If this isn't a sign of the apocalypse,
November 9, 2002 12:37 PM   Subscribe

If this isn't a sign of the apocalypse, I don't know what is. What should be on the list of the all-time greatest pop tunes?
posted by LittleMissCranky (49 comments total)
Where's the list?
posted by einarorn at 12:45 PM on November 9, 2002


92. A-ha - The Sun Always Shines On TV

That by itself shows what a stupid fucking list it is.
posted by Stan Chin at 12:49 PM on November 9, 2002

I am amazed that Abba got in 5 times to that list! Certainly there have to be better songs out there than Waterloo?

Oh well......
posted by lampshade at 12:54 PM on November 9, 2002

Abba's showing is kind of amazing, but Queen -- Queen -- made it twice in the top ten.
posted by LittleMissCranky at 12:56 PM on November 9, 2002

What no All The Young Dudes or Jailbreak?
posted by riffola at 12:56 PM on November 9, 2002

or hey even Boys Are Back In Town, I am surprised Thin Lizzy is missing from that list. Mott not being there is not as surprising, but Lizzy should be there. I am glad they have T Rex's "Get It On/Bang A Gong" in the list.
posted by riffola at 12:58 PM on November 9, 2002

Lists like this are always fraught with difficulties -- this time to the point where a number 100 could not be chosen -- instead two 99's.

I'd hate to claim that I know anything more about pop music to claim the higher ground in creating such a list, but I must say that I love Bohemian Rhapsody -- always have, always will. (I'll sheepishly confess a new found delight in ABBA since Muriel's Wedding. But five out of one hundred? Pfft.)
posted by Dick Paris at 1:05 PM on November 9, 2002

I find these greatest ever / top 100 lists intriguing; more from a Google Zeitgeisty angle than an actual interest in the songs. Especially because of their inconsistencies. I wonder if one were to compile all the 'top 100 songs of all time' lists how many songs would be common to the majority of them... Hmm...

Mama Mia, mama mia, mama mia figaro... Magnifico!

Song will never be the same since Wayne's World
posted by canucklehead at 1:20 PM on November 9, 2002

I'm not a big ABBA fan myself (as in, I play their music perhaps once a year), but let's not forget that they're one of the greatest pop groups of all time, with possibly some of the best pop songs of all time. The harmonies, the voices, the chord sequences, the phrasing.. it's all there.

Remember this list was constructed from British votes.. hence the big British influence at the top of the chart. I doubt most Americans even know who Kate Bush is? Then again, I've never heard of 'Procol Harum'.

Frankly, this list reads like the playlist for an over-50s disco.
posted by wackybrit at 1:23 PM on November 9, 2002

Like hell it does...
posted by y2karl at 1:46 PM on November 9, 2002

I think its fine Bohemian Rhapsody's at the top of the list. It's a wonderful song. Wayne's World kind of screwed it up.

Some shockers:
"Imagine" at number 2?
"Eternal Flame" on the list, period?

What's missing:
"Nights in White Satin" - Moody Blues
"Never Let Me Down Again" - Depeche Mode
"Christiansands" - Tricky
posted by shoos at 1:49 PM on November 9, 2002

Where's Boob Dylan?

There should be at least a dozen Toy Dolls' songs.

I can't believe they left off [wildly successful but untalented band OR band that I have three T-shirts of OR band that only I and 5 friends have heard of.]

This list don't have no Mojo Nixon
It sure could use some fixin'
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 1:57 PM on November 9, 2002

but it's a singles list--that automatically means top 40....

and Dusty made it! : >
posted by amberglow at 2:08 PM on November 9, 2002

How many Cowbell songs?
posted by ParisParamus at 2:22 PM on November 9, 2002

35. Kylie Minogue - Can't Get You Out Of My Head

It's just a dream. It's just a dream. Kylie Minogue isn't really in the company of the Beatles and Dusty Springfield and Queen and the Rolling Stones. The world isn't really falling apart...
posted by hippugeek at 2:36 PM on November 9, 2002

This list don't have no Mojo Nixon
It sure could use some fixin'

Punk Rock Girl-

Please, look at me....

What do you see?
posted by bradth27 at 2:52 PM on November 9, 2002

"Imagine" has to be THE most overrated song ever. It's the only song by the Beatles or any of its ex-members that I genuinely can't stand. That even includes Mull of Kintyre
posted by Celery at 2:56 PM on November 9, 2002

Well, it depends on how you're defining "pop" tune since I always thought of "Bohemian Rhapsody" as a rock song. My personal all-time favorite song is "Drift Away" and at the moment, my fave is "Manteca" by Mongo Santamaria.

While both songs have "pop" appeal, you'd probably call the former R&B and the latter Latin Jazz. So for the sake of argument I'll assume that pop means "pop/rock."

The best entries from that would have to have economical but cogently stated melodies, clever lyrics, punchy guitars and above all good hooks, the whole point of the pop side of the rock equation being to create something that will (pleasantly) take up residence in your brain forever.

My choices then, are: "Go All The Way" by The Raspberries, "Don't Worry Baby" by the Beach Boys, and the Beatles' "Ticket To Ride."

posted by jonmc at 2:58 PM on November 9, 2002

To me, Bohemian Rhapsody always seemed like a joke song more than anything else, although that could be because the first time I saw it was on MTV, accompanies with clips of Wayne's World.

And I couldn't even venture a guess as to what my picks for top 100 pop song would be. Top 100 lists (for songs, video games, poems, whatever...) seem so difficult to compile without leaving out someone's all-time favorite.
posted by Pukadon at 3:26 PM on November 9, 2002

Didn't anyone notice that the choices were limited to songs that reached #1 on the pop charts? One would think that leaves Mojo Nixon and Toy Dolls out.

But where is Springsteen?
posted by billsaysthis at 3:28 PM on November 9, 2002

New York, Paris, London, Munich, everybody post about....pop music!

To quote from Platoon - "There's the way things ought to be, and there's the way things are." Too true.
posted by Salmonberry at 3:43 PM on November 9, 2002

I am a Queen fan,
Still I can't avoid it,
Spare me from humming that Sappy Novelty!

Mama Mia, Mama Mia, Mama Mia make it go!
Beelzebub put an endless loop of "Rhapsody"...

In me... In meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!
posted by quonsar at 3:47 PM on November 9, 2002

(falls out of chair laughing)
posted by swerve at 4:03 PM on November 9, 2002

Not a big fan, but didn't Three Dog Night have like a gazillion #1 hits? And I remember Chicago having one song in the #1 slot for about sixteen weeks once. Now that was a good band.
posted by LouReedsSon at 4:07 PM on November 9, 2002

ooo-ooo...and where's Elton-baby?
posted by LouReedsSon at 4:09 PM on November 9, 2002

For a very witty and well-researched alternative, mixed with some spot-on analysis, may I suggest This Is Uncool by Garry Mulholland? My age qualifies me as a Gen-Xer's elder brother, like I guess some others here, and this is right up my demographic. Hits the nail squarely on the head so often. Guaranteed Queen-free.
No connection to author, etc
posted by punilux at 4:38 PM on November 9, 2002

I just wonder what the other signs of the Apocalypse are?

1) Madonna wins the Oscar.
2) 'Rolling Stone' cover "The Women of Rock", featuring dancing singers who can't even read music.
3) US National marijuana decriminalization.
4) Prince Charles becomes King.
5) The Wonder Twins movie breaks all BO records.
posted by kablam at 4:42 PM on November 9, 2002

You have to note this is a UK list. Queen and Kylie are HUGE over there - way more so than they ever have been in the states. For better or worse. Singer-songwriters like Dylan and Springsteen have never been the big pop stars over there that they are here.
posted by sixdifferentways at 5:01 PM on November 9, 2002

I thought British fans would be more into soul, R&B, reggae and hip-hop, etc., than is at all evident here. It's a mighty white list. You have to get all the way to No. 29 before an actual black person, much less anyone associated with R&B or the other genres mentioned above, shows up on the list. Elvis is, to my mind, a soul singer, but c'mon. (Procol Harum I liked better as Percy Sledge and a band from Muscle Shoals, Ala.)

I heard 10CC's "I'm Not in Love" in a grocery store frozen food section recently, by the way. Felt pretty strange. You can get have your cell phone emit that same '70s anomie vibe, if you so choose.
posted by raysmj at 5:17 PM on November 9, 2002

My cell phone plays OMD's 'Enola Gay' went it rings. It was the only ringer I could find which actually sounds like the original song.
posted by feelinglistless at 5:24 PM on November 9, 2002

Thanks for the This Is Uncool link, punilux. I've been looking for something exactly like that recently.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:26 PM on November 9, 2002

Pancakes topping the charts...mmm, mmm, good!
posted by davidmsc at 5:26 PM on November 9, 2002

Ah - BBC, limited to songs that hit #1 on the UK charts - okay then, Bohemian Rhapsody it is. But -

36. Queen - Innuendo

Hah? Was that one of those "release in U.K. only" songs?
posted by yhbc at 5:53 PM on November 9, 2002

What about Stairway to Heaven? I know it does say pop charts, but if Satisfaction and Bohemian Rhapsody are pop songs, Stairway to Heaven sure has to be. Did it not ever reach #1?
posted by Hypharse at 6:02 PM on November 9, 2002

Right on, jonmc. Dobie Gray's "Drift Away" is one of the true greats -- but it was probably invisible in Britain. "Ticket to Ride" may indeed be the best Beatles single (though I think it was a b-side). And power-pop never got better than the Raspberries (unless you count Todd's early '70s hits).

I've been thinking more and more that '62 - '74 was probably the peak period on the singles charts. Even a lot of the fluff was great.
posted by macrone at 6:03 PM on November 9, 2002

Best #1 songs you might not think of off the top of your head (i.e., no Beatles/Stones/Motown; these are US #1 because I don't have a UK list): Lloyd Price "Stagger Lee"; Ray Charles "Georgia on My Mind" and "Hit the Road Jack"; U.S. Bonds "Quarter to Three"; Gene Chandler "Duke of Earl"; Little Eva "The Loco-Motion"; The Chiffons, "He's So Fine" (note that "Be My Baby" by the Ronettes, possibly the greatest pop-rock song of all time, which should by rights be at this point in the sequence, only made it to #2); Beach Boys, "I Get Around" and "Help Me Rhonda"; Percy Sledge "When a Man Loves a Woman"; ? and the Mysterians "96 Tears"; Box Tops "The Letter"; Sly and the Family Stone "Everyday People" and "Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)" (note that Creedence had four #2 songs in this period, each of which should have been #1; the fact that perhaps the greatest U.S. pure rock band never had a #1 hit is the greatest travesty in the history of the Hit Parade); The Honey Cone "Want Ads." At this point I went to grad school and disappeared from human ken for years.
posted by languagehat at 6:30 PM on November 9, 2002

if kylie then 'shocked'. can't get you out of my head? yes i can.
queen news:
'LONDON (Reuters) - The rock anthems of supergroup Queen got a standing ovation on Wednesday from 2,000 classical fans at a world premier performance of the Queen Symphony.'
posted by asok at 7:13 PM on November 9, 2002

Bob Dylan & Bruce are huge over here, but rarely get hit singles, and even more rarely #1's. The fact that hardly any records from the last 10 yrs are in the list is testament of the loss to the charts of great pop song writing, at least in the UK. Techno, garage and remixes rool, man!!

There are some classics in there, but for me, the sad fact that 'God Save The Queen' - the sex pistols - was #1 in every chart but the BBC's in Jubilee week, 1977 disqualifies it from the list, devalues the project. Very few punk records made #1: gerrymandering prevented one of the best & most powerful. The concept is fun, tho: what's your fave TOP 100 girl band/Motown/Punk/50's record? (not to be taken seriously...)

C'est la vie, living under the fascist yoke... (",)
posted by dash_slot- at 8:19 PM on November 9, 2002

Best #1 songs you might not think of off the top of your head...

No kidding. I've loved "96 Tears" since I was four, and I had no idea it was a #1. I hardly ever find anyone who's even heard of it. "This Is Uncool" is great. I was startled to discover that until about 1987, all the songs were made 2-3 years earlier than I thought they were. I'm not sure what that says.

The death of great pop writing has been greatly exaggerated. It's still around, just not at the top of the charts. Some of my personal favorites:

Travis (unfortunate number of ads, but the best lyrics site I found)

Fountains of Wayne does love and heartbreak with humor, simplicity, and social satire:
Years ago she lost her daughter
Off to a sacred order
Where they get stoned and work the earth
Clears up her head with bourbon
Cause beer is so suburban
And declasse for what it's worth

And Wilco, whether you think they're pop, alt-country, or something else, always come out with gorgeous lyrics:

I am an American aquarium drinker
I assassin down the avenue ("I Am Trying to Break Your Heart")

I dreamed about killing you again last night
And it felt alright to me
Dying on the banks of Embarcadero skies
I sat and watched you bleed
Buried you alive in a fireworks display
Raining down on me ("Via Chicago")

Oh I've got reservations
about so many things
but not about you ("Reservations")
posted by hippugeek at 12:04 AM on November 10, 2002

The VH1 "top songs of the century" list (archived) at:


seems to be very close to what I would have picked, had I been asked.
posted by milnak at 12:54 AM on November 10, 2002

Wilco are really just an American version of Sloan, right?

I thought British fans would be more into soul, R&B, reggae and hip-hop, etc., than is at all evident here. It's a mighty white list.

Black music was extremely unpopular over here until about 1990, when your 'old skool' rap/house guys came along, and even then it was Vanilla Ice and the Beastie Boys who were getting all the attention. The first all-black radio station was started in the UK this year, that says something.

Remember, however, that the majority of black people came to our country in the 1950's so it's their kids who are now producing the latest black sounds.. like the excellent, Ms Dynamite, Craig David, and Samantha Mumba.

In the US, you've had black culture for much longer.
posted by wackybrit at 3:21 AM on November 10, 2002

Great lyrics, hippugeek. I especially like:

"Clears up her head with bourbon
Cause beer is so suburban"
posted by languagehat at 7:47 AM on November 10, 2002

Wilco are really just an American version of Sloan, right?

Wackybrit, you are my musical savior. I was looking for "The Marquee and the Moon" on "Summerteeth," and couldn't for the life of me figure out where it went to. Guess we have slightly different musical orientations.

They're all in good spirits
I'm happy to hear it
But haven't the sweetest idea
To me buzz is onomatopoeia

posted by hippugeek at 10:00 AM on November 10, 2002

It's worth pointing out here that Bohemian Raphsody has been coming out at the top of these lists in the UK for as long as I can remember. Anybody who is a sucker for these lists such as myself will have had it so ingrained into them that when asked themselves for a top ten it's bound to at least enter their heads if not actually figure in their reckoning. Other likely suspects are Yesterday and Bridge Over Troubled Water.

My greatest number one is called Shaddappa Your Face by a bloke called Joe Dolce. It was a novelty record and it famously kept Vienna by Ultravox off the number one slot here. Inhumanely crap song but no finer public service has ever been performed by one record release.
posted by vbfg at 6:14 AM on November 11, 2002

Black music was extremely unpopular over here until about 1990

Crap. Unless you discount Motown, all the black acts of the 70s disco era, the 80s rap artists (surely even you have heard of Run DMC...). To say that it was 'extremely unpopular' is simply untrue, the charts have had black artists' records in them since the 50s.

This list was compiled using Radio 2 liteners' votes, for those who don't know, Radio 2 is the MOR, easy listening national station, this list reflects the age group and listening tastes of the listernship of Radio 2 - nothing more.
posted by Markb at 8:56 AM on November 11, 2002

"what's the matter you?? -hey!
why you lookin so sad ?? -hey!
it's a not so bad , it's a nice a place ...."

*sound of shotgun activating in mouth*

definitive indie list

(scroll down a bit!)
posted by sgt.serenity at 4:18 PM on November 11, 2002

Now this is interesting.

From sgt. serenity's link:
3 Cinerama -Health and Efficiency'

From the child-porn-or-not? thread.
posted by hippugeek at 1:22 AM on November 13, 2002

and i have a ufo in my back garden.

as well as the twin towers which were teleported there
by the alens (it was a decoy that fell), in fact they've
put elvis in charge of the windows on the world restaurant.
posted by sgt.serenity at 2:04 AM on November 13, 2002

Got any inside tips on the Grassy Knoll, sgt?
posted by hippugeek at 8:29 PM on November 16, 2002

« Older   |   Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments