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30 Best Albums of 2010

Kanye’s ‘Fantasy’ conquered reality; the Black Keys locked into a groove; Arcade Fire burned down the suburbs

In 2010, Kanye's Fantasy conquered reality, the Black Keys locked into a groove and Arcade Fire burned down the suburbs. Read on for our obsessively curated list of the very best albums of the year.

Written by Jon Dolan, David Fricke, Will Hermes, Melissa Maerz, Jody Rosen, Rob Sheffield and Jonah Weiner.

15

The National, ‘High Violet’

4AD

These moody Brooklyn rockers could have coasted with a repeat of their 2007 breakthrough, Boxer, but Violet is riskier and craftier, opening up their poetic guitar reveries with a late-Beatles sense of experimentation. Matt Berninger sings "Bloodbuzz Ohio" like a barfly who thinks you can't tell how terrified he is.

Will Hermes' Original Review
Video: The National Live at Bonnaroo 2010
Rolling Stone's Best of 2010: Albums, Singles, Movies and more

14

Robyn, ‘Body Talk’

Cherrytree/Interscope

Body Talk began as two sugar- shot EPs; by the time the full-length dropped, it felt like a greatest-hits package. The Swedish diva's beats and tunes smoke her American competition. So does her wit: See "Fembot" and the secretly poignant "Don't Fucking Tell Me What to Do."

Christian Hoard's Original Review

13

Taylor Swift, ‘Speak Now’

Big Machine

Speak Now proves that Swift is more than the world's biggest country singer — at 21, she's a one-woman song factory with a rock & roll heart. There are tracks about celebrity studs, but what matters is how she can command a deep-freeze soft-soul ballad like "Enchanted" or a Phil Spector-style rocker like "Long Live."

Rob Sheffield's Original Review
Gallery: Taylor Swift's Rise to Fame

12

John Mellencamp, ‘No Better Than This’

Rounder

Folk-blues idealism — recorded on a mono tape machine, in places like a Georgia church and Sun Studios — with a very modern anger at the world after the crash. When Mellencamp sings "A Graceful Fall," he channels a pride and rage as fresh as last night's business reports.

Will Hermes' Original Review
Video: Mellencamp Performs "Save Some Time to Dream" On Letterman

11

The Dead Weather, ‘Sea of Cowards’

Warner Bros./Third Man

This isn't so much an LP as it is a rush of metallic-blues spasms — and the best excessive-rock fun of the year. Jack White is the back-seat guy here — a singing drummer — but he leads by example: His Bonham-like force propels the zigzagging guitars and Alison Mosshart's Gothic-siren incantations.

David Fricke's Original Review