Rolling Stone just updated their 500 Best Songs of All Time list, for the first time in 17 years. That means the last update was in 2004. The previous list barely had any songs released during my lifetime, which is insane to even think about.
So many iconic songs have come out since then. Who could forget the pop anthems of the 2010s? The hot girl songs of 2020?
The most interesting part about this list is that it’s still really spread across time. “Truth Hurts” by Lizzo from 2019 is ranked between “Without You” by Harry Nilsson and “Pancho and Lefty” by Townes Van Zandt, both songs from the 70’s. They don’t just pick the most popular songs from the current time period, but consider the whole timeline. Many of the same songs from 2004 made the cut, even though hundreds of classics have come out since. The 70’s reigned supreme throughout the countdown, with the most featured songs coming from that decade.
I really appreciated the variety. The list includes everything from classic 80’s songs, to country music, and even current hip hop. Despite the bops made after 2004, almost all of the top 50 songs were from before then. These songs showcased their ability to stand the test of time.
Who was in charge of compiling this list? Who gets to decide which songs make it? Rolling Stone magazine asks highly accredited artists and producers, industry figures, and journalists for their top 50 songs. The number one song received 300 points, the second got 290 points, and continued until number 50 got 44 points. Over 4,000 songs got at least one vote. Songwriters who voted ranged from 24kgoldn to U2, and reps from top music producing companies took part in the votes as well.
The Rolling Stone Number One Song
Aretha Franklin steals the number one spot with her song “Respect”, replacing “Like A Rolling Stone” by Bob Dylan. Overall, the list looks a lot different since the last one was made. Which makes sense, seeing as the world around us has also changed a lot since 2004. This time around, more female artists and people of color join the list. We also see a change in the tone of the songs and subject matter. Long gone are the days of silly little love songs. Many of the modern songs featured about talk about revolution and rights. It makes sense that these social changes would be reflected in song. What better way to capture the times we are living in, than with music.
You can check out the list below!
Did any of your favorite songs make the list? If you had to choose, which song would’ve been your number one?