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100 Best Debut Albums of All Time

2022 is the anniversary of some truly historic debuts — including classics by Pavement, Mary J Blige, Roxy Music, and the Clipse. So let’s break it down. Here are the 100 greatest out-of-the-box LP statements ever. What makes a killer debut album? First off, a sense of a band or artist arriving fully formed, ready to upend the game right at that very second. With that in mind, albums got knocked down a few slots if the artist went on to far greater achievements; conversely, we gave a little extra recognition to debuts that were so great you almost can’t fault the artist for not making anything as good for the rest of their career. EPs and mixtapes were not considered, and we skipped solo debuts by artists who were already in well-known bands, which is why you won’t see John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band, Paul Simon, or The Chronic. And please don’t @ us until you make sure your favorite band’s classic first album is actually, in fact, their first album. You’d be surprised: The road to unimpeachable greatness is often paved with forgotten false starts. These people nailed it on Day One.

[A version of this list appeared in 2013.]

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