Top 20 Albums Of 1989 (Nos. 1-5)

For this week's Ranked!, we completed our look back at the '80s with our our twenty favorite albums released in 1989. Did we get it right? Let us know in the comments!

Here are numbers 1-5:

5. Motley Crue, Dr. Feelgood

This album is just a fantastic album from start to finish. It was also the real end of the greatness of the Crue - Vince Neill left the band (or got fired, depending on who you talk to) after the album and the rise of grunge kind of killed metal. It's a shame because this is certainly the best album that Motley Crue ever put out. And now I have the title track firmly lodged in my head. Anyone else?--Archphoenix

4. The B-52's, Cosmic Thing

I had a friend in college who, like me, was a little quirky and when we got bored we'd pass notes in class consisting entirely of lyrics from B-52's songs.  When the Cosmic Thing album came out, it showed the mainstream what we long-time fans already knew: that the B-52s were full of weird and fun and a soulfulness that rocked out more than you ever expected it to.  With songs like "Roam" and "Deadbeat Club," this album, coming out after the death of their guitarist, brought a hint of melancholy into their singing but tracks like "Love Shack" showed they didn't sacrifice their title or their identity as the ultimate party band.  I think of this album as the one where the B-52's grew up, in a really good way.  And I feel lucky to have grown up with them. --The Weirdgirl

3. Madonna, Like A Prayer

Rolling Stone hails this one "as close to art as pop gets." The range on the this album really is incredibly done by this icon. Even close to twenty years later, everyone understands the power of Madonna. Tracks like "Express Yourself" empower us, while videos for songs like "Like A Prayer" make us think (or riot, depending on what side of the fence you're on). The tour that followed, The Blonde Ambition Tour, is even still hailed as one of the best ever. Madonna can do so much right and wrong and still achieve so much greatness, there's no way an album of hers can be left off of a top list!--J-Hawke

2. Nine Inch Nails, Pretty Hate Machine

Most of the synthetic sounds that dominated the '80s were neatly packaged pop. But towards the end of the decade of decadence that was the '80s, a darker undertone began to emerge. Like the ocean just before a tidal wave, one of the earliest signs of the next wave of music was Nine Inch Nails, who took the melodic synth sounds and drum machines from pop music and dirtied them up with overdubs, feedback, and a healthy dose of angst and anger to create something entirely new. Trent Reznor's Nine Inch Nails were a revolution through your earphones--a sonic signal of how music was going to evolve.--Daddy Geek Boy

1. Beastie Boys, Paul's Boutique

This is it. This is why the Beastie Boys are Important with a capital I. Paul's Boutique is assembled from a million bits and pieces of pop culture detritus, phrases and riffs tucked away in the dusty corners of our minds and called forth and recontextualized by the Beasties to create something new and unique yet comfortingly familiar. The density of the samples and references require Cliff Notes (personally I like and would probably be unintelligible to anyone who didn't grow up when we did. Paul's Boutique's funky rhythms and whip-fast rapping tapped into our generation's zeitgeist at its root level and effectively wrote the blueprint for the accelerated, self-referential internet culture that we've become. OK, that may be a little hyperbolic for an album that was initially considered a commercial failure, but listening to songs like "Eggman," "Johnny Ryall," and the absolutely fantastic "Hey Ladies," I can't help but think that it signaled a turning point. It was a once-in-a-lifetime musical achievement (that's literally true; nowadays the licensing and royalties for samples on this scale would bankrupt half the countries in the UN General Assembly) that crossed multiple genres and established the Beasties as more than one-hit wonders. Like Sam the butcher bringing Alice the meat, Paul's Boutique is a musical treat! (Sorry, couldn't help myself.)--CroutonBoy

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