I had someone ask me the other day (after my favorite albums list) what my ten favorite songs of all time are. Well . . . here is that list plus twenty (in actual order of preference) more for good measure. You've probably heard of most of them but if there is just one here you do NOT know, my work is done. Yes, yes, yes. I KNOW that almost all of this list is POP music. That is fine. Trust me.
Please to enjoy.
30) Ya Hey, Vampire Weekend - One of only two songs on this list released this decade this song is just plain fun and lighthearted but has a very serious message. NO ONE in music today does lyrics and music quite like Vampire Weekend. That's ivy league product, yo.
29) Lately (MTV Unplugged), Jodeci - A cover of the Stevie Wonder ballad about infidelity, doubt, and longing . . . this song can make you sad but the strength of the voices of KC and JoJo is worth the listen (sidebar - they wore leather pants and oversized leather vests during the MTV taping so that is funny).
28) 2 Legit 2 Quit, MC Hammer - Laugh all you want but this song was amazing in its day and the video was a legitimate sensation. I STILL find myself toe-tapping and hand-gesturing when it comes on. The Macarena . . . not. so. much.
27) Circle, Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians - I didn't understand this song when it first came out but I loved it because Edie Brickell sang with such warmth, concern, and sadness. I still play this song when I feel lonely (that's truth).
26) Umbrella, Rihanna featuring Jay-Z - I don't know how to explain how much this song just gets trapped in my head and rains down on me (get it?) from the inside. The perfect "summer hit" and it will always remind me of when and where I was the first time I heard the song (another blog post for another time - remind me).
25) Ave Maria, J. S. Bach/Charles Gounod - I won't put too many classical pieces on here but if you do NOT like Ave Maria . . . I don't think I like you, good sir.
24) Deliciously Down, Cree Summer - So Lenny Kravitz was married to that woman from The Cosby Show/A Different World and Cree Summer played her roommate (or a bit part) and Lenny Kravitz dug her sound so they made an album together. The whole record is amazing. This is my favorite song from it. And a solid song in general.
23) Fantasy (Bad Boy Remix), Mariah Carey featuring O.D.B. - "Me and Mariahhh go back like babies and pacifierssss. Old dirt dog no liarrrrr. Kicking fantasy hot like firrrrrrrrre." I mean come ON, suhn!
22) Do Me, Bell Biv Devoe - A lot of people go straight to Poison when they think of BBD. Not me. No-no. The subtly of Do Me (that is sarcasm) makes it all the better.
21) Something to Save, George Michael - I was truly bummed when I realized there would never be a "Listen Without Prejudice" Vols. 2 and 3. Not because I like trilogies but because I really liked the political angle George Michael took between "Faith" and "Drugs in Public" (not an album - a behavior issue). This CD was solid and Something to Save was a good battle cry for people doing SOMETHING bigger than themselves.
20) Happy Ending, Mika - If you don't know and love Mika, you're missing out. He's Freddie Mercury only slightly more gay and eccentric. I can't really tell the story of why I like this song so much but it was very important to me at a weird time in my life. It is catchy to a point where you miss the sad message.
19) Heaven (Candlelight Mix), DJ Sammy & Yanou featuring Do - Yes. The remake of a Brian Adams joint. Yes. By a DJ. Yes. With a vocalist just going crazy with the lyrics and melody. I can't get behind the dance, trance, smash, or whatever other versions but this one . . . it is beautiful. It just works.
18) Today, Smashing Pumpkins - Freshman year of college. The world was new. This CD was playing all the time and, on any given morning, today really might have been the greatest day I'd ever known. College, man. College.
17) All Apologies, Sinead O'Connor - Yep. A remake of a Nirvana song (and I HATE Nirvana (long story, different post . . . seriously - remind me) by a woman who is no stranger to controversy but has probably n ever actually apologized to anyone for anything. Which makes the song all the more perfect when vibrating off her pipes.
16) This Woman's Work, Kate Bush - Just watch this clip from She's Having a Baby. If you've never seen the movie and don't want it spoiled (it is a truly wonderful 80s movie) turn it off at 6:54. What a beautiful song about women, strength, babies, dads, and love.
15) Someone Like You, Adele - I love Adele. This is well documented. This song (the other song from this decade to make this list) is a great example of why. It makes you want to hug her or go look up your exes. Or hug your exes? Look her up? I can never figure it out.
14) Celebrate Me Home, Kenny Loggins - Kenny Loggins gets way, way less respect than he deserves. Celebrate Me Home is one of my favorite holiday songs of all time and is also a wonderful song in general. Family, man. Family.
13) What's Golden, Jurassic 5 - A really good rap anthem asking you to remember, fondly, the days of balling, shot calling, and yes y'alling. I will do that for you, Jurassic 5. All you had to do was ask me to.
12) Come to Me (Peace), Mary J. Blige - No one knows pain like Mary J. Blige and no one opens up their pipes exactly like Mary J. Blige does. This song is a fantastic example of the pipes and the pain and the fact that forgiving and forgetting could be the only thing between impasse and happiness.
11) Good Mother, Jann Arden - Makes me think of my own mother. That should be all the reason you need to justify this song being in this position on this list.
10) Pearl, Paula Cole - I love this song. It is about going in a grain of sand and coming out something better and speaks to the notion of balance in life and trying to find the right place for you to develop in to your best self. We should all aspire to be the pearl.
9) Satellite, Dave Matthews Band - I'm not justifying this one. You all get it.
8) I'm Going to Make a Cake, Philip Glass - I'm obsessed with The Hours as a piece of profound sadness that can break any person on the edge by the time Ed Harris exits his apartment. The score is equally amazing. This track, which plays while Julianne Moore's character struggles to honor her loving husband with a cake only to have it all come apart at the seams is exactly why so many people are so sad in this world . . . they take on things they should not and they expect things from themselves that are not fair. Make less cakes - be happier. Or just watch The Hours and cry until it feels good again.
7) I'd Die Without You, PM Dawn - This might technically be the longest-running number one song on the pop charts of all time except "I Will Always Love You" by Whitney Houston. I prefer this song. Finger snapping? Rhythmic moaning? Piano flourishes? Yes. Yes. Yes. Amazing pop balladry and can you imagine the lucky woman a man played this for? Swoon.
6) Both Sides Now, Joni Mitchell - Everything "I'd Die Without You" is not. Sad. Hopeless. No one to sing it to . . . this woman is alone and hurting. They use this song brilliantly in Love Actually but I first had my heart broken by it about a decade earlier. So good. SOOOO good.
5) The Funeral, Band of Horses - If I have a meeting, discussion, opportunity, or challenge ahead of me this song gets me ready. The basic point of the song is that you can die at any time so hold nothing back. Take no prisoners. Accept nothing "less". Not a bad way to go through life.
4) Thank U, Alanis Morissette - If this song doesn't exist, I don't finish graduate school and I don't have the life I have now (I'd probably have a different one but it would not be the same for certain).
3) I'll Be There For You/You're All I Need, Method Man with Mary J. Blige - Yep. TWO Mary J. Blige appearances and I put a rap/R&B duet in my top three songs of all time. Give it a listen - you'll understand why, you suburban pretenders.
2) The Luckiest, Ben Folds Five - I loved this song from the first time I heard it (the original version is great, the "live" recording on Ben Folds Live is better, some a Capella renditions are very, very legit). The notion that your life and who you meet and love is sort of predetermined is a wonderful, wonderful notion. Not getting many things right the first time (as the lyrics point out) is a far more realistic way to plug along.
1) Heartbeats, Jose Gonzalez - Happy, loving, tender, encouraging, and not entirely clear in its motives or intents ("Would I be good enough to lean on?") this song is infectious and second to none in my never humble opinion. I first fell in love with it from this brilliant Sony Bravia extended commercial (no special effects - that really is hundreds of thousands of rubber balls coming down the hills of San Francisco) but it has stayed with me ever since.