Billboard Critics' Top 20 Albums of the Decade

Billboard Artists of the Decade

You've seen our tally of the best-selling albums of the decade, now see what the Billboard staff members chose as the best albums of the last 10 years. Alternative artists got a lot of love from our editors and writers, but hip-hop heavyweights and rock 'n' roll stalwarts also get their due. Don't agree with our assessment? Tell us you favorite album of the 2000s in the comments below.

How was the list formulated? Billboard's editors, reviewers and reporters each turned in a ranked list of their personal top 20 albums released between 2000 and the end of 2009. Points were awarded inversely to the position each record was ranked. So, if a writer listed an album as a No. 1 choice, it earned 20 points toward the total; at No. 2 it earned nine points, and so on. See the list of writers who voted.

Critics' 10 Best Albums of 2009 | Readers' Poll: Decade and 2009's Best Albums

The Arcade Fire's debut LP is a glorious, theatrical explosion of strings, horns, xylophones, accordions, and passionate, multi-voiced verses. Simultaneously sad, romantic and celebratory, the album's emotional strength combined with the sheer magnitude of its sound made "Funeral" truly unlike anything before it and inspired a legion of copycat acts that are still trying to catch up.

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"Kid A" -- the follow-up to Radiohead's 1997's post-modern alt-rock classic "OK Computer" -- obliterated many people's notion of rock music from the fuzzy first tones of "Everything In Its Right Place." Driven by effects and fronted by Thom Yorke's oft-distorted vocals, "Kid A" was experimental and abstract, rooted in complex, mind-blowing electronic soundscapes.

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New York band the Strokes struck a post-9/11 chord with a confident and refreshing rock record that reflected the frantic, urgent angst of a city in transition. Featuring the singles "Hard To Explain" and "Last Nite," "Is This It" took its cues from artists like the Stooges and Television and blew through the indie-rock landscape like a blast of fresh air.

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"Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" was Wilco's first record with drummer Glenn Kotche and last with multi-instrumentalist Jay Bennett. The experimentally leaning result got the band dropped from Reprise Records, yet found them a new home on Nonesuch. Scattered electronics and noisy guitars added to Wilco's already-sharp pop sensibility, and helped produce the group's finest.

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On "Back To Black," British diva Amy Winehouse belted out intensely personal tunes about a failing relationship and her soon-to-be-infamous association with drugs and alcohol. With producers Mark Ronson and Salaal Remi giving the album a classic soul sheen and Brooklyn's Dap Kings providing blazing horns riffs, Winehouse's intoxicating vocal prowess and wit were at the forefront long before her personal problems took over the spotlight.

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One of Jay-Z's most celebrated albums to date, "The Blueprint" offered a balanced blend of radio-friendly hits ("Izzo (H.O.V.A)," "Hola' Hovito") and soulful productions ("Song Cry," "Heart of the City"). Helmed by beatmakers Kanye West and Just Blaze, most tracks were fueled with stirring vocal samples by the likes of the Doors, David Bowie and the Jackson 5, to list a few. In addition, the album included a feud-fueling dis to Queensbridge rapper Nas ("Takeover") and a collaboration with Eminem ("Renegade"), confirming the rapper's legendary status in hip-hop.

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Initially released through Radiohead's Web site on an industry damning pay-what-you-want scale, "In Rainbows" was simultaneously gentle and spastic, otherworldly and grounded. Undoubtedly the band's strongest effort since 2000's "Kid A," "In Rainbows" incorporated startlingly human lyrics with classic incarnations of the band's fuzzy guitars, ambient backdrops and unconventional time signatures.

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The White Stripes' major-label debut introduced an explosive, bottom-heavy sound that signaled a departure from the band's sparse guitar-and-drums formula. Jack White's amp-ripping guitar work stayed in tact as the band experimented with kinetic bass rhythms ("Seven Nation Army"), lithe piano melodies ("I Want To Be The Boy"), and Meg White's vocals ("In The Cold, Cold Night"), all of which helped the Stripes grow from indie icons into arena-rocking superstars.

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Eminem's introspective third record played down his glib Slim Shady persona and painted a more transparent picture of the man behind the moniker. With equal parts vocal fluidity and vulgarity, "The Marshall Mathers LP" was dark, as Em rapped about dealing with newfound fame and conflicts with his mother and ex-wife, yet catchy enough to connect with Middle-American ears.

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Play Aurlar NOW Aurlar (2005)

Named for her Tamil activist father, M.I.A.'s 2005 debut "Arular" paired heavy beats with politically-charged lyrics about guns, murder and the struggle for independence. Using elements of electro-pop mixed with dancehall, grime and tribal beats, the Sri Lankan songwriter/producer/rapper artist arrived on the scene with a chaotic, cohesive and revolutionary brand of world music.

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Text by Laura Leebove

These Billboard editors and writers voted: Mike Ayers, Lars Brandle, Diane Coetzer, Jonathan Cohen, M. Tye Comer, Mariel Concepcion, Ann Donahue, Thom Duffy, Gary Graff, Cortney Harding, Ron Hart, Louis Hau, Monica Herrera, Laura Leebove, Jessica Letkemann, Jason Lipshutz, Michael Menachem, Jill Menze, Gail Mitchell, Evie Nagy, Andre Paine, Mitchell Peters, Paul Sexton, Richard Smirke, Wolfgang Spahr, Mark Sutherland, Christa Titus, Gary Trust, Kristina Tunzi, Alex Vitoulis, Jeff Vrabel, Ray Waddell, Chris M. Walsh, Chris Williams, Jennifer Wilson, Lavinia Wright.