You’re not the one: The best albums of the 2010s

In the 2010s, during the waning of my fourth decade, the self-representation of female R&B and country artists fascinated me. The honesty of the posing interested me more than the sincere sincerity of their male peers. Facts are facts, as I show. I hope this explains the top thirty, arranged like my singles list by criteria determined by play, wanting to play it, and how often I recommended it to others. When possible I tried avoiding redundancies with my singles list.

Although these one hundred-twenty albums overlap with more famous lists posted, I hope context will clarify. The highest ranking queer album is also my favorite album of the decade: the album whose vaporous textures, there/not there vocals, and discrete instrumental filigrees adduced a sensibility that queries itself without succumbing to self-regard; its queerness depends on its curiosity. What Contra and Hell on Heels share is a commitment to the dictum that we tell ourselves stories in order to live, no less true for Ezra Koenig, Rostam Batmanglij, Miranada Lambert, Ashley Monroe, and Angaleena Presley than for Joan Didion.

Less than a handful of artists played twice. Young Thug I found better represented by a CD-R (remember those?) I burned in summer 2015 for the car, but as a concession I included his most acclaimed regular release.

1. Vampire Weekend – Contra (2010)
2. Pistol Annies – Hell on Heels (2011)
3. David Bowie – ★ (2016)
4. Taylor Swift – Speak Now (2010)
5. Killer Mike – R.A.P. Music (2012)
6. Paramore – Paramore (2013)
7. Cupcakke – Ephorize (2018)
8. Erykah Badu – New Amerykah Part Two (Return of the Ankh) (2010)
9. Jazmine Sullivan – Reality Show (2015)
10. Tal National – Tantabara (2018)
11. Jamila Woods – LEGACY! LEGACY! (2019)
12. Dawn Richard – Blackheart (2015)
13. tUnE-yArDs – w h o k i l l (2011)
14. Speedy Ortiz – Twerp Verse (2018)
15. Eric Church – Chief (2011)
16. Bassekou Kouyaté & Ngoni Ba – Ba Power (2015)
17. Miranda Lambert – The Weight of These Wings (2016)
18. Years & Years – Communion (2015)
19. PJ Harvey – Let England Shake (2011)
20. Maxwell – blackSUMMERS’night (2016)
21. Lana Del Rey – Ultraviolence (2011)
22. Miguel – Kaleidoscope Dream (2012)
23. Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit (2015)
24. KING – We Are KING (2015)
25. Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp a Butterfly (2015)
26. Mitski – Be a Cowboy (2018)
27. LCD Soundsystem – This Is Happening (2010)
28. Angel Haze – Reservation (2012)
29. Carly Rae Jepsen – E•MO•TION (2015)
30. SZA – CTRL (2017)
31. D’Angelo & the Vanguard – Black Messiah (2014)
32. Fantasia – Side Effects of You (2012)
33. Alan Jackson – Angels and Alcohol (2015)
34. Diddy Dirty Money – Last Train to Paris (2010)
35. Tracey Thorn – Record (2018)
36. Young Thug – Barter 6 (2015)
37. Amen Dunes – Freedom (2018)
38. Sky Ferreira – Night Time, Right Time (2013)
39. Charlie Worsham – The Beginning of Things (2017)
40. Haim – Days Gone By (2013)
41. Maren Morris – HERO (2016)
42. Jeremih – Late Nights: The Album (2015)
43. Earl Sweatshirt – I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside (2015)
44. Babyface and Toni Braxton – Love, Marriage & Divorce (2014)
45. A Tribe Called Quest – We Got It from Here…Thank You 4 Your Service (2016)
46. Marsha Ambrosius – Late Nights and Early Mornings (2011)
47. Danny Brown – Atrocity Exhibition (2016)
48. Fiona Apple – The Idler Wheel (2012)
49. M.I.A. – MAYA (2010)
50. Cardi B – Invasion of Privacy (2018)
51. John Grant – Pale Green Ghosts (2013)
52. Janet Jackson – Unbreakable (2015)
53. Nicolas Jaar – Space Is Only Noise (2011)
54. U.S. Girls – In a Poem Unlimited (2018)
55. Four Tet – There is Love in You (2010)
56. Big K.R.I.T – Return of 4eva (2017)
57. Parquet Courts – Human Performance (2016)
58. Against Me! – White Crosses (2010)
59. Kelela – Take Me Apart (2017)
60. Vince Staples – Summertime ’06 (2015)
61. Sade – Soldier of Love (2010)
62. Rae Sremmurd – Sremmlife 2 (2016)
63. St. Vincent – MASSEDUCTION (2017)
64. Dwight Yoakam – 3 Pears (2012)
65. Beyonce – Lemonade (2016)
66. Paul Simon – So Beautiful or So What (2011)
67. Future – DS2 (2015)
68. Lorde – Melodrama (2017)
69. Orlando Julius with the Heliocentrics – Jaiyede Afro
70. Spoon – Hot Thoughts (2017)
71. Cloud Nothings – Attack on Memory (2012)
72. Destroyer – Kaputt (2011)
73. Migos – Culture (2017)
74. K Michelle – Anybody Wanna Buy a Heart
75. Ashley Monroe – Like a Rose
76. Katy B – Katy B On a Mission
77. Joanna Newsome – Divers
78. Shabazz Palaces – Black Up
79. Arctic Monkeys – AM
80. Taylor Swift – 1989
81. Sunny Sweeney – Trophy
82. Corinne Bailey Rae – The Heart Speaks in Whispers (2016)
83. DJ Quik – The Book of David (2011)
84. Holy Ghost! – Holy Ghost! (2011)
85. Miranda Lambert – Platinum (2014)
86. Saint Etienne – Words and Music by Saint Etienne (2012)
87. Jessie Ware – Devotion (2012)
88. Rick Ross – Teflon Don (2010)
89. Big Thief – U.F.O.F. (2019)
90. The Mountain Goats – All Eternals Deck (2011)
91. 2 Chainz – Pretty Girls Like Trap Music (2017)
92. Leonard Cohen – Old Ideas (2012)
93. Tyler the Creator – Flower Boy (2017)
94. Orlando Julius with the Heliocentrics – Jaiyede Afro (2014)
95. Lee Ann Womack – The Lonely, The Lonesome, & the Gone (2017)
96. The-Dream – Love King (2010)
97. Purple Mountains – Purple Mountains (2019)
98. Merle Haggard – I Am What I Am (2010)
99. Owen Pallet – In Conflict (2014)
100. Britney Spears – Femme Fatale (2011)
101. Brandy Clark – Big Day in a Small Town (2015)
102. Sleigh Bells – Bitter Rivals (2013)
103. Playboi Carti – Playboi Carti (2017)
104. Romeo Santos – Golden (2017)
105. Robyn – Body Talk (2010)
106. Raphael Saadiq – Stone Rollin’ (2011)
107. Schoolboy Q – Blank Face LP (2016)
108. Javiera Mena – Mena (2010)
109. DJ Koze – Amygdala (2013)
110. Superchunk – I Hate Music (2013)
111. The xx – I See You (2017)
112. Azealia Banks – Broke with Expensive Tastes (2014)
113. Ariana Grande – Thank U, Next (2019)
114. Jens Lekman – I Know What Love Isn’t (2012)
115. DaBaby – Baby on Baby (2019)
116. Omar Souleyman – Wenu Wenu (2012)
117. No Age – Everything in Between (2010)
118. Frank Ocean – Nostalgia, Ultra (2011)
119. Wussy – Attica! (2014)
120. Lady Gaga – The Fame Monster (2010)

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