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Top 10 Important Albums in Pop Music History

VO: Matt Campbell
Script written by Sean Harris These records weren't just popular, they were pioneering! Join WatchMojo.com as we count down our picks for the Top 10 Important Albums in Pop Music History! For this list, we've looked at all pop albums excluding greatest hits compilations (Sorry ABBA…), and included those records without which the genre could not have developed in the way that it has. Special thanks to our user radon548 for submitting the idea on our Interactive Suggestion Tool at WatchMojo.comsuggest!
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Script written by Sean Harris

Top 10 Important Albums in Pop Music History


These records weren't just popular, they were pioneering! Join WatchMojo.com as we count down our picks for the Top 10 Important Albums in Pop Music History!

For this list, we've looked at all pop albums excluding greatest hits compilations (Sorry ABBA…), and included those records without which the genre could not have developed in the way that it has. These are the watershed moments in pop music history!

#10: “Tapestry” (1971)
Carole King

An influential voice within the music industry even before this record was made, after “Tapestry” Carole King’s legendary popcredentials went entirely undisputed. “You’ve Got a Friend” is possibly “Tapestry”s most well-known track, but, and as the album title infers, “Tapestry” is also a bringing together of King’s past achievements. “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” was originally recorded by Aretha Franklin, “Will You Love Me Tomorrow?”, was originally recorded by The Shirelles but King originallywrote both, and stylishly re-records them here.

#9: “Spice” (1996)
Spice Girls

From one show-stopping female performer to five, during the latter half of the ‘90s, Scary, Sporty, Baby, Posh and Ginger Spice were all that anybody was talking about! And with this, their debut album, they revolutionised what it meant to be in a ‘girl band’. The Spice Girls were a well-knit group, but they also had individual personalities that shone. A marketing dream, they quickly laid down some world-class pop records as well. In the ‘90s, these girls were all you wanted, ‘all you really, really wanted’!

#8: “Saturday Night Fever: The Original Movie Soundtrack” (1977)
The Bee Gees & Various Artists

The only soundtrack album to make today’s countdown, in the late ‘70s the “Saturday Night Fever” record was basically the Bible of the dance floor! Side A is dominated by the Bee Gees, and features four massive, genre defining, worldwide hits while sides B, C and D rattle through with an equally fine, classically rethought rhythm. With tracks like “Stayin’ Alive”, “Night Fever”, “More Than A Woman,” it’s simply impossible to explain just ‘how deep the love’ was for this record. It’s the great glitter ball manifesto.

#7: “Like a Virgin” (1984)
Madonna

Madonna’s second album, “Like a Virgin” signified a dynamic, career defining point for the now-iconic singer. Her first album had fared very well, but with this record she well and truly made her mark in the industry. Hits like “Material Girl”, “Into the Groove” and the eponymous “Like A Virgin” proved that Madonna was no one trick pony. She was here to stay, and was lighting the way for all female pop singers to follow. It's debatable if even Britney Spears and “…Baby One More Time” attracted as much attention as the Material Girl did in '84.

#6: “Rumours” (1977)
Fleetwood Mac

One of the most commercially successful records of all time, this album has shifted over 40 million copies worldwide. Which isn’t half bad when you consider how emotionally fraught Fleetwood Mac were when making it. The personal relationships of all band members were under significant pressure at the time of recording, with an on/off split between Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks receiving particular press attention. But the group managed a near-perfect production regardless. You can go any way, and you’ll never find an album to match it.

#5: “A Night at the Opera” (1975)
Queen

Considered by many as the greatest Queen album (which is high praise in itself!), “A Night at the Opera” was also, at the time of its release, the most expensive record ever made. “Bohemian Rhapsody” is easily the fanciest feather in this particular cap, but as great as “Rhapsody” is, there’s more than one hit here. “Love of My Life” was lauded upon release while “You’re My Best Friend” is an undisputed classic in pop song-writing. In all, it’s an epic experiment in music, the like of which only Queen could conduct.

#4: “Thriller” (1982)
Michael Jackson

The best-selling pop record of all time, “Thriller” has sold over 60 million copies worldwide. “Billie Jean”, “Beat It” and the title track itself all served as the major singles from the album, and each earned unprecedented popularity in part because of Michael Jackson’s pioneering use of the music video. The parent album and title track's epic video are both revered to this day while even the LP's cover is a cultural touchstone. When you consider that Jackson also has the brilliance of the “Bad” album listed on his discography, there's no questioning MJ really was the King of Pop.

#3: “Revolver” (1966)
The Beatles

Arguably the most influential pop act ever, each and every Beatles album carries weight and importance. “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” very nearly stole third place, but we’ve gone for the Fab Four’s seventh studio effort, “Revolver”. A marked turning point in the group’s history, “Revolver” signified the start of a ‘psychedelic period’, and a massive reimagining of the Beatles’ sound. “Revolver” rethought what pop music could be - simple hooks and catchy beats were out, pioneering production techniques and psychological, mysterious lyrics were in. This was Beatlemania, mark two.

#2: “Pet Sounds” (1966)
The Beach Boys

Possibly the most progressive pop record ever made, “Pet Sounds” significantly helped to propel pop and rock music into an age of experimentation. So called because of the eclectic ensemble of instruments which feature on the record (including bicycle bells, dog whistles and harpsichords), “Pet Sounds” is a Beach Boys album, but a Brian Wilson brainchild. By now retired from touring, Wilson kept himself busy by being a certified musical genius and crafting untouchable classics such as 'God Only Knows', 'Wouldn't it Be Nice', and 'Caroline, No'.


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


- “Falling into You” (1996)
Celine Dion

- “Whitney Houston” (1985)
Whitney Houston

- “Mariah Carey” (1990)
Mariah Carey

- “The Fame” (2008)
Lady Gaga

- “Come On Over” (1997)
Shania Twain

#1: “Elvis Presley” (1956)
Elvis Presley

The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll’s debut album broke ground, broke ice, and broke convention. We’ve seen how other records transformed popular music, but Elvis Presley’s self-titled opener more or less made popular music as we know it today. When Elvis moved his hips, we blushed; when he opened his mouth, we screamed. He had us all in hysterics before he’d even played a note. And he had us all hunting through the mall for a certain shade of suede. It wasn't country, it wasn't blues, and it certainly wasn't gospel but it was something. With this record, he started the rock music whirlwind, and we’re all still riding it.

Do you agree with our list? Which album did we overlook? For more catchy top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com
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