One of life’s toughest, most poignant lessons we all learn is all good things must come to an end. While every ending can have a range of emotions, it’s only in hindsight that we can often find hidden beauty.

As music fans, this is especially true when it comes to final albums from iconic artists. Sometimes, we know a final album truly is a final album. Other times, you get blindsided by the end. Either way, there’s some semblance of closure, which is something we all deserve.

This list isn’t meant to be a downer, despite the heavy intro. Think of it as a jumping-off point of going back into an artist’s catalog. Maybe this is a reminder to revisit some of these works with fresh ears and a different point of view. Perhaps this is a way to remember to appreciate things in the moment because we don’t know what tomorrow is going to bring.

Do yourself a favor and give these five great final albums a listen again. Call it a hunch, but you won’t regret it.

  • Nirvana - 'In Utero'

    How do you follow up a generation-defining album like Nevermind? By releasing a truly raw and unapologetic (pun sort of intended) effort like In Utero. Nirvana’s third and final studio album was released on September 21, 1993. As we all know, Kurt Cobain would leave this world less than seven months later on April 5, 1994. Addiction and mental health issues are a beast. Let’s try and do our best to look out for one another.

  • Janis Joplin - 'Pearl'

    Janis Joplin remains one of rock’s most unique personalities and dynamic performers. Many could argue that Pearl was her greatest masterpiece, released on January 11, 1971, just three months after her sudden death. It’s a prime example of “all killer, no filler.” From “More Over” to “Get It While You Can” to “Cry Baby,” each track, like Janis, is a pearl.

  • The White Stripes - 'Icky Thump'

    Very few people are holding their breaths about a potential White Stripes reunion, even though it would be awesome. They at least had the good sense to go out with a bang. If it’s been a minute, do yourself a favor and revisit Icky Thump, because it’s even better than you remember. It’s bookended by the title track and “Effect and Cause,” which is an underrated breakup song. Their cover of “Conquest” is a banger, too.

  • The Police - 'Synchronicity'

    Let’s briefly remind people that “Every Breath You Take” isn’t a love song. Sure, it’s a brilliant pop song, but it’s totally creepy. People who think “Every Breath You Take” is romantic are just as annoying as those who think “Born in the U.S.A.” is a patriotic song. The lesson here is always read the lyrics.

    With that mild rant out of the way, The Police sure went out on top, didn’t they? Synchronicity was the band’s biggest-selling album, moving eight million copies in the U.S. alone. In addition to the aforementioned “Every Breath You Take,” the album also boasts “Wrapped Around Your Finger” and “King of Pain.”

  • David Bowie - 'Blackstar'

    When David Bowie first announced his 2016 studio album Blackstar, it was met with much fanfare as any album would be from a legend. Little did any of us know before it was too late that Blackstar was Bowie’s way of saying goodbye. The album was released on January 8, 2016, which was Bowie’s 69th birthday. Two days later, the iconic artist died following a private battle with liver cancer. The track “Lazarus” was particularly poignant, opening with the lyric, “Look up here/I’m in heaven.” Even years later, it’s still mind-blowing he pulled off such a feat and that such a pedestrian illness ended his life. As morbid as this sounds, it’s almost cruel he died from something as common as cancer. He should’ve died from something new and rare where it could’ve been named after him.

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