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 awesome list of music album masterpieces 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 Reddit beautiful blend of users, Vivaldi: Four Seasons had over 10,000 votes when a redditor posted it.
Kind of Blue — Miles Davis
Many critics regard Kind of Blue as Davis’ masterpiece, the greatest jazz record, and one of the best albums of all time. Because of its influence on music, including jazz, rock, and classical genres, commentators have named it one of the most influential albums ever recorded. The album was chosen as one of fifty recordings to be added to the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress in 2002, and it was named number 12 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time in 2003. The Recording Industry Association of America certified Kind of Blue 5 times Platinum in 2019, making it the best-selling jazz album of all time.
Mezzanine — Massive Attack
Massive Attack’s third studio album, Mezzanine, was released on April 20, 1998. The band began to explore a darker aesthetic for the album, focusing on a more ambient approach influenced by British post-punk, industrial music, hip hop, and dub music. Mezzanine was the group’s most commercially successful album to date, topping the charts in the United Kingdom, Australia, Ireland, and New Zealand. Many year-end lists ranked it highly. The album produced four singles, “Risingson,” “Teardrop,” “Angel,” and “Inertia Creeps,” all of which charted in the United Kingdom.
Rumours — Fleetwood Mac
Rumours includes significant pop rock tones, typified by accentuated rhythms and electric keyboards, and was recorded by Fleetwood Mac with the purpose of generating “a pop album.” There were many delays with the release of this album and when finally released Fleetwood Mac embarked on a worldwide promotional tour. Rumours was an instant commercial success, selling over 10 million copies worldwide in less than a month. It received considerable critical acclaim, with praise focusing on its production quality and harmonies, which frequently relied on the interplay of three vocalists. At the 1977 Grammy Awards, it was named Album of the Year and went on to become one of the best-selling albums of all time, having sold over 40 million copies worldwide. It has achieved Diamond certifications in various countries, including the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia, as well as 20 Platinum certifications in the United States. Singles including “Go Your Own Way,” “Dreams,” “Don’t Stop,” and “You Make Loving Fun” all charted in the United States, with “Dreams” reaching number one.
Discovery — Daft Punk
Daft Punk’s Discovery is one of the most influential electronic albums of all time. The album redefined what electronic music could be, and paved the way for a new generation of artists. Daft Punk’s unique blend of house, techno, and pop created a sound that was both fresh and timeless. The album’s catchy melodies and innovative production techniques have inspired countless producers and DJs. Discovery is a true classic, and its influence can still be felt today.
The Downward Spiral — Nine Inch Nails
The Downward Spiral is the second studio album by Nine Inch Nails, released on March 8, 1994 by Nothing Records and Interscope Records. The Downward Spiral is a concept album about a man who is descending into madness. Produced by Trent Reznor and Flood, the album was a commercial and critical success, reaching number two on the Billboard 200 and selling over two million copies in the United States. The Downward Spiral was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Album and has been cited as an influence on many subsequent albums, including Radiohead’s OK Computer and Kid A, and Deftones’ White Pony.
Watermark — Enya
Watermark is the second studio album by Irish singer-songwriter Enya, released on 19 September 1988 by Geffen Records. The album features the singles “Orinoco Flow” and “Evening Falls”, which were both top ten hits in the UK. Watermark was a commercial and critical success, reaching number one in several countries and selling over 11 million copies worldwide. Enya’s music is often described as ethereal, and Watermark is no exception. The album’s opening track, “Watermark”, is a perfect example of this, with its gentle piano melody and Enya’s angelic vocals. “Orinoco Flow” is another standout track, with its catchy chorus and lush production.
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 a 1973 album by Stevie Wonder. It is widely regarded as one of the best albums of all time, and features some of Wonder’s most iconic songs, including “Living for the City” and “Higher Ground”. The album is notable for its use of synthesizers and Wonder’s virtuosic piano playing. Innervisions is a timeless classic that still sounds fresh and relevant today.
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
Radiohead’s “OK Computer” is a masterpiece of an album. It is a dark and atmospheric record, with each song feeling like its own little world. The album is full of beautiful melodies and haunting lyrics, and it is clear that Radiohead put a lot of thought and care into its creation. “OK Computer” is an important album for any fan of music to have in their collection.
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.
That’s it. If you haven’t listened to one of these in a while, it might be a good time to try one again.