The best of Apple Music’s 100 best albums

After days of build-up, Apple Music has just dropped a new list of the greatest LPs of all time. Packed with legendary records, it's a win for contemporary artists and wicked UK music.

Coming up with a best-of list is no mean feat. Especially when it comes to music – because, you know, there’s quite a lot of the stuff out there. But rifling through thousands of releases and ranking them doesn’t just take time; it takes guts, too. Not everyone’s going to be best-pleased with the final decision and you have to accept that lots of ace records won’t make the cut. So, if you decide to risk ending up getting an earful from hardcore fans, you’d better know what you’re talking about and listening to.

Thankfully, Apple Music does. It’s just released its new 100 Best Albums list, celebrating a century-sized collection of the most essential LPs to ever be pressed. Apple Music, obviously, haven’t quickly cobbled this one together. Instead, its team of editors and music experts have spent months debating a longlist of albums, swapping notes with a group of artists, songwriters and producers including THE FACE favourites Nia Archives and Charli XCX. The only rule? No compilation albums (sorry, Now That’s What I Call Music). Every other LP was fair game.

The result is a must-listen list of records that represents every single sonic segment on the Apple Music: from rap to pop, punk to funk, dance to dubstep. Rihanna and Radiohead in the same round-up? We’re all ears.

Refreshingly, it’s as much about now as it is about then. It doesn’t, like most of these lists, see the 60s and 70s through oversized, rose-tinted glasses and forget about what people are actually listening to at the moment. It treats current artists with the same respect; lots of recent-ish releases are given solid positions, including albums from the likes of Billie Eilish, Beyoncé and Taylor Swift.

Plus, UK artists are given a lot of airtime. From Burial to Bowie, Radiohead to Amy Winehouse, scores of British bands and singers are part of the list. With the algorithm ruling the roost when it comes to recommendations right now, this very human curation is very much welcome. The collection, after all, isn’t based on streaming stats or album sales, just sound opinions.

But what, we hear you ask, grabbed the top spot? Well, you’ll have to check out the list and find out. To get in the spirit of it all, THE FACE’s music director Davy Reed has compiled his own best-of-a-best-of list, picking out five of his favourites from the Apple Music 100 Best Albums. Wrap your ears around these LPs below and remember that this stuff is totally subjective, but that we’re definitely right, OK?


Wu-Tang Clan – Enter the Wu-Tang Clan (36 Chambers)

In 1992, nine explosively charismatic rap artists crammed into a small and dingy New York recording studio to create one of the strangest, most exhilarating records in the genre’s entire history. RZA’s production is rugged and raw but massive in ambition, merging the soulful flavours the Wu were raised on with profound martial arts flick samples. Due to the group’s irrepressible intensity, Wu-Tang have almost imploded many times since this debut album was released. But the world still needs to hear the anthems on 36 Chambers, and so they’re filling arenas with them to this day.

Sade – Love Deluxe

The Americans are easily charmed by artists who exude a sense of British cool; so it makes sense that Sade is absolutely massive out there. Love Deluxe is Sade and her band’s fourth studio album, and their last before a seven year hiatus. The record underpins irresistibly silky neosoul with drum machines, tapping into technological developments which were also being embraced by the trip-hop movement. The title, Sade once said in an interview, is inspired by her theory of love: The idea is that it’s one of the few luxury things that you can’t buy. You can buy any kind of love but you can’t get love deluxe.”

Frank Ocean – Blonde

Released merely days after his confounding visual album” Endless, Blonde was the Frank Ocean record everyone was waiting for. It felt like the whole alternative R&B movement of the 2010s had been building towards this melancholic masterpiece, on which Frank glides through ghostly soundscapes with his soul-stirring voice. The fact he’s not released an album since Blonde only adds to its poignancy.

Portishead – Dummy

On one hand, Dummy is very much a document of a time and place. Bristol’s trip-hop scene took inspiration from the soundsystem culture of the city’s St Pauls area, as well as the the influence of early hip-hop (in part thanks to the Wild Bunch, which included Tricky and members of Massive Attack, bringing rap records back from New York) and the West Country’s distinctively eccentric character. But Portishead’s debut album also feels totally timeless. The record’s slinky production, and Beth Gibbons brooding vocals, still immediately adjusts the mood in any room that it’s played in.

Lana Del Rey – Norman Fucking Rockwell!

It’s not easy choosing your favourite Lana Del Rey album, but a lot of experts argue that NFR! is her greatest. The melodies here are so strong that it’s odd to think that no one had written with them before her, while the production glistens with opulence. Lyrically, Lana indulges in well-worn cliches, but she pulls it off with sheer class and confidence.

Click here to check out Apple Music’s 100 Best Albums of All Time list.

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