10 Albums to Listen to Before you Die

10 amazing albums that will bless your ears<3


The music industry is so diverse with its many differing genres, which can sometimes make it difficult to find your personal taste in music. However, there’s a few cult favorites that the majority of listeners enjoy that can influence your taste in music. In my opinion, most “Top 10 Albums to Listen to Before you Die” lists are repetitive, boring, and inaccurate. Some albums aren’t for everyone, but I can guarantee that this ranking will be nothing of the sort.

#10: Rumors – Fleetwood Mac (1977)

I know Rumors is considered a classic album already, but it still deserves a ranking in my list. Personally, Rumors by Fleetwood Mac was my musical awakening and I’ve been listening to it at least once a day since the 4th grade.  The album becomes significantly more deep and interesting when you discover some of the background behind the creation of Rumors. During the mid 70s after the success of Fleetwood Mac’s self-titled release, the band grew into a toxic state of disorientation and the band members’ relationships began to crumble. At the time, Stevie Nicks (front-woman) and her longtime boyfriend Lindsey Buckingham (guitar, vocals) had broken up while Christine McVie(keyboard, vocals) and her husband, John McVie (bass) were getting a divorce. The band seemed as though they wouldn’t even finish Rumors, yet it won a Grammy and kept the band together. One of my most favorite things about Rumors and front-woman Stevie Nicks is that she wrote “Dreams,” their most popular song, completely about Lindsey Buckingham who had to record and then play the track for the rest of his career with Fleetwood Mac. The rest of the album continues to cover their messy lives together, and, to be honest, I think it’s hilarious. From “Dreams” to “Go Your Own Way.” Rumors has something to offer for any listener.

Recommended Track: Track #2, “Dreams”

#9: Brand New Man- Brooks & Dunn (1991)

You may not have been expecting a country album to make this list, and don’t get me wrong, I didn’t expect it either. However, Brand New Man is one of the only country albums I can listen to in full without skipping a single song because it’s THAT good. These two men have some of the most beautiful and distinguishable voices, and for that I praise them with this #9 ranking. My older brother usually doesn’t take my music recommendations, but I played songs from this album one morning on the way to school and the next thing I know, he’s playing Brooks & Dunn and shouting all the lyrics on 526! Brooks & Dunn have a ton of catchy little tunes to listen to with the windows down, and this album is full of their greatest hits. I’m not sure if my description of their sound will do them any justice, but I’m confident you’ll like it too. Brooks & Dunn are the blueprint for all modern country artists and no one can change my mind, listen to any song off Brand New Man and you’ll see exactly what I mean. This album rocks my socks with some “Boot Scootin’ Boogies” (I hope at least one of you get that reference…).

Recommended Track: Track #5, “Neon Moon”

#8: Tha Carter IV- Lil Wayne (2011)

This might be a little controversial, but I quite literally only have good things to say about this album. Lil Wayne is one of the most influential rap artists of the late 00s and early 10s and it’s obvious in every single one of his albums. I knew I wanted to include one of his albums because, to be frank, I don’t think I’ve ever heard a “bad” Wayne song (that he released himself, not his features). My personal all-time favorite Wayne album is Tha Carter IV, so here it lies in the #8 spot on this list. It’s my favorite for a lot of reasons, most importantly it being the album that turned me into a fan. “How to Love” and “Mirrors” were the first two Wayne songs I ever listened to, both of which are on Carter IV. What really makes Wayne stand out to me, especially in this album, is his lyricism. In fact, his lyrics are so well said that I can quote a few from memory. I won’t in this article because this is a High School paper, but I’m sure if you’ve ever heard Lil Wayne rap, you know exactly what I’m talking about. In Carter IV, Wayne transitions from his typical rap sound to r&b and back again, making it somewhat versatile for listeners. At the time of its release, many thought Wayne couldn’t top Carter III, including himself. Despite its minimal anticipation, Carter IV debuted at #1 on the US Billboard 200 and sold  964,000 copies in its first week.

Recommended Track: Track #13, “President Carter”

#7: Sublime- Sublime (1996)

Sublime was a ska-punk and reggae rock band formed in 1988 but gained its mainstream popularity with their self-titled after lead singer Bradley Nowell’s passing in early 1996. The themes within the album range from somewhat political in “April 29, 1992 (Miami)”, which describes the LA riots of 1992, to post-breakup revenge in “Santeria,” which may or not even be traced to an actual relationship. Sublime’s “mascot” is Nowell’s dalmation, Lou Dog , who’s referenced in a lot of their songs. You know a band rocks when they have their own mascot. Sublime genre-bends more times than not, often switching between 80s inspired hip-hop and rap to Bob Marley style reggae, all mixed together with electric guitars all in a single song. That description itself probably makes Sublime sound terrifying, but I guarantee it’ll sound so cool if you listen to this album. Due to the self-titled album’s eventual mainstream success, Sublime has now gone 5x platinum (crazy stuff, I know. They kind of rock). Nowell’s sporadic writing created tracks that so many love and enjoy to this day, including myself and for that, Sublime’s self-titled lands at the #7 spot on my list.

Recommended Tracks: Track #3, “Wrong Way” and Track #4, “Same in the End”

#6: How to be a Human Being- The Glass Animals (2016)

As the 2018 winner of the “UK Album of the Year” and the “Self Produced Album of the Year” awards, I think it’s safe to say How to be a Human Being is a killer album. The Glass Animals are a band like no other, focusing on the psychedelic-rock genre with a more modern sound. This album in particular was written after their long and tiring tour for their previous album Zaba. They’re so different and cool, they even have a website dedicated to the character in their song “Life Itself. ” They’ve performed this album at festivals like Coachella and Lollapalooza, some of the most popular music festivals today. How to be a Human Being is one of the best albums to listen in full with the windows down on the interstate. I know, it’s specific, but it’ll make you feel like a rockstar. Fellow Talon writer Sophia Martuscello and I blast this album in the car on the way to school and How to be a Human Being plays all the time where I work. I never get sick of this album and it’s been a long-time favorite of mine. If you’re looking for a newer, unique group, you should check out The Glass Animals and How to be a Human Being.

Recommended Track: Track #1, “Life Itself”

#5: The Dark Side of the Moon- Pink Floyd (1973)

Originally, I was going to stay away from cult classic bands and Pink Floyd is no exception. In fact, The Dark Side of the Moon is arguably Pink Floyd’s most popular album. I’m not placing this album so high on the list for its popularity, I’m adding it purely because of the phenomenon of The Dark Side of Oz, the original Wizard of Oz film, but the original score is replaced with The Dark Side of the Moon. The scene changes in the movie match perfectly with the beginnings and endings of each track on the album, blowing the minds of all viewers. My favorite part where the scenes and songs align is when Dorothy arrives in Munchkin Land, but the track playing is “Money” by Pink Floyd. The track’s content matches with the new environment with a spiral yellow brick road and bright colors. Putting that small feature of the album aside, I’m going to explain some of my favorite songs on the album. “Time” and “Money” both have unique aspects that uses the sounds of coins, cash registers, and ticking clocks and a quick tempo while “Breathe” is a slower paced psychedelic rock song. Pink Floyd has a sound that separates them from most bands from their time, and some of my favorite songs of all time are featured on The Dark Side of the Moon.

Recommended Track: Track #5, “The Great Gig in the Sky”

#4: MTV Unplugged in New York- Nirvana (1994)

This “album” shouldn’t even count because it’s a live show recording, but I’m still adding it to my list anyways, deal with it! The MTV Unplugged series was super popular in the 90s, and Nirvana was one of the most highly demanded bands to appear on the show. On 18 November, 1993, Nirvana sat down and performed an acoustic set of covers and songs of their own. It’s not common to find a cover that’s better than the original, but during the MTV recording, Nirvana did it three (3) times. This portion of the article will also count as my apology towards the Meat Puppets, who originally released the aforementioned 3 songs, sorry for my words, but I speak nothing but the truth. The unplugged, acoustic aspect of the show sets an extremely contradictory, yet comforting tone for the night. Hearing Kurt Cobain (lead singer) play “About a Girl” from Unplugged while playing Guitar Hero 3: World Tour with my family was a defining moment in my childhood, and I’m here to offer a similar experience to you. Take a break from the typical aggressive sound of Nirvana and marinate in their MTV Unplugged in New York performance, you definitely won’t regret it.

Recommended Track: Track #12, “Lake of Fire”

#3: Swimming- Mac Miller (2018)

Mac Miller is one of my favorite rap artists of all time and I was so close to putting K.I.D.S or Good A.M at the number three spot, and even Circles crossed my mind. It was such a difficult experience while picking out a Mac album to put in this ranking because all of his albums are so good. I decided on Swimming because of Mac’s subtle switch to a more genre-bending sound. Mac’s writing seems a lot more personal and vulnerable, giving fans and listeners insight to his mind. Tracks like “Dunno”, “Come Back to Earth”, and “2009” all have completely different sounds with switches between r&b hip-hop, instrumental, and pop elements throughout each song. I consider this album to be one of his best. I’ve seen Mac develop as a writer and a rapper since the release of Good A.M and haven’t looked back since. His content has gone from fun, upbeat “Yolo” songs in K.I.D.S to introspective pieces with some of the most connective lyricism he’s ever released in Swimming. Mac worked on the album for 2 years after the release of The Divine Feminine, and the long wait for a new album was worth it. Swimming was even nominated for the “Best Rap Album of 2019” Grammy, but was completely robbed! Swimming deserves every bit of success it has received since its release.

Recommended Track: Track #12, “2009”

#2: The 1975- The 1975 (2013)

The self-titled album by the 1975 is a hodgepodge of sounds in the best way possible. It was the starting point for the 1975 to find themselves, and over the next three albums they created a sound that is undeniably theirs. If you ignore the inaudible lyrics and the constant satiric view on Americans, you’ll find true lyricism, as contradictory it may seem. Sometimes, I think Matty Healy (lead singer and writer) is completely joking with some of his songs, but I think that adds some ~flavor~ to their music. I consider this album to be their best, all things considered. For many, this album holds a lot of preteen nostalgia, and with that, I have zero regrets placing this album so high on the list. No matter what genre of music you listen to the most, the 1975’s self-titled album will have a song for you. I’m sure most of us remember the 2014-2015 Tumblr era of social media where the song “Chocolate,” though nearly inaudible, got onto top-40 radio. I have so much love for that song, but The 1975 has so much more to offer than that! I’d say the album crosses between the alt-pop, alt-rock, electronica, punk-rock, instrumental, and experimental genres throughout the entirety of its run time, and I think most would agree with me. Like I said earlier, there’s a little bit for everybody!

Recommended Tracks: Track #10, “Robbers” and Track #11, “Girls”

#1: To Pimp A Butterfly- Kendrick Lamar (2015)

My #1 pick is an obvious one. To Pimp a Butterfly is critically acclaimed and is said to be one of the most influential rap albums of the “new” wave of rap during the 2010s. During the time of the album’s release, the Black Lives Matter movement in America was in full swing, and it is still an issue in American society today. In the majority of Lamar’s songs, he discusses his personal experiences with growing up in Compton, California, a heavily policed area known for its high crime rate. To Pimp a Butterfly was heavily praised for its connections to the current events of the time and many listeners related to the life he faced with police brutality and racial prejudice. The single “Alright” was even considered to be the unifying anthem for the BLM movement! Not many albums can say they’ve had this much influence on a single genre of music, so much so that Kendrick Lamar was granted the key to the city  of Compton. In my freshman year, I entered an essay contest and wrote a killer paper about Kendrick Lamar’s career and To Pimp a Butterfly’s influence on pop-culture and politics. Needless to say, I won the contest because (I rock…lol) I love this album and Kendrick so much.

Recommended Tracks: Track #11, “How Much a Dollar Cost” and Track #3, “King Kunta”

I know some of these albums may not even be the artists’ best, but they’re all special for many different reasons. I hope some of you listen to some of the recommended songs or listen to one of the albums and love them as much as I do.