RS’s list is an interesting and at times odd mix of fogies and new blood, with a few representatives from each camp who don’t seem like they really belong here. For instance, it’s the second list in two days that shows kindness towards Chinese Democracy. The Jonas Brothers also did quite well. Outside of that, you’ll recognize names from the Gummys, and the Magnetic Fields’ Distortion received a deserved nod.

Things become a little strange in the top 20, Axl and Lars, but the top spot goes to a band that’s been quietly placing high on just about all the year-end lists we’ve seen so far.

50 No Age – Nouns
49 Hot Chip – Made In The Dark
48 Raphael Saadiq – The Way I See It
47 Of Montreal – Skeletal Lamping
46 The Academy Is… – Fast Times at Barrington High
45 Be Your Own Pet – Get Awkward
44 The Raconteurs – Consolers of the Lonely
43 Nas – Untitled
42 David Byrne and Brian Eno – Everything That Happens Will Happen Today
41 AC/DC – Black Ice
40 Jonas Brothers – A Little Bit Longer
39 Taylor Swift – Fearless
38 Ra Ra Riot – The Rhumb Line
37 Nine Inch Nails – The Slip
36 The Hold Steady – Stay Positive
35 Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!
34 Stephen Malkmus – Real Emotional Trash
33 Ne-Yo – Year Of The Gentleman
32 Jamey Johnson – The Lonesome Song
31 MGMT – Oracular Spectacular
30 Duffy – Rockferry
29 Bon Iver – For Emma, Forever Ago
28 The Knux – Remind Me in Three Days…
27 Brian Wilson – That Lucky Old Sun
26 Mudcrutch – Mudcrutch
25 The Magnetic Fields – Distortion
24 Girl Talk – Feed The Animals
23 Conor Oberst – Conor Oberst
22 Jackson Browne – Time the Conquerer
21 Kaiser Chiefs – Off With Their Heads
20 Kings of Leon – Only By The Night
19 Erykah Badu – New Amerykah, Part 1 (4th World War)
18 Lucinda Williams – Little Honey
17 B.B. King – One Kind Favor
16 Randy Newman – Harps and Angels
15 The Black Keys – Attack & Release
14 Ryan Adams And The Cardinals – Cardinology
13 Blitzen Trapper – Furr
12 Guns N’ Roses – Chinese Democracy
11 Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes
10 Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend
09 Metallica – Death Magnetic
08 Beck – Modern Guilt
07 Coldplay – Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends
06 Santogold – Santogold
05 John Mellencamp – Life, Death, Love and Freedom
04 My Morning Jacket – Evil Urges
03 Lil Wayne – Tha Carter III
02 Bob Dylan – Tell Tale Signs:The Bootleg Series Vol. 8
01 TV on the Radio – Dear Science

The one and two positions sort of crystallize the strange duality of this thing. Also, John Mellencamp is that beloved? This is our John Mellencamp? You can read year-end blurbs, etc., at RS.

Comments (132)
  1. I’m actually proud that they put Blitzen Trapper over the Jonas Brothers.

    • Liz  |   Posted on Dec 10th, 2008 0

      That’s cool…I’m just glad the Jonas Brothers MADE the list. They are good. NOT BAD! Who knew massive popularity could leave you underrated. LOL.

  2. zap  |   Posted on Dec 10th, 2008 0

    FINALLY a relevant year end list…

  3. adam  |   Posted on Dec 10th, 2008 0

    David Byrne & Brian Eno at 42…Jonas Brothers at 40….yup, sounds about in line with my cancelling my RS subscription 3 years ago.

    • Greg  |   Posted on Dec 13th, 2008 0

      I can’t believe so many people are stuck on this issue. At least Rolling Stone included David Byrne and Brian Eno on their list, unlike Stereogum and every other blog or magazine I’ve checked so far. Where were all you Byrne/Eno fans when we were voting for the Gummies?


    blitzen trapper! fleet foxes! hooray!

  5. Thats the problem with magazines like Rolling Stone. how do you compare Bob Dylan and TV on the Radio? What makes John Mellencamp comparable to Kaiser Chiefs? What the fuck is Kaiser Chiefs doing on a list at all?

    • In answer to your first question, Village Voice did in ’06 I remember…but that time the Bobcat won, as illustrated with this great cover:

    • Charlotte  |   Posted on Dec 10th, 2008 0

      yeah it’s just really disorienting seeing nas and the jonas brothers and b.b. king and tv on the radio all in the same place. how could you possibly rank those against each other (well…other than with jonas brothers a mile behind the rest)?

      • OhSnap  |   Posted on Dec 10th, 2008 0

        It’s what the year was though….Jonases quickly put cracks in their Mickey Mouse ceiling, because (having seen them a number of times) they are surprisingly credible artists/performers (don’t underestimate the gospel/blues/rock roots of little white Jersey boys, even if they are now singing bubblegum). They are a mile behind the others you named, true, but only because they are pretty much noobs…I think it’s not a pure-quality rank, but factors in relative career and artist significance.

      • Savanna  |   Posted on Dec 22nd, 2008 0

        Just because Jonas Brothers record with Disney, does not automatically make them suck. If you honestly listened to their new album with an open mind, you would realize it isn’t your preferred style of music, but they are good at what they dot.

    • b.LOUD  |   Posted on Dec 10th, 2008 0

      I was on the Kaiser Cheifs bandwagon until I saw them headline @ Webster Hall a couple of years back with The Cribs, who were much better than the former that night. Halfway through their set, the KC frontman and keyboardist came to the front of the stage and did the most chessy thing I’ve ever seen with the “my-side-is-louder-than-your-side” banter. It was obviously rehearsed and they treated us like children. I remember leaving after that with a bunch of other people.

      Just as mad and cheated I was that night, I was just as surprised about how GOOD their new album is. They played on Leno last month and blew me away. The frontman though, needs to stop doing his best Jules Casablancas impersonation, as he did @ Webster Hall that night, and work the crowd. Nonetheless, they’re in my Top 20 also.

  6. This list isn’t so bad, it’s not great, but it’s not bad.

  7. it's me here, I can't remember my password  |   Posted on Dec 10th, 2008 0

    I’m sorry but Dear Science is just not as good as their last two albums, so it wouldn’t get a top spot if I were making a list (I didn’t vote for it on the Gummys)

    But it’s obviously better than pretty much the rest of this list!

    I’m also starting to feel like Ra Ra Riot’s album is getting way too much praise, it was alright but the pretty much released a compilation of demos they had put out this past 3 years!

  8. I hate Rolling Stone.

  9. Other than the inexcusable absence of Sigur Ros, I’d say this list is pretty good.

  10. no age should be higher. also, why do music critics hate loud/hard/punk rock until it gets popular? the following bands should be on way more lists this year:

    the gaslight anthem, no age, crystal antlers, the constantines, the bronx, abe vigoda, fucked up, pissed jeans, the night marchers (did that come out in 07?), health etc.

  11. Chadams  |   Posted on Dec 10th, 2008 0

    I was disappointed by The Knux’s album. Nothing felt well-written and it was all just 3-4 minute-long choruses. Big letdown.

  12. Brian  |   Posted on Dec 10th, 2008 0

    Yeah, it’s a ridiculous list. They’ve done almost zero on TV on the Radio, then wham! No. 1 record! Like last year when they picked MIA for cred. But I mean, this magazine isn’t really relevant anymore. Pretty much every issue is just a reason to laugh at people for doing horribly at their jobs.

  13. Chris  |   Posted on Dec 10th, 2008 0

    Duffy was totally better than that Breeders album.

  14. Worst year-end list ever. So many albums that deserve to be on all year-end lists are on none, but none of the others have the fucking Jonas Brothers or Ra Ra fucking Riot. Booooooo.

  15. what’s rolling stone?

  16. boggis  |   Posted on Dec 10th, 2008 0

    You know. My gut reaction was to hate on the Jonas Brothers for all the obvious reasons, but after seeing them on the TV I thought that maybe I wrongly judged them. Was I wrong? Are they good?

  17. Better than the Gummy list in a couple of respects: Real Emotional Trash and The Slip. It’s all subjective, of course, but those albums are both aces in my book.

  18. dusen  |   Posted on Dec 10th, 2008 0

    GnR on any best-of list, let alone #12???

    RS must be gunning for an exclusive interview with Axl, that’s the only way this makes any sense.

    On the other side of the GnR fence, go to this site for the mullethead reaction to this list:

    My favorite:
    ” Some really retarded band names in there.

    Also I wish this, “I’m a depressed pussy with thick glasses, a beard, and a stupid hat that your grandfather used to wear” fashion in music would go away.”

    • Caterina  |   Posted on Dec 19th, 2008 0

      Mind you, this is coming from a 40 Something, mother of 4. Your mullet head comment is hillarious. I actually had to exterminate a mullet cut that my husband came home with last week just prior to our daughter’s wedding. He actually denied the horrific hair cut he came home with even was a mullet. ICK!! “Good grief! There will be pictures, you CANNOT look like that”

      I’m not trying to be younger than I am, and to be honest, I can only tell you who about 1/5 of the bands on the list are. I’m shifting to sounding like my parents, ‘What kind of band name is Saliva??!!” But Dylan and Mellancamp have always been overrated. They stunk 25 years ago too. Quite frankly, I never really thought RS was all that cutting edge even in my days in the late 70′s and 80′s. Way back when he was John Cougar. I got here quite by accident, clicking on the link wondering what the hell Brad Pitt’s face had to do with the top 50 albums of the year. Then it dawned on me. Doh! He’s only on the cover.

      As for that whole GNR forum thing, I find it sad that there is a legion of desperate old farts large enough to create a fan base for a washed out hair band, but I will give GNR credit for capitalizing on them.

  19. My Morning Jacket is so overrated. TV on the Radio’s previous albums had good songs but the production was annoyingly noisy. Dear Science is the best, glad to it at the top. Wait, John Mellencamp is still alive? But where the hell is SIgur Ros?

  20. I’d say it’s a fair year end list considering what kind of magazine we’re talking about here.

  21. monster  |   Posted on Dec 10th, 2008 0

    They forgot Deerhunter. I will contact Rolling Stone and have them correct the mistake.

  22. I think we can all honestly say that we were expecting much worse.

  23. For some reason I feel like these lists from major publications have gotten better in the past few years. Maybe I’m just shocked that Rolling Stone has listened to No Age or Fleet Foxes. Although Bob Dylan at No. 2: not very shocked.

  24. funoka  |   Posted on Dec 10th, 2008 0

    I have about 10 of these albums — which is not bad — l like seeing Santogold on the list and the John Mellencamp CD is pretty damn good too.

  25. tommy  |   Posted on Dec 10th, 2008 0

    No Keane? What gives?

    (And for you indie hipsters who will invariably detect sarcasm in my statement, I am totally serious.)

  26. I haven’t heard the album yet, but it’s not as if including the Dylan release is just some token nod a la Rolling Stone’s embrace of anything that Mick Jagger craps out. Tell Tale Signs got an 8.6 on Pitchfork and an A- on the AV Club. Sure, it’s an archival release, but if your criteria extend that far, it makes sense as a pick.

    Now, if you want to complain about tokenism for the sake of pleasing the masses, attack Mellencamp, Beck, and Metallica at will. But, overall, I guess my expectations for RS are low enough that this list is almost a pleasant surprise.

  27. What the fuck is Rolling Stone?

  28. Ha!
    Oh I see what you did there.

  29. Cheef  |   Posted on Dec 10th, 2008 0

    Rolling Stone covers music? I thought it was just an outlet for shitty left-wing propaganda.

  30. Kozy  |   Posted on Dec 10th, 2008 0

    Am I the only person that thinks Evil Urges is a glorified b-sides album? MMJ is way over-rated.

    • Alex  |   Posted on Dec 10th, 2008 0

      I’m going to have to strongly disagree with you here. Yes, MMJ’s best work is still Z, which is a masterpiece I may add, but it’s not like Metallica, GnR, the Jonas Brothers, or Lil Wayne are any better (In fact, they’re all god awful), yet Rolling Stone felt the need to include those acts as well.

    • liz  |   Posted on Dec 12th, 2008 0

      Yeah, Evil Urges was horrible, in my opinion anyway. One listen to “Highly Suspicious” and Jim’s shrieking is enough for me to want to turn it off. It Still Moves is still my favourite.

  31. Just like every year, the RS list blows arse. These guys know as much about music as the Governor of IL knows about integrity.

  32. Alex  |   Posted on Dec 10th, 2008 0

    Not only should any list that doesn’t include Black Mountain be disregarded immediately, but any list that doesn’t include Black Mountain, yet includes GnR, Metallica, and the Jonas Brothers(!? WTF?) should be set fire to immediately.
    This all goes hand in hand with me cancelling my Rolling Stone subscription like a year ago, yet they keep sending me their crappy magazine.

  33. nice songs
    but honestly there is nothing special, the guys got old

  34. louie  |   Posted on Dec 10th, 2008 0

    wow, i don’t own a single one of those albums. i’m not saying this because i thinks it’s cool or not, just…damn.

  35. WTF  |   Posted on Dec 10th, 2008 0

    FAIL. No M83, no Elbow, no Neon Neon…

    Alright, OK, maybe not an OUTRIGHT fail. There are some good records on this list. But Hot Chip is boring and samey after two listens, for example, whereas M83 keeps on synthin’ months later.

  36. Does anyone even listen to music anymore?

    • reet  |   Posted on Dec 10th, 2008 0

      say what? i was too busy listening to snippets of songs on facebook that i missed what you said.

  37. What the hell is Taylor Swift doing on this list? Since when did complacency deserve any spot on a top 50 list?

  38. Mike  |   Posted on Dec 10th, 2008 0

    Note to the world: Oracular Spectacular came out in 2007.

  39. Huh?  |   Posted on Dec 10th, 2008 0

    Yeah, I’ll say it; I don’t get the popularity of MMJ, Weezy (a lot of that album is unlistenable), TV on the Radio, and most of alll Santogold. I don’t get her popularity at all–it’s very nearly Lady Gaga when she was all trying to be MIA.

    Where is the list with Madlib, Jackson Conti, or, more incredibly, the Cool Kids?

    • Double Huh?  |   Posted on Dec 11th, 2008 0

      Ok, I’ve always dug Madlib, always will. He has true originality and progression…but The Cool Kids? My friend hosted a snowboard jump event here in San Francisco and had the Cool Kids as the headliner. Another friend’s little brother’s band, 3OH!3, opened for them had the entire crowd moving. Cool Kids came on stage and all but maybe 30 of the thousands attending eventually left because their J5-ish act was a complete snore. At first I thought it was maybe due to the cold weather that night but the same line-up played the after party with the same result. 3OH!3 had the entire place on their feet and dancing and half the crowd took a cigarette break when the Cool Kids took the stage.
      I only say this because the claim that the Cool Kids deserve respect with their impressively un-original sound and act (again, sounds like J5 or PUTS a la 10 years ago) yet Santogold is overrated, is absurd to me. I don’t agree with most of this list, a few high points, but Santogold was one of the most refreshing albums I’d heard in a while when it was released. Bringing some hip-hop-ish beats to an alt-indie sound is nothing close to being a copy of MIA’s rap throw-back style with her island influences. MIA was a story, Santogold is talented…though both are more worthy than the snore-ish Cool Kids.

      • hey. hazim here…again.

        Santogold is M.I.A with more pop sensibility and sans the political ranting
        IIf M.I.A can score a tp 5 hit with ‘Paper Planes” Santogold can score five number ones.

        Blitzen Trapper? that’s good
        Taylor Swift? bad. and putting her a notch over The Jonas Brothers (cus.ya know… she dated a Jonas and all…I watch ET lol)just for irony’s sake? Not ironic.

        And no Britney Spears? That’s just stupid.

  40. Me  |   Posted on Dec 10th, 2008 0

    As much as I dislike a list that tries to be everything to everyone and tries to placate tweens (Jonas) to boomers (Dylan), I miss having a mainstream musically, and Rolling Stone is one of the few remnants from those days that even preceded me (and I’m not young). I was young when “alternative” broke, but I’m so far beyond trying to prove my tastes are more obscure or different from everyone else’s. I’m just glad with this year end polls to hear that other folks liked the Fleet Foxes. I’m the only person I know who listens to it.

    Keep plugging on RS: even with the dispicable hills cover this year, I’ll likely re-up for 2009.

    I own 10 of these albums on CD, and I would take at least 5 more–the local shops never have No Age and I should get off my duff and order it.

  41. Carrie  |   Posted on Dec 10th, 2008 0

    No matter what the article is about, there is invariably some disgruntled Deerhunter fan commenting on the dire lack of Deerhunter in the list/article/story.

    And I can’t possibly be the only one who finds it devastatingly tragic about how Taylor “Teardrops On My Guitar” Swift has made more than one list…even if it was only Rolling Stone and that other one.

  42. walter  |   Posted on Dec 10th, 2008 0

    it’s good to see some love for the superb dylan album (even though it’s a rarties comp). on the other hand, rs still sucks.

  43. dr. grampa  |   Posted on Dec 10th, 2008 0

    i have a different taste in music than rolling stone magazine does and its extremely important that i let the whole world know about it.

  44. Bon Iver should have been closer to the top of the list. Otherwise, this is probably the best “Best Of” I’ve seen this year.

  45. DS48  |   Posted on Dec 10th, 2008 0

    If they made a playlist of these albums, I think my head would explode listening to it. I’m just surprised they didn’t preemptively give Springsteen the top spot. Weird, weird list, even for a craptastic baby boomer magazine who’s cultural relevance went out with LSD.

  46. Am I the only one here who actually listened to Dylan’s Tell Tale signs? Give it a shot — it’s better than the albums the songs come from.

  47. sanjulian  |   Posted on Dec 10th, 2008 0

    whats with all the animal band names these days?

  48. How could they have left out BASSMASTER??

  49. Aaron  |   Posted on Dec 11th, 2008 0

    Liz, don’t let the all the red get you down. I laughed when I read that.

  50. No Imperial Wax Solvent (The Fall), You Are Here (thenewno2), Midnight Boom (The Kills)?! They do have some good stuff on there (David Byrne/Brian Eno, TV on the Radio, Hot Chip, Nick Cave), it’s just that the order is a bit odd…

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post, reply to, or rate a comment.

%s1 / %s2