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There\'s nothing quite like a big pop album. Y\'know, the ones that burst with brilliance, inspire a generation, provide iconic moments, and generally just cause millions to shout "SLAY!", "YAS!" and "KWEEN!" for years afterwards.
The past ten years have given us some incredible pop experiences – more than can possibly be compiled into a single list on the internet. But we\'ve rounded up eleven albums that are essential listening for anyone who wants to lay claim to being a fan of modern pop music.
We\'ve numbered them, but they\'re not in any particular order: these eleven albums are equally as important as each other, and we consider them the pillars of modern pop.
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Released: August 24, 2010 • UK chart peak: No.1
When you have huge hits like \'California Gurls\', \'Teenage Dream\', \'Firework\', \'E.T.\', \'Last Friday Night\' – takes deep breath – \'The One That Got Away\', \'Part Of Me\' and \'Wide Awake\' all on one big shiny album, you know it\'s a job well done. Not to mention that the \'filler\' was also killer. \'Hummingbird Heartbeat\' is a Katy Perry gem, \'Not Like The Movies\' even got Adele\'s approval, and \'Peacock\' was certified platinum in the US despite not even being formally released.
Released: October 25, 2007 • UK chart peak: No.2
Widely regarded as Britney\'s most experimental album,
was a bittersweet moment in the popstar\'s career. While her personal troubles in the mid \'00s caused columns of bad press and had fans fearing for their fave, the music that came through was trailblazing electropop that gave us the now iconic line "It\'s Britney, bitch". \'Piece Of Me\' is the best-ever Britney single, \'Gimme More\' is addictive (despite the disastrous VMAs performance), and even albums cuts like the military beats of \'Toy Soldier\' and the oo-er \'Get Naked (I Got A Plan)\' are up there with her very best.
Released: January 24, 2011 • UK chart peak: No.1
This could go down as the best break-up album ever. But as well as breaking hearts, Adele smashed through pretty much every chart record going with her second album
. \'Rolling In The Deep\' dominated radio everywhere, while \'Someone Like You\' has left everyone teary at least once. This album is the very epitome of modern classic.
Released: November 22, 2010 • UK chart peak: No.16
Kanye West may make some grand claims when it comes to his own legacy, but considering he\'s released one of the best albums this century, you can forgive him for being a bit egotistical.
is nothing short of a masterpiece. With contributions from over 46 of the very best musicians ranging from Bon Iver and Elton John to Rihanna and La Roux, it\'s quite possibly one of the most spectacular musical extravaganzas this generation will ever experience. \'Monster\' on its own destroys anything in its path.
Released: November 20, 2009 • UK chart peak: No.9
to this day remains Rihanna\'s most critically-regarded piece of work. It came nine months after Rihanna was physically assaulted by her former boyfriend Chris Brown, and its darker tone and personal subject matter reflected a strong female overcoming tragic circumstances. \'Russian Roulette\' is compelling drama, while \'Fire Bomb\' is a powerful moment. It\'s an important record in Rihanna\'s career that showcased both her vulnerability and strength.
Released: April 27, 2016 • UK chart peak: No.1
Not in a long time had a major pop record from one of the world\'s leading artists felt so politically and personally vital. Beyoncé shocked the world with the surprise release of
earlier this year, seemingly addressing years of rumours surrounding her husband\'s alleged infidelity. But it also wasn\'t just about her own pain, as Bey took the opportunity to weave in necessary references to the Black Lives Matter movement and standing up to racial discrimination. The visual album is essential viewing, coming at a time when Beyoncé\'s voice is as powerful as her vocals.
Released: September 8, 2006 • UK chart peak: No.1
When you can somehow even save a human beatbox from sounding irritating, you know you\'ve made a pretty decent record. Justin Timberlake had everything to prove with his second studio album
, and he pulled it off in magnificent fashion. The entire record is brimming with cinematic drama, from the heartache of \'What Comes Around Goes Around\' to the peacock strutting of \'SexyBack\'. Even smooth album cut \'Damn Girl\' and often overlooked single \'Summer Love\' were Timberlake at his most suave.
Released: August 18, 2008 • UK chart peak: No.1
After the final remnants left over from an era of indie landfill were finally swept away in 2008, Lady Gaga stepped forward to lead a new age of pop magic.
had all the markings of a superstar debut; chewy hooks more addictive than Skittles, barmy outfits that would become iconic, and most importantly a raw talent for performing a song to maximum capacity.
\'Just Dance\' and \'Poker Face\' were instant classics, \'Paparazzi\' turned the music video into event-viewing once again, while \'Bad Romance\' and Beyoncé team-up \'Telephone\' on the expanded
took proceedings stratospheric. Not only did Lady Gaga and The Fame change the course of pop music forever, it also began the cult of the Little Monsters. Pop phenomenon doesn\'t even begin to cover it.
Released: October 27, 2014 • UK chart peak: No.1
Taylor Swift sold millions of records and won countless awards as a country music darling, so when she decided to tread into the pop realm with 2012\'s
it was slightly unexpected. But once she\'d got warmed up there was no stopping her. Say what you want about Taylor Swift the person, but there\'s zero argument when it comes to her songwriting talent.
is a glorious pop experience from start to finish. Lead single \'Shake It Off\' isn\'t even the best song on the album and yet it was a huge hit. The true brilliance of the album lies within \'Style\' and \'Out Of The Woods\', merging her knack for an intriguing insight into her love life with \'80s synths and epic refrains.
Released: September 18, 2015 • UK chart peak: No.21
This will go down as one of the most under-appreciated pop albums in history. It was always going to be tough to overcome an unexpected massive hit like \'Call Me Maybe\', but Carly Rae Jepsen rose to the challenge with a collection of breezy and triumphant bangers packed full of
. \'Run Away With Me\'s excellence clobbers you across the ears with its opening sax riff, while \'Your Type\' is \'80s synthpop done better than the original.
\'Warm Blood\', \'Boy Problems\', and lead single \'I Really Like You\' just continue the fun with spectacular energy. If ever an uninformed muso tries to brush Carly Rae Jepsen off as a one-hit Wonder, slap a copy of this in their hand immediately.
Released: July 10, 2012 • UK chart peak: No.2
When it comes to storytelling through song, not many modern popstars get close to the genius of Frank Ocean. The singer-songwriter\'s first studio album
is an expansive, evocative and exceptional collection of songs which hear him fundamentally have conversations with the listener.
It feels both intimate and epic, taking you from the saga of \'Pyramids\' to the inner dialogue of \'Thinkin\' Bout You\'. The fact he decided to come out days before the album\'s release was a momentous decision, and one that made the many layers on
So that\'s our eleven. What have we missed? Tweet us at @digitalspymusic to let us know.
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