Bruce Springsteen - Wrecking Ball

Hot on the heels of our own list of 2012′s 50 best albums comes the grandaddy of ’em all, Rolling Stone. And I’m not kidding about the grandaddy thing: Their top five includes a 63-year-old dude and a 71-year-old dude. Which is especially insane because those picks — Bruce at 1, Dylan at 4 — really don’t deserve to be anywhere near the top of anything (they’re mid-pack at best in the respective artists’ catalogs). But hey, to paraphrase Woody Allen, Jann Wenner wants what Jann Wenner wants. More oldsters include Neil Young (67) at 10, Jimmy Cliff (64) at 12, Leonard Cohen (78) at 13, Dr. John (72) at 15, Bonnie Raitt (63) at 22, Donald Fagen (64) at 25, Bobby Womack (68) at 36. (To be clear: I’ve got nothing against any of those artists, albums, or the aged in general; why, just yesterday I just gave a positive review to a new album from a 67-year-old man. Just pointing out a general trend.) There’s some crossover between our list and theirs (and everyone else’s): Frank Ocean, Fiona Apple, Kendrick Lamar, Japandroids, Cloud Nothings, etc. The most surprising inclusions here, for me, are Kanye’s G.O.O.D. Music’s Cruel Summer and Green Day’s ¡Uno!, neither of which seem destined to go down in history as classics. Most shocking omission? Just considering the source and their predilictions, I’m kinda stunned to see the Rolling Stones’ three-disc hits compilation, Grr, left off. Hey, it’s got two new songs on it! Check out the list below.

01 Bruce Springsteen – Wrecking Ball
02 Frank Ocean – Channel Orange
03 Jack White – Blunderbuss
04 Bob Dylan – Tempest
05 Fiona Apple – The Idler Wheel…
06 Kendrick Lamar – good kid, m.A.A.d city
07 Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros – Here
08 Green Day – !Uno!
09 Japandroids – Celebration Rock
10 Neil Young and Crazy Horse – Psychedelic Pill
11 Mumford & Sons – Babel
12 Jimmy Cliff – Rebirth
13 Leonard Cohen – Old Ideas
14 Best Coast – The Only Place
15 Dr. John – Locked Down
16 Cat Power – Sun
17 John Mayer – Born and Raised
18 Nas – Life is Good
19 Band Of Horses – Mirage Rock
20 Killer Mike – R.A.P. Music
21 Cloud Nothings – Attack on Memory
22 Bonnie Raitt – Slipstream
23 Divine Fits – A Thing Called Divine Fits
24 G.O.O.D. Music – Cruel Summer
25 Donald Fagen – Sunken Condos
26 Django Django – Django Django
27 Gary Clark Jr. – Blak and Blu
28 Beach House – Bloom
29 Dave Matthews Band – Away From the World
30 Azealia Banks – 1991
31 Taylor Swift – Red
32 Hospitality – Hospitality
33 Grimes – Visions
34 Alabama Shakes – Boys & Girls
35 Grizzly Bear – Shields
36 Bobby Womack – The Bravest Man in the Universe
37 Justin Townes Earle – Nothing’s Gonna Change The Way You Feel About Me Now
38 Titus Andronicus – Local Business
39 Passion Pit – Gossamer
40 Escort – Escort
41 The Avett Brothers – The Carpenter
42 Allo Darlin’ – Europe
43 fun. – Some Nights
44 Garbage – Not Your Kind of People
45 Rick Ross – Rich Forever
46 Muse – The 2nd Law
47 Todd Snider – Agnostic Hymns and Stoner Fables
48 The Smashing Pumpkins – Oceania
49 Amadou And Mariam – Folila
50 Dirty Projectors – Swing Lo Magellan

Comments (102)
  1. I was really curious to see how they were going to pull a “U2″ upset like they did a couple years ago, and they did not disappoint.

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  2. Worst list so far although I don’t consider RS as serious music publication.
    Muse, Bumfords, Green Day… what a joke.

  3. Mumford & Sons, Green Day, Edward Sharpe, f***ing GARBAGE. BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

  4. The fact that someone can put fun. and Muse above Dirty Projectors is disturbing.

  5. Yep. Very Rolling Stone.

  6. Finally…A list with John Mayer on it!

  7. Green Day is the top 10!? Holy shit! That’s awful!

  8. It’s been downhill since Tim Heidecker took over.

  9. Say what you will about this list but that new Green Day record is a lot like the Japandroids LP but undeniably 1 music unit better

  10. hahahahahaha Cruel Summer? The singles are great, but really?

  11. I gave !UNO! a listen for nostalgia’s sake (and I will defend American Idiot to anyone…I ain’t care) and good lord that album is just terrible. Boring, basic, and bogus. RS is a joke.

  12. There is certainly some things to hate (Muse and Green Day and Taylor Swift and G.O.O.D. Music) but I’m personally happy that some of the classic artists are getting some credit. The new Dylan album was beautiful and same for Neil Young.

  13. Here’s a fun experiment: Put the top ten albums together in a playlist, hit shuffle, crank it up, and wait to see what cast of interesting characters show up to your door with cases of cheap beer and x-boxes for the party, brah.

  14. For all the bad picks, which are too numerous to count, at least they have Hospitality on the list! I really like that album, I wish more people would try to look for the good in lists instead of shooting fish in barrels.

  15. Well, at least it’s nice to see Neil Young on a list. Psychedelic Pill is a great album.

  16. Dave Matthews Band put out an album this year? Well, Rolling Stone would be the place to know. I’ll give them credit for Hospitality, though. I love that one.

  17. Despite how boring “Cruel Summer” turns after “Mercy,” I can’t fault any publication for listing an album that featured R. Kelly shouting about Rick James’ couch.

    I can however fault one for pushing fashion folk so hard.

  18. Your list is bad and you should feel bad!

  19. My grandpa has a lot of downloading to do.

  20. I was half expecting Bruce Springsteen to be listed on there twice

  21. Someone left a copy of Band of Horses’ Mirage in our kitchen at work with a label saying ‘FREE’… It was dire – I returned it…

  22. this list is some serious bullshit

  23. I can tell by looking at this list that Nickelback must not have released an album this year.

  24. I guess when the “Majors” are paying your bills you tend to cater to them . List is terrible . Your relevance in the marketplace is waning .

  25. Thank god for Rolling Stone, my dad was really feeling out of the “end of the year album list” loop.

  26. Oh man I cracked up with this list. BEST COAST is at 14? Oh man what a fucking joke.

    I do have to admit it’s nice seeing Azealia Banks’s EP 1991 on the list. Been my guilty pleasure all year.

  27. Who wins the old-off between Rolling Stone and Uncut?

  28. In defense of the Rolling Stone 2012 list, I want to say that those grandpas/-mas at least included the holy triad of Stereogum-ism in their TOP10: Frank, Fiona and Kendrick.

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  30. Calm down…. Rolling Stone could very well have given their #1 rating to (drum roll please ) That’s Why God Made The Radio by The Beach Boys…. They make Springsteen seem kind of … errr… young.

    Here are parts from their gushing review in RS in June.

    Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys haven’t made a record together in 16 years, but their music feels more present than ever….That’s Why God Made the Radio sounds a little surreal in this context, like a transmission from an alternate, irony-free universe: 12 songs of Turtle-Waxed melodies and startlingly boyish vocals. But there’s a shadow hanging over the proceedings – time, with its sidekicks age and death, issues the Beach Boys seemed designed specifically to dodge. In this way, the album plays like another episode in the longtime struggle between Mike Love’s fun-in-the-sun agenda and Wilson’s grander, darker themes. It’s part class reunion, part Requiem for a Beach Boy.

    The album opens with a wordless incantation by Wilson, Love and Al Jardine, with longtime collaborators Bruce Johnston and Jeffrey Foskett (veteran colleague David Marks is also onboard). It’s like the start of a church service – and it leads into the title track, a harmony-robed slow dance about the days before Pandora streamed in our Priuses. “Isn’t It Time?” is a similarly Love-struck jam that suggests dancing “just like yesterday” over “I Get Around” hand claps. The record’s flashbacking first half is cut with humor and self-awareness…..thanks to Wilson’s return, it’s also an ambitious statement – perhaps a final one – on a legacy that’s as much defined by confusion and creative cul-de-sacs as by Pet Sounds. The album is an un- even but deeply touching work by a clearly flawed Great Band – one that, at its best, always aimed for the heavens, even if it didn’t always reach them.

  31. Oh, good. Another Stereogum writer doesn’t think older musicians shouldn’t rank highly on a Best Of list.

    • Awkward because the new Swans and Scott Walker albums have been praised here. Michael Gira is 58, Walker is 69. I think the difference is that the older musicians ranking highly here, are, you know, not making good music anymore.

      • Sorry Dave, but if you don’t see the age-related dismissiveness in Tom and Michael’s lead-in summaries, then I’m not sure what else to tell you.

        While it’s easy to say they’re, you know, not making good music anymore, some of those albums have been highly praised elsewhere. So to claim that they don’t “deserve to be anywhere near the top of anything” is a bit over the top.

        I’m just tired of the usual smugness and condescension that people seem compelled to throw around during year-end list time.

        • I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that David was just stating a fact, that’s not smug at all. Telling someone they are beyond saving for not having the same interpretation as you is a much better example of smugness.

          • Just to clarify, I wasn’t necessarily directing that last line at David, although I can somewhat see why it might appear that way. However, what he stated was not a fact; it’s an opinion – albeit an opinion that was stated AS a fact. But, hey…it’s December in music-land.

        • I think the real issue about “age” here isn’t literally about how many years old the artists are, but how old they “sound.” Listening to the new Swans album makes me want to dig into their back catalog to chart their evolution. Doing the same for Springsteen seems like a study of decay.

  32. Hey, RS ordered their top 50 like I did mine – they had their pet monkey fling poop at their record collection, and whichever albums got splattered got listed. It’s quite effective. And saves a lot of hassle.

  33. Fuck every one of these lists. Most of this so-called best of music is un-listenable, one example is leonard Cohen, what garbage.

  34. lol told you

    • i think the question over the next decade will be “was best coast’s the only place one of the best albums of the year?” and the answer will be “no, the decade”. (OBVS)

      again, where the fuck is Dr. Dee? this Dr. John JOKER is really JOCKIN his styzzz

  35. The new Solange and Cody ChesnuTT were two that weren’t even on my radar until I read this interesting article comparing the two. Great albums, and a great read for anyone interested: http://ahorizontalmyth.wordpress.com/2012/12/05/divergent-souls-solange-cody-chesnutt/

  36. This is the Ann Coulter of year-end lists.

  37. It’s like two different lists forced to be fused together against their own will.

  38. I’m gonna say it: that Smashing Pumpkins album was better than average.

  39. Next year we should play a game where Stereogum just prints the list, then we have to guess which publication it’s from. This one would have been super easy.

  40. Alright Rolling Stone, I’ll give credit where credit is due…

    You still get none

  41. I didn’t even know Don Fagen was still alive.

  42. Born&Raised should have been ranked higher.

  43. I like old springsteen but hadnt listened to wrecking ball (kinda forgot) so i reserved my judgement of the number one spot. I just listened to three songs from it now and they were extremely mediocre; this list stinks like dog doodoo.

  44. Of course this is an atrocious list, but keeping in mind Rolling Stone’s average reader, I have to say it may not be such a bad thing. They’re throwing some new acts in with the oldies, just to keep people up to date and maybe even turn people on to some new music. I mean, what if some young kid, who isn’t into indie bands, picks it up and decides to check out of one of the lesser known bands? I first started listening to more “indie” music because I read an article in Time magazine about MGMT and decided to check them out. That introduced me to a new world of music. So yeah it’s fun to trash on Rolling Stone, but bear in mind it can serve a purpose.

  45. That’s awesome – Wrecking Ball IS better than Channel Orange!

    But anyway, I have seen worse, there’s plenty of god stuff there…and yes, plenty of pretty awful/mediocre stuff, too – Mumford is shit, Band of Horses is completely middle-of-the-road, Muse & Green Day….

    It’s about what you’d expect from them and is roughly a 50/50 affair.

  46. OK, while i love Bruce and I enjoyed Wrecking Ball….Just no…

  47. The list’s synopsis of “Wrecking Ball” spends 80% of its time on politics, which is slowly becoming one of RS’ most-covered topics. Combining the two topics seems to be the reason they put him #1, not music

  48. I’m a Bruce fan but “Wrecking Ball” is far from being his best. It has it’s moments though. I’m surprised Soundgarden isn’t on even though it’s not their best work either. I’m really tired of the Frank Ocean stroke fest I have seen on all the year end lists, and now the Grammy hype has started. He’s not doing anything special. So many other rock and r & b albums that are a lot better than his. Also I think Edward Sharpe is deserving along with the Alabama Shakes.

    • Wrong answer.

      1. Listen to Channel Orange again.
      2. Repeat step one until you are assimilated by the stroke fest.

      In the event that you never end up enjoying the album, use doublethink when discussing it.

  49. This list is terrible. I stopped reading it after Green Day. Seriously, they are about as relevant as Rolling Stone at this point.

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