5. The White Stripes, 'Elephant'
After they grabbed the world's ear with White Blood Cells, it turned out Jack and Meg were just getting warm. They went from minimal to maximal on Elephant, with a hot-blooded rock throb that blew every other band off the radio. In these savagely honest love-and-marriage songs, Jack White fleshes out the story of two scared kids in love, building a fort to keep the outside world at bay — but being unable to figure out why they keep ripping each other apart. It's a sad story, but that doesn't keep the guitar boy and the drummer girl from having a filthy good time together, from twisted acoustic soul ("You've Got Her in Your Pocket") to electric-blues freakery ("Ball and Biscuit"). They struggle to hold it together in "The Hardest Button to Button." And when they cut loose for the depraved sex stomp "Seven Nation Army," the music lets you know why this bond was worth fighting for. In "Hypnotize," Jack yelps that he wants to "be your right-hand man until your hands get old." There's no doubt he'll die proving it.
• Rolling Stone's Original 2001 Review