Finished the top 20 albums of the 1990s (according to Rolling Stone magazine)

So I’m working my way through Rolling Stone’s top 100 albums of the 90s as a sort of challenge and as an attempt to flesh out my knowledge of 90s music. I decided to start with the top 20 only and I’ve finally completed it.

Entries 20 down to 6 are covered in earlier posts on this blog, but I finished off by listening to the top 5:

#5 – Lauryn Hill – The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill: I like Lauryn Hill and what she stands for and I really wanted to like this album. It was OK. There are obviously great singles like Everything is Everything and Doo Wop, but the rest is pretty much the same. It’s good, but doesn’t really grab me. 6/10

#4 – U2 – Achtung Baby: I hate U2. I dislike Bono and there’s just something about them that annoys me. So I wasn’t looking forward this album. But it was OK! Am I going to listen to it again? Probably not. 5/10

#3 – Radiohead – OK Computer: I saved this album for last because I’d already listened to it twice this year and it’s perhaps my favorite album ever. It’s a swirling bubbling cauldron of ennui, frustration, boredom, with occasional flashes of warmth and optimism, and it only seems to get better with age. If I had any complaint it’s that the album feels less cohesive towards the end. Lucky, Electioneering, and The Tourist are my least favorite tracks. 9/10

#2 – Dr. Dre – The Chronic: I listen to a lot of hiphop and while this is a fine album, I think you kinda had to be there for this to have a huge impact. It’s entertaining and it’s well put together but it’s not particularly outstanding by modern standards IMHO. 7/10

#1 – Nirvana – Nevermind: This is another one of those you had to be there type albums, but it does stand up against the modern descendants of grunge and of alternative rock in general. What always impressed me about Nevermind was how even though the songs sound totally throwaway and ridiculous on the surface, they have a way of getting stuck in your head and improve with age. If I were to pick one album to define the 90s, this wouldn’t be it, but if some aliens turned up and just wanted to rock out, Nevermind is the 90s album I’d be giving them. 8/10

So to sum up the top 20 albums in reverse order of the x/10 score I gave them:

9/10: Radiohead – OK Computer (#3)
8/10: Nirvana – Nevermind (#1)
8/10: Pearl Jam – Ten (#6)
8/10: Pavement – Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain (#10)
8/10: Red Hot Chili Peppers – Blood Sugar Sex Magik (#19)
7/10: Nirvana – In Utero (#7)
7/10: Beastie Boys – Ill Communication (#13)
7/10: Liz Phair – Exile in Guyville (#20)
7/10: Dr. Dre – The Chronic (#2)
7/10: Notorious BIG – Ready to Die (#8)
7/10: Beck – Odelay (#9)
7/10: Snoop Dogg – Doggystyle (#14)
6/10: Lauryn Hill – The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (#5)
6/10: Tom Petty – Wildflowers (#12)
6/10: Lucinda Williams – Car Wheels on a Gravel Road (#15)
6/10: REM – Automatic for the People (#18)
5/10: U2 – Achtung Baby (#4)
5/10: Jay Z – Reasonable Doubt (#17)
4/10: Outkast – Aquemini (#11)
4/10: Metallica – Metallica (#16)

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