Is there any such thing as the perfect song? The truth is it is highly doubtful. Several have tried to write the perfect pop song but none have succeeded. First of all, it would be hard to get agreement on what constituted perfection. Even assuming this would be agreed, who would then decide? I would probably take serious issue with the likely judges in this, the most likely ones putting themselves forward would be record companies, DJ’s and music critics. Can you imagine the horrendous results that would occur if Andrew Cornall (Head of A&R at EMI), Fearne Cotton (Radio 1 DJ) and some dreadful hack from the New Musical Express formed a committee to pass judgement? Or worse, Simon Cowell.
Anyway, let’s go into the 100’s.
Charles Martel’s 200-181
200. The Kingsmen – “Louie Louie” (In Person)
The definitive cover version of this song which has probably formed part of the repertoire of every bunch of kids who ever got together to play music in the garage, this version was subject to a two-year long investigation by the FBI for allegedly subversive lyrics. Seriously, have governments not got enough to do without wasting taxpayers’ money on this sort of arrant nonsense?
199. Jackson, Joe – “Real Men” (Live 1980-86)
Jackson sits alone at a piano and sings this number, full of passion and power. The song is advocating gay rights and contains lines which ought to be learnt and memorised by all of us –
“Kill all the blacks.
Kill all the Reds.
And if there’s war between the sexes
Then there’ll be no people left.”
198. Tosh, Peter – “Johnny B. Goode” (Mama Africa)
Peter Tosh takes Chuck Berry’s classic, transports it to Mandeville in Jamaica and gives it a reggae makeover. Tosh’s fine guitar solo in the middle pays homage to Berry’s ability and yet adds to the unique character Tosh brings to the song.
197. Catherine Wheel – “Crank” (Chrome)
Catherine Wheel take themes of loneliness and isolation and turn them on their head with this driving number off their second, and best album. That off-key cheap organ sound is an unmistakeable feature.
196. Stiff Little Fingers – “Alternative Ulster” (Inflammable Material)
Ulster band Stiff Little Fingers make a clarion call to the Northern Irish youth to throw off the shackles of their parents’ prejudices and do their own thing. This was released during the height of the IRA’s terrorist campaign in Northern Ireland and became an anthem for change which took another two decades to come.
195. Crow, Sheryl – “Crash and Burn” (The Globe Sessions)
Sheryl Crow slurs her way across this great track about lost love and the regret which goes with it. It has a wonderful lyric (which she never matched before or after) and a slide guitar that is absolutely to die for.
194. The Feelies – “Higher Ground” (Only Life)
When the Feelies really got it together they could do what few other bands could. The interplay of guitars on this track is something quite incredible.
193. James – “Sit Down” (Gold Mother)
James make a plea for harmony, companionship and compassion with this song which has become probably the band’s best known song.
192. Mozart, Wolfgang – “A Musical Joke” (Verzeichnis aller meiner Werke)
If you did not know better you would think this was clumsy, repetitive and formulaic. But Mozart deliberately wrote it that way, quite possibly to make fun of the incompetent and clumsy court composers of the day. Not many people could do this without being obvious and it is testament to Mozart’s genius that he could.
191. The Cars – “My Best Friends Girl” (The Cars)
Many of us have been there, fancying a girl who is going out with a friend. Wonderful jangly guitars and quirky vocal delivery combine into an unforgettable song.
190. Sonny and Cher – “I Got You Babe” (Look at Us)
Great sixties love song featuring a very young Cher before she was remodelled by plastic surgery. It remains one of the most charming and endearing songs of its era.
189. Dream Syndicate – “Days of Wine and Roses” (Days of Wine and Roses)
With more than a nod tipped to the Velvet Underground, this track is a combination of sixties garage, eighties jangle pop and a bit of post-punk thrown in. The middle turns into one long jam session with some great guitar work.
188. Our Lady Peace – “Made to Heal” (Spiritual Machines)
The album is based on a novel by Ray Kurzweil and deals with the merging of man and machine. This track is one of the highlights off this album which bombed when it was released but, hopefully, is now getting some of the recognition it surely deserves.
187. U2 – “New Year’s Day” (War)
It is arguable that U2 were at their best at the time this was released. Still a post-punk outfit but before they became arena rock behemoths, “New Year’s Day” was possibly the best studio track they ever put out.
186. The Buzzcocks – “Ever Fallen Love with Someone You Shouldn’t Have Fallen in Love With” (Love Bites)
The Buzzcocks’ best track, one of the best examples of punk-influenced powerpop from the seventies. It is probably also the most recognisable song the Buzzcocks ever did and has been covered by dozens of other artists.
185. The Gin Blossoms – “Found out about You” (New Miserable Experience)
You remember that guy at school – might even have been you – who followed that girl around like a lovesick puppy hoping one day she’d finally notice him. And then he found out that she had shagged every boy in the class except him. This is the song for that guy.
184. Levitation – “Smile” (Coterie)
Terry Bickers formed Levitation when he got kicked out of the House of Love. This live version contains some fantastic free-form guitar work but it is the drumming of Dave Francolini which holds the piece together.
183. Dinosaur Jr. – “Almost Ready” (Beyond)
Dinosaur Jr. show that, even after a layoff of nearly twenty years, they have not forgotten how to put together a wonderful driving song with a catchy, staccato hook-line.
182. The Gigolo Aunts – “Where I Find My Heaven” (Flippin’ Out)
This song gained cult status in the UK for being the theme music to an off-beat comedy, “Game On” series shown in the nineties as well as featuring in “Dumb and Dumber”. The Gigolo Aunts may be a rather unsung group but this track is a fine example of powerpop.
181. Montrose – “Space Station No. 5” (Montrose)
Ronnie Montrose makes his guitar do wonderful things, spacey things, before the track thunders into an all out rocker. Montrose was one of those guitarists who never really got the recognition he deserved.