The Student Playlist

Showcasing the Best New Music, Curating the Classics

The 100 Greatest Albums of the 2010s… So Far

To adapt that famous misquotation attributed to Mark Twain, reports of the album’s death have been greatly exaggerated. Ever since the turn of the millennium, conventional wisdom has had it that the traditional long-player is on its way out, an arcane format out of time with the digital world that will cede inexorably to a future of singles and playlists. But while many artists have experimented with what an album could and should be – many high profile artists have made surprise releases, while emerging ones have relied upon mixtapes and free downloads – the format has proven surprisingly resilient even halfway into the ‘10s.

While physical sales overall are down (can you honestly say you buy as many CDs as you used to?) and even paid-for digital downloads are declining in the face of the streaming wars, there has been encouraging signs that the oft-maligned, even older format of the vinyl album is enjoying a renaissance. There’s still a dedicated, and maybe even growing, audience out there that’s prepared to take physical ownership of the music it enjoys – so much so that the Official Charts Company in the UK has recently announced a chart tracking the sales of vinyl only.

Perhaps our attention span isn’t as worn-down as it’s supposed to be; maybe it’s too much effort to keep on chopping, changing and adding to our own personally curated lists; or maybe the record companies and artists haven’t figured out a more effective way to promote music than by touring schedules based around new material recorded in short bursts of studio time. For the meantime, it looks as if the full-length album is still the measure by which artists measure their own progress and each other’s.

Hopefully, these 100 albums are a compelling argument that the album format is not only alive, but still the optimal medium through which artists express themselves: what we think are the greatest records of the 2010s so far (January 1st 2010 – December 31st 2014).

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