5. Moby, 'Play' (V2, 1999)
The album that soundtracked a jillion car commercials: After being the biggest presence on the US rave scene throughout the Nineties, Moby enjoyed an unlikely mainstream breakthrough by marrying ambient beats to old gospel and blues samples. Tracks like "Honey" and "Natural Blues" evoke a Delta speakeasy with a Genius Bar, and "Porcelain" unfurls easy-listening mastercraft. Moby even shows off his sense of humor on "South Side," an empathetic song about white kids trying to fake it real on the rough side of town. The genius of Play came in Moby's ability to transfer the grandeur and scope of rave to dinner parties and bedrooms. Play was one of the first big pop albums to sound like it was built solely on an iMac, but its soul and beauty, its steady-rolling piano flow and 3 a.m. come-down introspect are timeless.
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