The UC Berkeley album list and why it’s so inaccurate


Jordan Cuskey, Guest Writer

This past week, my roommate showed me something that startled me, disturbed me and shook me. Sources are questionable but as I do indeed trust Twitter News, I have decided to analyze this shocking feat: University of California Berkeley students have ranked the most influential albums of the past decade … and it’s not going down well.

If you haven’t seen the rankings, they look a bit like this: Every Tyler the Creator album is included, as well as few Mac Demarco albums, Twenty One Pilots, a single Ye album, every Childish Gambino and Brockhampton album, Frank Ocean’s Blonde and Channel Orange, Earl Sweatshirt, MGMT, Tame Impala’s “Currents” and a few others. While I am a fan of almost every artist in this ranking, I most certainly do not think this accurately portrays the most influential albums of the decade.

I have many issues with this compilation, because the albums aren’t influential. However, it does feel like something is missing. 

For starters, there is no mention of a female artist on the list. When I think about the most popular performers of the decade, I can think of a few women who come to mind. For starters, Rihanna and Beyoncé are two of the most influential artists of our time. While I do not consider myself a huge Bey fan, I support the idea that “Lemonade” is one of the most significant albums of the decade. 

While the artists these UC Berkeley students chose are incredibly influential, not every album is an artist’s most influential. There is a lack of variation in genre besides Mac Demarco’s chill tunes and Twenty One Pilots’ alternative style. I would deem rap and hip hop my favorite genre, but I can acknowledge that other genres were influential throughout the decade. 

While I do love these albums and admit their influence on many fans, it would be an overstatement to claim that these works fairly encompass an entire decade. There are a plethora of female artists who deserve a spot on this list as well as artists and albums from a more diverse range of genres. Now is a time when music is more diverse than ever before. There are no set boundaries for what something has to sound like to be deemed “great music.”

So then, what are the most influential albums of the decade? I asked my friends, both from my hometown of Philadelphia and at Westmont what they deemed the most influential albums of the decade and here is what they responded with:

All around “Lemonade” by Beyoncé and “Anti” by Rihanna were voted as some of the most influential. Another notable mention was Doja Cat and her album “True.” An artist many deemed missing from the selection of albums was Kendrick Lamar. Multiple of my friends voted “Damn” and “To Pimp A Butterfly” as two of the most influential. Some albums were agreed upon. “Channel Orange,” “Ye,” “Currents” and “Salad Days” — all albums already in the ranking — were mentioned. Other mentions not on the ranking include Kanye’s “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy,” Harry Styles’ “Fine Line” and J. Cole’s “KOD.” This is likely a biased selection since my friends and I have relatively similar music tastes, but we come from varying parts of the country, from Philadelphia to Little Rock and from Houston to Newport Beach. 

Overall, there isn’t a truly foolproof way to rank the most influential albums of a decade. However, when a claim is made it should encompass the genres of the age along with representation spanning across all genders. My friend said something along with her response that stuck with me. To put it in colloquial terms, our generation “be listening.” What do you think are the most influential albums of the past decade?

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