Top 100 of the past 50 years

I love Popdose, and this list of the top 100 singles of the past 50 years shows why. Neither the smug Rolling Stone critics nor the snarky 21st century bloggers would come up with a list that incorporates a host of undisputed classics along with some terrific off-the-wall choices — XTC, Dave Brubeck, Scritti Politti.

– Most of the top 20 is dead-on
– The shoutout to Colin Moulding’s bass playing (#11)
– The shoutout to a classic WKRP moment (#5)
– Stevie being in the top 2 with a classic blast of funk and philosophy
– The recognition for George Michael finally doing a song that showed off his actual talent (#32)
– Recognition for songs that didn’t top the charts, like Veronica
– Picking Goodbye Yellow Brick Road out of the Elton John catalog

Don’t love:
– Just not feeling the Beach Boys at #1
– The Peter Gabriel overload, particularly Sledgehammer. I liked that song better when Stevie Wonder recorded the version at #2 on this list with much more meaningful lyrics. Videos do not make songs
– Two Tears for Fears song that aren’t Shout and Woman in Chains. (Though I did like the Real Genius reference)

– I remember reading that Steve Winwood sang Gimme Some Lovin’ in F-sharp when he was on Letterman’s show years ago. The original was in G. Still sounded great.

And now for the obligatory “songs for which I would’ve voted”:

You Oughta Know, Alanis Morissette: Heck of an introduction.

Whipping Post, Allman Brothers: Some anguished blues with killer bass and organ lines trading with the usual Allman guitars, all flipping between 4/4 and 11/8? 11/12?

Rock Lobster, B-52s: I can’t dance worth a flip, but I still hail this one as a classic party song.

The Old Apartment, Barenaked Ladies: Comic geniuses in their live shows, the Ladies can also put together a good dose of pissed-off sentimentality.

Across the Universe, Beatles: One of the best dreamscapes ever imagined. Pardon the pun.

The Metro, Berlin: Can’t really remember any better story-telling in a synth-pop song. Great vocals, too.

In a Big Country, Big Country: Live versions are even better — a thunderous wall of sound underneath Stuart Adamson’s yearning vocals.

Allentown, Billy Joel: Best tale of working-class despair told by someone not named Bruce.

Just What I Needed, The Cars: Best use of their ironic semi-detachment, complete with a razor-sharp guitar solo.

Surrender, Cheap Trick: Best attempt to bridge the generation gap.

Who’ll Stop the Rain, Creedence Clearwater Revival: A protest song built on a simple, effective metaphor.

Boys Don’t Cry, The Cure: Ball up that sensitivity and let it go with a good 2:35 collection of hooks.

Shining Star, Earth Wind & Fire: You can do anything you want. Except dance, if you happen to be Elaine.

Mirror in the Bathroom, English Beat: Just because you’re paranoid …

Your Hand in Mine, Explosions in the Sky: My one relative obscurity — a gorgeous mosaic of simple guitar lines that capture every aspect of young love.

The Chain, Fleetwood Mac: Dysfunction never sounded so good.

Don’t Change, INXS: Is it legal to form an ’80s covers band without adding this to the set list?

Cult of Personality, Living Colour: A great band’s most accessible effort.

Our House, Madness: A simple ode to a simple life.

Overkill, Men at Work: They had a reputation as a bunch of goofballs after their first couple of videos, so this one may have been misunderstood. It reassures the listener that we all have paranoid days, and the chord changes in the chorus (think “Ghosts appear then fade away”) are stunningly beautiful.

Mental Hopscotch, Missing Persons: Dale Bozzio’s yelping voice actually works on this one. Helps that the rest of the band could really play.

Synchronicity II, The Police: Unique storytelling told with a bit of panache.

Middle of the Road, The Pretenders: Chrissie Hynde nails this coming-of-age tale.

Fake Plastic Trees, Radiohead, and Shout, Tears for Fears: Lumped together here because they’re perfectly orchestrated, putting together all the drama one can wring out of a rock band.

Angel, Sarah McLachlan: A classic with some subtleties, like the bowed bass you hardly notice.

Pride, U2: Left out the parentheses for Jason’s sake.

Won’t Get Fooled Again, The Who: Perfect rock song.


2 thoughts on “Top 100 of the past 50 years

  1. I’d’ve tried to squeeze Matthew Sweet’s “Sick of Myself” in there somewhere — I’m not a big Tears for Fears fan, so I might ax “Sowing the Seeds of Love” to make room.

  2. “Another One Bites the Dust” — the WORST of all Queen songs, IMHO. The more I come across their songs, the more I appreciate their versatility, and most especially, Freddy’s singing ability. He makes the simplest songs really work. But, man, I hated, and pretty much will always hate, that song. And I have a love/hate relationship with ‘Crazy Little Thing Called Love’ as well.

    I really like your additions. Esp. Rock Lobster.

    …and I think I might axe any Tears for Fears. I bought (and at the time, loved) their first album when it came out. Listening to their stuff now, esp. Big Chair, I don’t think any of it ages well. Oddly enough, though, I’m finding that I’m liking the Cure more and more the more I hear of their stuff. And I somehow entirely missed them the first go around.

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