Rolling Stone Magazine has been the number one source for some of the best music news, analysis, and interviews over the past 2 decades, and have really maintained that status even with the rise of the internet. However, there has been a large outcry based on their recent list they posted to their website, recognizing the Top 50 Albums of 2012. You can check out the list here, but here is my take. I agree with some of the choices (including Kendrick Lamar and Frank Ocean cracking the top 10), and completely disagree with some of the others. Mind you, I really do not have a very good ear or much taste in Jazz or Soul (which litter this list), so I am not the most omniscient observer, but Rolling Stone is trying to appeal to a younger audience, and I am that 20-something they are looking for, and I feel that my opinions are similar to others.
The first major thing is that there is no criteria listed on what makes it a better album. Is it musicality alone or commercial success as well? Are they being ranked as standalone albums or over an artists body of work? Just some things the magazine should clarify.
First lets start with my notable snubs from this list:
- Of Monsters and Men - My Head is An Animal - There is absolutely no viable reason that this album is not on this list. In my opinion it’s one of the greatest albums I’ve ever heard. I really hope that they are not counting it because it was released in 2011 in Europe (although it was released in April in the US, which should be the criteria for an AMERICAN MAGAZINE) otherwise they are committing an extreme atrocity. I am appalled that this album did not even crack the top 50.
- Rick Ross - God Forgives, I Don’t - See explanation below
- Zedd - Clarity - So I am an EDM fan and this is a website that really is a big fan of EDM music, and it saddens me that Rolling Stone decided not to include a single EDM album. I mean I do understand why they didn’t, since many releases are not studio albums, as well as EDM still not cracking the mainstream just yet.
- Deadmau5 – >Insert Album Title Here< - Again, I am not surprised that there are no EDM artists that reach this list, but if there was any person that would have been able to do it, it would have been Deadmau5. He really has become a mainstream success, even gracing the cover of Rolling Stone during the summer when the magazine was spotlighting electro music. First it was a really good album and second this is someone that Rolling Stone seems to really like.
- Ellie Goulding - Halcyon - Ellie Goulding has really made a name for herself with this album and has shown the world that she a force to be reckoned with. Her voice is that of an angel, and her lyrics are also exceptional. I do not understand how this album, which is top 50 in domestic sales for 2012, did not crack this list.
Here are a few of the notable rankings. I really have a lot to say about almost every album, and there may be a few I mention that others might have problems with, but here is my take on a few:
- #45 – Rick Ross: Rich Forever - So I am a big fan of Rick Ross, and I have no problem with him being on this list. However, I’m a little confused on why it’s Rich Forever which was a MIXTAPE instead of God Forgives, I Don’t which is an ALBUM. I thought that the criteria was it being a released album. If they include mixtapes, then there should definitely be some other additions to this list. Just a little confused.
- #43 – fun. Some Nights – I totally agree that this is one of the best albums of the year, but based on some of the albums that are listed before them, this seems to be way too low. This album had two of the biggest songs of the year “We Are Young” and “Some Nights” and the album beginning to end is very solid. Again, I may be biased based on my taste in music, but even those not a fan of the pop rock genre can agree that other albums should not have been higher on this list.
- #39 – Passion Pit: Gossamer - Another album that I think is ranked too low on this list. Passion Pit never ceases to amaze me with their amazing synth and upbeat vocals. They are still very much an indie band however, and I am amazed by the amount of people that have never heard of Passion Pit to this day. But I mean is this album worse than Fiona Apple’s new album (Number 5 on the list)? Absolutely.
- #31 – Taylor Swift: Red - If they are taking commercial success at all into ranking albums, then this is a ranking far too low. I am really confused considering they listed Speak Now in their top 5 last year, and this one is not that far of a cry from that one.
- #17 – John Mayer: Born and Raised - I am a huge John Mayer fan. I saw him in Madison Square Garden in 2010 and was blown away by how his sound filled that venue perfectly. Needless to say, I think his most recent album was one of his worst. While Mayer usually has singles playing on the radio for his albums, this one did not have any song that stuck out, and just overall had some real stinkers. This is another artist where I think his reputation may have bolstered him higher than he should have been.
- #8 – Green Day: Uno - I am a big fan of Green Day, and was one of the people who was most excited about coming back from their long hiatus and giving the fans a triple album. However, they really seemed to bite off more than they can chew by doing a triple album when they haven’t done a single album since American Idiot. If they released 12 songs instead of 36, took those top 12 and made one album, then I might agree with them being on this list. Looking at Uno alone, however, I don’t think this deserves such high praise
- #2 – Frank Ocean: Channel Orange - This is the one choice that I applaud Rolling Stone for making. I think this album revolutionized R&B and made Frank Ocean a bonafide superstar. Some of the tracks on here are amazing, namely “Pyramids” and “Thinkin About You”, and this is an album that really makes you think and has some lyrics and vocals that are unbelievable.
- #1 – Bruce Springsteen: Wrecking Ball - Now I am born and raised in New Jersey, and I must admit that there might not be a single artist I respect more than The Boss. After listening to this album, there in my mind is NO WAY this is the best album of the year. This isn’t even better than some of his older albums. Actually, this really is a middle of the road album for Bruce if you are comparing it to the other albums he has put out over the years. To me this reeks of favoritism, considering the fact that Bruce has probably been on a dozen covers for Rolling Stone when the other artists may have never graced the cover. Rolling Stones is showing that they are old and outdated by favoring an artist that is old and outdated.
Now, here is my top 10 albums of the year, and their rankings in Rolling Stone. Some are similar, while most are not
1. Frank Ocean: Channel Orange (2 on Rolling Stones list)
2. Of Monsters and Men: My Head is an Animal (Not on Rolling Stones list)
3. Jack White: Blunderbuss (3 on Rolling Stones list)
4. Fun.: Some Nights (43 on Rolling Stones list)
5. Kendrick Lamar: Good Kid, m.A.A.d. City (6 on Rolling Stones List)
6. Mumford & Sons: Babel (11 on Rolling Stones List)
7. Nas: Life is Good (18 on Rolling Stones List)
8. Passion Pit: Gossamer (39 on Rolling Stones List)
9. Taylor Swift: Red (31 on Rolling Stones List)
10. Zedd: Clarity (Not on Rolling Stones List)
Please feel free to comment and leave your own list!