Best Decades for Music After 1900

What is the best decade for music released in the 20th and 21 centuries?

The Top TenXW


Michael Jackson, Aerosmith, Madonna, Pink Floyd, Prince, Metallica, Iron Maiden, U2, AC/DC, Guns N' Roses, Bruce Springsteen, The Police, Van Halen, Run-DMC, Billy Joel, Whitney Huston, definitely Leppard, Bon Jovi, Queen, Motley Crue, Kiss, Poison, George Michael, The Rolling Stones

The 80s had it all. Whatever your favorite genre, you had artists who were making great music. The sounds created in this era truly stand the test of time as they are still fresh 30 years later. I remember as a kid in the 70s listening to my parents favorites of the 50s (great music too) but noticing how they seemed so dated at the time. I feel the songs of the 80s are beautifully melodic but with enough complexity to be appreciated even after countless technological advances since. No other decade of music is so varied while still capturing the essence of society's political, cultural and emotional tastes of the day. A great decade of music, and given the status of the industry today, may be the last great one for a while.

The 60s and 70s music was great. However the 80s was sterling and the last defining decade of great music. Kids and adults alike may not have grown up in that era like myself but love that kind of music as if they did. The 80s was also a time of hope and change and when you though you could accomplish anything. I don't think music since then has ever quite captured that similar emotion.

While the 80s had many great artists, it is important to take into account the amount of garbage they also came with. - GrimmShady

V84 Comments

" The 60s was the most innovative period of music that change the rest of the century. The Vietnam War was around along with civil rights movements and the music around the time truly represented the cultural ideas which helped unify our rebellious world. Even today the most iconic pioneers of music are all remembered from the 60s. Rap came from soul (James Brown), House originated from all the techniques bands did in the studios (Beatles, Who, Jimi Hendrix), and everyone knows The Rolling Stones contributed a whole lot to pop. There's no argument, the 70s and 80s were all continuations of the 60s. Finally, who could not forget the glorious beauty of psychedelia, our time has yet to bring that back."

1980's was alright but that was when MTV was founded and music began to become more commercialized... Jazz and Blues were very important and played a key role in shaping rock music but I have to go with the 1960's... Frankly I believe this era was the most creative with hippie culture and all... Simply awesome...

It appalls me that this decade is not ranked #1. The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Beach Boys, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, Kinks. The Beatles alone are better than entire eras of music not to mention the influence this era of music had on society. The 70s is just a continuation of this era. Yes everyone has their own preference and style of music but still there is more to 60s music than the music itself.

Just real music. Singers back then were actually talented and didn't need for their voices to be edited with computer. More people wrote their own songs. A fantastic time for music.

V59 Comments

Oh, number 4? No way. The 70's was the best, and it isn't close. Zeppelin, Floyd, Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, all did their best stuff during this era. In addition, you had the next tier of stuff, like Kansas, Wings, Jim Croce, Gordon Lightfoot, Queen, Steve Miller Band, STEVIE WONDER, The Who, and on and on and on. This music stands the test of time better than anything from the '80s for sure, and metal was born. Albums were projects that were meant to be enjoyed top to bottom, not just churned out for the sake of a dollar. Artists, not entertainers.

I would go '70's, '60's, 90's, then 80's.

Early 70s - A continuation of 60s psychedelia; Krautrock; birth of metal; birth of electronica; birth of ambient.

Mid/Late 70s - Progressive Rock lived and (mostly) died; birth of punk and new-wave; second-wave ska; reggae took off.

Most of all I love the attitude that many artists shared regarding the album as a complete work of art and NOT as a collection of potential singles. Album Artwork was at its peak in the 70s. Experimental and forward-thinking artists were actually able to achieve chart success!

I would LOVE to say that a period of time closer to today is better but I can't; truth is the music industry has deteriorated considerably. There are plenty of great bands today, but I look at my music collection and feel like I own more albums from this period of time than any other.

The best soul, pop, dance, folk, rock music was made between 1965 and 1985. Most of what's considered today classic rock comes from this period. And most classic bands produced their best material in the seventies, independently of their genre. Take any band, any genre, their best contribution to music comes from this period in time. The sixties created most of the innovation in pop music, but the quality and quantity of good bands from the seventies is really remarkable and undisputable.

Most of the mentioned bands in the 80's section are actually from the 70's. The 80's were good but a bit cheesy.

V56 Comments

I think that people are neglecting the fact that the massively influential indie scene that exploded in the 90s. Albums like ok computer, in the aeroplane over the sea, and entroducing were more than just great albums, they changed what music could be. The 90s was a generation sick of music staying stagnant and stale and because of that experimentation and the return of forgotten genres returned. The 80s was a horribly overrated period in music, filled with herds of extremely generic electronica dance musicians who have (thankfully) been forgotten, uninspired hair rockers who did not have a creative bone in their body, and quite possibly the worst of them all, Madonna, who would inspire bull musicians for decades to come.

This dissatisfaction with music (along with other cultural circumstances) is what inspired the angsty, anti-system philosophy fueling the musical era of the 90s and it also produced some of the greatest music ever. Sure corporatism was still extremely ...more

Absolutely, hands down, the 90's is the best decade in music. The rise of grunge, the development of hip hop, and the polishing of pop all cement this decade as the best in history. Perhaps it was the sheer volume of music released, due to the enhanced availability of recording, that allowed quality music to be distributed. Perhaps it was due to the ability to edit and mix music using digital means, allowing errors to be corrected. Perhaps it was due to the relative economic prosperity in the nineties creating an environment for people to imagine and develope their abilities. Whatever the case may be, the 90's is the best decade in music based on the breadth, depth, and innovation of all musical genres.

The 90s was the last decade of music where the artists actually wrote their own music and played their instruments. They inspired many people and there was many different genres of great musicians. I was born in the mid 90s, so I grew up listening to music in the 2000s. It wasn't until a few years ago I started listening to 90s music. I'm so glad I found it, I love the 90s music especially the grunge. I hate my generation of music. The music now days sucks. Also the 90s is the best cause of Nirvana, enough said.

The 1990's had bands such as nirvana, pantera and korn

V53 Comments

Brilliant decade would have to tie it with 60's but it had that great mix and all the music was genuine. It actually required a lot of talent to make it.

Ah, the '50s... The birth of rock 'n roll. I have tremendous respect for the rock singers like Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly (my all-time favorite singer) and Jerry Lee Lewis, but that wasn't the only music genre from this decade. There were singers like Pat Boone, Connie Francis, Bing Crosby... Plus, some really swell harmony groups (Drifters, Dion & the Belmonts, Coasters) too. Love it.

The time of drive-in movies, cruise-ins, chromed up slick cars, cruising the main street. Back when music was based on being a teenager, in love, or cars. Lyrics had a meaning that you could understand. The roots of rock n' roll. What a great decade!

Elvis is from this decade. - Metts

V9 Comments

Bands like "The Killers" and "Interpol" were fantastic. I also liked listening to "The Postal Service" which was a side project (or spin off) from the band "Death Cab For Cutie". Though the 2000s seemed to spook a lot of people in their 30s that enjoyed the sequential steps of the 70s, 80s, and 90s of both style & music. However even though I was in my 30s I rather enjoyed the 2000's in both style & music. I found the 2000's to be a refreshing change from the 1990s. I loved the 1980s but a lot of the 90s I actually hated. Not because it was too dark or grungy but I thought a lot of 90s music was "Corporate Generated" to seem or sound deep or dark. I like my music both Light & Dark, Happy & Sad, or if it's simply dark I like it to have more depth than just the cliche' screaming into a microphone because it is a stereotype of being deep or hurt. The 2000's had a lot of great music that was both spooky & enjoyable. Bands like "The ...more

Radiohead, the White Stripes, Animal Collective, Arcade Fire, Wilco, The Strokes, Kanye West, The Arctic Monkeys, Interpol, Fleet Foxes, LCD Soundsystem, Bon Iver, and Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Good stuff. At least there's more variety than the eighties. It's hard to rate this decade since despite the fact that there was so much great music, there was so much bad music, that it's hard to pick whether you liked it as a whole. Since it was so recent, we remember the bad stuff instead of like in the 60s and 70s. But if you read a top albums of the decade list for this decade, you will be impressed.

If you think about it, the Internet Boom gave everyone a chance. Sites like Bandcamp and YouTube have helped a lot of unknown artists and bands get recognised.

Also there were hundreds of more well-known bands that peaked in the '00s, like Radiohead, The White Stripes, Yo La Tengo, Grandaddy, you name it. Others were still better in the '90s, like Modest Mouse and Built to Spill, but still continued into the '00s with more great music. Many excellent new bands emerged in the '00s, like The Strokes, Interpol, Foals, Band of Horses, Fleet Foxes, Arcade Fire, Bon Iver, etc. Amazing time for music. Hate it how people when they do "90s vs 00s" comparisons, they compare Nirvana to One Direction. That's not fair. Actually make an effort to find the good bands if you have to. - uweuan

Radiohead did came out in the 90s be they were a lot better in the 2000s after the release of In Rainbows. Also my favorite band that formed in the 2000s is Kings of Leon. They did play some music in 1999-2002 and they become successful after 2003 when they made their first album Youth and Young Man-hood. Some of the songs were written in 1999. I would call Kings of Leon a 2000s rock band instead because they didn't make any albums in 1999 by they did written some songs and played some concerts but it wasn't famous till 2003. - Metts

V12 Comments

Are you kidding me? One guy said there was no music? Holy crap is he ignorant to the time period. There was so many artists like listed and even more like Glenn Miller Kay Kyser Bob Crosby, Bings brother etc. And music took a lot more talent than it did today. No auto tune, and also people had to know how to read music as well as play the instrument AND do it all in coordination with the rest of the band. That's hard, but in my opinion it was worth it. The sheer passion and care to the music flows through it and all that effort makes a better more realistic sound than today's crap music. And even for the vocal parts, still were better. Music to boost moral for was coming out left and right during the Second World War.

Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Benny Goodman, Nat King Cole, Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, Bud Freeman

I don't care about this list but I'm crying when I see the 2010s above the 1940s... In the 1940s many great artists would rise, and be one of the greatest of all time, singers like Frank Sinatra.

Second worst. Apart from Louis Armstrong, there was almost no music.

V6 Comments

Terrible shallow, hollow, pre-fab music. Auto tuned voices and cliche' lyrics about sex make it soulless. Even songs that are supposed to be "deep" actually come off as "shallow" in the 2010s. From Country Music to Pop, from Rap to Tech it is empty. It's like someone took all the elements of good music to make a fake copy with no soul. From the singers voice, the lyrics, the music, the stylings music of the 2010s seems like an Easy Bake Oven version of music. Formulated & Cold, soulless and without a life-force. I'm someone who disliked the 90s and 2000's but compared this this vacuous mess of the 2010's the 1990s and 2000's have more soul and depth in its metaphorical pinky finger than the 2000s ever could. And any soul or depth after the 2010's is so negligible it's scary. It's like all the real artists died off a long time ago and computers are writing the music for todays soulless zombies. But I can't say that all of todays people are soulless because a lot of younger folks are ...more

For the most part, I don't think the 2010s are THAT bad for music but it certainly does not have the charm that the 50s - 80s have brought and established on. Between the 90s, 2000s, and 2010s, they haven't been the best but I have to say that the 2010s so far have been my least favorite in terms of music but I still like it more than the Pre-40s. There's a couple songs I like and everyone has their own choice but I don't know. Hopefully, I'll open up more to this 2010s music in the 2020s but honestly, I prefer the 2000s music a bit more but that's just my taste.

My favorite to least favorite.

1 - 1980s

( I Love the retro feel. The only decade where I think music has aged the best. It puts me in the mood to dance.)

2 - 1970s

( I love the smooth disco scenes of the era. Very nice songs. I almost consider it tied with the 80s.)

3 - 1960s

( The most important, beautiful and meaningful decade in music but I put it under the 70s and 80s ...more

Let's all go on the hate the new music bandwagon! But seriously, does this not sound familiar? Oh it's the exact same thing your grandparents did to your generation's music. I won't be the first to say that there has been horrible music this decade, but there has been some pretty good music as well. People are saying "It' doesn't bring anything new to music", but last time I checked electronic music wasn't very big until the early 2010's. I also here people saying there is too much autotune, but I think auto tune is far less recognisable now as it was in the 2000's. And lastly people say it is soulless and shallow, which I'd be the first to agree that Anaconda is soulless, but we can't really say that it's soulless when other decades can't really talk. Personally I don't think that Yellow Submarine, is a very deep, or Dancing Queen or ABC, but that's not the point. The point is there should not be a ranking of every decade of music. Music is very subjective and nearly everyone tends ...more

What you think of a decade's music is all in where you look. Sure the Pop music of today is terrible, but plenty of it was awful in other decades as well. Music is constantly evolving, changing, progressing. Other generations of music were great and crucial innovative, but we shouldn't just try and look back to recapture that sound. Forward is the only way, even if it references and holds onto what was great back then, true artistry is going to come from continued innovation. And there are plenty of artists that are doing that today. Jack White (and all his side projects), Twenty One Pilots, Bring Me the Horizon, Pierce the Veil, Muse, Front Bottoms (anyone? Well check them out).

V30 Comments

I would pick this decade, since I think it has one of the greatest selections of music. The 1940's comes extremely close, except it was a decline of the Big Bands by the mid-1940's. After that, I would pick the 1920's.

I really like that kind of music also since my one grandpa sang in a group. I like to play that kind of music on the piano also.

Jacqueline M. Roberts

American songbook is before rock. Greatest American composers Gershwin,cole porter, Irving Berlin, Rogers and Hart and many others dominated the first half of the 20th Century. They are the Mozarts of American Music.

V6 Comments

All the blues artist were around in this era.

This decade losing to the 1930's (Great Depression) proves that people know nothing about history.

The 1930's are the 1920's' ugly cousin.

I really like that kind of music because that's the music from when my grandparents were little kids. I like to play that kind of music on the piano.
Jacqueline M. Roberts

V1 Comment

The Contenders


Down by the Old Mill Stream, Beale Street Blues, and The Near Future are all great songs -

V2 Comments

Exiting new era new genres of music really evolved

There wasn't any recorded music before 1900 so... - SammySpore

V2 Comments
BAdd New Item

Recommended Lists

Related Lists

Best Decades Since 1900 to Live In Top Ten Best Decades for Music Top Ten Best Decades Since 1900 Top 10 Music Genres Best at Their Decades Top 10 Greatest Decades for Rock Music

List StatsUpdated 7 Dec 2016

2,000 votes
12 listings
6 years, 147 days old

Top Remixes (17)

1. 1960s
2. 1980s
3. 1970s
1. 1970s
2. 1980s
3. 1990s
1. 1980s
2. 1990s
3. 1970s

View All 17


Add Post

Error Reporting

See a factual error in these listings? Report it here.