The RS 500 Shitlist

Recently Rolling Stone magazine revamped their famous 500 Greatest Albums of All-Time list, with the addition of 154 albums not previously featured in past versions of the list. With a continually expanding musical cannon, it’s always exciting to see a more diverse crop of newer and deserving entries placed in the discussion of the greatest albums of all-time, but when you started running down the list, it quickly became apparent that these rankings were just downright cringey. If you’re going to publish a numbered list of the greatest albums of all-time, there will always undeniably be a large margin for debate, but when comparing the musical merits of some of these albums far too many of these picks became laughable. So instead of wasting your time reading through the list, we at the Blender decided to highlight some of the most egregious picks we came across. Enjoy.

500-401

MC: Fine Line – Harry Styles (491)

Yikes! No disrespect to Harry Styles and his “pop greatness,” it’s honestly a fine album…but to claim it better than Suicide’s wildly influential electronic-punk debut, the sprawling double-LP funk of Marvin Gaye’s Here, My Dear, or the true Spectorian pop perfection of The Ronette’s singular album makes this ranking the list’s first major red flag. Extra points deducted for their use of the phrase “shroomadelic guitar trip” to describe the track “She” in the writeup.  

KG: Today! – Beach Boys (466)

The greatness of the Beach Boys seminal album Pet Sounds is understood throughout the music world, hell it finished second on this list, but it’s surprising how much the prototype to that album is slept on. The Beach Boys Today! was released in 1965 and is considered their first big musical shift from goofy pop songs about surfing and hanging out with your groovy friends at the beach, to more complex pop songwriting layered in crisp harmonies and dreamy instrumentals. Don’t get me wrong, the ballad “I’m So Young” off this album is as much of a teenage heartthrob track as any in their entire discography (easily one of my favorite songs to belt on the coast highway mind you), but if you connect the dots while listening to their more intricate productions, like “In The Back Of My Mind,” you can see the foundations of what later became Pet Sounds. This shit is underrated bruh! 

KG: Man on the Moon: The End of the Day – Kid Cudi (459)

Oh boy. I have had to sit across from Max and valiantly defend my man Kid Cudi far too many times in my life for me to be writing this. BUT, to say Mr. Mescudi’s 2009 album Man on the Moon: The End of the Day is the 459th best album of all time is simply a travesty. If we are comparing it strictly to hip hop records, The Pharcyde’s Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde finishing at 482 is immediately a record that comes to mind as better than the dud from Cud. Realistically, I don’t hate Man on the Moon at all. So much so that I would advocate for “Day ‘N’ Nite” to be considered as the new United States pledge of allegiance for every elementary school kiddo to bop to at 8am in the morning. Does that mean it should be ranked higher than The Stooges? Not so much.  

MC: Chief – Eric Church (419)

Rolling Stone probably maxed-out their late-career Bruce Springsteen quota so naturally they gravitated to an album by a fresher face with a Boss-referential track called “Springsteen” on it. I guess this is their tip of the hat to more modern country music, but to see it in the top 500 at all feels like a massive reach. Then factor in that it’s ranked five spots ahead of Beck’s classic Odelay, eleven spots ahead of Elvis Costello’s My Aim is True (which feels grossly under-ranked), and nearly forty spots ahead of The Rolling Stones’ Some Girls. If there had to be a forced tip-of-the-hat to modern country then at least let it go to someone innovating within the genre like Sturgill Simpson. This is just boozed-up country-pop which can surely have a time and a place for some, but that time and place should be far removed from a discussion of the greatest albums of all-time. 

400-301

MC: When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? – Billie Eilish (397)

Billie Eillish blew up last year with one of the fresher and more inventive takes on goth-tinged pop in recent memory from anyone not named Lorde. That shouldn’t be discredited, but what should be is the recency bias on the gross over-ranking of this album. We shouldn’t need 50 years to determine if it holds up better than the Grateful Dead’s Workingman’s Dead or Neil Young’s Everybody Knows This is Nowhere, but apparently some Rolling Stone voters are still riding more than a little too high off her dominant 2019 run. Never underestimate the power of a Dave Grohl endorsement.

MC: In Rainbows – Radiohead (387)

This just feels way too underrated for one of the most otherworldly and gorgeous albums of the last 20 years. Songs like “Weird Fishes,” “Nude,” and “House of Cards,” are immersive and deeply psychedelic and tracks like “Bodysnatchers,” and “Jigsaw Falling Into Place,” would be alternative rock radio staples in a perfect universe. If there was ever a reason to update the RS 500 it should be to slingshot masterpiece albums like this one into the top 200. Instead we’ve got it kicking around next to Lynyrd Skynyrd, Aerosmith, and Mariah Carey. That’s the musical equivalent of ranking point guards and having Steve Nash amongst the likes of Mo Williams, Andre Miller, and Jason “White Chocolate” Williams. Sure they’ve all got their moments but none come close to the actual brilliance in discussion.

KG: The Black Parade – My Chemical Romance (361)

I just want to say that I don’t think this album is objectively bad at all. It’s a rock-opera concept album about a dying cancer patient that’s sharply produced and sounds exactly as MCR frontman Gerard Way probably envisioned it (whiny and emancipation inducing). However, I think this thing has absolutely no business being included on this list let alone ranked as the 361st album of all time. You’re telling me that The Black Parade is better than George Harrison’s legendary triple album All Things Must Pass? Even if we compare The Black Parade to a contemporary album that is similar to it genre-wise like Neutral Milk Hotel’s In the Aeroplane Over the Sea I feel like this is still a no-brainer. Rolling Stone Magazine, we all love screaming “WHEN I WAS A YOUNG BOY…” when we hear “Black Parade” come on, but let’s temper the rankings juuuust a bit for this one. 

KG: AM – Arctic Monkeys (346)

If you ever got the idea that Rock and Roll is dead, look no further than Arctic Monkeys AM finishing as the 346th album of all time. Are you kidding me? I’d have trouble saying this is one of the best albums of the 2010’s, let alone the 346th album ever. This is the album where Arctic Monkeys stripped away their cool as could be bouncy songwriting and tried to make an album of stadium rock songs that would get crazy play time on FM radio waves while commuting to work in the morning. In that endeavor they may have been successful, but if we’re talking about a piece of music that greatly influences the sound of artists to come, this isn’t it. Compared to Tame Impala’s Currents finishing 30 spots above and it’s an absolute head-scratcher.

300-201

KG: Random Access Memories – Daft Punk (295)

One of those records you put on shuffle and every time another classic song comes on you ask yourself “damn, this is on this album too??” Bringing a computerized edition of disco and funk to the new millenia, Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories succeeds in everything it set out to accomplish. Working with a plethora of different features on this record, Daft Punk brings out the best in all of them. Pharrell William’s primary contributions, “Get Lucky” and “Lose Yourself to Dance,” are two of the most infectious dance tracks of the decade. Regardless of Max’s slander, “Instant Crush” is a killer combo with Strokes frontman Julian Casablancas that allows him to shriek to his heart’s desire while drenched in a bath of vocoder fuzz. Electronic music’s favorite Frenchmen were even able to get the GOAT himself Giorgio Moroder on a disco track. Simply put, this album feels a little bit underrated to me.

MC: Weezer (Blue Album) – Weezer (294)

I can’t go to bat for really much of anything that Weezer has done since the turn of the millennium, but this album alone is untouchable as one of the most perfect start-to-finish alternative albums of all time. There’s not a single dud on this thing, and Rivers Cuomo somehow combines his love for surf-rock, heavy metal, and being an incel into absolute bubblegum power-pop that hasn’t lost any of its thrill. It’s really a perfect album and it’s truly head-scratching that Rolling Stone insists on ranking it below much spottier albums by fellow alternative radio sweethearts RHCP’s Californiacation and over 100 spots below Blood Sugar Sex Magik. Also, I love Pavement as much as anyone but for Wowee Zowee to be given a 20 spot jump on this album just doesn’t feel right. This album has 10 incredible songs filled to the brim with hooks, solos, and quotables and there’s no chance you’re finding 293 better albums out there.

MC: ANTI – Rihanna (230)

Rihanna’s finest full-length is definitely worthy of the heaps of praise that it received upon its release and subsequently. Songs like “Love on the Brain” and “Higher,” are absolute burners that sound like they could be from nearly any era. However, as great as this album is, context is everything when it comes to a list like this and to see it listed as a superior album to landmark albums like John Coltrane’s Giant Steps, Kraftwerk’s Trans Europe Express, Daft Punk’s Discovery, and Kanye’s 808s & Heartbreak just hurts. Each of those albums marked a shift in the sound and structure of popular music and ANTI just wasn’t as groundbreaking. Sure it affirmed that Rihanna is the badass we always knew she was, but it feels premature to rank it ahead of some of the most influential works in music history.

KG: Eagles – Eagles (207)

Praised for being a template of LA’s “country rock sound,” this record comes off as background music for a cheesy Ford F-150 commercial on its best days and the corniest version of the Grateful Dead imaginable on its worst. Seriously, I’ve never wanted to “Take It Easy” while watching a truck that gets 6 miles per gallon veer around a mountainside with “professional driver on a closed course” scribbled at the bottom. Are they aware that I try to avoid listening to music that I assume Brett Favre warms up for his Wrangler jean commercials with? American Beauty, Grateful Dead’s 1970 equivalent of a greatest hits record that is ranked 8 spots above, pretty much does everything that Eagles does without trying so hard to be a Crosby, Stills, and Nash knockoff. Sorry, no amount of guitars playing simultaneously on stage will change my opinion on this one… even if it’s 50. 

200-101

KG: Meet The Beatles! – The Beatles (197)

Look, I’m as big of a Beatles fan as could be and completely acknowledge that their sophomore effort Meet The Beatles! is an excellent record that paved the way for their larger than life career. That being said, Meet the Beatles! was recorded before the days of concept albums, meaning the songs were recorded as singles and compiled together for a convenient release. While it’s hard to hold that against the boys from Liverpool, this list is a ranking of the 500 greatest albums of all time, which makes it difficult for me to rank it above so many excellent collections of music that are recorded with the intention of being released as an album. David Bowie’s Low at 207 is one such example of misranking. 

MC: Blood Sugar Sex Magik – Red Hot Chili Peppers (186)

The most overplayed group on Southern California alternative radio is by no means a bad group. Flea is an incredibly talented bassist, John Frusciante is a phenomenal guitarist, and their more understated hits like “Breaking the Girl,” and “Under the Bridge” are honestly great songs. Their more melodic songs are the one aspect of their music that they might have the upper-hand on when pitted against fellow funk-rockers Rage Against the Machine (who are inconspicuously nowhere to be found in the top 200), yet those types of tracks account for less than 20% of this album. The issue that plagues this group and that makes this album criminally over-ranked, is that throughout the onslaught of bombastic rap-funk-rock tracks on this album we’re supposed to somehow ignore that Anthony Kiedis raps with the skill and dexterity of your average dorm freshman from Danville or Thousand Oaks…hell, maybe even worse. Hold onto your hat he’s rhyming “he” with” “be” and “me.” Pull up the lyric sheet on nearly any track on this album and tell me you couldn’t come up with more creative rhymes. 

KG: Bridge Over Troubled Water – Simon and Garfunkel (172)

Criminally underrated, Bridge Over Troubled Water is the fantastic finale to Simon and Garfunkel’s decorated stretch as the best folk rock duo of the 60’s. In my mind it’s completely ridiculous for this album to be outside of the top 100, let alone 72 spots above 100. Seamless songwriting is found all over this record, notably on “The Only Living Boy in New York,” “El Condor Pasa (If I Could),” and the timeless classic of a title-track “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” Holy shit can Art Garfunkel hit a high note. Adele’s 21 being 50 spots ahead of this album is one of the biggest what the fuck moments of the entire list. 

MC: Hotel California – Eagles (118)

Had to make sure Kevin wasn’t getting all the fun of ripping on the Eagles to himself. To quote The Dude himself, “I hate the fucking Eagles, man.” The fact that this album managed to go 26x Platinum is indicative in itself as to why Boomers shouldn’t be trusted with positions of power and the title track might as well be the national anthem for Orange County – and I mean that in the worst way possible. The album is way overproduced and the moments that strive for “emotion” are as clunky as that Ford F-150 Kev was describing. When I close my eyes and listen to “Life in the Fast Lane,” I’m being chased down the 405 by a bunch of middle-aged, alcoholic white men shouting about why we need more honest politicians like Rand Paul in power…the stuff of nightmares. 

100-1

MC: Red – Taylor Swift (99)

Some albums in the 120-100 range that this has been deemed better than: Late Registration, Disintegration, Sticky Fingers, Led Zeppelin, The Clash, good kid, m.A.A.d city, Is This It, The Queen is Dead, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Transformer, Three Feet High and Rising, Marquee Moon………………..Really?!?!

KG: Appetite for Destruction – Guns N’ Roses (62)

A perfect example of Rolling Stone overrating an album based on sales rather than musical substance or future influence. 80’s metal is the completely fetishized version of “sex, drugs, and rock and roll” that forces you to do a double take whenever you hear the opening to “Welcome To The Jungle” and think…does this suck ass? Surely, it hasn’t aged well. I fully respect Slash and his guitar chops, he is one of the best to ever do it and can rip a head thrashing solo that leaves your hair in a wild mess. On the other hand, Axl Rose is one of the most unlikable people in the music industry (followed closely by Mike Love, Steven Tyler, and R Kelly) and deserves to be derided. 

KG: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – The Beatles (24)

My main concern with Sgt. Pepper placing 24th is that it dropped 20+ spots from Rolling Stone’s previous 500 best album rankings to no fault of its own. In fact, none of the albums ahead of Sgt. Pepper were released after their previous list was published. What gives? How does this album drastically fall below so many others for no reason whatsoever? I don’t need to spell out how excellent and influential this record is, every bit of praise heaped on Sgt. Pepper has already been said and is well deserved. However, I think it’s a bit of a stretch to put this album behind both Abbey Road and Revolver. Ultimately, we are discussing some of the greatest recordings in music history, but I’d like to see some consistency at least!

MC: Purple Rain – Prince (8)

The historic importance of this LP is the way it fused so many seemingly disparate styles into one cohesive album that resulted in a massive commercial success. The title track is a lighter-waving arena rock ballad for the ages, and hits like “Let’s Go Crazy,” “When Doves Cry,” and “I Would Die 4 U,” seamlessly fused synth-funk with rock n’ roll. Prince is an undeniably talented and monumental figure in the history of pop music, but here’s the kicker: I think this album musically hasn’t held up as well as its reputation suggests and his more funk-oriented 1987 album Sign O’ the Times is his crowning achievement. The production quality sounds brutally dated on the album and, while I believe it has a deserving place in the top 100, ranking it above the pop perfection of Thriller, anything in the Bob Dylan catalogue, Revolver, Sgt. Pepper, London Calling, Exile on Main Street, The Velvet Underground & Nico, or OK Computer makes for a tough look for the list’s top 10. 

Published by culture blender

off the cusp musings on music & pop culture in the streaming age

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