What's the best music of the 21st century so far?
December 12, 2017 4:34 PM   Subscribe

Please help me compile a list of songs that may help make sense (in a hopefully positive way) of this now 17 year old millennium. I'm not really concerned with genre or popularity (or lack thereof) or even critical acclaim. What sounds have you found indispensable so far in 21st Century -- Avalanches to Zero G, Major Lazer to MGMT?
posted by philip-random to Media & Arts (19 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
I'm going to propose viral talent show auditions as the most-est 21st-est century musical thing.

Susan Boyle
Amira Willighagen
Paul Potts

...etc, etc, etc.
posted by clawsoon at 4:47 PM on December 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

First thing that came to mind was Basinksi's Disintegration Loops.
posted by gyusan at 4:51 PM on December 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

Musically, politically, spiritually, culturally, Kendrick is the era-defining artist for me.
posted by Jellybean_Slybun at 5:01 PM on December 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

Anything by Michael Franti.

Anything by Ozomatli

These are my go-to musicians that I'm always in the mood for.
posted by MexicanYenta at 6:55 PM on December 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

I stopped having time to pay much attention to new music when I had a couple of kids early in the 21st century. Now that they're older and less time consuming I've been catching up on some of what I missed. My favorite new-to-me musicians are The National, Vampire Weekend, and Andrew Bird.

My kids are obsessed with the Hamilton soundtrack.
posted by Redstart at 7:08 PM on December 12, 2017

Two acts that seem very 21st century to me:

Das Racist- Brooklyn hipsters, of Latino and Indian ethnicity. Surprisingly insightful discourse, mixed with zillions of weed references. Circulated their best work as free ‘mix tapes’, now defunct.

Die Antwoord - South African zef (poor white) culture, Yolandi and Ninja are more clever by half than they may appear at first. Many came in for the cheap laughs at something weird and different, but they keep coming back because the “The Answer” (literal translation of Die Antwoord) is so compelling.
posted by SaltySalticid at 7:37 PM on December 12, 2017

To second Redstart, Hamilton seems to be the most 21st century of the 21st century (so far). Rap meets multicultural meets history.

Also, I have to admit I really like Lorde.
posted by lhauser at 8:16 PM on December 12, 2017 [3 favorites]

Anna Netrebko, Elina Garancia, Flower Duet, any aria by Netrebko, try Russalka. Dmitri Hvorostovsky now deceased; singing with Netrebko, vienna Philharmonic or London Symphony Orchestra, directed by Valery Gergiev. Try Scherezade, or The Firebird. Well or Radiohead, In Rainbows. First Aid Kit, Stay Gold, The Decemberists, Down By the.Water.
posted by Oyéah at 8:25 PM on December 12, 2017

Quiet by MILCK.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 8:46 PM on December 12, 2017

This Year by The Mountain Goats (and many of their others, but that one's extra apropos).

Madder Red by Yeasayer.
posted by Candleman at 9:42 PM on December 12, 2017

I honestly don't know how I would have coped with the past year without Shearwater's Jet Plane and Oxbow album, especially Quiet Americans and Pale Kings.

I also find the last couple of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds' albums (Push the Sky Away and Skeleton Tree) have been indispensable. I wouldn't say they are "positive" so much as they feel like soundscapes of defiantly struggling forward in the face of trauma and grief, including Jubilee Street, Push the Sky Away, Distant Sky, and Skeleton Tree (links are to recent live versions because they're particularly powerful, but the album versions are great, too) .
posted by the return of the thin white sock at 10:19 PM on December 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

The only sound I've found truly indispensable for the entirety of the 21st century as it's shaping up so far is actually from 1986.

Sorry I have nothing for you on the "hopefully positive" front.
posted by flabdablet at 4:33 AM on December 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

Zero 7 has a unique way of calming my center.
posted by DrAstroZoom at 9:12 AM on December 13, 2017

This could be almost limitless, but here are some bands I've enjoyed. I didn't check to see if any of them started pre-2000, but I don't think I was listening to any of them pre-2000.

Wolf Alice
The War on Drugs
The Hold Steady
Wild Nothing
Twenty One Pilots
Jason Isbell
Courtney Barnett
Vampire Weekend
Death Cab for Cutie
posted by willnot at 3:37 PM on December 13, 2017

Another vote for Jason Isbell, Southeastern is one of only two albums released this century to make it on my personal Top 10, along with Brandi Carlile's Bear Creek.
posted by nenequesadilla at 4:37 PM on December 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

I’m leaning heavily on the ‘make sense’ piece here, less on the ‘best music’ piece.

Absolutely Hamilton.

Taylor Swift, particularly “Shake it off” and either “Bad blood” or “We are never ever getting back together” for a certain slice of millennial mindset

Rihanna—specifically “Rude boy” and “Work” and honestly I love “Breaking dishes”—for a better understanding of how Pop became more inclusive.

Sean Paul (“Temperature” and “Cheap thrills”) and Daddy Yankee (“Gasolina” first and then “Despacito”) and Shakira (“Waka waka” and “Whenever, wherever”) and Pitbull (“Echa pa’alla (manos pa’arriba)” and “Fireball” and “International love”) as well.

“1-800-273-8255” aka the song about suicide prevention. The kids are alright.

Kesha’s “Praying” for the anthem of the #metoo movement. Gwen Stefani’s “Hollaback Girl” (2005!) for an early taste of that.

Kacey Musgraves, especially “Merry go ‘round” and “Blowin’ Smoke”, for explaining a bit more about US rural poor whites.

Pink for “Raise your glass” and “Dear Mr President” and that amazing live performance of “Glitter in the air”. She’s just fucking awesome.

Drake (“Hotline bling” and “Back to black”) because he’s unignorable.

Lady Gaga’s “Born this way” for giving us a tool to change the closeminded.

Beyonce (all of Lemonade) and Solange (much of A seat at the table). Beyonce for her queenliness, Solange for her independent spirit.

Kanye (especially My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and Yeezus) because you can’t deny his power and impact.
posted by librarylis at 10:01 PM on December 14, 2017

Hozier's "Take Me To Church".
posted by clawsoon at 5:20 AM on December 15, 2017 [1 favorite]

My favorites this century include:


George Hrab

Abney Park

Slim Cessna's Auto Club

Sheena Ringo

I don't know anything about what's popular, but I know what I like
posted by ambulocetus at 1:44 PM on December 16, 2017

I absolutely love The Besnard Lakes. Saw them at the Crocodile a little while back and they blew me away! And! They had TWO smoke machines onstage!
Here's a live version of "Golden Lion!"
posted by black8 at 1:39 PM on December 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

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