The Top 10 Bands & Artists of my lifetime

We were debating our all-time Top 10 the other day and whether Taylor Swift should make it.

It got me to thinking about my top 10 and I decided to put the limit of Of My Time. This means it has to be an artist that has the bulk of their best work released during the time I have been listening to music, i.e. the last 30 years. I didn’t really get into music until I was 12 or 13.

I listen to a lot of music across a lot of genres across a lot of time periods so this is a pretty good challenge. So here goes.

  1. Radiohead – This was an easy one. I’ve seen them live 3 times. “The Bends”, “OK Computer”, and “In Rainbows” are all top tier amazing albums. The rest of the discography is amazing to very good. Really only “King of Limbs” didn’t land for me.
  2. Oasis – For me, this is an easy one as well. They almost don’t get in based on my At Least 3 Legendary Albums. “Definitely Maybe”, “What’s the Story”, and “The Masterplan” are all amazing. “Be Here Now” is bloated but has it’s moments. I really liked “Dig Out Your Soul”. They also earn some points for their solo work; with Noel putting out some decent stuff and I really liked Liam’s “C’mon You Know” album. Plus, they’re hilarious.
  3. The Hold Steady – Introduced to me thanks to Andrew Cowan. “Boys and Girls in America” got me in. “Separation Sunday” and “Stay Positive” complete the requisite 3 albums. I’ve liked every album they’ve put out and they’re a blast to see live.
  4. The Weakerthans – Another Andrew Cowan introduction. Only four albums but all of them are amazing. Probably my favorite lyricist and “Reconstruction Site” is my favourite album. They also produced the best band shirt of all time with the mustard yellow “Winnipeg” shirt. Miss that shirt a lot.
  5. Taylor Swift – Yeah, she made it. 10 solid albums with 5 of them being excellent, and the others having at least a good single or 2.
  6. Vampire Weekend – Only four albums but all of them are really really good. I listen to them a lot when the weather starts to get nice.
  7. Kacey Musgraves – I like every one of her albums. “Golden Hour” was amazing. I even like her slightly cringey Christmas album.
  8. Jason Isbell – “Southeastern”, “Something More Than Free”, “Reunions” are all amazing. “Georgia Blue” has some banging covers (Nightswimming! Cross Bones Style! Midnight Train to Georgia) One of the best concerts I’ve ever seen.
  9. Robyn – I love Robyn and this one is MAAAYBE a stretch since “Bodytalk” is sort of a series of albums then compiled into a single album. I also love “Robyn” and I thought “Honey” was pretty good. Her earlier stuff is just top notch European dance/pop music with at least a few good singles to dance to. I love Robyn.
  10. Weezer – That SNL sketch makes a lot of Good Points.. STILL! “Blue Album” & “Pinkerton” shaped my entire music listening life. “Green Album”, “Maladroit”, “Make Believe” are pretty good and across the rest of them there are at least a few singles from each that if we smashed them together would make for at least another two great albums.

Honorable Mentions

This artists and bands are just outside of the top 10 for me for any of the following reasons:

  1. Not enough track record: So my threshold for Top 10 inclusion was 3 albums in legendary status and/or enough additional support material.
  2. Amazing but just not quite better than the ones listed.
  3. Amazing but their artist output was before my time, even if their work after was maybe just as good. AKA The “Tom Petty” award.
  • The Beths: Three amazing albums I’ve listened to constantly. Will likely crack the top 10 eventually.
  • The Tragically Hip: Controversy! I didn’t really like The Hip till I was in university. I won’t really listen to individual albums of theirs, but instead to playlists, or to their live album.
  • Barenaked Ladies: Ooof. This was was tough. My first favourite band. My first concert. I loved “Gordon”, “Maybe you should drive”, and “Born on a Pirate Ship”. I really liked “Stunt”, “Maroon”, and they started to lose me at “Everything to Everyone” and I don’t think they had another album after that that ever listened to. I also don’t think I’ve returned to them as much as the other artists on this list. The song “Break your Heart” got me through a lot of breakups though.
  • Tom Petty: Tough to leave off the list but I’m counting his early work as not in my time. “Full Moon Fever” and “Wildflowers” are amazing and there is enough stuff across his other albums to make it really close.
  • Chris Stapleton: Three really good albums between “Traveller”, “From a Room” and “Starting Over”.
  • Green Day: VERY tough to leave off. I listened to a ton of Green Day over the years.
  • Beck: Saw him on the “Odelay” tour and he hits so many different points with his albums between Funk and Folk. “Colors” was really good!
  • Sarah Harmer: Underrated. One of my favourite vocalists of all time. “I’m a mountain” is one of my most played albums ever.
  • Brad Paisley: My gateway drug to country music. Corny and funny just like me. His ballads still make me tear up.
  • The Decemberists – Just missed out. “The Crane Wife”, “The Hazards of Love”, and “The King is Dead” got huge playtime. I probably listen to them less now because I rarely have time to put on a big proggy album.
  • Fiona Apple – Very close to cracking the top ten. This is a hard activity because her stuff is fantastic but requires a certain sort of mood to invoke me to put on her albums.