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Monday, November 29, 2010

My Favorite 100 Songs of All-Time

After several weeks of brainstorming and calculating, I'm finally ready to unveil my Favorite 100 songs of All-Time list. This is not the list of a typical music blogger. It’s the list of someone who grew up religiously listening to Casey Kasem's weekly Top 40 countdown and who unabashedly loves cheesy '80s love ballads.

I'm not joking - Bette Midler's "The Rose" is on the list. If that kind of thing scares you, now would be a good time to click away to another page.

I readily admit this is a ridiculous collection of songs, but it's cool, I've always had eclectic taste. Sixty two of these songs are from the '80s and another 23 are from the '90s, leaving just 3 from the '60s and 6 each from the '70s and '00s.

Most of my favorite bands didn't even make it. Instead there's a lot of forgotten one-hit wonders. So while Radiohead, the Dresden Dolls, Sigur Ros and Matt & Kim failed to make the cut, I managed to find room for the likes of Father MC, Nu Shooz, Kris Kross, Chumbawamba, Michael Penn and Oleta Adams.

Only a few artists placed multiple tracks on the list: Prince and Phil Collins lead with three each, while Madonna, Guns N Roses, Journey, Heart, Meat Loaf notched two apiece. Siobhan Fahey makes two appearances with different bands (Bananarama/Shakespear's Sister.) In terms of songwriters, Jim Steinman placed four in the top 100 – gotta love those melodramatic rock ballads!

I was going to include audio clips for these songs, but that would've taken too long. And yinz know how to use YouTube. So I've provided the single artwork instead. Because I enjoy single artwork…

PART 1: SONGS 100-66

100. blink-182 "Dammit (Growing Up)"

"Dammit" is just a fun, catchy song that grabs me from the intro guitar riff. I like the bitter kiss-off lyrics to an ex ("When he's gone, I won't come back!").

99. Baltimora "Tarzan Boy"

Italian band Baltimora became a huge one-hit wonder with "Tarzan Boy," a song that somehow made a resurgence in the ‘90s in Listerine commercials. I still have it on 45.

98. Kim Carnes "Bette Davis Eyes"

My first childhood crush was Kim Carnes, owner of the long blond hair and gravelly voice. I'm pretty sure as a narrative tale, "Bette Davis Eyes" doesn't make any sense, but for several of my early years it was one of my favorite songs.

97. Naughty by Nature "O.P.P."

Arm me with harmony! Naughty by Nature were using Michael Jackson samples nearly 20 years before Kanye had the idea.

96. Bananarama "Cruel Summer"

Is that really a xylophone in there? We need more songs with xylophones!

95. Tears for Fears "Shout"

I have a vivid memory of seeing this video for the first time on MTV one morning, then going to school and having the song stuck in my head all day. I raced home to turn on MTV again in the hopes I'd hear it again because in the course of one school day I had become obsessed.

94. Jimmy Eat World "A Praise Chorus"

I love that Jimmy Eat World make angsty emo music for adults. "Even at 25, you gotta start sometime!" "A Praise Chorus" provides inspiration for those still trying to find their place in the world during their 20s.

93. Counting Crows "A Long December"

A song about finding optimism through depression. "Man, it's been so long since I've seen the ocean... I guess I should." This was back when Adam Duritz was still relevant.

92. Beck "Loser"

Shave your face with some mace in the dark! I'm a driver! I'm a winner! Things are gonna change, I can feel it! Get crazy with the Cheez Whiz!

91. Naked Eyes "Always Something There to Remind Me"

Another fun '80s pop song. The lines about the small cafe always paint such a vivid picture in my head.

90. Human League "Don't You Want Me"

The Human League were a bunch of freaks. Such vicious lyrics in this synthpop classic. "Don't forget it's me who put you where you are now, and I can put you back down too!"

89. MGMT "Electric Feel"

The most perfect pop song of the last 10 years, perhaps. I'm still not sick of it, no matter how often I hear it.

88. Dixie Chicks "Cowboy Take Me Away"

This track seems to have gotten overshadowed by other songs about murdering abusive husbands with poisoned black eyed peas, but it's the Chicks' most beautiful effort. The final minute of this song - an instrumental section built around slide guitar and banjo - is my favorite minute of country music of all-time. I used to get so furious when country radio stations would cut that part off.

87. Bobby Brown "Roni"

I have no explanation for why I like this song so much. Something about that emotional bridge just gets me: "She’ll make the toughest homeboy fall deep in love / Said once you’ve had a Roni you can never give her up!" Brown's entire Don't Be Cruel album is massively underrated - look it up.

86. Roxette "Listen to Your Heart"

Some songs have bizarre associations in my head. This one reminds me of Mrs. McCann's middle school art class, because she would play B94 in class, which I thought was the coolest thing ever. This song came on during one such class, and now every time I hear it I'm back at that wooden desk drawing something.

85. Guns N Roses "Patience"

One of the best acoustic rock songs ever written and one that grabbed me during the middle school years.

84. Kris Kross "Jump"

During the height of this song's popularity, David Spade mentioned the boys on his Hollywood Minute segment on SNL: "Kris Kross - guess what guys? It's a short ride, save some money." Hopefully they took his advice.

83. Bette Midler "The Rose"

Oh hell yes! Songs don’t get much cheesier than this. But it's such a great shower karaoke song, with its rising and falling vocal melodies and climactic verses where she harmonizes with herself.

82. Bad English "When I See You Smile"

Some songs are so sappy and sweet that I just can't bring myself to hate them. Here's Exhibit A. I love watching the music video and seeing John Waite's horrifically big hair.

81. Jay Brannan "Can't Have it All"

A simple song that describes the difficulties in finding love these days. "Fuck this, this can't be my life," Brannan sings in his angelic voice. Most of us can relate.

80. Prince "Erotic City"

Maybe my favorite B-side in history! Released as the flip side to "Let’s Go Crazy," "Erotic City" reveals Prince at his risqué best. "We can fuck until the dawn," Prince and Sheila E. sang, though my 7-year-old ears didn't even notice the F-word. This is one of only six tracks in my top 100 that was never released as a single.

79. Beatles "All You Need is Love"

It's hard to choose a favorite Beatles song but this one has always stood out for me. It provides a great, wholesome message, and contains one of my favorite song-within-a-song references when John Lennon throws in the "She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah" at the end. Also, I love weird time signatures, and 7/4 fits the bill.

78. Oleta Adams "Get Here"

If your only memory of this song was when Justin Guarini massacred it during the first season of American Idol, please do hunt down the original. Oleta Adams has one of the richest voices on the planet.

77. Phil Collins "A Groovy Kind of Love"

My favorite love songs are the most basic and simple ones. It doesn’t get much simpler than, “When I’m feeling blue / All I have to do / Is take a look at you / Then I’m not so blue.” The lyrics are totally sweet and lovey-dovey.

76. Nu Shooz "I Can't Wait"

How is it possible no rapper has yet sampled the brilliant synths on this song? That's a smash hit waiting to happen. "I Can't Wait" actually earned Nu Shooz a Grammy nomination for Best New Artist.

75. Heart "Alone"

One of the great power ballads from the era of power ballads. I can nail a perfect score on this on expert level on Playstation Karaoke Revolution.

74. Meat Loaf "Objects in the Rear View Mirror May Appear Closer Than They Are"

Bat Out of Hell II will always be one of my favorite albums – certain associations remind me of people and events from high school. Jim Steinman’s epic ballads always evoke a comfortable sense of nostalgia, and that's the case with this 12-minute track.

73. Eurythmics "Here Comes the Rain Again"

"Here Comes the Rain Again" has always resonated with me more than "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)," possibly because it's not as overplayed.

72. Steve Winwood "Higher Love"

Love the percussion intro, love the use of brass instrumentation, love Chaka Khan's background vocals. And I just learned that Whitney Houston recorded this song two years after Winwood - thank you, Wikipedia.

71. George Michael & Aretha Franklin "I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)"

I started liking this song a lot more when I imagined doing a karaoke duet of it with me singing the Aretha part. That hasn't happened yet, but hopefully soon.

70. Madonna "Borderline"

One of Madonna's earliest hits is still one of my favorites. That twinkling piano/keyboard intro gets me every time.

69. Sly Fox "Let's Go All the Way"

I used to think this song was badass. And then I saw the embarrassing music video. Oh well. It was the '80s.

68. Mr. Mister "Broken Wings"

This was one of the first videos I remember seeing in heavy rotation after we got MTV. I still love Richard Page's vocal on the track.

67. Force MDs "Tender Love"

I thought maybe I was alone in adoring this long-lost 1985 soul hit written by Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, but Alicia Keys recently called it one of her favorites and performed a fantastic remake. And look at that album cover - they're all wearing fur! I love the 80s.

66. Smashing Pumpkins "Disarm"

I've never been a Bill Corgan fan but I like his voice on this one as it switches to falsetto and back with nearly every other line.

Continue to Part 2: Songs 65-31

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