« the parting of the red sea | Main | The Wachowski Brothers killed the spotted owls! »

100 songs. 25 years. Lots of bad choices.

[First in a series of three]

I just don't have the stamina to take on news blogging tonight. That train wreck of a Road Map to Peace makes my head hurt, anyhow. And I'm still catching up on the driving songs suggestions.

Good thing for me (and you) that I always feel like bitching about music.

VH1 has listed the 100 greatest songs from the past 25 years [link via that other blogger named Michelle who also has kids and thinks Michael Moore is an ass]. I think I'll grab a nice cold Killian's and sit myself down and jot down my thoughts about this. I think I feel another survey coming on, too.

Here's the full list.(Text file - opens on a new page)

UPDATE: Here's an MP3 treat for you, from the list. Radiohead- Creep (acoustic version)

Ok, down below, here we go.

25 years. We're talking a quarter of a century. In all that time, I would venture to say that there are a lot of songs recorded that were far better than a good portion of these tunes.

I don't know the criteria for what makes a great song, according to this list. Sales? Influence on a genre? Generational anthems? Well, I know what I like, and that's what I'm going by. Sort of.

I'm not going to cover them all - I'll leave that up to you if you wish. Feel free to debate in the comments about songs that should have been there but aren't and songs that are there but leave you pondering why.

Songs that I agree on:

1. Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit: The song made grunge. Regardless of whether you think the leaders of grunge were other, lesser known Seattle bands, Nirvana was the band that made the genre mainstream. And it is a damn good song, even if you don't know what the hell Kurt Cobain was going on about.

6. Run D.M.C., Walk This Way: No list covering the past 25 years would be complete without the song that brough rap to the forefront of the MTV generation.

19. Public Enemy - Fight the Power: It was an anthem for some, a shock to others and either way you saw it, you had to admit the song had people talking. Everyone, even old ladies, knew who Public Enemy was once this song hit the airwaves.

27. Grandmaster Flash - The Message: For months after I bought this record (12" vinyl), I went around repeating the verse don't push me 'cause I'm close to the edge," and everyone sang along with me. It was catchy, it was lyrically tight and almost everyone knew the words.

38. The Clash - London Calling: Not my favorite Clash song, but the one song, besides Rock the Casbah, that made The Clash a household name. Great lyrics, great bass riff.

44. Gloria Gaynor - I Will Survive: Is there anyone who has not gotten up on the dance floor at a wedding or in a bar and belted this one out? Is there anyone who has not cried this song out to themselves after a nasty breakup? You can't hear this song without relieiving all that turmoil all over again.

43. Marvin Gaye - Sexual Healing: If you don't see this as one of the best of the last 25 years, you haven't gotten laid much.

66. Squeeze - Tempted: Damn, I used to love this band. Saw them three times. Played that one album to death. This is a great song, in every way. Lyrics that make you perform karaoke in the shower. A chorus that will make you cry if you're heart has ever been broken. A melody that lingers in your head for hours, and you don't even mind. By the way, this song comes from East Side Story but, in my humble opinion, Argy Bargy was a much better album.

75. The Ramones - I Wanna Be Sedated: Many will argue that there are better Ramones songs, but aren't all Ramones songs basically the same anyhow? I mean that in the best possible way. Of all their tunes, Sedated is the one that will get everyone in the vicinity jumping around like lunatics when it comes on the radio.

83. Band-Aid: Do They Know It's Christmas?: You know, when you look at the lyrics to this song, you realize that they are pretty damn stupid. Even so, I dare you not sing when you hear this in the mall at Christmastime.

84. Radiohead - Creep: Yes, there are better, crisper, more complex Radiohead songs. But Creep is the anthem for all of us who have been shunned, stepped on, pushed aside and made fun of. It's also has a subtle, stalkerish vibe to it, some clinging desperation that's just right for a moody moment.

Let me explain that while I think Smells Like Teen Spirit should be in the top 100, I certainly don't think it's the greatest song to come out since 1978. That's something I have to put a lot of thought into.

So, I could only come up with 11 out of 100? No, I'm sure if I glanced again, there would be more I would be inclined to agree on, but these are the tunes I feel strongly about.

Part Two tomorrow, when I cover the worst of the list.

Now, what do you think the greatest song of the past 25 years is?


Listed below are links to weblogs that reference 100 songs. 25 years. Lots of bad choices.:

» This is rant-worthy from Arguing with signposts...
The "good folks" at VH1 have a new "let's show how stupid we are about music by trying to show how hip we are about music" list out, the 100 Greatest Songs of the Last 25 Years. Number 1 is... [Read More]

» Subjectivity holds its breath, crams into a size-objectivity dress, and cuts off circulation to its extremities. from Amish Tech Support
(Via Michele of A Small Victory) VH1 has another useless Top 100 list out there. Let me guess... they ranked these using Alexa? These top 100 lists and the buzz they generate are just free advertising for VH1 or whatever... [Read More]

VH1 list has compiled a list of the 100 Greatest Songs of the Past 25 Years. Their choices are, shall we say, rather suspect: 1.... [Read More]


I can't believe that Nirvana was number 1 of 25 years. C'mon. It was a good song, but number 1? Of course, you gotta expect that from folks who came up with Emin-freakin-Em at number four with "Lose Yourself." Who heard of lose yourself?


and I'm right with you on Squeeze. What a great band once upon a time. I liked "Black Coffee in Bed," myself. That first line is a great starter: "There's a stain on my notebook where your coffee cup was..."

Nothing wrong with choosing "Lose Yourself" as one of the best. That is an amazing song. Easily the best song of 2002.

If I had to name something off the top of my head as the best song over the last 25 years, I would go with 'With Or Without You' by U2. It's an amazing song.

Whoever decided that MMMBop should be on that list should be hung.

I was just glad to see "Sweet Dreams" by Eurythmics.

But nothing by the Smiths?

And Eminem? Someone who made this list does not hear that 15 minute clock ticking down.

Since every song on the list has to have a video I guess I can forgive them for leaving Spacegrass off of the list. One song that jumped out at me was 'Surrender' by Cheap Trick. I liked it when it came out and now that I'm 48, I love it.

I am deeply offended. Where the hell is 'The Hokey Pokey' or 'Happy Birthday To You' on that list?


Thanks for the link.

First impression: Celine Dion is on the list and Elvis Costello isn't -- there's a problem.

Come on Michele, you know you're a closet Hanson fan that loved mmmBop. ;)

I think a lot of these lists boil down to personal preference. If I were to make a list in the beginning of the week, I'm sure it would be a far different list by the end of it.

This list is awfully reminiscent of those earlier 'best song ever' lists that clung desperately to the 60's. This one just hangs about the 80's instead. Not that I have anything against 80's music-I love it- but this list could have improved with a bit of variety. The more recent songs have a distinct whiff of tokenism about them.

I mean 'Work it' by Missy Elliott is very good, but 'Get Ur Freak on' was better. Nor is 'Lose Yourself' Eminem's best song- merely his most recent.

Squeeze were very good I agree. My favourite of theirs was 'Cool For Cats' I'll say that was the best song of the past 25 years [there are so many-this is a random choice] It went to number 1 in the Australian singles charts in June 1979 beating out Art Garfunkels 'Bright Eyes'. We also sent Big Audio Dynamite [1 time], Faith No More [3 times] and Kate Bush [2 times] to number 1. So yay for my people!!

The 'Cool for Cats' film clip had two dancing girls in red lycra tights and black leather jackets. This sticks in my memory especially.

I'm just surprised there's nothing by Billy Joel on the list. Some of my personal favorites of his during this period are "We Didn't Start the Fire", "Goodnight Saigon" and "Scenes from an Italian Restaurant"

"The Humpty Dance" and "Groove is in the Heart" for fun. I'm not saying they're the best, but they're better than half of those songs.

GAWD. Geezer that I am, I got to number 9 before I hit one I could stand. After that it got a little better. I guess I will have to look them up, but I could swear that I listened to Sexual Healing, Who Are You and I will Survive in high school (rather more than 25 years ago).

Still can't believe that some pinhead put Britney on the list...MUCH LESS ALMOST 50 SLOTS AHEAD OF THE WHO! [slow down...breathe in...breathe out...it's only a stupid list...BP down to 180/120...that's better...]

VH1 is trying to please everyone, so it's probably natural their list is slightly schizophrenic. They did include a fair number of real rock & roll bands, so I'm not gonna gripe about the Eminem's and Britney's. It's late, and I need some sleep.

There are many travesties on this list, but I'd like to focus on one in particular: "Born in the USA" by Bruce Springsteen. I don't think Springsteen fans would list that song in his top 20 -- and I doubt many other people can stand it at all.

I'm annoyed that nothing by Jane's Addiction or They Might Be Giants made the list, but oh well.

Ok there is just no way that "Faith" is any kind of a great song. If we've got to talk about George Michael, and I really hate to do so, "Freedom" was way better.

I can definitely get behind:
Meat Loaf "Paradise By the Dashboard Light"
Soft Cell, "Tainted Love"
Pink Floyd, "Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2)"

But really, I have to stick with the classics, Stairway to Heaven, Freebird, D'yer Ma'ker, Dont' Fear the Reaper, the stuff that topped these lists when I was younger than I remember being.

To add my own teeny-bopper note, I can't believe they don't list Jesse's Girl! ;)

"44. Gloria Gaynor - I Will Survive: Is there anyone who has not gotten up on the dance floor at a wedding or in a bar and belted this one out?"

I will never, until I die, understand why people think this song is so great. Ever. But then, I'm on Donna Summer's team.

Where's New Order? Wasn't "Blue Monday" like the top selling 12" of all time? Personally, though, I'd pick "The Perfect Kiss."

I can plant both feet squarely when standing behind In Your Eyes, Under Pressure and Free Fallin', but I wobble a bit on I Don't Want To Miss A Thing and I Love Rock and Roll.

And Sheryl Crow knocks me right on my butt then Britney kicks me when I'm down.

A deaf person could've wrote a better list.
Celine Dion?! COME ON

I personally like "Heart Shaped Box" over "Teen Spirit" as Nirvana songs go.

I'd vote for #3, Sweet Child o' Mine, as best, but ask me a few hours from now and I'd probably say something different. I always have a hard time pinning down one 'favorite/best song.'


i did a double take too, because at first i didn't realize these are only supposed to be since 1978 - before that there was no shortage of kick-ass music that everyone pretty much agrees on (zeppelin, beatles, etc.).

stairway to heaven is 1971; d'yer mak'er and freebird are 1973, and don't fear the reaper is 1976, that's why none of them made the list.

however, i wonder whether it is the original release date or the radio release date that determined whether those borderline songs made the list? for instance, they have paradise by the dashboard light, which i found on bat out of hell, released 1977...

Since I gave up chartwatching in 1984, I'm not really qualified to render more than a perfunctory judgment here, but I did like "Smells Like Teen Spirit".

The song that knocks me out the hardest, though: "You Oughta Know." Yeah, I know, but dammit, Alanis cuts deep on this one, and the music is even edgier than her voice.

One word: FUCKING MMMBOP! Who the FUCK included that???

Ultimately, I think all good "Top N" lists have one thing in common: any one person will agree with 10%-50% of the items, and bitterly contest the rest.

I'm not sure this is after 1978, but the Dolby song with the exact title I can never remember-- it has the line in it: she blinded me with science. Somewhere along the way, there's something about this one that seems like a unique or seminal classic to me. Or maybe it was like a road marker of some sort.


I know they're all from before the 25 years!!! My point was that they kick ass over most of the garbage on this list. Music sure ain't what it used to be. ;)

eminem you need to get a new cd out so that you can hit the fucking top again!!!!!!!!!!!