Rolling Stone Updates “500 Greatest Albums of All Time” List


Dan Stark, Student Editor

Rolling Stone magazine recently released a revised version of their list “The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time” on September 22 with some major changes reflecting changing times and music tastes. 

The list, originally published in 2003 and then revised in 2012, has been criticized for being focused on rock albums by white artists and having little representation from modern artists. This list changes that dramatically, with the number of albums from the 21st century jumping from 42 in the 2012 edition to 86 albums in this one. Some of the highest ranking 21st century albums include Radiohead’s Kid A (#20) and Amy Winehouse’s Back To Black (#33).

Additionally, more albums by African American artists are included, with many additions in the Top 50 albums of the list. High ranking entries include Aretha Franklin’s I Never Loved A Man the Way I Love You (#13) and Thriller by Michael Jackson (#12).

The #1 album on the revised version of the list is Marvin Gaye’s 1971 masterpiece What’s Going On, replacing The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (which moved down to #24). The album is given the top spot for its themes of police brutality, war, poverty and the environment that still resonate to this day. The album’s groundbreaking history at Motown Records of how it was one of the first concept albums issued by that record label is also given as a reason for its placement in the top slot.

Following it in the top five is Pet Sounds by The Beach Boys, Joni Mitchell’s Blue, Songs In The Key of Life by Stevie Wonder and Abbey Road by The Beatles. 

What’s notable about The Beatles on this list is that they previously held four albums in the top ten, including three in the top five. In this revision, Abbey Road is their sole top ten entry, which placed at #14 on the previous 2012 revision.

Overall, the list features a lot of great albums from a variety of decades and is a blend of stone-cold classics and modern masterpieces that truly rank as the 500 greatest albums of all time.