“It has not dated, not even a fraction”: Apple Music reveals its full list of the Best 100 Albums of all time, and there's a number 1 you might not have been expecting

Lauryn Hill
Lauryn Hill with her 100 Best Albums award. (Image credit: Apple Music)

Apple Music has completed its list of the Best 100 Albums of all time, and it’s chosen a slightly surprising but not undeserving winner.

Said to be “a modern 21st-century ranking of the greatest records ever made,” the list was compiled by Apple Music’s team of experts “alongside a select group of artists, songwriters, producers, and industry professionals.”

“The list is an editorial statement,” says the press release, “fully independent of any streaming numbers on Apple Music - a love letter to the records that have shaped the world music lovers live and listen in.”

Apple Music has been counting down the albums since last week, revealing the rankings in batches of 10. The top 10 has now been revealed, and sitting at number one is Lauryn Hill’s 1998 magnum opus The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.

This is, in fact, Hill’s one and only solo record, which makes its impact and longevity all the more remarkable. “Artists exhaust long discographies hoping for a cohesive piece of work resonant enough to reshape culture and inscribe its creator into the pantheon; Lauryn Hill did it in one,” says Apple Music.

Reacting to news of her win, Hill told Apple Music: “This is my award, but it’s a rich, deep narrative, and involves so many people, and so much sacrifice, and so much time, and so much collective love.”

Counting down from number one, the other albums in the top 10 are: Thriller - Michael Jackson; Abbey Road - The Beatles; Purple Rain - Prince & The Revolution; Blonde - Frank Ocean; Songs in the Key of Life - Stevie Wonder; good kid, m.A.A.d city - Kendrick Lamar; Back to Black - Amy Winehouse; Nevermind - Nirvana; Lemonade - Beyonce.

This means that many of the records that have traditionally placed in the top 10 of lists like these - the likes of Radiohead’s OK Computer, Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours, Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On and The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds - have been omitted this time, but they do feature lower down the list.

To celebrate the announcement of the Top 100, Apple Music’s Zane Lowe and Ebro Darden sat down with musicians Nile Rodgers and Maggie Rogers to discuss the selections. Lowe says of Lauryn Hill’s record: “It has not dated, not even a fraction. In fact, it feels more fresh and more relevant the more you listen to it”.

Nile Rodgers, meanwhile, says that Thriller “changed the world”, and recalls that “everything around this record was just so amazing” when discussing Purple Rain.

Turning to Songs in the Key of Life, Maggie Rogers notes that it “just exists as this unbelievable piece of art. I can’t imagine a world that doesn’t have this record in it.”

You can check out the full list of the 100 Best Albums on the Apple Music website.

Ben Rogerson
Deputy Editor

I’m the Deputy Editor of MusicRadar, having worked on the site since its launch in 2007. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 24 of which I’ve also spent writing about music and the ever-changing technology used to make it. 

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