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The 5 Bowie Albums in Rolling Stones’ Top 500

Rolling Stone magazine announced this week that its releasing its 2020 Top 500 albums list as a coffee table book. It is at least the fourth edition of the list, dating back to 2003, however I think I remember an even earlier version. Anyway, Bowie albums make up a total of 1% of the entire list. He’s tied with Led Zeppelin and Bruce Springsteen, each of whom also have 5 albums on the list and surpassed by the Beatles, with 9 albums (hard to upstage the Beatles); Bob Dylan with 8 (understandable); Neil Young with 7 (…ok…), The Rolling Stones with 6 (it is called Rolling Stone)… and Kanye West with 6. Kanye West? Really? Somehow I don’t think that jerk would get 6, or maybe any if the list came out again now. Actually, I wouldn’t recognize a Kanye West song if it was blaring outside my office. Maybe Kanye West fans wouldn’t recognize a Bowie song, either. So that says something.

Anyway, the five Bowie albums that made the list were “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars” (#42); “Station to Station” (#52); “Hunky Dory (#88); “Low” (#206); and “Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) (#443). Its a worthy list. I’m a little surprised “Blackstar” didn’t make it, especially given the proximity of the album’s release and Bowie’s death to the date the list was actually compiled. My own personal top 5 list would include “Diamond Dogs” for sure. I’m guessing contributors chose “Low” over “Heroes” while somehow thinking they had to make a choice between the two. I also think a case can plausibly be made that “Young Americans” and “Let’s Dance” had more of an influence over subsequent music and more of a cultural impact than some of the other albums on the list. Finally, “Aladdin Sane” should probably be in the conversation, if for no other reason (and there are plenty of other reasons) than it has one of the most iconic album covers in popular music, and the cover is part of the album.

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