2. The Monkees - The Monkees - 1966The Monkees' competence is a surprise to us, maybe, more than it would have been to people in 1966, because the idea of a "professional songwriter," and professionalism or careerism in music generally, has mostly been relegated to country acts and shadowy Europop figures.
But the music industry as a monolithic whole was considerably stronger then than it is now, and -- and this is another thing Dolenz was insistent on -- the project attracted some supremely competent songwriters. ("I'm a Believer," composed by Neil Diamond and the guy from Smashmouth, is the canonical example, but most of their debut album was courtesy Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart.)
Starting with Headquarters, the Monkees had one of the first (and more successful) We're-Real-Artists-Man second acts, writing and performing their own music. But from the beginning they were conduits for some excellent pop.