Madonna in the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time
Rolling Stone updated their list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time – the most widely read (and argued over) feature in the history of the magazine with over 63 million views on their website last year.
Originally published in 2003 and slightly updated nine years later, this time the RS 500 had been remade from scratch by compiling more than 300 Top 50 albums lists from artists, producers, critics, and music-industry figures.
Here is how they explain how they made the list and who voted:
When we first did the RS 500 in 2003, people were talking about the “death of the album.” The album —and especially the album release — is more relevant than ever. (As in 2003, we allowed votes for compilations and greatest-hits albums, mainly because a well-made compilation can be just as coherent and significant as an LP, because compilations helped shaped music history, and because many hugely important artists recorded their best work before the album had arrived as a prominent format.)
Of course, it could still be argued that embarking on a project like this is increasingly difficult in an era of streaming and fragmented taste. But that was part of what made rebooting the RS 500 fascinating and fun; 86 of the albums on the list are from this century, and 154 are new additions that weren’t on the 2003 or 2012 versions. The classics are still the classics, but the canon keeps getting bigger and better.
Madonna appears three times in the rebooted list, with Like a Prayer at #331, Ray of Light at #222 and The Immaculate Collection at #138. Check out the complete list on RollingStone.com.
331 Madonna, ‘Like a Prayer’ Sire, 1989
“I like the challenge of merging art and commerce,” Madonna told Rolling Stone. After dominating Eighties pop without always getting the critical respect she deserved, Madonna finally won artistic recognition with her most personal set of songs, including “Till Death Do Us Part” and “Oh Father.” And she nailed the commerce side with “Express Yourself” and the title track, the video of which had the Vatican talking about blasphemy. “I pray when I’m in trouble or when I’m happy,” she said. “When I feel any sort of extreme.” Like a Prayer fused all of her extremes brilliantly.
222 Madonna, ‘Ray of Light’ Maverick, 1998
For her first post-motherhood disc, Madonna and producer William Orbit showed the world that electronica didn’t have to be cold. Songs like the title track and “Nothing Really Matters” are beat-driven but restrained — filled with warmth and wonder. Ray also features Madonna’s best singing ever. “A ray of light to me is hope,” she said, describing her inspiration in making the album. “We are zooming forward, but that doesn’t mean you can lose touch with the spiritual side of things.”
138 Madonna, ‘The Immaculate Collection’ Sire, 1990
Like the 1987 remix album, You Can Dance, this is a perfect Madonna CD: nothing but good songs. You get timeless pop such as “Holiday,” provocations like “Papa Don’t Preach,” dance classics like “Into the Groove,” and a new Lenny Kravitz-co-produced sex jam, “Justify My Love,” which samples Public Enemy.