On September 3rd of this year I was at a restaurant, having dinner with my wife and my (at the time still 8 years old) son. It was a clear sunny day and we were eating alongside the beach. My son asked me if I had ever compiled a list of the best songs and whether I had published such list on my blog. No, that was not the case. He told me it was time to do so. He would do the same. And, we were to publish the lists on both of our blogs (yes, my son has his own blog, only available in Dutch: Timur’s Verhalen).
His rules: one song per artist and a numbered list (so 10 to 1)!
The Top 2000
The Top 2000 is a yearly phenomenon in The Netherlands. Based on votes by listeners a list of the best 2000 songs of all time is compiled. Delivering the personal top 10 songs usually takes place at the end of November/the beginning of December of each year. Millions of people in The Netherlands provide their vote. Because of that, my and Timur’s top 10 songs is published today.
The Snob 2000
At the same time the Top 2000 is organized, another music-poll is organized: the Snob 2000. Because the Top 2000 leaves a lot to be desired (the list is too white, too old, too mainstream). Started as a joke over 5 years ago, it has turned into a genuine list in itself. The Snob 2000 only contains songs that are not part of the Top 2000.
I hereby give you my top 10 songs (for today anyway…).
10. Solange – Cranes In The Sky
Just recently discovered. The song is a bit over one year old, but this is just so breathtakingly beautiful, it deserves a spot within the the best 10 songs.
September 30th, 2016, was the release date of A Seat At The Table, Solange Knowles’ third album. Cranes In The Sky was the lead single.
The lyrics are about an unnamed grief and the way she tries to lift the feeling. The title stems from the idea of a place that is calm and peaceful, which gets turned into a busy town at a given moment in time. During all the building activities the skyline is polluted by the cranes in the sky.
9. Bruce Springsteen – Brilliant Disguise
On October 3rd, 1987, the first taste of the coming Tunnel Of Love album is released: Brilliant Disguise.
A great song. A glorious drumbeat, with lost of acoustic guitar. However, the lyrics to the song contained some very blunt remarks on (his?) marriage.
The lyrics are beautiful, honest and painful. The main question is who it is the other person really is. Springsteen asks Is that you baby or just a brilliant disguise? twice. The last question is Is that me baby or just a brilliant disguise?.
See also: Bruce Springsteen – Tunnel Of Love.
8. Underworld – Jumbo
Beautiful laid-back song by Underworld, has a perfect build-up and restart midway through, which time and again offers relief: luckily, the song isn’t over yet.
See also: Underworld, the best singles.
7. Public Enemy – Can’t Truss It
First single of the top-album Apocalypse ’91… The Enemy Strikes Black. At the time, Chuck D. stated the song is about the way offices and factories nowadays, represent another form of slavery.
It’s an exciting song with a great beat, subtle samples and impressive lyrics.
6. Sly & The Family Stone – Family Affair
Completely different from anything else Sly & the Family Stone had released before. Family Affair is a sombre, Hohner Pianet electric piano based song. It uses a drum machine, making this song the first number 1 hit with a programmed rhythm. Sly Stone and his sister Rose sing lead on the song. The lyrics reflect the good and bad aspects of family.
Family Affair is Sly & the Family Stone’s most successful single. Sly Stone thought the song was not good enough to be released as a single. His manager and Epic Records had to persuade him.
5. D’Angelo – Untitled (How Does It Feel?)
This song was originally intended to be a tribute to Prince. Producer of the album album Voodoo (from which this song stems) Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson: “finding the line between parody and honesty … In an era of ‘the cover song’, redoing a Prince song was taboo. This is the second best thing”.
The song has a great build-up and gives lots of room to improvisation and instrumental pieces. The instruments are sparse and the sound is crystal clear. The vocals (all done by D’Angelo, including the inventive background choirs) get the attention they deserve. The song ends in a climax, that keeps on building. D’Angelo screams, goosebumps. The song abruptly ends at its peak, ending with “How does it fee-“.
4. Talking Heads – Once In A Lifetime
Brian Eno introduced Fela Kuti’s rhythms to the band. During the recording of the song he counted several band members in on different times, either to “1” or “3”. The result is a highly danceable song with those typical David Byrne lyrics.
See also: Talking Heads – 77.
3. David Bowie – “Heroes”
The best Bowie song, even though Sound And Vison comes very close. The atmosphere in the song is intense, Bowie’s singing intimate and powerful. The wall of guitars of King Crimson guitar player Robert Fripp is a combination of three recordings, melted together by producer Visconti. Bowie’s vocals are done live in a room that had three microphones strategically placed, that were turned on by volume. The louder Bowie sang, the more microphones recorded his voice. An unforgettable experience.
2. LCD Soundsystem – All My Friends
Rightfully called best song of 2007 by many, many people, reviewers and magazines. The song is about aging, changing of friendships and looking back without regrets:
It’s an addictive song with a repetitive piano motif that runs through the entire song. Each verse more and more instruments are added to the mix.
I was hooked the very first moment ever I heard the song. Live this is a certified goosebumps experience.
See also: LCD Soundsystem – American Dream.
1. Prince – When Doves Cry
The director of the movie Purple Rain asked Prince for a song for a certain piece of film. The next day Prince presented When Doves Cry, mixed and all. The song has been performed and sung by Prince alone. When he had finished the song something was missing. Although, missing, there was too much. Prince removed the bass which instantly made When Doves Cry one of the most important songs within the history of popular music and the 1980’s.
Lyrically the song is beautiful as well:
See also other articles on Prince.
As agreed upon, my list was to be exchanged with my son’s on our blogs. So, I gladly refer to Timur’s top 10 songs: Timur’s 10 best songs of all time.
Timur was strict but fair, it had to be a top 10. That means a lot of songs had to be discarded:
|ABBA||One Of Us|
|AC/DC||Let There Be Rock|
|Antony & The Johnsons||Aeon|
|Arcade Fire||Sprawl II|
|Bauhaus||Bela Lugosi Is Dead|
|The Beatles||Tomorrow Never Knows|
|Bee Gees||Night Fever|
|The Blue Nile||Tinseltown In The Rain|
|Cat Power||Nothin But Time|
|Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds||Jubilee Street|
|The Clash||The Call Up|
|Dead Kennedys||Califiornia Uber Alles|
|Eric B & Rakim||I Know You Got Soul|
|Fatal Flowers||Younger Days|
|Marvin Gaye||Inner City Blues|
|Genesis||The Carpet Crawl|
|Iggy Pop||Lust For Life|
|Japan||Visions Of China|
|Joy Division||Dead Souls|
|Maria McKee||Has He Got A Friend For Me?|
|Alanis Morissette||Thank U|
|New Order||Blue Monday|
|Parliament||Give Up The Funk|
|The Pixies||Monkey Gone To heaven|
|Sex Pistols||Holidays in the sun|
|Simple Minds||I Travel|
|The Smiths||There Is A Light That Never Goes Out|
|The Specials||Ghost Town|
|Donna Summer||I Feel Love|
|The Waterboys||The Whole Of The Moon|
|Neil Young||Old Man|
|Zapp||More Bounce To The Ounce|
Top 2000 Logo image: mediaredactie.fhj.nl
Solange – Cranes In The Sky – Live SNL image: dailymotion.com
Bruce Springsteen – Brilliant Disguise (single), Public Enemy – Can’t Truss It (single), Sly & The Family Stone – Family Affair (single), Talking Heads – Once In A Lifetime (single) & David Bowie – “Heroes” (single) images: 45cat.com
Underworld – Jumbo (single) image: discogs.com
D’Angelo – Untitled (single) image: hatena.ne.jp
LCD Soundsystem – All My Friends & Prince – When Doves Cry (maxi-single) images: genius.com