An impossible task: 100 favorite songs
Posted On 23 May 2021
A discussion came up this past week about favorite albums / songs, and having already done the 100 albums project I was able to URL-slap the chat channel with my favorite albums. (At least, my favorite albums as of about 2016. The list has changed substantially since then.) So then the question of favorite 100 songs came up. That… is much harder.
Picking my 100 favorite albums wasn’t easy but it’s made much simpler by the fact that lots of artists have produced great songs. That’s why we have the concept of “one-hit wonders” — lots of artists and bands have created one-off songs that are amazing, but their overall catalog is just so-so.
Don McLean’s “American Pie” is much beloved. I’ve listened to it hundreds if not thousands of times by now, and it doesn’t get old. The rest of his catalog… um. Not so much.
“Mickey” by Toni Basil is a classic, no list of 80s pop would be complete without it. “Obsession” by Animotion, great song. “Wipe Out” by the Surfaris. And that’s just songs that charted, not counting many fantastic songs that didn’t chart but stood head and shoulders above the rest of the band’s work.
The Beatles (and XTC, Queen, Robyn Hitchcock, and…) problem
The Beatles are pretty much my all-time favorite band. They released somewhere north of 200 songs while they were together, more than 180 of them originals. There are a few Beatles songs that are stinkers (“Revolution No. 9” and “You Know My Name (Look Up the Number)” leap to mind), and some that are just OK (“Sexy Sadie,” “All Together Now,” “Little Child”…) but without a hard limit on songs by a single band/artist, they’d take up a huge chunk of my top 100.
And then there’s XTC, Queen, Robyn Hitchcock, Aimee Mann, Colin Hay…
A possible approach to top 100s
There’s no way I can do just 100, at least not without sucking all the fun out of it while I agonize over this song or that one. I sat down and jammed out a list of 73 songs in less than an hour and that’s just off the top of my head.
I might split it up a bit and do multiple lists. I’m thinking right now, I might divide a project into:
- Everything up to 1970
I might need a separate list for the 80s on its own. Everybody knows that was unarguably the best decade for music, ever. Unarguably. Don’t even try to argue it.
OK, you might disagree. But I grew up during the 80s, which means that was the time I had my most intense relationship with music. If my selections from the 80s are too numerous to winnow down to live with 70s music, I might re-think the positioning.
Thoughts, suggestions, songs to include?
Open to suggestions. This is primarily an exercise to keep me writing, I doubt that many people are on the edge of their seats waiting to hear my thoughts on music. But, if you’re following along at home I’d love to hear your thoughts. Could you narrow it down to 100? Could you think of 100? What songs would you include, and how would you pick them?