Examples of canons – the key works in a cultural history, as chosen by critics and historians


·         Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s list of 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll

·         Rolling Stone magazine’s 2003 list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time

·         Rolling Stone magazine’s 2004 list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time

·         The NPR 100 (“The most important American musical works of the 20th century” selected in the early 2000s) (“NPR” = National Public Radio)

·         From History of Rock & Roll, Donald & David Megill, 2006

·         From Stuessy & Lipscomb, Rock and Roll: Its History and Stylistic Development, 6th ed.


Charts & best-seller lists


These are sort of the opposite of critically chosen canons (best-selling does not necessarily correspond to “best”!).

·         Current Billboard chart genres

·         Historical Billboard charts

·         The Wikipedia list of top-selling albums appears to be well maintained, although some of the references don’t quite correlate with what they supposedly support.  Consider this list if you are looking for ideas as you select your album for your final essay answer. 

Ranked by popular vote


This BBC list of top songs, chosen by popular vote in 2005, provides a British perspective.

DC Meckler

July 2009

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