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Upon receiving the news, Lauryn Hill told Apple Music: “This is my award, but it’s a rich, deep narrative, and involves so many people, and so much sacrifice, and so much time, and so much collective love.”

To celebrate, Apple Music’s Zane Lowe and Ebro Darden sat down with legendary record producer, writer, and performer Nile Rodgers and Grammy-nominated artist and producer Maggie Rogers to reflect on the list during a special roundtable broadcasting globally today on Apple Music. Watch the full roundtable at music.apple.com *live from 1pm BST.

Apple Music’s 100 Best Albums is a modern 21st-century ranking of the greatest records ever made, crafted by Apple Music’s team of experts alongside a select group of artists, songwriters, producers, and industry professionals. The list is an editorial statement, fully independent of any streaming numbers on Apple Music — a love letter to the records that have shaped the world music lovers live and listen in.

The full 100 albums can be found here: 100 Best

Explore the top 10 albums here: 

1. The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (1998), Lauryn Hill
Lauryn Hill’s debut — and only — solo studio album was a seismic event in 1998: a stunningly raw, profound look into the spiritual landscape not just of one of the era’s biggest stars, but of the era itself. She was, and remains, a once-in-a-generation talent whose inspiration and innovation can be heard through the decades. Artists exhaust long discographies hoping for a cohesive piece of work resonant enough to reshape culture and inscribe its creator into the pantheon; Lauryn Hill did it in one. 

2. Thriller (1982), Michael Jackson
There are few pop albums, or even works of art, that denote a wholesale shift in time and space the way Michael Jackson’s Thriller did in 1982. It did nothing less than define the modern pop blockbuster and redefine the scope and reach of music. Seven of its nine original cuts were top 10 singles, and it became one of the bestselling albums ever made. 

3. Abbey Road (1969), The Beatles
The Beatles’ Abbey Road is an ageless, unmatched collection of songs by a world-changing band at their creative peak. The band’s 11th and penultimate album sounds like nothing more or less than four extremely gifted humans playing one indelible song after another in the same room together.

4. Purple Rain (1984), Prince & The Revolution
With half its track list comprising top 10 singles, this soundtrack is what truly turned Prince Rogers Nelson into one of the most instantly recognisable and distinctive pop artists ever. Prince often drew comparisons to Jimi Hendrix for the way he mixed music that felt Black and white, sacred and profane. The reality is that he had no precedent then and no comparison now. 

5. Blonde (2016), Frank Ocean
Though Blonde packs 17 tracks into one quick hour, it’s a sprawling palette of ideas, a testament to the intelligence of flying one’s own artistic freak flag and trusting that audiences will meet them where they’re at. They did. And Ocean established himself as a generational artist uniquely suited to the complexities and convulsive changes of the second decade of the 21st century. 

6. Songs in the Key of Life (1976), Stevie Wonder
In 1974, Stevie Wonder was the most critically revered pop star in the world; he was also considering leaving the music industry altogether. So when Songs in the Key of Life was released two years later, demand was so high that it became, at the time, the fastest-selling album in history. The album, which runs nearly 90 minutes, is effortlessly melodic, broad in scope, and deeply personal. Sonically, culturally, and emotionally, Songs in the Key of Life is much more than a gigantic collection of songs — it forms an entire worldview.

7. good kid, m.A.A.d city (2012), Kendrick Lamar
Kendrick Lamar’s sophomore album good kid, m.A.A.d city is one of the defining hip-hop records of the 21st century. West Coast hip-hop elders like Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre anointed Lamar to carry on the legacy of gangsta rap, and the legacy of this album is a crucial example of American storytelling that established the future Pulitzer Prize winner as perhaps his generation’s most accomplished writer. 

8. Back to Black (2006), Amy Winehouse
Amy Winehouse’s presentation and otherworldly, timeless vocals make her music feel different — not so much an attempt to re-create the past as to honour the music she loved while still being true to the trash-talking, self-effacing millennial she was. The sound of Back to Black might appeal to retro-soul fans and jazz classicists, but the attitude is closer to rap. Yes, she was funny. But she wasn’t kidding. 

9. Nevermind (1991), Nirvana 
Nevermind and its opening salvo “Smells Like Teen Spirit” didn’t just mark an unlikely breakthrough for the Seattle trio, it upended popular culture in ways never before and never since. Punk became pop, grunge became global vernacular, industry walls broke into rubble, and lead vocalist Kurt Cobain was anointed the reluctant voice of a generation in need of catharsis — all seemingly overnight.

10. Lemonade (2016), Beyoncé
Beyoncé’s genre-obliterating blockbuster sixth album is furious, defiant, anguished, vulnerable, experimental, muscular, triumphant, humorous, and brave — a vivid personal statement, released without warning in a time of public scrutiny and private suffering. Every second of Lemonade deserves to be studied and celebrated.

Watch the full roundtable conversation with Zane Lowe, Ebro Darden, Nile Rodgers and Maggie Rogers at music.apple.com.

As an additional gift to music fans, Apple Music created 100 audio vignettes telling the story of each album and contextualising its significance and position on the list. Written by a team of music experts and edited by award-winning audio editors, these vignettes are sonic companions to Apple Music’s 100 Best Albums. Listen to the stories behind each of the albums and more on Apple Podcasts at apple.co/100BestRadio

Music lovers can also access 100 Best Albums special content across the Apple ecosystem on the App Store, Apple News, Apple Retail, apple.com, and more. Additionally, they can explore a 100 Best Albums dedicated space on Apple Books, which celebrates titles by and about artists from the list.

Quotes on the top 3 from the roundtable:

1. The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (1998), Lauryn Hill
Zane Lowe: "This album doesn’t just resonate with the people who were around when it came out and who hold it dear. It has not dated, not even a fraction. In fact, it feels more fresh and more relevant the more you listen to it… There are a lot of young artists hearing it, and it’s becoming part of their artistic DNA. It’s inspiring and influencing them… It’s timeless."

2. Thriller (1982), Michael Jackson
Zane Lowe: "Not only did it outsell everything in its opening year, it outsold everything in its second year. It changed the way people approached making music, releasing music, distributing, marketing music, and no one ever caught up to it. It set the bar so high."

Nile Rodgers: "When Michael dropped this record, to me, the world changed. It was a seismic shift. Having a Black artist do a music video on the level of “Thriller” just changed the world.

3. Abbey Road (1969), The Beatles

Nile Rodgers: "There’s something about the Beatles that’s always really magical to me. Believe it or not, the first song I ever actually learned to play on guitar was a Beatles song. I knew at that moment that I was going to be a guitar player. Prior to that, I played the clarinet."

Zane Lowe: "The amount of songs that have stayed with people as they’ve lived their lives to a point… played at anniversaries, weddings, funerals, fall in love to, broken up to. There are lots of songbooks that speak to many times in life. I think The Beatles have the songbook of life."

 
Apple Music 100 Best Albums - Full List 
  • 100: Body Talk - Robyn
  • 99: Hotel California - The Eagles
  • 98: ASTROWORLD - Travis Scott
  • 97: Rage Against The Machine - Rage Against The Machine
  • 96: Pure Heroine - Lorde
  • 95: Confessions - USHER
  • 94: Untrue - Burial
  • 93: A Seat at the Table - Solange
  • 92: Flower Boy - Tyler, The Creator
  • 91: Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1 - George Michael
  • 90: Back in Black - AC/DC
  • 89: The Fame Monster (Deluxe Edition) - Lady Gaga
  • 88: I Put a Spell on You - Nina Simone
  • 87: Blue Lines - Massive Attack
  • 86: My Life - Mary J Blige
  • 85: Golden Hour - Kacey Musgraves
  • 84: Doggystyle - Snoop Dogg
  • 83: Horses - Patti Smith
  • 82: Get Rich or Die Tryin’ - 50 Cent
  • 81: After the Gold Rush - Neil Young
  • 80: The Marshall Mathers LP - Eminem
  • 79: Norman F****** Rockwell! - Lana Del Rey
  • 78: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road - Elton John
  • 77: Like A Prayer - Madonna
  • 76: Un Verano Sin Ti - Bad Bunny
  • 75: Supa Dupa Fly - Missy Eliott
  • 74: Downward Spiral - Nine Inch Nails
  • 73: Aja - Steely Dan
  • 72: SOS - SZA
  • 71: Trans-Europe Express - Kraftwerk
  • 70: Straight Outta Compton - N.W.A
  • 69: Master of Puppets (Remastered) - Metallica
  • 68: Is this It - The Strokes
  • 67: Dummy - Portishead
  • 66: The Queen Is Dead - The Smiths
  • 65: 3 Feet High and Rising - De La Soul
  • 64: Baduizm - Erykah Badu
  • 63: Are You Experienced? - The Jimi Hendrix Experience
  • 62: All Eyez on Me - 2Pac
  • 61: Love Deluxe - Sade
  • 60: The Velvet Underground and Nico (45th Anniversary Edition) - Velvet Underground & Nico
  • 59: AM - Arctic Monkeys
  • 58: (What's The Story) Morning Glory - Oasis
  • 57: Voodoo - D’Angelo
  • 56: Disintegration (Remastered) - The Cure
  • 55: ANTI - Rihanna
  • 54: A Love Supreme - John Coltrane
  • 53: Exile on Main Street (2010 Remaster) - Rolling Stones
  • 52: Appetite for Destruction - Guns 'N Roses
  • 51: Sign O’The Times - Prince
  • 50. Hounds of Love (2018 Remaster) - Kate Bush
  • 49. The Joshua Tree - U2
  • 48. Paul’s Boutique - Beastie Boys
  • 47. Take Care (Deluxe Version) - Drake
  • 46. Exodus ((2013 Remaster) - Bob Marley & The Wailers
  • 45. Homogenic - Björk
  • 44. Innervisions - Stevie Wonder
  • 43. Remain in Light - Talking Heads
  • 42. Control - Janet Jackson
  • 41. Aquemini - Outkast
  • 40. I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You - Aretha Franklin
  • 39. Illmatic - Nas
  • 38. Tapestry - Carole King
  • 37. Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) [Expanded Edition] - Wu-Tang Clan
  • 36. BEYONCÉ - Beyoncé
  • 35. London Calling - The Clash 
  • 34. It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back - Public Enemy
  • 33. Kid A - Radiohead
  • 32. Ready to Die (The Remaster) - Notorious B.I.G.
  • 31. Jagged Little Pill (Remastered) - Alanis Morisette 
  • 30. WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO? - Billie Eilish
  • 29. The Low End Theory - A Tribe Called Quest
  • 28. The Dark Side of the Moon - Pink Floyd 
  • 27. Led Zeppelin II - Led Zeppelin
  • 26. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy - Kanye West
  • 25. Kind of Blue - Miles Davis 
  • 24. The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars (2012 Remaster) - David Bowie
  • 23. Discovery - Daft Punk 
  • 22. Born to Run - Bruce Springsteen
  • 21. Revolver - The Beatles
  • 20: Pet Sounds - The Beach Boys
  • 19: The Chronic - Dr. Dre
  • 18: 1989 (Taylor's Version) - Taylor Swift
  • 17: What's Going On - Marvin Gaye
  • 16: Blue - Joni Mitchell
  • 15: 21 - Adele
  • 14: Highway 61 Revisited - Bob Dylan
  • 13: The Blueprint - JAY-Z
  • 12: OK Computer - Radiohead
  • 11: Rumours - Fleetwood Mac
  • 10. Lemonade - Beyoncé
  • 9. Nevermind - Nirvana 
  • 8. Back to Black, Amy Winehouse
  • 7. good kid, m.A.A.d city, Kendrick Lamar
  • 6. Songs in the Key of Life, Stevie Wonder
  • 5. Blonde, Frank Ocean
  • 4. Purple Rain, Prince & The Revolution
  • 3. Abbey Road , The Beatles
  • 2. Thriller, Michael Jackson
  • 1. The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, Lauryn Hill

17 Jun 2024 | Press release

Ed Sheeran is the most played artist in the UK for the seventh time in nine years

British talent dominates with 7 out of 10 of the most played acts from the UK  ‘Flowers’ by Miley Cyrus named the most played song of 2023   Today, PPL can reveal that Ed Sheeran has been named the most played artist of...more

17 Jun 2024 | Press release

FAC & MMF encourage members to register to vote and “crash the party”

Potential voters have until 11.59pm tomorrow to register online for the July 4th General Election FAC’s David Martin & MMF’s Annabella Coldrick highlight some of the key manifesto commitments impacting artists and music managers    With just over 2 weeks before the 2024...more

17 Jun 2024 | Press release

Tixel further expands its festival footprint in the UK as summer season approaches

The premium marketplace announces the extension of its fan-to-fan trading services of tickets across festivals to Cross The Tracks, Wide Awake, Project 6 and more   Tixel, the honest resale marketplace has today announced the expansion of its remit to Cross The Tracks, Wide Awake and Project 6 and City Splash,...more

17 Jun 2024 | Press release

Amazon Music returns to Wireless Festival to exclusively livestream the festival globally

Amazon Music and Wireless Festival team up for second year running Music fans around the world can tune in to the festival from 12th - 14th July The festival will be broadcast on the Amazon Music channel on Twitch and Prime Video   Amazon Music today...more

17 Jun 2024 | Press release

Warner Music Group and Styngr partner to create new music products

STYNGR-Designed Experiences Bring WMG Catalog to Roblox Users     As the intersection of music and gaming continues to evolve, STYNGR and Warner Music Group (Nasdaq: WMG) have partnered to offer cutting-edge music solutions that are both gamer-focused and gamer-friendly across the video gaming landscape....more

14 Jun 2024 | Press release

Superfan App Stationhead Opens Up New All-Access Tier to Help Artists Identify and Reward the Biggest Music Fans

  Fans want to feel special and to connect to each other and their favorite artists. Artists want an enjoyable, low-lift way to interact with their fans, something that feels like a hang, not a forced marketing initiative. Both sides have...more

14 Jun 2024 | Press release

hmv’s Vinyl Week is back with exclusive releases from George Michael, Bob Marley, Jeff Wayne, Suede, Simple Minds and Fleetwood Mac

  Limited edition exclusive vinyl will be available in hmv stores on “Exclusives Day” on 15th June, with Morcheeba, The Specials, Minecraft, Justin Timberlake, Meatloaf and S Club 7 among the featured acts Each record in this year’s collection is pressed onto a...more

14 Jun 2024 | Press release

Concord Music Publishing ANZ Inks Publishing Agreement with John Butler

Concord Music Publishing ANZ today announce a new global publishing agreement with treasured Australian songwriter John Butler. A household name in Australia for over two decades, the worldwide deal (excluding Japan), covers Butler’s full catalogue including hits ‘Better Than,’ ‘Zebra,’ and...more

13 Jun 2024 | Press release

The LIVE Awards 2024 - Save the Date

Skiddle Announced as Headline Sponsor The annual LIVE Awards will return on Wednesday 11th December and will once again take place at Troxy, the iconic Art Deco venue in East London, which will accommodate over 600 guests from across the live music...more

13 Jun 2024 | Press release

Musical AI Tames the Chaos and Ushers in a Sustainable Generative AI Future

  Thanks to groundbreaking technology, this newly launched rights management platform allows attribution and metered licensing of copyrighted works for AI training and generation. Musical AI (formerly Somms.ai) is unveiling its new rights management platform for AI, serving as a secure go-between...more

13 Jun 2024 | Press release

Meta and Merlin Renew Key Partnership, Highlighting the Importance of Independent Music Across Instagram, Facebook and Messenger

Meta and Merlin, the independent’s digital music licensing partner, are excited to announce the renewal of their strategic partnership, underscoring Meta’s recognition of the value and importance of the world’s leading independent labels and distributors. This renewal reinforces the pivotal...more

13 Jun 2024 | Press release

Music.AI builds on Masterchannel and Cyanite partnerships in step towards single source audio ecosystem

Music.AI announces RoEx as third partner integrated into its AI platform Music.AI, the leading B2B AI-powered music and audio platform, has announced a partnership with RoEx, the AI multitrack mixing service for musicians, producers, and content creators. The news represents the latest...more

13 Jun 2024 | Press release

Cakewalk Software Now Exclusively Available Through BandLab Membership

  Cakewalk, a historic and pioneering name in digital audio workstations (DAWs), is excited to announce that Cakewalk Next and Cakewalk Sonar have exited public beta and are available worldwide exclusively through BandLab Membership. This marks a significant milestone for Cakewalk,...more

13 Jun 2024 | Press release

BEYOND THE MUSIC announce first details of groundbreaking music industry conference and share first wave lineup announcement

UNIQUE GLOBAL CO-OPERATIVE MUSIC FORUM & NEW MUSIC FESTIVAL ANNOUNCES FIRST DETAILS OF GROUNDBREAKING MUSIC INDUSTRY CONFERENCEINTRODUCING THE BRAND NEW ‘FUTURE OF MUSIC VILLAGE’ SHOWCASING THE VERY BEST OF MUSIC INNOVATION AND VISIONARIES IN THE TECH INDUSTRYANNOUNCE SUPPORT OF THE...more

13 Jun 2024 | Press release

First official selection of showcase artists for WOMEX 24 revealed

WOMEX 24, Manchester 23-27th October   Manchester Music City, the host partner for this year’s WOMEX (Worldwide Music Expo), has today (13 June 2024) revealed the first batch of official showcase artists for the 30th edition. The 20 artists announced come from 25 different countries,...more

13 Jun 2024 | Press release

TCAT launches mobile app to combat music piracy

‘To Catch A Thief’ Piracy is a $13 Billion-a-Year Problem Ground-Breaking Software Will Allow Artists To Check Who Is Pirating Their Music   TCAT, the music industry’s anti-piracy software developer, has launched a new App that will allow artists to see where their music is being illegally used...more

13 Jun 2024 | Press release

FUGA partners with Record Makers; continues expansion in France & Belgium

FUGA also enters into a partnership with Potion Records, the label founded by Belgian producer and DJ, The MagicianRecord Makers and Potion Records join FUGA’s existing roster in the region, including Bendo Music, VIPMUSIK Records, Jaiye, Soundbirth and Underground Tekno Downtown-owned,...more

13 Jun 2024 | Press release

The Circuit Group Launches Label Services Division with Key Hires, Appoints Chief Strategy Officer

The Circuit Group, the new enterprise led by some of the most respected artist managers in the world to build business opportunities around artists’ intellectual property, today announced several new hires made up of music industry experts.  The Circuit Group is...more

12 Jun 2024 | Press release

The Production Music Awards 2024 opens for entries, celebrates 10 years of championing human-made music

  The prestigious event celebrates the finest production music industry libraries and Composers from around the world. Now open for entries, categories span genres across Composition and Sync.   The Production Music Awards—celebrating exceptional production music libraries and Composers—today announces its 2024 call for...more

12 Jun 2024 | Press release

NTIA Collaborates with KUVO Powered by DJ Monitor to Enhance Music Insights for UK Venues and Increase the Accuracy of Royalty Payments for Creators

AlphaTheta Corporation today announces its brand, KUVO Powered by DJ Monitor, partners with the NTIA. The initiative aims to support electronic music creators and offer music insights to venues across the UK to enhance their businesses. It creates a ground-breaking...more

12 Jun 2024 | Press release

Concord Music Publishing sign electronic duo Mount Kimbie to new global agreement

  Concord Music Publishing today announce the signing of Mount Kimbie – the pioneering English electronic music duo of Dom Maker and Kai Campos – to a new worldwide publishing agreement.  The new deal covers all works going forward including acclaimed new...more

12 Jun 2024 | Press release

Managing Expectations: Workforce Edition

New MMF report recommends targeted cross-sector support to ensure music management companies can develop their future workforce The third edition in the MMF’s Managing Expectations series reveals a mixed picture for UK music managers with survey respondents outlining inherent challenges to...more

12 Jun 2024 | Press release

2Point9 Records Slams “Arrogant” Ministry of Sound Recordings in Copyright Infringement Lawsuit

UK Independent Issues High Court Proceedings against Major Label  2Point9 Records, the London based independent label founded by Billy Grant and Rob Stuart in 2000, has issued court proceedings against Ministry of Sound Recordings, a wholly owned subsidiary of Sony Music...more

12 Jun 2024 | Press release

Kits Earn: Kits.AI invites vocalists to create an AI Voice model and unlock new revenue

Kits.AI enabled artists to monetize their voice and likeness while allowing fans to create commercially viable music using their favorite artists' voices–setting the gold standard for the rest of the music industry. Since its founding in July 2023, the company...more

12 Jun 2024 | Press release

DawBell announces Kate Etteridge as Managing Director

With Promotions for Laura Sinclair, James Windle and Holly Appleton  Etteridge becomes Managing Director from Head of Music and Entertainment Three other promotions to Heads of Entertainment, Music and Operations named as DawBell announces restructure among senior team   Award winning music and popular...more

12 Jun 2024 | Press release

Universal Music India announces strategic leadership appointments

Sanujeet Bhujabal appointed Managing Director, Universal Music India and South Asia  Viral Jani appointed Chief Revenue Officer, Universal Music India and South Asia    Universal Music India (UMI), a division of Universal Music Group (UMG), the world-leader in music-based entertainment today announced the...more

12 Jun 2024 | Press release

PRS Foundation’s UK and Republic of Ireland co-commissioning and touring initiative, Beyond Borders, opens for applications

  Deadline to submit applications is 29th July 2024 at 6pm Grant support of up to £15,000 is available for projects PRS Foundation, the UK’s leading charitable funder of new music and talent development announces today that its UK and Republic of Ireland...more

12 Jun 2024 | Press release

BMC the UK's leading electronic music conference sets dates for 2025

BMC, the UK's leading electronic music conference and networking event sets dates for its 12th edition from 28th to 30th May 2025. A hub for the next generation of talent in electronic music, the award winning event brings together Industry-leading professionals with a packed...more

12 Jun 2024 | Press release

UK Music Video Awards calls for submissions as the premier global celebration of music videos returns

  The search begins for this year’s most creative and innovative work in music videos and music visual projects as the UK Music Video Awards launches its call for submissions from today, June 12th 2024. The leading global celebration of excellence in...more

11 Jun 2024 | Press release

Tunecore's independent artists have earned more than $4 billion

The leading global self-releasing artist development platform surpasses latest milestone of $4 billion earned by artists since the company was founded in 2006     TuneCore, the leading development partner for self-releasing artists—owned by Believe, one of the world's leading digital music companies—has...more

17 Jun 2024

  • Inside Britain's music festival crisis (see Features)

  • Spotify, songwriters want you to succeed. Why do you keep hurting them? (see Opinion)

14 Jun 2024

  • Mainstream culture is dissolving, and with it the nature of “pop music”. (see Opinion)

  • 14 issues in music that don't get enough attention (see Opinion)

13 Jun 2024

  • How low will Spotify’s royalty payments go? (ses Analysis)

12 Jun 2024

  • European artists generated €1.5bn of Spotify payouts in 2023 (see Reports)

  • MMF report reveals earnings breakdown for artist managers (see Reports)

11 Jun 2024

  • Report released on the notion of artist success in the modern music industry (see Reports)

10 Jun 2024

  • How 'Swiftonomics' is impacting the music industry (see Analysis)

07 Jun 2024

  • TV channels once championed music. Why have they given up so completely? (see Comment)

  • Rising streaming subscription prices are likely to lead to a rebundling of services (see Comment)

06 Jun 2024

  • What role does geography play in people’s relationship to music? (see Analysis)

  • The state of the attention economy: why don’t fan-first platforms work? (see Analysis)

05 Jun 2024

  • Why isn’t the government helping artists tour the US? (see Features)

04 Jun 2024

  • Hipgnosis Songs Fund turned out to be worth more than a lot of people thought (see Analysis)