Rap duo OutKast released the best album of 2003, according to UK music critics in an end-of-year "poll of polls".
OutKast are currently number one in the US album and single charts
The US group beat Mercury Music Prize winner Dizzee Rascal into second with heavy rock band The Mars Volta third in the list compiled by music store HMV.
They added up lists of the best albums of the year that have been published in magazines like Mojo, NME, Q and Mixmag.
OutKast's album Speakerboxxx/The Love Below includes the hits single Hey Ya! and is currently top of the US chart.
A two-CD set, it is effectively two solo albums by the duo's members Big Boi and Andre 3000.
CRITICS' BEST ALBUMS OF 2003
1. OutKast - Speakerboxxx/The Love Below
2. Dizzee Rascal - Boy In Da Corner
3. The Mars Volta - De-loused In The Comatorium
4. The White Stripes - Elephant
5. The Darkness - Permission To Land
More than 100,000 copies have been sold in the UK and it is nominated for album of the year and best rap album at the Grammy awards after they won best rap album in 2002.
The White Stripes' latest album Elephant came fourth on the list, ahead of The Darkness' Permission To Land and Radiohead's Hail To The Thief.
The Rapture, Blur, Four Tet and The Strokes were also in the top 10.
HMV spokesman Gennaro Castaldo said: "OutKast's album is a real melting pot of styles and rightly deserves the praise which has been heaped on it."
"Just to prove there's life in the old dogs yet, veterans Radiohead, Jane's Addiction and Blur all manage a respectable top 20 place each."
Do you agree with the critics? Did OutKast release the best album of 2003, or did something else top your personal poll? This debate is now closed but please see below for a selection of your comments.
I agree that Outkast had the best album of 2003. It was even better than Obie Trice's, or Tupac Resurrection. Maybe it was because Outkast is so ... well, Dré strays away from trends. While the rest of the rappers were sporting hip-hop chains and being pimps, he was wearing suits, hats, pink, and just being himself. I respect him for that, and it's the same with his part of the album. It's like, everything rolled in one, every music genre. It's so cool.
And Big Boi's part of the album is awesome too, and the people who do songs with him on the album were awesome. I loved Killer Mike's verses on this album, they were good. So, overall, I think Outkast released the best album of 2003, and this will remain the best album on my list until Eminem releases his next one.
Kat, Saskatoon, Canada
OutKast continues to let their talent dominate the music world and the charts. Every track feels original, and belongs on the record. Outkast is one of the only groups out there that dosen't need special marketing support, controversy, or tired old collaborations to draw intrest. And they got style.
Drew Tabbert, Newport, California
I reckon The Mars Volta tops it without a shadow, album of the millennium so far! Hail to the Thief was good also and Oceansize's Effloresce was amazing. To be honest I've not heard Outkast's album though the single is cool. Dizzee does my head in. Jane's Addiction's album was a let down though, they're much better live!
The highlight of my year was being transported by Radiohead's Hail to the Thief.
Sarah Woolley, England
I disagree with the critics totally! John Mayer's album Heavier Things should be number one! All the lyrics have meanings you understand first time you hear them, then after you think about them you get a different meaning. And the music is phenomenal! It's actually music, not people talking to a beat.
Jesse C., Florida, USA
It's nice to see the critics have gone for some of the lesser selling albums that perhaps feature better music, than the "blockbusters". Also, it's interesting to note that three of the five listed (the white stripes, the darkness, and the mars volta) are all albums based on music we were listening to 40-50 years ago. So, good music it would seem is winning the war against the more commercial dance offerings.
Joe Schiavon, Hereford, UK
There were a number of good albums released this past year: Quebec (Ween), Elephant (White Stripes), etc... but I'd have to give the "#1" spot to Kings of Leon for Youth and Young Manhood. These guys are the real deal. Really blew me away.
Andrew, Buffalo, NY USA
Finally The Mars Volta have been recognised! Truly a great piece of art (once you learn how to hear it) and deserves the accolade.
Dan, Manchester, UK
Well, the Outkast albums were a highlight of 2003, particularly The Love Below. But there were other great albums: Stumble Into Grace (Emmylou Harris), Blemish (David Sylvian), HoboSapiens (John Cale) & Cast of Thousands (Elbow). The first three on this list I can understand, but the White Stripes just sound like a bad take on Pussy Galore or Violent Femmes (if not Pixies) & The Darkness are like a Spinal Tap tribute band...
Jason Parkes, Worcester, UK
Agree. This LP, or both of them in fact as a package, is nothing short of sensational. I'm still listening to 50% of the tracks daily months after buying the CD. In some ways it reminds me of De La Soul's 3 Feet High and rising which itself was a masterpiece helping to put hip-hop on the map, Speakerboxxx/The Love Below has similarities but there are a great deal more styles crammed into this funkiest of musical packages.
In fact I don't remember anything this genuinely funky and to think 2 CDs for the price of one!! Astonishing given the greed of the major record companies. Outkast have produced the best CD of 2003 by far and it isn't just funky music, it's a collection of music that has its finger on the pulse, it's got street cred oozing out of every pore. Get it today.
Michael, Hong kong
White Stripes's Elephant certainly was an outstanding album, don't think much of the other 4 titles. My album of the year was Unkle NeverNeverLand.
Dizzee Rascal belongs in the long list of U.K. artists that have no identity in America, despite their glowing critical praise at home (The Jam, Suede, et cetera). I would trade this with Fountains Of Wayne's "Welcome Insterstate Managers", one of the best power pop records of the past decade, and curiously overlooked here. However, Outkast, The Mars Volta, and The White Stripes are spot on, and as welcome in my house as they are in yours.
Gary Dahlin, Philadelphia USA
Enjoy the Darkness now. They're only where they are because Kerrang and the 'Rock' press needed a champion. Once the public realise that The Cheeky Girls have more soul, they'll drift off to where they belong. The Suffolk pub circuit.
Critics always forget the older acts. It seems like they can't record a great album anymore. And that is so not true. Why always recent hot bands? Like David Bowie's Reality, that's a magnificent album. Maybe his best since Scary Monsters. Steve Winwood made a great one. What about the great Living Colour come back. It's not for everyone, but The Raven (Lou Reed) is something else. Even something a relatively new band wouldn't even dare to make.
So why always pick the so-called hottest bands around?
Thomas Hennebel, Sint-Niklaas, Belgium
The best album of the year was clearly by Dido. She's the best talent England has produced in years. She crosses over to all ages and has also cracked America. She's clearly this countries REAL Pop Idol.
Thomas Ewing, Croydon, England
OutKast are original and innovative. They deserve to be number one in the poll. As for Dizzie Rascal coming second... that has to be a joke! Why would any sane person in the music industry rate Dizzie Rascal?
Janice Spence, London
Whilst I agree that the OutKast album was definitely one of the year's best, I was surprised that The Black Eyed Peas' "Elephunk" was not at least in the top 5. Released before the OutKast album, "Elephunk" contains what I believe to be the best representation of the way Rap and Hip Hop is going - elements of rock, funk, soul and latin, all mixed together in an excellent collection, which I cannot stop listening to - other than when the OutKast album is in my cd player...
Andy Curtis, Sai Ying Pun, Hong Kong
Yes they did get it right - simple as that really- this album is incredible -like Songs In The Key Of Life and The Beatles it'll take you months to digest but is worth it! Those who disagree simply haven't heard it. It has everything - rock, jazz, funk, folk, pop, gospel, drum and bass, classical and of course hip hop! Even the interludes are brilliantly funny -check out Where Are My Panties and try to disagree.
Fave track - it's hard to choose but right now Church springs to mind: it's hip hop with lovely gospel singing on the chorus. White Stripes album is a distant second and I love Dizzee Rascal but he will make better albums in the future! If anything Speakerboxx/Love Below hasn't been praised enough - Hey Ya is just the tip of the iceberg. All people whether u like hip hop or not should like it.
Jono, London, UK
More or less. There will always be omissions, especially in years with a lot of good albums. For my part a top ten including Echoes by The Rapture, Hail to the Thief by Radiohead, Deloused by Mars Volta and Elephant has it spot on. The individual order doesn't really matter as much as the overall selection as well. Bit worried about 2004 though...
Sandeep Bhatia, London, England
Big Boi's record is good but I'd be amazed if most of the people voting for Outkast listened to Andre's much beyond "Hey Ya" - it's a horrible, overlong mess; the drum n bass version of My Favourite Things is one of the worst tracks I've heard this year! If people miss Prince so much they could always play his old records.
Outkast; overall good, but at times somewhat hit and miss. The Mars Volta; consistently excellent, all the way through. I'm just stunned I have two of the top three! Does that mean I like pop..?
I'm so glad Dizzee Rascal has received the critical acclaim he has long deserved in 2003. Instead of just dismissing him as a mouthy, arrogant 18-year-old, the critics have listened to his lyrics and felt his beats and heaped praise on him for being creative, intelligent and original. We need more urban artists like him in the UK and less like Big Brovaz!
Natalie, Luton, UK
I'm happy to see The Mars Volta so high up the list.
They released a truly original and groundbreaking album which they carry over to their live show absolutely brilliantly.
Nicky Brown, Belfast
OutKast is very good for hip hop and one of the few rap albums that I like, but 2003 really belonged to the White Stripes
Michael, Santa Monica, CA, USA
Hey Yah, hell yeah! I heard that song once and I was instantly addicted. It's just one of those songs that get stuck in you head. It just makes you feel good. The little keyboard tune, kind of like the little piano tune in Coldplay's Clocks goes around and around in your head like an uninvited guest. Is this the sound of the new millennium? It seems a simple tune, but if it was that simple, we would all be writing them. I wish I knew how they wrote it.
Dimitri Ponirakis, Dryden, USA
It is clear that the Outkast album is not the best one of the year, therefore The Mars Volta is the only true band who released the best album this year. The only band that may have released a good album this year as well is Radiohead. These two bands explore music through distinct colours which takes the audience to different levels of understanding, especially The Mars Volta. Both bands have talented singers that with the help of their fellow bandmates impulse each other to great levels of music.
Thomas, Santiago, Chile
It's very hard to decide who has the best album, but for the different types of music I'm surprised and very happy about some of the bands that made it.
Deloused was a definite in the top five, but I never thought I'd see critics rate it so highly. The Darkness would have stood out in the 80s just as much as they stand out today.
And Outkast definitely deserves number one, especially for popularity, as it's hard not to see why: they are not just rappers, they are entertainers.
Mike, Escondido, CA, USA
I think that Gone Long Before Daylight by the Cardigans has been forgotten. It can't be a TOP ten without THIS album!
Wal, Sheffield, England
OutKast made the best album of 2003? I think somone's priorities are slightly amiss there. In fact - anyone who puts their album anywhere near the top 5 really hasn't listened to much that 2003 produced.
What's wrong with The Darkness - Permission to Land? And where for that matter are The Kings of Leon with their fantastic Youth and Young Manhood and whilst I'm going down this road; where is Iron Maiden's fantastic Dance of Death? The fact that it's the first proper Iron Maiden album of the century should at least get it into the top 5 - the fact that it contains the greatest Maiden line up of all time is a bonus!?
I've heard Dizzee Rascal (over-rated) and Elephant is without a doubt the worst album the White Stripes have ever made (and this is coming from someone who likes them a great deal). The Mars Volta should be in the top 10 but at number 3? I think not. Still at least St. Anger (the album that put me off Metallica until I heard Master of Puppets).
D. T., Dubai - UAE
In my own opinion I would beg to differ to say The Mars Volta not only deserves the right to be the best album of the year but also best new band and will be a awesome music force for years to come. In these times of musical talent slipping apart music like The Mars Volta not only shows people that there is pure raw musical talent left out there but they will pave and path for bands in the future. I know for a fact this band will be legendery and so many will follow in their path.
Adam Dufur, Norwalk, United States
OK, OutKast's album is excellent, that can't be denied, but the album of the year is unquestionably Room on Fire by The Strokes. How do you follow up the greatest debut of all time (Is this it)....errr simple really, release a second album that's just a litle bit better in every way. Oh, and they just happen to be the best live act in the world today to boot.
White stripes make it a close run thing though, in both album of the year and best live act around.
Benjamin, London, UK
Sadly, I feel that Outkast did not release the best album of the year, but did release the best single of 2003 (Hey Yeah!) We'll have to wait and see if the album provides any other memorable singles. Meanwhile, Radiohead's "Hail To The Thief" gets my vote for Album of the Year! Too bad it was overlooked by so many people, music lover's and critics alike.
Dan Andrews, Toronto, Canada
I think Outkast are worthy of this title - but Hot Hot Heat's "Make up the Breakdown" is surely the best album of the year.
Daniel, Chipping Sodbury, England.
No, they get it wrong everytime, obviously. 2003 was no different.
The best albums in 2003 came from Warren Zevon, Nadine, The Thrills, Caitlin Cary, M. Ward, The Tyde, The Long Winters and Oranger.
Close behind were those from Josh Rouse, Joss Stone, Govt Mule, Little Feat, Wheat, Emmylou Harris, Lucinda Williams and Joe Strummer.
Phil Hines, Totnes, UK