What’s Going On by Marvin Gaye

According to Rolling Stone, What’s Going On by Marvin Gaye is the best album of all time. Is it due to the darker, more unflinching lyrical content? The subtler, more intricate instrumentation? The influence of the Vietnam War and the frenetic political energy of the era? Or does it just have the best title track of all time? That’s for you to decide.

Pet Sounds by The Beach Boys

The Beach Boys have hit both incandescent highs and unforgettable lows over the course of their decades-long career, but no one can deny that Pet Sounds deserves its place among the best musical creations of all time. Not just anyone can craft an album so iconic that it inspires Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, but that’s exactly what The Beach Boys managed.

Blue by Joni Mitchell

When Joni Mitchell wrote Blue, she was attempting to reconcile her own attitude and ideas with the mythic status she had achieved, thanks to Robert Plant and Led Zepplin deifying her as the platonic ideal of the West Coast woman. The result was Blue: a heartbreakingly earnest and unguarded confessional that set a new standard for lyricism and vocals.

Songs in the Key of Life by Stevie Wonder

Fans were clamoring for a new Stevie Wonder album almost as soon as 1974’s Fulfillingness’ First Finale had flown off the shelves, but they were rewarded for their patience by Wonder’s most mature and wide-reaching project ever. Both playful and political, harrowing and giddy, hopeful and disillusioned, Songs in the Key of Life is a passionate record that’s still relevant today.

Abbey Road by The Beatles

There’s little left to say about The Beatles’ Abbey Road that hasn’t already been said. Not only is it a revolutionary album that set tastes for decades to come, but it is a testament to what even the most fractured group of musicians can do when determined to come together in the spirit of music and ambition. The result is a no-skips record for the ages.

Nevermind by Nirvana

Many albums have commented on a coming societal change, and others have marked the seachange as it’s happened. However, few albums have changed the course of music history as drastically or as suddenly as Nirvana’s Nevermind. The grunge legends eviscerated hair metal, knocked Michael Jackson off the top of the charts and ushered in an era of plaid-clad sneering irony that masked terrifying sincerity.

Rumours by Fleetwood Mac

Nowadays, the tumultuous story of scorned lovers that played out behind the scenes of Rumours is almost as famed and revered as the music itself. However, while the lyrics cannot be extricated from the week-long benders and explosive arguments that created them, the timeless melodies and instrumentation are nothing more than a testament to four skilled musicians at the very top of their game.

Purple Rain by Prince and the Revolution

For much of his career, Prince dreamed of creating a multi-genre record so perfectly and meticulously executed that funk, heavy metal, psychedelia and pop could finally coexist easily. Purple Rain, a sprawling, highly ambitious and experimental record, didn’t just yield Prince’s first-ever number-one single, but also proved that that dream could be a reality.

Blood on the Tracks by Bob Dylan

According to Bob Dylan himself, Blood on the Tracks took a long time to live but a short time to write. Most of the songs were written across a scant two-year period and were recorded in just a week, both in New York and Minneapolis. His most visceral, painful and spiralling work, the album is nevertheless a sublime listen containing vast beauty.

The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill by Lauryn Hill

The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill by Lauryn Hill is a timeless record that does exactly what it set out to do. Deftly bouncing between hip-hop, reggae and soul influences, Hill similarly effortlessly juggles topics of sexism, motherhood, the music industry, love and loss. Featuring icons like Mary J. Blige alongside just starting out future stars like John Legend, Miseducation is a deeply rich and human record.

Revolver by The Beatles

Before they took the journey down Abbey Road, The Beatles were already revolutionizing music with Revolver. It’s a dizzying mix of world sounds and classical elements. From the poignant introspection of Eleanor Rigby to the light playful tones of Tomorrow Never Knows, Revolver was a signal of the genre-blurring creativity to come.

Thriller by Michael Jackson

There are few albums as universally recognizable as Michael Jackson’s Thriller. Beyond its immense commercial success, the album is a seamless blend of pop, rock, and funk. Songs like Billie Jean aren’t just chart-toppers; they are cultural moments and set the standard for what pop music could achieve both audibly and visually.

I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You by Aretha Franklin

Aretha’s I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You is not just an album; it’s a statement. From the defiant tones of Respect to the heart-wrenching title track, Aretha pours emotion into every note. Her incredible voice beautifully tells stories of love, loss, and liberation, securing her title as the Queen of Soul.

Exile on Main Street by The Rolling Stones

Exile on Main Street is one of The Rolling Stones’ most ambitious works. Created amid chaos and personal turmoil, the album covers blues, rock, and country. It’s raw, it’s gritty, and it captures The Stones at their most authentic. Every track feels like a journey down a road less traveled.

It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back by Public Enemy

In a time full of musical experimentation, Public Enemy’s It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back stands out as a landmark in hip-hop, tackling themes of injustice and societal critique head-on. With songs like Fight the Power, Public Enemy didn’t just rap about the world; they urged it to change.

London Calling by The Clash

London Calling by The Clash is a testament to the transformative power of music. Fusing punk’s raw energy with reggae’s rhythm, it delves into issues of identity, politics, and even love. Whether it’s the urgency of the title track or the catchy beats of Train in Vain, The Clash showcased a versatility that few could match.

My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy by Kanye West

My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is a reflection of Kanye West at his most avant-garde and personal. From the beats of Power to the vulnerable confessions in Runaway, this album is a journey through West’s psyche. It’s audacious, controversial, and utterly captivating. Kanye doesn’t just create an album; he invites listeners into his most intimate thoughts and grandest fantasies.

Highway 61 Revisited by Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited is raw, electric, and poignant. With the biting lyrics of Like a Rolling Stone and the haunting tones of Ballad of a Thin Man, Dylan blurs the lines between folk, rock, and blues. It’s an album that speaks to a generation yet feels timeless.

To Pimp a Butterfly by Kendrick Lamar

Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly is more than just an album. Through jazz-infused beats and razor-sharp lyrics, Lamar tackles systemic oppression, personal demons, and the struggles of fame. Tracks like Alright became anthems of hope amid turmoil, proving Lamar’s position as one of the most important voices of his generation.

Kid A by Radiohead

Kid A saw Radiohead venture into the uncharted territories of electronic and experimental rock. Ambient yet intense, the album manages to feel both distant and deeply personal. From the shadowy sounds of Everything In Its Right Place to the haunting beauty of How To Disappear Completely, Kid A is a testament to Radiohead’s ability to redefine music.

Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run delivers anthemic choruses and impassioned vocals and paints a vivid picture of suburban America’s hopes and desperations. Whether it’s the rush of the title track or the reflections in Thunder Road, Springsteen captures the very essence of the American Dream.

Ready to Die by The Notorious B.I.G.

The Notorious B.I.G.’s Ready to Die is a masterclass in storytelling. Tracks like Juicy aren’t just songs; they are snapshots of a life, capturing the rise from rags to riches and the complexities of fame. In Ready to Die, Biggie solidified his legacy as one of rap’s greatest.

The Velvet Underground and Nico by The Velvet Underground

In a world of musical norms, The Velvet Underground and Nico was a startling change. It introduced listeners to a realm where art and music intermingled. Its tracks oscillate between ethereal and brutally honest, reminding listeners that music can be as unsettling as it is beautiful.

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band by The Beatles

In their second appearance on this list, The Beatles yet again showcase their innovation with Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Club Delving into new realms of sound, from the upbeat Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds to the contemplative A Day in the Life, the album was an invitation to a technicolor world. It’s more than music; it’s an experience, a journey through the very fabric of creativity.

Tapestry by Carole King

Carole King’s Tapestry weaves together strands of pop, folk, and soul into a musical masterpiece. Songs like It’s Too Late and You’ve Got a Friend are timeless stories of love, loss, and longing. Tapestry resonates because of its universality, as King’s emotive voice and poignant lyrics touch the core of relatable human experiences.

Horses by Patti Smith

Patti Smith’s Horses gallops into the realms of poetry, punk, and raw passion. The lyrics are intense, and the attitude is unapologetic, making it an album that challenges and captivates. Smith creates not just an album but an atmosphere.

Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) by Wu-Tang Clan

A pivotal turning point in hip-hop, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) was the Wu-Tang Clan’s revolutionary album. Embracing raw beats and an unmistakable ferocity, it redefined what rap could be. It was less an album and more a cultural shift, proving that nine voices from Staten Island could reshape music’s landscape.

Voodoo by D’Angelo

Voodoo is D’Angelo’s sultry homage to the roots of soul, R&B, and funk. Its tracks echo with passion, and there’s a tangible atmosphere in every note. It’s a record that doesn’t merely exist in its time but transcends it, it’s a mood, a vibe that resonates with anyone who’s felt the pull of love and the rhythms of life.

White Album by The Beatles

The Beatles’ White Album is a mosaic of sounds, styles, and stories. This double album spans the full spectrum of the Fab Four’s genius. It’s a journey of discovery, where each track offers a new tale, a new sound, a new experience—showcasing The Beatles at their most diverse and innovative.

Are You Experienced by Jimi Hendrix

Jimi Hendrix’s debut, Are You Experienced was an explosive introduction to his legendary artistry. Tracks like Purple Haze and Hey Joe blaze with Hendrix’s unparalleled guitar wizardry, bridging psychedelic vibes with rock energy. The album asks a question, and by its end, listeners know the answer: they’ve experienced a revolution.

Kind of Blue by Miles Davis

With Kind of Blue, Miles Davis painted a canvas of jazz that remains unmatched in its profundity. The improvisational genius of tracks like So What and Blue in Green showcase a group of musicians in sublime synchronicity. It’s an exploration into the depths of jazz, where each notes resonates with pure emotion.

Lemonade by Beyoncé

Beyoncé’s Lemonade intertwines themes of love, betrayal, empowerment, and identity. Delivered with cinematic visuals, Lemonade is a testament to Beyoncé’s artistry, a narrative masterpiece that speaks volumes on personal and collective struggles, resilience, and celebration.

Back to Black by Amy Winehouse

Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black is a heartrending journey through love’s highs and lows. Her soulful voice, echoing with the pain, passion, and authenticity of tracks like Rehab and Love Is A Losing Game, brings listeners into her world of emotions. It’s an album is an intimate reflection of a talent gone too soon but immortalized in her music.

Innervisions by Stevie Wonder

Innervisions captures Stevie Wonder at a pivotal moment in his career, marrying social commentary with audio brilliance. Songs like Living for the City and Higher Ground are not only musically impeccable but also powerful narratives of the times. Through this album, Wonder paints a vivid portrait of society, urging introspection and action while delivering melodies that remain timeless.

Rubber Soul by The Beatles

Here they are again: The Beatles. With Rubber Soul, the quartet ventured deeper into studio experimentation and rich lyricism. From the introspective In My Life to the harmoniously rich Norwegian Wood, Rubber Soul is a testament to The Beatles’ evolving artistry, capturing the essence of the band’s transition from pop pioneers to musical visionaries.

Off the Wall by Michael Jackson

Before the moonwalk, before the glove, there was Off the Wall. Michael Jackson’s breakout solo album is an electric fusion of pop and funk, where tracks like Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough and Rock With You pulsate with infectious energy. It’s a dance-infused preview of the King of Pop’s unstoppable rise.

The Chronic by Dr. Dre

The Chronic transformed the hip-hop landscape. Dr. Dre masterfully portrayed the realities of West Coast life, with tracks like Nuthin’ but a ‘G’ Thang echoing the streets and rhythms of Compton. Additionally, the album introduced the world to a rising star: Snoop Dogg.

Blonde on Blonde by Bob Dylan

In Blonde on Blonde, Bob Dylan weaves intricate tales with a fusion of rock, blues, and folk. Dylan’s double album showcases powerful lyricism and musical innovation, a kaleidoscope of sounds and stories that only he could deliver.

Remain in Light by Talking Heads

Talking Heads’ Remain in Light is an inspiring blend of rock and African rhythms. Tracks like Once in a Lifetime and Born Under Punches exemplify the band’s innovative spirit, pulling listeners into a rhythmic trance, only to remind them of the emotional narratives beneath the beats.

The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars by David Bowie

With Ziggy Stardust, David Bowie introduced the world to one of its most iconic alter egos. An androgynous rock star from space, Ziggy’s journey from fame to self-destruction is captured in tracks like Starman and Suffragette City. It’s more than just an album; it’s a theatrical experience.