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 411mania » Music » Columns

The 411 Music Top Five 04.02.13: The Top 5 Breakout Albums
Posted by Jeremy Thomas on 04.02.2013


Criteria: This week's topic is thanks to a suggestion by a commenter last week. What we were looking for this week were the best albums that were their particular act's breakout success, the one that propelled them to prominence, whether in terms of national exposure or placing them in a position of dominance in their particular genre.

Honorable Mention: Portishead - Dummy, The Beatles - Please Please Me, Nirvana - Nevermind, David Bowie - The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars

5. Tori Amos - Little Earthquakes

I fell in love with this album the first time it ever crossed my ears. This was Tori Amos' solo debut after her band Y Kant Tori Read broke up and I can honestly say that very few albums have had, for me personally at least, as consistent a level of quality as this. From the spellbinding opening track "Crucify" all the way through to the title track at the end, there isn't a single song I don't love from it. Amos' album was almost universally hailed by critics and it resonated strongly with millions of fans, making the piano-driven songstress an instant leader among the female alternative-driven crowd of the 1990s.

4. Kanye West - The College Dropout

There have been better hip-hop albums produced, but I daresay that few if any have ever created such a great album right out of the gate as Kanye West. Yes, we all despise his massive ego, his incredibly transparent insecurities and his tendency to say stupid things but The College Dropout was undoubtedly a landmark album. "Jesus Walks" is an incredible song, "Through the Wire" is a daring and powerful piece of music and "All Falls Down" is just bad-ass. The album set West as one of the leading names in hip-hop, a position he has refused to relinquish ever since.

3. Guns N Roses - Appetite For Destruction

Appetite for Destruction took the world by storm. From the moment you hear "Welcome to the Jungle," you know that you're about to be taken on a ride led by Axl Rose's signature howl and the blistering guitar work by Slash, Izzy Stradlin and Duff McKagan. This is another one of those albums where there really isn't a bad song out of the bunch and more of them are iconic within the hard rock genre than one album should have any right to be. The LP is the highest-selling of any debut album in history and it planted the Los Angeles group firmly in "household name" territory. We can talk about what the group became when Axl refused to let it die following the departures of the rest of the band, but none of that takes anything away from how great this one is.

2. Bob Dylan - Bringing It All Back Home

There's just no beating the classics. Bob Dylan was already a leading name among the folk subculture by the time 1965 came about, but Bringing It All Back Home propelled him to a new level. The electric sound of the album and the departure from protest songs alienated Dylan from his folk contemporaries and fans, but it also put him on a new level both in terms of creativity and success. It is one of the greatest albums in rock history, bar none.

1. U2 - The Joshua Tree

There wasn't much debate from me before I placed The Joshua Tree at #1. Much like Guns N' Roses, U2 doesn't seem to have the level of acclaim now that they did during their height, but this album is about as close as you can get to a perfect breakthrough album. The tracklist reads like a greatest hits album all on its own: "Where the Streets Have No Name," "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For," "With or Without You," "n God's Country," Bullet the Blue Sky," Running to Stand Still"...I could go on. This is the album that turned the band from successful to true superstars within the industry and is one of the best-selling albums of all-time with over 25 million copies sold. It's the epitome of a breakout album in my book.

The Final Word

As always, the last thoughts come from you, the reader. We're merely unpaid monkeys with typewriters and Wikipedia. Here's what you need to do: List your Top Five for this week's topic on the comment section using the following format:

5. Artist - "Song": Why you chose it
4. Artist - "Song": Why you chose it
3. Artist - "Song": Why you chose it
2. Artist - "Song": Why you chose it
1. Artist - "Song": Why you chose it


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