EntertainmentMusicThe 200 best albums in history

The 200 best albums in history


In 2007 the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and the Music Business Association created The Definitive 200 list, a comprehensive ranking of the best albums in music history. As always, this is nothing more than the opinion of a bunch of critics from two music organizations. Nothing else. No less. It should not be despised with prejudice. In this article we are going to review some of these great albums that every lover of good music should know.

Number one is for Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band , the Beatles’ eighth studio album, released in 1967 and containing hits like ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’ or ‘With a Little Help from My Friends’. Number two goes to Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon , and third place goes to Michael Jackson’s Thriller , the best-selling album of all time.

In the list we find a lot of rock, but also a lot of rap in the figures of Tupac (#90, #170), Dr. Dre (#30), Jay-Z (#128, #161, #189), Notorious BIG (# 59), Eminem (#28, #63), Usher (#67), and Outkast (#29, #199). Pop appears in the hands of Madonna (#164), TLC (#105), Janet Jackson (#87, #151), George Michael (#158), Christina Aguilera (#127) or Shakira (#172). There is also R&B with Beyonce (#183), Stevie Wonder (#23), Marvin Gaye (#38, #81), Whitney Houston (#46), Alicia Keys (#129) or Aretha Franklin (#193), and country. with Willie Nelson (#143, #192), the Dixie Chicks (#33, #100, #113), Shania Twain (#21) or Johnny Cash (#77). And we even find opera with Andrea Bocelli (#194),musicals like The Phantom of the Opera (#168) and  movie soundtracks  like  Grease (#37), Dirty Dancing (#99),  Saturday Night Fever (#40) or Forrest Gump (#173).

At the end of this review we will make a series of criticisms of the list, pointing out notable absences and proposing some albums that surely should have appeared.

The Definitive 200

What can we say about the first ten albums. They marked an era and, above all, greatly influenced the music that would come after them. They were innovators in different styles: from the grunge of Nevermind (1991) to the progressive rock of The Dark Side of the Moon (1973), passing through the psychedelia of the Beatles, the soft rock and R&B of Carole King, the pen of the Award Nobel Bob Dylan and the rock of U2 and the Rolling. Ten essential albums.

Among these first three, Tapestry is perhaps the album least known by the non-Anglo-Saxon public. He won the Grammy for Best Album in 1972 and sold millions of copies (it was one of the best-selling records of the seventies). Carole King was accompanied by Joni Mitchell and James Taylor to produce an album that ranks #36 on the list of the 500 Greatest Albums in History prepared by Rolling Stone magazine.

The Beach Boys appear at #9 with Pet Sounds , a pioneering album from 1966 in many fields. It can be considered proto-psychedelic, and includes a wide range of influences from pop, jazz, classical music… Critics point to this album as an art rock album and also progressive rock. Rolling Stone magazine considers it the second most important album in history.

In the TOP 10 all are best sellers. They were critically acclaimed albums and, in turn, well received by the public. These two realities do not always occur at the same time, a sample of the importance and quality of this series of albums.

Fleetwood Mac appears at #24 with the smash hit 1977 ‘s Rumors and later at #181 with 1975’s Fleetwood Mac . as soon as they sound: the moves ‘Don’t Stop’, ‘The Chain’ or ‘Go Your Own Way’, other sadder ones like ‘Songbird’ and number ones like ‘Dreams’. Rumours won the Grammy Award for Best Album of the Year.

Among the top 25 we also have The Doors, Bruce Springsteen, AC/DC, Prince, Metallica, Santana, The Who… and, surprisingly, also Pearl Jam (#11), which ranks very high (perhaps because the #10 is Nirvana?). Pearl Jam is a great group, but we don’t think they’re up there historically with The Who, The Doors or Stevie Wonder. And yet it is above. In any case , Ten is a very important record for the development of grunge.

The only groups that appear more than once in the TOP 25 are the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and Pink Floyd, which is ranked by The Wall (#25) and The Dark Side of The Moon (#2), an essential album according to specialized critics. , full of innovations in the technical and recording aspects, and with songs full of philosophy. In addition, it is also one of the best sellers of all time. The Wall stays at #25.

The list continues with Alanis Morissette, who sneaks in at #26 with Jagged Little Pill (1995), one of the hits of the nineties, which includes hits that don’t stop playing on the radio, such as ‘Ironic’ or ‘You Oughta Know’. Morissette struck gold in the second half of the 1990s.

We find Led Zeppelin on many occasions: Led Zeppelin IV (#4), Led Zeppelin II (#47), Houses of the Holy (#51), Physical Graffiti (#93) and  Led Zeppelin (#165), but it’s a scandal that this is not Led Zeppelin III , an impressive album from 1970 with great songs like ‘Tangerine’, ‘Since I’ve Been Loving You’, ‘Immigrant Song’ or ‘Celebration Day’. It is true that, when it came out, the criticism was harsh with the Led for this album, but time has finished confirming that it is in fact one of the best albums of the band. Perhaps the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame analysts didn’t include it because they didn’t include ALL of Led Zeppelin’s discography on the list.

The other great band of the seventies so equal in size and importance with Led Zeppelin is undoubtedly Pink Floyd. The eternal combat is very even, because although Led Zeppelin has five albums in the TOP 200 (tying with the Beatles as the group with the most appearances), it is also true that Pink Floyd has two albums in the TOP 25 and one in the TOP 3 Led Zeppelin can’t boast of that. Plus Animals (1977) should be on the list too!

The Rolling Stones also have two albums in the TOP 25: Exile on Main St. (#6) and  Let It Bleed (#18). They also place two others:  Sticky Fingers (#49) and Beggar’s Banquet (#121) in ‘The Definitive 200’. The Rolling’s impressive discography spans no less than six decades, and it certainly deserves to be so prominent on the list.

At #38 we find What’s Going On , by Marvin Gaye, an album that includes the song of the same name and which was selected as the best song in history by Rolling Stone magazine. We analyzed it some time ago in another article on this website.

Positions #28, #29, #30 and #31 are occupied by rap through Eminem, Outkast, Dr. Dre and the Beastie Boys, all of them important figures of the genre, pioneers and innovators in hip hop and rap. He closes the TOP 50 Green Day with his hit Dookie from 1994.

Michael Jackson appears three times (#3, #80, #115), but Bad , one of the best-selling albums in history and which contained hits like ‘Smooth Criminal’, ‘The Way You Make Me Feel’ or the own ‘Bad’. We also find Prince three times (#16, #85, #155), who enters the TOP 25 with his great Purple Rain from 1984.

George Harrison is the first Beatle to appear solo, he does so at #69 with his debut album All Things Must Pass , from 1970. A stupendous album with recommendable songs like ‘What Is Life’, ‘Beware of Darkness’, ‘ My Sweet Lord’ or ‘Isn’t It a Pitty’. The next beatle to appear is John Lennon with Imagine (#144), and finally Paul McCartney at #182 with Band on the Run.

At #83 we find Graceland , Paul Simon’s best album and to which we dedicate an article on this website. A great album of the worldbeat sound with African rhythms. And at #94 we have London Calling , the legendary and influential album by The Clash. Maybe it’s a record for the TOP 50 at least.

At #104 the supergroup made up of David Crosby, Graham Nash, Stephen Stills and Neil Young appears and produced hit material during the early 1970s. Deja Vu is a CSNY album that combines the musical genius of each of its members in different songs, such as ‘Helpless’ (Young), ‘Almost Cut My Hair’ (Crosby), ‘Teach Your Children’ (Nash), ‘ Carry On’ (Stills)… and also ‘Woodstock’, written by Joni Mitchell. Undoubtedly an album that every lover of good music should listen to.

The critics of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame were not very attentive to Elton John, who took 118 places to remember. The English pianist appears in this position with his Goodbye Yellow Brick Road from 1973, while in the list of the 500 Best Albums prepared by Rolling Stone magazine it is ranked #91.

Between #100 and #150 we have Journey with the album that contained the great ‘Don’t Stop Believin’, Frank Sinatra, Cat Stevens, Bob Marley, ZZ Top, Sheryl Crow, Christina Aguilera with her debut album, soundtracks like  Footloose , Top Gun or  Titanic … and John Lennon’s Imagine (#144).

Bob Dylan appears three times, and while it is true that he occupies a place in the TOP 10 with Highway 61 Revisited (#8), his other two albums on the list appear in very low positions: #157 and #195.

It is also surprising that Queen only appears once and in a very low position (#152) with A Night at the Opera , the 1975 album in which ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ appeared. Perhaps among the 200 best albums in history, The Works from 1984 should also appear , a great album that featured ‘Hammer to Fall’, ‘Radio Ga Ga’ or ‘I Want to Break Free’, or A Kind of Magic ( 1986), which contained ‘One Vision’, ‘Friends Will Be Friends’ or ‘Who Wants to Live Forever’. Surely in a second review the critics of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame would agree to include more Queen material.

The ‘The Definitive 200’ list is closed by the Grand Funk Railroad, a mythical group formed in 1969, with their  We’re an American Band.

Important absences and injustices

The list compiled by the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and the Music Business Association undoubtedly includes some of the best records in history (most of them, in fact). However, there are important absences that must be mentioned. We will try to remember only those that are not there, but it is also inevitable to think that some that are there appear too many times for the real importance they have had in the history of music.

From the sixties we miss The Hollies and The Animals. The Grand Funk Rail Road (#200) appear, but not Jefferson Airplane or The Byrds, or Buffalo Springfield or The Flying Burrito Brothers or The Band, groups that had a decisive influence on the development of music in different genres and aspects.

In groups from the late sixties and seventies we find great absences: Kansas, Deep Purple, The Ramones, Yes and Creedence Clearwater Revival are not there. Of the groups of the eighties, the absence of Toto, Ultravox, The Human League, Men At Work, Genesis or the successful Pet Shop Boys is surprising. Nor does post-punk appear anywhere, where are The Cure or Joy Division?

As for the rock sound of the nineties, there is Oasis (#124), Pearl Jam (#11), Live (#176), Radiohead (#111) or Nirvana (#10), but Blur or The Verve and Neither did The Cranberries or The Pretenders. Going a little further in time, it is surprising that Dido’s Life for Rent is not there , nor is there any work by Daft Punk or Moby. This is strange considering that the list was drawn up in 2007.

Alan Parsons, Peter Gabriel, Leonard Cohen, Eric Clapton, Barry White, James Brown, BB King, Bill Whiters, Ray Charles, Chuck Berry, Bryan Adams, Sting, Rod Stewart, Cher, Diana Ross, Bonnie Tyler, Amy Winehouse is Tina Turner. Country and folk miss John Denver, James Taylor or the Highwaymen.

Perhaps there are plenty of soundtracks like Top Gun (#117) or  O Brother, Where Art Thou? (#130). Are they really better than John Lennon’s Imagine (#144)? really? The soundtrack of Forrest Gump (#173) is for example a good album of good music with good songs.

Also, if the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame wanted to put soundtracks, why did they forget the Blues Brothers? Is there a movie with better songs?

Beyond the absences, we must point out a series of injustices. Taking into account that the Dixie Chicks have nothing more and nothing less than three albums and Janet Jackson two, it is surprising that figures in the history of music such as Bob Marley or Aretha Franklin only have one, and very low (#129 and #193, respectively).

They also appear only with one The Who (#22), Dire Straits (#89), The Doors (#19), David Bowie (#171), Neil Young (#98), Queen (#152) or Elton John (# 118). Without detracting from any other artist on the list, it does seem obvious that names like Bowie or Aretha should have more weight, since they have had more influence and importance in the history of music. Is n’t Dire Straits’ Making Movies among the 200 best albums of all time?

The missing discs

As always, everyone will have a different opinion. Trying to be objective and fair, we will comment below on some of the albums (not all, of course) that should have gotten a place in the TOP 200. Two hundred is a lot, and it should have been possible to make room for the following albums, which They had much more significance for the future of music in the 20th century than many of those who have finally been included in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame list.

‘TOTO IV’ (1982)

Six Grammy Awards (Album of the Year, Song of the Year…) and pieces as notable as ‘Rosanna’ or ‘Africa’. Without a doubt, Toto should appear on the list sometime, and it should be with Toto IV , his fourth album, released in 1982.

‘BAD’ (1987)

One of the best-selling albums in history and one of Michael Jackson’s best, with number one hits like ‘Smooth Criminal’, ‘The Way You Make Me Feel’ or ‘Bad’.

‘SO’ (1986)

Peter Gabriel’s best album should be a fixture in any ranking. With songs like ‘Mercy Street’, ‘Big Time’, ‘Sledgehammer’ or ‘Don’t Give Up’ there are more than enough reasons to put him above Janet Jackson.


CSN’s debut album is quite a cult record, an important piece of folk history. Winner of a Grammy for Best New Artist, it includes songs that we should all listen to like ‘Suite: Judy Blue Eyes’, ‘Wooden Ships’, ‘Helplessly Hoping’ or ‘Long Time Gone’.

‘L.A. WOMAN’ (1971)

The fact that The Doors appears only once out of 200 albums is a serious mistake, especially if we take into account that the English band produced very successful material in their short life (1965-1973), such as the last album by Jim Morrison, in the hits like ‘Riders of the Storm’ or ‘Love Her Madly’ appeared.


Joy Division’s debut album is one of the most serious omissions on The Definitive 200 list . It is such an important album for the history of music and the development of new genres that its absence is surprising. Obviously it is one of the 200 best albums in history.

‘LIFE FOR RENT’ (2003)

A very personal bet by Dido, which takes us to everyday moments of normal life with a melancholic tone. It’s the fastest-selling album by a female artist of the 2000s. It was a huge hit and is packed with great songs.


Another album with a sad tone. One of the biggest hits of the nineties. It includes the hit ‘Zombie’ and other great songs like ‘I Can’t Be With You’, ‘Ode to My Family’, ‘Dreaming my Dreams’ or ‘Twenty One’.

‘I ROBOT’ (1977)

A key progressive rock album, where Alan Parsons explores groundbreaking themes such as artificial intelligence and reflects on the society of the future. He also does it through pieces that fit on the radio, like ‘I Wouldn’t Want to Be Like You’ or ‘Some Other Time’.


A serious absence, since this album by The Band (and the group itself) is considered one of the most important in the history of rock. In an environment where psychedelia predominated (at the end of the sixties), The Band knew how to mix rock with country, folk, soul and even R&B.

‘EAGLES’ (1972)

Maybe One of These Nights could be above Eagles , but the Eagles’ debut album contained hits like ‘Take It Easy’, ‘Witchy Woman’ or ‘Peaceful Easy Feeling’. Undoubtedly much more important for the history of music than Hell Freezes  Over, which appears at #71 and is just a live album. For that they could have put Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975) , a compilation album but it is a milestone in history.

‘THE ANIMALS’ (1964)

The first hit of the folk rock genre was the Animals’ cover of ‘The House of the Rising Sun’ on their debut album. Only for this piece it should already be a record that will be among the 200 best in history.


The greatest success of Genesis, the giant band that filled stadiums during the seventies and eighties. This album included great songs like ‘Land of Confusion’, ‘Invisible Touch’ or ‘Throwing It All Away’. The concert tour that followed the release of this album broke several records.


An important album in the history of music, decisive to finish mixing rock with country. Gram Parsons and his Fying Burrito Brothers were pioneers in exploring the union of the electric guitar with the sounds of folk, gospel or soul.

‘THE WORKS’ (1984)

A single album in the top 200 is not enough for a group as big and important as Queen. Without a doubt, a good candidate is The Works, an album that includes ‘Radio Ga Ga’, ‘Hammer to Fall’ or ‘I Want to Break Free’.


A record that includes ‘Tunnel of Love’, ‘Solid Rock’ and ‘Romeo and Juliet’ is a great record. If the Dire Straits deserve to appear twice in the TOP 200, it is surely Making Movies that will accompany Brothers in Arms .


Mike Oldfield also deserves to have an album among the 200 best in history, and Tubular Bell s seems to have the qualities to be chosen: innovative, transgressive, influential, successful, quality… a notable absence from the list.

We could have mentioned many other records that would fit perfectly on a list like the one the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame put together, from Deep Purple’s Machine Head to  The Verve’s Urban Hymns to Neil Young’s After the Gold Rush , any of them. both Use Your Illusion  by Guns ‘N Roses, the Animals by Pink Floyd, Faster Than the Speed ​​of Night by Bonnie Tyler, Fragile by Yes, Trilogy by Emmerson, Lake & Palmer, One of These Nights by the Eagles, Reckless by Bryan Adams… and many others.

Without a doubt, preparing this type of list is not an easy exercise. It certainly requires reflection and deep study. It is noticeable that the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame analysts wanted to remember rap, which appears much better represented than other genres such as country, folk or Rhythm & Blues. In any case, in ‘The Definitive 200’ the best albums in history do appear. Some are missing, but the essentials are.

What do you think? You can leave a comment with your opinion and saying the albums that you think should appear among the best in the history of music.

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