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Missing The Cut: More Important '00s Music

Bjork's <em>Vespertine</em> was just one of many albums some wish had made our final list of the decade's 50 most important recordings.
Bjork's Vespertine was just one of many albums some wish had made our final list of the decade's 50 most important recordings.

As expected with any list of its nature, our rundown of The Decade's 50 Most Important Recordings has drawn both praise and criticism, particularly from diehard fans of artists and albums that didn't make the cut. As one user put it in the comments, "How dare they list X, and I see no mention of Y?!" While we did our best to be inclusive, a lot of our individual choices didn't end up on the final list. Here are just a few, chosen by the reviewers who lobbied for them.

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Bruce Springsteen

A lot of musicians raked through the unimaginable horrors of Sept. 11, 2001, searching for ways to transmute the tragic events into arresting art. Most stumbled along the way. But, to be fair, who could possibly find words grand and graceful enough to give voice to something so epic and wrenching, without reducing the tragedy to painfully obvious bathos? The answer was Bruce Springsteen, an artist who, at the time, hadn't released a new studio album in seven years. Reuniting with The E Street Band for the first time since 1984's Born in the U.S.A., Springsteen returned with The Rising, a brave and deeply moving memorial. With lines such as "Picture's on the nightstand / TV's on in the den / Your house is waiting / for you to walk in," and "May your strength give us strength / May your faith give us faith / May your hope give us hope / May your love bring us love," Springsteen produced some of his most stirring poetry. His profound lyricism, soaring melodies and bold orchestration makes The Rising the decade's most potent collection of post-Sept. 11 songs. -- Robin Hilton


There were a lot of good electronic records in the '00s, but no one used micro beats with more heart and soul than Bjork. This quiet, often wrenching 2001 record cried out with exquisite beauty. Bjork is a one-of-a-kind singer, a one-of-a-kind composer. She makes brave albums that demand attention at a time when attention spans continue to shrivel. The word "verspertine" has its roots in biology; it refers to something that happens in the evening, like a flower that blooms only at night. Spend a night alone with Verspertine the record, and the world of sound may never seem the same. -- Bob Boilen


In the midst of chaotic guitars and Jakob Bannon's raw vocals, it's still possible to peel back the shredded textures and cathartic yawps of this metallic hardcore masterpiece. That's part of what made Converge's fourth album, 2001's Jane Doe, such an anomaly in the metal scene: Every emotional release was seared in guitarist Kurt Ballou's masterful board-work. It provided a template for what was to come. After Jane Doe, hardcore had no choice but to evolve. -- Lars Gotrich

Emerson String Quartet

Dmitri Shostakovich's 15 String Quartets are arguably the largest and most important set of quartets since Beethoven's. The Emersons understand the music's power, pain, silences and deep introspection. This 5-CD set from 2000 marked the first major traversal of the complete quartets in several decades, and it sparked a renewed interest (especially among young string-quartet players) in the set as a whole. -- Tom Huizenga

Girl Talk

While the '00s could be considered a decade of mash-ups, the practice had grown somewhat stale. That is, until Greg Gillis (a.k.a. Girl Talk) released his 2006 uber-mash-up, Night Ripper, which blew up the art form by piling on anywhere from 10 to 20 samples per song. Night Ripper is a satisfying collection of fun and danceable song collages, which liberally mine every genre -- from '80s pop hits to grunge to modern R&B, hip-hop and beyond. Girl Talk's meticulous splicing and open sampling (not just from obscure sources, but also drawing on recognizable hits) might still make him a target for RIAA lawsuits. But Gillis has opened countless discussions about art and Fair Use laws. At the same time, his music captures the obsessive music fan's stream-of-consciousness feeling of listening to every song on an iPod all at once. Half the fun is trying to decipher where each killer hook and groove originally comes from. -- Mike Katzif

Juana Molina

Since this was the decade of computer-based recording, and the first time ordinary Janes in college dorms had access to tools once found only in fancy studios, it's amazing that we didn't acknowledge Juana Molina's bold homemade 2000 breakthrough Segundo. Layering errant strands of vocals into improbable chorales she orchestrated on the fly, Molina created a simultaneously unsettling and enthralling sonic landscape in her basement. The rich and warm world she created is ruled by passion and punctuated by odd squiggles of synthesizer; its vivid contrasts make the efforts of similar electronic artistes -- Bjork, most prominently -- seem downright icy (and overly conceptual) by comparison. A former TV star in her native Argentina, Molina has further developed the Segundo sound with each subsequent effort, most recently on the restless and beautiful Un Dia, from 2008. Someday, more people will appreciate the bold, breezy heaviness of these records. -- Tom Moon

Wayne Shorter

Wayne Shorter, the greatest living composer in jazz, created his first permanent acoustic quartet in 2000. Its first record, Footprints Live!, announced the start of something big. Beyond the Sound Barrier cemented every notion that Wayne Shorter had identified and cultivated the best sidemen in jazz since he himself was a member of Miles Davis' second great quintet. For the remainder of the decade, the band has embarked on the ultimate adventure in creative music-making. There aren't many jazz musicians who have not been affected by the Wayne Shorter Quartet's ability to start a performance in medias res; to compose music collectively, immediately and cohesively for 75 continuous minutes; and to leave audiences with the impression that jazz can still go into unknown places without screeching its tires at a dead end. -- Josh Jackson (WBGO)

The New Pornographers

It wasn't a colossal hit, but The New Pornographers' Mass Romantic sure did lay a lot of groundwork. Led by Zumpano's A.C. Newman and featuring high-profile vocals by Neko Case, the band helped get the decade rolling by casting a strong mold for supergroups, Canadians and Canadian supergroups. (See also: Broken Social Scene.) Mass Romantic kicked off an unbroken string of fantastic New Pornographers records in the '00s: four in all, plus two fine solo albums by Newman. And, perhaps most importantly, it transformed Case -- then a highly regarded alt-country chanteuse with a cult following and widespread goodwill -- into the sort of credibility-drenched icon on whom everyone could agree. --Stephen Thompson