Well faithful reader, this is the end of our musical journey. The final installment of my Top 100 songs list. I’ve had a very good time making this list and I hope you’ve enjoyed reading it. More importantly, I hope you’ve found at least one new song to enjoy. That would make this whole endeavor worthwhile.
This is my favorite song about love. Somehow it manages to capture the intensity, joy, and heartbreak of a relationship that has run its course. Even more impressive, Shakira was only 17 when she wrote this song. I shudder to think that an English version might exist, because the poetry of the Spanish in the original song would be completely lost in translation.
Favorite Lyric: “Pero olvidaste una final instrucción por que aún no sé como vivir sin tu amor.”
Almost Picked: Ojos Así.
9. I Want You Back-The Jackson 5
Technically Prince isn’t the only artist to hold two spots on this list. MJ also clocks in with The Jackson 5 and their first and (in my opinion) greatest single. You can dance to this song. You can belt along in your car. It’s extremely versatile. It’s extremely fun.
Favorite Lyric: Nothing stands out, but that is actually a compliment in this case.
8. Born to Run-Bruce Springsteen
There’s no song more perfect for running. More generally, there’s no song more perfect for describing my feelings about where I’m currently located and where I want to go in life. Perhaps the specifics of the song’s story don’t apply, but the theme and the message of Born to Run capture my thoughts so well that I’m willing to overlook the details.
Favorite Lyric: “We gotta get out while we’re young because tramps like us, baby we were born to run.”
7. Over the Rainbow-Eva Cassidy
Aesthetically, this is the most beautiful arrangement of one of the most beautiful songs of all time.
Favorite Lyric: “If happy little bluebirds fly above the rainbow then why oh why can’t I?”
6. A Change is Gonna Come-Sam Cooke
If Over the Rainbow is the most aesthetically beautiful song I’ve heard, then this is the most meaningful song I’ve ever heard. Knowing the whole story behind the song makes it that much sadder and more powerful.
Favorite Lyric: “And I go to my brother and I say brother help me please/But he ends up knocking me back down on my knees.”
5. Biology-Girls Aloud
In my review of the album, Chemistry, I said, “it contained an eclectic mash-up of synth, 50’s bass lines, stitched together choruses, and odd song structure. Oh sorry, I was just referring to the song Biology.” It takes balls to reference Muddy Waters and disco in the same breath, yet somehow these girls manage to pull it off. I still maintain that Girls Aloud are the greatest musical act never to hit the United States. This is their magnum opus.
Favorite Lyric: “You can’t mistake my biology.”
4. …Baby One More Time-Britney Spears
The single greatest and most influential pop song of my lifetime. Brilliantly produced. Brilliantly marketed. You can be as snobby as you want, but there’s still no resisting those first three notes.
Favorite Lyric: Obviously “Hit me baby one more time.”
3. Nothing Compares 2 U-Sinead O’Connor
It doesn’t get much more intense than this. This song is essentially undiluted heartbreak for five minutes. Plus, it’s a Prince cover so it’s obviously well-written.
Favorite Lyric: “I know that living with you baby was sometimes hard but I’m willing to give it another try.”
2. Proud Mary-Tina Turner
So, this song means several things to me. To me, Tina Turner is the most inspiring artist in the music industry because of her escape from physical and sexual abuse at the hands of Ike Turner. She has one of the rawest, most powerful voices in music and she's not afraid to use it. This song is the standard for iconic choreography, even before music videos existed. This song exhilarates me in a way no other song can. Yet it’s only about a riverboat. Go figure.
Favorite Lyric: “You see, we never do anything nice and easy. We always do it nice…and rough.”
1. Purple Rain-Prince
I promised you two Prince songs and here’s the other. Wow. My number one song. If you’ve been reading carefully, this should be an obvious choice. It hits so many of my musical hot buttons. It’s about love. It’s about loss. It’s layered. It’s melodic. It crescendos. It’s instrumental. It’s genius. One report says that Prince wrote the song based on a woman’s near-death experience. She said she saw purple rain in heaven. I think that adds an allegorical level to the song and, like many other songs on this list, makes me think of my tattoo. I lose myself in this song more than any other. That’s all there is to it.
Favorite Lyric: “I never wanted to be your weekend lover/I only wanted to be some kind of friend.”