By Bill Forman, Last Word Features
If you’re like many of us, you’ve been lured more than a few times into clicking on links that promise to reveal “The 10 Most Overrated Rock Guitarists of All Time,” “The 200 Best Songs of the Past 25 Years” or “The 1,001 Albums You Have to Hear Before You Die.” (Good luck with that last one.)
Love them or hate them, we share these lists on social media, prompting a flood of supportive thumbs-ups, scowling emojis, clever comments, deep conversations and bitter arguments, wasting countless hours that could have been spent making America more productive.
So why do we do this?
Experts on behavioral addiction claim that online platforms like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Twitter are intentionally designed to produce the same feelings of anticipation and uncertainty that motivate gamblers to keep pulling slot-machine handles, borrowing money from mobsters and ending up dead in dark alleyways.
And while disputes over The 25 Best Nick Cave Songs tend to have less dire consequences, there’s no question that they can generate profits for the tastemakers, influencers and music critics who churn them out.
The good news is that obsessive music addicts no longer need to rely on clickbait to satisfy their cravings. Not when there’s BestEverAlbums.com, a site that offers visitors the opportunity to browse 50,000 charts, view overall rankings by artist or year, and submit charts of their own.
Among the most popular is Rolling Stone’s latest 500 Best Albums of All Time, a subject that will no doubt be debated by music geeks for generations to come. “The classics are still the classics,” insists the venerable magazine, “but the canon keeps getting bigger and better.”
But not, as it turns out, more contemporary. Rolling Stone is still most enamored with albums from the ’60s and ’70s, as shown by their critics’ Top 10 albums:
1. Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On (1971)
2. The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds (1966)
3. Joni Mitchell’s Blue (1971)
4. Stevie Wonder’s Songs in the Key of Life (1976)
5. The Beatles’ Abbey Road (1969)
6. Nirvana’s Nevermind (1991)
7. Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours (1977)
8. Prince and the Revolution’s Purple Rain (1984)
9. Bob Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks (1975)
10. Lauryn Hill’s The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (1998)
As is so often the case, the comments are at least as interesting as the subject matter. Here are a few of the most recent:
• “We all knew the list was about to suck when we saw that [Arcade Fire’s] Funeral was number 500.”
• “Way too many albums that have not, and more than likely will not, stand the test of time have been added of late to make anyone take this latest iteration seriously.”
• “They managed to sneak a contemporary black female’s album into the top ten. But at the expense of Kind of Blue and A Love Supreme and a host of others.”
• “The worst list I’ve ever seen. Too political. You can’t apply diversity to quality in art. Part of the forced left wing agenda.”
Meanwhile, those who would prefer a little more diversity can turn to Pitchfork’s less road-tested Best 200 Albums of the 2010s, which include:
1. Frank Ocean’s Blonde (2016)
2. Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010)
3. Beyonce’s Beyonce (2013)
4. Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly (2015)
5. Fiona Apple’s The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do (2012)
6. Solange’s A Seat at the Table (2016)
7. Vampire Weekend’s Modern Vampires of the City (2013)
8. Robyn’s Body Talks (2010)
9. D’Angelo and the Vanguard’s Black Messiah (2014)
10. Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange (2012)
Unfortunately, you’ll have to look elsewhere to find very many worst-album lists, although “The Rhino Brothers’ World’s Worst Records” does offer some choice “so bad that they’re kinda good” entries, including Edith Massey & The Eggs’ “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” Gloria Balsam’s “Fluffy,” The Seven Stooges’ “I Wanna Be Your Dog” and Ogden Edsl’s “Kinko the Clown.”
So where, you may ask, can we find The Shaggs, whose “Philosophy of the World” album was declared “the worst album ever recorded” by both Rolling Stone and The New York Times? According to Best Ever Albums’ collective chart-makers, it was the 2,980th best album in history.
But what about Elvis Presley’s primarily spoken-word “Having Fun With Elvis On Stage?” What about Lou Reed’s “Metal Machine Music?” Neil Young’s “Trans?” or Guns N’ Roses’ “Chinese Democracy?”
They’re all out there somewhere, no doubt. But before you go looking, why not share this article on social media? Your friends and followers will love it.