Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Best 50 Pop Albums from 2000-2009: #40-#31

This week, I'm counting down the top 50 pop albums of the 2000s. This is part 2 of 5. 

40. Spymob - Sitting Around Keeping Score (2004)

While they gained most of their fame as the backing band for N*E*R*D, their own tunes have more in common with the power pop of Todd Rundgren and Jellyfish and the polished soul of Hall & Oates. The determined energy they showed on In Search Of... brought even more of a punch to choruses that already had their fair share of candy coating.

Key tracks: "Stand Up & Win," "It Gets Me Going" "Sitting Around Keeping Score"

[Amazon] [Spotify]

39. Fergie - The Dutchess (2006)

Despite all of his success, will.i.am remains one of music's most underrated producers to the general public. Being the figurehead of one of the most divisive acts of this era has always led to easy dismissal, even if a lot of his work is solid. Along with Fergie's diverse voice and a modest (in comparison), yet still eclectic approach, The Dutchess was able to include something for everyone, a tactic that came off more naturally here than for the Black Eyed Peas post-2003.

Key tracks: "Mary Jane Shoes," "Clumsy," "Velvet," "London Bridge"

[Amazon] [iTunes] [Spotify]

38. Lady Gaga - The Fame (2008)

Beyond the singles, The Fame has held up well since Gaga has always been a songwriter first at heart, crafting songs that were huge enough in scope to rock an arena, but perfectly suited for the dancefloor. While the album doesn't get enough attention for being a meta-commentary on tabloid life, it did help to bring nightclub culture back to a mainstream America that was averse to glitter and flamboyance in their dance music.

Key tracks: "Paparazzi," "Boys Boys Boys," "Poker Face" "Summerboy"

[Amazon] [iTunes] [Spotify]

37. Britney Spears - Blackout (2007)

In spite of all the personal issues she was dealing with leading up to the recording of this album, Spears managed to deliver a surprisingly cohesive effort that firmly ditched her teenybopper past and continued where 2003's club-oriented In The Zone left off. With the majority of the production done by Danja and Bloodshy & Avant, she sounded more robust and relevant than ever and finally earned the comparisons to Madonna and Janet Jackson that had been made throughout her career with songs that were authentically sexy and full of authority.

Key tracks: "Radar," "Piece of Me," Heaven On Earth," "Why Should I Be Sad"

[Amazon] [iTunes] [Spotify]

36. La Roux - La Roux (2009)

Not that anyone was clamoring for a 21st century version of Human League, but since that title was up grabs, the British duo of Elly Jackson and Ben Langmaid easily laid claim to it with hard-edged synthpop that paid tribute to its predecessors while escaping the label of being a retro act. Extra points for deceiving America with the irresistible "Bulletproof" but actually providing an entire album full of songs for shattered hearts that refuse to leave the dance floor.

Key tracks: "Reflections Are Protection," "Bulletproof," "As If By Magic"

[Amazon] [iTunes] [Spotify]

35. The Veronicas - Hook Me Up (2007)

The Origliasso twins opted to leave behind the good girl routine and Hot Topic guitars for some liberated attitudes and pulsating synth pop sheen for their second album. The switch in sound didn't affect their knack for cranking out irresistible tunes, even if they lost a little of their innocence along the way.

Key tracks: "Untouched," "Take Me On The Floor," "Revenge Is Sweeter (Than You Ever Were)," "Goodbye To You"

[Amazon] [iTunes] [Spotify]

34. Music Go Music - Expressions (2009)

By taking the cheery sound of ABBA—among other adult contemporary pop acts of the 1970s—and mixing it with darker textures, Music Go Music made one of the more distinct albums in a era of pop that's more concerned with the digital instead of analog. The period that inspired their sound wore sincerity as a badge of honor and the songs here were served well with that lack of irony, which ironically enough made Expressions hip.

Key tracks: "Light Of Love," "Warm In The Shadows," "Explorers Of The Heart"

[Amazon] [iTunes] [Spotify]

33. Brooke Valentine - Chain Letter (2005)

Her debut single, "Girlfight," which featured Big Boi and production by Lil Jon, was a solid contemporary exercise in crunk during that genre's popularity in the middle of the decade, but it was far from an accurate portrayal of Valentine's sound. There are indeed hybrid hip-hop/R&B tracks such as "Playa" and "Long As You Come Home" that might have been more in mind with people's expectations, but the rest of the album was surprisingly eclectic and inventive with animated songs like "I Want You Dead" and "Blah-Blah-Blah" that had appeal beyond the urban market.

Key tracks: "I Want You Dead," "Ghetto Superstarz," "American Girl"

[Amazon] [iTunes] [Spotify]

32. Marit Larsen - The Chase (2008)

On her second solo album, the Norwegian singer/multi-instrumentalist further distanced herself from the teen pop sound of her former group, M2M, with a collection of songs that dabbled in melodic folk. The mature approach didn't get in the way of Larsen's winsome vocals, which remained as delicate as ever and provided a strong representation of youthful, pining hearts.

Key tracks: "Steal My Heart," "If A Song Could Get You," "Ten Steps," "Is It Love"

[Amazon] [Spotify]

31. Private - My Secret Lover (2007)

One of the main trends in European pop music from the past decade was the influence of synth-heavy R&B seeping into the music, most notably Scandinavian artists. Michael Jackson is an obvious point of reference for this Danish group, but picture him in an alternate universe where he stayed with the harder sounds of Off The Wall and Thriller, dated a ton of supermodels, partied with Prince and Rick James more often and you have an idea of what My Secret Lover sounds like.

Key tracks: "Crucify My Heart," "We Got Some Breaking Up To Do," "That Boy Is Hurting You"

[Amazon] [iTunes] [Spotify]

#50 - #41
#30 - #21
#20 - #11
#10 - #1

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