We continue our exploration of Entertainment Weekly's 100 All-Time Greatest Everything by moving on to Albums. I have approached this list slightly differently than the other four.
Jess Cagle, in his opening Editor's Note, says, "[the music] department focused our music list on the modern album era, specifically pop, rock, and hip-hop, because that's the kind of music that fill our audience's iPods." While I understand that the editors wanted the list to include albums their audience had heard of, I think this was, finally, a mistake. There was spectacular music written before 1965 and, personally, my iPod includes a lot of it. My iPod also includes a fair number of the albums represented on this list.
I think that focusing on albums was an interesting choice as music buying has changed. Many articles I have read on the subject talk about the fact that modern music buyers tend to buy single songs and create playlists. Frankly, this is how I now listen to music. I struggle to remember the last time I listened to a full album, other than to research this article.
Unlike the other lists, I will not comment a great deal on the individual choices as, for me, music is as subjective as subject as there is. What speaks to me this morning will, most likely, have changed by this afternoon. That is the power of music. One can always find something to listen to.
100: Ramones, Ramones (1976)
99: Mama's Gun, Erykah Badu (2000)
98: Songs for the Deaf, Queens of the Stone Age (2002)
97: Dusty in Memphis, Dusty Springfield (1969)
96: Home, Dixie Chicks (2002)
95: Saturday Night Fever Soundtrack, Various Artists (1977)
94: B'Day, Beyoncé (2006)
93: Straight Outta Compton, N.W.A. (1988)
92: Either/Or, Elliott Smith (1997)
91: There's a Riot Goin' On, Sly and the Family Stone (1971)
90: White Blood Cells, The White Stripes (2001)
89: Dig Me Out, Sleater-Kinney (1997)
88: Power, Corruption & Lies, New Order (1983)
87: Coat of Many Colors, Dolly Parton (1971)
86: Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea, PJ Harvey (2000)
85: Rain Dogs, Tom Waits (1985)
84: Horses, Patti Smith (1975)
83: In the Jungle Groove, James Brown (1986)
82: Slanted and Enchanted, Pavement (1992)
81: Doolittle, Pixies (1989)
80: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Elton John (1973)
79: Led Zeppelin IV, Led Zeppelin (1971)
-- I am shocked how far down the list this album is. The definitive album for the rockers of my generation, it is one that everyone I know who listens to music has on his or her iPod. I was discussing this article last night with a group of 20-somethings. All of them, without exception, at least own Stairway to Heaven.
78: Post, Björk (1995)
77: Loveless, My Bloody Valentine (1991)
76: Remain in the Light, Talking Heads (1980)
75: My Aim Is True, Elvis Costello (1977)
74: Back to Black, Amy Winehouse (2006)
73: The Harder They Come Soundtrack, Various Artists (1972)
72: Paul's Boutique, Beastie Boys (1989)
71: The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society, The Kinks (1968)
70: Raw Power, Iggy and the Stooges (1973)
69: Daydream Nation, Sonic Youth (1988)
68: It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, Public Enemy (1988)
67: After the Gold Rush, Neil Young (1970)
66: Live Through This, Hole (1994)
65: Forever Changes, Love (1967)
64: The Downward Spiral, Nine Inch Nails (1994)
63: The Marquee Moon, Television (1977)
62: Let It Be, The Replacements (1984)
61: 3 Feet High and Rising, De La Soul (1989)
60: Odelay, Beck (1996)
59: Master of Puppets, Metallica (1986)
58: The Chronic, Dr. Dre (1992)
57: Songs in A Minor, Alicia Keys (2001)
56: Funeral, Arcade Fire (2004)
55: Illmatic, Nas (1994)
54: Lifes Rich Pageant, R.E.M. (1986)
53: The Soft Bulletin, The Flaming Lips (1999)
52: The Low End Theory, A Tribe Called Quest (1991)
51: The Great Twenty-Eight, Chuck Berry (1982)
-- The man who more or less invented rock & roll should be a tad higher up this list, right?
50: The Queen Is Dead, The Smiths (1986)
49: Sound of Silver, LCD Soundsystem (2007)
48: Stankonia, OutKast (2000)
47: Disintegration, The Cure (1989)
46: Rubber Soul, The Beatles (1965)
45: OK Computer, Radiohead (1997)
44: Off the Wall, Michael Jackson (1979)
43: Madonna, Madonna (1983)
42: Back in Black, AC/DC (1980)
41: The Marshall Mathers LP, Eminem (2000)
40: John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band, John Lennon (1970)
39: Who's Next, The Who (1971)
38: The Velvet Underground & Nico, The Velvet Underground (1967)
37: The Dark Side of the Moon, Pink Floyd (1973)
36: The Blueprint, Jay-Z (2001)
35: Some Girls, The Rolling Stones (1978)
34: The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars, David Bowie, (1972)
33: Enter the Wu-Tang, Wu-Tang Clan (1993)
32: Appetite for Destruction, Guns N' Roses (1987)
31: Ready to Die, The Notorious B.I.G. (1994)
30: Otis Blue: Otis Redding Sings Soul, Otis Redding (1965)
29: Rumours, Fleetwood Mac (1977)
28: The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, Lauryn Hill (1998)
27: Highway 61 Revisited, Bob Dylan (1965)
26: Are You Experienced, Jimi Hendrix Experience (1967)
25: Catch a Fire, Bob Marley and the Wailers (1973)
24: Discovery, Daft Punk (2001)
23: Achtung Baby, U2 (1991)
22: Abbey Road, The Beatles (1969)
21: Innervisions, Stevie Wonder (1973)
20: Beggars Banquet, The Rolling Stones (1968)
19: Call Me, Al Green (1973)
18: Graceland, Paul Simon (1986)
17: 21, Adele (2011)
-- Seriously? This relatively brand-new album is #17? Seriously?
16: Sunrise, Elvis Presley (1999)
15: Born to Run, Bruce Springsteen (1975)
14: At Folsom Prison, Johnny Cash (1968)
13: What's Going On, Marvin Gaye (1971)
12: The White Album, The Beatles (1968)
11: Blue, Joni Mitchell (1971)
10: Nevermind, Nirvana (1991)
-- One of the great album covers of all time. Smells Like Teen Spirit is a song worthy of being called a classic.
9: Pet Sounds, The Beach Boys (1966)
-- A departure from the bubblegum pop for which they were known, this is my favorite of their albums. Wouldn't It Be Nice is on more than one of my playlists.
8: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, Kanye West (2010)
-- The only album in the top ten I did not already own, I downloaded and listened to it yesterday. I really liked it, but I wouldn't call it the eighth best album ever.
7: Lady Soul, Aretha Franklin (1968)
-- The Queen of Soul, hands down. I love, love, love this album.
6: Blood on the Tracks, Bob Dylan (1975)
-- Shelter from the Storm is one of my favorite songs of all time.
5: London Calling, The Clash (1979)
-- When this album was released, we all rushed out to buy it. It was the epitome of cool at the time; it has held up well.
4: Thriller, Michael Jackson (1982)
-- Still the best selling album of all time, and for good reason. This was the soundtrack for the early '80s.
3: Exile on Main Street, The Rolling Stones (1972)
-- Almost universally acknowledged as their best album; I tend to agree.
2: Purple Rain, Prince (1984)
-- This is a very interesting choice for the second greatest album of all time. It was a game changer in its day, but I would argue that others have been as influential, or more so.
1: Revolver, The Beatles (1966)
-- I would have chosen Sgt. Pepper as the best, but that's just me.
There is so much missing from this list that it is hard to know where to start. Jazz, blues, classical, opera, not enough country, folk to name just a few genres that have been ignored. As for the artists that were overlooked -- many of the pioneers of rock (without whom this list would not exist), Eric Clapton, The Eagles (who have the third best selling album of all time), the huge rock bands from the '70s (some of whose songs have been rediscovered thanks to Glee), Carole King, Simon & Garfunkel, Bon Jovi, Phil Collins, Tina Turner, The Black Eyed Peas, Lady Gaga, Coldplay are all ones who spring to mind.
Let us know what you think of this. Is your favorite album/song on this list? What should have been on it and isn't? Where did they get it right? I'm looking forward to reading this discussion.
The Top 100 All-Time Greatest Lists: