Top 10 Greatest Years for Music

Music transports us to different eras, stirs up our emotions, and provides the soundtrack to some of our lives' biggest moments. But let's be real, some years were way more legendary than others when it comes to music. We're talking instant classics, genre-defining albums, and the birth of whole new sounds.

What are the greatest years for music? Did a certain decade produce a string of unforgettable hits? Did a revolutionary year spawn a movement that changed everything?
The Top Ten
1 1969 In 1969, humanity achieved a monumental milestone as NASA's Apollo 11 mission successfully landed the first humans, Neil Armstrong and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin, on the Moon. The Woodstock Festival, a symbol of the counterculture movement, brought together hundreds of thousands of people for a celebration of music and peace. This year also marked the debut of the Internet's precursor, ARPANET, which laid... read more

The 60s basically had all the good stuff, like garage rock, psychedelia, the British Invasion, and so on. But what about those instrumental tracks, the more forgotten parts of 60s music? This was basically the golden age of instrumental tracks, coming from greats such as Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass Band, Floyd Cramer, Mason Williams, Paul Mauriat, and more. Piano and guitar instrumentals sort of died out in 1969, though. But anyway, this was the ending to a magical decade, with another, the 70s, coming up.

Man, the 60s were the best. The Beatles, Elvis Presley, Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones, CCR, Led Zeppelin, The Doors, The Monkees, Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye, Bob Dylan, Diana Ross, James Brown, Neil Diamond, Johnny Cash, Tom Jones, Stevie Wonder, The Who, The Beach Boys, and so much more. I always hear everyone say that 80s music is the best. Well, they're wrong! 80s music does not compare to the wonderful tunes of the 60s!

2 1967

Easily the greatest year of all time for music. You had The Doors, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix Experience, The Who, Led Zeppelin, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Pink Floyd, Mothers Of Invention, Cream, The Rolling Stones, The Beach Boys, Yardbirds, Jefferson Airplane, and many other incredible artists and bands coming up with amazing magical psychedelic and experimental avant-garde records. It basically was the pinnacle of music, since most of the genres you see nowadays were influenced by the genius of the musicians in that era.

1967 was definitely the best year! Absolutely amazing albums were released this year: The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn by Pink Floyd, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band by The Beatles, Surrealistic Pillow, The Doors (self-titled), Strange Days, The Velvet Underground And Nico, Are You Experienced?, The Magical Mystery Tour, and more. A spectacular year!

3 1984 The year 1984 holds a prominent place in literature due to George Orwell's dystopian novel of the same name. Apple Computer introduced the Macintosh, a revolutionary personal computer with a graphical user interface. The Los Angeles Summer Olympics showcased sporting excellence and saw the emergence of gymnast Mary Lou Retton as a household name.

Some critics and experts claim that this is the best year for public music. It's hard to disagree with them. This is the golden year of the golden decade, the cream of the cream. Just look at the charts.

The King of Pop, the Prince of Funk, L.A. rock, Euro synth, punk, metal, hip hop, etc. This year was explosive!

Way better than music post-1999. Had such a great sound with bands like Ultravox, Depeche Mode, and Simple Minds. It just edges 1981 in my opinion.

4 1991

There are so many reasons why this is the best year and why it deserves to be in the top ten. Pearl Jam's Ten, Red Hot Chili Peppers' Blood Sugar Sex Magik catapulted their popularity, and it even came out on the same day as Nirvana's Nevermind. Among all other years, this is the best. The fact that this isn't number one, alongside U2, is driving me to a point where I am losing my religion, not to mention the queen, Michael Jackson, and "(Everything I Do) I Do It for You." Truly the best year ever, and the Grammys chose a horrible song to win record of the year when you look at these songs.

Really important year for rock as the music scene drifted away from hair metal and into grunge and alternative. This year is the major turning point and established the rest of the '90s taste in music. Nevermind, Blood Sugar Sex Magik, what more do I need to say?

Two albums that brought grunge to its worldwide fame (Nevermind, Ten) and one that somehow went under most people's radars (Badmotorfinger).

An album that defined the non-grunge side of 90s alternative rock (Blood Sugar Sex Magik).

Two albums that, even though by alt rock bands that had been successful in the 80s, still managed to take part in defining 90s music (Achtung Baby, Out of Time).

The album that, to this very day, still stands as the ultimate starting point for anyone who wants to get into metal (The Black Album).

An album that can be credited with creating progressive death metal (Human).

An album that successfully fused alternative rock with folk rock (Levelling the Land).

Some of the finest works of the underground scene (Spiderland, Green Mind, Trompe le Monde, Loveless).

One of the quintessential Madchester albums (Screamadelica) and one that could serve as a stepping stone between Madchester and Britpop (Leisure).

And some of the "ending" albums of 80s music (Innuendo, Use Your Illusion I & II, Dangerous).

5 1971

It was the first year the 70s started making its presence, and it's clear to see why. Michael Jackson started planning his own solo career after years with the Jackson 5 (even though they still performed together as The Jacksons throughout the 70s), the Beatles started releasing hits after they broke up, such as John Lennon's "Imagine" and Paul McCartney's "Uncle Albert & Admiral Halsey," a weird, but enjoyable song similar to Yellow Submarine. And it was the last year The Doors were together, because their lead singer, Jim Morrison, died, but they did put out "Riders On The Storm," an infectious banger. Personally, I think that "Never Ending Song Of Love" by Delaney and Bonnie is my jam from 1971. It's just so catchy and toe-tapping and makes you forget those rough times ever happened.

Jethro Tull became a well-known prog rock band with their album Aqualung, although they were overshadowed by bands such as Rush and Genesis. Led Zeppelin released their fourth self-titled album, and Black Sabbath continued building the foundation of heavy metal with Master of Reality. John Lennon's Imagine was released, adding to the year's iconic music.

Genesis released The Musical Box and Return of the Giant Hogweed, two prog rock classics, and Yes added to the year's legacy with Roundabout. The Who became legends with their biggest album, featuring songs like Won't Get Fooled Again. This year stands out as truly the best year for music, as two of the three greatest songs of all time, according to most people, were released this year.

6 1986

1986 was pretty good. We got major breakout acts like Whitney Houston, Janet Jackson, and both rock and country were pretty good as well. But that didn't stop soft rock from invading the charts. Especially Peter Cetera's first solo single, "Glory Of Love". Why did they put this crap in Karate Kid II?! I think that's the reason why the second Karate Kid movie is less remembered than the first one. If you listen to this to motivate you to fight, you'd probably get your ass beat.

Such a great year, Puppets, Peace Sells, Reign in Blood, awesomeness, just completely awesome.

The 80s was, without a doubt, the greatest decade for Thrash Metal, ever.

7 1994

Grunge was coming to a close, and alternative rock was becoming mainstream. Many influential bands like Weezer, Oasis, and Green Day made their debut this year. 1994 was a very important year for music.

Weezer's debut, Sunny Day Real Estate's Diary, Nas' Illmatic, which is possibly the greatest hip-hop album ever released, etc. This was definitely an incredible year for music.

Some 'brill tunes' out then like 'Return To Innocence' by Enigma for instance...

8 1983 1983 was a common year starting on Saturday of the Gregorian calendar, the 1983rd year of the Common Era and Anno Domini designations.

1982 was just the beginning of classic 80s music, yet 70s trends still lingered. However, 1983 marked a turning point, shedding those trends to become one of the greatest years in music history. Synthpop and progressive rock became the highlights of the year. Artists like Michael Jackson, Men At Work, Hall & Oates, Def Leppard, Toto, and Eurythmics dominated the scene, offering a diverse and rich musical landscape.

However, like any other year, there was a ton of bad stuff. Take "Never Gonna Let You Go" by Sergio Mendes. While being very complex for its time, it is massively flawed, especially the godawful synth solo. And then there's "Mickey" by Toni Basil. It's extremely annoying, yet catchy at the same time. So, yeah. 1983 was a great year for music with tons of flaws.

I'm not hung up on nostalgia. I wouldn't say previous decades in general had better music, but I have to admit 1983 did sound like a pretty good year.

9 1975

Kansas released two of their best albums that year, Song For America and Masque. Jethro Tull also had Minstrel in the Gallery, and Iron Maiden was formed this year. - DarkenedBrutality (Obviously since no other user would likely mention Kansas)

And Springsteen's Born to Run and Dylan's Blood on the Tracks. Arguably the two best albums from these icons.

Vote this year higher! It had Bohemian Rhapsody!

10 1970 1970 saw the first celebration of Earth Day, raising awareness about environmental conservation and sustainability. The Beatles officially disbanded, marking the end of an era in music history. The Apollo 13 mission faced a crisis but ultimately returned safely to Earth, demonstrating NASA's expertise in managing space challenges.
The Contenders
11 1982 In 1982, the Falklands War between the United Kingdom and Argentina highlighted geopolitical tensions. The debut of the Commodore 64 computer marked a significant milestone in home computing. The Michael Jackson album "Thriller" achieved unprecedented success, becoming one of the best-selling albums of all time.

The music from this year that was not on the Pop 100 is really good. There was good quality music being made that was not on the charts, which was great and far better than the popular stuff. From many genres - rock, alternative, funk/boogie, R&B - there were standout examples. "Combat Rock" by The Clash, for example, was released in the spring of '82, and those of us who were into new things caught on quick. But for most, it did not catch on until late '82 to '83. Albums such as "Rio" by Duran Duran, released in May, and "Shabooh Shoobah" by INXS, released in October, also follow that pattern. It was a year for both change and innovation that has really influenced music afterward.

There was so much going on under the radar with funk, heavy metal, hip hop's beginnings, and rock that most people do not know. Search for some funk/boogie, alternative music away from the charts that year, and you will think very differently about this year. "All Fall Down" by The Sounds, "Songs of the Free" by Gang of Four, "The Party's Over" by Talk Talk, and "Avalon" by Roxy Music are just some gems from the rock genre worth a listen. Artists like Stone, Peech Boys from the funk genres are great. Not to mention what would happen to music when Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five released "The Message" and Afrika Bambaataa & The Soul Sonic Force released "Planet Rock".

Yes, "Thriller" was released, but I think there was more going on this year than that, and it goes so unnoticed and dismissed.

12 1973 The year 1973 was marked by significant global and cultural events. In the United States, the Watergate scandal reached a critical point, leading to investigations that would eventually culminate in President Richard Nixon's resignation the following year. The Vietnam War officially ended for the U.S. with the signing of the Paris Peace Accords. Globally, the Yom Kippur War broke out in the Middle... read more

American Pie, Let's Stay Together, Rocket Man, Take It Easy, Stairway to Heaven, First Time Ever I Saw Your Face, A Horse with No Name, Morning Has Broken, Without You, Heart of Gold, Everything I Own, Vincent, Song Sung Blue, to name a few. Timeless tunes.

This should be top 3. Selling England, Dark Side of the Moon, Larks Tongues in Aspic, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, Houses of the Holy, A Passion Play, Brain Salad Surgery, Pronounced Lynyrd Skynyrd, Aerosmith, Queen, Quadrophenia, Tres Hombres. I mean, sure it doesn't have The Beatles, but come on, this by far the best year for music.

Awesome year for music! The Dark Side of the Moon, Selling England by the Pound, and Larks' Tongues in Aspic were released this year.

13 1997

This was an excellent year for music. Harvey Danger released Flagpole Sitta, Green Day released their Nimrod album, Sugar Ray released Floored (besides Fly, there were actually some amazing Nu metal songs on there), and The Offspring released Ixnay on the Hombre. This year is one you can say a lot about in music terms.

How is this year not top?

The best album of the 1990s (OK Computer) was released this year!

Radiohead, Elliott Smith, Spiritualized, Bjork, Modest Mouse. This should be seriously higher.

14 1987 The Next Generation" television series premiered, carrying on the legacy of the original franchise. The Montreal Protocol was adopted to address ozone layer depletion, showcasing international cooperation on environmental issues.

Joshua Tree by U2, Bad by Michael Jackson, Slippery When Wet by Bon Jovi, overall, a great year.

15 1964

The Beatles explode in America and the world.

The British Invasion truly invaded in 1964.

This year was great.

16 2001 2001 (MMI) was a common year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar, the 2001st year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 1st year of the 3rd millennium and the 21st century, and the 2nd year of the 2000s decade.

The Birth of Gorillaz, what more can I say?

And the best alternative album called Origin of Symmetry was born.

17 1976 The United States celebrated its bicentennial in 1976, marking 200 years since the Declaration of Independence. The Summer Olympics were held in Montreal, Canada, featuring memorable moments like Nadia Com─âneci's perfect gymnastics score. The Viking 1 spacecraft successfully landed on Mars, providing valuable insights into the Red Planet.

Todd In The Shadows was right. 1976 was a great year for music. Apart from blunders like Afternoon Delight, If You Leave Me Now, Disco Duck (Seriously, screw this song), and Convoy, this is a year that shines the best in music.

If you're talking legendary music, this is my favourite year!

A standout year for amazing bands including Lynyrd Skynyrd's One More for the Road.

18 1966

I vote 1966. It's the year new music was born after the fade-out of rock and roll and the end of the slow 50's music. Paint It Black, Summer in the City, Jimi Hendrix making his legendary works, etc. This is the conception year of the Summer of Love, Woodstock, the starting sign of the best decade in pop music of the 20th century, leading to Bohemian Rhapsody. It all started here. This is THE YEAR!

In rock history, 1966 was the pinnacle. It had the best albums by the greatest artists, albums such as Pet Sounds, Revolver, and Blonde on Blonde. And, there was a band on every other block in neighborhoods across the USA - thousands of bands were making recordings. The most exciting time!

Why is this so low? With Pet Sounds, Revolver, Parsley Sage Rosemary and Thyme, and Blonde on Blonde, the game-changer that was Good Vibrations, and The Beatles ceasing to tour to focus on studio recordings, this deserves to be in the top 3.

19 1985

Careless Whisper (George Michael), Don't You Forget About Me (Simple Minds), We Are the World (USA for Africa), Everybody Wants to Rule the World (Tears for Fears), I Want to Know What Love Is (Foreigner), several hits from Madonna, Easy Lover (Phil Collins and Philip Bailey), several hits from Hall & Oates, Bryan Adams, Bruce Springsteen... Just look up all the songs from this year.

Spawned so many 80's classics like Everybody Wants to Rule the World and Careless Whisper.

20 1999

Definitely was a big year for TV, as Family Guy and SpongeBob started that year. It also was when music really started to become "modern", which I mean genres merge, pop becomes more popular than rock, many modern musicians start to merge, and more electronics are used and eventually replace instruments, which is either good or bad depending on your opinion. I do definitely hear a difference between the early and late 90s.

This year is when Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera were introduced. They had big hits like "...Baby One More Time" and "Genie In A Bottle". If it weren't for this year, Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera would not even exist. Jennifer Lopez's music career was also introduced. I think she had a big hit with her song "Love Don't Cost A Thing". Besides, she wasn't even "J.Lo" yet. I think this is the best year for music evolution.

How is this so low? It may not have been a great year for music (with the exception of Californication by RHCP), but multiple fantastic bands and singers released their first public albums and EPs that year, letting it be known that they would be a force to be reckoned with. 1999 gave birth to them.

21 1992

Lots of 'Fab Tunes' were out then like 'Please Don't Go - K.W.S' and others. Also, the year that 'Prodigy' became very 'Big' really quickly...

22 1995

Michael Jackson's HIStory album was released, which became the best-selling multiple disc album of all time. Songs like Scream, They Don't Really Care About Us.

Plus, a lot more songs and albums were released. Pop

The Smashing Pumpkins, Hum, and Filter's debut album all got released that year. Enough said.

Queen's Made in Heaven was released, as was Green Day's Insomniac. Enough said.

23 1977 1977 was a year of cultural significance with the release of the groundbreaking film "Star Wars," which sparked a global phenomenon and reshaped the science fiction genre. New York City's iconic Studio 54 nightclub became synonymous with disco culture and celebrity glamour. Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 were launched by NASA, embarking on a journey to explore the outer planets and beyond.

I think 1975, 1976, and 1977 were the years that defined the 70s for me. Don't get me wrong, 1977 is a weaker year compared to the likes of 1976, but the music is definitely what holds it up. Let's see... Oh, of course, we had Fleetwood Mac's magnum opus, Rumors. Songs like "Dreams", "Go Your Own Way", and "Don't Stop" made the charts that year. We even had the Star Wars theme of all songs on the charts, as well. Don't forget other albums such as I, Robot by The Alan Parsons Project, Out of the Blue by Electric Light Orchestra, and Animals by Pink Floyd. The music on the charts may be scattered in 1977, but at least they still had some great albums.

Steely Dan's Aja, Billy Joel's The Stranger, Fleetwood Mac's Rumours, Pink Floyd's Animals. Just these four alone make for a monumental year.

Marquee Moon - Television. Big time and highly influential album that didn't get the sales in the U.S. that it deserved.

24 2010 2010 was a common year starting on Friday of the Gregorian calendar, the 2010th year based on Anno Domini/Common Era designations. It is the 10th year of the 3rd millennium and the 21st century, and the 1st year of the 2010s decade.

Super Bass by Nicki Minaj was an all-time greatest rap/pop hit by any female rapper who ever lived.

Danger Days by My Chemical Romance came out in 2010.

Most catchy songs of the year, after 2012 songs started turning out to be crap.

25 1965

Check out the UK number ones list for this year, and tell me how good they were. I'd say they were absolutely BRILLIANT!

Examples: King of the Road, Mr Tambourine Man, (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction, We Can Work It Out.

A Love Supreme or A Year Supreme?

This year brought the real important changes in popular music for the next years: The Beatles, Bob Dylan, The Who, The Byrds, Rolling Stones, and more...

Two words: Rubber Soul.

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