Monday, April 01, 2013

Best 50 Pop Albums from 2000-2009: #50-#41

In a recent New York Times article, "The Extraordinary Science of Junk Food", it is discussed how certain foods and drinks are tested and manufactured to create a "bliss-point," which is basically that part of the brain that tells us to keep consuming regardless of what our bodies tell us. In a lot of ways, pop music is also about hitting that bliss-point, that point that brings us immediate pleasure and makes us repeat customers in the process. At its foundation, the purpose of most pop music is to hit that spot that makes us smile or dance without little thought or explanation as to how we got there. Much like how the scientists in that article went through exhaustive research to get the most out of a product, the same level of care and detail goes into making something aurally addictive in less than three-and-a-half minutes.

The previous decade provided us a renaissance in the genre, in which previously unheralded pop acts could now sit at the same table as some of the most acclaimed artists in respected fields such as rock, hip hop and so on. With the advent of the Internet allowing our tastes to broaden, there was no shortage of good music to be found, which makes the 2000s the perfect period to reexamine pop and with enough time having passed by, we can look at some of the later additions to the decade objectively and fairly.

The ranking of the albums are based mostly on how greatly I felt that "bliss-point" was achieved, overall quality and how well it has held up. I did take into account cultural and critical significance, but not very much, if barely at all. Pop music should be about that moment you flip out in the car when a song you like comes on, even if it's years old, not how a bunch of people bought into a hype for three months.

One more thing: since a good deal of these albums had months between the release in their native country and the United States, I often came across the international version first, which is what I'm judging on in a lot of cases. I'll be rolling out ten entries a day this week, with #10-#1 being revealed on Friday. But for now, let's get started with #50-#41.

50. McFly - Room On The 3rd Floor (2004)

Indebted to teen idols of the past, the debut album from this British quartet heavily relied on the sound of The Monkees, The Beach Boys and the British Invasion to make sensitive doe-eyed music to warm the hearts of adolescent girls. The boy-band packaging was both deception and confirmation. It was obvious that hearts would be attached firmly on the sleeve, but it wasn't apparent that it would be done with such unexpected catchiness.

Key tracks: "Room On The 3rd Floor," "Obviously," "Five Colours In Her Hair"

[Amazon] [iTunes] [Spotify]

49. Fefe Dobson - Sunday Love (2006)

The true follow-up to Dobson's debut wasn't officially released by her label until just a few months ago, making it a bootleg-only gem for several years. Moving further towards a harder-edged pop/punk sound with crunchier guitars and a newfound Joan Jett snarl, Sunday Love would have allowed Dobson to make a grab for the thrones of Pink, Kelly Clarkson and Avril Lavigne in a just world.

Key tracks: "Don't Let It Go To Your Head," "As A Blonde," "Get You Off"

[Amazon] [iTunes] [Spotify]

48. Paramore - Riot! (2007)

The emo-pop explosion of the mid-2000s provided its fair share of anguished lyrics and explosive choruses, but what made Riot! so notable was the equal amount of of emphasis on hooks and confessional diary entries. While most bands managed this formula for their singles, Paramore made it a mission statement throughout the album.

Key tracks: "Hallelujah," "Misery Business," "That's What You Get"

[Amazon] [iTunes] [Spotify]

47. The Click Five - Greetings From Imrie House (2005)

The marketing strategy for this group went something along the lines of "boy band with instruments," which only glossed over the deep Cheap Trick and Cars influence on their music. By being packaged for a younger audience, Greetings From Imrie House had more zest than the average power pop album and enough sugary hooks to send a diabetic into a coma.

Key tracks: "Angel To You (Devil To Me)," "Pop Princess," "Just The Girl"

[Amazon] [iTunes] [Spotify]

46. Annie - Anniemal (2004)

The importance of this album can't be overstated since it helped pop become less of a dirty word in internet circles. "Heartbeat," with its icy production and slow-building arrangement (from fellow Norwegians Röyksopp) provided the right amount of IDM-cool and accessibility for Annie to be taken seriously. Along with a few Richard X songs, Anniemal overall was a fun, smart update of '80s dance pop.

Key tracks: "Heartbeat," "Me Plus One," "Chewing Gum," "Anniemal"

[Amazon] [iTunes] [Spotify]

45. Amy Diamond - Still Me Still Now (2006)

At 14 years old, Amy Diamond's second album was an ebullient, perky effort that stayed true to her age and Swedish roots. Some parts of these songs wouldn't have sounded out of place on Disney Radio, but things got delightfully strange when they ventured into a lite-showtune/vaudeville territory.

Key tracks: "Big Guns," "Diamonds," "Don't Cry Your Heart Out," "That's Life"

[Amazon] [iTunes] [Spotify]

44. Alphabeat-This Is Alphabeat (2008)

With the pop music of the 1980s as a blueprint, this Danish group's debut was filled with giddy moments that were unabashed in its joy and recalled the heyday of Madonna and Wham! "Fascination," which became a hit throughout Europe, was the best example of their rainbow-reaching attempt to provide songs of the sunniest caliber.

Key tracks: "Fascination," "Fantastic 6," "What Is Happening," "Rubber Boots"

[Amazon] [iTunes] [Spotify]

43. Avril Lavigne - The Best Damn Thing (2007)

With her third album, Lavigne took it back to the mall after sulking in the basement with Under My Skin. It was the perfect soundtrack for bratty, bubblegum-snapping kids who weren't afraid to flip the bird while shouting cheerleader chants. Pop maestros Dr. Luke and Butch Walker helped to make this one of the catchiest efforts that the pop/punk genre saw in the 2000s.

Key tracks: "Girlfriend," "I Can Do Better," "Hot"

[Amazon] [iTunes] [Spotify]

42. Juvelen - 1 (2008)

Sounding as if he spent his childhood singing Prince songs in the bathroom mirror, Swedish electropop singer Juvelen used funk and sex to great effect over glitzy soundscapes. His distinct vocal mannerisms were more than just savvy karaoke tricks as evidenced in the sensitivity and yearning brought to "Watch Your Step" and "They Don't Love You."

Key tracks: "Don't Mess," "They Don't Love You," "Summer-Spring"

[Amazon] [iTunes] [Spotify]

41. Veronica Maggio - Och vinnaren är... (2008)

It's not often that you hear the influence of Motown and the Mods in Swedish pop music, which made Veronica Maggio's second album a unique concept. While bearing some of the trademarks of Adele, Duffy and Amy Winehouse, Och vinnaren är... was a decidedly more darker affair than some of the other pop soul revivalists happening around the same time.

Key tracks: "Måndagsbarn," "V För Vendetta," "Inget Kan Ändra På Det"


#40 - #31
#30 - #21
#20 - #11
#10 - #1

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