Welcome to round 2! It’s officially up to you to decide who will move into the Sweet Sixteen. Let’s take a look at the Since 2000 Conference first:
Radiohead’s Kid A, the #1 seed fought hard to keep its spot in the tournament, and is now up against Coldplay’s Rush of Blood to the Head. Coldplay’s only contender made the brackets because it was already a reader’s favourite. Kid A on the other hand, has been time and time again to be considered the best album of the Ohsies by both regular listeners and the kind that write for magazines.
Both of these albums just barely made it into the second round. In Rainbows beat out Kanye West’s fun debut with only 54% of the vote, and Frank Ocean created the first upset by beating out Jay-Z’s hip hop classic, The Blueprint with an incredibly tight 52% of the vote. I don’t know which record will make it past this round, but for now I am appreciating their colourful cover art next to one another.
Along with the Radiohead album above, The White Stripes’ White Blood Cells was able to box Kanye West completely out of the competition. Now they move on to match a Canadian Content favourite, Funeral, that took a way too easy win against Erykah Badu’s neo-soul masterpiece, Mama’s Gun.
This to me seems like a very appropriate contest. The two women have a lot in common: Amy and Adele are both British ladies, but not only that they come from the same home town of London… and even more-so, they both come from the Northern part of London! Coincidence? Probably. They also are both very good at selling records, and singing with a heck of a lot of soul.
Well, that was fun. Let’s take a step back into the previous decade, shall we? 1990’s Conference next:
Welcome our first real Cinderella story of the brackets, Weezer, who in their 16th seed position just barely beat out Radiohead’s #1 seeded OK Computer with 54% of the vote. Rather similarly, but perhaps slightly more expected, L. Boogie came out as the winner in her scrap-out with Bono. This one could get messy.
Now onto what I find the funniest match-up of the conference… maybe even the round. Will it be the crafty and clever, socially conscious rap, or the bitter and angsty radio-friendly pop rock? “Ready Or Not”, or “You Oughta Know”? Refugees or the Canadian? There are way too many ways to spin this one, but either way, you’ve got to make a choice somehow.
This one makes sense to me somehow. I feel as though Nirvana made Nevermind to confront albums like Morning Glory on purpose… even though it was put out a few years earlier. Oasis made a really catchy, listenable British pop rock record that sold a lot of copies. Nirvana made a record that attempted to stick it’s middle finger up at conventional pop music, and ended up pioneering Grunge (which I think is great in its mentality and sound, but not great in its favour of long greasy hair).
Along with Nevermind, The Smashing Pumpkins were somehow able to make sure that no iconic dead 90’s rapper would make it into the second round. Meanwhile, Country-pop favourite, Shania Twain lost out to contemporary Christian music band, DC Talk. I knew that no matter what, someone’s nostalgia would win out. That’s probably true here too.
I’m not going to lie, The 70’s/80’s Conference is my most loved and hated part of the bracket. Some amazing things are happening here, and I love every one of the albums competing. I’ve no idea how I’ll be voting on some of these:
Look how beautiful these two records look beside each other! The Joshua Tree is our second #16 seed in the competition, and it goes up against another fan favourite in Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814. Both won their first round game without too much thought, so it’s hard to say who has the edge here. Then again, 4 against 1 (even if the 1 is Miss Janet) is never completely fair.
Each of these albums came out of much closer fights than the last two, with Pink Floyd securing at least one spot this round, even though their #1 seed, Dark Side of the Moon, was upset. Wish You Were Here is less heady, and more personal, and it goes head to head with the equally personal Rumours. Pink Floyd and Fleetwood Mac are both bands that have been through a lot with each other, and made some deeply creative and honest music as a result. Oh look, the albums here are the result! Whose pain do you think is more beautiful?
These two records are trying to do a lot more than just offer some good tunes, although they do that too. Stevie and The Clash alike have made a lot more music outside of these albums, but I would say Songs in the Key of Life and London Calling represent the best of these two very different worlds. It might come down to whose world you like more.
In the closest match-up of the entire tournament so far, Paul Simon’s Graceland beat Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On? Can he do it again with the world’s most commercially successful album of all time? Let’s not turn around and underestimate Thriller either – there is a reason (or several) that this album can be found in nearly everyone’s home.
Most recently, you’ve been placing your bets on the early albums of the 50’s/60’s conference. These are the records that set the standards ahead of time, and are sometimes more mythical than things we experience on the daily. If you don’t know any of these 2nd round albums, I’d encourage you to look them up. Without further ado, here are the last 4 match-ups of round 2:
While Rock was establishing itself as the popular music of this time period, Jazz and Soul music were the two genres that knew how to make an album before LP’s were really a thing. Though Aretha was following in the footsteps of many a great soul man, she seemed to perfect the art, and now stands as the lone woman in the conference. She goes up against what is probably the most bought/listened to record in the history of Jazz. Yikes!
It’s hard to say which of these albums have been more influential on music since, whether it be Jazz/R&B or Psychadelic Rock. Both won their round 1 battles with relatively comfortable margins , although I have to admit, I was shocked that The Beatles beat out Dave Brubeck. Then again, they are The Beatles. Coltrane may prove slightly harder to knock down, but either way, I’m excited to see how this one goes.
Talk about two iconic records going head-to-head. Both Pet Sounds and Are You Experienced? were released in the mid-late 60’s (’66 and ’67 respectively), but are playing some very different music. The Beach Boys record as many different sounds as they can think of in a pop-ish kind of way, and Jimi Hendrix goes electric, planting himself down as an intensely experimental and brilliant guitarist. I have a feeling this will be a fight to the end.
Simon and Garfunkel beat out on Beatles album, only to face another one. As a record that made it in by draw at seed #15, I wasn’t expecting much from Bridge Over Troubled Water, but clearly it’s playing for keeps. Abbey Road isn’t joking around either, taking out Bob Dylan’s one and only chance in the brackets.
Hope you enjoyed that good time – we’ll keep these Round 2 polls open for a week – so check back on Easter weekend for the Sweet 16 Albums in Round 3!
Finally we’re making it to our final quadrant, and can vote the albums of the 1950’s and 60’s through to round 2! Polls for the 70’s and 80’s will also be open until Tuesday, March 19th as well, so go ahead and vote for them when you’re done this conference. These here are voteable until Friday morning. May the odds be ever in your favourite’s favour!
Kind of Blue – Miles Davis (1) vs. Otis Blue – Otis Redding (16)
And the tournament is off with no fooling around. This classic modal jazz album is the best selling Jazz record of all time, and is regularly found very high on best album lists from publications. The composition and performance on Kind of Blue has become one of the most influential jazz albums to ever be recorded, inspiring other musicians of nearly every genre.
Here’s another personal favourite that made it through the draw. Otis Redding’s gritty, soulful voice gives this record its heart, but it is stacked with musicians including Booker T & the M.G.’s, Isaac Hayes on the piano, and a horn section made up of members of The Mar Keys and The Memphis Horns. Otis Blue boasts 3 original Redding-composed songs, “RESPECT”, “Ole Man Trouble”, and “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long”, as well as covers of Sam Cooke, Smokey Robinson, and even The Rolling Stones.
Elvis Presley – Elvis Presley (8) vs. I Never Loved A Man the Way I Loved You – Aretha Franklin (9)
Elvis’ debut record was released in the UK as Elvis Presley Rock n’ Roll, and was the first rock album to make it to number 1 on the Billboard – then stayed there for 10 weeks. Even now, this album is regularly listed in the top 5 albums of the 1950’s, and is regularly in that list the one rock album in the midst of many jazz albums. Classics from this record include “Blue Suede Shoes” and “Blue Moon”.
Aretha squeaked in at #9, being both a favourite of readers and an incredibly successful album, listed in the top 100 albums ever by both Rolling Stone and Q Magazine. Rolling Stone also gave this album their #1 “Women Who Rock”… I don’t know exactly what that means, but it’s some form of high praise. If you’re interested, I have plenty to add regarding this album over here.
A Love Supreme – John Coltrane (5) vs. Astral Weeks – Van Morrison (12)
One of this great saxophonist’s greatest works, A Love Supreme is considered to be not only one of the greatest jazz albums of all-time, but is also included in many more general greatest albums ever lists, such as Q, Rolling Stone, Channel4, and NME. Instead of a collection of songs, A Love Supreme is actually a complete suite broken into 4 parts, “Acknowledgement”, “Resolution”, “Persuance”, and “Psalm”.
Although the album has never sold a ton of copies, Astral Weeks has achieved a sort of cult classic status and was always critically acclaimed. In 1997, Mojo named the album their 2nd favourite of all-time, and it continues to rank well on 60’s lists, and all-time lists. The song cycle is full of great Van Morrison classics, like “Beside You”, “Cypress Avenue”, and “Madame George”.
Revolver – The Beatles (4) vs. Time Out – The Dave Brubeck Quartet (13)
Revolver tends to signify the Beatles turning point into a more electric rock sound, and is regularly a favourite in best album lists. In 2002, a Rolling Stone readers’ poll voted this as the all-time favourite album, and in Rolling Stone’s own 500 Greatest Albums of All-Time, Revolver has the #3 spot behind only the #2 and #3 seeds of this conference’s bracket.
Named for its use of less usual time signatures (such as 5/4 in “Take Five”, or 9/8 as in “Blue Rondo A La Turk”), Time Out became one of the highest selling Jazz albums of all-time, and the first one to ever reach the 1 million copies mark. Certainly this Brubeck record makes nearly any top list of the 50’s, and sometimes shows up pretty high in best album lists too.
The Velvet Underground & Nico (Self-Titled) (6) vs. Are You Experienced? – The Jimi Hendrix Experience (12)
When first released, the debut album from The Velvet Underground collaborating with Nico was a flop, both critically and commercially, partially due to a ban that was issued because of its explicit and controversial content. Yet in hindsight it has become an absolute classic, influencing countless rock and roll artists since. Spin named it one of their “top 15 most influential albums of all-time”, and Rolling Stone placed it at #13 in their 500 Greatest.
Jimi Hendrix Experience’s debut record has been called the greatest guitar album ever by both Guitarist Magazine and Mojo, and regularly places on best album lists that do not specify instrumentation, such as Vibe, NME, and Rolling Stone. Unlike its competitor in these brackets, Are You Experienced? was an instant success, selling more copies in the US than any other album in 1967.
Pet Sounds – The Beach Boys (3) vs. Songs for Swinging Lovers – Frank Sinatra (14)
Not an initial success in terms of sales, Pet Sounds has gone on to be considered one of the best albums of the 60’s, and one of the most influential albums of all time. Several publications have even given the record their #1 spot in best album lists, including NME, The Times, and Mojo, leaving it to likely be the best reviewed album of the 60’s.
Songs for Swinging Lovers was a success from both a financial and critical point of view. The album was #1 in both the UK and the US, but made the brackets through a draw, and is the lone representation of traditional 50’s pop. This record boasts “I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” which has become a Sinatra-sung favourite.
Highway 61 Revisited – Bob Dylan (7) vs. Abbey Road – The Beatles (10)
One of Dylan’s most acclaimed albums, Highway 61 Revisited is full of influential, iconic blues-rock tracks that have been covered and remade numerous times. 3 of the songs from this one album made Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All-Time, with “Like A Rolling Stone” in their top spot, biased as that might have been.
Abbey Road nearly didn’t receive an automatic seed here, but was voted in by many fans. This is another album that was not so successful upon its initial release, receiving mixed reviews from critics in 1969, is now sometimes cited as critics all-time favourite. A Rolling Stone’s reader poll voted this as the favourite Beatles’ album.
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club – The Beatles (2) vs. Bridge Over Troubled Water – Simon & Garfunkel (15)
The iconic album, Sgt. Pepper’s has the #2 seed because it is the best selling record of the conference, from either the 50’s or 60’s, selling an estimated 32 million copies worldwide. It also regularly places high on greatest album lists, including being given the #1 spot in both Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest, and a poll conducted in 1997 called “Music of the Millenium”, which called upon some of the most acclaimed reviewers of the UK.
This album represents a bit of my goofing up. Since creating the brackets, I’ve realized that though Bridge Over Troubled Water was recorded primarily in 1968, the album wasn’t actually released until 1970. Still, for the purposes of this bracket, we’ll consider it a 60’s record if that’s alright. In 1971, this album cleaned up at the Grammy Awards, winning Best Album, Record of the Year and Song of the Year among others. It has also been included in the top 100 albums of all-time by both Time magazine and Rolling Stone.
It’s time to take a step back into the past. You’ve voted for your favourite albums since 2000 and from the 1990’s (the 1990’s polls will remain open until Saturday March 16th if you haven’t yet), and now it’s time to get your vote on in the 70’s and 80’s. These were two difficult decades to pair – full of insanely popular and classic albums. We clearly couldn’t fit everything worthy into these brackets, but even so, there are some tricky match-ups. So without further ado, here are the contenders for 1970’s-80’s Conference:
Dark Side of the Moon – Pink Floyd (1) vs. The Joshua Tree – U2 (16)
As of this month, Pink Floyd’s unique masterpiece turns precisely 40 years old. Since the release of this album, countless albums have attempted a concept or musical arch as continual as that of Dark Side of the Moon, but few have achieved the task. The LP is meant to be heard on vinyl, where each side is heard as one larger piece broken into movements. Not only has Pink Floyd made nearly every list of best albums of the 1970’s or even of all-time, but this record has also sold over 50 million copies – more than any other before its time.
The Joshua Tree is U2’s highest selling album of all time, and won the band their very first two Grammy awards (for Best Rock Group Performance and Best Album). The Guardian compiled a list of greatest albums ever based on reviews and gave this album the #57 spot, while Rolling Stone put it at #27. I am trying to remember how it ended up in the draw instead of an automatic seed, but at least it has made the tournament.
It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back – Public Enemy (8) vs. Rhythm Nation – Janet Jackson (9)
The rap version of Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On, Public Enemy was given the #8 seed because this socially conscious record is not only well-reviewed, but considered one of the most influential albums of its time. Several publications have named it in their top 10 of the decade; both the Q and NME have called it the best hip hop album of all time, and even Rolling Stone can’t keep it out of their top 50 albums of all-time.
Rhythm Nation is an attempt to be a tight concept album about social injustice, but somehow also ends up being a top 40/dance music machine. This is still the first and only album to ever score 7 singles in the Billboard top 5. Seven! 4 of which were #1. It took the open spot at #9 because, although it wasn’t reviewed highly enough to make the brackets on its own, the record has had enough commercial success to give it an edge. I have some more feelings here in this post.
(IV) – Led Zeppelin (5) vs. Wish You Were Here – Pink Floyd (12)
IV is the most popular album to ever be nameless, given the number since it came out directly after I, II, and III. Actually, its name is – symbols given to represent each of the band members. Classic Rock Magazine in the UK has called IV the best album of all-time, and otherwise this record tends to find a spot in nearly every list of rock albums or albums of the 70’s. It boasts some softer classics like “Going to California”, folk rock songs like “Battle of Evermore”, and the iconic “Stairway to Heaven”.
Pink Floyd get a second entry into these brackets with their draw album, Wish You Were Here, the band’s reflection of grief over Syd Barrett’s withdrawal from the band due to mental illness. The album was released to mixed reviews initially, but since has made several best album of all-time lists, keeping it relatively successful.
Rumours – Fleetwood Mac (4) vs. Blue – Joni Mitchell (13)
Aside from having sold more than 40 million copies worldwide, Rumours has been ranked in the top 50 of best all-time records by Rolling Stone, Q, VH1, and USA Today. I think it might also be the only album to inspire an entire episode of Glee. Why is that important? Because that very week Rumours actually re-entered the Billboard 200 chart at #12. This album is still a favourite, even of teens I work with, who were not even a hope or dream when this album was originally released.
Joni Mitchell has had some fantastic albums, but this is by far her pinnacle. It has been often been named the best Canadian Album of all-time (sometimes switching out with Neil Young’s Harvest Moon), and Hotpress Magazine and VH1 have ranked Blue as their #13 and #14 (respectively) album of all-time – in both cases the highest ranked album by a female artist. It was drawn in at #13 here, making this matchup the most difficult of the conference for me personally.
London Calling – The Clash (6) vs. Who’s Next – The Who (11)
Because London Calling was released in 1979 in the UK and 1980 in the US, the album can be found in multiple decade lists. Rolling Stone called the album their favourite of the 1980’s and many have included it in their top 50 of all time. It’s regarded as one of the best punk rock records ever, and Q listed it as #4 of the greatest UK albums.
Multiple best of lists have included Who’s Next in their best albums lists, but not enough to give this an automatic seed. Still, its collection of classic classic rock singles are definitely enough to make this a favourite – especially “Behind Blue Eyes,” “Baba O’Reilly,” and “Won’t Get Fooled Again”.
Doolittle – The Pixies (3) vs. Songs in the Key of Life – Stevie Wonder (14)
In a poll for the best album of all time, NME writers gave this little 80’s rock album their #2 spot! In 1989 when it was released, Doolittle did relatively well with decent positive reviews and steady sales, but nearly 24 years later the record has become massively influential in rock genres, and regularly given high spots in greatest album lists, leaving it to be one of the best reviewed albums of the 80’s.
Not only Wonder’s most successful album, Songs in the Key of Life is also apparently his personal favourite. In 1977 it received the Grammy for Best Album – the third of Stevie’s career. Its rankings in best album lists wasn’t quite enough to give it an automatic seed, but its popularity and luck put it in the brackets with a possibility to win it all.
What’s Going On – Marvin Gaye (7) vs. Graceland – Paul Simon (10)
This Motown classic is the first album that Gaye produced himself, giving it a cohesive sense as a song cycle more than a regular album. What’s Going On is the only soul record that breaks into the Rolling Stone’s 60’s rock heavy top-10 greatest albums of all time at #6. In 1997, The Guardian named it as their #1 album of all-time.
Paul Simon’s South African inspired Graceland won the 1987 Grammy for Album of the Year and is considered one of the best albums of the decade by nearly every publication that ever made a list. It was voted in by a few people who wanted to see it in the brackets, and it was good enough to take the #10 spot, not having to risk a draw.
Thriller – Michael Jackson (2) vs. Purple Rain – Prince (15)
There is so much to say about this album and the records it broke in 1982 and 83 when this album was getting the most radioplay, but the reason it has the automatic #2 seed is because it is the best selling album of this conference. Actually, it is the best selling album of all time, including soundtracks and compilations. Thriller has been estimated to have sold between 51 and 65 million copies, with 42.3 million certified copies. No one else even comes close.
Ok, so this is almost a soundtrack, but it’s actually a Prince album, and not only that, it’s one of Prince’s best and most successful albums, listed regularly as one of the top albums of the 1980’s (often right behind its competition in this bracket). Like Thriller, Purple Rain is littered with recognizable singles like “Let’s Go Crazy,” “I Would Die 4 U,” and “When Doves Cry”. To me this seems like the most appropriate match in the entire tournament so far.
Let’s take a step back in time and vote for our favourite albums of the 1990’s! If you haven’t voted on the first bracket yet, go do it! Polls for the Since 2000 Bracket will be kept open until noon on Wednesday, March 13th. These 1990’s polls will be open for 5 days. Get to it!
OK Computer – Radiohead (1) vs. The Blue Album – Weezer (16)
Yet again, Radiohead has the number one seed with quite likely the best reviewed album of the decade – although it was a close call between Ok Computer and Nirvana’s Nevermind, which has the #3 spot. Pitchfork called this album its #1 of the decade, and virtually every 90’s decade list has it in their top 5.
I don’t know how to describe Weezer’s self-titled album with the blue cover other than a mid nineties nostalgic favourite. It seems that even those who were not of age in 1994 consider songs like “Say it Ain’t So” and “Buddy Holly” nostalgic. Reviews were positive upon its release, but in general, I’d say the average listener is more excited about Weezer than the critic. For example, Rolling Stone placed this record at #297 on their 500 Greatest of All-Time, while readers voted it 21st Greatest Album ever.
Achtung Baby – U2, 1991 (8) vs. The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill – Lauryn Hill, 1998 (9)
I have already had complaints about this match-up. Achtung Baby is classic U2, right before they lose some of their less-adventurous listeners. Recently it was re-released for its 20th anniversary, which boosted its sales again and continued the album’s success. So far, the album has sold 18 million copies worldwide, and is a favourite of the band members themselves.
Some of the best rap and soul music of the decade came from this one album. With her first solo record after being a Fugee, Hill’s Miseducation won the most Grammy awards that any female recording artist had won up until that year. It has also been featured in countless lists of best hip hop records, best of the decade, and all-time greatest. And I have plenty to say about it here.
Illmatic – Nas, 1994 (5) vs. The Score – The Fugees, 1996 (12)
Although initial sales were low, Illmatic went on to become a hip hop classic, regarded by many to be the best of the 90’s and even all-time. The Source gave the record a 5 mic review – a success reserved only for the best of the best, and MTV.com named it their 2nd best rap album of all-time.
The Score is a well loved album, and regularly makes an appearance on unranked best hip hop album lists. It made it into the brackets by draw, but I have to admit that I was personally rooting for it to be here. Don’t know if it is liked enough to beat Nas, but at least it has a fighting chance. Read more about what I think here.
Jagged Little Pill – Alanis Morisette, 1996 (4) vs. Christina Aguilera – Christina Aguilera (13)
Alanis scored on this creative makeover: anger suits her. Jagged Little Pill has so far sold over 33 million copies, making it the third-highest selling album of the decade. On top of that, the album is regularly acclaimed in decade lists everywhere, giving Alanis the comfortable #4 spot of the conference.
Here we have Christina’s start to a long reign in pop music; it’s hard to imagine her as the teeny bopper we often mixed up with Britney Spears (was that just me?). No matter what you think about the music she makes, this woman proved to have the voice to go with the attitude, making her not merely a pop star, but a certified diva.
What’s the Story Morning Glory – Oasis, 1995 (6) vs. Poison – Bell Biv Devoe, 1992 (11)
Oasis’ What’s the Story was initially not so well reviewed, but has come to be considered a britpop classic. The record was a commercial success from the get-go, breaking records in its first week of sales in the U.K. Today the album has sold more than 12 million world-wide, and everyone with a guitar can play “Wonderwall”.
Bell Biv Devoe broke off from their former (and larger) R&B group New Edition, with this New Jack Swing classic. Poison is here by luck, but if this bracket were about what you can dance to, it would be a sure win.
Nevermind – Nirvana, 1991 (3) vs. All Eyez on Me – 2pac, 1996 (14)
It was a hard call whether to place Nevermind at #1 with the amount of critical success it has received. Rolling Stone has placed it in the #17 spot for their 500 Greatest Albums of All-Time list, and in the United States alone, the album has sold 10 million copies. This record is also credited with bringing both grunge and alternative rock into the mainstream.
Another one of the greatest rap albums of the 1990’s, though All Eyez on Me made it here by draw. The double-album contains 5 singles – more than any of the other 2pac albums – including a remix of “California Love”, “How Do U Want It”, and “I Ain’t Mad At Cha” – and those are just on the first disc.
Life After Death – Notorious B.I.G., 1997 (7) vs. Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness – Smashing Pumpkins, 1995 (10)
Notorious B.I.G.’s final album (actually released posthumously) was also his most successful album, marking a shift in gangsta rap, and bringing it into more mainstream success. Life After Death has sold 10 million copies in the US alone and has radio-favourite singles, “Mo Money, Mo Problems”, “Sky’s the Limit”, and “Hypnotize”.
Even though Mellon Collie was released as a double disc (and therefore cost more than the usual single CD), it still debuted on Billboard at #1, signalling the beginning of some surprising commercial success for the album. I had a number of people suggest it to me when creating the brackets, which is why it sits in the #10 spot of the 1990’s Conference.
Come On Over – Shania Twain (2) vs. Jesus Freak – DC Talk (15)
This is perhaps the strangest match-up in Music madness, period. Shania is here because to this day her Come On Over album is the most sold record of the 90’s (not including The Bodyguard soundtrack, which I didn’t count for this competition). Surprised? Do not underestimate the power of a country-pop crossover.
The country-pop goes head-to-head with the Christian rock record that managed a few top-40 radio crossover tracks itself. Certainly there is nostalgic value for the 25-30-somethings that grew up going to youth group – DC Talk was the most accessible band, mixing rock, hip hop and pop styles. The draw squeaked this surprise entry into the #15 spot.
It’s time to vote for your favourites from the Since 2000 Bracket! Vote for your favourites to send them into round 2! Polls will be open for 5 days. If you don’t understand what this is, scroll down and read the previous post, and download the brackets there. If you just want the full brackets, they’re right here. Happy voting!
Kid A (1) vs. Hot Fuss (16)
Radiohead’s Kid A was an international success. It’s been ranked as the number one album of the decade by at least 5 major publications, including Rolling Stone and Pitchfork. Kid A has shown up in more best-of-2000’s charts than any other album of the decade, hence the #1 seed.
The Killers’ Hot Fuss made the brackets by the very last draw for the 2000’s, putting it in the tricky position of #16 Seed. Hot Fuss is a lot of fun, however, and may be enough of a voter’s favourite to become the first cinderella story of Music Madness.
Is This It? (8) vs. Rush of Blood to the Head (9)
The Strokes’ Is This It? met both critical and commercial success in 2001, regularly making the top 10 and often the number one spot of the year. Spin and NME even listed the album in 100 Greatest Albums of All-Time lists.
A Rush of Blood to the Head is seeded 8th. That means it was popularly voted in but didn’t need to be put in the draw because of its commercial and critical accolades, including the Grammys for Best Alternative Album and Record of the Year (for the single Clocks).
In Rainbows (5) vs. College Dropout (12)
In 2007, Radiohead released their new album online, asking us to pay what we want. A worthwhile risk, considering In Rainbows debuted in both the UK and US charts at #1. Virtually every music magazine included it in their best of the year top 5, and some made it their favourite of the decade, including yours truly. See what I wrote about it here.
Kanye West’s debut album was College Dropout in 2004, on Jay-Z Roc-a-Fella Records. It actually did very well for itself, but didn’t quite make one of the first 10 automatic spots. Luckily it was drawn at number 12 so it has a fighting chance. It’s a stacked record, with no less than 5 singles: Through the Wire, All Falls Down, I’ll Fly Away, Slow Jamz, and especially Jesus Walks.
The Blueprint (4) vs. Channel Orange (13)
This best-reviewed rap album of the decade went double-platinum in the US, and continues to be considered a rap/hip-hop classic. Both the Source and XXL (two of the largest hip-hop publications) reserved their highest possible ratings for The Blueprint, and a few magazines have named it their favourite of the decade.
The youngest record to make the brackets should be an obvious underdog next to Jay-Z, but Frank Ocean has quickly made his way into the ears and subsequently the hearts of many. Although it hasn’t made it into any decade-best lists (since the decade is long from over), in 2012 when it was released, it consistently held the #1 spot. It made this list by chance through draw, but I would not underestimate it.
My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy – Kanye West (6) vs. White Blood Cells – The White Stripes (11)
MBDTF is considered Kanye’s most personal and best album by many, but more importantly for its 6th seed, in 2010 there was no record better reviewed – not even Adele’s 21. On Metacritic – a website that creates a rating based on mainstream critics – editors gave MBDTF a ridiculously high 94/100, which they call universal acclaim.
White Blood Cells made it in to the brackets with the very first draw of the conference, and appropriately so, since it was an incredibly successful album as well. Though not the most acclaimed of The White Stripes’ projects, it made The AV Club’s #1 spot for the decade, and found itself regularly appearing in the top 10 of 2001.
Funeral – Arcade Fire (3) vs. Mama’s Gun – Erykah Badu (14)
Arcade Fire’s debut album put anthemic rock back on the map, and had the most appearances on best-of-the-decade lists after Radiohead’s Kid A. Funeral also represents the first Canadian content album on the list, which is very exciting. They have since put 2 more fantastic records out, but none has surpassed the first.
This is quite easily the hardest match-up for me this round. Both albums are personal favourites, and both albums find themselves regularly playing through my speakers or headphones. Mama’s Gun made it here by the luck of the draw, but it is one of the most listenable records here, and still very positively reviewed in 2000 when it was released.
Elephant – The White Stripes (7) vs. Back to Black – Amy Winehouse (10)
Full of great singles (and music videos), Elephant, the White Stripes’ fourth album was both critically and publicly acclaimed, selling 2 million copies in the UK alone. It was their first album to be released under a label, and regularly appears on top 10 lists of the decade. Also, sweet cover art.
At the #10 seed, Back to Black was both voted on by multiple readers and has continued to experience commercial success, especially since Winehouse’s death in the summer of 2011. I have plenty to say about this great album here.
21 – Adele (2) vs. R O Y A L T Y – Childish Gambino (15)
Did you know that 21 is the highest selling album since the year 2000? Well, kind of. I didn’t consider soundtracks or compilations for these brackets…. but still, I actually had Norah Jones still in this slot before I thought to check if anyone had surpassed her record, and sure enough 21 had sneaked by with her two years in a row on the billboard 200.
The only mixtape in the tournament, Childish Gambino managed to get some big guest artists on his 3rd release, including Danny Brown, Ghostface Killah, RZA, and Beck. It’s here because of a draw, but it could stay because of he’s a funny guy, and a lot of people are sick of Adele.