‘Best of’ lists drive people crazy. It could be who is the greatest president, who is the best athlete or some inane topic that will lead to long arguments among friends. Music is no different.
Rolling Stone’s new list of “The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time” was published this week. RS first completed this exercise in 2003. Nine years later, they did an update. In 2020, it was time for more than an update. They tore down the original and came up with a totally new and different list of the greatest albums.
These types of things are as subjective as it gets. People’s tastes change over seventeen years. What sounded great in 2003 may not hold up or be as relevant seventeen years later. Remember when you heard an album for the first time, you thought it was the best thing ever, ran out to purchase it and a week later, you can’t imagine what you were thinking? There’s a lot of that thinking in comparing the old and the new lists!
To make up this list, Rolling Stone had over three hundred artists, producers, critics and music industry figures come up with their own Top 50 list. They put them together and voila…we have a brand new 500 Greatest Albums list!
The biggest changes are there are one hundred fifty-four albums on the list that weren’t on the two previous editions. Also, while the first two lists were heavy with what’s considered rock albums, this one has a wider variety of different music genres. There are many more rap/hip hop albums than in the original.
What are the most controversial decisions of the list? I think there are three:
. Lauryn Hill’s, ‘The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill’ moved into the number 10 location. How and why did it move up over three hundred spots?
. The Beatles, ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band’ went from the top album to number twenty-four. Why did an album that was almost always considered the greatest, drop so far? Why did two Beatles’ albums, ‘Revolver” and “Abbey Road’ rate higher?
. Marvin Gaye’s ‘What’s Going On’ is the new Number One! It was socially relevant during the protest era and dysfunctional reign of Richard Nixon and now may be even more relevant during the protest era and dysfunctional reign of Donald Trump. But is that enough to make it the greatest of all time?
So did Rolling Stone get it right this time? This is their top ten:
10. Lauryn Hill: ‘The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill’
9. Bob Dylan: ‘Blood On The Tracks’
8. Prince and the Revolution: ‘Purple Rain’
7. Fleetwood Mac: ‘Rumors’
6. Nirvana: ‘Nevermind’
5. The Beatles: ‘Abbey Road’
4. Stevie Wonder: ‘Songs in the Key of Life’
3. Joni Mitchell: ‘Blue’
2. The Beach Boys: ‘Pet Sounds’
1. Marvin Gaye: ‘What’s Going On’
It truly is a diverse list of different genres of music. Seven of the ten were recorded close to five decades ago and they still hold up. But are they really the best of the best? Let the arguments begin!
Related Post: The 10 Best Albums of the 1970’s
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