What was the best year for music?

I was reading an old Rolling Stone celebrating their 40th anniversary. They were saying their founding year of 1967 was the best single year for music. Obviously, many would disagree, but it is hard to argue with their choice - Zepplin, Pink Floyd, Beach Boys, Hendrix, prime Beatles, the Who, Cream, CCR, Doors…

But many people are partial to the music of their youth. 1991 isn’t as good. But it was also amazing. Which year do you like best?

An aide-memoire…

NB: If this Question was asked in the last five years it was worded differently. Couldn’t find it.

The primer goes to 2009. I guess that list ain’t being “updated soon” after all.

I was going to say 1967 before I opened the thread, probably because of the fact that I read it somewhere. After more reflection, given the bands I prefer, I would say 1971. There were two of the three classic Yes albums released that year (The Yes Album and Fragile), along with Aqualung by Jethro Tull, Tarkus by ELP, Who’s Next, Meddle by Pink Floyd, and Led Zeppelin IV. Maybe there’s a year more recently that has a lot of releases by artists that I currently enjoy (which are entirely different genres), but I tend to always go back to the classics and think “Man, this music is just so much better than what comes out now”. (I was born in 1981.)

  1. The fact that there is only 365 days of pop music evolution separating 1965 and 1967 is astounding.

1966, 1971 and 1977.

Definitely 1971. Convince me otherwise.

Holy crap, never thought about it but 5 of my favorite songs ever in that list and Yes Album & Fragile. Riders on the Storm by the Doors. 1971 was amazing.


  1. Stairway to Heaven - Led Zeppelin

  2. Imagine - John Lennon

  3. What’s Going On - Marvin Gaye

  4. Let’s Stay Together - Al Green

  5. Maggie May - Rod Stewart

  6. American Pie - Don McLean

  7. Won’t Get Fooled Again - The Who

  8. Brown Sugar - The Rolling Stones

  9. Just My Imagination - The Temptations

  10. Family Affair - Sly and the Family Stone

The Concert for Bangladesh album was released in 1971 also. 1971 is definitely the year.

I know it’s a pretty radical notion to suggest a year that isn’t in the '65-'72 range, but 1984 was arguably the best year ever for music. Also 1987. And 1993, the year grunge took over and changed everything.

But I consistently come back to 1984 as the pinnacle, with everything happening all at once—established artists kicking ass, new artists innovating, genre-bending creativity, and so forth. Billboard has also made this case in the past and here’s my in-depth thoughts on the subject.

I love grunge and Britpop so remember 1993 fondly. However, it has not always aged well and some really good stuff gets little play. Like The Sound of Speed from Jesus and Mary Chain.

Personally, I’m not a big fan of grunge at all, but I am willing to recognize that its emergence fundamentally changed the musical landscape. Hair metal died the day Nevermind by Nirvana dropped. :slightly_smiling_face:

Yeah, definitely, just like prog rock virtually died in 1977, the year that punk broke. Of course there were still prog rock albums after that, even new prog rock bands, but for a long time, the 23 minute one LP side epic went the way of the dodo, and classic prog bands like Genesis and Yes went pop.

The best year for music was the year when you first kissed a girl. The year you got your driver’s license. The year you went to your first concert. The first time you stayed out all night… whatever year that was, that was the year.

1972, 1973 is my personal peak (I adore funk and Philly soul), 1976 had the most songs on Billboard’s top-600 songs of the rock era with 22, but I want to give a shout out to 1979 for being the peak of AOR as well as the birth of rap*. In addition, '79 is probably the peak year for today’s Yacht Rock classics, and, dammit, The Wall was released that year and, coupled with 12yo me’s then-recent discovery of marijuana (thanks, Chris! :ok_hand:), the albums release was a recognizable milestone even in the moment.

*Well, its national breakout. Let’s make that clear.

Turns out to be 1971. Except for the drivers license, but driving without one was even cooler.

  1. Brandenburg concerti were released. It’s all been derivative since then.
  1. That’s the year I wrote the song that I sang to Michaela every day for ten years (until she asked me to stop).