Unrescuable Schizo feature: Check out our FAVORITE 30 SONGS OF THE 2000S.

Monday, November 29, 2010

My Favorite 100 Songs of All-Time, Part 3 (songs 30-1)

If you missed the first two parts:
Part 1 (Songs 100-66)
Part 2 (Songs 65-31)

30. Peter Schilling "Major Tom"

This is one of the few '80s songs on this list that I only started to enjoy in the 2000s. Hearing this song reminds me of fabulous '80s nights dancing at Belvedere's and Lava Lounge.

29. Joy Division "Love Will Tear Us Apart"

And this one reminds me of Ceremony, the goth night at the Upstage.

28. Lee Greenwood "Somebody's Leaving"

My grandmother was a fan of country singer Lee Greenwood so I listened to a lot of his music as a kid. Easily the most obscure song on this list, "Somebody’s Leaving" was a 1987 album track from If There’s Any Justice. Greenwood goes from low notes in the verses into bridges and choruses that steadily rise until they’re soaring. It’s fun to try to sing.

27. Journey "Don't Stop Believin'"

Someday when music historians pass their ultimate judgments, this could be deemed the best track of the 1980s. You have to love a song that spends three minutes building to its one climactic chorus.

26. New Radicals "You Get What You Give"

I remember reading an interview where Joni Mitchell or Annie Lennox (I don't recall which) called this the best pop song of the last 50 years. Or maybe it was Linda Ronstadt. Whichever lady made that proclamation wasn't far off.

25. Sheryl Crow "Strong Enough"

What an emotionally vulnerable song. I wish Sheryl could go back with her tuesday night music club and try to write new material. It's time to make up, guys.

24. Prince "When Doves Cry"

Any time they played the full-length version of "When Doves Cry" on the radio or MTV was always a momentous occasion.

23. Lou Reed "Walk on the Wild Side"

The greatest chilled-out song of all-time. It's cool that most of the characters in the song were real people. And the colored girls go...

22. Milli Vanilli "Girl You Know It's True"

Throughout the whole Milli Vanilli scandal, I never understood while people got so upset. Yes, it’s wrong that they lip-synched, but does it really matter who provided the vocals? The songs are still good, so what’s the difference? Odd lingering memory: I played this 45 on repeat for days while I tried to beat Zelda II: The Adventures of Link on Nintendo. (I eventually succeeded.)

21. Dr. Dre "Nuthin' But a G Thang"

The highest-rated rap song on my list. It's the song that introduced Snoop Dogg to the world. Compton and Long Beach together - now you know you in trouble.

20. Soft Cell "Tainted Love/Where Did Our Love Go"

"Tainted Love" is one of only a few songs that works in three different genres, from soul (Gloria Jones, 1964) to rock (Marilyn Manson, 2001) to Soft Cell's pop version. The addition of the Supremes' remake "Where Did Our Love Go" is the icing on the cake.

19. Dexy's Midnight Runners "Come On Eileen"

Another '80s classic with plenty of fiddles and dirty lyrics. The gradually sped-up bridge is a clever idea. I wonder why more bands don't try something like that.

18. Queen "We Will Rock You"

I can't stand 95% of classic rock. You can have your Pink Floyd and your Led Zeppelin, it's just not my thing. Queen are my favorite performers from that era, probably because they constantly moved outside the genre and experimented with their sound. "We Will Rock You" has perhaps my favorite guitar solo ever.

17. Irene Cara "Flashdance...What a Feeling!"

One of the most perfect '80s pop songs, and one that includes a shout-out to Pittsburgh.

16. Don Henley "The End of the Innocence"

Great imagery in this song, it really paints a picture. I love the last verse - "I need to remember this, so baby give me just one kiss / And let me take a long last look before we say goodbye."

15. Joan Jett & the Blackhearts "I Love Rock N Roll"

Joan Jett might be the most badass female musician ever. I saw her play this at the Warped Tour a couple years ago and she still sounded (and looked) amazing.

14. Tommy James & the Shondells "Crimson & Clover"

A trippy rock & roll song that just gets weirder and weirder as it goes on. I wanna get some of whatever they were on when they wrote it.

13. Culture Club "Karma Chameleon"

"Karma Chameleon" was my favorite song as a kid, to the point that I remember my seven-year-old self saying, "I love this song more than anything in the world!" Colour By Numbers was the first record I bought, so there’s a lot of history associated with this song for me.

12. Elton John "I Guess That's Why They Call it the Blues"

I've never taken the time to seriously learn an instrument. But the highlight of my wannabe-musician career was learning the harmonica solo to this song. Another of my favorite lyrics - "I simply love you more than I love life itself."

11. Phil Collins "Against All Odds"

How can you just walk away from me when all I can do is watch you leave? Phil's relationship is in dire straits here, it's good stuff.

10. Journey "Faithfully"

Though almost nobody can relate to the song's theme of being a touring rock musician away from your family, the song still has a sweet appeal. Steve Perry has the best voice of any rock singer, period.

9. OMD "If You Leave"

A favorite from the Pretty in Pink soundtrack, this song has not one but two key changes in the chorus, followed by a closing section where the music completely changes and the song goes in a different direction. I like those kind of unusual song structures.

8. Simply Red "Holding Back the Years"

For some reason depressing songs like this one are really intriguing. "Nothing had the chance to be good / Nothing ever could," sings Mick Hucknall, before adding, "I'll keep holding on," as if he's sadly clinging to a hope that has no chance of ever coming true.

7. Whitesnake "Here I Go Again"

Whitesnake first recorded this song in 1982, five years before it became a hit. The original is terrible - it sounds like classic rock. They even recorded a tragic video for the 1982 version - you can find it on YouTube.

6. Bonnie Raitt "I Can't Make You Love Me"

Another sad song - this has to be the most gutwrenching ballad ever to become a legitimate adult contemporary hit. "I can't make you love me if you don't," Bonnie sings with resignation. It's so emotional.

5. Freda Payne "Band of Gold"

For about a year, the monthly soul night at the White Eagle on the South Side was the place to be. They played northern soul music and this one was a regular highlight. How can you not dance while listening to music this infectious?

4. Leonard Cohen "Hallelujah"

I saw Leonard Cohen in concert last year. The man rocked it. The incredible passion and energy he displayed were the same attributes he's displayed in his poetry over the years. Jeff Buckley's version was the first "Hallelujah" I ever heard, and that was great, but credit must go to the originator.

3. Jermaine Stewart "We Don't Have to Take Our Clothes Off"

I had no idea what the words meant when I was little. I just knew that I liked catchy, danceable melodies. I've never gotten over the tragic irony of the fact that the man behind this anti-sex anthem died a few years later of AIDS.

2. Tracy Chapman "The Promise"

Another song that came from summer camp. This album track from Tracy Chapman's New Beginning was the promise everyone made to each other to come back the following year.

1. Cyndi Lauper "True Colors"

The perfect ballad with a perfect message. Only Cyndi Lauper could've performed this song - her little-girl voice was the perfect fit because it added a layer of childlike innocence that made the song even sweeter.

My Favorite Songs of All-Time, Part 2 (songs 65-31)

Here's part 2 of the list, covering songs 65-31. If you missed it, check out Part 1 here. Part 3 will feature the Top 30 and will be published next.

65. ABBA "Dancing Queen"

It's funny how bands like the Bee Gees and ABBA were made fun of for years, but their work is now appreciated. These days, if you don't like "Dancing Queen," you're pretty much a commie.

64. Berlin "Take My Breath Away"

This song killed Berlin's career since it pigeon-holed them into a genre in which they didn't belong. But it gave us a memorable song, so on balance the trade-off was worth it.

63. Lee Ann Womack "I Hope You Dance"

Amidst all the trite, cliched mainstream crap coming out of Nashville, "I Hope You Dance" stands the test of time. Its advice still rings true. I strongly prefer the country version of the song to the pop version, due to the presence of the Sons of the Desert’s background vocals.

62. Bonnie Tyler "Total Eclipse of the Heart"

Turn around, bright eyes! Between this and "Holding Out for a Hero," Bonnie Tyler had the market cornered on early '80s raspy-voiced melodrama.

61. The Outfield "Your Love"

Funny thing – I despised this song for years, because of the incredibly stupid chorus. "I just wanna use your love tonight / I don’t wanna lose your love tonight." Wtf is that supposed to mean? Can you think of any scenario in real life when any human being would ever utter those words? But eventually the catchy melody won me over. How can you change the channel when you hear the words, "Josie’s on a vacation far away…"

60. Simon & Garfunkel "The Sounds of Silence"

Harmony seems to be a lost art in pop music. Nobody did it better than Simon & Garfunkel on this track from The Graduate.

59. Falco "Rock Me Amadeus"

A 1986 rap-pop song by an Austrian musician in honor of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. You don't see songs this weird much anymore (White Town's "Your Woman" from 1997 might come closest.)

58. Belle Stars "Iko Iko"

Originally written in 1953 and titled "Jock-A-Mo," "Iko Iko" has been recorded by numerous artists over the years. The Dixie Cups version from 1965 is cool but the Belle Stars' 1988 tribalistic version from the Rain Man movie stands out for me.

57. Father MC "I'll Do 4 U"

I'm sure nobody remembers this single from 1991 with the cool sample from Cheryl Lynn’s "Got To Be Real." Father MC has a nice flow and there’s a bunch of memorable lines here, like the one about loving the black hummingbird. Interesting trivia I found out recently: That’s Mary J. Blige singing the chorus - it was her first appearance on record ever.

56. Heart "These Dreams"

The second Heart song on the countdown. I guess for some reason as a kid in elementary school I was infatuated with these ladies. This one is more sunny than "Alone" and it's the first time Nancy Wilson sang lead.

55. Ani DiFranco "Untouchable Face"

To this day I've only heard a handful of Ani songs but they're all terrific. “Untouchable Face” tells the gutwrenching but relatable story of being infatuated with someone who’s already in a relationship (“I could make you happy, if you weren’t already.”). The line “You look like a photograph of yourself” is one of my favorite lyrics of all-time.

54. Madonna "Like a Prayer"

The religious imagery, the taboo music video interracial kiss and the glorious, uplifting choir make this the best song of Madonna's career.

53. Lisa Loeb & Nine Stories "Stay (I Missed You)"

The bespectacled Lisa became the first unsigned artist ever to score a #1 hit when her first single hit the top.

52. Michael Jackson "Beat It"

Like all kids from the '80s, I was a crazy MJ fan. I had the action figure with the "Beat It" jacket. This is his only song in my Top 100, though "Dirty Diana," "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'," "Human Nature" and "Man in the Mirror" all rank highly.

51. Phil Collins "In the Air Tonight"

This song singlehandedly makes me want to learn to play drums. Phil says he's aware this drum section may be his enduring legacy, and he's cool with that. Good for him.

50. Biz Markie "Just a Friend"

The worst singing ever in a hit song. Today, Biz would get kicked off American Idol before he finished singing the first line. But in 1989, his rant against girls "who say they just have a friend" was huge. I love the names of his friends - Agnes, Agatha, Jermaine and Jack. Biz is a comedic king.

49. Bright Eyes "First Day Of My Life"

I've always loved Conor Oberst's quivering voice. This acoustic track is one of the greatest love ballads I've ever heard, with the thought-provoking lyric, "I'd rather be working for a paycheck than waiting to win the lottery." The simple music video directed by John Cameron Mitchell is also genius.

48. Sophie B. Hawkins "Before I Walk On Fire"

Loaded with exotic rhythms and sexually-charged words, Sophie's debut Tongues and Tails remains my favorite album of all-time. "Before I Walk on Fire" is even more powerful when performed live.

47. Nirvana "Smells Like Teen Spirit"

Not much needs to be said about this one. It's simply one of the most influential songs in history. I remember when this song first came out in December 1991, my family went shopping at K-Mart and I sat in the car listening to B94 because they said this song was coming up. Hearing the groundbreaking new Nirvana song was way more important than picking out Christmas presents.

46. Shannon "Let the Music Play"

Only on my personal list could long-forgotten dance singer Shannon edge outrank Nirvana. I dare say "Let the Music Play" is one of the best dance tracks ever written.

45. Prince "Little Red Corvette"

1999 was one of the first 33s I ever owned. This slow-burner had some clever lines, though it wasn't until years later that I understood what "She had a pocket full of horses / Trojan and some of them used" and "I felt a little ill when I saw all the pictures of the jockeys who were there before me" meant.

44. Chumbawamba "Tubthumping"

Like millions of duped Americans, I bought Tubthumper, the album by British anarchists Chumbawamba, only to discover it was the worst album I'd ever purchased. But the single remains a sing-along classic. Appropriately, this song was actually playing my first time in a bar after turning 21.

43. Don McLean "American Pie"

"American Pie" goes back to my four awesome summers as a camp counselor. This was one of the last songs they'd play at every camp function so it became special. So while to most people the song calls to mind a terrible plane crash, it reminds me of hay rides, summer hikes and good times.

42. Aerosmith "Angel"

Of all the Aerosmith songs, why this one? I'm not sure, except that I enjoy Steven Tyler's flexible vocals and the closing harmony.

41. The Who "Baba O'Riley"

Best song intro ever? The swimming keyboards are a great way to build anticipation as you wait for the guitar & drums to kick in.

40. Boy Meets Girl "Waiting for a Star to Fall"

Boy Meets Girl were the songwriting team of Merrill and Rubicam, who penned tons of '80s hits. Fortunately, Whitney Houston turned down "Waiting for a Star to Fall," allowing them to record it themselves. I can't imagine it sounding this joyous and innocent if Whitney had taken it. And that sax solo is rockin'.

39. Air Supply "Making Love Out of Nothing at All"

Another epic Jim Steinman song. Everyone loves the irony of this soft-pop band singing the line, "I can make all the stadiums rock!," but, secretly, I'd kill to see them in concert. They are my ultimate guilty pleasure.

38. Michael Penn "No Myth"

Michael Penn was the Clap Your Hands Say Yeah of the pre-internet era. "No Myth" made him huge thanks to its lines about being Romeo in black jeans. He won the MTV award for Best New Artist and was massively hyped by critics. Then he failed to record another hit, ever. Now he's mostly known for being the brother of Sean Penn and wife of Aimee Mann.

37. Cameo "Word Up"

Thank you, Cameo, for performing the quintessential funk track and for sporting the unforgettable red cod piece.

36. Janet Jackson "Again"

This was our high school prom theme. I'm still not sure why. But every time the lovely ballad comes on, I get to revisit that part of my life for three minutes.

35. Sergio Mendes "Never Gonna Let You Go"

Well, this one is embarrassing. "Never Gonna Let You Go" is a pretty spectacularly awful adult contemporary song. But I liked the voices of the guy and the girl - neither of whom is actually Sergio Mendes, I later learned.

34. Meat Loaf "I'd Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That)"

Like most of the public, I had no idea just what it was that Meat Loaf wouldn't do for love. He explained in an interview that the answer is different each time he sings it, because each line references the previous line, as in, "I'll never forget the way you feel right now / I'd do anything for love, but I won't do that." Mystery solved.

33. Timex Social Club "Rumors"

I don't even know how this song got on my radar as a 9-year-old. I think Hot FM 101 in Youngstown used to play it a lot. That's one of the benefits of growing up in Beaver County - we had another top 40 station to rival B94. Thanks to Wikipedia, I now know that Timex Social Club was composed of the same people as Club Nouveau, who had the #1 remake "Lean on Me."

32. Guns N Roses "Paradise City"

One of the first hard rock songs I really loved. I remember being a little freaked out by the skulls on the cover of the record when I purchased it from National Record Mart.

31. Shakespear's Sister "Stay"

What still strikes me about "Stay" is how unique it sounds. There wasn't another song in 1992 that sounded even remotely like this.

Check out the Final part, Songs 30-1.