This group of 50 is arguably worse than the last 50, which isn’t a great sign. While over half of the last 50 featured albums that I would strongly consider including, this group features less than half of the same sort with a bunch of borderline albums that I would probably leave off.
Over half of this group is comprised of ’50s-’80s releases again, but it certainly is way down from previous versions of this list. 23/50 albums here appeared in there 2012 list; that number has slightly increased with each group of 50.
Big picture with genres, big artists:
- Jazz – Another classic is here that is way too low — don’t expect much on this list.
- Electronic – So far, no purely electronic album has been on the list. If you went in hoping for more love for Kraftwerk, Aphex Twin, Boards of Canada, etc., the writing on the wall’s not that encouraging.
- The Beatles – So far, no Beatles. They had 10 albums with 5 in the top 14 back in 2012. I expect that they get 8 with that same 5 in the top 40 or so.
- Miles Davis – So far, no Miles Davis. In a list like this, he should be in contention for the most inclusions at at least 7. He had 3 in 2012, and jazz doesn’t seem to be gaining much traction with these voters. At least On the Corner or In a Silent Way should be here, but I don’t have much faith.
- Brian Eno – So far, no Eno. In 2012, he had two album at #’s 429 & 432. This is an artist that should have five albums on the list, but it’s completely up in the air how many will get in and where.
Greatest Hits Compilations
- Ike and Tina Turner – Proud Mary: The Best of Ike and Tina Turner
- Robert Johnson – King of the Delta Blues Singers
- The Temptations – Anthology
47. Brian Wilson – Smile (2004) — With the original Smile sessions all available to hear in a lovely box set, I don’t understand wanting to hear lesser versions of these classics.
46. Billie Eilish – When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? (2019) — Has anyone considered how joyless much of this music is? It was annoying watching it win the Grammy for Album of the Year, but this is egregious.
45. Aerosmith – Rocks (1976) — I thought for sure Rolling Stone had progressed beyond the need to include Aerosmith, but alas, Rocks has made it despite it being mediocre at best.
44. Diana Ross – Diana (1980) — This is an album with two classic singles and absolutely nothing else.
43. Rush – Moving Pictures (1981) — “Tom Sawyer” is lots of fun, but Rush weren’t truly capable of appealing to anybody but die-hard prog rock types.
42. Eminem – The Slim Shady LP (1999) — If any artist has to be devalued for problematic lyrics and messaging, it’s Eminem. This album’s nowhere near good enough to make the rape jokes any fun.
41. My Chemical Romance – The Black Parade (2006) — You can tell the ’00 teenagers had a say on this list because MCR have never gotten this level of praise. They’re not a bad band, but there’s so much out there to consider before I would ever think this needs to be here.
40. Taylor Swift – 1989 (2014) — The first half is an album that needs to be included; the second half is not.
39. Dr. John – Gris Gris (1968) — This album dropped a lot from 2012, but it’s just not an album that needs to be included.
38. Ramones – Rocket to Russia (1977) — This album has some of their best work, but it’s made inessential by a few lackluster tracks and the fact that there first very-similar album exists.
37. Kelis – Kaleidoscope (1999) — This might be the most surprising inclusion thus far. I included this album in my 200 Best Albums of the 1990s list a couple years ago, but I’ve never considered it being one of the 500 greatest of all time.
36. Lynyrd Skynyrd – Pronounced Leh-‘Nerd Skin-‘Nerd (1973) — If you want Lynyrd Skynyrd, this is the one, but wanting to listen to them all that much is the biggest roadblock for me.
35. Green Day – Dookie (1994) — Green Day has made some reprehensible music in my lifetime, making any major praise for them a personal annoyance. Dookie is fine, but I would look elsewhere.
34. Run-DMC – Run-DMC (1984) — Props to Run-DMC for bringing hip-hop to the masses, but their limitations are on full display on the debut.
33. Todd Rundgren – Something/Anything? (1972) — Here’s another early-’70s soft rock album that I don’t connect with all that well.
32. Big Brother and the Holding Company – Cheap Thrills (1968) — I’ve never enjoyed Joplin’s music all that much because of that classic blues rock I mostly detest. There is some good acid rock experimentation here though but not enough.
31. Drake – If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late (2015) — I love Drake, but including this is certainly a bit much. Take Care is probably the only one of his albums deserving of this praise.
30. Luther Vandross – Never Too Much (1981) — If Vandross has to make it, this is the one, and bonus points for being a signature r&b debut.
29. Black Sabbath – Black Sabbath (1970) — Is this a harsh assessment of heavy metal’s first album? Their next two albums are clearly better though.
28. The Go-Go’s – Beauty and the Beat (1981) — Everything great about the Go-Go’s is here, and the album’s classic status comes a lot from often being an introduction to pop punk made by women.
27. Big Star – Radio City (1974) — I think this one just pales in comparison to #1 Record and doesn’t have the cult status of Third/Sister Lovers.
26. Mariah Carey – The Emancipation of Mimi (2005) — I initially winced at seeing this exactly one spot in front of Surfer Rosa, but for the biggest female pop star of all time, this album acts sorta like a magnum opus. Maybe some more time with it and I would say it’s deserving.
25. Talking Heads – More Songs About Buildings and Food (1978) — Nearly every Talking Heads album that isn’t Fear of Music and Remain in Light are borderline for this list.
24. Roxy Music – For Your Pleasure (1973) — This gets treated as their undeniable classic, but it has its lackluster moments. I might prefer Avalon overall.
23. Sonic Youth – Goo (1990) — If you had to pick one ’90s Sonic Youth for this list, this is probably the one. I would find it hard to include considering the three ’80s classics that have to be prioritized.
22. Parliament – Mothership Connection (1975) — I find it interesting that this is the agreed-upon Parliament classic; Funkentelechy vs. the Placebo Syndrome might be better and features “Flash Light.”
21. Lil Wayne – Tha Carter II (2005) — At first, I was surprised to see this, but if they’re not going to include mixtapes, then this is the definitive Lil Wayne release and certainly his best studio album.
20. Aretha Franklin – Young, Gifted, and Black (1972) — ’70s Aretha was still pretty great, and it might be a tossup between this, Spirit in the Dark, and Amazing Grace to be included in the 500.
19. The Cars – The Cars (1978) — From here on out, I would say these albums should definitely be here. This is the best display of Ric Ocasek’s unique pop vision.
18. George Harrison – All Things Must Pass (1970) — Unlike McCartney, Harrison got out all of his good solo work immediately.
17. Tame Impala – Currents (2015) — It’s still odd seeing albums included that I was illegally streaming before it was actually released. I’ve grown resigned to the fact that Lonerism will be considered second tier to this album, but it’s just as good and should be in the 500.
16. Pixies – Surfer Rosa (1988) — I don’t disagree with seeing this one barely in the top 400; it’s a couple steps below Doolittle for sure.
15. Tom Waits – Rain Dogs (1985) — This one actually improved from its 2012 placement, which is surprising as Waits feels grouped in with the oddball singer-songwriters that younger generations have no interest in.
14. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Fever to Tell (2003) — Without “Maps,” this album is maybe a forgotten punk gem. With it, it’s a classic.
13. X-Ray Spex – Germfree Adolescents (1978) — Punk bands having saxophones in their repertoire can cite this album as a major influence.
12. Massive Attack – Mezzanine (1998) — Massive Attack really had their sound honed in by this album, and it truly is flawless. Blue Lines was their only album on the 2012 list, so we’ll see if it makes it.
11. The Raincoats – The Raincoats (1979) — Anybody who loves oddball rock has this album high up on their greatest albums list.
10. The Kinks – The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society (1968) — It’s hard to find underrated albums from the highly-touted days of ’60s British rock, but this is easily the Kinks’ best album and only one deserving of inclusion.
9. Madvillain – Madvillainy (2004) — This might be the definitive stoner alt-hip-hop classic, so I’m glad to see it at all. It should be higher.
8. D’Angelo and the Vanguard – Black Messiah (2014) — Everyone on first listen knew D’Angelo pulled off another classic with this after 14 years of not releasing anything.
7. Neutral Milk Hotel – In the Aeroplane Over the Sea (1998) — If you ask the right people at the right time of day, this could be a lot higher. This album’s legacy still doesn’t seem set in stone as its detractors are pretty vocal.
6. Funkadelic – One Nation Under a Groove (1978) — This album fell quite a bit and not having it on Spotify might be at fault. This is just George Clinton and the gang at their funniest and most creative.
5. Mobb Deep – The Infamous (1995) — For East Coast hip-hop, this is up there. It’s one of the most flawless albums of the ’90s and a new inclusion for this list.
4. Radiohead – In Rainbows (2007) — I’m very interested in how Radiohead does on this list because 5 made it in 2012 but with OK Computer outside the top 150. This one’s too low and probably confirms Amnesiac not making it at all (I probably wouldn’t include it either).
3. Isaac Hayes – Hot Buttered Soul (1969) — If you want Hayes in all his glory, this is the one, and it truly signaled where ’70s r&b could go.
2. Charles Mingus – Mingus Ah Um (1959) — This is top 100, no doubt. We’ve now seen half of the 1959 Mt. Rushmore of jazz classics already; Time Out (not on the 2012 list) and Kind Of Blue (12th) are still left.
1. J Dilla – Donuts (2006) — Look, it’s great to see Rolling Stone finally come around to praising this album at all, but this is one of the greatest albums of my lifetime. This is the first album to come up that makes my personal top 50, which each voter provided to make up this list.