NPR listeners pick the top 50 best albums of 2010's first half. Discuss!

gorillaz-nprImage Credit: Jamie Hewlett/EMI MusicAs we head into the holiday weekend, what better way to honor the spirit of our great nation than with a highly subjective list guaranteed to elicit disdain, incredulity, and comments-section flame wars the likes of which our great forefathers and their pearly muskets could only dream?

AMERICA! Land of the free, home of the relentlessly opinionated, we celebrate you!

So let’s put on our fightin’ pants, shall we? NPR has released its listeners’ top 50 albums of the year to date, and honestly, it’s pretty solid—though by its nature, not nearly definitive. This is not the endzone for Kylies and Drakes and Lady Antebellums; the 50 albums contained here are comprised almost entirely of music for the KEXP-loving, Etsy-crafting, farmer’s-market-radish-buying members of the metaphysical nation state known as IndieSchmindieLand.

There are, of course, a few sad omissions amongst these largely excellent picks (I will leave it to you, dear Music Mixers, to supply the names, though cases could be made for, among others, Cocorosie, Titus Andronicus, Gil Scott Heron, Ariel Pink, Robyn, Marina and the Diamonds and Tame Impala to replace some underwhelmers like Jakob Dylan, Charlotte Gainsbourg, and Band of Horses).

Mostly, though, it’s the number-one pick that’s kind of a Wha Happen? The complete list is posted after the jump; but suffice it to say, those cartoon simians at the pinnacle did not exactly blow my mind back in March:

50 David Byrne: Here Lies Love
49 Bettye LaVette: Interpretations: The British Songbook
48 Laura Marling: I Speak Because I Can
47 Sade: Soldier Of Love
46 Corinne Bailey Rae: The Sea
45 Kings Go Forth: Outsiders Are Back
44 Quasi: American Gong
43 Owen Pallett: Heartland
42 Erykah Badu: New Amerykah Pt. 2, Return Of The Ankh
41 Ratatat: LP4
40 The Flaming Lips: Dark Side Of The Moon
39 Blitzen Trapper: Destroyer Of The Void
38. Four Tet: There Is Love In You
37 Laura Veirs: July Flame
36 Jakob Dylan: Women And Country
35 Charlotte Gainsbourg: IRM
34 Freelance Whales: Weathervanes
33 Massive Attack: Heligoland
32 Hold Steady: Heaven Is Whenever
31 Gaslight Anthem: American Slang
30 Crystal Castles: Crystal Castles (II)
29 Dead Weather: Sea Of Cowards
28 Caribou: Swim
27 Dr. Dog: Shame, Shame
26 Surfer Blood: Astro Coast
25 Frightened Rabbit: The Winter Of Mixed Drinks
24 Janelle Monae: The ArchAndroid
23 Josh Ritter: So Runs The World Away
22 Joanna Newsom: Have One On Me
21 MGMT: Congratulations
20 Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings: I Learned The Hard Way
19 Broken Social Scene: Forgiveness Rock Record
18 The Knife: Tomorrow, In A Year
17 Jonsi: Go
16 Band of Horses: Infinite Arms
15 She & Him: Volume Two
14 Flying Lotus: Cosmogramma
13 The New Pornographers: Together
12 Yeasayer: Odd Blood
11 Local Natives: Gorilla Manor
10 Sleigh Bells: Treats
09 Spoon: Transference
08 Mumford And Sons: Sigh No More
07 Beach House: Teen Dream
06 Vampire Weekend: Contra
05 LCD Soundsystem: This Is Happening
04 Broken Bells: Broken Bells
03 The Black Keys: Brothers
02 The National: High Violet
01 Gorillaz: Plastic Beach

So readers, tell us: Who would you shuffle, rejigger, or boot entirely? Who has been unjustly exiled from Etsy Radish Radio Island? (And thank you to Stereogum for getting here first)

(Follow the Music Mix on Twitter: @EWMusicMix.)

More from’s Music Mix:
Kanye West’s bizarre severed-head ‘Power’ artwork: Huh?
Lil Wayne gets probation on Arizona drugs and weapons charges
Bruce Springsteen readies ‘Darkness on the Edge of Town’ reissue: New details
Eminem debuts at the top of the Billboard 200 chart
REM reissues Fables of the Reconstruction: Exclusive preview!

Comments (51 total) Add your comment
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  • lol

    erykah badu and broken social scene should both be higher on the list… at least in the top 10 for both of them…

    • Sally in Chicago

      And where is Adam Lambert???

      • nodnarb

        Not 2010.

  • shane

    Where is Murder by Death’s Good Morning Magpie? I was happy to see the black keys though

  • HD

    OMG I’m so old, I only recognize like 4 acts on this list!

    • @benmuniz

      Lol. No kidding. I have only recognized two of the band names. Do they all exist?! Skeptical me.

    • TONY

      you only recognize FOUR names on the list?!?

      My God…. that’s two more than I know!!

    • MC

      Don’t worry. I’m a teenager, and I don’t even know more than ten of these names.

    • Michael Ellis

      OMG. I’m so young, I only recognize like 4 acts on this list!


        that’s because you are EW readers, and likely listen to mainstream garbage.

  • david

    Natalie Merchant ” Leave Your Sleep”

  • Ramo

    Beach House’s Teen Dream is far and away the best thing I’ve heard this year. Spoon, LCD Soundsystem and Vampire Weekend would also be in my top 10. A few other records I’ve been meaning to give a listen: The National, Broken Bells and Black Keys. This list will be a good reference for me to check out some new music.

    As far as that Sleigh Bells album, that would be #1 on my worst of the year list. What unlistenable garbage. Hated it.

    • Katie

      Good taste! And yeah, I don’t get the Sleigh Bells love either.

  • blah

    Broken Social Scene and Janelle Monae should definitely be higher up, and I can’t believe they omitted Robyn’s excellent Body Talk Pt. 1. Personally, my top 2 would be LCD Soundsystem and Beach House…

    • Katie

      Same on the top 2, maybe with Ariel Pink right behind!

  • Ally

    Move The Black Keys to #1 and you won’t get a single complaint from me.

    • S.O.

      Totally Agree. This album never lets off from beginning to end.

  • Fantasm

    Glad to see Mumford and Sons so high up on the list. Everyone do yourselves a favor and check out Sigh No More. I can honestly say it’s the best album featuring an electric banjo I’ve heard all year!

  • Sebastion

    Where is Monica Still Standing?? That is the best R&B Album of the year and the best of her career.

  • Miss Talk

    No B.o.B ? Huh.

  • nodnarb

    Sometimes I think hipsters are just as sheepish as the pop fans they have so much disdain for. Yes, MGMT’s first album was pure musical brilliant. But their new release redefines suck. It’s ok to admit it. They won’t take away your American Apparel hoodie.


      a hipster wouldn’t be caught dead listening to MGMT. it’s a pretty well known, break-out band.

  • Spike

    Gorillaz? Really? WTF? This is by far their worst record.

    Janelle Monae should have OWNED that list. And a lot of other folks shoulda been hire. Not impressed with the new Vampire Weekend and the new LCD Soundsystem is highly overrated.

    • nodnarb

      I was really surprised to see Gorillaz at the top. It has 2, maybe 3 good songs (admittedly Stylo is REALLY good), but the rest of it is crap. They’re a novelty act that releases great singles. But nothing more.

      • S.O.

        IMO… Plastic Beach is slightly better than Demon Days. Yeah there are a few songs from Plastic Beach that I question (the songs w/ Snoop Dogg & De La Soul), but the other songs that are my favorite (On Melancholy Hill, Glitter Freeze, Rhinestone Eyes, Stylo, etc..) make you forget about the few other mediocre songs from it. Demons Days fell off towards the end of the album (songs after Dare on the tracklist). But their 1st album in 2001 is the best out of the 3.

    • kb

      no one will listen to you since you can’t spell.

  • Adam

    Foals, Total Life Forever is a great follow-up for to Antidotes.

  • Adam

    wow (for to) I’m an idiot

  • cbc

    I agree the new MGMT is all kinds of suck but no one wants to admit it. I also really don’t understand why people think Band of Horses is so good. It wasn’t bad but there was nothing on the album that screamed interesting or quality to me.

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