Top 50 Songs

In looking over my older blogs, I stumbled on something I don’t ever recall writing – Derek’s Top 113 Songs. It was ambitious and, quite frankly, probably pointless since I was getting 2 or 3 hits on my blog per day around then. I guess I just loved making lists.

As I shook my head about the actual undertaking, it made me realize a few things: 1) That was TEN YEARS AGO. Man, that’s humbling. 2) My musical tastes have changed – not drastically – but they’ve moved away from some things. 3) I still really like making lists.

So I decided to once again try this experiment. I wanted to whittle it down to less than 113, so first I looked at my iTunes ratings. I had just over 900 “5-star” songs, so that wasn’t the way to go. Culling through that list, I was able to pare it down to about 140 songs (using the “look quick and mark it if I really like it” method). Doing that method one more time, I was able to get it down to a workable list of 50.

I was pretty startled to see that, of my top twenty songs in 2006, only 6 would even make it in the final 50 today. And of my current top 10, I probably hadn’t heard 6 of the songs in 2006. Which is, of course, part of the problem with ever coming up with a list of favorite songs. If I use the criteria “songs I never get sick of”, a tune I’ve only liked for 3 years has a huge advantage over something I’ve known since I was in middle school. However, imperfect as it may be, here is the list, with links to the top 25:

50. Metronomic Underground – Stereolab – 2006 Ranking: N/A – Apparently monotony does not bother me.

49. The Gate – The Bobs – 2006 Ranking: N/A – I’m a sucker for beautiful songs about cult suicide.

48. Exhibit 13 – Blue Man Group – 2006 Ranking: N/A – The perfect zone-out instrumental.

47. Timeless Winter – Into Eternity – 2006 Ranking: N/A – The metal-ist song on the list by far.

46. Mother – Pink Floyd – 2006 Place: 51+ – Preferably the version from the movie, but the album version is good too.

45. You Remind Me – David Matheson – 2006 Ranking: N/A – You’re going to find lots of slower, sweet songs on here.

44. I’ll Fly Away – Erik Darling/Kossoy Sisters – 2006 Ranking: N/A – Traditional song, the best version is this one from O Brother (but inexplicably not on the soundtrack!)

43. Ride On – AC/DC – 2006 Ranking: N/A – The bluesiest song they ever recorded.

42. Use Your Brain – The Dirty Dozen Brass Brand – 2006 Ranking: N/A – The highest-rated instrumental on my top 50.

41. Nightswimming – R.E.M. – 2006 Ranking: 9 – Despite the ranking plummet, still a gorgeous song.

40. Dr. Wanna Do – Caro Emerald – 2006 Ranking: N/A – I dare you not to tap your toe to this jazzy tune.

39. What a Wonderful World – Louis Armstrong – 2006 Ranking: N/A – Truly a timeless classic.

38. I’m Downright Amazed at What I Can Destroy With Just a Hammer – Atom and His Package – 2006 Ranking: 5 – Incredibly fun, it dropped only due to oversaturation.

37. Your New Boy – You Were Spiraling – 2006 Ranking: N/A – Fun song by a local NJ artist.

36. Stay Alive – Tripod – 2006 Ranking: N/A – How is there only 1 Tripod song in my top 50? That’s a shame.

35. Everyday Lover – Saucy Monkey – 2006 Ranking: N/A – Easily the best song from a CD that I got for free.

34. Lucas With the Lid Off – Lucas – 2006 Ranking: 35 – Up one place, and this song has earned it.

33. Arkansas – John Linnell – 2006 Ranking: N/A – Not Linnell’s best song ever, but probably the one I find myself humming the most.

32. Free Your Head – Bucho! – 2006 Ranking: N/A – Slow jazzy ditty from a local Sacramento band.

31. Heretic Pride – The Mountain Goats – 2006 Ranking: N/A – A song of pride and revolution. Get used to seeing The Mountain Goats on this list.

30. Black Betty – Spiderbait – 2006 Ranking: N/A – An excellent cover of a great original, there are only three better covers on this list.

29. One True God – Austin Lounge Lizards – 2006 Ranking: N/A – A song lambasting religion? And I heard them play it in a church? Priceless.

28. What About Me – Lake Street Dive – 2006 Ranking: N/A – Another band that should have far more entries on this list. If only 50 was a slightly bigger number.

27. Word Crimes – Weird Al Yankovic – 2006 Ranking: N/A – A very clever parody of a very crappy song.

26. She’s Actual Size – They Might Be Giants – 2006 Ranking: 7 – One of the sad victims of my musical maturation is TMBG, but this is still the best of the oldies.

25. White and Nerdy – Weird Al Yankovic – 2006 Ranking: N/A – Al took what worked in Pentiums (2006 Ranking: 20th) and improved on it.

24. International – Jim’s Big Ego – 2006 Ranking: N/A – The only song I know that uses the words “inter-dependence” and “acquiescence”.

23. Gumbo Pants – Paul & Storm – 2006 Ranking: N/A – A song about making gumbo. In your pants. The 2nd shortest song on the list.

22. Icky – They Might Be Giants – 2006 Ranking: N/A – Linnell at the top of his game lyrically. Poor guy lent out a pair of slacks and only got one slack back.

21. Never Quite Free – The Mountain Goats – 2006 Ranking: N/A – An uplifting song until the last line, just like the final scene in every horror movie that is planning a sequel.

20. Rhode Island is Famous For You – Lascivious Biddies – 2006 Ranking: N/A – If you look up “jaunty ditty” in the dictionary, you should see this song.

19. Schism – Tool – 2006 Ranking: 21 – If you look up “jaunty ditty” in the dictionary, you will definitely not see this song.

18. My Daddy Taught Me Good (The Backin’ Up Song) – The Gregory Brothers feat. Diana – 2006 Ranking: N/A – There’s no way a viral novelty mashup of a crazy interview should be in my top 20, but I’m trying to be honest with myself here: this song brings me extreme joy.

17. The Book of Love – Peter Gabriel – 2006 Ranking:N/A – Best cover of a song I don’t like, beating out Lake Street Dive’s cover of I Want You Back. Maybe the most beautiful song I own. Also used in the Scrubs finale.

16. Malcolm – The Arrogant Worms – 2006 Ranking: 27 – You got problems you can’t solve? Malcolm can. Still not the shortest song on this list.

15. Ghost Love Score – Nightwish – 2006 Ranking: N/A – At 10 minutes, this isn’t the longest song in Nightwish’s catalog, but it’s the longest one in the top 50. Great gothic metal.

14. Stress – Jim’s Big Ego – 2006 Ranking: 30 – I love both versions, but I prefer the Dr. Demento collection version to the album version only slightly.

13. Nobody Loves You Like Me – Jonathan Coulton – 2006 Ranking: N/A – This is the 3rd musician who should have far more entries on this list, as he’s one of my favorites. Muy pretty song.

12. Momma Don’t Allow – Austin Lounge Lizards – 2006 Ranking: 51st+ – At less than a minute, and only utilizing 3 sentence (two of which are the same), I challenge anyone to write a funnier song under these criteria.

11. Gulf War Song – Moxy Fruvous – 2006 Ranking: 3 – Nothing about this song isn’t amazing. Dropped slightly only because I’ve put it on 1000 mix CDs and tapes.

10. Maybe You’re Right – Barenaked Ladies – 2006 Ranking: N/A – As fun as their goofy songs are (and they are), I prefer BNLs more serious stuff.

9. No Children – The Mountain Goats – 2006 Ranking: 2 – If ever there was a Mountain Goat “hit”, it’s this song. And it’s incredible. But there are still two songs by Darnielle alone that beat it.

8. Cat’s in the Cradle – Ugly Kid Joe – 2006 Ranking: N/A – I wasn’t a dad in 2006, hence this not even cracking the top 113. With all due respect to the Chapin original (which is awesome), I prefer this heavier version.

7. Start Wearing Purple – The Gogol Bordello – 2006 Ranking: N/A – If you had asked me in 2006 if a gypsy punk song would make my top 10, I would have asked who you were and why you were talking to me.

6. Insanity – Oingo Boingo – 2006 Ranking: 1 – Another case of overplay having hurt this one, it’s still an aural wonder to behold. So. Many. Instruments. Note, the video is for a lamer, pared-down version of the song. The full version can be heard here.

5. Brain Problem Situation – They Might Be Giants – 2006 Ranking: N/A – The song I traditionally put on at track 5 in every mix I make finds itself as #5, and it’s just a song about being drunk. Damn damn catchy.

4. The Future – The Limousines – 2006 Ranking: N/A – For a band by whom I only own one song, they wrote a fantastic one and filmed a powerful and disturbing accompanying video (that’s got an F bomb so watch at work with caution).

3. The Impresario (Opera Sequence) – Jake Kaufman & Tommy Pedrini – 2006 Ranking: N/A – The fact that they were able to turn this original into a Bohemian Rhapsody-inspired power ballad is reason alone for these two guys to be sainted.

2. Hast Thou Considered the Tetrapod – The Mountain Goats – 2006 Ranking: 11 – I can’t add to what I said then. It’s an extremely gripping song about overcoming adversity. Who could possibly unseat it?

  1. Woke Up New – The Mountain Goats – 2006 Ranking: N/A – Beaten by himself, of course. This is a song I’ve always liked, ever since I saw the video before the album came out. It’s grown on me immensely, and while I consider it possibly the saddest song ever written, its combination of emotion and imagery, set to a very memorable melody, put it on top.

There you have it. 50 songs, only 11 of which appeared in my top 50 a decade ago. Now’s the time when I would say “did I leave anything out”, but it’s my list, not yours. I invite everyone to write their own blog about their lists. It’s harder than it seems.