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“Lemonade” was a big hit in 2016.
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Parkwood Entertainment and Columbia Records

Metacritic score: 92%

“Lemonade is a stunning album, one that sees her exploring sounds she never has before. It also voices a rarely seen concept, that of the album-length ode to infidelity. Even stranger, it doesn’t double as an album-length ode to breaking up.”

Source: Pitchfork


“Channel Orange” by Frank Ocean from 2012 is said to be a masterpiece of an album.

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“Channel Orange” set the tone for Frank Ocean’s success as an artist.
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Def Jam Recordings

Metacritic score: 92%

“It’s a headphone masterpiece that bangs on shelf speakers.”

Source: Austin Chronicle


“You Want It Darker” by Leonard Cohen from 2016 is described as a strong collection of songs with an irreplaceable voice.

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“You Want It Darker” lived up to its hype.
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Columbia Records

Metacritic score: 92%

“It’s as strong a collection as any of his in recent times and tied together of course by that voice–deeply authoritative, unfathomably evocative and really quite irreplaceable.”

Source: Record Collector Mag


“Eve” by Rapsody from 2019 is reported to have the sounds of skilled artist who made one of the best rap records.

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“Eve” album cover.
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Roc Nation

Metacritic score: 90%

“Eve is more than a sign of the times. Easily one of the best rap records of the year, it’s the sound of a skilled artist becoming a vital one, and asserting her place not only in the genre but in the world.”

Source: Rolling Stone


“We Got It from Here… Thank You 4 Your Service” by A Tribe Called Quest from 2016 is said to be a great album.

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“We Got It from Here… Thank You 4 Your Service” was a successful album for the group.
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Epic Records

Metacritic score: 91%

“It solidifies the group’s track record for absolute greatness, adding an unexpected sixth turn to a career that followed one aesthetic path but was always moving.”

Source: Pop Matters


“The ArchAndroid” by Janelle Monáe from 2010 is praised as an album with swagger and style.

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“The ArchAndroid” album has a special swagger to it.
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Wondaland Arts Society and Bad Boy Records

Metacritic score: 91%

“Monae’s inexhaustible swagger and singular style sell both the high-concept theatrics and the schizophrenic sonics.”

Source: The A.V. Club


“Melodrama” by Lorde from 2017 is described as an extraordinary and authentic album.

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“Melodrama” was released in 2017.
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Universal, Lava and Republic Records

Metacritic score: 91%

“Self-care has allowed Lorde to make something extraordinary and authentic, something that takes you by the hand and assures you that you can survive and thrive in the same sea of emotion.”

Source: Pretty Much Amazing


“Gold & Grey” by Baroness from 2019 is depicted as a work of art.

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Critics enjoyed the “Gold & Grey” album.
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Abraxan Hymns

Metacritic score: 91%

“To say this album is epic would be an understatement; it’s a work of art in the truest sense.”

Source: New Musical Express


“Home, Like Noplace Is There” by The Hotelier from 2014 is said to be full of personal stories.

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“Home, Like Noplace Is There” received widespread attention.
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Tiny Engines

Metacritic score: 91%

“It is all about being strong. It reaches out and tries to help make sense of it all. It’s a comforting empathy. The stories are intensely personal but are so easily transferable beyond their original inspiration.”

Source: Sputnik Music


“Spaces” by Nils Frahm from 2013 reportedly sounds like an artist breaking free.

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“Spaces” album was well-received by critics.
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Erased Tapes

Metacritic score: 90%

“After the delicate beauty of previous albums, this is the sound of an artist unleashed.”

Source: Clash Music


“Cardiology” by Good Charlotte from 2010 was panned as a failed album.

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“Cardiology” was not considered one of Good Charlotte’s better albums.
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Capitol Records

Metacritic score: 50%

“As a whole, Cardiology is an attempt to leave behind the band’s failed newer sound and return to their pop-punk roots.”

Source: Sputnik Music


“Hotel California” by Tyga from 2013 is said to be disappointing.

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Critics did not praise “Hotel California.”
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Young Money Entertainment, Cash Money Records

Metacritic score: 50%

“Hotel California fails to deliver on any of the hype it had leading up to its release.”

Source: Rap Reviews


“Britney Jean” by Britney Spears from 2013 is described as being underwhelming for a dance music record.

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RCA Records

Metacritic score: 50%

“Ms. Spears and Will.i.am have turned to European disc jockeys who have found dance music’s lowest, least funky common denominator: the steady thump of four-on-the-floor. And they’ve settled for too many tepid tracks.”

Source: The New York Times


“What About Now” by Bon Jovi from 2013 is said to sound like an artist who got stuck in his comfort zone.

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“What About Now” was not a favorite.
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Universal Island Records

Metacritic score: 50%

“What About Now suggests a few paths for progress, and an ambivalence about committing to any one of them, all under a comfort-zone haze of undifferentiated, low-ambition, lightly roo tsy hard rock.”

Source: The New York Times


“Total Xanarchy” by Lil Xan from 2018 is described as a lackluster punk album.

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Critics didn’t believe “Total Xanarchy” was considered punk music.
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Columbia records

Metacritic score: 49%

“If adult critics really loved this stuff, the Xanarchy team would no doubt feel they’d made a wrong turn somewhere. It’s punk, or it’s the thing people who don’t really know what “punk” means call “punk,” or it’s a dog whistle meant to sail over the heads of the the elderly (i.e. anyone over 24).”

Source: Pitchfork


“#willpower” by will.i.am from 2013 is described as an album full of quotable clichés.

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Critics weren’t fans of the “#willpower” album.
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Interscope Records

Metacritic score: 49%

“Conveniently, he’s premeditated every song in #willpower with a bevy of wishy-washy, quotable clichés that are meant to fit the space of 140 characters. Sadly, that’s as deep as it gets.”

Source: No Ripcord


“All Things Bright and Beautiful” by Owl City from 2011 has been called a lazy album.

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“All Things Bright and Beautiful” was released in 2011.
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Universal Republic Records

Metacritic score: 49%

“Owl City is electro-pop’s unwanted bastard child, combining all the worst elements of the genre. The production is lazy and unbelievably dull.”

Source: No Ripcord


“If Not Now, When?” by Incubus from 2011 is said to be a frustrating album.

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“If Not Now, When?” was not a successful album.
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Epic Records

Metacritic score: 48%

“If Not Now, When? is frustrating in many ways, chiefly because it feels like a step in the wrong direction for a band that can still pen enthralling tunes.”

Source: Slant Magazine


“Can’t Be Tamed” by Miley Cyrus from 2010 is described as a confused statement of a record.

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Critics believed “Can’t Be Tamed” to be boring.
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Hollywood Records

Metacritic score: 48%

“When you get right down to it, not only is Can’t Be Tamed a confused statement of a record, but it’s a pretty boring listen as well, as Cyrus hits on tired old pop trends (AutoTune? Really?) as a way to deliver her quasi-edgy new persona to a much more intelligent mainstream audience.”

Source: Pop Matters


“Sorry for Party Rocking” by LMFAO from 2011 is reportedly an album with a confusing sound.

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The sound of this album was described by critics as “confusing.”
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Interscope Records

Metacritic score: 47%

“This Los Angeles party-hop duo can’t decide if they want to rhyme like the Beastie Boys or booty-croon like Taio Cruz. So on their second album (which includes the hit “Party Rock Anthem”), they do both, making for a disc of brain-cell-depleting jams.”

Source: Rolling Stone


“Life, Love & Hope” by Boston from 2013 is said to sound bland and unoriginal.

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“Life, Love & Hope” was not liked by critics.
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Frontiers Records

Metacritic score: 47%

“The songs come with soaring sentimental choruses, but brittle rhythmic foundations–you will miss Sib Hashian, Boston’s old drummer–as well as deeply grandiose or cornball keyboard parts…. Where Mr. Delp is absent, the singers Tommy DeCarlo or David Victor commit passable imitations, or Kimberley Dahme provides bland contrast.”

Source: The New York Times


“Harverd Dropout” by Lil Pump from 2019 is described as an album that isn’t worth a full download.

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Reportedly only two of the songs are good on “Harverd Dropout.”
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The Lights Global and Warner Bros. Records

Metacritic score: 46%

“I’d suggest downloading the two good songs and forgetting the rest of this album ever happened.”

Source: PopMatters


“One More Light” by Linkin Park from 2017 is said to be an album that shows how a band lost its identity.

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Critics described this album as a mess.
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Warner Records and Machine Shop

Metacritic score: 46%

“A muddled mess of a record from a band that completely abandoned any sense of identity.”

Source: Consequence of Sound


“Authentic” by LL Cool J from 2013 is labeled as a lost album.

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“Authentic” was not a favorite by critics.
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429 Records

Metacritic score: 46%

“Despite his years away acting, LL hasn’t really lost his touch rapping. What he has lost is a sense of focus and direction.”

Source: Rap Reviews


“Love?” by Jennifer Lopez from 2011 is described as an album that doesn’t show any real emotion.

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Critics thought Love? lacked emotion.
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Island Records

Metacritic score: 46%

“While Lopez has claimed that her new public image showcases the real her, she never could pull off the idea of being a real human being with actual emotions on record.”

Source: BBC Music


“Some Kind of Trouble” by James Blunt from 2011 has been called a depressing album.

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“Some Kind of Trouble” did not receive a good response from critics.
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‎Atlantic‎, Custard‎, ‎Epic

Metacritic score: 45%

“Shallow, soulless and strangely cynical, Some Kind of Trouble is a thoroughly depressing listen.”

Source: The Guardian


“Hell in a Handbasket” by Meat Loaf from 2012 is said to sound like a bad Broadway rock musical.

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“Hell in a Handbasket” was not liked by critics.
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Sony Music Entertainment

Metacritic score: 44%

“Unconvincing and overbearing, it’s like being ambushed by the cast of a Broadway rock musical.”

Source: BBC Music