While it may be hard for those of a certain generation to realise the early noughties were 20 years ago, here’s a little trip down memory lane. We’ve put together a list of 10 iconic albums you can rediscover with your Nuraphone or NuraLoop this year. As they celebrate some major milestones, it’s incredible to believe these albums have been part of our pop culture lexicon for so long but still feel so fresh.
Queen Bey’s piece de resistance Lemonade truly ushered in the era of the ‘visual album’ (she had released one prior) and is her most acclaimed studio album to date. Can you believe we have been in Formation for five years? With an iconic track listing and dance routine, we see it ageing gracefully.
Adele’s second album topped the charts and best-seller lists upon its release, breaking many glass ceilings and being certified as a Diamond album by the RIAA. 21 gave us classic Adele hits such as Rolling in the Deep, Someone Like You and Set Fire to the Rain. We’ve all been belting these hits out in cars and bathrooms around the world for the last 10 years.
Undoubtedly one of the most influential albums of its time, Donuts was J Dilla’s last piece of work before his untimely death only three days later. Widely respected far beyond the Detroit hip-hop scene, this album achieved critical acclaim. You can hear J Dilla’s music as samples on tracks by everyone from Ghostface Killah to The Roots.
Who could forget the catchy hook of One More Time? In a complete departure from their first studio album, Discovery, wasn’t just tracks on a CD, it was an entire lifestyle. From their (now) iconic robot costumes to the Daft Club website and Leiji Matsumoto’s animations, Discovery was a well orchestrated masterpiece that still holds a special place at any house party 20 years on.
A critical success, Reasonable Doubt has been ranked on several publications' lists of the greatest rap albums ever, while many hip hop fans have viewed it as Jay-Z's best work. Not bad for a debut album! Also featuring the likes of The Notorious B.I.G., Mary J Blige and Jaz-O, it has been referred to as “one of hip hop’s landmark albums” by Pitchfork.
Also making our list for one of the most memorable music videos, Missy Elliott gave us the iconic Get Ur Freak On 25 years ago. The album Miss E... So Addictive was certified platinum and winning her two Grammy Awards, it stands the test of time.
Smells Like Teen Spirit has been on rebellious teenager’s playlists for 30 years! While Nevermind is considered a cornerstone of the grunge rock genre, the album is frequently noted for its diversity, which includes acoustic balladry (Polly; Something in the Way) and punk-inspired hard rock (Territorial Pissings; Stay Away). The album cover, featuring a baby swimming toward a US dollar bill on a fishhook, is one of the best-known album covers in American popular music. Having sold over 30 million copies worldwide, it is one of the best-selling albums of all time.
Often cited as one of the greatest albums of all time, Songs in the Key of Life is widely considered as Stevie Wonder’s signature album. Elton John, Michael Jackon, Prince, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey… are just some of the artists who consider it one of their inspirations.
Blue is generally regarded by music critics as one of the greatest albums of all time; having been written and produced wholly by Mitchell it is a true testament to her songwriting, composition and vocal skills. In January 2000, The New York Times chose Blue as one of the 25 albums that represented "turning points and pinnacles in 20th-century popular music". In 2020, Blue was rated the third greatest album of all time in Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, the highest entry by a female artist. And in 2021 it celebrates a huge milestone — 50 years young.
Closing out our list is another mainstay of pop culture and Diana Ross debut solo album Diana Ross. The Supreme’s front-woman went on to enjoy an astonishing solo career, but it was this debut that gave us a cover of Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell's Ain’t No Mountain High Enough and we have been singing it for 51 years now.
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