February 12, 2012

Top 100 Artists of All Time

Each year VH1, MTV, Radio Stations, Magazines and anyone with internet access produces some configuration of a Top 100 list. Ranging anywhere from Top 100 Worst Songs of All Time to Top 100 Celebrity Gaffs, even Top 100 Places to get Coffee on the Eastern Seaboard.

This year was particularly irritating to me. VH1 created a Top 100 Artists of All Time list. Sounds good initially. I love their Top 100 lists, and their series I Love The 80’s is a real treat! Top 100 one hit wonders of the 80s, Top 100 artists of the 80’s, 90’s or even 00’s. However, they struck a major chord with me when they created the Top 100 Artists of All Time.  Key words: ALL TIME!

As the name suggests you have certain expectations of who would be on the list:

  • Led Zepplin
  • Bob Dylan
  • The Beatles
  • Duke Ellington
  • Elvis Presley
  • Elton John
  • Michael Jackson
  • Benny Goodman
  • James Brown
  • U2

But much to my shagrin, that was not the case. Sure, The Beatles and Led Zepplin were on the list, but Elvis Costello, Hall & Oats, George Michael, Al Green, Tupac Shakur, Eminem, and Van Morrison made the list? And how did Beyonce beat Little Richard? Not to take anything away from any of these artists, they are all fabulous in their own right, and will not be forgotten in the history of music; but where are the jazz artists? Where is Benny Goodman, the King of Swing? Where is Duke Ellington, credited with over 3000 songs? Where are any of the pop stars from the 30s and 40s?  None on the list! Shoot, where is Mozart and Bethoven? Are you saying that Peter Gabirel is better than Amadeus? I think not!

As I was watching the program, I heard how the list was created “We asked 200 artists on the list, artists not on the list, writers, critics and comedians alike…”. Are you kidding me? WOW! No wonder Joni Mitchell made the list. Do any of those comedians or artists on your list even listen to vintage jazz, let alone jazz at all, let alone even know what jazz is? Carrie Underwood was a judge? Dear lord!

Absolutely absurd!

SO! I took it upon myself to ask 1 DJ what his top 100 artists of all time would be, and what do you know? Not one contemporary rock and roll artist made the cut.

Why? Because jazz artists continually get the shaft when it comes to their musical importance in today’s society, and I have had enough. Sure, there are a couple contemporary artists on the list, but you will be hard pressed to find more than a handful still alive today.

(Side note, remember when kids would pull one pant leg up and thought it was cool? /cough L.L. Cool J /cough  Well, Count Basie was doing that as a kid in New Jersey! Who’s original now!)

Over the coming months, I will be publishing my own Top 100 Artists of All Time. Look for the bottom of the list to be published in increments of 10, and as we push to the top, more time and detail will be spent on each of those artists, counting down to Number 1.

Each post will contain information either about the artist personally, or a few notes as to why I think they are worthy of the list.  Plenty of links to more resources about each artist. You will also find a small selection of my favorite tracks from those artists, so you too can download and find the same joy in them that I do.

** Want to add your own artists to this list? Please do! Let me know at the bottom of this or any of the Top 100 posts for who you think should or shouldn’t have made the cut.

Sure this list might contain more Jazz artists than it should, but since VH1 didn’t feel like qualifying their list, I will do the same.

Check out the list:

100 – 91









  1. Christian Bossert | Shuffle Projects

    Hey Kyle,
    I’m also wondering all the time, how they make up these lists without really going back in history.
    At least, we have something to looking forward to – to your list! I’m curious!!
    PS. I like the new design! Now bring all these posts 😉

  2. Katleen Rousseau

    me too I can’t wait to see your list!! 😀

  3. Lindy Shopper

    *heart* you so much for this!

  4. superheidi

    In general, I don’t like top lists, because of all the painful omissions. But this one I will like, not even halfway there and already enjoying each and every entry.

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