Thursday, December 29, 2016

Top 100 Songs: 50-26


50. "Tiny Dancer" by Elton John (1972) - Prev. #15
- Despite the somewhat cryptic lyrics (as many Elton John songs had) which are not typically my thing, this song succeeds on the strength of its sound alone. This is the pinnacle of John's soft piano rock & roll to me. 

49. "Fool Hearted Memory" by George Strait (1982) - New Entry
- This is the second to last country song to be featured on my list and I would never had guessed it would be George Strait to make my top 50 songs of all-time. Despite becoming a big fan of Tim McGraw and Garth Brooks early in my childhood, I have slowly come to appreciate a few of the true blue country gems put out by Strait. That violin opening, Strait's crooning "Foooooo- UUUUUU- llllll hearted memory", and the story of a man left drinking over his broken heart make this a country classic.

48. "Leader of the Band" by Dan Fogelberg (1981) - Prev. #42
- A beautiful family story set to a simple folk style guitar tune

47. "All I Want For Christmas Is You" by Mariah Carey (1994) - Prev. #212
- I consider this to be the best secular Christmas song ever made. The slow opening is like ripping off the wrapping of a present that's just pure joy. It's incredibly catchy and infectious - the one song I wouldn't want to go a Christmas season without hearing.

46. "Changes" by Tupac Shakur (1998) - Prev. #98
- Like "Across 110th Street" by Bobby Womack, Tupac's "Changes" is a song about the struggles of life in a ghetto that refuses to glorify it, yet also doesn't throw a blanket of condemnation over it. I don't agree with everything in the song, but I like that within Tupac's lyrics there is a constant tension between what he feels is 'right' and what the reality of the situation is, "that's just the way it is". The lyrics below perfectly illustrate what I love about this song.
"Now tell me what's a mother to do?Bein' real don't appeal to the brother in you.You gotta operate the easy way."I made a G today" But you made it in a sleazy way.Sellin' crack to the kids. "I gotta get paid,"Well hey, well that's the way it is."

Tupac Shakur
45. "Under Pressure" by Queen feat. David Bowie (1981) - Prev. #45
- Queen's best song is this collaboration with Bowie that combines Queen's operatic stadium rock sound with its most meaningful lyrics:
"Why can't we give love that one more chance?...'Cause love's such an old-fashioned wordAnd love dares you to care forThe people on the edge of the night"

44. "Asleep in the Light" by Keith Green (1978) - Prev. #118
- Keith Green's prophetic cry to Christianity that strikes just as hard today (if not harder) than it did in 1978:
"The world is sleeping in the dark,
That the church just can't fight,'cause it's asleep in the light!"

43. "Stay Together For the Kids" by Blink 182 (2002) - Prev. #133
- It isn't often you hear a pop-punk band exploring the consequences of divorce with thoughtfulness and perspective. The more I return to this song, the more the choice to write from the child's perspective moves me and convinces that in our current culture, the most rebellious move is not shaking a fist at the traditional family, but at the disintegration of the traditional family. 

42. "Don't Stop Believin'" by Journey (1981) - Prev. #34
- Musically, this is a top twenty song for me. The only thing that knocks it back so many spots is the fact that the lyrics are just kinda okay. Should I overlook something like that and just enjoy the music?

41. "Chasin' that Neon Rainbow" by Alan Jackson (1990) - Prev. #72
- I'm surprised to find this song in my Top 100, let alone my Top 50. However, as I kept listening to the song and thinking about its merits I was struck at what a 'perfect' little song this is. It's simple, fun to sing along to (as most good country songs are), gets your toes tappin', and contains a humble song about filling a dream to be a singer. I don't think any other song epitomizes the fruits of the country genre better than this one. 

40. "Don't Worry Baby" by The Beach Boys (1964) - New Entry
- Not quite their best (that comes later on the list), but the harmonies in this song are just heavenly. Though it was made in response to Phil Spector's work on The Ronette's "Be My Baby", I don't think it quite eclipses the "wall of sound" and forward momentum that song achieved so well.

39. "Singin' in the Rain" by Gene Kelly from Singin' in the Rain (1952) - Prev. #28
- Though the visuals are iconic, the song by itself holds up as a wonderfully cheery distillation of the child-like enjoyment of what it's like to play in the rain.

Gene Kelly
38. "All the Way" by Frank Sinatra (1957) - Prev. #33
- My favorite Sinatra song and one of my favorite love songs of all-time. If I were allowed to pick, this would be the song I would want for the first dance at my wedding. Since the song basically reads like a list of vows, it would really suit the setting.
"When somebody needs youIt's no good unless he needs you all the wayThrough the good or lean years
And for all the in-between years come what mayWho knows where the road will lead usOnly a fool would sayBut if you'll let me love youIt's for sure I'm gonna love you all the way all the way"


37. "All My Loving" by The Beatles (1963) - Prev. #30
- This is a beautiful love song wrapped in an uptempo and slightly country and western wrapping. It's another perfectly crafted piece of popular music by a young Paul McCartney. Growing up, I never heard the version by the Beatles not once; I knew this song because my father would sing it to my sister and I when we were children.

My dad served 21 years as a servicemen in the Air Force and during that time my family was stationed in Oklahoma City, Japan, Arizona, and finally in Florida. I don't remember how young we were, whether it was while my family was stationed in Japan or in Arizona, but I remember my dad singing this song to us. Although we lived overseas at times, my dad would still have to go on other longer tours without us (sometimes for up to a year). It was times like these that the lyrics in this song would take on extra meaning,

"Close your eyes and I'll kiss youTomorrow I'll miss youRemember I'll always be trueAnd then while I'm awayI'll write home every dayAnd I'll send all my loving to you...
And then while I'm awayI'll write home every dayAnd I'll send all my loving to youAll my loving I will send to youAll my loving, darling I'll be true"
I distinctly remember my dad would slow the song down, and focus on the, "send all my loving to you, ALL MY LOVING". 

36. "Father, Son, Spirit" by Jason Upton (2015) - New Entry
- I consider this to be Upton's masterpiece. The trinitarian structure and devotional lyrics combine so well with his simple accompaniment. Beautiful song.

35. "Happy" by Pharrell Williams (2013) - New Entry
- I fell in love with this song listening to it a million times when writing the thesis for master's degree. It rarely fails to make my happy when I listen to it. Oddly, haven't gotten tired of it yet ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

34. "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" by The Rolling Stones (1965) - New Entry
- This is one of those songs I always saw on those "Top 100 Songs" lists that I devoured in my teens when I wanted to explore music more fully. I never really connected with the song I read so much about, until about four years ago. For some reason, that opening guitar riff caught my attention unlike before and I grew to love the lyrical tirade against the negative effects of an advertising culture.

33. "Let's Stay Together" by Al Green (1971) - New Entry
- How wonderful is this song? I'm ashamed I didn't connect with this song earlier in my life. The beat is great, the lyrics are an intelligent plea for commitment and patience, and Green's vocals are the highlight of the entire song.
Al Green
32. "One Fine Day" by The Chiffons (1963) - Prev. #31
- One of my favorite songs to be produced out of Motown. It starts out with a great hook that is pleasant enough, but when they hit the bridge the song kicks into another gear for me. It then circles around to the chorus, drops in a great musical interlude and hits you with the chorus again. By the end I forget that it started out such a pleasant little song. Like "Everlong" by the Foo Fighters I find myself getting lost into the song.

31. "Billie Jean" by Michael Jackson (1983) - Prev. #16
- Were you given the chance to have only one Michael Jackson song, which would it be? For me, it would be "Billie Jean". In fact, I don't think its even that much of a competition. All of Jackson's strengths are rolled into this one song AND the song contains none of his weaknesses. Apart from the incredible baseline and hook, Jackson's vocals are given a chance to really shine here alongside lyrics that tell a story pregnant (no pun intended) with emotion. Can you name me a more complete Michael song than this one?

30. "Born to Run" by Bruce Springsteen (1975) - Prev. #27
- Like the characters in the song who just want to get in a car and drive out of their nowhere lives, Springsteen crafted a song that sounds and feels like it can't wait to rev its engine and just drive; the song rocks.  

29. "Mr. Brightside" by The Killers (2003) - Prev. #50
- I came around to the The Killers mostly because of their songs "When We Were Young" and "Human". Eventually, I circled back to this song and I felt like I heard it for the first time. I began to listen to it more and more and have just fallen in love with it, especially that opening guitar riff.

28. "Respect" by Aretha Franklin (1967) - Prev. #67
- A classic featuring the iconic and powerful vocals of Aretha Franklin. The song has become so ubiquitous and commonly used in pop culture that it's often hard to remember how good the song is. 

27. "Johnny B. Goode" by Chuck Berry (1958) - Prev. #56
- Like "Earth Angel" before it, I came to know this song through the film Back to the Future. It's a rock and roll classic that while it certainly sounds dated (as all music eventually does), it's musical effect hasn't aged at all. It's still great.

Chuck Berry
26. "Are You Gonna Be My Girl" by Jet (2003) - New Entry
- This has become one of my top 3 dance floor songs of all-time. At this stage of my life, I've attended numerous weddings (somewhere in the 30s probably) and my hope is always that this song comes on. No official dance moves are needed for this one as dancing to this song comes about as naturally as any song. 


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