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Top Three Thousand Songs and Albums
March 9, 2009 2:00 PM   Subscribe

Acclaimed Music: The 3000 most recommended albums and songs of all time.

From the Q&A section of the site:

Which lists have been included for the compilation of the Acclaimed Music lists?
Almost all critics lists I have got my hand on, including best-of-year lists, best-of-all-times lists etc., from critics, artists and music industry people all over the world . . .

How have the lists been compiled?
This is really not simple to explain. Please do not despair if you do not fully understand...
I have written a program which computes the lists. The basic idea is that I match all records against each other in pairs. In a match, each critics list is weighted depending on
* the number of lists I have from different parts of world (USA, UK or the rest of the world)
** when the list was presented (newer lists are weighted more heavily)
*** how many matches the list is a part of (a list which only embraces a few years is not part of many matches and is therefore weighted heavily in the matches where it is included).
posted by not_on_display (43 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

 
This is not going in my Top 1,000,000,000,000 sites on the internet.
posted by Saddo at 2:06 PM on March 9, 2009


Honestly, I was kind of hoping for a longer list.
posted by shmegegge at 2:09 PM on March 9, 2009


I've heard every one of those albums and they are all overrated.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:09 PM on March 9, 2009 [3 favorites]


Your favorite list is incomplete.
posted by jquinby at 2:10 PM on March 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


Your 3000 most recommended albums and songs of all time suck.
posted by punkfloyd at 2:15 PM on March 9, 2009 [2 favorites]


Love the bold font on mouseover. By love, I mean hate, of course.
posted by Devils Rancher at 2:15 PM on March 9, 2009


I love lists because they do the thinking for you!
posted by MarshallPoe at 2:16 PM on March 9, 2009


Very impressive piece of data mining and integration.
posted by smackfu at 2:16 PM on March 9, 2009


Makes me feel stupid and contagious.
posted by quietalittlewild at 2:20 PM on March 9, 2009 [3 favorites]


This is a useful resource for anyone who doesn't have any opinions but needs some!
posted by aubilenon at 2:21 PM on March 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


smackfu: Very impressive piece of data mining and integration.

That's definitely the context in which I should have placed this FPP when posting it. It's not this one guy's list; it's a buttload of lists put through some sort of math machine (yeah, I dunno much about this stuff), then viewable by many different criteria -- e.g. style, country of origin, year, song-or-album. You can also download terser excel files and sort them (albeit in a much more limited way).

I usually hate lists, but this struck me as different.
posted by not_on_display at 2:21 PM on March 9, 2009


How has your own music taste affected the result of the compiled lists?

Not at all. So please don't blame me for the omission of Judas Priest's "Sad Wings of Destiny".

posted by stargell at 2:22 PM on March 9, 2009 [3 favorites]


I'm still waiting for the definitive Nate Silver version.
posted by eyeballkid at 2:27 PM on March 9, 2009


Poetic Champions Compose at 2127?!?! What a travesty! What a joke! Outright criminal is what it is!
posted by rocket88 at 2:32 PM on March 9, 2009


I think the lists are not representative of anyone's favorites, but based on accessible data - Billboard, etc. I dug the lists because it was fun to run them through a pivot and confirm that they contained the to-be-expected stuff. For instance, here are the top 10 artists, in terms of total count of times appearing, from the Top 3000 Album list:

Miles Davis
John Coltrane
Bob Dylan
The Rolling Stones
Duke Ellington
Van Morrison
Charles Mingus
Ornette Coleman
The Beatles
Neil Young


If you pull just the top 10 artists off the album list for this decade alone, you get:

The White Stripes
Lambchop
Tom Waits
Spoon
Rufus Wainwright
Björk
The Decemberists
Bright Eyes
Radiohead
Bruce Springsteen

Also, the top 3000 songs list spans back to 1902 and the top 3000 albums list stops at ~1940.
posted by PuppyCat at 2:34 PM on March 9, 2009


They had very definite opinions about everything, and they wouldn’t admit that what they had were opinions. To hear a nuhp talk, he had a direct line to some categorical imperative that spelled everything out in terms that were unflinchingly black and white. Hollyhocks were the best flowers. Alexander Dumas was the greatest novelist. Powder blue was the prettiest color. Melancholy was the most ennobling emotion. Grand Hotel was the finest movie. The best car ever built was the 1956 Chevy Bel Air, but it had to be aqua and white. And there just wasn’t room for discussion: the nuhp made these pronouncements with the force of divine revelation.
From George Allen Effinger's classic Sci-Fi story, "The Aliens Who Knew, I Mean, Everything"*
posted by mosk at 2:37 PM on March 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


The movies' analog to this site: The 1,000 Greatest Films as voted by 1,825 critics, filmmakers, reviewers, scholars and other likely film types.
posted by not_on_display at 2:39 PM on March 9, 2009 [2 favorites]


Very impressive piece of data mining and integration.

I agree. The site design (frames!) is straight out of 1996, but the info is pretty cool once you find it. I had to load the Artist List in a new tab/window to get it to show (couldn't get it to work with the frames!)

This is not a list for getting recommendations. It's a statistical curiosity and yeah, an impressive piece of data mining.

Bazerk Bazerk Bazerk at 2514; A Charlie Brown Christmas at 2910!

Obviously, you can complain about the data sources, but the compilation of stats is pretty darn cool.

Thanks for the link.
posted by mrgrimm at 2:40 PM on March 9, 2009


Listmania!
posted by jeremy b at 2:43 PM on March 9, 2009


Man this is cool. If only someone, anyone, on this site appreciated enormous sets of data and music.
posted by SpiffyRob at 2:56 PM on March 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


And to the surprise of absolutely nobody, how many songs in the top 50 were made within the last 10 years?

One. Only one.

/rock is dead
posted by Afroblanco at 4:37 PM on March 9, 2009


Impressive. (?) In "Top 1000 Artists of All Time", Frank Sinatra comes in six positions behind a band called Massive Attack. Like that makes a lot of sense. If their math is right in the compiling of supposedly many lists, than that math is just wrong.
posted by Seekerofsplendor at 4:46 PM on March 9, 2009


Reject the tyranny of lists!
posted by klangklangston at 4:57 PM on March 9, 2009


klangklangston: Reject the tyranny of lists!

I'll put that on my to do... list
posted by not_on_display at 5:24 PM on March 9, 2009


How ridiculous. This list only includes two recordings from the period between 1900 and 1910.
posted by koeselitz at 5:33 PM on March 9, 2009


What the fuck?!? Emerson, Lake & Palmer's Pictures at an Exhibition the 1,396th greatest album of all time? Jesus, who wrote this - a fourteen-year-old teeny-bopper?

Everybody knows that Pictures at an Exhibition is the 1343rd greatest album of all time.
posted by koeselitz at 5:39 PM on March 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


Massive Attack's worst album (100th Window) is decent, while Sinatra's worst album (A Man Alone) is terrible.
posted by box at 5:40 PM on March 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


/rock is dead
and paper killed it

posted by clearly at 5:42 PM on March 9, 2009


Terrific resource. Thanks.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 5:42 PM on March 9, 2009


Seriously, though, I actually think this is awesome. Thanks, not_on_display. The nice thing about this list is that it's way too huge to argue about position. I mean, maybe I can get annoyed at the fact that Duke Ellington's nice little album ... And His Mother Called Him Bill clocks in at 1386, but then I notice that it's right between Sabbath Bloody Sabbath (1385) and The Barbra Streisand Album (1387). I don't know if I can even begin to contextualize how I'd argue that one. And it comes in before the Mekons' awesome Fear and Whiskey, so I guess that's a good thing.

In the end, this is a nice list because, as has always seemed true to me, you get down to the albums between 1000th and 2000th most critically acclaimed in the world and there are still a whole lot of good ones. After a while of staring at this, becomes obvious that it's just a big pile of songs that somebody somewhere really liked.

'Sure, this is great, but is it one of the greatest records of all time?'

'Uh, yeah, man. It's number 2024, I think.'
posted by koeselitz at 5:49 PM on March 9, 2009


Seekerofsplendor: (?) In "Top 1000 Artists of All Time", Frank Sinatra comes in six positions behind a band called Massive Attack. Like that makes a lot of sense.

Yeah, it's ridiculous. And the eighth greatest record of all time is supposed to be by some guy named Marvin Gaye - how ridiculous is that? I mean, with a stupid name like 'Marvin' (I won't even get into the 'Gaye' part) it's gotta be some ridiculous crap.
posted by koeselitz at 5:52 PM on March 9, 2009


I don't know about the other 950 albums but the top 50 seems to be a pretty solid list. Another surprisingly strong list comes from Esquire, but the format is maddening which ruins the whole thing.
posted by caddis at 5:59 PM on March 9, 2009


This is precisely why I avoid "of all time" lists of any sort.

On one hand, you have the Serious Critics, and to them, Citizen Kane and anything else in black and white will be number one with a bullet. Sinatra. Hemmingway. On the other, you have the easily-excited consumers who simply will not remember the existence of any film, album, or book which is more than five years of age. Hopefully these two effects would cancel one another out, but they're so heavily weighted towards the ends that the middle is ignored.

The only method I know of which may partially remedy this issue is to work with arbitrary time slices of a decade, or, better yet, five years. Give me your best from 1980 through 1984.
posted by adipocere at 6:12 PM on March 9, 2009


adipocere: Give me your best from 1980 through 1984.

Here's the top ten for songs, then albums, from each of those years from the excel file I got off the site. It gives little clues to the hidden gems that lay in the lower strata for each year.

(I personally like to see the top ten songs for pre-rock-n-roll years, as it gives more of a rounded picture of the scope of this list. But here you go!)

(Apologies for the length of this comment.)
_______________
SONGS
1980
Joy Division, Love Will Tear Us Apart
Talking Heads, Once in a Lifetime
Motörhead, Ace of Spades
The Jam, Going Underground
AC/DC, You Shook Me All Night Long
The Jam, That's Entertainment
George Jones, He Stopped Loving Her Today
U2, I Will Follow
Devo, Whip It
AC/DC, Back in Black

1981
The Specials, Ghost Town
Soft Cell, Tainted Love
The Human League, Don't You Want Me
R.E.M., Radio Free Europe
Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five, The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel
Laurie Anderson, O Superman
The Go-Go's, Our Lips Are Sealed
The Rolling Stones, Start Me Up
Tom Tom Club, Genius of Love
Rick James, Super Freak

1982
Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five, The Message
Michael Jackson, Billie Jean
Prince and The Revolution, Little Red Corvette
Marvin Gaye, Sexual Healing
Michael Jackson, Beat It
Violent Femmes, Blister in the Sun
Afrika Bambaataa & The Soulsonic Force, Planet Rock
Joan Jett and The Blackhearts, I Love Rock'n'roll
Prince and The Revolution, 1999
The Clash, Rock the Casbah

1983
The Police, Every Breath You Take
New Order, Blue Monday
The Smiths, This Charming Man
Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Relax
U2, Sunday Bloody Sunday
Eurythmics, Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This...)
Grandmaster Flash and Melle Mel, White Lines (Don't Do It)
Cyndi Lauper, Girls Just Want to Have Fun
U2, New Year's Day
Cyndi Lauper, Time After Time

1984
Prince and The Revolution, When Doves Cry
Van Halen, Jump
Madonna, Like a Virgin
The Smiths, How Soon Is Now?
Bruce Springsteen, Born in the U.S.A.
U2, Pride (In the Name of Love)
Don Henley, The Boys of Summer
Prince and The Revolution, Purple Rain
Tina Turner, What's Love Got to Do with It
Foreigner, I Want to Know What Love Is

_______________
ALBUMS

1980
Talking Heads, Remain in Light
Joy Division, Closer
AC/DC, Back in Black
Pretenders, Pretenders
Bruce Springsteen, The River
The Dead Kennedys, Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables
Dexys Midnight Runners, Searching for the Young Soul Rebels
Elvis Costello and The Attractions, Get Happy!!
X, Los Angeles
The Jam, Sound Affects

1981
The Human League, Dare!
Brian Eno - David Byrne, My Life in the Bush of Ghosts
Black Flag, Damaged
Motörhead, No Sleep 'Til Hammersmith
Kraftwerk, Computer Welt
X, Wild Gift
Soft Cell, Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret
Japan, Tin Drum
The Gun Club, Fire of Love
Grace Jones, Nightclubbing

1982
Michael Jackson, Thriller
Bruce Springsteen, Nebraska
Prince and The Revolution, 1999
Elvis Costello and The Attractions, Imperial Bedroom
Violent Femmes, Violent Femmes
Donald Fagen, The Nightfly
Richard and Linda Thompson, Shoot Out the Lights
ABC, The Lexicon of Love
Roxy Music, Avalon
Iron Maiden, The Number of the Beast

1983
R.E.M., Murmur
Tom Waits, Swordfishtrombones
The Police, Synchronicity
U2, War
New Order, Power, Corruption and Lies
Def Leppard, Pyromania
Metallica, Kill 'Em All
Minor Threat, Out of Step
ZZ Top, Eliminator
Aztec Camera, High Land, Hard Rain

1984
Prince and The Revolution, Purple Rain
Bruce Springsteen, Born in the U.S.A.
The Smiths, The Smiths
Hüsker Dü, Zen Arcade
The Replacements, Let It Be
Minutemen, Double Nickels on the Dime
U2, The Unforgettable Fire
Lloyd Cole and The Commotions, Rattlesnakes
Echo and the Bunnymen, Ocean Rain
Talking Heads, Stop Making Sense
posted by not_on_display at 6:45 PM on March 9, 2009


So... I kind of did exactly this off of the 2008 top albums on the Fimolicious list of lists as a "Jew on Christmas" project. It's really interesting to look at his 2008 spreadsheet compared to mine to see where they're the same and where they diverge (different lists, I limited mine just to top 5, different algorithm for the ultimate "score")-- ultimately, very, very similar, which I guess isn't surprising when you look at the top 20 or so.

We all know all art must be ranked to really be appreciated (right?), but mostly I found a lot of good music in the fringes-- albums that showed up number one or two on a couple of lists, and nowhere else, that I've really come to enjoy.
posted by cosmonaught at 7:03 PM on March 9, 2009


Listmaking, canon-formation, and music writing--especially packaged en masse and bundled up into a kind of consensus such as here--is perhaps the least important part of music for me. It just seems--i dunno--irrelevant. I mean lists like these, and by extension music criticism, because music criticism is really only glorified list making, really has only one use, and that's to turn you onto something you've never heard before. And if you have already heard this stuff before--and judging by the 1980-1984 you're almost guaranteed to have of all of it because the combined picks are hardly adventurous or obscure--lists like these are entirely, completely useless.

I think the only kind of list that matters is one where you trust the taste of the person making it, and they turn you onto new stuff, and as such it's not something scales very well. You can trust the taste of one person, but you can't trust the taste of 1000 people at all.
posted by dydecker at 7:19 PM on March 9, 2009


SONGS
1980
Joy Division, Love Will Tear Us Apart
Talking Heads, Once in a Lifetime
Motörhead, Ace of Spades
The Jam, Going Underground
AC/DC, You Shook Me All Night Long
The Jam, That's Entertainment
George Jones, He Stopped Loving Her Today
U2, I Will Follow
Devo, Whip It
AC/DC, Back in Black


Proof right there that 1980 was the best year ever.
posted by stargell at 7:31 PM on March 9, 2009


I had higher hopes, but when I clicked listen and got a buy this track popup I realized it was just Pepsi Blue.
posted by sfts2 at 7:37 PM on March 9, 2009


It's not this one guy's list; it's a buttload of lists put through some sort of math machine

A MetaList.
posted by Neiltupper at 11:14 PM on March 9, 2009


Man the eighties were cool. I wish I was more alive/less of a fetus for the first part.
posted by SpiffyRob at 7:20 AM on March 10, 2009


How ridiculous. This list only includes two recordings from the period between 1900 and 1910.
posted by koeselitz at 8:33 PM on March 9 [+] [!]


Jazz, dude. Jazz and its diffusion into nearly all popular music that followed rendered nearly all 'pop' music that came before it almost unlistenable to the modern ear.

You'd expect lesser representation for a period which nearly all people now living have no memory of, but the real kicker was the birth of jazz.

The only people who could have told us whether this was a good thing or a bad thing with any authority died sometime around 1950-1960.
posted by Ryvar at 7:57 AM on March 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


As to the utility of this list, I'm going to quote a passage from Arthur Clarke's 3001 (a sequel in which one of the characters of 2001 is 'resurrected' a millennium later):
A depressing though occurred to him, soon after he started exploring - much of the time in Fast Forward - these relics of the past. He had read somewhere that by the turn of the century - his century! - there were approximately fifty thousand television stations broadcasting simultaneously. If that figure had been maintained - and it might well have increased - by now millions and millions of hours of TV programming must have gone on the air. So even the most hardened cynic would admit that there were probably at least a billion hours of worthwhile viewing . . . and millions that would pass the highest standards of excellence. How to find these few needles in so gigantic a haystack?
This is one of the major problems with our modern culture - people are no more or less creative than in the era that spawned Beethoven, Bach, Brahms, Mozart, Schubert, Schumann, Liszt, Mendelssohn, Tchaikovsky, and all the rest. And now there are far, far more of them with a far, far better understanding of what works musically, and what has failed.

We are confronted with an excess of cultural riches, and I think lists like this that are generated via massive amounts of metadata (in a fashion not dissimilar to how Google compiles search results) are probably helpful for sifting through those riches.
posted by Ryvar at 8:10 AM on March 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


OK, one last blah-blah'ing in my own thread. In the past day, I've taken to doing this every so often when there's a quick lull at work: going to random sections in this file and then thinking of how cool it would be if a radio station played it or I received a mixed CD of (for example):

2606: Chuck Berry - No Particular Place to Go - 1964
2607: Roxy Music - A Song for Europe - 1973
2608: Ted Leo & The Pharmacists - Where Have All the Rude Boys Gone? - 2003
2609: Mick Jagger - Memo from Turner - 1970
2610: Paul Simon - Kodachrome - 1973
2611: Blind Melon - No Rain - 1993
2612: Tindersticks - Kathleen - 1994
2613: The Lemonheads - Into Your Arms - 1993
2614: Darlene Love - Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) - 1963
2615: The New Pornographers - Letter from an Occupant - 2000
2616: Little Anthony and The Imperials - Tears on My Pillow - 1958
2617: Eddy Arnold & His Guitar - The Cattle Call - 1955
2618: Scritti Politti - Wood Beez (Pray Like Aretha Franklin) - 1984
2619: David Ackles - Down River - 1968
2620: Happy Mondays - Hallelujah - 1989
2621: The Band - Tears of Rage - 1968
2622: Bell Biv Devoe - Poison - 1990
2623: Roberta Flack - The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face - 1972

that is all...
posted by not_on_display at 9:21 AM on March 10, 2009


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