Thursday, June 10, 2010

Their list still sucks

We took the plunge the other day and plunked down $9.95 (suckers!) for the Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Songs of All Time Collectors Edition. Suckers because we knew RS had compiled pretty much the same flawed list back in 2004 but six years later found itself scrambling for a new revenue stream.  If the new list is different we have yet to uncover the changes.

We knew what we were getting into when we saw the introduction was written by Jay-Z. No doubt that helped spur sales. Nothing against Jay-Z -- whoever he is -- but when did he become King of America?  That's not our title, that's what RS annointed him in its latest edition on the newstands. 

What we got in the deal, and you probably already picked up on this, is another chance to pick apart the once relevant music magazine. Not to mention the tax deduction. So we begin today with the Top 10 songs and the most obvious question: What in the world is Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" doing in this group?  It's possible we've asked this question before, but we'll continue to pose it until someone gives us a good answer.

1. Like a Rolling Stone, Bob Dylan, 1965
2. (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction, Rolling Stones, 1965
3. Imagine, John Lennon, 1971
4. What's Going On, Marvin Gaye, 1971
5. Respect, Aretha Franklin, 1967
6. Good Vibrations, Beach Boys, 1966
7. Johnny B. Goode, Chuck Berry, 1958
8. Hey Jude, Beatles, 1968
9. Smells Like Teen Spirit, Nirvana, 1991
10. What'd I Say, Ray Charles, 1959

The Beatles barely edged out Kurt Cobain!  They had the most songs on the list (23) but managed only one in the Top 10, and that one ranked below songs by two contemporary rivals, the Rolling Stones and Beach Boys. 

We actually have something good to say about the Special Collectors Edition, and we'll say it as soon as we get over Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five having the 51st Greatest Song of All Time.


  1. I, too, stopped reading RS yonks ago; it
    self-marginalized itself by trying to be
    all things to all people, and failed at
    embracing its core: music. And I, too, am
    ashamed at myself for buying this "Special
    Edition" of Something For Everyone tripe.
    I'm the first to caution others that ALL
    such lists are subjective, but finding ("I
    Heard It Through) The Grapevine" well down
    the list at #81 and Gnarles Barkley's fun
    song "Crazy" way UP the list at #100 shows
    there were too many voters (think eclectic:
    all music for all people) for much validity,
    even on a "subjective collection." Fleetwood
    Mac's "Go Your Own Way" is # 120 on the list
    of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time?!? The
    Ramones (really?) had two songs - the best of
    all time - in the top 150? I suppose when you have Patsy Cline (country) and Jimmy Cliff
    (reggae) competing with/listed beside The Coasters (Doo-wop), The Clash (punk), Sam
    Cooke (smooth R&B/gospel) and Cream (rock),
    you're GONNA end up with a list that is ...
    lacking in validity. And Fitty Cent's "In
    Da Club (# 448) is one of the world's 500
    Greatest Songs of All Time? This is one more
    bit of evidence I can share when I tell folks
    I neither subscribe nor read Rolling Stone.
    Wish I could get back my money ...

  2. I don't think I have bought a copy of RS since they ran a review of the first Vidalias record in 1995 (their high water mark*)!

    There are probably so many things to criticize about this list it would be like shooting fish in a barrel. But I will say that "The Message" by Grandmaster Flash & FF was certainly one of the most influential records of the past 30 years. I still remember the first time I heard it.

    * just kidding, their high water mark was when they were still published in San Francisco

  3. Nothing by the Chipmunks in the Top 500? The rag has no cred!