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100 songs. 25 years. Lots of bad choices - part II

To continue...

I'd still like to know what you would pick as the number one song on your own list. As I was thinkign about that, it occurred to me that no "best of" list would be complete without Joy Division's Love Will Tear Us Apart Again. And after thinking about it some more, I feel I can safely say that particular song would, indeed, be number one for me.

Of course, any "best of" list is subjective. Best is in the eye of the reader - or the ear of the listener as the case may be - and often a best of list of one person will be the worst of list of another and never the twain shall meet.

Well, not never. There are some things we can all agree on, right? I hardly think there is anyone who could argue the point for Madonna's ode to her religion-of-the-week, the pointless Ray of Light, for being on the list.

Even if it is number 100, surely in the last 25 years there were at least a hundred songs better than that techno train wreck.

As a matter of fact, I can come up with one for each year that was better than Ray of Light, Like a Virgin, Don't Speak, MMMBop, My Heat Will go On, Baby One More Time, I Don't Want to Miss a Thing, Don't Stop Believing, Are You Gonna Go My Way, Faith, Start Me Up, Iris, All I Wanna Do, I Want to Do, Hot in Here, Jack and Diane, I Can't Go For That, Enter Sandman and Come to my Window, all of which made the list. And these are only fairly popular songs, taken from singles charts for the given years - I didn't even dig into my personal collection. (These are not necessarily the best songs of that year, just songs that are better than any of the tunes listed above and should have had a place on the list instead).

1978: We Will Rock You/We are the Champions

1979: Sultans of Swing (Dire Straits)

1980: You Shook Me All Night Long (AC/DC)

1981: Say Goodbye to Hollywood (Billy Joel)

1982: Rock this Town (Stray Cats)

1983: Pride and Joy - (Stevie Ray Vaughn and Double Trouble)

1984: Sister Christian (Night Ranger) [Ok, not really, but you know my ugly fascination with that song]

1985: In Between Days (The Cure)

1986: West End Girls (The Pet Shop Boys)

1987: Dear God (XTC)

1988: Forever Young (Alphaville)

1989: Paradise City - (Guns N' Roses) [I was thisclose to saying Funky Cold Medina]

1990: Enjoy the Silence - (Depeche Mode)

1991: Wicked Game - (Chris Isaak)

1992: Would - (Alice in Chains)

1993: I Aint Goin Out Like That - (Cypress Hill)

1994: Fell on Black Days (Soundgarden)

1995: Possum Kingdom (Toadies)

1996: In the Meantime (Spacehog)

1997: Touch, Peel and Stand (Days of the New)

1998: Du Hast (Rammstein)

1999: I Am the Bullgod (Kid Rock)

2000: Bye Bye Bye, 'N Sync

2001: Drive (Incubus)

2002: The Whole World (Outkast)

You know, this took me so long to do (in between doing actual work) that I forgot what I was going to say after I compiled the list except that the quality of music on the charts has taken a steep nosedive into an empty swimming pool. That sound you hear is creativity dying a slow, painful death.


I can't explain why, but my favorite song of all time is "Someday I Suppose" by the Mighty Mighty Bosstones.

Omigod, you can't mean to tell me that Love Will Tear Us Apart is not on the list?

A great song about love alienation with a catchy tune by one of the most legendary post-punk bands there ever was doesn't make the list?

A song that has been covered on recordings by at least three dozen artists?


Thanks for reminding me that I need to order some Joy Division from Amazon. :)

My choice would be either "Goodbye" by The Sundays, "Lullabye" by Concrete Blonde, or "Nothing Bad Ever Happens to Me" by Oingo Boingo. But now I have "Love Will Tear Us Apart" stuck in my head and it's all your fault.

Rolling Stone did one of the "100 best" lists back in the early 90s I think, and on that one I believe Joy Division was either #1 or #2, so there is some solace in that. The other tune it was up against for best was "Don't Worry, Baby" by the Beach Boys.

Of course, that song, DWB. was written by Brian Wilson specifically so be sung by Ronnie Spector (of the Ronnettes) as legend has it.

"Walking in the Rain" by the Ronnettes was also on the Stone's top 100 list. And it's on my own list, along with Joy's Division's "Love ..."

BTW have y'all seen the movie "24 Hour Party People"? The recreations of Joy Division are jaw dropping. I've had the movie from Netflix for like 2 months now because I keep watching parts of it over and over. I should just buy the damn thing already!

Bye, Bye, Bye??? Michele, you're scaring me!

. . .the quality of music on the charts has taken a steep nosedive into an empty swimming pool. That sound you hear is creativity dying a slow, painful death.

I'm afraid that it's more likely the sound of us getting older. With a handful of exceptions, there aren't a lot of songs from the past several years that are that appealing to me. Every now and then, a song on the AOR list comes along that I really enjoy (Train's "Drops of Jupiter," Staind's "It's Been Awhile," and a few others come to mind) but mainly it's stuff that's either a few years old or that is similar in style to songs I liked in my late 20's or earlier.

To use one of your examples, I'm not really sure AC-DC's "You Shook Me All Night Long," which I really like but was popular when I was in high school, is really a better piece of music than the stuff that's out now.

Hey, I'm 24, and I don't like most the crap that's been spewed out for the past few years.


Heh. Maybe it isn't just Michele and I, then. :)

I will say that the fact that hip hop seems to have overtaken the industry--rather than being just a novelty segment 20 years ago--may be part of it. While I find some of the lyrics inventive, I find the "music" just painful to listen to melodically.

I don't think age has a lot to do with it. I'm 40 and still listen to Slayer. It's all in what you consider entertaining or not. I don't find cookie cutter girls with attitudes entertaining at all.

And I like hip hop.

And Bye-Bye-Bye.

I've always hated these kinds of lists, because 1) they're never really what they say they are, and 2) they're always weighted toward recent releases (Q Magazine's 100 greatest albums of all time included all of Radiohead's lps, for instance--no slam at Radiohead, but come on). The truth is VH1 wasn't looking for the best "songs" of the last 25 years, they were looking for the best records of the last 25 years that sold a lot that they have videos for. By that criteria, their list isn't bad. But it also explains why a lot of the best songwriters of the last 25 years (Elvis Costello, Richard Thompson, Paul Heaton, Lucinda Williams, Iris Dement, Stephen Merritt, the Pet Shop Boys, and God kows how many others) aren't on the list.

But what I want to know is: why look back 25 years now? What anniversary is this marking? Did they just decide that it was time to do something like this? Couldn't they have waited until a year divisible by 5? Or is it an educational move, designed to make their viewers actually learn how to subtract?

Why 25 years? It's a "nice, round number." Everybody does 25.

That said, I agree with you. Why not some other number? Let's go with primes - what are the top 53 songs of the last 17 years? :-)

Thank you for mentioning "Pride and Joy."

mmmm, I can't agree with you on "Love Will Tear Us Apart".

That being said, I have no idea what my favorite song is. Too much good music out there. Maybe "The Pina Colada Song" by Rupert Holmes. :)

I have always considered "Love will tear us apart" to be one of the "perfect songs." Others on the list:

"Teenage Riot," Sonic Youth
"Driver 8," R.E.M.
"Red Hill Mining Town," U2
"Loser," Beck
"Dogs of LA," Liz Phair
"So What'cha Want," Beastie Boys
"Noise," Beat Happening
"Sean Flynn," The Clash
"Only Shallow," My Bloody Valentine

I believe that any of these songs can be listened to over and over again and actually become better over time. How can this be true? Perfection!

Oh- should also add:

"Say it ain't so," Weezer


I agree the general quality has gone down, but I never listened to rock per se very much anyway and was never a big rock fan. I listen to wfuv 'folk rock' or cityfolk or alternative (?) mostly. Once in a while I catch some wktu (the disco or dance station), but they don't stream on the net. The best song that I've heard "around in the air" lately that's stuck in my mind is not new-- it's Have a Heart by Bonnie Raitt. But it's an older song.

Howzabout "Range Life," by Pavement? The Jam's "A Town Called Malice" would be another addition I'd make. And Pulp's "Common People."

And hey, I'se surprised nobody's mentioned anything by the Pixies. I'll nominate "Monkey Gone to Heaven."

For sheer originality, breathtaking musical innovation, and brilliant lyrics, I think Prince's "When Doves Cry" should have been #1.

Robert is right, though. These lists are always flawed. If Kurt Cobain was still alive and going soft in middle age, would "Smells Like Teen Spirit" still be #1? Probably not.


I get dissed for "Kokomo" and "Bye Bye Bye" is on the list.

sigh I can't win.

But EXCELLENT call on AC/DC. I have this odd fascination with pimply-teen metal.

I like your list a lot better than the crap that VHnone came up with. My only quibble....MORE SRV!

I can't remember where, but I once read that "Love Will Tear Us Apart" is the "Stairway to Heaven" for Gen X.

Sounds about right.

Well, I have to admit, I love "Smells Like Teen Spirit", but under no circumstances would it be #1 on my list... Really, I don't know what my #1 would be, But (Go ahead, ridicule me) Marilyn Manson's cover of Howlin' Wolf's "I Put A Spell On You" and Cutting Crew's "(I Just) Died in Your Arms Tonight" would be near the top.