Spin 25

Spin celebrating our 25th anniversary FROM 1985 - 2010

Complete Coverage

125 Best Albums of the Past 25 Years

SPIN 25

SPIN's editors rank the most influential releases since the magazine's beginning in 1985.



125 Moby, Play

1999 The bald vegan scored big with this mash-up of gospel-style vocals and electronic beats, inventing sorrowful anthems ("Oh lordy, trouble so hard") that you could still dance to. SPIN put Moby on its June 2000 cover and explored his transition from hated techno "sell-out" to newfound A-lister and MTV staple. The magazine's 1999 review of Play awarded 9 out of 10 stars for the way Moby digs through musical history's dusty archives: "He takes a busload of sub-base-obsessed DJs down to the segregated South's front porch, reintroducing them to the palpable, aching roots of today's fussy breakbeat science."
LISTEN Moby, "Play"

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124 Prince Paul, A Prince Among Thieves

1999 Producer and performer Prince Paul was part of '80s New York rap group Stetsasonic and made De La Soul before dropping this "satirical rap masterpiece." (Before year 1999 was up he'd also hit back with a new, SPIN-approved project, Handsome Boy Modeling School.) "Pioneering rap producer Prince Paul conceived his thug-life satire as a movie," the magazine wrote in January 2000, "and ended up directing a pictureless epic with an all-star cast that elevates the hip-hop skit to operatic glories."
LISTEN Prince Paul, A Prince Among Thieves

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123 The Hives, Veni Vidi Vicious

2002 The Hives shared a bespoke fashion sense and garage rock spirit with the Strokes, but these Swedes weren't just riding hipster coattails. "We wanted to sound like a band playing in a room," singer Pelle Almqvist told SPIN in 2004 -- evidently a very loud band freaking out in a very small room. So much press on the band focused on their look -- as the magazine noted in 2002, "If a member wants to get a haircut, the group has to hold a meeting" -- but the Hives were the whole package, with sick licks, hooks, and stage aerobics ripped from the heady '60s and '70s.
LISTEN The Hives, Veni Vidi Vicious

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122 LCD Soundsystem, Sound of Silver

2007 James Murphy gave New York and beyond its nightlife soundtrack of the year. "Of all the current dance-rock acts," SPIN wrote in 2007, "LCD Soundsystem generates grooves that are the most simultaneously disco and punk," with a dash of Bowie for good measure. The magazine named standout track "All My Friends" a Best Song of 2007 for the way it "nodd[ed] elegantly to Steve Reich and New Order" as it describes "what it feels like to grow old with only your bloodless good taste to keep you company."
LISTEN LCD Soundsystem, Sound of Silver

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121 Queens of the Stone Age, Rated R

2000 Josh Homme brought the drone of the desert to his band's "stoner rock," mainstreaming the steamroller sound he'd pioneered in Kyuss. Suddenly, heavy was cool again, not merely the province of Satan-worshipping headbangers and the girls who love them. "These hair-swingers realized that plodding beats, downer lyrics, and brain-bludgeoning repetition become transcendent under the influence of a few bong hits," SPIN said in 2000, referring to the bands that were copping the Queens' style. The band excelled at digging up "an endless locked groove suitable for both head-banging and mind-expanding."
LISTEN Queens of the Stone Age, Rated R

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120 Lil Wayne, Tha Carter III

2008 This blitz of cough syrup-slurping wordplay and inspired nonsense blew SPIN away in 2008 -- the magazine couldn't settle on a rating for its review, so it simply awarded it a "%!$#*&." "Lil Wayne is the purest product of the most transformative, chaos-inducing man-made disasters of the 21st century," Charles Aaron wrote. "New Orleans, hip-hop, and the Internet." Wayne came across as pure enigma, a raspy-voiced rebel with legal troubles, copious mixtapes, and facial tats. "Never has such a gifted MC been more motivated and distracted, piercing and random, clear-eyed and stoned into total bewildering oblivion. Who can't relate?"
LISTEN Lil Wayne, Tha Carter III

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119 Green Day, American Idiot

2004 The punks that once sang about the joys of masturbation decided to get serious in Dubya's America. "It's about the confusion of where we're at right now," Billie Joe Armstrong told SPIN in a November 2004 cover story. "My education was punk rock -- what the Dead Kennedys said, what Operation Ivy said. It was attacking America, but it was American at the same time." The album took on an unexpected form. "It started out as a joke," Armstrong said in an earlier Q&A. "All of a sudden it started taking on the characteristics of a rock opera." And -- how American can a punk-rocker get? -- it's even ended up on Broadway.
LISTEN Green Day, American Idiot

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118 Yeah Yeah Yeahs, It's Blitz!

2009 A band that started as a caterwauling, in-your-face burst of punk energy completed their transformation into something else entirely: a synth-heavy, dance-ready trio fronted by a refurbished Karen O. Comparing the album to both New Order and the Stones, SPIN crowned It's Blitz! "the alternative pop album of the decade -- one that imbues the Killers' Hot Fuss and MGMT's Oracular Spectacular with a remarkable emotional depth and finesse." The band's March 2009 cover story compared Karen O to both Cyndi Lauper and PJ Harvey -- and outed her as a long-ago Deadhead.
LISTEN Yeah Yeah Yeahs, It's Blitz!

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117 The Flaming Lips, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots

2002 Oklahoma oddball Wayne Coyne may or may not have a messiah complex, but there's certainly a cult of personality around the Flaming Lips ringleader. "He thinks of something, and it becomes real," one of his bandmates told SPIN in 2002. "Who knows what he could have been 300 years ago? He could have been a Napoleon or the guy in charge of building the pyramids." Instead, in the humdrum 21st century, Coyne's stuck making brilliantly whacked-out rock albums that sound pretty while asking disturbing questions: "Do you realize that everyone you know someday will die?"
LISTEN The Flaming Lips, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots

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116 Against Me!, New Wave

2007 Fronted by a dedicated "folk-punk rabble-rouser in the frayed-and-furious tradition of Joe Strummer, Billy Bragg, and Ted Leo," this band jumped to a major label with an album produced by Butch Vig. "Where the band's previous studio albums crackled with scrappy DIY brio," SPIN wrote in 2008, "New Wave stomps like big-budget radio rock, all swarming guitars and gang-vocal thrust." Could antiestablishment vitriol survive a slick studio polish? Against Me! answers with an affirmative "hell yes" -- and if you listen hard enough you can almost hear the kids in the pit screaming along to the chorus.
LISTEN Against Me!, New Wave

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106 Comments

Click here to comment
Posted By Anonymous

04.25.10 10:39 AM

Where's Pink Floyd's "Division Bell"?

Posted By Anonymous

04.25.10 9:54 AM

WTF?????????

Posted By Deiderique(Dee)Presser

04.25.10 6:03 AM

Have you people never played Alice In Chains' Dirt album which yielded no less than 6 awesome singles: Them Bones; Down In A Hole; Dam That River; Rooster; Angry Chair; and the masterpiece Would?? Shame on you!
You pat Soundgarden on the head and give them a treat for getting one song played? YOU SUCK! May your bare foot find a deuce fresh out your dog's ass.

And while I'm on an Alice In Chains rant I may as well mention that you forgot their classic EP Jar Of Flies--which incidentally entered the Billboard top 100 Albums at #1, being the first EP in history to achieve that honor, and the FOUR subsequent singles that came out of that EP: I Stay Away; Don't Follow; Whale and Wasp; and the #1 single--No Excuses!

Someone dropped the ball, THIS WILL NOT DO! I want names!

Posted By Anonymous

04.25.10 5:47 AM

you'd pick John Mayer over Sufjan Stevens? Not really into male songwriters in general but I'd have like to have seen something by Billy Bragg

Posted By Dr. Nam

04.25.10 5:12 AM

Where is "The Prodigy", mother****ers?

Posted By Anonymous

04.25.10 4:17 AM

While I am thrilled to see U2's "Achtung Baby" in the number one position, many of the other rankings surprised me. "Joshua Tree" only at 62? Some other albums and artists I would have included would be: "Kick" by INXS, The Killers, Tracy Chapman, Springsteen, "Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix" by Phoenix, and "Continuum" by John Mayer.

Posted By Vandirty

04.25.10 1:57 AM

Seriously U2 !! I cant believe this is #1. I really hate U2.

Posted By Mirai

04.25.10 1:14 AM

I say OK Computer is overrated, but that doesn't take away the fact that it's absolutely brilliant.

Posted By t-dove88

04.24.10 10:33 PM

SPIN got it right. This album came out in '91, and still sounds waay ahead of its time today. Their darkest, most personal album. Come on now love, don't you look back!! Who's gonna taste your saltwater kisses, who's gonna take the place of me? ΤΕΛΟΣ

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04.24.10 9:18 PM

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Posted By tonywellington

04.24.10 8:55 PM

Great to see REM get there twice especially Fables of the Reconstruction (an underrated gem). No Kid A and how Neutral Milk Hotel is highly suspect though. They should be top 10 let alone not make it at all. There are a lot of great albums there, I am just stunned at the absence of two.

Posted By Anonymous

04.24.10 5:01 PM

brilliant album, truly deserving of the position, though still not my favorite U2 album.

Posted By Anonymous

04.24.10 3:51 PM

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Posted By Anonymous

04.24.10 2:42 PM

No Verve? Are you kidding me? Every single one of their four albums is a masterpiece. A Storm In Heaven, A Northern Soul, Urban Hymns and Forth. And you couldn't make room for one of them? I've lost my faith in you, Spin Magazine.

Posted By Anonymous

04.24.10 2:35 PM

omg so mean but equally true and very funny

Posted By shanel

04.24.10 2:31 PM

good list but you didn't mention Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, Room on Fire, Songs For the Deaf,Californication,BloodSexSugarMagik, Make Yourself and Vida La Vida.

Posted By Anonymous

04.24.10 2:20 PM

where's blood sex sugar magik?

Posted By Anonymous

04.24.10 2:19 PM

Damn Mellon Collie didn't even make the list?!

Posted By Anonymous

04.24.10 2:12 PM

The problem with lists like this is they're released without any lag time. Albums from the 00's are less favoured on them because their impact has yet to fully be felt. Albums from '05 on, especially haven't been around long enough to measure up against albums like Achtung Baby and Nevermind in terms of influence. That being said, I don't think this list is bad. But it's not great either. Kid A should be in the top 20, for sure. It's definitely overrated, but it's still an amazing album that was way ahead of its time. In the Aeroplane Over the Sea and The Moon and Antarctica should be on here somewhere, too. Also, The Bends deserves its spot, as there would be no Coldplay (probably one of the biggest bands of the 00s) without it.

If we're talking about overall influence, Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not definitely deserves a spot. Arctic Monkeys were probably the first real internet band to really come to prominence and the change in the way music has been marketed since is huge. It's also a very good album in its own right.

Also,
Songs for the Deaf > Rated R

Posted By Anonymous

04.24.10 1:33 PM

I love that Ritual de lo Habitual is on here, but in terms of influential/better, I think that Nothings Shocking should be here instead. While Habitual was more hit friendly, Nothings Shocking really did establish a new sound to the L.A./California scene, amongst the glam metal being played in the 80's. It did also pave the way for BSSM, and made the Chillis more mainstream friendly.

Posted By Jules Worthless

04.24.10 1:08 PM

First of all. I love spin and have always prefered you to every musical publication out, including the NME. But let me start by saying that everytime your magazine has switched editors and writers, the top five is always sequenced different? The main problem with Achtung Baby at #1 is that an american publication as streetwise as yourself can't acknowledge the importance of the Happy mondays. Both Bummed and Thrills, pills and Bellyaches are considered masterpieces in every part of the world except the states. Achtung Baby would have never happened if Thrills and pills hadn't had come out a year earlier. Your faliure to acknowledge this seminal, throughly influential band leaves me baffled. I hate U2. But Achtung Baby is that good. "The Queen Is Dead" good or "Nevermind" good? I think i smell a rat. And is The Blueprint and Ready To Die really that much better than The Chronic? If The Chronic didn't happen, those records wouldn't have happened, cased closed. Props to giving The Strokes Is this It such a high rating, even though you ranked it 16 spots below System of a down's "toxicity" the year it came out (2001). You failed to realize that "Room On Fire" was better. But that's ok. So did every music publication. You failed to mention Modern Times and Love and Theft as thriving pieces modern music, which is unforgiveable, but hey. This is a magazine that featured Incubus on the cover of the issue that introduced The Strokes to America. Kanye on the list twice and you fail to mention The Libertines "Up the Bracket" (a perfect rock 'n'roll record) and The Streets "Original Pirate Material" is beyond me. No Death Cab "transatlanticism". Or perhaps the biggest list crime of them all, Weezer's "Pinkerton" is not included? Spin needs Sia Mitchell, Marc Spitz and Chuck klosterman fast. And that Dinosaur Jr. record isn't better than "Fever to tell", no matter how many Beavis And Butt-head reruns you watch! Moby belongs on no "greatest" list like Screamedelica, Violator, Liquid Swords and Kid A need to be. Can i get a witness?

Posted By Johnny Bacardi

04.24.10 12:27 PM

A Regular. It's "Here Comes A Regular", not THE Regular. Jesus.

Posted By Anonymous

04.24.10 10:49 AM

Ok Computer "overrated"? Hardly.
Still, U2's Achtung Baby is finally in it's right place.

Posted By Anonymous

04.24.10 10:10 AM

Where is Animal Collective's Feels? Radiohead's Kid A?

Why is U2 at #1?

Why do Muse fans actually think Muse is good?

Why do people still fetishize Nevermind?

Posted By Speech from Russia

04.24.10 9:54 AM

I don't know what about 25 years. But the best album of all over the times is the "Presence" by Led Zeppelin.

Posted By Pam, Austria

04.24.10 8:55 AM

"Achtung Baby" belongs to U2´s most daring masterpieces, so it´s great to see it on number 1 of this list. This album proves the band´s courage to explore new sonic possibilities and it reveals all the dimensions of U2´s artistic work: big energy, atmosphere, hand-made work and technology, sex appeal and deep emotion. It definitely means much more than just "sliding down the surface of things".

Posted By Marcus, Belfast

04.24.10 7:39 AM

It's about time 'Achtung Baby' got recognition like this. It's more innovatory and diverse than the 'Joshua Tree'. It truely shows a band in transition; it stands up to the test of time and it has been influential on a number of other excellent artists (Coldplay, Keane, 30 Seconds etc)

Posted By Anonymous

04.24.10 3:10 AM

Where's Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness?

Posted By who

04.24.10 2:57 AM

Best Albums of the Past 25 Years???????????????????
very bad
sorrowfully

Posted By Mirai

04.24.10 12:58 AM

This is very refreshing to see Achtung Baby at the top of one of these lists. It's an incredible album, but it's so often forgotten against overrated behemoths of the 90's like Nevermind and OK Computer. If it weren't for the cultural significance albums like these had, they wouldn't be remembered with half as much praise. OK Computer remains brilliant, Nevermind however is an incredibly overrated album as a whole, another pop rock album, just with more distortion.

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