The Top 20 Albums Of 2010

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Looking back, 2010 was an exceptional year for popular music, and there's really no better time than in the dead of winter to reflect on the flurry of incredible sounds that came our way. Musicians we really respect made huge, and, in some cases, surprising artistic statements. Singers we'd never heard of six months ago are now at the top of our repeat list. And for this end-of-year celebration of the very best albums and songs of 2010, you'll see our tastes are as schizophrenic as ever. One second we're listening to glossy hip-hop, the next we're exploring to the outer reaches of human eccentricity with weirdo Outsider rock. No matter where your preferences fall in the spectrum, we invite you to dig in to this 20-song winter playlist of the best of the best...downloads included! 
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01-beachhouse-teendream1. Beach House—Teen Dream
"Walk in the Park" [MP3]
Three albums into their career and we've stopped waiting for Beach House to run out of brilliant songs. Making this a top Indie album of 2010, shooting right to the top of our playlist in January and has stayed there all year long. Buy this album
02-tameimpala-innerspeaker2. Tame Impala—Innerspeaker
"Alter Ego" [MP3]
Shimmering, sunshiney psychedelic pop with huge hooks. We want to live inside the sound of this album. Buy this album
03-jamesblake-cmykklavierwerkeeps3. James Blake—CMYK/Klavierwerke EPs
"I Only Know (What I Know Now)" [MP3]
It's funny how injecting a little soul into detached London dubstep can instantly change machine music into something warm and inviting. Buy this album
04-kanyewest-mybeautifuldarktwistedfantasy4. Kanye West—My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
"Power" [MP3]
Unfiltered, unedited, and entirely brilliant. No, not Kanye's Twitter. This album--definitely the strongest musical statement of the year. Buy this album
05-arielpinkshauntedgraffiti-beforetoday5. Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti—Before Today
"Round and Round" [MP3]
How often is the year's weirdest album also the catchiest? This album reminds us of everything we love about L.A. Buy this album
All MP3s are for sampling purposes only. Please go out and buy the artists' records. If you would like for us to remove a track, please email us at feedback@refinery29.com.
06-bigboi-sirlusciousleftfootthesonofchichodusty
6. Big Boi—Sir Luscious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty
"Shutterbugg" [MP3]
Since we have no idea how to classify the Kanye album, we feel confident saying this is the best rap record to be released this year. Buy this album
07-deerhunter-halcyondigest7. Deerhunter—Halcyon Digest
"Memory Boy" [MP3]
Yet another hazy, near-perfect record from this Atlanta band. Buy this album
08-thewalkmen-lisbon8. The Walkman—Lisbon
"Angela Surf City" [MP3]
A deeply earnest rock album from the New York veterans. It has nothing to do with any of this year's musical trends, and we're grateful for that. Buy this album
09-vampireweekend-contra9. Vampire Weekend—Contra
"Horchata" [MP3]
This is the album where people stopped talking about Vampire Weekend's influences and started talking about how they use them to create a sound entirely their own. Buy this album
10-arcadefire-thesuburbs10. Arcade Fire—The Suburbs
"Suburban War" [MP3]
It's nearly impossible to pick a favorite song from this record. The Arcade Fire create cohesive and conceptual albums that feel like important cultural events every time they appear. Buy this album
All MP3s are for sampling purposes only. Please go out and buy the artists' records. If you would like for us to remove a track, please email us at feedback@refinery29.com.
11-caribou-swim
11. Caribou—Swim
"Odessa" [MP3]
Somehow, we feel this is the album that Arthur Russell would have made in 2010 if he were still around: heartfelt, transcendent dance music. Buy this album
12-erykahbadu-newamerykahparttworeturnoftheankh12. Erykah Badu—New Amerykah Part Two: Return of the Ankh
"Window Seat" [MP3]
Erykah Badu's recent burst of creativity means that we get a new favorite R&B album every year and a half. Buy this album
13-twinshadow-forget13. Twin Shadow—Forget
"When We're Dancing" [MP3]
We love this moody post-new wave band because they strip the music of all clichés and pretense that usually come with the genre. We're really excited about the music they'll make in the next few years. Buy this album
14-gilscottheron-i%27mnewhere14. Gil Scott-Heron—I'm New Here
"I'm New Here" [MP3]
This mini-album can be appreciated on its own merits, but we also highly recommend The New Yorker profile about the making of this album. Buy this album
15-ceo-whitemagic15. ceo—White Magic
"White Magic" [MP3]
Like Eric Berglund's other project, The Tough Alliance, ceo continues to make beachy dance anthems, though he's added enough rough edges to make some of the songs sound like Public Enemy playing an all-night party in Ibiza. Buy this album
All MP3s are for sampling purposes only. Please go out and buy the artists' records. If you would like for us to remove a track, please email us at feedback@refinery29.com.
16-drake-thankmelater
16. Drake—Thank Me Later
"Fancy" [MP3]
Despite the wall-to-wall radio play of this album and its singles, we can't deny our love for our favorite graduate of Degrassi High. Buy this album
17-janellemonae-thearchandroid17. Janelle Monae—The ArchAndroid
"Wondaland" [MP3]
Though this is perfectly nice as a normal R&B sci-fi concept album, we'd love to see this record turned into a musical. Buy this album
18-malebonding-nothinghurts18. Male Bonding—Nothing Hurts
"Franklin" [MP3]
When it comes to punk rock, attitude used to be enough to grab our attention. These days we need excellent songs to stay interested. This band has heaps of both. Buy this album
19-owenpallett-heartland19. Owen Pallet—Heartland
"Midnight Directives" [MP3]
We're far too self-conscious to try to create the music that Owen Pallett does. That's among the many reasons why this record is so inspiring to us. Buy this album
20-charlottegainsbourg-irm20. Charlotte Gainsbourg—IRM
"IRM" [MP3]
It takes a collaboration with Serge's gorgeous daughter for Beck to make his best album in years. Buy this album
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