This month’s issue of GQ includes a list of “The 21 Albums from the 21st Century Every Man Should Hear.” Naturally, cover boy Kanye West claims the No. 1 spot with his 2010 opus, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, with The Strokes’ Is This It, OutKast’s Stankonia, Daft Punk’s Discovery, and LCD Soundsystem’s Sound of Silver rounding out the top 5.
Interestingly enough, the list contains not one Radiohead album. No, not even 2000’s Kid A. It does, however, feature two albums released in 2013 (Vampire Weekend’s Modern Vampires of the City and Beyoncé’s self-titled fifth LP). Other recent albums included: Frank Ocean’s channel ORANGE (2012), PJ Harvey’s Let England Shake (2011), and Gil Scott-Heron & Jamie xx’s We’re New Here (2011).
Oh, and The Libertines’ Up the Bracket placed at No. 20. Again, Radiohead placed nowhere.
Along with its own list, GQ had some of the included artists share their personal picks for the century’s best album. Daft Punk went with The Strokes’ Is This It, Beck showed love for M.I.A.’s Arular, and Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Karen O went with fellow NYC outfit Liars and their LP, They Threw Us All in a Trench and Stuck a Monument. Justin Timberlake, meanwhile, nominated D’Angelo’s Voodoo and Kid A. So, at the very least, the kids on At Ease can rest well knowing JT is on their side.
Daft Punk nominate The Strokes’ Is This It
“Julian and his bandmates followed in the footsteps of the Velvet Underground, Television, Suicide, the Ramones, and Blondie, creating the fresh, distinctive sound we’d been waiting for for over a decade.
Justin Timberlake nominates D’Angelo’s Voodoo and Radiohead’s Kid A
“It may seem ironic that I’d pick two albums released in the first year of the twenty-first century, with all the great music that has come since then. But I was 19. I was ready to listen to music in a different way. Not only were they filled with great songs, but the sound of them really affected me. They were complete pieces of work—progressive and retro at the same time. They transformed whatever world I was in at the time. And eventually led to my desire to make my first solo record. I’ll always reference them as the inspiration that got me off of my ass. I always go back to them, and they still do (get me off of my ass).”
Beck nominates M.I.A.’s Arular
“You could feel that album in the air a few years before she did it—just these incredible kaleidoscopic filters of different cultures coming together in a pure and innocent way. The record had a political feeling of early Public Enemy but a sense of fun and energy. She’s just a raconteur.”
Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Karen O nominates Liars’ They Threw Us All in a Trench and Stuck a Monument
“With gnarly absurdist hooks, it was for me the jewel in the crown of the New York music scene at the turn of the century. We questioned it then, but now I’m certain we were having an honest-to-God moment.”
Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig nominates The Dirty Projectors’ The Glad Fact
“Besides Stankonia? How ’bout the Dirty Projectors album The Glad Fact. It came at this moment when people were really wondering where alt-rock was gonna head. Dave Longstreth had this uniqueness of voice—and I don’t just mean his singing voice, which is unique, but the perspective. Also: It was my one and only published music review. Ha.”
Jamie xx nominates The Streets’ Original Pirate Material
“It was one of the first things I heard when I decided to make music using a computer. Although I could play some instruments, I wasn’t good enough to be original. With electronic music, it was different. Each song is basically a sample, a bass line and a beat to give Mike Skinner the space to do his thing. He just speaks and tells stories. It’s set around the area I grew up in—Brixton, in southwest London. Everybody my age was listening to it. Everybody got it.”
GQ’s Top 21 Albums of the 21st Century:
01. Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
02. The Strokes – Is This It
03. OutKast – Stankonia
04. Daft Punk – Discovery
05. LCD Soundsystem – Sound of Silver
06. D’Angelo – Voodoo
07. Frank Ocean – channel ORANGE
08. The White Stripes – Elephant
09. Justin Timberlake – FutureSex/LoveSounds
10. Ghostface Killah – Supreme Clientele
11. Back to Black – Amy Winehouse
12. Jay Z – The Blueprint
13. Beck – Sea Change
14. PJ Harvey – Let England Shake
15. Gil Scott-Heron & Jamie xx – We’re New Here
16. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Fever to Tell
17. Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City
18. Beyoncé – Beyoncé
19. J Dilla – Donuts
20. The Libertines – Up the Bracket
21. Fiona Apple – Extraordinary Machine