The Worst List of Best Albums of All Time

The worst list of best albums ever

Life’s too short to spend time listening to bad music, and rock critics help listeners discover the best of the best. They act as gatekeepers, influencing what gets played on the radio and nowadays, downloaded from streaming services.

And while critics might not always agree about a particular album, their aggregated reviews can give you a pretty good sense of the cream of the crop when it comes to music. It’s an ideal place to start if you’re looking for, say, fantastic rock albums from the last half-century.

Stacker did just that when we compiled data from Metacritic on the best rock albums of all time, ranked by Metascore. Only albums with seven or more reviews were eligible. EPs, box sets, and compilations were not considered. Due to the availability of music review data, the list is skewed toward but not limited to the last three decades. Stacker also looked at reviews and musician interviews from Rolling Stone, Spin, Drowned in Sound, Pitchfork, The Guardian, The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, The A.V. Club, PopMatters, and Now Toronto to learn more about the albums.

IMPORTANT NOTE: We did not compile this list and think it is the worst list of Best Albums we’ve ever seen. Where are the Beatles, or Pink Floyd, or so many others in the top 10? They are nowhere to be found.

Without further delay, here is the list, as horrible as it is:

#10. ‘Led Zeppelin II’ by Led Zeppelin

– Metascore: 95
– User score: 8.9
– Release date: Oct. 16, 1968

Some of Led Zeppelin’s most beloved songs, including “Ramble On” and “Whole Lotta Love,” appeared on the band’s second studio album. Even though the album had “staggering sales,” its hard sound made it unsuitable for radio play, per Ritchie York of Billboard.

#9. ‘Histoire de Melody Nelson’ by Serge Gainsbourg

– Metascore: 96
– User score: 8.7
– Release date: March 24, 2009

Serge Gainsbourg defied genres with his album “Histoire de Melody Nelson,” which has a soundworld “like nothing else in rock,” according to Tom Ewing of Pitchfork. It went on to influence a variety of other bands, including Portishead, Beck, Faith No More, and the Arctic Monkeys.

#8. ‘Electric Ladyland’ by The Jimi Hendrix Experience

– Metascore: 97
– User score: 8.7
– Release date: Oct. 16, 1968

The last studio album released before Jimi Hendrix’s death in 1970, “Electric Ladyland” is regarded as the musician’s “true masterpiece,” filled with “bold new sonic colors, flavors, and adventures,” per Dan Epstein of Rolling Stone. Creating the album was a frustrating experience for Hendrix, a perfectionist who had a hard time trying to bring the sounds he imagined to the tape.

#7. ‘Led Zeppelin’ by Led Zeppelin

– Metascore: 97
– User score: 9.0
– Release date: Jan. 12, 1969

Led Zeppelin’s debut album showed the world a new take on emerging hard rock—one that infused blues into the harder sound. While critics gave the album poor reviews upon its release, it was a hit among music fans, and now many of the songs are considered staples of classic rock.

#6. ‘Brian Wilson Presents SMiLE’ by Brian Wilson

– Metascore: 97
– User score: 7.9
– Release date: Sept. 28, 2004

Beach Boys member Brian Wilson resurrected the ambitious “Smile” album that the band had shelved almost four decades earlier, releasing it as “Brian Wilson Presents SMiLE” in 2004. Wilson combined bits the band had recorded with different musicians at different studios throughout the years and added Van Dyke Parks’ evocative lyrics to the tracks. Rock journalist Robert Christgau gave the album a rare A+ rating.

#5. ‘Houses of the Holy’ by Led Zeppelin

– Metascore: 98
– User score: 8.8
– Release date: March 28, 1973

Jordan Runtagh of Rolling Stone called Led Zeppelin’s fifth album “a brilliant, transitional” LP. The highly varied album explored funk and reggae, and even included a Viking death chant.

#4. ‘Led Zeppelin III’ by Led Zeppelin

– Metascore: 98
– User score: 8.9
– Release date: Oct. 5, 1970

Led Zeppelin began exploring folk music and a more acoustic sound on their third studio album, which debuted in October 1970. The album was written while the band was taking a break in the Cambrian Mountains—a bucolic setting that influenced the music—after a whirlwind year of touring, according to Jaan Uhelszki of Classic Rock.

#3. ‘London Calling’ by The Clash

– Metascore: 100
– User score: 8.9
– Release date: Dec. 14, 1979

The Clash expanded beyond their punk roots to explore reggae, rockabilly, ska, and even R&B on “London Calling.” The band wrote the album in a secluded room in a garage in London, which gave them the privacy they needed to explore various musical influences, according to Kenneth Partridge of Mental Floss.

#2. ‘Exile On Main Street’ by The Rolling Stones

– Metascore: 100
– User score: 8.0
– Release date: May 12, 1972

Exploring themes like hedonism and sex, the Rolling Stones 10th studio album features many of their concert staples. While it initially met with mixed reviews, the commercially successful album went on to become a legacy for the band, with Rolling Stone magazine calling it “a dirty whirl of blues and boogie.”

#1. ‘Led Zeppelin IV’ by Led Zeppelin

– Metascore: 100
– User score: 8.4
– Release date: Nov. 8, 1971

The fourth studio album by Led Zeppelin sold more than 32 million copies and spent over 15 months topping the charts, with songs like “Stairway to Heaven,” “Black Dog” and “Going to California” going down in rock music history. The band created lots of mystique around the album by releasing it with no title or explanation of the symbols adorning it, according to The Build Network.