My 100 Favorite Songs
Because I had such fun with the 100 favorite films series, I'm going to do my 100 favorite songs next. But before I start, I wanted to lay out some thoughts about what makes a good song (to me), as well as some ground rules.
First, the ground rules. I am considering "rock/pop" songs only, albeit from a pretty loose definition. Still, this means no standards, no musical theater songs, no jazz songs. No "Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered," no "Sunday," no "Waters of March." I'm also limiting my list to songs I own. There may be some songs that would crack the top 100 that I haven't actually tracked down on CD or mp3 (maybe "Whiter Shade of Pale," to list one), but I can live with not including them in this list.
Now - what makes a great song? For me, it's a couple of things. I tend to gravitate towards songs that do something different. Not that you won't find any three-chord guitar, bass, and drums songs in my list, but I tend to score extra points for including a trumpet, or a good synth line, or strings--in organic and effective ways. Or for doing something new with structure. Or for an artfully expressed idea. I'm pretty forgiving on lyrics - I'll take a good tune, or a neat chord change or progression, or a clever arrangement, with bad lyrics over good lyrics with boring music any day of the week. Especially in "rock," where the lyrics are often enough not too intelligible to begin with. And I'm kind of a stickler for a good singer - I believe, with the self-righteous pompitude of an evangelical, that rock singers should still have to sing. Not scream, or whine, or mumble, or wail.
But most importantly--and this will be the hardest to nail down as I write about these songs, given how ephemeral and subjective it is - a song has to move me. Whether to tears, joy, ecstasy, anger, or sorrow is mostly irrelevant, but it has to trigger emotion in some way to be great.