“Kisses of the Sun” by ATC
It’s catchy bubblegum electro-pop at its finest, but lacks enough substance, tonally or otherwise, to make the list.
“Hella Good” by No Doubt
One of my all-time favorite guitar licks, and an overall composition good enough for me to forgive them the use of the word “hella.” Plus, the music video is No Doubt messing around on a boat, how can you go wrong? Much like above, it’s a great song, and another that I would blast at parties if I had my druthers, but there’s not enough here to merit a place on the list.
Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming:
20. “Baba O’Riley” by The Who
This is one of the songs on the list that makes it almost entirely out of nostalgia. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an awesome song, with one of the most memorable synthesizer loops of all times as its intro. But what truly makes this song is just how complex it is. Now, many songs by The Who are complex in their own right (“Boris the Spider” notwithstanding) but “Baba O’Riley” has movements that rival any symphony. The gradual buildup from the synthesizer to the full band, with the guitar hitting full force just as the vocals come in. Simply put, it’s a powerful and memorable song. Hey, it was my ringtone for about a year, so it must be doing something right.
19. “Funkytown” by Lipps, Inc.
Oh, how the mighty have fallen. What once was my undisputed, hands-down, no-holds-barred favorite song of all time now barely cracks the top 20. How can this be? I mean, the song hasn’t changed, though I’m sure it’s been sampled to death by increasingly desperate rap artists.
I think it’s that I listened to the song so much over the last decade (yes, it was my favorite song for about that long) that, while I haven’t gotten sick of it necessarily, it no longer has the same effect on me it once had. It’s still infectiously catchy, danceable and, yes, funky, but it’s just not the same for me as it once was. Does that make the song any worse? Nope. And you can bet that if I’m at a party and have control over the music, you’ll hear it sooner rather than later. It may have fallen down my list, but nothing will ever stop this song from taking me down.
18. “Black is Black” by Los Bravos
It’s no secret that I’m a fan of songs that have a more reserved, even melancholy feel to them. I know that sounds like a baldfaced lie coming from somebody who just talked about how much he loves “Funkytown” but it really is true. I’ve also always liked the sound of ’50s and ’60s era boy bands, like The Zombies, The Kinks and … there’s one more that I seem to be forgetting.
But there’s something about this song I find undeniably appealing. Maybe it’s the way the song begins, slowly building until the atonal vocals come in, maybe it’s the lyrics, which have a distinctly lonely and longing feel to them. Or maybe I just find it funny that a Spanish beat group would have a lead singer named Michael Volker Kogel.
What else can I say? It’s atmospheric, it’s meaningful and its message is poignant. If that, combined with a nice bass groove, isn’t enough to earn it a spot on my list, I don’t know what is.
17. “Stan” by Eminem
I know that it pretty much makes me a colossal stereotype to say that Eminem is my favorite rapper, but it’s true. While he’s fallen off the wagon as of late, and through several miles of the Earth’s crust, (seriously, “Love the Way You Lie” is horrible) his older work is a unique mix of comedy, brashness and observational pondering. In this song, Eminem expertly displays a narrative, broaching topics such as suicide, obsession and the overwhelming price of fame, and does so masterfully.
This is also one of the best examples of sampling I’ve ever heard in a rap song. Dido’s “Thank You” provides the perfect complement to the song’s morose vibe, and combined with the steady sounds of a thunderstorm in the background creates an atmosphere that is dark and foreboding, a teaser to the song’e inevitable conclusion.
And hey, any song that could make Elton John agree to collaborate has to be good, right?
Actually, I probably prefer the version with Elton John to the original, but I disqualified it from inclusion, since it’s a live-only version. But regardless of who joins Eminem throughout this tale of woe, it remains a powerful work. The only reason it’s so low on this list is that it’s one of those songs that I really have to be in the mood to listen to. But when I am, it blows me away. Hmm. What does that say about me, I wonder?
16. “Aerodynamic” by Daft Punk
This song is freaking awesome. There’s no other way to describe it. Daft Punk truly outdid themselves when they crafted this masterpiece.
The solemn opening bells, the rocking synthesized guitar riff, the calming, almost contradictory outro … it’s all awesome.
But, unfortunately, it places this low on the list for one simple reason. It could be better. In fact, it is better already. On Daft Punk’s Alive 2007 CD, there’s a remix with this song and “One More Time.” To be succinct, it blows the original version out of the water, though I couldn’t include the remix since it’s a live version. Maybe I’m being a bit too sonically shallow on this one, but I just can’t place the original any higher when I’ve seen its full potential realized in another song. It’s still awesome and I still love it, but my forbidden remix love will always take precedent
Check back tomorrow for the next installment.