The 500 best songs of all time have been revealed 2 years ago

The 500 best songs of all time have been revealed

Put a little respect on that number one...

The 'greatest songs in the world' debate is one that can never truly be settled.


And yet, it persists. Whether it's a bunch of mates down the pub or a well-regarded music publication, throwing a list together of the very best songs of all time never goes out of style.

American entertainment bible Rolling Stone is pretty committed to the bit, often updating their collective shout for the 500 best songs in existence over the years. As of September 2021, the magazine has taken the unique step of ripping it up, starting all over again and doing the entire thing from scratch.

It marks the first time in two decades that Rolling Stone has completely constructed the list from the ground up, having published their original list in 2004. As they point out while noting that Billie Eilish was just three years old at the time of that article, a lot has changed since then.

The list actually stretches far beyond the confines of the Rolling Stone office, with over 250 artists, musicians, producers and additional figures from the music industry polled for their own individual shouts.


Almost 4,000 songs received votes, with a wide variety of genres represented including rock, hip-hop, country and western, indie, Latin pop, reggae, R&B, soul, dance and more. Over half of the songs in the 2021 list are new, in contrast with the original 2004 project

"The result is a more expansive, inclusive vision of pop, music that keeps rewriting its history with every beat," says an official Rolling Stone summary.

With all of that out of the way, you want to know what song 'won', don't you?

We won't list all 500 songs here for obvious reasons but here's the headline:


'Respect' by Aretha Franklin takes the coveted number one spot.

So says Rolling Stone:

"'Respect' catalysed rock & roll, gospel, and blues to create the model for soul music that artists still look to today (Mariah Carey called Franklin “my mentor”).


"Just as important, the song’s unapologetic demands resonated powerfully with the civil rights movement and emergent feminist revolution, fitting for an artist who donated to the Black Panther Party and sang at the funeral of Martin Luther King Jr.

"In her 1999 memoir, Franklin wrote that the song reflected 'the need of the average man and woman in the street, the businessman, the mother, the fireman, the teacher — everyone wanted respect.' We still do."

Number 500 on the list, for the record, goes to 'Stronger' by Kanye West.

West, David Bowie, John Lennon, Queen, Prince, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Nirvana, Bob Dylan and Beyoncé are among the names in the higher numbers, the top 25 of which you can see below.

25. Kanye West ft. Pusha T – 'Runaway'


24. The Beatles – 'A Day in the Life'

23. David Bowie – 'Heroes'

22. The Ronettes – 'Be My Baby'

21. Billie Holiday – 'Strange Fruit'

20. Robyn – 'Dancing On My Own'

19. John Lennon – 'Imagine'

18. Prince and The Revolution – 'Purple Rain'

17. Queen – 'Bohemian Rhapsody'

16. Beyoncé ft. JAY-Z – 'Crazy In Love'

15. The Beatles – 'I Want to Hold Your Hand'

14. The Kinks – 'Waterloo Sunset'

13. The Rolling Stones – 'Gimme Shelter'

12. Stevie Wonder – 'Superstition'

11. The Beach Boys – 'God Only Knows'

10. OutKast – 'Hey Ya!'

9. Fleetwood Mac – 'Dreams'

8. Missy Elliot – 'Get Your Freak On'

7. The Beatles – 'Strawberry Fields Forever'

6. Marvin Gaye – 'What's Going On'

5. Nirvana – 'Smells Like Teen Spirit'

4. Bob Dylan – 'Like a Rolling Stone'

3. Sam Cooke – 'A Change is Gonna Come'

2. Public Enemy – 'Fight The Power'

1. Aretha Franklin – 'Respect'

The full list of all 500 songs is available right here.