The best stuff of the decade for music… Okay, music is a HUGE genre and there’s no way I’ll have listened to most of the best or even the most popular stuff. In fact, pretty much everything I listened to in the 2010s was fairly “niche” and my repertoire of mainstream music is pretty low aside from a few key songs I loved.
But I still wanna talk about my favorite things from the past ten years. I have a lot, lot, lot of stuff here, too, so I need to lay some ground rules to limit myself:
- Full albums only, no singles (sorry about that, Augustus)
- No soundtracks (sorry John, sorry Eirik)
- Only one album per artist/group. (sorry Michael)
So let’s get to it! Time to talk about my favorite music albums of the decade. Keep in mind, though, my music listening was VERY weird and niche over the past ten years, and I have just one album on this list that cannot be purchased on Bandcamp.com.
Comrfortable Bugs (2012)
Michael Guy Bowman is one of the best dudes out there making music today, but he’s still not famous enough. That makes me real frickin’ sad because every album he’s released is great. It was very tough picking one that I think encapsulates the decade the “best,” but Comfortable Bugs may be it. Songs like “Bad Dudes” work as jamming tunes and prophetic tales of real life events to come. “Three Small Words” is an emotional gut punch that makes you wanna call your Mom. “Looking For A Rock” is short, sweet, and fast. Every song on this album is great, and together they form to make one of the best albums of the 2010s.
C-Jeff (or Seajeff as his is now known?) is another one of those artists who definitely should be a household name by now, but somehow has slipped through the cracks. Preschtale, released on January 1, 2012, is his best album, a prog rock sci-fi chiptune adventure with absolutely jamming tunes. Your imagination will explode just listening to an album like this. Even better, on December 31, 2012, Preschtale Variations was released, featuring remixes and arrangements of the original album by over fifteen of the era’s top chiptune artists.
SOUNDSHOCK 3: FUNK NIRVANA!! (2017)
My word this is funky. The Soundshock Trilogy, released in 2011, 2012, and 2017, are some of the finest collections of music from some of the all-time best musicians, and the third and final entry, FUNK NIRVANA!!, is the best by a wide margin. It is widely known that FM soundchip music is the objectively best auditory experience a human can experience, and it is a scientific fact that funk makes you feel great. Combine these two and you get something truly special. I wanna Shuffle On into the cosmos.
Alive in Screen (2017)
nelward was not one of the era’s top chiptune artists in 2012, but by the time Alive in Screen released in 2017, he had already made his name as one of the best. It’s hard to describe just what makes nelward’s music so appealing, so I urge you to listen through this album and take a peek at just what this dude has to offer.
One Year Older
If there’s one thing to love about Homestuck, it’s the absolutely fantastic music that came along with it. Around thirty albums were released during the comic’s seven-year run, featuring hundreds upon hundreds of excellent songs from dozens of artists. However, the greatest albums, generally, were the solo albums by one singular artist, and One Year Older is among the best of those. It’s a musical journey across the story of Homestuck, telling the life of protagonist John Egbert through various genres of music. But you don’t have to read the comic to love the album–it’s fantastic music either way.
Strawberry Disc One (2015)
MisfitChris pioneered the Future Cute genre with this short album, combining electronic and anime music with trap/hip-hop stylings to create intensely lovely songs. He only made four or five albums/EPs that fell under the Future Cute label and essentially “retired” the genre in 2018, but it was great while it lasted. My favorite of the Future Cute albums has to be the original, Strawberry Disc One, just because it’s so aggressively cool.
You can get through Xenon Odyssey’s solo discography in like, an hour, but that doesn’t stop them from being one of the best in the chiptune business. They make melodies like nobody’s business, and these four NES tracks are some of their best, and most compositionally experimental, in my opinion. Definitely check out (and buy) everything they’ve put out.
Bro you gotta listen to SUPERFINE. It’s got like eight different collaborators and every single song is an absolute treat. I discovered it completely by accident on some random time browsing Spotify, and I was never the same since.
Psycho Somatic Generation (2017)
The entire goal of this album is supposed to be to make a cool new NES track in the style of various popular video games across the system’s vast library. But actually, the result of the album is that chibi-tech gets to grace us with some of her best work yet. The things she does with that 2A03 chip are pure wizardry. Also notable: The Mutual Promise, her two-track EP also from 2017.
Awaken, My Love! (2016)
This one is mainstream so I don’t have to write about it
Ubiktune (who I just now realize comprise a majority of the albums on here, but it’s too late to turn back) is known for their excellent collaborative albums, but Equilibrium remains their only collaborative concept album, actually telling something of a narrative across nine tracks, each of them great in their own way. Seven of the nine tracks are also made with Famitracker and could theoretically be played on real NES hardware. If someone were to turn Equilibrium into an animated “movie” on the NES using a real cartridge, I highly suspect it would win Best Animated Short at the Academy Awards. That’s how good the music is already.
Tree of Knowledge (2011)
Musician collaborations are great, but few come as great as yogurtbox, the duo of coda & surasshu (one half of the Steven Universe music team). In 2011 they released Tree of Knowledge, a fake late 90s PC visual novel soundtrack, one so finely crafted it sounds just like the real thing, and yet far better than just about any actual late 90s PC visual novel soundtrack. It’s nostalgic and poppy at the same time.
An eletronic soundscape that will blow your headphones up with pure kinetic energy. You ever heard a song with like six melodies at the same time? Well, that’s definitely exaggerating Triptunes but it’s a unique experience and a great time.
Hawaii: Part II (2012)
Yo so like, I really have never gotten THAT much into Tally Hall for some reason, despite them surely being a group I’d love. But despite that, this spinoff project Hawaii Part II is one of my all-time favorite albums. Each of the 11 songs is like a whole story, an entire world into itself, and yet even if they work so well apart, they’re so much better grouped up into this very odd epic.
Zackey Wilson has a musical style that’s incredibly fun and distinctive, and one of his main appeals is his ability to make a remix, or rather a reinterpretation of a song, that turns a familiar tune into something completely different. SNESQUE does exactly that, but with a very strict ruleset: each song consists of a one-minute track looping twice, like a real SNES song, and uses the SNES soundfonts with no alterations except for production values. You’d never think the Super Nintendo could sound like this, and yet here it is.
Chiptune Jazz!!!!! Protodome released three albums in two years, each of them packed with deliciously zesty video game-inspired jazz tunes. Then he kind of disappeared from making music afterwards, but we will never forget the sheer power he packed with BLUENOISE, BLUESCREEN, and BLUESHIFT. The second one, BLUESCREEN, is my favorite, but all three are excellent.
As you can see, I had an extremely tough time narrowing down the list of albums I really super loved from the 2010s. Ten years is a long time, and there’s a ton of albums! I may write another (shorter) post about even more albums in the future just because I feel like I left so many out.
What were your favorite albums of the decade? Please recommend me mainstream ones, like 7 or 8 of these listed here were Ubiktune releases alone lol
(Check out some Honorable Mentions in a separate article!)