The list is mostly composed of North American and British artists and is largely post mid-20th century. Of the 500 songs, 352 are from the United States and 117 from the United Kingdom; they are followed by Ireland with 12 entries (of which 8 were composed by U2), Canada with 10, Jamaica with 7 (most of them by Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff and Toots & the Maytals), Australia with four (AC/DC and Bee Gees both with two) and a lone song from Sweden (by ABBA).
In May 2010, Rolling Stone compiled an updated list which was published in a special issue and in digital form for iPod and iPad applications. The list differs from the 2004 version, with all of the new additions being songs from the 2000s with the exceptions of "Juicy" by the Notorious B.I.G. and "Big Pimpin'" by Jay-Z, which were released in 1994 and 1999, respectively. A total of 25 new songs were added, the entire top 25 remained unchanged, however further down the list of 500, many songs have changed their ranking as a result of insertion of new songs causing consecutive shifts among the originally listed songs. The only new entry among the top 100 was Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy" at number 100.
The number of songs from each decade in this updated version is as follows: