Sunday, March 07, 2010

The 100 Best Singles in My Head


Here it is in full, my totally subjective fangirl list of my 100 favorite singles -- to quote the Beatles, "in my life, I've loved you more." (And no, that song isn't on here -- picking just 100 is HARD!). In case you're tuning in late, here are the criteria I've imposed:

*** "Singles," not "songs" -- they must been released on 7-inch 45 rpm vinyl.

*** A track I myself owned, if not as a 45 then at least on an album.

*** A song I remember hearing on the radio or on the dance floor.

*** Soundtrack to special eras of my life

*** "Earworm" power -- unforgettable melodies, hooks, riffs, refrains, or vocal embellishments

*** Guilty pleasures, come on down!

Each song title is embedded with a link to the post where I wrote about it originally. Click on the title to jump to that blog entry -- but don't forget to hit the back button afterward to come back and sample more from the list.

Who knows, you may even want to make your own playlist from this. (I've already created a mix CD for my next road trip.) Of course, everybody's subjective choices will be different. Once you've finished reading, I'd love to hear what you'd have picked instead. Operators are standing by . . .

1. "The Letter" / The Box Tops (1967)

"Happy Together" / The Turtles (1967)

3. "She's Not There" / The Zombies (1964)

"If I Fell" / "And I Love Her" / The Beatles (1964)

"Wouldn't It Be Nice" / "God Only Knows" / The Beach Boys (1966)

6. "The House of the Rising Sun" / The Animals (1964)

7. "Tired of Waiting For You" / The Kinks (1965)

8. "Summer in the City" (1967)

9. "Walk Away Renee" / The Left Banke (1966)

10. "Along Comes Mary" / The Association (1968)

11. "California Dreamin'" / The Mamas and the Papas (1965)

"Bus Stop" / The Hollies (1966)

13. "Jet" / "Let Me Roll it" / Paul McCartney and Wings (1973)

14. "Dedicated Follower of Fashion" / The Kinks (1966)

15. "I Put a Spell On You" / The Alan Price Set (1966)

16. "Strawberry Fields Forever" / "Penny Lane" / The Beatles (1967)

17. "Good Vibrations" / The Beach Boys (1966)

18. "I'm a Believer" / The Monkees (1966)

19. "Dancing Queen" / ABBA (1976)

"96 Tears" / ? and the Mysterians (1966)

21. "Pump It Up" / Elvis Costello (1978)

22. "Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick" / "There Ain't Half Been Some Clever Bastards" / Ian Dury and the Blockheads (1978)

23. " A Message to You Rudy" / The Specials (1979)

24. "Rock the Casbah" / The Clash (1982)

25. "I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself" / Dusty Springfield (1964)

26. "Space Oddity" / David Bowie (1969)

27. "Walk on the Wild Side" / Lou Reed (1972)

28. "Sweet Dreams / The Eurythmics (1983)

29. "Layla" / Derek and the Dominos (1970)

30. "Mr. Dieingly Sad" / The Critters (1966)

31. "The Sounds of Silence" / Simon & Garfunkel (1965)

32. "Wild World" / Cat Stevens

33. "Fire and Rain" / James Taylor (1970)

34."It's Too Late" / Carole King (1971)

35. "American Pie" / Don McLean (1972)

36. "Steppin' Out" / Joe Jackson (1982)

37. "Psycho Killer" / The Talking Heads (1977)

38. "Love Shack" / The B-52s (1989)

39. "Whip It" / Devo (1980)

40. "Roadrunner (Once)" / Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers (1976)

41. "Get Back" / The Beatles (1969)

42. "Message In a Bottle" / The Police (1979)

43. "If This Is It" / Huey Lewis & the News (1984)

44. "Can't You Hear My Heartbeat" / Herman's Hermits (1965)

45. "Don't You Worry 'Bout A Thing" / Stevie Wonder (1974)

46. "Moondance" / Van Morrison (1977)

"Jack and Diane" / John Mellencamp (1982)

48. "Someday, Someway" / Marshall Crenshaw (1982)

49. "Sultans of Swing" / Dire Straits (1978)

50. "Come Dancing" / The Kinks

51. "We Ain't Got Nothing Yet" / The Blues Magoos (1967)

52. "She's About A Mover" / Sir Douglas Quintet (1965)

53. "98.6" / Keith (1967)

54. "One on One" / Daryl Hall and John Oates (1983)

55. "Leader of the Pack" / The Shangri-Las (1964)

56. "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood" / The Animals (1965)

57. "Sunshine Superman" / Donovan (1966)

58. "Time of the Season" / The Zombies (1969)

"Concrete and Clay" / Unit 4 + 2 (1966)

60. "A World Without Love" / Peter & Gordon (1964)

61. "To Sir With Love" / Lulu (1967)

62. "Georgy Girl" / The Seekers (1966)

. "A Summer Song" / Chad & Jeremy (1964)

64. "Michelle" / David and Jonathan (1967)

65. "Yeh Yeh" / Georgie Fame (1965)

66. "Doo Wah Diddy Diddy" / Manfred Mann (1964)

67. "I Think We're Alone Now" / Tommy James & the Shondells (1967)

68. "Come and Get It" / Badfinger (1969)

69. "Love Potion No. 9" / The Searchers (1964)

70. "You've Lost That Loving Feeling" / The Righteous Brothers (1964)

71. "Ain't No Sunshine When She's Gone" / Bill Withers (1971)

72. "Standing in the Shadows of Love" / The Four Tops (1966)

73. "Tears Of A Clown" / Smokey Robinson & the Miracles (1970)

74. "Come On Eileen" / Dexy's Midnight Runners (1982)

75. "Wrap It Up" / The Fabulous Thunderbirds (1986)

76. "Killer Queen" / Queen (1974)

77. "Build Me Up Buttercup" / The Foundations (1968)

78. "Girl Don't Come" / Sandie Shaw (1964)

79. "It's Only Rock 'n' Roll (But I Like It)" / The Rolling Stones (1974)

80. "Kind of a Drag" / The Buckinghams (1967)

81. "Don't Let the Sun Catch You Crying" / Gerry & the Pacemakers

82. "Rikki Don't Lose That Number" / Steely Dan (1974)

83. "Smooth Operator" / Sade (1985)

84. "I Don't Want to Go Home" / Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes (1976)

85. "Maggie May" / "Reason to Believe" / Rod Stewart (1971)

86. "Have I The Right?" / The Honeycombs (1964)

87. "You Were On My Mind" / We Five (1965)

88. "Killing Me Softly With His Song" / Roberta Flack (1971)

"Tempted" / Squeeze (1981)

90. "Whatever Gets You Thru the Night" / John Lennon (1974)

91. "Cruel to Be Kind" / Nick Lowe (1979)

92. "Hungry" / Paul Revere and the Raiders (1966)

"For Your Love" / The Yardbirds (1965)

"I Can See For Miles" / The Who (1967)

"Heart of Glass" / Blondie (1979)

96. "Spinning Wheel" / Blood, Sweat & Tears (1969)

. "When A Man Loves A Woman" / Percy Sledge (1966)

. "Losing My Religion" / R.E.M. (1991)

. "Show Me The Way" / Peter Frampton (1976)

"Different Drum" / Stone Poneys (1967)


Uncle E said...

See? Lists ain't all bad! Very nice list and a total shocker to see the Boxtops as #1. Thought the Kinks or maybe even the Beatles or the Beach Boys would've been #1. Great bunch of songs, though.

Holly A Hughes said...

Someday I may do a list of my 100 Favorite Songs, and then just see if there's a Kinks tune in the #1 slot! But until then . . .

NickS said...

I'm going to to be thinking about this over the next couple of days, but for a first reaction.

1) I would think that some more soul would belong on that list. I could easily see putting an Otis Redding song #1 on my list ("I've Been Lovin' You Too Long"? or the Happy Song). James Brown? Daylight by Bobby Womack? I really do need to listen to some Bill Withers, however. Seeing him on your list is a good reminder.

2) Some minor (friendly) disagreements. I think "I Can See For Miles" is great but, personally I'd pick "Substitute" for a song by the Who. I'd also be tempted to pick an earlier Blondie song than "Heart of Glass" ("X Offender?"). I like "Black Coffee In Bed" better than "Tempted" but I recognize that the world does not agree with me on that one. Finally, I don't know what singles were issued off of Quiet Fire but I, personally, like that album better than Killing Me Softly

Holly A Hughes said...

Funny, I did have some Otis on my list at first -- "Fa-fa-fa-fa-fa Song" -- but then I had to be honest and admit that I hadn't really heard it when it was first released, only later.

Well, I think most folks who've looked at my list would have a different Who song. Oh, if only I'd known more of the Who's catalog back in the day. The Blondie selection, though, still mystifies even me. I listened to all those albums, and I know there were better songs. But this is still the one that most clearly evokes that band, and that era, to me.

NickS said...

That makes sense. I am in the dubious position of having next to no music in my collection that I remember hearing at the time of its release, so I have been ignoring that criteria.

But that restriction does a lot to make the list more personally specific, which is nice.

Heck, in half the cases I'm not even sure which songs were released as singles and, when I am sure it's just because it was mentioned in the liner notes to a CD collection.

For what it's worth, however, I do own one vinyl single which is "Oh Superman / Walk The Dog" by Laurie Anderson which I happened to find (in great condition!) in the laundry room of an apartment building that I lived in.

But, with that said, I was thinking about this last night, and here are some people that I think I would definitely include in a top 100 (and I certainly believe that trimming it down to 100 gets tough). Obviously many of these are before my time.

Leonard Cohen -- "Suzanne"
Prince -- "Raspberry Beret" (or "Little Red Corvette")
Joni Mitchel -- "A Case Of You" (or "Free Man in Paris")
Dolly Parton -- "Jolene"*
Billy Bragg -- "A New England"
Patti Smith -- "Gloria"
Janis Joplin -- "Me and Bobby McGee" (or "Piece Of My Heart")
Chuck Berry -- "Johnny B. Goode"
The Band -- "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down"
Paul Simon -- "Something So Right" (or "Rene And Georgette Magritte With Their Dog After The War")
The Replacements -- "Bastards of Young"

Songs which I might not include but which would certainly warrant consideration:

Bob Dylan -- Too many to chose from
Richard Thompson -- "I misunderstood"
Richard & Linda Thompson -- "I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight
The Jam -- "David Watts" (and, yes, I know it was originally a Kinks song)
Michael Jackson -- "Beat It"
Janis Ian -- "At Seventeen"
Culture Club -- "Karma Chameleon"
Clarence Ashley -- "Coo Coo Bird"
Bruce Springsteen -- "Thunder Road"

*I heard this song for the first time a couple of months ago and can't figure out why it took me so long. I am completely convinced that it's one of the great pop singles ever.

NickS said...

Remembering a few more, I have a couple of powerhouse female singers from the 80s.

The Pretenders -- "Brass In Pocket"
(this isn't my favorite Pretenders song but what a single. It captures all the energy, confidence, and authority that they had in their remarkable debut album)

Marianne Faithful -- "Broken English"

also, perhaps not a top 100 single, but I've been listening to Toni Childs a bunch lately and "Don't Walk Away" is a darn good single.

Holly A Hughes said...

So many great songs on your list! (I'd go with Bobby McGee for Janis J.) I'll admit, "Karma Chameleon" and "Beat It" are big guilty pleasures for me, but there's no need to feel guilty about "A New England," "Bastards of Young," "Suzanne," "Raspberry Beret," or "David Watts." And "Jolene" -- I too only recently discovered that, and it is one hell of a song. A game changer!

Anonymous said...

I hope it's not too late to share some of my faves. If I ever complete the list that I've just started (thanks to you), I'd have to include my absolute favourite Who single, I Can't Explain. In fact, it's my personal choice for all-time greatest British Invasion record. A few other songs that would be there:

The Animals - It's My Life; Phil Phillips - Sea of Love; The Kingsmen - Louie Louie; The Syndicate of Sound - Little Girl; The Chiffons - He's So Fine; Mary Wells - You Beat Me To the Punch; and Bobby Moore & the Rhythm Aces - Searchin' For My Baby (do you remember that one?). Singles that were regionally popular here in Canada: Shirley Matthews & the Big Town Girls - Big Town Boy (one of the great girl group records); the Ugly Ducklings - She Ain't No Use To Me; and Julie Driscoll w/ Brian Auger & Trinity - Road To Cairo.

This is a great idea, Holly. Thanks for sharing your lists.

Holly A Hughes said...

Some nice additions, especially all those girl group numbers. I'll have to look up Searchin' for My Baby -- it probably falls into that category of stuff I heard all the time but never knew the name. Interesting how little of the Canadian music made it down past the Great Lakes, with Detroit in the way!

Holly A Hughes said...

PS Bones -- It was Searching for My Love by Bobby Moore and the Rhythm Aces, and a smokin' little number it is!

Anonymous said...

Oops - you're so right, Holly - I seem to have that title fixed in my brain and it's not the first time I've referred to it as Searching For My 'Baby', despite the fact that it's always been one of my favourites. Oh no, the passing years are taking their toll . . .