71. The White Stripes, Elephant (V2, 2003)

Yes, but it's a really great scam. The backlash against Jack and Meg White and their top ten album was inevitable; no one ever expected them to glean AOR airplay, but "Seven Nation Army" and its follow-ups are no calculated sellout efforts. Instead, somehow, the mainstream came to them, and although their impact hasn't reached Nirvana-like levels, they're the closest equivalent I can think of in this decade. Album # 4 gets the nod over prior efforts in terms of diversity, confidence, scope and sheer invention. To follow the gentle, acoustic "You've Got Her In Your Pocket" with the gutteral, raucous, seven-minute "Ball and Biscuit" and make the transition seem totally natural is genius. Kids, this is how an album is supposed to cohere, all the way up to the priceless, self-referential, signing-off duet (with Holly Golightly... not that one).