Inspired in a roundabout way by a recent Ask MetaFilter question, and fueled my desire to procrastinate a little longer, here’s my take–in no particular order–on the top songs ever. I started off as a blanket list of songs were good, but kept whittling it down until only the best songs ever remained.
- Pink Floyd – Keep Talking: Not only does it sound great, but find me another song with a guest appearance by Stephen Hawking. And, unlike some of their other songs, it’s pretty “normal” and upbeat. (However, High Hopes takes a close second for Pink Floyd songs, and honorable mention goes to Run Like Hell, Cluster One, Learning to Fly, and the rather creepy One of My Turns. And The Happiest Days of Our Lives, but only if you play it loud.
- RHCP – Snow (Hey Oh): I’m hesitant to include things I’ve loved for less than a month, but I’ve liked the Red Hot Chili Peppers for years and years, so it’s not like I’m throwing a Top 10 spot into something unfamiliar. (Their Aeroplane is a close second.)
- Jimmy Eat World – Hear You Me: Many of the songs I love turn into lists of other great songs by that author. This isn’t so with Jimmy Eat World–some of their other songs are so-so. This one has secured a spot in the top, though. It’s always been a good time, but have it come up on Shuffle when someone close to you has died and tell me it isn’t wonderfully appropriate. I also tend to not keep downbeat songs in my playlists, but this one–even with all the associate sadness–stays in. You owe it a listen.
- Creed – One: I think I own a couple Creed songs, but I might rank them in the Top 100 artists in my playlist. But something about this song propels it into the Top 10. Part of it’s just that it sounds great. It also has a neat sort of “burst of energy” that keeps you from just playing it as background music. And the lyrics are excellent, too. (Actually, one might copy-and-paste this text for Green Day’s American Idiot, although I rank One higher.)
- The Fray: I just can’t decide which one. I confess that Iliked them so much that I almost did something vile–bought a CD. I didn’t, but if ever I came close, it was upon hearing their other songs. You’ll surely recognize How to Save a Life and Over My Head (Cable Car), but some of the others–All at Once, Heaven Forbid, Little House, Look after You, and She Is are all as good.
- Smashing Pumpkins – Today: Out of a band that does a lot of, err, melancholy, songs, a beacon of happiness. (I think.) And don’t skip the beginning, which caused my classic, “I forgot about glockenspiels!” line. (But really, when was the last time you thought about glockenspiels? I’d gone years without so much as remembering their existence. I might not think about coconuts more than every few weeks, or ventriloquists more than once a month. But glockenspiels? It’s been years.)
- Nirvana – Smells Like Teen Spirit: Amid a sea of nice calm, upbeat music, we need something that can only be described as loud. This is it. Unintelligible lyrics? Check. Screaming, without being “heavy metal” that grates on my nerves? Check. But the real reason for including them? Lyrics like “a mulatto, an albino, a mosquito, my libido” are a reminder that sometimes, just every now and then, a song doesn’t have to make any sense at all to be good.
In lieu of finishing a Top 10 list, I’ll leave you with three songs that I bet you heard years ago but forgot all about–the glockenspiel factor.
- New Radicals – You Get What You Give.
- Spacehog – In the Meantime.
- Primitive Radio Gods – Standing outside a Broken Phone Booth with Money in My Hand.