Sunday, 14 Jul 2024

The Evolution of Rolling Stone’s Greatest Albums List

all time greatest list

Editor’s note, December 2023: In the three years since Rolling Stone rolled out the all-new, fully revamped version of our 500 Greatest Albums list, artists like Beyonce, Bad Bunny, and Taylor Swift have all released undeniable classics. So we’ve updated the list, adding those albums while making a few other tweaks. The 2020 list covered many decades of popular music, and was the result of a vote among more than 300 artists, writers, producers and industry figures; this update covers just three years. So we kept the changes light.

Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, originally published in 2003, has been a source of debate and discussion for years. Recognizing the need to reflect the ever-changing landscape of music, Rolling Stone decided to remake the list from scratch.

How We Made the List and Who Voted

When the first RS 500 was released, people were already predicting the “death of the album.” However, the album and its release have only become more relevant with time. For the updated list, votes for compilations and greatest-hits albums were allowed, as they can be just as coherent and significant as LPs. Many legendary artists created their best work before the album format became prominent.

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Some may argue that creating a project like this is challenging in an era of streaming and diverse tastes. Nevertheless, this challenge made the process of rebooting the RS 500 fascinating and enjoyable. The latest edition includes 94 albums from this century and 163 new additions that were not present in the previous versions. The classics remain, but the canon continues to expand.


Q: Who voted for the greatest albums list?

A: More than 300 artists, producers, critics, and music-industry figures participated in the voting process. The electorate included renowned musicians like Beyoncé, Taylor Swift, and Billie Eilish, as well as rising artists and veteran musicians.

Q: Can compilations and greatest-hits albums be included?

A: Yes, they were allowed in the voting process. A well-made compilation can carry as much significance as an LP and has played a role in shaping the history of music.

Q: How many albums from this century are featured on the list?

A: The updated list includes 94 albums from this century, showcasing the diversity and richness of modern music.


Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums list has undergone a transformation to reflect the ever-evolving world of music. By involving a diverse group of participants, the latest edition captures the essence of different eras and genres. With each update, the list grows bigger and better, demonstrating the ongoing impact of music on our lives.

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Written By: Jonathan Bernstein, Pat Blashill, Jon Blistein, Nathan Brackett, David Browne, Mankaprr Conteh, Anthony DeCurtis, Matt Diehl, Jon Dolan, Chuck Eddy, Ben Edmonds, Gavin Edwards, Jenny Eliscu, Brenna Ehrlrich, Suzy Exposito, David Fricke, Elisa Gardner, Holly George-Warren, Andy Greene, Kory Grow, Will Hermes, Brian Hiatt, Christian Hoard, Charles Holmes, Mark Kemp, Greg Kot, Elias Leight, Joe Levy, Julyssa Lopez, Angie Martoccio, David McGee, Chris Molanphy, Tom Moon, Jason Newman, Rob O’Connor, Park Puterbaugh, Mosi Reeves, Jody Rosen, Austin Scaggs, Karen Schoemer, Bud Scoppa, Noah Schactman, Claire Shaffer, Rob Sheffield, Hank Shteamer, Brittany Spanos, Rob Tannenbaum, David Thigpen, Simon Vozick-Levinson, Barry Walters, Jonah Weiner

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