Updated: Jan 19
The reason why people choose something is often more insightful than what their choice is. For instance, what about the choice of household pets? Which makes a better pet: a cat or a dog?
Cats are finicky while dogs are loyal.
Dogs don't scratch furniture but require baths and walks.
Cats sometimes bite or scratch guests but won’t slobber on them.
Cats kill mice and eat bugs in the house, while dogs eat the TV remote.
Cats do their business outside, but you must let them in and out all hours of the day and night.
Dog owners want a friend, while cat owners want a walking, autonomous home decoration.
Guest of cat owner: “Oh, look at the pretty cat.”
But this isn’t what this post is about.
I wish to offer you something almost as important as your choice of pets: My Top-10 list of pop songs ever. But first, I’ll provide you with the criteria I used to select these songs. Without the reasons why, the list isn’t as meaningful.
Criteria for the Top-10 pop songs ever
Bands, not soloists. Songs sung by soloists like Taylor Swift or Billy Idol are fabulous, but if I chose from those numbers, my top-10 list would really be my favorite solo artists. Thus, I’m limiting the list to pieces performed by bands.
Only one band per piece, else the list would be my favorite bands.
Top-10 songs are selected only by how they sound, not how the performers looked or acted or how psychotic they were in real life, or even how good or bad their music videos were.
Emphasis on longevity. A truly exceptional song retains its relevancy for many years.
Tightness. Is every part of the melody, harmony, lyrics, and rhythm vital, and does every part enhance the other parts?
Complexity is not required. Some of these songs are exceptionally simple.
Above all, if I hear the song on the radio will I stop changing stations? When I arrive at my destination will I keep the car engine running until the song ends?
Top-10 pop songs ever
As you listen to these songs on YouTube, turn on closed captioning if it’s available. I’ve listed my Top-ten songs in order of their publication date.
Don’t Fear the Reaper (Blue Oyster Cult, 1976) Mysterious, about the foolishness of fearing the inevitability of death.
Play that Funky Music (Wild Cherry, 1976) Song was inspired by a fan asking that very question: Are you going to play any funky music?
Brick House (The Commodores, 1977) Tight sound. Nothing missing, nothing left over.
Uncle Albert (Paul McCartney, 1977). McCartney said it’s reflective of an apology for his moving far away from his parents and siblings and not visiting them often enough.
Walking on Sunshine (Katrina and the Waves, 1983)
Independent Women (Destiny’s Child, 2000) I dare you to try to do anything else while listening to this song.
Just to show you that I’m reasonable, here is a list of my runners up.
Good Vibrations (The Beach Boys, 1966) Their songs are too short. I feel cheated because just when I get into them, they end.
Diamonds are Forever (Shirley Bassey, 1971) This isn’t a pop song but is the title song to the movie, “Diamonds are Forever,” and it’s sung by a soloist, not a band. But it’s so darn good! See lyrics.
Frankenstein (Edgar Winter Group, 1972) It’s so unique, and without lyrics.
Bohemian Rhapsody (Queen, 1975) This deserves to be in my top 10, but it’s played so often and is so well known that it has lost its appeal for me. I’ll move it up to the top 10 after I haven’t heard it for a while.
Never Gonna Let You Go (Sergio Mendes, 1983) I love it, but it’s sung by an artist and not a band, thus not meeting the top-10 criteria. It contains twenty-two modulations subtly crafted to not sound like they’re there. If you want to be impressed, watch this video.
Let’s Hear it for the Boy (Deniece Williams, 1984) Easily the happiest song ever written, but it’s sung by an artist and not by a band.
That Thing You Do (The Wonders, 1996) A great song, but it’s performed by a fictional band. Song is from a movie of the same name. Watch the movie! You’ll love it.
Do you know of better pop songs that I've forgotten? Please let me know so my life can be even better. Together we can help make the world a better place.
So long as you know the right songs.