Which Decade Really Had The Best Music?


Braden Dose, 2016

It’s an age old question- what decade had the best music? Rock ballad enthusiasts would probably say the 70s or 80s; jazz enthusiasts, the 1930s or 40s; hip hop fans the 90s-now. So here’s a little experiment.

Every few years, Rolling Stone’s Magazine comes out with a list of the greatest albums of all time up until that point (you can find the most recent one here- http://www.rollingstone.com/music/lists/500-greatest-albums-of-all-time-20120531 ). The most recent one was 2012, and that being said, if you think there’s an album that belongs on the list but isn’t there when you read through it, it was probably released after May 31, 2012. To determine which decade really has the best music, I used their list to keep track of which decade each album on the list of 500 belonged to, and kept track of the top album of that decade.

By the first 100 it was clear to see which decade was in the lead, and here’s the stats for #500- 400

1970s- 38

1980s- 22

1990s- 18

2000s- 15

1960s- 7

1950s- 1

I know. You’re upset (unless you’re a fan of the 70s or 80s and are currently telling everyone you’ve ever had this argument with “ha I told you so!”) and I’m mildly disgruntled as well (I’ll get to my favorite music in the next article. TBA.), but that doesn’t mean your favorite generation of tunes can’t come back to win.

Having forgotten to stop myself at 300, here are the standings at 282-

1970s- 80

1980s- 42

1990s- 41

1960s- 26

2000s- 25

1950s/ 2010s- 2

By the time I hit #100 on the list, it began to become apparent which decade was in the lead.

1970s- 146

1980s- 71


1990s- 67

2000s- 37

1950s- 8

2010s- 2

And finally, the concluding count, as well as the best album of that decade ended like so-

1970s- 187- Marvin Gaye / What’s Going On at #6

1960s- 103- The Beatles / Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band at #1

1980s- 88- The Clash / London Calling at #8

1990s- 74- Nirvana / Nevermind at #17

2000s- 39- Radiohead / Kid A at #67

1950s- 11- Miles Davis / Kind Of Blue at #12

2010s- 2- Kanye West / My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy at #353


To give credit where credit is due, the article was written in 2012. That being said, it didn’t have the pleasures of knowing Alt-J’s An Awesome Wave, Radiohead’s A Moon Shaped Pool, or Frank Ocean’s Blond.

All in all though, the rankings are not all that surprising. The 1970s were home to the glory days of legendary acts such as Pink Floyd, Creedence Clearwater Revival, David Bowie, and The Ramones, just to name a few.

Upset? Happy? What are your thoughts on finding out that the 70s is, subjectively, the best decade in music?