Thursday, April 04, 2013

Best 50 Pop Albums from 2000-2009: #20-#11

I'm counting down the top 50 pop albums of the 2000s this week. This is part 4 of 5.

20. Freeform Five - Strangest Things (2004)

The only proper studio album to date from British producer/DJ Anu Pillai took the flash of his previous house and electro tracks and provided a twist of funk to the songs here, allowing the music to expand beyond the remix audience that Pillai earned his name with. The album also found time to focus on less dance-oriented material, such as "Ask Me Tomorrow" and "What Are You Waiting For" that showed Pillai's diversity as a songwriter and carried over into helping make the uptempo songs so hook-filled.

Key tracks: "Electromagnetic," "No More Conversations," "Eeeeaaooww,"  "Losing My Control" "Strangest Things"

[Amazon] [iTunes]

19. PUFFY - honeycreeper (2007)

It's unfortunate to even give credence to the thought, but the fact that most of PUFFY's songs are in Japanese has probably kept their catalog from being recognized as one of the richest and enjoyable in our era. How else to explain in the age of the Internet that Ami and Yumi are still one of the best kept-secrets to North America outside of their cult-following? Especially when they consistently crank out giddily, amped-up tunes such as "Boom Boom Beat" and "Kimi to Motorbike" that give the ultimate in sugar rushes.

Key tracks: "Kimi to Motorbike," "Boom Boom Beat," "Oriental Diamond," "Ain't Gonna Cut It"

[Amazon] [iTunes] [Spotify]

18. Róisín Murphy - Overpowered (2007)

On her second solo album, the former Moloko vocalist took a less experimental route in favor of a bigger sound that relied on house and disco. While tracks like "Movie Star" and "Overpowered" were more immediate than most of her past work, Murphy still created thoughtful dance music that was darkly sexy in the same vein as Grace Jones' output from the '80s.

Key tracks: "Let Me Know," "Movie Star," "You Know Me Better" "Overpowered"

[Amazon] [iTunes] [Spotify]

17. Siobhán Donaghy - Ghosts (2007)

Long before it became the fashionable thing to do, Donaghy was the first person to leave Sugababes and strike out on her own. That trendsetting tendency supplied her second solo album with the ambition to show the artistic side of pop, using spirited arrangements and unconventional choruses in a package that didn't abandon the accessibility of her previous group. If a young Kate Bush had cared more about getting onto radio, it might have sounded like this.

Key tracks: "Make It Right," "Don't Give It Up," "So You Say," "Sometimes"

[Amazon] [Spotify]

16. Nelly Furtado - Whoa, Nelly! (2000)

The most well-known songs from this album, "I'm Like A Bird" and "Turn Off The Lights," were distinguishable enough to put Furtado in a separate category from the Britneys and Christinas at the time of its release, but they didn't even begin to hint at the pan-global style of one the most daring pop debuts of the decade. Whoa, Nelly! was wildly eclectic and vivid for its time, mixing Latin music, hip hop and R&B together in a way that became more accepted in the years since.

Key tracks: "I Will Make You Cry," "My Love Grows Deeper, Pt. 1," "Legend," "Turn Off The Light"

[Amazon] [iTunes] [Spotify]

15. Robyn - Robyn (2005)

In what has to be one of the more underrated reinventions in music, Robyn ditched her teen idol status and former label and became an underground dance darling in the process. Her third album displayed an electronic heavy sound that further pushed pop towards legitimacy on the Internet with production work from The Knife and Klas Åhlund of Teddybears. This newfound freedom allowed the Swedish singer to tap deeper into her sensual and emotional sides and still retain a playful sense of humor. It was an odd mix, but no no less appealing when the complete package is considered.

Key tracks: "Konichiwa Bitches," "Handle Me," "Be Mine," "Crash and Burn Girl"

[Amazon] [iTunes] [Spotify]

14. PUFFY - Nice (2002)

The following albums from this J-pop duo would see declining involvement from Andy Sturmer (lead singer/drummer for the beloved power pop band, Jellyfish), who had arguably written and produced some of their strongest work since the group's early days. For their seventh album, Sturmer had his hand in every track as either a writer or producer, marking one of their least eclectic albums but also one of their strongest. Aside from Sturmer's contributions, the true stars of the record, Ami and Yumi, brought a liveliness to the songs with youthful harmonies that belied their age.

Key tracks: "Akai Buranko," "Tokyo Nights" "Thank You," "Invisible Tomorrow"


13. Little Jackie - The Stoop (2008)

With hip hop-inflected beats and sunny Motown flourishes, the debut album from Imani Coppola and Adam Pallin sounded like a colorful NYC block party that would have as much double dutch as there was Bacardi-swigging going on. Even though there was a summery vibe throughout, The Stoop was often brash at times thanks to Coppola's street-smart rapid delivery, which injected humor and city girl edge to some garishly cheerful tracks.

Key tracks: "Cryin' For The Queen," "Black Barbie," "The World Should Revolve Around Me," "28 Butts"

[Amazon] [iTunes] [Spotify]

12. Lily Allen - Alright, Still (2006)

By the time Alright, Still made its way to American audiences, international pop music was now a staple of the internet and the blogosphere, making it only a matter of time before built-in buzz would help an act break stateside. Allen was the first act from that scene to have any significant kind of success in the U.S. with "Smile peaking at #49 on the Billboard Hot 100 and even making an appearance on Glee. With a winning combination of bubbly ska and biting, observant lyrics, Alright, Still stood as a worthy representative for the high level of European pop during the middle of the decade.

Key tracks: "Smile," "LDN," "Knock 'Em Out," "Take What You Take"

[Amazon] [iTunes] [Spotify]

11. Sophie Ellis-Bextor - Trip The Light Fantastic (2007)

Being one of the most elegant singers in U.K dance pop can come with its own set of expectations. In a world where image matters as much the music, Ellis-Bextor consistently delivered on both fronts for her third album with a sleek album cover and a vocal approach that embodied grace. The homerun single in the same vein as 2001's "Murder On The Dancefloor" came in the form of "Me and My Imagination," a gloriously glossy three-and-a-half minute exercise in 21st century disco.

Key tracks: "Me and My Imagination," "Love Is Here," "What Have We Started," "If I Can't Dance"

[Amazon] [iTunes] [Spotify]

Check back tomorrow for the top ten.

#50 - #41
#40 - #31
#30 - #21
#10 - #1

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