Rolling Stone's top 25 songs only features 7 female acts—but that does include the top spot

Rolling Stone's greatest 500 songs have been updated and number one is female, but some fans aren't happy about the gender imbalance

Aretha Franklin performing on Top of the Pops.
(Image credit: Ron Howard / Contributor/Getty Images)

Rolling Stone's greatest 500 songs have been updated and getting Aretha Franklin is getting the R.E.S.P.E.C.T. she deserves, coming in at number one on the list with her iconic tune. However, considering the top 25 only contains six other female acts, some fans are a little bit disappointed.

The list is a veritable who's who of the music world and contains classics as well as more contemporary pieces. Music is a vital part of all of our lives, hell even Prince Charles has one song that gives him an 'irresistible urge' to dance.

In light of the amount of love and passion people have for music, Rolling Stone's list of the top 500 songs is never going to be able to please everyone.

However, some aren't happy with the top 25 in the hallowed list, which first came into existence in 2004, having so few female artists.


Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs—who's in the top 25?

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

Who picks Rolling Stone's top 500 songs?

According to the legendary publication, a lot of the people whose vote counts towards the eventual list are likely to be in the top 500.

Over 250 artists, journalists, and industry figures helped to determine the all-new list. Artists like Megan Thee Stallion, Yaya Bey and the Edge from U2 got involved with choosing who'd rank in the updated list.

Those who voted were asked to submit ranked ballots that listed their top 50 favorite songs of all time. After this, the votes were tabulated with the highest-ranked song on each list receiving 300 points, the second-highest 290 points, and so on down to 44 points for number 50. Although there's 500 on the list, more than 4,000 received at least one vote.

Despite it being impossible to please everyone on such a contentious issue, one thing's for certain—nobody can disagree with Aretha hitting the top spot!

Aoife Hanna


Aoife is Junior News Editor at woman&home.

She's an Irish journalist and writer with over 1500 bylines and a background in creative writing, comedy and TV production.

Formerly Aoife was a contributing writer at Bustle and her words can be found in the Metro, Huffpost, Delicious, Imperica, EVOKE and her poetry features in the soon-to-be-published Queer Life, Queer Love anthology.

Outside of work you might bump into her at a garden center, charity shop, hot yoga studio, lifting heavy weights or (most likely) supping/eating some sort of delicious drink/meal.