It’s hard to rank greatest hits albums. Some of them contain all the singles by a particular artist, while others may only feature songs that made it to number one. But what makes a greatest hits album differ from many others out there is how it’s packaged, the tracklisting of course and if it shows the growth and career span of an artist, meaning you can hand these albums to a new listener and they will get a good idea of what the artist is about. Here are ten greatest hits albums that have all of these elements and are a good example of what these artists are about.
- Billy Idol-Greatest Hits
This album contains the best songs from Billy Idol, including “Rebel Yell,” “White Wedding,” and “Cradle of Love.” It also has some of his other singles that aren’t as well known, like “Sweet 16,” and “Don’t Need a Gun.” This compilation really gives the listener a good idea of how Billy rocked the 80s. This album has all of Idols hit songs, so if you don’t want to waste time with his studio release, then this is the record for you. Idol lovers from the 80s and young music fans will enjoy this album.
- Black Sabbath-We Sold Our Soul for Rock n Roll
This collection is for any Black Sabbath fan who prefers Ozzy on vocals. Again, it’s also great for an introduction to the band for the younger generation. It includes iconic songs from the band like “Iron Man” and “Paranoid” along with their other successful singles. Every song on this album is a hit; not a single song feels out of place or that it should’ve been left off entirely.
- Marilyn Manson-Lest We Forget
This was supposed to be Manson’s farewell album, but since this 2004 release he has released two more albums. But even if he didn’t make those new albums, this would’ve been a great album to remember him by. Even though the songs aren’t listed in chronological order by release date, it gives a good example of where the band has been and where they were headed. What’s nice about this release is not only does it contain Manson’s most popular singles, but it also includes popular songs that were not necessarily singles and it even has songs that were only found on soundtracks. This is definitely an album worth picking up.
- The Smashing Pumpkin-Rotten Apples
Unlike the previous entry, the songs on this collection are listed in order of their release date. Therefore, it’s a good example of how the band progressed through the years. If someone were to ask me why the Smashing Pumpkins were such an important band in the 90’s, I would just hand them this album. It shows how they changed sound and style all in one disc. It’s the history of the band contained in a CD.
- Green Day- International Superhits!
This is an album I would definitely give to the Green Day fans who only know the band from American Idiot and 21st Century Breakdown. This compilation has some of the best songs from all of the band’s previous albums. It’s a nice little history of how the band started out as bratty punks and grew into socially conscious adults…sort of. As a bonus, it also includes two previously unreleased tracks “Maria” and “Poprocks and Coke” and the track “J.A.R.” which was only found on the Angus soundtrack.
- The Cure-Staring at the Sea
The Cure has three greatest hits albums and they all do the band justice, but this one is my personal favorite. This collection features a lot of songs that never made it onto other greatest hits albums so far, such as “Primary” and “Play for Today.” This is a great album to listen to for those who think The Cure is all gloom and doom. It features some of their “pop songs,” such as “Lovecats” and “Let’s Go to Bed.” The video companion Staring at the Sea: The Images is also one of my favorite Cure tapes. It contains all their videos from 1979-1985.
Again, this is another collection I would hand to new fans who only know Nirvana from “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” While this album does have that song here it also has their other singles from both Nevermind and In Utero. It even features some of the best tracks from the Unplugged in New York album. It also has the unreleased track “You Know You’re Right.” The tracks are listed in chronological order showing where the band began and where they ended. A must have for any Nirvana fan.
- Michael Jackson- HIStory
The subtitle for this album says it all. This album does a really good job at showing the King of Pop’s greatest hits from “Thriller” to “Remember the Time,” but it also contains new material from him including “You Are Not Alone” and “Scream.” The packaging on this collection is beautiful and the idea of presenting old material with the new is definitely worth picking this up. It shows why Jackson was one of the greatest musicians of all time.
- Queen- Greatest Hits
This is a band that has more greatest hits albums than is necessary. But for this list I chose the first collection. I think this one is better than the others because it has all the songs the band is known for: “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “We Are the Champions,” and “Another One Bites the Dust.” I think the other collections contain more singles that people aren’t all that familiar with. That doesn’t make them bad, but I feel this one is superior to the others. Also, the other greatest hits collections have so many Queen songs on them that aren’t necessarily singles that you may as well buy all of the band’s studio albums.
- Madonna- The Immaculate Collection
This has been one of my favorite albums since I was a kid. As with some of the other albums on this list, this collection provides a musical history of the queen of pop. Released in 1990, it has her best songs, such as “Like a Virgin,” “Material Girl,” “Borderline,” and “Vogue.” The timing was perfect for Madonna to release this compilation seeing as she was entering a new decade, one that would see less promising music from the artist. Any Lady Gaga fan who doesn’t understand why people love Madonna needs to listen to this immediately and see why she will always be the number one pop diva.
Are any of these your favorite? Is there a greatest hits album that you feel should be on this list? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.