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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.

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