Exclusive: 'Gossip Girl' co-creator Josh Schwartz gives us his take on the albums that defined the decade

For Entertainment Weekly’s Best of the Decade special issue, we asked some of the sharpest minds in film and television to give us their take on the past ten years. Josh Schwartz, creator of The O.C. and co-creator of Gossip Girl and Chuck, shared his insights into how and why America became Playlist Nation in the 2000s, and how the rise of digital music threatened to kill the album, but ultimately didn’t. To prove his point, Josh gave EW.com this exclusive list of the albums he feels best defined the decade. To read Josh Schwartz’s full essay on the decade in music, pick up the current issue of EW, on stands now.

In our new Playlist Nation, many felt the age of the album was over, with shuffle-happy listeners too busy downloading singles and ringtones. This is an attempt to present ten albums that defied that trend and defined this decade.  Hopefully they will be heard for a long, long time.  And no matter when you hear them, they will transport you back to this time. —Josh Schwartz

Best Albums by the Defining Artists of the ’00s

Radiohead, Kid A


Jay-Z, The Blueprint


[Schwartz’s list continues after the jump…]

Best Albums That Saved Their Respective Genres

The Strokes, Is This It


Outkast, Stankonia


Best Albums That Changed Those Genres

Kanye West, College Dropout


Arcade Fire, Funeral


Best Albums That Capture What This Decade Felt Like

M.I.A., Kala


LCD Soundsystem, Sounds of Silver


Best Album by a Band Who Had So Many Good Albums It’s Tough To Choose Just One

White Stripes, Elephant


Best Albums About Becoming a Grownup (which happened to me this decade… a.k.a. Best Albums I Listened To a Lot)

Wilco, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot


The National, Boxer


Comments (79 total) Add your comment
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  • KFed

    I kept scrolling to see one I liked … still scrolling. I know there’s Jay-Z and Radiohead, I know I am a heathen … but it sort of reads like “albums I know people will think I’m cool if I say I like”.

    • Phil

      Fail, KFed.

      These are good albums, genuinely good. Just because he chose indie favs like Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, Sounds of Silver, and Boxer doesn’t mean he’s trying to attain a level of “cool”. These albums are among the best of the decade, for sure, and anyone without Radiohead or Arcade Fire on their decade list is out of it anyway.

      • Zach

        I hafta agree with that statement. Arcade Fire is one of the best of the Decade but by no means on the level of Radiohead.

    • Joel

      If you watch any of Josh Schwartz’s shows, you will know that he is by no means picking things just so that he sounds cool. The guy knows good music.

      We all have our own favorites, and nobody’s list is going to be exactly the same, but every CD on this list that I know is fantastic.

  • Cameron

    Unless you prefer classical music, country music, or metal this list is pretty solid. Defines the decade well, @ least for the 18-40 set who matured during this decade

  • Cindy

    A list without American Idiot? Fail.

    • Gina

      i dont think so. A list without Radiohead, that’s a failure!

    • Kerblah

      American Idiot is a terrible album.

      List is okay.

      • Epi

        American Idiot has no business being on a Best of list. Green Day is way over rated. Good to see Radiohead and Arcade Fire on this list.

    • Lostie4Life

      American Idiot does deserve to be on the Best list. Only problem is this list is one guy’s opinion. Wait till EW’s Best of the Decade comes out. Bet it will be on the list that actually matters

  • Wil

    Oh wow, that’s a good list. :)

  • i’m a lady

    I’m not big on hip-hop, but that list seems pretty reflective of the decade. Thinking back, this is the decade I became a grown-up, too.

  • Cole Hutchison

    awesome list…almost perfectly describes this decade as far as music goes

  • j

    Love the choice of Wilco, The Strokes, Arcade Fire, MIA, and Radiohead. In my opinion, White Stripes are THE artists of this decade.

  • ben

    It’s cool to see Arcade Fire’s Funeral on there. It’s definitely a defining album of the decade.
    Interesting to see The National on there.

  • Hayley

    What? No Coldplay?

    • Ninnie


      • Phil


  • Gina

    The list is interesting since these are some of the decade’s best albums!

    • jk

      Um, that’s kind of the point.

  • Maddi

    The only reason I know half these bands is because I read Questionable Content. Not that there isn’t a lot of underappreciated indie goodness out there, but no love for albums people that were popular? There was some really good pop music this decade among the crap.

    • Phil

      What are some examples? If you say Black Eyed Peas or Coldplay, you fail.

  • S.O.

    I have no problem with that list. I would add Parachutes by Coldplay, Transatlanticism by Death Cab for Cutie, Turn On The Bright Lights by Interpol, and probably the 1st Gorillaz album.

    • Bren

      For me, the albums I really loved were A Rush of Blood to the Head (Coldplay), All That You Can’t Leave Behind (U2) and The Eminem Show (Eminem). Although, I like Schwart’s list, too.

      • Bren

        @ S.O. I wasn’t trying to reply to you. My computer isn’t playing nice this evening.

    • Connor

      Yeah, Turn on the Bright Lights should definately be there.

  • Frank from MusicNerdClub.com

    Not bad. These albums seem to be appearing a lot on the decade-end lists. No surprises either (except for The National, but still cool).

  • dave

    Wow these are some great albums. Radiohead’s Kid A is one of my favorite albums of all time. And just the other day, I got hooked on The Strokes Is This It all over again.

  • dwa

    come on, he thinks listening to a gay fish is okay. this list is full of fail and we all know that.

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