She made bigger records than her debut, but none as winning or as ultimately impactful. This is where disco stopped being dead. Watch the video for “Borderline” here.
21. Prince & the Revolution, Purple Rain (1984)
From the high era of R&B-pop crossover, Prince and his band (black and white, male and female) went all-out rock, selling 15 million albums and topping the box office in the process. Among the period’s albums, only Thriller has had a deeper impact on the psyche of its generation.
22. N.W.A., Straight Outta Compton (1989)
Gangsta rap had been around before, but these L.A. snots (to put it mildly) made it into a pop juggernaut–and earned the FBI’s enmity in the process.
23. Horace Tapscott, The Dark Tree (1990)
Tapscott’s L.A. couldn’t have been more different than N.W.A’s — for decades he led the Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra, a collective as key to its place as the AACM was to Chicago, or the loft-jazz scene was to ’70s New York. Beyond Tapscott’s historical significance, though, his music speaks for itself — most eloquently on this Hat Art double-CD of extended pieces, in particular two fiery versions of the volcanic title track.
24. Beltram, “Energy Flash” (1990)
A Brooklyn teenager enraptured by rave’s harder European strain, Joey Beltram created what still sounds like the ultimate techno track: seething with menace but light of touch, and a model for dance producers ever since.
25. Liz Phair, Exile in Guyville (1993)
One of the great ’90s indie-rock albums, this 18-song set’s sequence mirrored the Rolling Stones’ Exile on Main Street, only from a decidedly feminine (and feminist) point of view all too often missing from American bohemia.