What makes a music album a masterpiece from beginning to end? There are a number of factors that can contribute to this, but ultimately it comes down to the quality of the music and the cohesion of the album as a whole. Great albums flow seamlessly from one song to the next, and each track feels like it belongs exactly where it is. The best albums also have a clear vision and purpose, and each song works towards furthering that goal.
With so many incredible albums out there, it can be hard to narrow down the field to just a few essential selections. Lucky for us, Reddit user jessica1864 asked the question and as per usual, the Redditors came together and created an awesome list of masterpieces. What I really like about this list is that is has been created by thousands of Redditors and voted by those same people. It is a far superior way to put a collection of brilliant albums together, instead of one writer for a magazine putting together their favorites.
I have read through all the submissions and I have grabbed the most popular submissions to put together this list of best music albums that each should be listened to from start to finish. Starting with the most voted is…
The Four Seasons – Vivaldi
The Four Seasons is a collection of four violin concertos by Italian composer Antonio Vivaldi, each representing a different season of the year. These were written between 1718 and 1720, when Vivaldi was the palace chapel master in Mantua. They were published in Amsterdam in 1725, along with eight other concerti, as Il cimento dell’armonia e dell’inventione (The Contest Between Harmony and Invention). Highlighting Reddits beautiful blend of users, Vivaldi: Four Seasons had over 10,000 votes when a redditor posted it.
Kind of Blue – Miles Davis
“Kind of Blue” is a jazz album by Miles Davis, released in 1959. It is considered one of the most important and influential albums in the history of jazz music, and is often cited as Davis’ masterpiece. The album features Davis on trumpet, along with a quintet of jazz musicians including John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderley, Bill Evans, and Paul Chambers. The album features a unique style of jazz known as “modal jazz,” which features improvisation based on scales rather than chord progressions. It is characterized by its relaxed, melodic sound, and has been praised for its innovative approach to harmony and rhythm. “Kind of Blue” has been widely acclaimed by music critics and continues to be popular to this day.
Mezzanine – Massive Attack
“Mezzanine” is the third studio album by British trip-hop group Massive Attack, released in 1998. The album features a mix of electronic and hip-hop influences, with a heavy use of drum machines and samples. The band’s signature atmospheric and brooding sound is prominent throughout the album, which also features contributions from vocalists such as Horace Andy and Elizabeth Fraser. The album’s standout tracks include “Angel” and “Teardrop” both known for its haunting and emotive vocals, and the instrumental track “Inertia Creeps” which showcases the band’s skillful use of electronic elements. The album was a commercial success and was widely acclaimed by music critics, and it is often considered one of the greatest trip-hop albums of all time.
Rumours – Fleetwood Mac
“Rumours” is the eleventh studio album by British-American rock band Fleetwood Mac, released in 1977. The album was a huge commercial success, and it spent 31 non-consecutive weeks at the top of the Billboard 200 chart. It has since become one of the best-selling albums of all time with more than 40 million copies sold worldwide. The album features a mix of rock, pop, and folk influences, with a strong emphasis on the band’s harmonies and songwriting. The album features several hit singles such as “Go Your Own Way”, “Don’t Stop”, “Dreams” and “You Make Loving Fun”. The album was recorded during a tumultuous time for the band, as several of the band members were going through personal and romantic problems. This personal turmoil is reflected in the album’s lyrics, which deal with themes of love, heartbreak, and betrayal. The album’s raw emotionality, combined with its polished sound and catchy hooks, helped make it a classic of 1970s rock music.
Discovery – Daft Punk
“Discovery” is the second studio album by French electronic music duo Daft Punk, released in 2001. The album features a more pop-oriented sound than the duo’s debut album “Homework”, and incorporates elements of funk, disco and rock music. The album features a mix of live instrumentation and electronic production techniques, and it is known for its catchy hooks and upbeat electronic beats. The album features a heap of hits including “One More Time”, “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” and “Digital Love”, which helped the album become a commercial success. The album also features a song “Aerodynamic” known for its guitar-based instrumental intro, and “Superheroes” which is known for its emotional lyrics. The album was widely acclaimed by critics, who praised its catchy melodies, inventive production, and nostalgic aesthetic. “Discovery” is often considered a classic of the French house music scene, and it helped solidify Daft Punk’s status as one of the most influential electronic music acts of the 21st century.
The Downward Spiral – Nine Inch Nails
“The Downward Spiral” is the second studio album by American industrial rock band Nine Inch Nails, released in 1994. The album features a raw, intense sound that incorporates elements of industrial, electronic, and heavy metal music. The album is known for its aggressive and abrasive sound, as well as its confrontational lyrics, which deal with themes of self-destruction, despair and anger. The album features several hit singles such as “Closer” (Reznor was originally concerned with releasing this single first due to it’s lyrics) and “Hurt” (which was covered by Johnny Cash!), which helped the album become a commercial success. The album also features songs such as “March of the Pigs” and “Piggy” which are known for its heavy guitar-based sound and “Reptile” which is known for its dark and atmospheric instrumental. The album was produced by Trent Reznor, the band’s frontman, who wrote, recorded and produced the album in a secluded mansion in California, the album is considered a masterpiece of industrial rock and is often cited as one of the most important and influential albums in the genre.
Watermark – Enya
“Watermark” is the second studio album by Irish singer-songwriter and musician Enya, released in 1988. The album features a blend of New Age, Celtic and ambient music, and is known for its ethereal and dreamy soundscapes. The album features Enya’s signature use of lush instrumental arrangements, multi-layered vocals and a mix of traditional and modern instrumentation. Featuring hit singles such as “Orinoco Flow” and “Evening Falls” that helped the album become a commercial success. The album also features songs such as “Storms in Africa” and “Exile” which are known for its atmospheric and melodic sound. The album was produced by Nicky Ryan, Enya’s longtime collaborator, who helped shape the album’s sound and aesthetic. “Watermark” was widely acclaimed by critics and helped establish Enya as one of the most popular and successful New Age musicians of all time. The album continues to be popular to this day and it is considered a classic of the genre.
Led Zepplin – IV
Led Zeppelin’s fourth album, IV, is one of the band’s most popular and influential releases. The album features some of Led Zeppelin’s most well-known songs, including “Stairway to Heaven,” “Black Dog,” and “Rock and Roll.” IV is often considered Led Zeppelin’s best album, and it has been ranked as one of the greatest albums of all time by many publications. The album’s artwork, which features a mystical image of a hermit on a mountain, is also iconic and has been copied and imitated many times. Led Zeppelin’s IV is a classic album that has stood the test of time and remains one of the most popular and influential rock albums ever released.
Dark Side of the Moon – Pink Floyd
Pink Floyd’s album, Dark Side of the Moon, is a classic rock album that is beloved by fans all over the world. The album was released in 1973 and is one of the band’s most successful and well-known albums. The album’s artwork is iconic and the album’s songs are some of Pink Floyd’s most popular, including “Money,” “Us and Them,” and “Brain Damage.” Dark Side of the Moon is a must-have album for any Pink Floyd fan, and is a classic rock album that will be loved for generations to come.
To Pimp a Butterfly – Kendrick Lamar
Redditors are a picky bunch and getting a hip-hop album to rank high on the list is no easy task. Kendrick Lamar’s “To Pimp a Butterfly” is one of the most important hip-hop albums of the past decade. It’s a masterful work of art that tackles difficult subjects like race and poverty with honesty and compassion. Lamar is a gifted wordsmith who knows how to craft catchy hooks and flow effortlessly between different styles of rap. The production on the album is top-notch, with a mix of jazz, soul, and funk that gives the album a unique sound. “To Pimp a Butterfly” is an essential album for anyone who loves hip-hop.
Innervisions – Stevie Wonder
“Innervisions” is the sixteenth studio album by American singer-songwriter and musician Stevie Wonder, released in 1973. The album features a mix of funk, soul, and rock influences, and is known for its socially conscious and thought-provoking lyrics. The album features several hit singles such as “Higher Ground” and “Living for the City” which helped the album become a commercial success. The album also features songs such as “Too High” and “Visions” which are known for its funky beats and socially conscious lyrics. The album was produced by Stevie Wonder himself, who wrote, arranged, and produced the album. He also played all the instruments on the album, showcasing his multi-instrumental talent. “Innervisions” was widely acclaimed by critics and helped cement Stevie Wonder’s reputation as one of the most important and influential artists of the 1970s. The album won three Grammy Awards, and it is considered a classic of funk and soul music. It is often cited as one of Stevie Wonder’s greatest achievements, and it continues to be popular to this day.
The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars – David Bowie
David Bowie’s The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars is a classic album that has stood the test of time. Released in 1972, the album is a mix of glam rock and hard rock that is unique and ahead of its time. Bowie’s theatrical performance style and androgynous look were a perfect match for the music, and the album became an instant classic. The title track, “Ziggy Stardust,” is a perfect example of Bowie’s talent for writing catchy, yet thought-provoking songs. The album is a must-listen for any fan of rock music.
OK Computer – Radiohead
“OK Computer” is the third studio album by the English rock band Radiohead, released in 1997. The album features a mix of alternative rock, electronic, and experimental music, and is known for its complex arrangements and thought-provoking lyrics. The album features several hit singles such as “Karma Police” and “No Surprises” which helped the album become a commercial success. The album also features songs such as “Paranoid Android” and “Exit Music (For a Film)” which are known for its dynamic soundscapes and emotive lyrics. The album was produced by Nigel Godrich, who has been a long-time collaborator with the band. “OK Computer” was widely acclaimed by critics and helped establish Radiohead as one of the most important and innovative bands of the 1990s. The album won several awards, including the Grammy for Best Alternative Music Album, and it is considered a classic of the genre. The album’s themes about alienation, technology, and the future, and its blending of electronic and rock sounds, has been said to have had a significant impact on the music scene and continues to be popular and influencing to this day.
Madvillainy – MF DOOM
The second rap artist to make it on to Reddit’s very strong list of music albums that are masterpieces from beginning to end. MF DOOM began recording Madvillainy between 2002 and finished recording some time in 2004. During a trip to Brazil, Madlib created the majority of the instrumentals in his hotel room using only a Boss SP-303 sampler, a turntable, and a tape player. An unfinished demo version of the album was stolen and posted onto the internet fourteen months before its release. Frustrated, the duo abandoned the record, only to return to it after releasing other individual projects.
Disintergration – The Cure
The Cure’s eighth studio album, Disintegration, was released on May 2, 1989 on Fiction Records. The album represents a return to the band’s early 1980s introspective gothic rock approach. As he approached his 30th birthday, vocalist and guitarist Robert Smith felt growing pressure to follow up on the band’s commercial achievements with more significant work. This, along with a dislike for the band’s sudden notoriety, led Smith to relapse into the usage of psychedelics, the consequences of which had a considerable influence on the album’s development.
The album achieved the band’s first commercial success, debuting at number three in the United Kingdom and number twelve in the United States, and yielding numerous successful singles, including “Lovesong,” which peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100. With over four million copies sold globally, it is the band’s best-selling album to date.
Stop Making Sense – Talking Heads
Stop Making Sense is a documentary concert film featuring the American rock band Talking Heads. The film was directed by Jonathan Demme and released in 1984. It chronicles the band’s 1982 tour in support of their album Speaking in Tongues. The movie is notable for its innovative use of camera work and editing, as well as its stage design and choreography. It is considered one of the greatest concert films of all time. Lead singer and guitarist David Byrne is the focus of the movie, and his unique stage presence and performance style are on full display. The movie also features performances by bassist Tina Weymouth, drummer Chris Frantz, and keyboardist Jerry Harrison. Fortunately, for music aficionado’s, you can purchase or listen to the soundtrack all on it’s own!
Wish You Were Here – Pink Floyd
Pink Floyd’s ninth studio album, Wish You Were Here, was released in September 1975. The album was a commercial and critical success, reaching number one in the UK and US. The title track, “Wish You Were Here”, became one of the band’s most popular songs and is a timeless classic that speaks to the human condition. The lyrics are both introspective and universal, and the music is both beautiful and haunting. The song is about loss and longing, and the desire for connection. It is a song for anyone who has ever felt alone or lost. The song is also about hope, and the belief that someday we will all be reunited. “Wish You Were Here” is a reminder that we are all connected, and that we are all in this together. The album also features the classic track “Shine On You Crazy Diamond”, which is a tribute to Pink Floyd’s former member Syd Barrett.
Graceland – Paul Simon
Paul Simon’s album Graceland is a masterpiece. It is a perfect blend of Simon’s songwriting, the South African musicians he collaborated with, and the various genres of music he incorporated. The result is an album that is both unique and timeless. Graceland is an album that is dear to me. I remember the first time I heard it, I was blown away by the opening track, “The Boy in the Bubble.” The song is so catchy and upbeat, but the lyrics are also very thoughtful and deep. I was hooked from the first listen. The album is full of other great tracks like “Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes” and “You Can Call Me Al”.
Toxicity – System of a Down
Toxicity is the third studio album by Armenian-American rock band System of a Down, released on September 4, 2001 by Columbia Records. It was the band’s first album to be produced by Rick Rubin. The album’s artwork was created by Daron Malakian. The album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, selling over 660,000 copies in its first week. It was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) on December 5, 2001. The album was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance in 2002. System of a Down began writing Toxicity in mid-2000. The band recorded the album in November 2000 with Rubin.
Demon Days – Gorillaz
Demon Days is the second studio album by English virtual band Gorillaz, released on 11 May 2005 in the United Kingdom by Parlophone and in the United States by Virgin Records. The album features the singles “Feel Good Inc.”, “DARE”, “Kids with Guns” / “El Mañana”, and “Demon Days”. It peaked at number one on the UK Albums Chart and number six on the US Billboard 200. Demon Days went on to sell over 8.3 million copies worldwide. The album was recorded between September 2004 and March 2005 in London, New York City, and Los Angeles. It was produced by Gorillaz, Danger Mouse, and Jason Cox.
Songs for the Deaf – Queens of the Stone Age
Songs for the Deaf is the third studio album by American rock band Queens of the Stone Age, released on August 27, 2002. The album was a critical and commercial success, reaching number two on the Billboard 200 and selling over one million copies worldwide. The album was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Rock Album. Songs for the Deaf was recorded in two different studios: Sound City Studios in Van Nuys, California and Rancho De La Luna in Joshua Tree, California. The album was produced by Josh Homme and engineered by Joe Barresi. The album features a number of guest musicians, including Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters and Nirvana fame, and Mark Lanegan of Screaming Trees.
In the Court of the Crimson King – King Crimson
In the Court of the Crimson King is the debut album from the English rock band King Crimson, released in October 1969. The album is a masterpiece of psychedelic and progressive rock, and is often cited as one of the greatest and most influential albums of all time. The album’s artwork, by artist Barry Godber, is iconic and perfectly captures the dark and mysterious atmosphere of the music. The album’s opener, “21st Century Schizoid Man”, is a tour-de-force of heavy rock, with its driving riffs and chaotic energy. “I Talk to the Wind” is a beautiful and ethereal ballad, while “Epitaph” is a dark and brooding epic.
Nevermind – Nirvana
On September 24, 1991, DGC Records released Nevermind, the second studio album by American rock group Nirvana. It was Nirvana’s first major label record, as well as the first to include drummer Dave Grohl. Nevermind, produced by Butch Vig, has a more refined, radio-friendly vibe than the band’s previous output. It was recorded in May and June 1991 at Sound City Studios in Van Nuys, California, and Smart Studios in Madison, Wisconsin, and mastered that August at the Mastering Lab in Hollywood, California.
The album, mostly written by frontman Kurt Cobain, is notable for conveying a wide spectrum of emotions, being described as dark, hilarious, and unsettling. It features anti-establishment beliefs, anti-sexism, irritation, alienation, and damaged love, which is inspired by Cobain’s broken relationship with Tobi Vail of Bikini Kill. Contrary to the popular hedonistic themes of drugs and sex at the time, reviewers have noted that Nevermind re-energized sensitivity to mainstream rock.
The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill – Lauryn Hill
The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill is American singer and rapper Lauryn Hill’s debut solo album. Ruffhouse Records and Columbia Records released it on August 25, 1998. The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill is a neo soul and R&B album containing hip hop soul and reggae influences. Its lyrics address Hill’s pregnancy as well as the turbulence within her former band, the Fugees, and themes of love and God. The film and autobiographical memoir The Education of Sonny Carson, as well as Carter G. Woodson’s The Mis-Education of the Negro, inspired the album’s title.
Pet Sounds – The Beach Boys
The Beach Boys are one of the most influential bands of all time, and their album Pet Sounds is widely considered to be one of the best albums ever made. The Beach Boys released Pet Sounds in 1966, and the album quickly became a critical and commercial success. The album features some of the band’s most iconic songs, including “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” and “God Only Knows.” Pet Sounds is widely considered to be one of the best albums of all time, and it has had a huge impact on popular music. The album’s influence can be heard in the work of many different artists, including the Beatles, Michael Jackson, Prince and Radiohead.
Brothers in Arms – Dire Straits
Brothers in Arms is the fifth studio album by British rock band Dire Straits, released on 13 May 1985 by Vertigo Records internationally and by Warner Bros. Records in the United States. The album’s title track, “Brothers in Arms”, became an instant hit and one of the band’s most popular songs. The album was a commercial success, reaching number one on nine charts around the world, including the UK Albums Chart, the US Billboard 200, and the Canadian Albums Chart. In the US, it has been certified nine-times platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and has sold more than 30 million copies worldwide.
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