Monday, December 13, 2010

Best Albums of the 1990s (21 - 40)

21. The Fugees - The Score (1995). Widely known for their signature cover of Roberta Flack's "Killing Me Softly," and the Enya sampling "Ready or Not," hip-hop trio The Fugees' second album, illustrated the band's nack for smooth hip-hop beats,composed of live instruments intelligent lyrical affirmations and laid back delivery. It's a joy to listen to. Best: Ready or Not.

22. Missy Elliot - Supa Dupa Fly (1996). Missy Elliot did what fellow female hip-hop rappers Lil' Kim and Foxy Brown couldn't do with their debut albums, which was expand from the archetypal walls of hip-hop to more experimental territories like this album. Showcasing a versatile, futuristic outlook on the genre with help from producer Timbaland, reining in influences from both R&B ("Beep Me 911") and both conventional and unconventional hip-hop ("The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)") to create more complex arrangements. It's an admirable set. One of the best female-fronted hip-hop albums of that decade. Best: The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)

23. Red Hot Chilli Peppers - Californiacation (1999). American alternative rock band Red Hot Chilli Pepper's seventh album drew the band to more commercial territories as well as maintaining that off-beat funk-driven rock that made their previous releases critic winners, but while it's not recognized as their best, I think this is their most consistent and well-crafted album, the coherent matching of heavy rock ("All Around the World"), poppier rock ("Scar Tissue")and mellower rock ("Road Trippin") is a joy. Best: Scar Tissue.

24. Blur - Park Life (1994). After the disappointing showings of their last album, English alternative rock group returned to prominence with this bracing third album, demonstrating their love for Brit pop and experimental rock (although not in the same vein as another dominating Brit pop force, Oasis) landing hit "Girls & Boys," ultimately cultivating a great rock album Best: Girls & Boys.

25. Janet Jackson - janet. (1993). From the socially aware, military-driven pop of Rhythm Nation 1814, to the mature, seductive sexual awakening of janet. American pop singer Janet Jackson made quite the transition for her fifth album, clamping down with the oozing, desirable soul of "That's the Way Love Goes," the cutting-edge, vigorous pop of "If," the frothy new jack swing fronted "You Want This," and indulging "Any Time, Any Place," (although I prefer the R. Kelly mix). The success of this album, presented a height of stardom that Jackson could only fall. Best: That's the Way Love Goes.

26. Hootie & the Blowfish - Cracked Rear View (1994). American rock band Hootie & the Blowfish's major label debut was a monstrous success for the band, becoming the fifteenth biggest selling album in America (it's a wonder why they carry such a bad reputation). Brimming lovely, rootsy, folky-rock numbers with hitting hooks, I love "Let Her Cry," in particular. Best: Let Her Cry.

27. Celine Dion - Falling into You (1996). This is French/Canadian singer Celine Dion at her commercial peak (Its follow-up Lets Talk About Love had "My Heart Will Go On," but I still think it paled in comparison). This magnificent set showcased the diva in all her pop glory; effectively excessive, vocally spine-tingling--in all a stunning well-executed pop album; packed with strong power-ballads and invigorating uptempos. The album nabbed Dion a Grammy win for Album of the Year, as well has becoming one of the best-selling albums of all time accumulating sales of 32 million worldwide as well as landing three back to back hits ("Because You Loved Me." "It's All Coming Back to Me Now," and "All By Myself." Best: Because You Loved Me.

28. Notorious B.I.G. - Life After Death (1997). While not matching his debut Ready to Die, which features much later, Biggie's dual-disc follow-up acts as its sequal, illustrating an eclectic spectrum of diverse sample-heavy hip-hop songs as well as captalizing on the mostly Puff Daddy assisted merging of pop and gansta rap in the 1990s, mostly presented on the glossy Diana Ross sampling chart topper "Mo Money Mo Problems." Best: Ten Crack Commandments

29. Depech Mode - Violator (1990). Synth-pop/rock band Depeche Mode hit their commercial peak with their seventh album, illustrating a dark but effective blend of dance, rock and pop, capitalizing successfully on the band's signature gloomy synth-warped sound, landing the big top 10 hit "Enjoy the Silence." Best: Enjoy the Silence.

30. Erykah Badu - Baduiam (1997). Alternative hip-hop band The Roots had a heavy-hand in producing American soul singer Erykah Badu's phenomenal debut album--indulging in the afro-centric neo-soul genre, drenched with silky grooves, afro-centric beats and intelligent lyrical affirmations trailing off the seductive '70s soul influences of Billie Holiday and Nina Simone, illustrating organic and conscience soul, winning Badu two Grammy wins as well two other nominations. Best: On & On.

31. Daft Punk - Homework (1997). Electronic French duo Daft Punk's debut showcased their love for heavy, reverberating bass lines and big thick dance beats tied with edge--in all a great party record. I haven't listened to any of their other records, but their next two albums were released in the 2000s anyway Best: Around the World.

32. Mary J. Blige - My Life (1994). Often regarded as one of the most influencial hip-hop/soul albums of the decade (although I've always thought Lauryn Hill's debut was better) this album showcased Blige at her '90s best; raw vocal stylings and lyrical affirmations over relentless hip-hop beats, sampling a long list of R&B legends including Curtis Mayfield, Roy Ayers, Al Green, Teddy Pendergrass, Marvin Gaye, Barry White and Rick James tied together with a lot of soul. Best: I'm Going Down.

33. R.E.M. - Out of Time (1991). Before American rock band R.E.M. darkened things down with the emotionally haunting follow-up, they delivered this rather optimistic sunny spectrum of pop/rock, landing the band's biggest American hit to date, "Losing My Religion" as well as the relatively successful and personal favorite follow-up "Shiny Happy People." Best: Shiny Happy People.

34. David Matthews Band - Crash (1996). After naming their seventh album Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King one of the best album of the 2009, praising the eclectic American rock band for their seamless blend of alternative rock, folkish pop and disheartening undertones, I was eager to check out some of their stuff from the '90s and I read their massively successful second album was a must, illustrating a gripping blend of rock, funk, pop and folk; a wonderfully eclectic mix. Best: So Much to Say.

35. Boyz II Men - II (1994). Boyz II Men's second album remains the R&B quartet's biggest highlight of their career, landing them 2 massive successive #1s ("I'll Make Love to You" and "One Bended Knee"), big sales as well as a Grammy win for Best R&B Album, rightfully winning over other favorite Tevin Campbell's second album I'm Ready, however success aside, it is in fact their best album--masterfully executed, showcasing a delightful mix of new jack swing, seductive soul and the albums magnus opus: the soaring, power-vocal ballads. Best: I'll Make Love to You.

36. Pearl Jam - Ten (1991). Flawlessly weaving together influences from fellow North Western rock Soundgarden and Alice in Chains, American rock band Pear Jam delivered a solid body of compelling hard power-rock and grunge, tied together with gutsy vocals and charm, ultimately landing the band their biggest selling album ever, accumulating sales of 10 million in the US alone. Best: Even Flow.

37. My Bloody Valentine - Loveless (1991). Dublin based alternative rock band My Bloody Valentine's second album is probably the best album of the '90s that capitalized greatly on the alternative rock sub-genre shoegazing, illustrating a wide spectrum of moods, emotions and styles through its sturdy rocky textures. Best: To Here Knows When.

38. Beck - Odelay (1996). I have a feeling I would have been a big fan of alternative rock singer Beck, if my teenage years had blossmed in the '90s. This is his second album in my countdown and it's one of his most critically acclaimed sets, a hearty mix of alternative rock, country and antipodal folk that earned him two Grammy wins including Best Alternative Music Album as well as universal acclaim, including an entry in Channel 4's countown of 100 Greatest Albums, which I remember watching vivdly. Best: Devil's Haircut.

39. D'Angelo - Brown Suger (1995). American soul singer D'Angelo's debut album remains one of the most influential soul/R&B albums of the '90s or probably of all time. Trickling with seductively with a fluorescent blend of blues, soul, gospel and jazz with a clever mid-90s refrain, implementing influences from the likes of Prince and Smokey Robinson delivering an errorless bag of lyrical affirmations, as well as intelligently complex arrangements. Best: Crusin'

40. Annie Lennox - Diva (1992). From my mother's collection rather than personal taste, Scottish singer-songwriter Annie Lennox's debut album makes my top 40, mostly recognizing its immaculate, mature blend of adult pop and burnished R&B influences, responsible for spawning the massive signature hit "Why." Best: Why.

1 comment:

ww_adh said...

24. I've never really gotten into them. They weren't very big in the US. Oasis definitely had a bigger impact here.

25. Love it! Such a fun album. Tracks 1-5 are fantastic dance pop. "Where Are You Now" and "Again" are great ballads. And Janet could be sexy here without having to be dirty like she frequently was later.

27. Celine!!!! Yay. So many people just despise her, but I really think this album is quite good.

29. I love this album. Definitely great.

30. Interesting that The Roots produced this. I didn't know that. My semester in London in 1998, one of my roommates was really into her. I was like...who?

33. This album is pretty good, but Automatic for the People was better.

34. Not my thing.

37. Interesting to see this here. A lot of music critics like this one. I've listened to it once or twice but never that closely.

40. This was my favorite album of the '90s for a long time. May still be so. "Why" is one of my favorite songs.