Top 10 Years in Music

Script written by Aaron Cameron. You just can’t plan these things, but sometimes a certain year overwhelms us with the sheer amount of great music that comes out. For this list, we’ve selected years based on important album releases, memorable hit songs, band debuts and musical or cultural revolutions. Our picks from each year touch on only very significant albums and songs and are in no way meant as an all-encompassing history. If your favorite song, album, artist or didn't make the cut, that's okay. Just crank it up later and jam. Join WatchMojo.com as we count down our picks for the Top 10 Years in Music. Special thanks to our users Al Bebak, Nelson Fuller, jffetz100 and arimazzie for submitting the idea on our Suggest Page at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Script written by Aaron Cameron.

Top 10 Years in Music


You just can’t plan these things, but sometimes a certain year overwhelms us with the sheer amount of great music that comes out. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Years in Music.

For this list, we’ve selected years based on important album releases, memorable hit songs, band debuts and musical or cultural revolutions. Our picks from each year touch on only very significant albums and songs and are in no way meant as an all-encompassing history. If your favorite song, album, artist or didn't make the cut, that's okay. Just crank it up later and jam.

#10: 1995

In this year, Tupac became the first artist to have a #1 album while in prison; KISS semi-reunited and Def Leppard played three shows on three continents in a single day. The Beatles dominated our musical attention with the Anthology collection, but more contemporary Canadian women also dominated with Alanis Morissette's “Jagged Little Pill” peaking at number one on the Billboard 200 and Shania Twain's “The Woman in Me” peaking at number five.

#9: 2001

2001 began with a major game changer for the music industry: iTunes was introduced, followed by the iPod in October. Although the year started off well by building on the pop, nu-metal, and rap-rock scenes that had come of age in the previous decade, the tail end of the year was marred by heavy radio censorship from Clear Channel Communications following the September 11th attacks. This year also saw the release of the Strokes’ popular single “Last Nite,” signaling a shift in mainstream rock music away from nu-metal and rap-rock.

#8: 1999

1999 marked the year of returns. Santana returned to the top of the charts with “Supernatural”, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, reunited with guitarist John Frusciante, made a came back with “Californication”, and Bruce Dickinson, yes THE Bruce Dickinson, returned to Iron Maiden after a six year absence. The year also marked the beginning of digital piracy with the appearance of Napster, which divided both music fans and the music industry.

#7: 1970

1970 was a year of changes, not the least of which was Paul McCartney announcing his departure from the Beatles in April of that year, and the deaths of both Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin. A number of high profile musicians had solo releases this year including Eric Clapton, Curtis Mayfield of the Impressions, Randy Bachman from the Guess Who, and Pink Floyd founder Syd Barrett. Black Sabbath also released both their eponymous first album and “Paranoid” within the year.

#6: 1984

1984 was a socially conscious year with the Band Aid charity song “Do They Know It's Christmas” becoming one of the biggest selling singles in history. In theatres, Spinal Tap turned it to 11, lampooning heavy metal arena rock, and Prince’s Purple Rain won an Academy award. Later that year, Bruce Springsteen earned his most successful album with Born in the U.S.A and Madonna nabbed her first number one record with Like a Virgin.

#5: 1977

1977 was the year that punk blew up and Elvis died, which is probably symbolic of something, right? Although disliked by younger punk fans, big arena rock bands only got bigger in 1977 with Pink Floyd releasing their monumental “Animals” album. The Eagles’ “Hotel California” won the 1977 Grammy award for record of the year. Fleetwood Mac's “Rumours” was also released in ‘77 and spent 31 non-consecutive weeks at the top of the Billboard 200.

#4: 1979

By 1979 disco had reached an apex with the infamous “Disco Demolition Night” causing a near-riot at a major league baseball game. This year also saw the arrival of the first rap song to gain widespread recognition, “Rapper's Delight” by the Sugarhill Gang. Punk, meanwhile, spawned new wave with both the Police and Blondie scoring major hits in '79. The year also saw the first major use of digital recording with Stephen Stills and Ry Cooder each taking advantage of the new technology.

#3: 1991

1991 saw the irreversible replacement hair metal as the most popular form of hard rock, as Nirvana crashed the music scene with their timeless single “Smells like Teen Spirit” and alt rock fans celebrated the first Lollapalooza tour. Country music expanded in mainstream popularity and sparked a line-dancing craze and boy bands lost a bit of innocence when New Kid on the Block Donnie Wahlberg was arrested for allegedly setting fire to a hotel room.

#2: 1987

After a bit of a slump in the ‘80s proper, guitar based rock was back thanks to Guns N' Roses whose 1987 debut “Appetite for Destruction” would go on to sell 18 million copies. Meanwhile U2's “The Joshua Tree”, released in 1987 as well, sold 14 million copies by the end of 1988. Michael Jackson released “Bad,” an album that produced 5 #1 singles. But it was Pink Floyd's world tour this year that made $60 million, which was more than U2’s and MJ's touring incomes combined.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

2007

1962

1959

1988

1982

#1: 1969

Though 1967 was also notable for its music, two years later we saw the occurrence of two legendary festivals - Woodstock and the Isle of Wight Festival, the latter of which seeing the return of Bob Dylan after his 1966 motorcycle accident. Elsewhere, fans were stabbed to death by Hell’s Angels at a Rolling Stone’s Concert in Altamont, California. John Lennon asked us to give peace a chance. Notable debuts came from Elton John, Led Zeppelin, the Jackson 5, and the Stooges, highlighting the diverse sounds rock would take in the next decade.

Do you agree with our list? What’s your favorite year in music? For more chronological Top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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