Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Sunday, January 10, 2010 1:22 pm

Greatest pop songs of the past 50 years

Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 1:22 pm
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My employer has opened to the public a music course that will look at 10 of the greatest pop songs of the past 50 years. The N&R did a story on it, and they’re also inviting readers to send reporter Robert Lopez lists of their favorite pop songs of the past half-century for a future story.

I’m probably forgetting something, but here’s my list. Songs are in no particular order, and I arbitrarily limited to three the number by a single artist. Remember, these are my favorites, not necessarily the ones I think are the greatest (by which I mean, among other things, they were very influential). There are a lot of great pop songs for which I hold a good deal more respect than affection.

Burnin’ Love – Elvis Presley
Okie from Muskogee – Merle Haggard
The Pill – Tammy Wynette
I Wanna Hold Your Hand – Beatles.
God Save the Queen – Sex Pistols
London Calling – The Clash
Brand New Cadillac – The Clash
Shout – Isley Brothers
Where the Cowboys Went – Pressure Boys
I Got You (I Feel Good) – James Brown
Tumbling Dice – Rolling Stones
Gimme Shelter – Rolling Stones
Waiting on a Friend – Rolling Stones (note uncredited saxophone solo by jazz great Sonny Rollins)
My Old School – Steely Dan (in a catalog by a band noted for its session guitarists’ wonderful solos, this one by Rick Derringer is one for the ages)
Layla – Derek & the Dominos w/Duane Allman
Crossroads – Cream (cover of a blues by Robert Johnson c. 1928)
Paradise City – Guns N’ Roses
You Could Be Mine – Guns N’ Roses
Beat It – Michael Jackson
Billy Jean – Michael Jackson
Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough – Michael Jackson
Tangled Up in Blue – Bob Dylan
Born in the USA – Bruce Springsteen
Born to Run – Bruce Springsteen
God’s Little Acre – Right Profile
‘Til the Sky Turns Black – Right Profile
Fall on Me – R.E.M.
The One I Love – R.E.M.
Every Breath You Take – The Police (both this song and “The One I Love” are striking in their marriage of malevolent lyrics to harmless-sounding upbeat pop melodies)
U and Ur Hand – Pink
Girl of My Dreams – Bram Tchaikovsky
Starry Eyes – Records
I Wanna Be Sedated – Ramones
Sweet Jane – Velvet Underground
Pale Blue Eyes – Velvet Underground
Romeo Loved Juliet – Lou Reed
Dirty Blvd. – Lou Reed
Rockin’ in the Free World – Neil Young
Cortez the Killer – Neil Young
Night Moves – Bob Seger
Mohammad’s Radio – Warren Zevon
Lawyers, Guns and Money – Warren Zevon
Poor, Poor, Pitiful Me – Warren Zevon
Listen to her Heart – Tom Petty
The Waiting – Tom Petty
Another Brick in the Wall – Pink Floyd
Comfortably Numb – Pink Floyd
Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting – Elton John

Take Me to the Backseat – The Donnas
What’s Going On? – Marvin Gaye
Backstabbers – The O’Jays
Back in Black – AC/DC
Walk This Way – Aerosmith
Jessica – Allman Bros.
Ramblin’ Man – Allman Bros.
Statesboro Blues – Allman Bros.
Rock Lobster – B-52s
Love Shack – B-52s
Piano Man – Billy Joel
Only the Good Die Young – Billy Joel
Like a Rolling Stone – Bob Dylan
Green Onions — Booker T. & the MGs
Money Changes Everything – Brains
What About Everything – Carbon Leaf
Surrender – Cheap Trick
25 or 6 to 4 – Chicago
Ring of Fire – Johnny Cash
Hurt – Johnny Cash
The Harder They Come – Jimmy Cliff
Pressure Drop – Toots & the Maytals
Tupelo Honey – Van Morrison
Brown-Eyed Girl – Van Morrison
TV Party – Black Flag
Play That Funky Music – Wild Cherry
Super Freak – Rick James
Brick House – Commodores
Fire – Ohio Players
Tear the Roof Off the Sucker – Parliament/Funkadelic
Let It Whip – Dazz Band
Baby Love – Mother’s Finest
Suffragette City – David Bowie
Modern Love – David Bowie
Still in Hollywood – Concrete Blonde
Stone Cold Yesterday – Connells
Mr. Jones – Counting Crows
Fortunate Son – Creedence Clearwater Revival
Who’ll Stop the Rain – Creedence Clearwater Revival
Girls Just Want to Have Fun – Cyndi Lauper
Smoke on the Water – Deep Purple
Discovering Japan – Graham Parker and the Rumour
Tunnel of Love – Dire Straits
China Grove – Doobie Bros.
Listen to the Music – Doobie Bros.
Sunshine Highway – Dropkick Murphys
Hotel California – Eagles
Take It Easy – Eagles
The Bitch Is Back – Elton John
Rocket Man – Elton John
Allison – Elvis Costello
Radio Radio – Elvis Costello
Oliver’s Army – Elvis Costello
Santa Monica – Everclear
Say You Love Me – Fleetwood Mac
Radiation Vibe – Fountains of Wayne
Bad to the Bone – George Thorogood
Welcome to Paradise – Green Day
American Idiot – Green Day
The Message – Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five
Fight the Power – Public Enemy
Everyday People – Sly and the Family Stone
Dance to the Music – Sly and the Family Stone
Superstition – Stevie Wonder
Sir Duke – Stevie Wonder
Moni Moni – Tommy James & the Shondells
Heat Wave – Martha & the Vandellas
Holiday – Madonna
Like a Prayer – Madonna
Tracks of my Tears – Smokey Robinson & the Miracles
Fight the Power – Isley Bros.
I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll – Joan Jett & the Blackhearts
Is She Really Going Out With Him? – Joe Jackson
Rain on the Scarecrow – John Mellencamp
Slow Turning – John Hiatt
Walking on Sunshine – Katrina and the Waves
Waking Up in Vegas – Katy Perry
Louie Louie – Kingsmen
You Really Got Me – Kinks
Lola – Kinks
Rock ‘n’ Roll All Night – Kiss
Stairway to Heaven – Led Zeppelin
Whole Lotta Love – Led Zeppelin
Hallelujah – Leonard Cohen
Passionate Kisses – Lucinda Williams
Sweet Home Alabama – Lynyrd Skynyrd
That Smell – Lynyrd Skynyrd
Saturday Night Special – Lynyrd Skynyrd
Walking in Memphis – Marc Cohn
Come to My Window – Melissa Ethridge
That’s When I Reach for My Revolver – Mission of Burma
Melt With You – Modern English
I’m a Believer – Monkees
Hair of the Dog – Nazareth
Kentucky Woman – Neil Diamond
Head Like a Hole – Nine Inch Nails
Smells Like Teen Spirit – Nirvana
Dock of the Bay – Otis Redding
Mustang Sally – Wilson Pickett
In Your Eyes – Peter Gabriel
Million Miles Away – Plimsouls
Pretty in Pink – Psychedelic Furs
Georgia – Ray Charles
Every Picture Tells a Story – Rod Stewart
More Than This – Roxy Music
Love Is the Drug – Roxy Music
Bring It On Home to Me – Sam Cooke
Soak Up the Sun – Sheryl Crow
Sounds of Silence – Simon & Garfunkel
Don’t You Forget About Me – Simple Minds
A Change Is Gonna Come – Solomon Burke
Pulling Mussels from the Shell – Squeeze
Black Coffee in Bed – Squeeze
While You See a Chance – Steve Winwood
Fox on the Run – Sweet
Life During Wartime – Talking Heads
Once in a Lifetime – Talking Heads
Take Me to the River – Al Green
My Girl – Temptations
All I Want Is You – U2
Pride (in the Name of Love) – U2
Love Will Tear Us Apart – Joy Division
Cars – Just What I Needed
Don Henley – Dirty Laundry
Don Henley – Boys of Summer
Do You Love Me – Contours
Hey Ya – OutKast
Get Up – Sleater-Kinney
Wallflowers – 6th Avenue Heartache
Sugar Magnolia – Grateful Dead
Go Ask Alice – Jefferson Airplane
Piece of My Heart – Janis Joplin
When a Man Loves a Woman – Percy Sledge
Do You Feel Like We Do – Peter Frampton

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Sunday, November 22, 2009 6:45 am

Grand theft

Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 6:45 am
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There’s a music Ph.D. thesis in here somewhere: an entertaining 5-minute video on how the I-V-VIm-IV chord progression has so thoroughly infiltrated pop music:

This progression is a/k/a “The minor fall, the major lift,”  as it’s called in Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” which uses it in places (and which inspired a blog, now defunct but formerly here, of the same name), as does the Police’s “So Lonely” and God alone knows how many others, including roughly 2/3 of the songs currently in Radio Disney’s heavy rotation. Sigh.

I suspect the only chord progression that’s been stolen more often is “Louie, Louie.” And a book has been written about that.

(h/t: Ann Sheaffer Gibert on Facebook)

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