Rolling Stone releases 500 Greatest Songs of All Time list

The updated list includes makers of instant classics like Lil Nas X, Harry Styles, Cardi B, and BTS.

Rolling Stone releases 500 Greatest Songs of All Time list
(Image: Rolling Stone Magazine/Sam McCabe)

After 17 years, prominent music magazine The Rolling Stone has recast their debate-stirring list of 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

“A lot has changed since 2004; back then the iPod was relatively new, and Billie Eilish was three years old,” wrote The Rolling Stone. “So we’ve decided to give the list a total reboot.”

To redo the list, The Rolling Stone enlisted the help of over 250 artists, musicians, producers, and other pivotal figures in the music industry as well as leading music critics and journalists, who all sent a ranked list of their top 50 songs. 

Some significant changes in the sonic aspect arose once the results were tabulated. The music magazine took note of how the list has shifted from being dominated by early rock and soul to comprising more hip-hop, modern country, indie rock, Latin pop, reggae, and R&B. 

In addition, more than half of the songs in the top 500 were newcomers, although that didn’t necessarily mean they came out in the years following the first roll. To wit, among the list’s Top 100, only eight songs were released after 2004, with Kanye West and Pusha T’s “Runaway” and Lorde’s “Royals” being the only two tracks to break into the Top 50.

Some critics also paid heed to the increased diversity in the new list, whereas the last one bore hints of coincidental nepotism to the long-running publication. Coming off from a list which had Bob Dylan’s “Like A Rolling Stone,” The Rolling Stone’s “Satisfaction,” and John Lennon’s “Imagine,” a song by the person who posed for the first-ever issue of The Rolling Stone, as its top three, the revamped list’s top three acts now reflect songs of respect, revolution, and the civil rights — not to mention all three were sang by persons of color.

Claiming the top spot in the 2021 list is Aretha Franklin’s “Respect,” followed by Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power,” and Sam Cooke’s “A Change is Gonne Come” coming in at third.

Still on the theme of social awareness, of the new entries on the 2021 list, about 100 of those prominently feature women and people of color. 

While web warriors were quick to jump on the publication for reportedly “virtue signaling” and “pandering” to wokeness,” this could very simply be an indication of how the prominent music figures voted on the polls. 

Other fresh faces whose instant classics made the cut are Lizzo for “Truth Hurts” (#497); Lil Nas X’s longest-running #1 song of all time, “Old Town Road” (#490); Lana Del Rey and her lush track “Summertime Sadness” (#456); Megan Thee Stallion for her remix of “Savage” with Beyoncé (#438); Bad Bunny’s recent chart-topper “Safaera” (#329); and BTS’ global hit “Dynamite” (#346).

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