We all remember where we were, right? Going over a highly suspect, vain, self-congratulatory list that doesn’t interest anyone but me? Okay, great – right back into it then:
Let’s Groove — Earth, Wind and Fire
The very best part of this song is at the start, when the funky robot voice is imploring us to “boogie on down.” Of course, this was recorded back when robots were supposed to be buddies with their human creators, but “The Terminator” and “The Matrix” have ruined all that. Now we live in fear of the day the world will be overtaken by robot masters, and there is nothing funky or boogie-worthy about that. Speaking of lost ideologies, when did the era of fun dance music bands end, anyway? Was Kool and the Gang the last one?
Just Can’t Get Enough — Depeche Mode
I think something happened to Dave Gahan between the time he made this song, and the “Personal Jesus” era. Something that made him decide he was fed up with bright, upbeat, entertaining music. I’m not sure, but it may have been the same vampire thing that got The Cure. Whatever happened, Gahan convinced the rest of Depeche Mode that they would be better off writing dark, heavy music, and they went on to become a huge band and the idols of depressed teenagers everywhere. That is all just conjecture, of course, but I’m pretty good at guessing these things.
Lucky — Britney Spears
Would anyone mind if I just moved on? This song is completely indefensible, and I don’t want to spend more time on it than absolutely necessary. Thank you.
Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old) — Garth Brooks
In the last post I seemed to spend a lot of time writing paragraphs that began with “I don’t like , but…” Well, in this case, I don’t like twangy country music, but I have learned to enjoy a few more mainstream bands and artists in the genre. Garth Brooks is one of those I like, which is odd for me because his music is extremely country – not one of those palatable hybrid country/pop/rock/whatever acts getting radio time these days. (Please note I am trying to ignore the whole “Chris Gaines” thing. You’re welcome, Garth.) I’m not sure if this is my very favorite G-Bro song, but it’s on the short list.
New Sensation — INXS
INXS is an example of a band that made a few upbeat pop songs, sold a few albums, enjoyed the experience, and decided to just keep going along that path. That’s more than can be said for some bands already mentioned on this list, and proves it is acceptable to enjoy worldwide fame and cashing humongous checks. This is one of my favorite songs on the playlist. The first eight seconds of guitar contains more bright and cheery music than entire decades of songs from Depeche Mode and The Cure combined.
Oye Como Va — Santana
True story: my older brother lived in Santiago, Chile for a couple of years and learned Spanish while he was there. When he came home one of my first priorities was to ask him to translate the title of this song for me. The surprisingly boring answer was: “Hear how it goes” (meaning, listen to the awesome beat of this song). This is a cover of a Tito Puente song, although a few significant changes have been made. Like replacing Tito’s brass section with Carlos Santana’s wicked electric guitar, for one. I skip this song almost every single time I have the option.
Poison — Alice Cooper
I have noticed that every time the subject of Alice Cooper the Crazy Rock Star comes up someone mentions that he now lives in Arizona and loves to play golf. I’m not sure why that story has now replaced the classic (and fictional) biting-the-heads-off-chickens tale, but it seems to have. Anyway, this is probably my favorite Alice Cooper song, although off the top of my head I only can think of this one, “School’s Out,” and “Feed My Frankenstein.” So, number one out of three.
Pump up the Jam — Technotronic
I’m not really sure why I included this song on my playlist, except I do like it in short increments. I don’t really like Techno/House, so after 30 seconds of play this song starts to irritate me. I don’t think it’s a candidate for inclusion on the next playlist.
Regina — The Sugarcubes
Not many people outside of Iceland know this, but The Sugarcubes was the first band for goofy international music personality Björk. In similar news, not may people outside of Iceland care. However, I actually like this song. There is something about the interesting/unusual music, Björk’s strangely appealing voice, and the really weird guy who sings the verses. I wouldn’t recommend it for all musical tastes, though.
Sad But True — Metallica
I almost didn’t put this song on my playlist because I was afraid Lars Ulrich would sue me for stealing his intellectual property. Ha ha, just a little joke there, Mr. Ulrich! I used to really enjoy this song, so I put it on here for sentimental reasons. I tend to skip past it unless I am in my car and I can belt out the line: “Do. Do my work. Do my dirty work, scapegoat!” I don’t have any idea what the lyric is referring to, but it is fun to sing.
Shine — Collective Soul
This song is a frequent title on my various lists, because I seem to forget I don’t like it anymore. I don’t have any big problems with the song or the band, and I suspect my interest will return one day. Until then I will keep skipping it. [Note to self: do not include this on 50 Songs V.6.]
Shoot The Moon — Norah Jones
Yes, I like Norah Jones. No, I am not claiming that because she is a trendy pick/physically attractive/the daughter of Ravi Shankar. I actually enjoy the music, if you can believe it. This is a very cool, laid back song (I know – shocking coming from Norah Jones) that is fun to sing along with. Ironically, she described her third album – which I have not heard yet – as “much darker,” which sounds like she is falling into the same Vampire Music trap that I have lamented earlier. What is it about being young, rich, and famous that makes people unhappy?
Southern Cross — Crosby, Stills & Nash
This is the best CSN tune from their “We Spent All Our Money and Need More” phase. I don’t know any song that has more nautical jargon than the first minute of this one, and that includes “Yo, Ho, Yo, Ho, A Pirate’s Life For Me.” The only thing missing is something about the jib or the mizzenmast. I am going to guess that Stephen Stills was really involved with his sailboat when he wrote this.
St. Elmo’s Fire (Man In Motion) — John Parr
It probably shouldn’t surprise anyone by now that I like super-duper cheesy songs from the ‘80s. I looked up St. Elmo’s Fire on Wikipedia and it left me a bit confused what this song has to do with visible plasma created by a coronal discharge. I’m sure there is a connection somewhere.
Summer Breeze — Seals and Crofts
I like this song strictly for the bit where Seals and Crofts sing: “summer breeze makes me feel fine; goin’ through the jasmine in my mind.” If I had just that part on a loop, it would accomplish the same thing as the whole song, for my purposes.
Tempted 1994 — Squeeze
I don’t like when bands remake their own popular songs for greatest hits compilations. Whether the purpose is to sell more records, or for more artistic reasons, the result is almost always disappointing. The worst instance I can remember of this is “Don’t Stand So Close To Me ‘86” which was released on The Police’s “Every Breath You Take: The Singles” album. It was a terrible remake of a great song. So it surprised me when this version of “Tempted” was a decent remake and pretty close to the original (although that begs the question whey they remade it in the first place). I still would have preferred the original, but this was the only one available to me. In addition and like several other entries on this list, I was inspired to include this song after hearing it on a commercial.
The Bitch Is Back — Elton John
This is the second song on this list to feature a minor league curse word, and one of Sir Elton’s under appreciated singles. Fun fact of the day: Elton John was born Reginald Kenneth Dwight, which sounds more like a butcher than a pop/rock star. Along with choosing “Elton” and “John” as his new assumed identity, he also gave himself a pretend middle name. This means he is, officially, Sir Elton Hercules John, CBE. I can’t say why for sure, but that just seems to fit.
The Long Way Home — Norah Jones
I tend to skip over this song now, but it was one of my favorites when I first made the playlist. My musical interests are cyclical (as I think most people’s are), and while I do enjoy Norah Jones (see above comment) I am currently ready to hear other stuff. I mention this because I noticed that at least three or four of my very favorite bands are not represented on this playlist. I guess it’s due to the cyclical music tastes thing, and something for me to resolve with V.6.
The Waiting — Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
This is one of the best songs in the world with which to sing along. If fact, I have noticed that most of Tom Petty’s songs are fun to sing. Maybe it’s because his voice makes him sound like he has no business being a rock star.
Throwing It All Away — Genesis
I seem to remember seeing videos of Phil Collins singing with Genesis and playing the drums at the same time. That strikes me as having a high degree of difficulty. For some reason, Noel Gallagher from the British band Oasis doesn’t like Phil Collins, and thinks he is the devil incarnate. None of this has anything to do with the list, but I’m trying to spice up the last few entries a bit.
What You Need — INXS
Here is another INXS song, and once again, another upbeat tune. I wonder if their willingness to enjoy the success they earned had to do with them coming from the country with the coolest people on Earth: Australia. Actually, that’s not fair of me to say about the depressing-music bands. I’m sure they found ways to enjoy their success, but most of it was probably done sitting in the dark, alone, hating their lives.
Workin’ at the Car Wash Blues — Jim Croce
Possibly my favorite Jim Croce song, although it’s hard to go against “You Don’t Mess Around With Jim.” I will have to undergo a comparative listen session. For a while I thought this song would be an excellent choice for one of those singing competitions, like American Idol. But I recently discovered that I had changed my mind, and I’m not entirely sure why. Which is a little disturbing – it’s like my brain is thinking without me.
World on Fire — Sarah McLachlan
I like Sarah McLachlan, and that really bothers some people. A normal guy would think that simply being a fan of great music wouldn’t bring out hostility in his friends, but there is an issue of manly choices to be considered. Said critics don’t feel Sarah McLachlan’s soulful music measures up in the manliness department. I understand they are concerned about a decrease in my testosterone levels, but I do a lot of chainsawing to make up for it. So, I’m good.
You Know My Name — Chris Cornell
This song is the theme to the most recent James Bond movie – “Casino Royale” – and because I love James Bond movies, it would seem like an easy, natural choice. However, I usually don’t care for the Bond theme songs. After all, there was no Thunderball – Tom Jones on 50 Songs, V.5, even though that is one of my favorite movies. This is a rare exception to the rule, and one of my favorites on the list.
You Shook Me All Night Long — AC/DC
This is the last song on the list, and it’s interesting to note that both entries ended with AC/DC. I was going to write that this song title is a little tamer than the one at the end of previous list, but I don’t think I can back up that claim. “You Shook Me All Night Long” may be a bit less explicit and gross, but it’s still suggestive. Oh well, the lads in AC/DC can’t hit home runs every time, right?