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Talk About Pop Music

We’ve come up with the 20 best pop albums ever from across the last 60 years

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Greatest Pop Albums

“In New York, London, Paris, Munich, Everybody talk about pop music”… so went the lyrics to M’s irritating 1979 pop single. But the fact is everyone, everywhere, every day talks about pop music. It’s an integral part of our daily lives… it’s on the radio, on our MP3 players and on adverts, to the extent pop albums form the soundtracks to our lives.

Pop music is quite simply short for popular and so it stands to reason that the 20 best pop albums are generally the most popular albums. There was a time when jazz was pop, rock has sometimes been pop, rap has been pop… but we all know what pop is, rather than some sub-genre of the musical spectrum.

We’ve come up with the 20 best pop albums ever… from across the last 60 years, starting with Frank and Elvis who released two cast iron classics in 1956. While on the surface these two records are at different ends of the pop spectrum, they both qualify on merit and on popularity. And did you know that Presley and Sinatra appeared on a US television special together and even dusted?

The 1960s was a classic decade for pop, as prior to 1967/8 music was pop not rock. With the coming of FM radio and long playing records by bands eager to shake off the mantle of pop and become rock stars, everything changed. The Beatles and The Beach Boys are pinnacles of the art of the pop album.

‘Bridge Over troubled Water’ was such a massive selling record that it often gets overlooked in polls of the best albums ever. It shouldn’t be, it’s full of great pop songs, that resonate still. 1971 was a stellar year for music and we unashamedly pick three classics from the year. The Carpenters are, for many, the ultimate evocation of pop, Marvin’s album is perfection itself and Carole King defined what it meant to be a singer-songwriter… of great pop songs.

Abba are like the Carpenters, a great pop band, and Arrival is the pinnacle of their art, as is Donna Summer’s Bad Girls.

1982, like 1971 was a standout year with Michael Jackson’s Thriller becoming the bestselling album of all time. Prince’s 1999 may not have sold as many copies, but it is full of great songs. ABC may not make everyone’s list but it is what a pop album is all about, songs. By the end of the decade Madonna’s Like a Prayer was proving that she could continue to turn out albums full of classy songs.

Has there ever been a girl pop group to rival The Spice Girls? There may have been an element of pulling together a group of girls to tick the boxes, but ultimately they prove they could tick the ulti-mate box and produce an album on which every song sounds like a single. And that’s a feat not un-like Shania Twain’s album from a year later that has sold almost 40 million copies.

Gorillaz took inspiration from across the musical spectrum and collaborated with the best to make an album that is a must have. A year later Take That, another band that was put together much like The Spice Girls, proved that they could come back better than ever and in so doing produced an album that is pure pop, and in ‘Patience’ deliver a single that is timeless.

There is no better example of a modern day pop star than Taylor Swift, her 2006 debut may be ten years old (can it really be that long?) but it sounds fresh and alive and celebrates all that is great about pop. Which is exactly like Lady Gaga’s The Fame Monster, which shows us that as long as we listen to music we shall be talking about pop music…
These are the 20 top pop albums of all time…

Frank Sinatra – Songs For Swingin’ Lovers (1956)
Songs for swinging
Elvis Presley – Presley (1956)
elvis_presley debut album
The Beach Boys – Pet Sounds (1966)
Beach-Boys-Pet-Sounds
The Beatles – Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)
The-Beatles-Sgt-Pepper's-Lonely-Hearts-Club-Band-Album-Cover---530
Simon & Garfunkel – Bridge Over Troubled Water (1970)
Bridge over troubled water
Carpenters – Carpenters (1971)
carpentersfront
Marvin Gaye – What’s Goin’ On (1971)
Marvin+Gaye+-+What's+Going+On+-+CD+ALBUM-581521
Carole King – Tapestry (1971)
Carole_King_-_Tapestry
ABBA – Arrival (1976)
ABBA Arrival Album Cover - 530 - with logo
Donna Summer – Bad Girls (1979)
donna-summer-bad-girls
Michael Jackson – Thriller (1982)
Thriller-Michael-Jackson
ABC – The Lexicon of Love (1982)
ABC The Lexicon Of Love Album Cover - 530 copy - with logo
Prince – 1999 (1982)
Prince-1999 copy
Madonna – Like a Prayer (1989)
Madonna-Like_a_Prayer-Frontal
Spice Girls – Spice (1996)
spice
Shania Twain – Come On Over (1997)
Come on over
Gorillaz – Demon Days (2005)
Gorillaz_Demon_Days_500
Take That – Beautiful World (2006)
Beautiful World
Taylor Swift – Taylor Swift (2006)
Taylor Swift
Lady Gaga – The Fame Monster (2009)

TheFameMonster

Listen to hits off some of the greatest pop albums over the decades on our Pop Music! playlist.

31 Comments

31 Comments

  1. Rob

    June 23, 2016 at 2:36 pm

    Not a mention of Mr David Bowie ? What a load of crap

    • uDiscover

      June 23, 2016 at 4:14 pm

      We would argue that David Bowie is rock, not pop…

      • Wayne Chapman

        May 22, 2018 at 7:19 pm

        That’s odd . . . Bowie himself preferred to be known as a pop artist. And “Hunky Dory” is quite pop if you ask me.

  2. Enzo Giraldo

    June 23, 2016 at 2:38 pm

    Dears, …and what about Elton John, Stevie Wonder, Burt Bacharach, Paul McCartney, Sergio Mendes and so on: are they less than Taylor Swift or Spice Girls? Please let me know 🙂

    • uDiscover

      June 23, 2016 at 4:15 pm

      Not less at all, but this was trying to look at pop over 60 years…

  3. Roger Miller

    June 23, 2016 at 3:54 pm

    Barry Manilow?

    • uDiscover

      June 23, 2016 at 4:16 pm

      Which album?

  4. Andrew Massey

    June 23, 2016 at 4:25 pm

    Spice Girls??? I think NOT!!!! ABBA’s Best Album would be ABBA The Album. Arrival a close second.

  5. Shawn

    June 23, 2016 at 5:00 pm

    Absolutely rubbish. Queen one of the biggest selling groups of all time. Their music played consistently on all types of programmes and bohemian rhapsody one of the biggest selling singles of all time.

  6. DAVID

    June 23, 2016 at 5:18 pm

    In 1956 Elvis WAS rock n roll. Not pop. Times change and music changes as well.

    • Diane

      June 23, 2016 at 8:53 pm

      I totally agree, David. The term Rock & Roll was created for that music! If music is alive it grows and evolves.

  7. Adam

    June 23, 2016 at 6:26 pm

    The problem with this list is that the author clearly does not know what pop is. Donna summer was disco not pop (you could argue disco is a Subgenre of pop but at the time there was a clear distinction between the two). Elvis was rock and roll not pop. Marvin gaye was also not pop more r&b. Shania twain and that specific Taylor Swift album both were country not pop. It would be great when doing a list they would distinguish the genres properly.

  8. Peter Evans

    June 26, 2016 at 1:23 pm

    Hi Adam I think you’ll find Marvin Gaye was Soul.
    Which sums him up better than R&b me thinks
    Spice Girls again,I give up!!!

  9. Steve

    June 26, 2016 at 6:30 pm

    What a fantastic list – some true pop classics in here. Glad to see some Beach Boys in the list 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  10. Matt

    June 29, 2016 at 5:47 pm

    No Pet Shop Boys?

    Disgraceful

    • Ricardo Reyes

      August 11, 2017 at 4:02 am

      Exactly, that is the comment I’ve been looking for

  11. Ray King

    June 30, 2016 at 11:37 am

    what a shitlist

  12. little monster

    October 3, 2016 at 7:55 am

    too many men + where is britney spears

    • Blackout Britney

      April 25, 2019 at 3:01 am

      exactly! Blackout is literally one of the best and most influential pop albums of the 2000s. It should’ve been on this list over “Taylor Swift” especially since TS IS COUNTRY

  13. Jane

    January 9, 2017 at 12:28 am

    Taylor was country at the time? Taylor definitely deserves to be on this list, though. Maybe trade in Taylor Swift for 1989

  14. jamesdeansghost55

    January 9, 2017 at 1:32 am

    “Steve McQueen” by Prefab Sprout… “Hounds Of Love” by Kate Bush. This list was a waste of time with a lazy approach to research and review.

  15. Daniel B

    March 13, 2017 at 4:08 pm

    Can people please just stop trying to dismiss the Spice Girls. That album is a masterclass of pop music. You do not have to like them, you can even actively despise them (and you would definitely have legitimate cause to do so) but you cannot disregard the impact of their first album and on pop music.

  16. Dave

    April 23, 2017 at 11:35 pm

    Any list with Taylor Switf is invalid. She’s absolute trash. Many of these are not even pop by the way. And Where is Mariah? Janet? MADONNA???

  17. Tony

    June 22, 2017 at 7:00 pm

    Where are The Bee Gees?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  18. RichC

    June 23, 2017 at 8:51 am

    I’d say “SaturdayNight Fever” should have made the list! Definitely agree with Simon and Garfunkel. “Sgt Pepper” is usually considered one of the greatest rock albums.

  19. Moeman

    June 23, 2017 at 10:58 pm

    I miss THE pop album from the 80’s…
    Duran Duran’s Rio

  20. Antonnio N.

    June 26, 2017 at 8:32 am

    Genesis are not pop, but “Invisible Touch” yes!

  21. jim giordano

    June 28, 2017 at 4:38 am

    Frank Sinatra’s “Songs For Swingin’ Lovers” is technically a jazz album. Karen Carpenter’s Tan album is basically torch songs/light jazz/lounge music. These are both great albums-but could hardly be considered mainstream pop.

  22. Flavio Ezequiel Gonzáles Turanza

    August 14, 2017 at 5:45 am

    LOS 25 MEJORES ÁLBUMES OCCIDENTALES CON ENFOQUE DE SONIDO POP

    1. The Beatles – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
    2. The Smiths – The Queen Is Dead
    3. Cocteau Twins – Head over Heels
    4. Lisa Germano – Geek the Girl
    5. The Beach Boys – Pet Sounds
    6. Fiona Apple – The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do
    7. The Byrds – The Notorious Byrd Brothers
    8. Sinéad O’Connor – The Lion And The Cobra
    9. Love – Forever Changes
    10. Something/Anything? – Todd Rundgren
    11. The Olivia Tremor Control – Black Foliage: Animation Music Volume One
    12. Dogbowl – Cyclops Nuclear Submarine Captain
    13. Talk Talk – The Colour of Spring
    14. The Bonzo Dog Band – The Doughnut in Granny’s Greenhouse
    15. Solex – Low Kick and Hard Bop
    16. Kate Bush – The Kick Inside
    17. Mercury Rev – Deserter’s Songs
    18. Montage – S/T
    19. How To Dress Well – Love Remains
    20. Carole King – Tapestry
    21. Frank Sinatra – In the Wee Small Hours
    22. Laura Nyro – Eli and the Thirteenth Confession
    23. Debut – Björk
    24. The Zombies – Odessey And Oracle
    25. Fleetwood Mac – Rumours

  23. miguel

    February 14, 2018 at 7:16 pm

    Faltan BREAKFAST IN AMERICA de SUPERTRAMP y SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER de BEE GEES

  24. Wayne Chapman

    May 22, 2018 at 7:28 pm

    Any list of great pop albums should include the Beatles, the Monkees, ABBA, Belle and Sebastian, Madonna, the Beach Boys, Frank Sinatra, Squeeze, XTC, and a number of others. I have a soft spot for Milla Jovovich’s “The Divine Comedy.”

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