Rolling Stone Magazine, Are These Really the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time?

Ranking music is a bizarre idea. Whilst it makes sense to rank your own favourite songs, to try to be representative of wider society’s views is nigh on impossible. 

Rolling Stone Magazine consistently insists on trying though, and its latest effort was published last month when it revealed what it deems as the ‘500 Greatest Songs’. To be fair to them, whilst many absurd music lists which can only be read with a puzzled expression fixed on your face are made by one or two journalists, their effort was rather more scientific, asking more than 250 figures from across the music industry to list their 30 favourite songs. Did that make it any better? 

No, well not to me anyway. The problem with ranking music is that reactions to songs are about as subjective as you can get. Besides the fact that the highest ABBA were ranked was 286th, which is objectively musically criminal and indicative of the list’s narrow focus on American and British artists, I would be surprised if anyone could agree on the validity, or otherwise, of the results. To take one example, The Beatles’ Strawberry Fields Forever is ranked at No.7, whilst its double A-side Penny Lane comes in at No.280. Many may see this as a consensus view, yet I would swap the two around. No one will ever agree on a ranking of music. They can be a bit of fun, mainly to disagree with, but should not be taken too seriously. 

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Matthew Stothard

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November 2021
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