16. 'The Cars'
No band has ever knocked out a debut so packed with straight-to-car-radio classics. "We used to joke that the first album should be called TheCars' Greatest Hits," said guitarist Elliot Easton. The Cars was arty and punchy enough to be part of Boston's New Wave scene and yet so catchy that nearly every track ("My Best Friend's Girl," "Just What I Needed") was like a brilliant single. The very idea that cool refinement and feathered-hair heartland appeal could exist together was minted here. Bands from Weezer to the Strokes to Fountains of Wayne are unthinkable without this album's example.