We love lists. We love to hate lists. We love to say “I can’t believe you even tried to make this list without including…” and this week, it’s all about The Albums Rolling Stone Dare Leave off Their List of Women Who Rock: 50 Greatest Albums of All Time.
Of course there are some well-deserved albums like Jagged Little Pill, Patti Smith‘s Horses, Tapestry and Sleater-Kinney‘s The Hot Rock, but there are some straight-up travesties in who they excluded. I knew it before I even knew what they were. Which is why I consulted the AE crew, asking them to give me the one they were most passionate about. Of course, some tried to game the system (cough, Dara Nai.)
What album was so rudely left off this list?
Erika Star: While I’m not notoriously known for my stellar taste on music, seeing I turn the radio up not off when the Goo Goo Dolls come on or that I quoted Matchbox 20 in my senior year book, I’m not sure I’m the best judge of any best of music anything. I of course shrieked with horror when I realized they left off Melissa and Whitney, but I found it most upsetting that Amy Winehouse‘s Back to Black failed to make the list. I can’t remember a voice that floored me more over the last decade than that of Amy. She also inspired my bump-it phase but that’s a whole other Huddle.
Grace Chu: What kind of feature about female pop and rock icons omits Whitney Houston? She had seven consecutive number one singles between her debut and sophomore albums, breaking a record previously held by The Beatles. Yes, those Beatles. Is this truly the greatest list of all? I think not.
I couldn’t decide between 1985’s Whitney Houston or 1987’s Whitney. “How Will I Know” and “The Greatest Love of All” versus “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” and “Where Do Broken Hearts Go?” It’s a draw. (Perhaps the Rolling Stone editors encountered the same conundrum and decided just to punt.) So I went for her greatest hits album, which also includes the Junior Vasquez remix of “How Will I Know,” which has one of the most beautiful intros I have heard and Whitney singing the “Star Spangled Banner” at Super Bowl XXV.
Trish Bendix: How can they seriously have left off Melissa Etheridge‘s Yes I Am? I realize narrowing the list to 50 is a daunting endeavor, but this is one album that if pivotal if you are sticking to the whole idea of “rock.” This is basically the Melissa album to own; the reason your mom knows who she is and why she has a Grammy. “Come to My Window” and “I’m the Only One” are bad ass songs and you know it.
Jill Guccini: Ceremonials, Florence + The Machine. Listening to Florence Welch feels like someone has cracked open my chest to show me how much can actually fit inside of it. Her music feels bigger than myself, like I am sinking into a dream, mystical, all-encompassing. It haunts me as much as it comforts me. This album makes me feel so many things that I often have to take breaks from listening to it when it just becomes too much. But it will never be one of those albums that I come back to years later, laughing while I say, “God, remember how much I listened to that?” It will always be “Oh. Ceremonials. Oh.” It is full of unapologetic joy (“Shake It Out”), a sorrow so deep it almost feels empowering (“What The Water Gave Me”), violence and despair (“No Light, No Light”), a certain creepiness (“Seven Devils”), and moments of sentimentality and light (“All This And Heaven Too”). I have always lived and breathed female musicians, but Florence is singular in the worlds she creates in my head and my heart and my gut. Making any type of “Best Of” list is always such a subjective task, and I think Rolling Stone did a decent job with theirs, but Florence, you will always be top-tier on mine.
Ali Davis: I know she’s more known nowadays for saying she’s a lesbian but really meaning “straight, but I feel like I get you queer ladies” and general cray, but I cannot believe Sinead O’Connor‘s The Lion and the Cobra is not on that list. There’s not a bad track on it and it was a hell of a calling card. It’s sad, angry, sexy, and everything else. You’re allowed a little cray when you can put out an album that good.
The Linster: This is a really odd list, even for Rolling Stone. I mean, if you’re going to make a list of the best albums, you’re not looking at the best singles by the artist or even the best artist. You’re looking at a particular work of art with a concept and execution. Greatest hits type recordings are collections of singles with no overriding concept. I suppose that’s why a work as masterful as Tapestry (Carole King) isn’t in the top 10.
But whatever the rules, the omission of Tina Turner is unforgivable. Private Dancer is like ear sex. If you want to go “best of,” then Proud Mary would certainly rank higher than a good half of Rolling Stone’s list. (I love you, Taylor Swift, and I’mma keep cheering you on, but top 50 greatest female albums of all time? Just no. At least not yet.)
Emily Donofrio: After careful review, it is glaringly obvious who Rolling Stone neglected to leave off of their list and that answer is Nicki Minaj, my friends. Pink Friday: Deluxe Edition is hands down one of my favorite albums of all time and has currently been on a loop in my house (again). I’m going to see her in Seattle on August 11 and I can barely talk about it without losing my mind. She’s one of the best and most fluid artists of our generation, she’s on everybody’s biz. “Beez in the Trap,” ferreal.
Mia Jones: The fact that they left off Sheryl Crow‘s The Globe Sessions is ridiculous. I can say I’m happy they remembered to include Bjork and PJ Harvey, though.
Heather Hogan: I’m kind of a music troglodyte so I asked my girlfriend to answer this question for me. During our hour-long conversation, she expressed serious reservations about Rolling Stone‘s list-making sensibilities (“Where’s Pat Benatar? Where’s Kate F–king Bush?!”) and also explained that the Yeah Yeah Yeahs Fever to Tell album was “a flaming female fist to the balls of the male rocker scene at the time.” But her answer to the question is Joanna Newsom‘s Ys because:
For one, Ys is easily one of the most lyrically complex albums of this century. I’m not exaggerating. Secondly, that lady has an astounding mastery of not only language but also of her own voice and body. Watching that tiny woman completely own every string of a harp three times of the size of her body is one the most awesome live experiences I’ve ever had. I found that image more powerful than Karen O spitting beer into my face, and I’m saying that as a compliment to Karen O.
Also, though, the first song on the album is called “Emily” and is a kind of an accidental tribute to Emily Fitch and probably that’s another reason she chose it. Because Emily Fitch is a flaming female punch in your pants.
Lucy Hallowell: I have to admit that I asked my big sister for a little help with my homework this week. She geeked out and rose to the challenge and helped me spot the glaring omissions on the list (WHERE IS WHITNEY HOUSTON?). For my choice I have to go with the Dixie Chicks‘ Taking the Long Way for the political controversy that spawned it (and the mindblowingly ridiculous response from the country music people), the fact that the album is amazing (just try not to blast “Not Ready to Make Nice” in the car), and the amazing moment of watching the Chicks clean up at the Grammy’s. Everything about this album says eff you and if that doesn’t rock I don’t know what does.
Dara Nai: PaulaColeHarbingerSineadO’ConnorTheLionandtheCobraTracyChapmanTracyChapmanMelissaEtheridgeBraveandCrazyPinkFunhouse.
What album are you surprised to see missing from their list?