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Great Tunes

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Professor Barnhardt’s Journal poll’s several writers for best songs of the last 25 years, in response to VH1’s take on the same. Here are the top 5 of each listed – see the site for each writer’s top 20 and the VH1 100:

VH1
1. Nirvana, “Smells Like Teen Spirit”
2. Michael Jackson, “Billie Jean”
3. Guns N’ Roses, “Sweet Child O’ Mine”
4. Eminem, “Lose Yourself”
5. U2, “One”

Tod Goldberg
1. “Jane Says,” Jane’s Addiction
If it hadn’t been for Jane’s Addiction, I might be talking about my great love for the Thompson Twins in this space.
2. “Anything, Anything,” Dramarama
If you ever loved someone obsessively, or just liked slamming yourself into a wall, this was your song.
3. “Mountain Song,” Jane’s Addiction
Before Jane’s, nothing sounded like this.
4. “She Sells Sanctuary,” The Cult
Who knew that one day they’d sell Nissans to the strains of Ian Astbury yelping about the Texas sun?
5. “Still DRE,” Dr. Dre
“Niggaz try to be the king but the ace is back…” Word.

James Norton
1. “Debaser,” The Pixies
2. “Phiesope,” Mu-Ziq
3. “Every Day I Write the Book,” Elvis Costello
4. “Halcyon + On + On,” Orbital
5. “Daylight,” Aesop Rock

Marty Beckerman
1. “American Jesus,” Bad Religion
Originators of “Thesaurus Rock,” BR have been putting out the world’s deepest punk rock for more than twenty years. Their latest release, ‘The Process of Belief,’ is by far their strongest effort yet. Especially considering that their last few albums have sucked more than Drew Barrymore during a round of ‘Celebrity Jeapordy.’
2. “Take Warning,” Operation Ivy
Recorded in 1989 — when the band members were only 19 years old — Operation Ivy’s album “Energy” has become an item of cult affection long after the band split into Rancid and Common Rider. Smart, fast, catchy and angry; everything that today’s radio-friendly punk desperately lacks. On the other hand, Avril Lavigne will probably let you teabag her for coke, so it all evens out in the end.
3. “Oliver’s Army,” Elvis Costello
Elvis is the fucking man, even if he has put on 7,000 pounds since his glory days.
4. “White Man in Hammersmith Palais,” The Clash
The definitive political rock band, the Clash made the best music of the ’80s and continued to piss off countless people when singer Joe Strummer died just three months before the planned reunion.
5. “Everlong,” Foo Fighters
One of the best rock bands working today, even though they peaked back in the ’90s with their sophomore album “The Colour and the Shape.” Just pretend all the angry songs are about Courtney Love.

Jen Chung
1. “Our Lips are Sealed,” Go-Gos
2. “Glory Days,” Bruce Springsteen
3. “Creep,” TLC
4. “Shadrach,” Beastie Boys
5. “Bled White,” Elliott Smith

Bob Sassone
1. “Whenever You’re On My Mind,” Marshall Crenshaw
He has his following, but I’ve never understood why everyone doesn’t know him, and use his songs in movies and commercials so he can be a gazillionaire. Off my favorite album, “Field Day.”
2. “Hackensack,” Fountains Of Wayne
I bought this album (“Welcome Interstate Managers”) only a couple of weeks ago, and I swear I’ve played this song 300 times. On the way back home I almost pulled the car over to cry, knowing that music like this exists in my life.
3. “Weak and Watered Down,” Tommy Keene
The most underrated rock musician.
4. “Barely Breathing,” Duncan Sheik
The guy has a knack for catchy, intelligent pop, and I think the first part of this song has some of the most perfect lyrics you’ll ever hear.
5. “Boomtown,” David and David
One of the Davids (Baerwald) went on to co-write and produce with many artists, including Sheryl Crow. Beautifully gritty songs about drunks and writers and other people who go to L.A.

Tim Grierson
1. “Every Breath You Take,” The Police
Timeless. Sting subdued. Listen to human fingers sliding across that fretboard. People get married to this song now.
2. “It Takes Two,” Rob Base & DJ Easy Rock
Before Humpty Hump, Sir Mix-A-Lot, Naughty by Nature, Kris Kross, House of Pain, Wreckx-N-Effect, MC Hammer, Neneh Cherry …
3. “Brothers Gonna Work It Out,” Public Enemy
In 1995, we did indeed twist to this. 2003, too. We’ll even do it in 2010, even if there isn’t any hip-hop social consciousness at that point.
4. “Nobody’s Fault But My Own,” Beck
The slow decay toward the inevitable. He’s no one’s jokester, no one’s funk daddy, no one’s artist of his generation. He never recovered.
5. “Kiss,” Prince
I’m shorter than you, girlier than you, and my voice can still hit high notes without breaking a sweat. Oh, and I wear high heels in public. And I’m still gonna take your girl.

Matt Hinrichs
1. “Everyday I Write the Book,” Elvis Costello & the Attractions
2. “One More Time,” Daft Punk
3. “(Don’t Go Back to) Rockville,” R.E.M.
4. “Xanadu,” Olivia Newton-John and the Electric Light Orchestra
5. “Hey Ladies,” Beastie Boys

Aaron Bailey
1. “House of Stone and Light,” Martin Page
2. “In Your Eyes,” Peter Gabriel
3. “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles),” Proclaimers
4. “Go West,” Pet Shop Boys
5. “Always on my Mind,” Pet Shop Boys

Brian Lewandowski
5. “Nightswimming,” REM
4. “Stay (Faraway, So Close!),” U2
3. “Dear God”, XTC
2. “Three Little Birds,” Bob Marley
1. “Under Pressure,” Queen and David Bowie

Adam Finley
5. “Fillmore Jive,” Pavement
4. “Waiting For a Superman,” The Flaming Lips
3. “Strings of Nashville,” Pavement
2. “Feeling Yourself Disintegrate,” The Flaming Lips
1. “Here,” Pavement

I have an extremely hard time with things like this – I can’t really just say “favorite” because I have favorites in different categories for different reasons, and then the whole thing turns into a huge list with all kinds of qualifications and my brain explodes like Robin Hitchcock’s “Balloon Man,” which is one of my favorite songs of the last 25 years, but not high enough to make a list like this.

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About Eric Olsen

  • The Theory

    i agree with you last comment. plus, favorites change like the tide, so what’s your favorite right now will not be your favorite a year, half a year, month from now… or even tomorrow.

    peace.

  • Eric Olsen

    exactly TT, my list of just plain old faves would be very fluid, eccentric, and the act of thinking about it would have the effect of the Heisenberg Uncertanty Principle.

  • http://robbedbyafountainpen.blogspot.com BJ

    Yup. I could give you a list of five songs I want to hear right now, but beyond that, no chance.

  • mike

    Almost everybody hates these lists, but everybody reads and reacts to them, often vehemently. It’s great fun. I have a friend who hates Nirvana, whom I love (Nirvana, I mean, not my friend), and everytime the band appears at or near the top of these lists (which is almost always), he goes ballistic and holds me personally responsible. Then he tells me the lists don’t mean anything and he doesn’t pay attention to them anyway.

  • Eric Olsen

    I can understand hating Nirvana because they weren’t very good, but they were great at their best, which was most of “Nevermind,” and certainly “Teen Spirit” is as good as any other “best song” of the last 25 years I can think of.