Monday, November 22, 2004

Top 500 songs?

Rolling Stone, the self-anointed ultimate arbiter of all that is good and holy in the world of popular music, has listed its picks for the 500 greatest Rock & Roll songs of all time. Really, it's a Pop Music list, because it includes Rap (two Public Enemy songs, two Eminem, others), R'n'B (much Marvin Gaye, some Aretha, Al Green, more) and soul (some James Brown, et al.). Naturally, the list has numerous classics.

It also has numerous problems: 1) overweighting the list with 50s-70s songs; lack of Heavy Metal songs other than two anthems by AC/DC and Enter Sandman; 2) random inclusion of a couple of country songs, but a country music fan reading the list would wonder about a lot of missing tunes; 3) ignoring the '90s (it was not a complete wasteland).

Now obviously there will be matters of taste: I'm not into the Beatles (23 songs, seven of the top 30) or Dylan (12 songs, including No. 1, Like A Rolling Stone), although I cannot avoid acknowledging their contributions to the pantheon. But some of their songs are relatively unimportant (Norweigian Wood, the Stones' Street Fightin' Man) compared to those that have been excluded.

Others are completely overlooked (Pearl Jam's survivor-guilt anthem Alive, Green Day's Good Riddance and Basket Case, Mellencamp's Jack and Diane, Living Color's Cult of Personality, The Police's Don't Stand So Close to Me and Message in a Bottle; I expected my favorite song of theirs, Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic to be ignored). And there aren't many obscure classics either.

But at least it's interesting.


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