I decided to take a mini break (one of many it seems) from listening to the 1001 Albums list and wanted to take a look at my own tastes and likes. I love music, always have and always will, and like anyone who does, I have songs that I constantly go back to and listen to on a loop, or can sing by heart (not always well), or have listened to so many times I know every little detail of it.
Making a little pit-stop here, I thought it would be fun to share songs that I love, possibly to give insight into my own personal tastes in music but also maybe to help you the reader discover new things as well that maybe you never heard of!
For the sake of the list (because 100 songs is quite a bit) I chose to put them in alphabetical order to make everyone’s lives that much easier and have included a link to the song as well for your listening pleasure (or displeasure depending on your own tastes).
Without further ado, here are my Top 100 Favourite songs of all time (Subjective of course):
1. 88 Lines about 44 Women – The Nails
Well, didn’t expect to start with this song when I was randomly compiling the list. What a song to start on too. The Nails were a short lived band but managed to create an interesting album with their debut Mood Swing. On it is this incredibly simplistic yet infectious song that just speaks lines about a wide assortment of women of completely different backgrounds and worlds. It’s really just that, nothing more. But what I love about it is Marc Campbell’s monotonous and apathetic delivery of the lines which gives off almost a dark comedy type of vibe and the infectious bass line that permeates throughout. Here is proof that sometimes taking a simpler route is much more effective than being complex. There’s absolutely nothing complicated musically about this song but it works so well. Even the humming that appears after every couple of lines sticks in your head. Nothing much more to it, just a cool tune all around.
2. Along Comes Mary – The Association
Here’s a song from my famous psychedelic music class I took back in University. Don’t know what it was about this tune that struck a chord with me, but the minute I heard it I couldn’t stop listening to it. Maybe it was the harmonies or the main vocalists fast singing or even that fantastic recorder solo (yes you read that correctly, a recorder solo) or maybe all these elements combined that just did it for me. Something about a song referencing marijuana use with an absolute 60s vibe that just sticks with you. There’s no denying it’s pretty damn catchy and will probably get stuck in your head. I always find myself returning to this song after periods of not listening to it and still enjoying it every time, especially trying my best to sing along to it (and not always doing a great job).
3. Antmusic – Adam and the Ants
What I find to be the anthem for underground music everywhere, Antmusic is at the top of my all-time favourite songs. I absolutely love this song and find myself singing it all the damn time wherever I am. This wasn’t only a response to the critcism from Adam and the Ants about their music but a response for all new wave/post-punk music that was getting a bad rap for not being mainstream enough. With Adam Ant’s declarations to turn off the jukebox because the music has gone stale and his jabs at the radio telling the youth what they should enjoy, it becomes a declaration of one’s own artistic integrity and want to stand out with their own voice rather than becoming another generic pop song, even expressing to the youth to have their own opinions and not fall for it all. It’s a bold stand against it all and Adam and the Ants have no fear expressing exactly how they feel about it all. Remember “don’t tread on ant, you cut off it’s head, legs come looking for you”.
4. The Bad Touch – The Bloodhound Gang
The Bloodhound gang is one of those bands that you have to take them for what they are. They’re the musical equivalent to an r-rated teen sex comedy and to be honest, there’s nothing wrong with enjoying that once in awhile. Bloodhound Gang never pretends to be more than what they present, a fun r-rated band that is just here to have the most fun they possibly can. The Bad Touch is a perfect example of what they’re trying to do and it’s one hell of a fun song. If there’s one thing the Bloodhound Gang is really good at is innuendos and this song is chock-full of it. Add in a danceable beat and a memorable synth riff and you’ve got a nasty earworm that sticks in your head. This has become a staple for me at Karaoke nights and one of the first songs I learned all the lyrics too. There’s absolutely no way you can’t just have fun with this one. All you need to do is check your brain at the door and enjoy for what it is.
5. Ballroom Blitz – Sweet
I remember hearing this song for the first time when I was around 9 or 10 years old and was immediately hooked. From that opening drum beat, that iconic riff, the screeching vocals and the famous chorus of “And the man in the back said everyone attacked and it turned into a Ballroom Blitz”. From beginning to end this was one hell of a ride. It was one of those songs that I used to think to myself “How did they come up with this?”. It just felt seamless from the soothing vocal part to the crazy action, it just never failed to get me going. It really builds up to that famous chorus amazingly and keeps you stuck the whole way through ready to partake in a ballroom blitz of your own.
6. Beetlejuice Theme Song – Danny Elfman
Now for something a little different. Still technically a song but this time it’s from a film score. The main theme to Beetlejuice has always been my absolute favourite movie theme song. It sets the tone perfectly for the whole film, bouncy, halloweeny with a dark twist to it. Any dark comedy wishes they had a theme like this, but alas Danny Elfman did it with this Tim Burton classic. Every time that drum roll kicks in and the horns blare out I feel my soul leap out of my body and start dancing a jog over my lifeless corpse. I don’t think I’ve listened to a main theme as much as this one and it’s one I always use as inspiration for music to my own films (I’ve used it for two films so far). Never gets old for me.
7. Blue Monday – New Order
It’s the bass. That synth bass gets me every single time to the point it’s one of my favourite songs to play on my keyboard just because I love that synth bass riff so much. Beyond that the drum kick and other synth parts collectively bring this new wave classic together in a way that’s so hard to describe and must be experienced firsthand to truly get it. I love to strut my stuff to this song. New Order managed to create a dance song with such a dark vibe to it. Beneath it all is this underlying cynism and darkness that adds some great layers to an overall great tune. I always catch myself returning to it every once in awhile and it still manages to get me everytime.
8. Bobby Brown – Frank Zappa
Frank Zappa was openly calling out, mocking and making fun of self-entitled douchebags who think they’re hot shit and are owed any women they want as if their objects for their own personal desire long before the whole #MeToo movement happened. The perfect song for when the Brock Turner incident happened, Zappa manages to perfectly satirize these assholes by singing a song from their point-of-view. Upon first listen it might come across as extreme if you don’t get the satire (and let’s be honest satire flies over the heads of the stupid) but when you get it, Bobby Brown becomes one of Zappa’s greatest songs and it’s one that I just cannot stop listening to. The build-up of the whole story to Bobby Brown’s eventual outcome is just beautiful storytelling in that way that only Zappa can deliver with his dry and witty sense of humour. Zappa was a smart man and this is a perfect example of that observational intellect he possessed.
9. Bunkers – The Vapors
My first intention was to go with The Vapors’ hit Turning Japanese, which is my number 1 go to song for karaoke, but after thinking about it decided to go with their very unknown song from their first album Bunkers. There was always something about this song that just connected with me. Lyrically the singer delves into themes of uncertainty and feeling lost (which are sentiments I’ve felt for a long time, especially these days). The ideas behind the song definitely resonated with me and musically the sad yet energetic instrumentals just supported it very well. It was just a song that seemed to have struck a chord with me and after all this time stood out as my favourite Vapors song. Their vocalisation of “I have no idea where to go from here, maybe that’s why we’re living in Bunkers” just gets me every time and always sticks with me long after the song is done.
10. Burning Down the House – Talking Heads
What can I say? I’m a stickler for odd vocals and instrumentation. The Talking Heads were always masters at having that perfect blend of weird and artistic integrity without ever going to much to one side. Burning Down the House was the song that introduced me to them and will always hold a special place in my heart as being one of the first new wave songs I really got into. I originally fell in love with the Live version from their stop making sense tour which is a much more fast-paced and energised version, but after awhile the original album version grew on me to the point that I like it even better. David Byrne really knows how to sell a certain mood through both his singing and playing and here the band really comes together to make one strange yet fascinating tune. Everytime the synth notes hit midpoint, it always makes my heart drop in the best way possible. Whether you like the Speaking in Tongues version or the Stop Making Sense version, it’s still one to be remembered.
11. Ca Plane Pour Moi – Plastic Bertrand
A fast-paced, french punk song about a one night stand that has a catchy chorus that stick sin your head with every OOOOOOOO that’s sung. What’s not to love about it. For those who don’t know, yes I do speak french and understand what he’s saying. I have even gone so far as to take on the challenge to learn all the lyrics and sing it and have even come up with a version of it sung with an anglophone accent. I honestly can’t get enough of this song. When those opening chords start playing I’m hooked and won’t stop until the song has stopped. Not many songs manage to keep me sitting all the way through and this one manages to do it 98% of the time to the point that when I do listen to it I find myself playing it on repeat at least three times. It’s just non-stop energy and constant winks to the audience that it’s no surprise I love it as much as I do.
12. Cheesies and Gum – Martha and the Muffins
I have no idea why I love this song as much as I do. It’s mostly an instrumental song except for the few moments of the singer singing “Cheesies and Gum”. No idea what the significance of it is, but as far as instrumentals go I find it to be a ton of fun. With a mix of great synth hooks and some sweet sax moments it just feels like a nice little chocolate dessert I can enjoy every time it pops up on my spotify playlist. It’s one of those songs that you really like but can’t really explain why, you just do and you just love listening to it over and over, which I am not ashamed to say I have. Sometimes it’s just that simple.
*NOTE: They don’t have it on youtube, but it is on Spotify if you want to check it out*
13. Chips on my Shoulder – Soft Cell
Anyone who knows me knows I can be a really bitter person. I admit it, I have my moments of bitterness and that’s probably why I love this song so much. Hearing Soft Cell complain about chips on their shoulders, a comment on comparing your own problems to larger world ones and facing the hypocrisy of people and their preachy vows. Hearing Marc Almond exclaim “Misery, Complaints, Self-Pity, Injustice” every time the chorus hits is just beauty to my ears and I can never help but sing along to it. He really has a way with his delivery that just sells a song and along with the bouncy bass and crackling popcorn like synth notes, the song just never ceases to satisfy me. It’s another case where the instrumentation just supports the themes superbly well and brings it to life, creating a mood and vibe rather than just a song. This is one I can just never skip.
14. Con Te Partiro – Andrea Bocelli
Sometimes I like classy music. Yes, even I can have moments of class. Con Te Partiro is one of the most beautiful songs I have ever heard and Andrea Bocelli sings it with so much emotion, belting out every note with such force that it hits you right to the core of your being and soul. If you can sit through this without shedding a metaphorical tear of pure beauty then you my friend are a person with your own tastes and opinions and I respect that (but seriously… come on, dude). One of the greatest moments of my life was when me and my friend Luis found the original italian version at karaoke. This was a song we both loved and were addicted to and we were over the hills with excitement and finding it and getting a chance to sing it together as a loving duet. The bartenders loved it so much that they had us do it again as the final song (which was ruined by our drunk friend who was jealous that he couldn’t redo a song to and kept begging the bartenders to let him go and they did… but I digress). I also feel it brings me closer to my Italian heritage, which I’ve always had a connection with that I constantly want to get closer to. This has been the closest I’ve come to feeling it. A time to say goodbye has never been uttered with as much bitter-sweet sadness and joy at the same time.
15. Dancing (Lasha Tumbai) – Verka Seduchka
I love Dance music. I Love novelty music. I love accordions. This song perfectly blends all three of these elements creating a tune that I just absolutely adore. This absolutly strange yet fun song was originally presented on Eurovision (of course it was) with as much campiness, glamour and style as anything that has ever been on that stage. Verka Seduchka, a drag queen in flashy silver and large breasts, sings away as a bald accordion player kills the shit out of it and two effeminate men dance away. There’s also two women who belt out back-up vocals with as much glee as the rest of the team and all this is done with the pure intention to have as much of a party as they possibly can. If there was ever a song that inspired me to play the accordion, it’s this one. This left such an impression on me that I even learned the dance from the performance by heart. Insanity at it’s best.
16. Dare to be Stupid – Weird Al Yankovic
As I write this, I am currently listening to my Weird Al records that came in the special edition Weird Al Squeeze Box (shaped like an accordion of course). I had just finished listening to the album Dare To Be Stupid a few minutes ago, so it’s rather fitting I am now talking about the title song (pure coincidence by the way). As a Weird Al fan, I always loved his original songs way more than his parodies. What he did best was take the sound of a band and create a wholly original song in the style of said band. Nowhere throughout his catalogue did he do it better than with Dare to be Stupid, the Devo homage. Everyone knows Devo is my favourite band, so I can tell you first-hand he nailed it with this one. He captured their essence and sound to a tee. In the words of Mark Mothersbaugh: ” It’s the perfect Devo song and I essentially hate him for it”. It’s thanks to this song that I discovered Devo and it will always hold a place in my heart for being the ultimate gateway to the music I love today. Even the music video manages to bring in every single Devo reference you can possibly think of. Weird Al clearly knew what he was doing with this one and nailed it.
17. Degenerations – Mes Aieux
Here’s another song that relates to my heritage, but this time on my dad’s side. I’m a french canadian, bon and raised in Quebec. I was always raised with mostly american pop culture and wasn’t exposed to much from Quebec, except through my cousins who didn’t speak english. And even then we consumed products like Pokemon and Ninja Turtles. As I grew older I eventually started to get exposed to more Quebec art, mainly films but some music as well. Traditional Quebec music seems to have it’s roots in folk and country. Picture a cabane a sucre with a lot of folk dancing. Quebecers love their line dancing. This song take a piece from traditional Quebec music, incorporating fiddles and folk like harmonies. The first half of the song is the vocalists singing over a drum beat about the different generations and their differences, ending with how despite being different, the thing that never changed was how they all loved to party. On this we are met with an instrumental that even if you’re not the kind, makes you want to get up and just dance one hell of a jig. It’s such a great song straight out of Quebec and I feel deserves more exposure than it’s getting. It’s simply beautifully done.
18. Don’t Go – Yazoo
I used to know how to play this song on my keyboard. I haven’t played it in so long I have no idea if I still remember it. I’m sure if I try I’ll figure it out eventually, but it’ll be incredibly rusty at first. When I was first discovering synth pop, this was one of the first songs I had heard and it always left an impression on me. Vince Clarke’s synth arrangements mixed with Alison Moyet’s deep and jazzy vocals just seemed to be great mix that worked very well and this song is emblematic of the duo’s sound (this and probably Situation) but my go to will always be this one. With an upbeat tempo and down low lyrics, it always manages to get me moving especially when the bass synths take a forefront for a couple of notes (you’ll know when you hear it). Alongside the instrumentation it’s really Alison Moyet’s vocals that sells it. She has such a powerful voice that exudes so much feeling and longing for her subject she’s singing to that you can’t help but feel it with her. Even when she yells it never gets grating and comes off as completely believable and real. I haven’t heard this one in quite some time actually, but I’m happy I’ll get a chance to listen to it once again.
19. Don’t Stop Me Now – Queen
What can I really say about Queen that hasn’t been said already? Yes Freddie Mercury is a great singer. Yes their music is amazing. Yes Queen is an amazing band, yadda yadda yadda. We’ve all heard it a million times. That being said, I’ve always loved Queen and Don’t Stop Me Now has always been my go to Queen song for every occasion. I mean sure it would have been easy to pick Bohemian Rhapsody (because literally everyone does) or even I Want to Break Free or Somebody to Love or We Are The Champions, but none of them seem to have the sheer energy of this one. I mean it is called Don’t Stop ME Now and Freddie Mercury makes no sign of wanting to stop (except when the song actually stops but whatever). I mean he doesn’t get called Mr. Fahrenheit for no reason. By the end of this song you actually feel out of breath because there is no stopping for breaks, once the thrill ride starts, it starts and shows no sign of stopping until the final notes of the song. (It’s also used spectacularly well in one of my favourite movie scenes in Shaun of the Dead). I can’t help it, I have a soft spot for fast-paced high energy songs. He starts the song by telling us he’s gonna have a good night and feels alive, and anyone who listens to this song immediately gets that burst of energy fill inside them. It’s the perfect song to start a night out on the town with your best friends to set the mood. Once this starts, there’s no stopping me now.
20. Dread Love – Nina Hagen
I’ve recently discovered the amazing weirdness that is Nina Hagen. For those who don’t know, Nina Hagen is less of a singer and more of a theatrical voice actor, using her voice in the strangest ways, from high-pitched wails to deep demonic chants. She’s here to entertain through song and it’s all one hell of a performance. Her song Dread Love shows off this high range of voice acting from the exact range I mentioned above. One second she’s chanting in an almost satanic voice and the next is wailing like a banshee. It’s absolutely mesmerizing. This whole album, Nunsexmonkrock, was exactly that, just so weird but absolutely mesmerizing that you couldn’t stop. Dread Love is a high energy rock/punk song that just has Nina Hagen having the time of her life performing. Plus the idea of praying to the lord everyday with Dread Love, because love affairs are so exciting when the star of dread love is shining, is just… amazing. This song just kicks you in the ass and doesn’t give a shit and that’s why I just absolutely love it. It’s pure unapologetic music that aims to mesmerize you in a state of shock and it does a great job.
21. Drunken Maria – The Monks
I fell in love with Black Monk Time the minute I heard the album of the 1001 Albums list. It was just so different than everything else at the time and really set up the blueprint for what would become punk and garage music. Off the album, Drunken Maria was the one I always found myself relistening to and going back to. Don’t know if it’s because of the screaming MARIA vocals or maybe it’s that bassline/fuzz guitar riff. Whatever it is, this song has me going back to it constantly wanting to relisten to it over and over and over. So many great tunes of the album and this is the one that had me hooked. All around fun tune that I just can’t seem to get enough of.
22. Editions of You – Roxy Music
Oh yes, Roxy Music. The New Wave band that would inspire New Wave bands. Teaming up the likes of Brian Ferry and Brian Eno together. For Your Pleasure is my favourite Roxy Music album and off that album comes this song. Oh god this song is just an overbearing orgasm waiting to happen. From those opening synth chords through Brian ferry’s singing and finally to that grand solo of saxophone, crazy Brian Eno synths and guitar. It just builds and builds and never gives you a moment’s rest. That solo is what sells the whole song for me and it all blends together majestically that when that guitar sustain hits, you’ve officially creamed your pants. It’s like such delicious foreplay getting you ready for what’s to come (ha) and by when it happens it’s fantastic. I might be the only person who feels this way about this song, but I do and it gets me every single time I do (not literally of course because that would be messy).
23. Einzelhaft – Falco
This is a case of a song I love where I have absolutely no idea what’s being said (I don’t understand German). Many people criticise Falco for following a formulaic pop song structure with his songs to guarantee hits and as much as that may be true I would always pull out this song to show them otherwise. Here you’re not really sure where the song will take you exactly, throwing in some twists and turns that actually delight rather than annoy (to me at least). There’s not much I really have to say about this one other than I just really like it. Falco’s vocals always fascinated me and here he’s not as spastic as usual. The bass synth is great as always and it just seems to all work as far as Falco’s music goes. Whether you like him or hate him, I still think this is one that deserves some recognition of some sort. And even not, doesn’t matter, I’ll still keep listening to it every time it comes up on my playlist.
24. Electricity – OMD
This song I probably have the least to say about because I really don’t know what to say. I love the beginning build up to what would be the poppy synth notes that just make you want to shake and vibrate like crazy. OMD were pioneers in synth music and this song is representative of what they were able to do with a DIY kit in their garage. It’s a ton of fun and it’s one that I just always have a blast listening to. Nothing more to it.
25. Europe Endless – Kraftwerk
Kraftwerk were the grandfathers of electronic music, pioneering a genre before it even existed. What they did best was create soundtracks to various themes. Whether it was giving the feel of driving on the german autobahn or thematically portraying a computer world, there was no doubt they were masters at what they did and no one could do it better. For me, where they succeeded the best and what I feel is their masterpiece, is with this song Europe Endless. Giving the listener the impression their riding on the Transeurope express train, with the scenery passing by, they capture the essence of it perfectly and the entire 9 minutes are well worth the whole listen. It feels earned and deserved with all the attention and care that went into creating this tune and even though it’s so long I can’t help but just kick back and enjoy it for what it is. It’s almost meditative listening to it, envisioning the train ride, eyes closed and ears wide open. It’s absolutely breath taking as a tune and one I can never pass up when given the opportunity to listen to and yes… the whole way through.
Stay tuned for part 2!