Rock band Radiohead poses for a portrait during the release of their album OK Computer

50 best rock albums from the 21st century

Written by:
May 2, 2023
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50 best rock albums from the 21st century

The origins of rock music can be traced back to Chuck Berry, who—as far as a single person can be said to—invented rock 'n' roll. The genre has since evolved, branching off into subcategories like country rock, electronic rock, and industrial rock, to name a few. Though the genre has changed over the decades, many of the core elements remain the same, and bands continue to thrill audiences with the fast and furious sounds of rock music.

Stacker compiled data on the top 50 rock albums from the 21st century according to Best Ever Albums, which ranks albums according to their appearance and performance on 40,000 editorial and data-based charts (e.g., Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, Billboard, etc.). For a more in-depth description of their methodology, click here.

These albums reveal stories of the bands behind them and the political and social climates of the time. They are chart-toppers, award winners, cult classics, and fan favorites. Many bands have made the list with more than one album, though their style has often evolved. There are indie bands, lesser-known artists, and hitmakers all included on a list as diverse and eclectic as the genre itself. Join Stacker as we count down the 50 best rock albums of this century.

Additional writing by Olivia Monahan

#50. 'I Love You, Honeybear' by Father John Misty

- Rank all-time: #283
- Rank in decade: #34
- Rank in year: #4
- Year: 2015

Folk musician Father John Misty's second album, "I Love You, Honeybear," is very different from his first studio album, "Fear Fun," which focused on a drunken, drugged-out Hollywood Casanova. By contrast, "Honeybear" is about love and intimacy, which Misty admitted are concepts outside his wheelhouse.

In a review for the Guardian, critic Alexis Petridis notes the influences heard on the album: "You can hear traces of John Lennon's once-reviled mid-'70s albums; Harry Nilsson and Randy Newman haunt the vaguely show tune-like 'Nothing Good Ever Happens at the Goddamn Thirsty Crow'; while the aforementioned chaotic bombast is audibly inspired by Phil Spector's production on George Harrison's 'All Things Must Pass.'"

#49. 'Halcyon Digest' by Deerhunter

- Rank all-time: #265
- Rank in decade: #31
- Rank in year: #7
- Year: 2010

Deerhunter's "Halcyon Digest" received critical acclaim and was #29 on Pitchfork's The Best 200 Albums of the 2010s. The album is rich with nostalgia, calling on rock from past decades and using promotional materials that recall the 1980s, including a cut-and-paste flyer designed by frontman Bradford Cox.

Cox explained his inspiration for the flyer as "always being fascinated with the ephemera of '70s–'80s artwork in record stores like Wuxtry in Athens where I hung out as a kid or Wax 'N Facts in Atlanta. You'd see a photocopied faded B-52's flyer next to a poster for Lou Reed or XTC. It was like an artpunk scrapbook on those walls"

#48. 'Black Holes And Revelations' by Muse

- Rank all-time: #264
- Rank in decade: #43
- Rank in year: #4
- Year: 2006

While "Black Holes and Revelations" retained the political undercurrents heard in other Muse albums, the fourth studio album from British band Muse marked a stylistic change for the band. Tracks "Supermassive Black Hole" and "Knights of Cydonia" topped the U.K. charts, and the album was certified platinum in the United States.

#47. 'Room On Fire' by The Strokes

- Rank all-time: #263
- Rank in decade: #42
- Rank in year: #4
- Year: 2003

The cover art for The Strokes' sophomore album comes from English pop artist Peter Phillips' 1961 painting "War/Game," which the band felt matched the lyrics on several of their tracks. The Strokes felt like it was impossible to live up to the success of their first album, "Is This It," and many critics have noted the similarities between the band's debut album and "Room on Fire." The album peaked at #4 on the Billboard chart.

#46. 'Hospice' by The Antlers

- Rank all-time: #262
- Rank in decade: #41
- Rank in year: #2
- Year: 2009

"Hospice" is the third studio album and first concept album by American indie rock band The Antlers. The album focuses on the relationship between a woman dying of terminal cancer and the hospice worker who is caring for her. The second song from the album, "Kettering," has been featured in various television shows, including "The 100," "Fear the Walking Dead," and "Riverdale."

#45. 'Favourite Worst Nightmare' by Arctic Monkeys

- Rank all-time: #252
- Rank in decade: #39
- Rank in year: #6
- Year: 2007

The second album by British rock band Arctic Monkeys is the first featuring bassist Nick O'Malley, and "Favourite Worst Nightmare" is faster and louder than the band's debut album, "Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not." The album was also praised for its use of expanded drum rhythms and ambient sound. Tracks "Brianstorm" and "Fluorescent Adolescent" became hits on the U.K. Singles Chart, and the album debuted at #7 on the U.S. Billboard charts.

#44. 'To Be Kind' by Swans

- Rank all-time: #250
- Rank in decade: #29
- Rank in year: #2
- Year: 2014

Experimental rock band Swans had their first chart-topper with "To Be Kind," their 13th studio album. Produced by frontman Michael Gira, the album featured musical guests St. Vincent, Bill Rieflin, and Cold Specks. "To Be Kind" also featured material developed live during the band's 2012 and 2013 tours. The album was accompanied by another tour.

#43. 'Vampire Weekend' by Vampire Weekend

- Rank all-time: #237
- Rank in decade: #38
- Rank in year: #2
- Year: 2008

Vampire Weekend's self-titled debut featured four Ivy League grads led by frontman Ezra Koenig and drew comparisons to Paul Simon's 1986 album "Graceland" due to its African influences. The album was recorded in various locations, including a Brooklyn studio, a basement, and a barn, all of which lent to the album's unique sound. Many of the tracks feature catchy and quirky titles such as "Oxford Comma," "Mansard Roof," and "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa."

#42. 'Teens Of Denial' by Car Seat Headrest

- Rank all-time: #215
- Rank in decade: #26
- Rank in year: #4
- Year: 2016

The story of Car Seat Headrest is about the tireless efforts Will Toledo made to get his music heard. He wrote, performed, and released the band's first 10 albums on the online platform Band Camp before independent record label Matador Records finally signed the group. "Teens of Denial" is the second album the band released with Matador and the first album recorded in a studio. In an interview with the Observer, Toledo acknowledges the autobiographical nature of the album.

#41. 'Reflektor' by Arcade Fire

- Rank all-time: #206
- Rank in decade: #24
- Rank in year: #5
- Year: 2013

The follow-up to the Candian band's 2010 album "The Suburbs," "Reflektor" was co-produced by James Murphy, frontman of LCD Soundsystem, and features David Bowie's vocals. Fellow Canadian musician Owen Pallett also participated, with an arrangement of strings recorded in Prague which was then added during the album's final mix.

Frontman Win Butler revealed in an interview with Rolling Stone that the double album was inspired by both a trip to Haiti and the film "Black Orpheus."

#40. 'Parachutes' by Coldplay

- Rank all-time: #204
- Rank in decade: #36
- Rank in year: #5
- Year: 2000

Coldplay welcomed the 21st century with their debut album "Parachutes," containing the band's first hit, "Yellow," which frontman Chris Martin revealed was inspired by the night sky in South Wales.

In a 2014 interview with VH1's Jim Shearer, Chris Martin discussed how the band itself was actually responsible for the album cover's image: "We'd done a whole photoshoot in Blackpool, with everybody in it. But it just didn't look that good. So we thought we'd better make our own album cover. So we went to this stationery store, somewhere while we were on tour and we bought a globe that lit up."

#39. 'Origin Of Symmetry' by Muse

- Rank all-time: #199
- Rank in decade: #35
- Rank in year: #7
- Year: 2001

Often cited as one of Muse's best albums, the band's sophomore effort, "Origin Of Symmetry," made it onto the U.S. Billboard charts and rose to #3 on the U.K. charts. Pitchfork describes the album as a "supernatural space odyssey," and its title was inspired by physicist Michio Kaku's book "Hyperspace: A Scientific Odyssey Through Parallel Universes, Time Warps, and the 10th Dimension."

#38. 'Bloom' by Beach House

- Rank all-time: #198
- Rank in decade: #20
- Rank in year: #4
- Year: 2012

Beach House is one of those bands that feels like they should be far more famous than they are. Depending on your definition and taste, their work is, seemingly, perfect. "Bloom" is a fuzzy, luminous, widely sweeping dream that takes you on a journey to the innermost self. Ranked as one of their best efforts, the album landed at #7 on Billboard's Top 200 chart and was simultaneously well-received by critics.

#37. 'This Is Happening' by LCD Soundsystem

- Rank all-time: #196
- Rank in decade: #19
- Rank in year: #5
- Year: 2010

"I spent my whole life wanting to be cool ... but I've come to realize that coolness doesn't exist the way I once assumed," said LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy, speaking to The Guardian after the release of 'This is Happening.'

The quote is a perfect summation of the post-punk masterpiece, which lands LCD at the #37 spot on our list. The album is simultaneously aggressive and soft, bringing together the dichotomy of emotions that existed within Murphy's head while both writing and creating the album that, 13 years later, remains relevant.

#36. 'Absolution' by Muse

- Rank all-time: #195
- Rank in decade: #34
- Rank in year: #3
- Year: 2003

The band's third studio album was initially conceived of as a concept album. But the direction of the record changed thanks in part to the Iraq War. Regardless, the album is innovative in its use of instrumentation, employing various implements like thighs, a wagon wheel, gravel, and hot tub bubbles. The album hit #1, and the band got their first top-10 single with the song "Time Is Running Out."

#35. 'Hot Fuss' by The Killers

- Rank all-time: #194
- Rank in decade: #33
- Rank in year: #5
- Year: 2004

The Killers' debut album featured "Mr. Brightside," the first song the band ever wrote together, which peaked at #10 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was a record-setter on the U.K. singles chart. Two of the album's tracks, "Jenny Was A Friend Of Mine" and "Midnight Show," form part of a murder trilogy, which was completed with the song "Leave The Bourbon On The Shelf" from the band's "Sawdust" compilation album.

#34. 'AM' by Arctic Monkeys

- Rank all-time: #191
- Rank in decade: #18
- Rank in year: #2
- Year: 2013

In a review for Pitchfork, Ryan Dombal wrote of Arctic Monkeys' fifth album: "On AM, the quartet, now based in Los Angeles, offer a paranoid, haunted collection that goes beyond the sweaty clubs and furtive flirts into the hotel rooms, after parties, and bad decisions that can follow." The album touches upon a variety of topics, including sex, isolation, and getting stoned, and features notable guest appearances by Queens Of The Stone Age's Josh Homme and Pete Thomas, drummer for Elvis Costello.

#33. 'Lateralus' by Tool

- Rank all-time: #185
- Rank in decade: #32
- Rank in year: #6
- Year: 2001

At 78 minutes and 51 seconds, "Lateralus" is one of the longest single CDs ever recorded. Fittingly, the album remains shrouded in great myth and lore. For instance, some fans connect the Fibonacci sequence, a mathematical formula, to the song "Lateralus," noting that some of the lyrics seem based around the sequence. "Schism," the album's first single, won Best Metal Performance at the 2001 Grammy Awards.

#32. 'The Glow Pt. 2' by The Microphones

- Rank all-time: #183
- Rank in decade: #31
- Rank in year: #5
- Year: 2001

The Microphones' third album has been re-released multiple times and was influenced by everything from the television series "Twin Peaks" to music genres like black metal. Hoping for a more natural sound, frontman Phil Elverum recorded on a 16-track analog tape. Nature was an essential element of the album, as was the Pacific Northwest, where "The Glow Pt. 2" was recorded.

#31. 'Hail To The Thief' by Radiohead

- Rank all-time: #167
- Rank in decade: #26
- Rank in year: #2
- Year: 2003

In an interview with Rolling Stone, Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke said of "Hail To The Thief:" "The whole record is about thinly veiled anger—very thinly veiled." Yorke also mentioned that some of the album's tracks were several years old, including "I Will" and "Myxomatosis." Recorded in a Hollywood studio, the album features minimal overdubs and a return to the band's guitar-heavy roots.

#30. 'Helplessness Blues' by Fleet Foxes

- Rank all-time: #164
- Rank in decade: #16
- Rank in year: #1
- Year: 2011

Fleet Foxes is a band that you're almost guaranteed to have heard, even if you don't know it. Their angelic harmonies and lilting vocals combined with a subtle folk sensibility come together to make their work pitch-perfect for movie and television soundtracks. The band's early success took much influence from their drummer, who split off to have a solo career: Father John Misty, who ranks at #50 rank on this list.

#29. 'Lost In The Dream' by The War On Drugs

- Rank all-time: #160
- Rank in decade: #15
- Rank in year: #1
- Year: 2014

The Guardian named The War on Drugs' third album one of the best of 2014. The opening song, "Under The Pressure" is a nine-minute track featuring piano which gives way to drums and keyboard with an occasional saxophone burst. Writing for NME, Rhian Daly called the album: "The very best kind of Americana road-trip record, 'Lost In The Dream' makes you want to hotwire a Mustang and drive it across the States."

#28. 'Neon Bible' by Arcade Fire

- Rank all-time: #156
- Rank in decade: #25
- Rank in year: #5
- Year: 2007

"Neon Bible" debuted at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was a critique of both celebrity culture and the political climate surrounding the administration of then-President George W. Bush. A good portion of the album was cut in a church that the band bought in Farnham, Quebec, and the album's opening track, "Black Mirror" inspired the British television series of the same name.

#27. 'American Idiot' by Green Day

- Rank all-time: #155
- Rank in decade: #24
- Rank in year: #3
- Year: 2004

"American Idiot" is the story of Jesus of Suburbia, an American antihero who is frustrated by the way things are going in the modern world. The album features several protest songs, including the title track, which criticizes both the media and the government. While many people believe "American Idiot" was an attack on the Bush administration, Billie Joe Armstrong has revealed in an interview with Spin magazine that it was not about any specific administration.

"Even the political stuff that we're doing now. I would never think of "American Idiot" as being about the Bush administration specifically," Armstrong explained. "It's about the confusion of where we're at right now."

#26. 'Boxer' by The National

- Rank all-time: #147
- Rank in decade: #23
- Rank in year: #4
- Year: 2007

The National maintained their tight working relationship with producer Peter Katis for their fourth studio album, even using a picture from his wedding for the album's cover art. "Boxer" debuted at #68 on the Billboard 200. The 2008 documentary film "A Skin, A Night" focused on the recording process that went along with making the album.

#25. 'Currents' by Tame Impala

- Rank all-time: #145
- Rank in decade: #13
- Rank in year: #3
- Year: 2015

Tame Impala's Kevin Parker poured everything into his third album: writing, recording, and producing "Currents" from his home studio in Perth. The work paid off, and the album earned critical acclaim and a Grammy nomination for Best Alternative Music Album. Featuring tracks "Reality In Motion," "Past Life" and "The Moment," "Currents" has a much different vibe from Tame Impala's first two albums.

#24. 'The Moon and Antarctica' by Modest Mouse

- Rank all-time: #144
- Rank in decade: #22
- Rank in year: #3
- Year: 2000

Fans adore "The Moon and Antarctica" as Modest Mouse's last album before the mainstream took hold of them. Deep, dark, and psychedelically introspective, Isaac Brock's masterful lyrics earned him, and this album, a nearly perfect reception by both critics and reviews alike. Though the article had nowhere near the chart-topping success of their most successful album "Good News for People Who Love Bad News."

#23. 'Teen Dream' by Beach House

- Rank all-time: #138
- Rank in decade: #12
- Rank in year: #4
- Year: 2010

Beach House is showing up on our list for the second time thanks to their 2010 album "Teen Dream." It was the artist's first major release under the record label Sub Pop, infamous for ushering in the grunge era with their ear for alternative music and talent for spotting the next big thing (aka Nirvana).

The lo-fi masterpiece incorporated ethereal sounds and dreamy vocals that took Generation Z by storm. With untreated samples and raw lyrics, the album encapsulates the perfectly-imperfect dichotomy that seems to strike a chord with listeners.

#22. 'Merriweather Post Pavilion' by Animal Collective

- Rank all-time: #135
- Rank in decade: #20
- Rank in year: #1
- Year: 2009

Named for the Maryland venue where band members spent much of their youth attending shows, Animal Collective's ninth studio album "Merriweather Post Pavilion" is where the group's pop sensibilities were given the space to merge with their more experimental thought process. The result is this masterpiece, which could be considered their magnum opus.

#21. 'Songs For The Deaf' by Queens Of The Stone Age

- Rank all-time: #133
- Rank in decade: #18
- Rank in year: #5
- Year: 2002

Queens Of The Stone Age's third studio album featured Foo Fighters' founder Dave Grohl on drums and saw the release of three singles: "No One Knows," "First It Giveth," and "Go With the Flow." "Songs For The Deaf" was a concept album based on a drive through the desert from L.A. to Joshua Tree wherein the protagonist listens in on strange radio stations.

#20. 'Demon Days' by Gorillaz

- Rank all-time: #131
- Rank in decade: #17
- Rank in year: #2
- Year: 2005

The Gorillaz came out of nowhere with their self-titled 2001 debut album. Their success is especially striking considering the group itself is made up of animated and two-dimensional caricatures voiced by a mish-mash of rock and hip-hop stars, including '90s Brit-rock star Damon Albarn (Blur). The result is a Brit-hip-hop-pop hybrid that was, at the time, unheard of in the mainstream music industry. "Demon Days" peaked at #2 on the Billboard Music Charts.

#19. 'High Violet' by The National

- Rank all-time: #130
- Rank in decade: #11
- Rank in year: #3
- Year: 2010

The cover artwork on the band's fifth album is a sculpture called "The Binding Force" by artist Mark Fox. The first song The National performed from the album was "Terrible Love," which they played on "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" two months before the album's release. Guests featured on "High Violet" include Sufjan Stevens, Justin Vernon, and Arcade Fire's Richard Reed Parry.

#18. 'Modern Vampires Of The City' by Vampire Weekend

- Rank all-time: #126
- Rank in decade: #10
- Rank in year: #1
- Year: 2013

The third album from Vampire Weekend is the final in a trilogy that opened with the band's 2008 self-titled debut, followed by their 2010 sophomore album, "Contra," which topped the Billboard charts. "Modern Vampires Of The City" also hit #1 on the Billboard charts, with the New York band drawing inspiration from their hometown on songs like "Finger Back," "Hudson," and "Diane Young."

#17. 'Amnesiac' by Radiohead

- Rank all-time: #125
- Rank in decade: #16
- Rank in year: #2
- Year: 2001

The fifth studio album by the eclectic British band contains a little bit of everything, from the lyrical piano ballad "Pyramid Song," which was used in a PSA for forest fire prevention, to "Spinning Plates," which opens with a digital spinning sound and frontman Thom Yorke's backward vocals. "Kid A," the band's fourth studio album, was written and recorded at the same time as "Amnesiac," though the two were released eight months apart and have completely different sounds.

#16. 'Blackstar' by David Bowie

- Rank all-time: #118
- Rank in decade: #9
- Rank in year: #3
- Year: 2016

"Blackstar" was David Bowie's 25th and final studio album. Two days after its release on Bowie's 69th birthday, the legendary musician died of liver cancer, a shocking blow to fans who didn't even know the singer was ill. Longtime Bowie collaborator and record producer Tony Visconti wrote in a Facebook post: "His death was no different from his life—a work of Art. He made 'Blackstar' for us, his parting gift. I knew for a year this was the way it would be. I wasn't, however, prepared for it."

#15. 'Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots' by The Flaming Lips

- Rank all-time: #116
- Rank in decade: #15
- Rank in year: #4
- Year: 2002

The band's 10th studio album opens with "Fight Test," as keyboards and bass collide to form a perfect pop melody. "In The Morning Of The Magicians" doubles down on the album's core theme of man and machine with synth sounds that emulate both instruments and human vocals.

Writing for Rolling Stone, Greg Kot notes: "'Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots' isn't the end-to-end triumph that was 1999's 'The Soft Bulletin,' still the most beauteous of Lips albums. But the production is equally ambitious, with burbling electro beats underpinning sci-fi orchestrations that sound like the brainchild of Esquivel and the Orb."

#14. 'Elephant' by The White Stripes

- Rank all-time: #113
- Rank in decade: #14
- Rank in year: #1
- Year: 2003

The steady, pulsing guitar riff of "Seven Nation Army" opens The White Stripes' fourth album, their first record released under a major label. "Elephant" was the album that put the band on the map and gave them a #1 hit, though it would also be the album they would struggle with in terms of their band's identity.

The album was released during the era when many fans still believed that the dynamic duo were brother and sister, even though a Detroit paper had exposed the truth years earlier by revealing that Jack and Meg White were previously married.

#13. 'A Rush Of Blood To The Head' by Coldplay

- Rank all-time: #101
- Rank in decade: #12
- Rank in year: #3
- Year: 2002

Listed on Rolling Stone's "500 Greatest Albums of All Time" and the winner of three Grammy awards, Coldplay's second album drew comparisons to U2 and The Smiths. The album featured hits "Clocks," "The Scientist" and "Politik," with the latter song being used for the band's stage debut at the Grammys. "A Rush Of Blood To The Head" came in at #13 in a list of the U.K.'s bestselling albums of the 21st century.

#12. 'Turn On The Bright Lights' by Interpol

- Rank all-time: #88
- Rank in decade: #10
- Rank in year: #2
- Year: 2002

Although "Turn On The Bright Lights" was written before the horrific events that unfolded on 9/11, the album was changed in its aftermath. The New York band questioned the point of even making an album, but they soldiered on, retreating to producer Peter Katis' home studio in Bridgeport, Connecticut, to record. The album influenced many bands, including The Killers, who said "Turn On The Bright Lights," played in the background throughout the recording of their album "Hot Fuss."

#11. 'Lift Yr. Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven' by Godspeed You! Black Emperor

- Rank all-time: #86
- Rank in decade: #9
- Rank in year: #2
- Year: 2000

While the shoutout by Seth Rogen in the stoner classic "Pineapple Express" didn't hurt, "Lift Yr. Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven" had already cemented Godspeed You! Black Emperor in the hearts of listeners and critics alike. Walking the fine line between hope and despair, the album was a hopeful yet realistic harkening for hope in a society that feels more and more dystopian by the day.

#10. 'A Moon Shaped Pool' by Radiohead

- Rank all-time: #77
- Rank in decade: #7
- Rank in year: #1
- Year: 2016

"A Moon Shaped Pool" marks the band's first studio album since "The King of Limbs" in 2011. The album features a song written in the mid-'90s, some backward vocals, a bit of tape hiss, and an alphabetized tracklist. It received critical acclaim, with particular attention paid to guitarist Jonny Greenwood's orchestral arrangements.

#9. 'Lonerism' by Tame Impala

- Rank all-time: #72
- Rank in decade: #6
- Rank in year: #2
- Year: 2012

The sophomore effort of the Australian musical project Tame Impala opens with two tracks that are mainly instrumental. "Lonerism" earned Tame Impala a Grammy nomination for Best Alternative Music Album and won Australian ARIA Awards for both Album of the Year and Best Rock Album. The psychedelic pop album explores themes of introversion and isolation.

#8. 'Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not' by Arctic Monkeys

- Rank all-time: #64
- Rank in decade: #7
- Rank in year: #1
- Year: 2006

The title of the Arctic Monkeys' debut album was taken from Alan Sillitoe's 1958 novel "Saturday Night And Sunday Morning." "Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not" is the fastest-selling debut album by a British band, and its B-side track, "Chun-Li's Spinning Bird Kick," earned a Grammy nod for Best Instrumental Rock Song in 2007. The album also received a Grammy nomination for Best Alternative Music Album.

#7. 'Yankee Hotel Foxtrot' by Wilco

- Rank all-time: #48
- Rank in decade: #6
- Rank in year: #1
- Year: 2002

The title for Wilco's fourth studio album originates from the shortwave radio's phonetic alphabet. Often considered the band's best album, the production of "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" was plagued by departing band members and a corporate music saga which was the topic of the 2002 documentary, "I Am Trying To Break Your Heart." The album is a mix of many musical genres including R&B, rock, disco, and pop.

#6. 'Illinois' by Sufjan Stevens

- Rank all-time: #45
- Rank in decade: #5
- Rank in year: #1
- Year: 2005

Filled with tracks with long song titles, like "They Are Night Zombies!! They Are Neighbors!! They Have Come Back from the Dead!! Ahhhh!," "Illinois" was meant as a continuation of Stevens' "50 States Project," which began with 2003's "Michigan."

The project was meant to cover the entire country one album at a time, and though Stevens never did achieve that goal, "Illinois" showcases the multitalented artist at his best, featuring more than a dozen instruments and some of the artist's most beloved songs. The track "Chicago" was featured in the 2006 film "Little Miss Sunshine" starring Greg Kinnear and Toni Collette.

#5. 'The Suburbs' by Arcade Fire

- Rank all-time: #44
- Rank in decade: #4
- Rank in year: #2
- Year: 2010

The quiet angst of suburban life can be felt throughout Arcade Fire's "The Suburbs," which features 16 tracks about isolation, family responsibility, and the brevity of youth. The album won a Grammy for Album of the Year and sparked a debate on whether The Woodlands, Texas—a suburb of Houston where frontman Win Butler spent a part of his youth—actually inspired the Canadian band's album.

The album also inspired director Spike Jonze's short film "Scenes From the Suburbs," in which the music video for the album's titular song acts as a preview.

#4. 'Is This It' by The Strokes

- Rank all-time: #23
- Rank in decade: #4
- Rank in year: #1
- Year: 2001

While working on their debut album, The Strokes frontman Julian Casablancas and guitarist Nick Valensi took lessons with guitar instructor JP Bowersock, who helped create some of the album's unforgettable solos and who the band credits as their guru. "Is This It" was recorded in six weeks, with many of the tracks recorded only once because the band wanted to hold onto the raw sound. The album includes many hit tracks including "Someday" and "Last Night."

#3. 'Funeral' by Arcade Fire

- Rank all-time: #14
- Rank in decade: #3
- Rank in year: #1
- Year: 2004

Canadian indie rock band Arcade Fire made their studio album debut with "Funeral," a title inspired by the many deaths the band experienced while making the album. Nominated for a Grammy Award, "Funeral" came in second on NME's list of the best albums of 2005. The album saw the release of five singles and went Gold in the U.S. The band even went on to sing "Wake Up," considered one of their best songs, with David Bowie.

#2. 'In Rainbows' by Radiohead

- Rank all-time: #8
- Rank in decade: #2
- Rank in year: #1
- Year: 2007

Radiohead rocked the world on October 10, 2007, with the decision to release their album "In Rainbows" as an online download with the option for listeners to pay only what they wanted. What was even more shocking was that the album topped the Billboard 100 within weeks of its physical U.S. release. The record was not just a commercial success, with hit tracks "Nude," "All I Need," and the album's first single "Jigsaw Falling into Place," but a critical success as well.

#1. 'Kid A' by Radiohead

- Rank all-time: #5
- Rank in decade: #1
- Rank in year: #1
- Year: 2000

The follow-up to Radiohead's 1997 album "OK Computer" is often considered to be the band's best album. "Kid A" came as a surprise to fans of the British band for many reasons, including the lack of guitar, which they traded for electronics, which was an unusual move for a band with three talented guitarists.

Frontman Yorke revealed to Q magazine that he had writer's block as they began working on a "Kid A," admitting: "Every time I picked up a guitar I just got the horrors. I would start writing a song, stop after 16 bars, hide it away in a drawer, look at it again, tear it up, destroy it ... I was sinking down and down."

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