Time for me to switch gears once again, and talk about something else that plays a big part in all of our lives, including mine: music. I've recently become addicted to Billboard Music's chart listings that are now available on youtube, that cover such lists as every number 1 song from a calendar year, the top 100 songs of a calendar year, and even the top 10 songs from a particular week----all from the '80s and early '90s of course, as these were the decades I grew up in and developed my musical tastes. So I think it's only fitting that I do a top ten list of my own of songs that are timeless and enjoyable to me, and would almost always be worthy of being played more than once. Much like your personal to 10 song lists, it's difficult to choose, so I especially had to think about if any of the following ten songs were played anywhere in public, would they stop me in my tracks until they were over?
Well, these ten most certainly would:
10. Father Figure - George Michael: I've just recently realized how much I enjoy George Michael's vocals. Behind Michael McDonald, he's the most soulful white guy I've ever heard, and this tune is just another example of that. The moody vibe of the song and video always pop into my head whenever I hear it, and It's also the perfect tune for a night drive. P.M. Dawn made a great use of this song when they sampled it for their hit, "Looking Through Patient Eyes."
9. Everything She Wants - Wham!: Well, I couldn't have a favorite George Michael song without having a favorite Wham! song. I always felt that this tune tends to get overshadowed by the other two hits "Careless Whisper," and "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go." It's a very well-written song bathed in an infectious heavy synth-bass and electronic drum beat. It's impossible not to at least bob your head to it whenever it's played. I personally like the "somebody tell me" part the most.
8. Car Wash - Rose Royce: This song has, hands down, the best intro ever. Yes, the rest of this song is fantastically funky, but I absolutely love that slow build of an intro. No classic radio station should ever edit it, and if they do, they're doing this song a horrible injustice. Just listening to it start off with the hand claps first, then the bass, then the signature disco beat and funk guitar, all before the actual song kicks off always draws me in. Thank goodness for oldies radio stations growing up, since this song was released before my time.
7. Steppin' Out - Joe Jackson: One addictive-as-hell piano melody. That's all this tune needs. This is one of those songs that no matter how long it's been since I last heard it, that melody gets happily stuck in my head for the rest of the week as soon as I hear it again. And hey, the bassline isn't too shabby either. Like "father figure," this is another great night driving tune (thanks to the video of course).
6. Don't Stop The Music - Yarbrough and Peoples: As far as favorite synth basslines go (and believe me, I have alot of them), this has to be my favorite. It's very fitting that this was played in alot of indoor roller skating rinks when it was released back in 1980 (my birth year), as the bassline in this song basically takes you around in a circle with a sort of "galloping groove" to it. The vocals fit very well with the song, along with the sped up vocals done by the puppets in the music video. Like "Steppin Out's" piano melody, I am more than happy to get this bassline stuck in my head.
5. What a Fool Believes - The Doobie Brothers: Another very well-written song, once your'e able to decipher Michael McDonald's vocals (no easy task). I loved the "peppy" beat and melody of this tune, and especially the falsetto chorus (I'm a HUGE fan of falsetto vocals). Then when I learned the lyrics, I was shocked to find out how depressing of a song this was. It's basically about a guy who has one night with a woman, and believes it's the start of a long-term relationship, but to the woman, it's just a fling, so the man makes a "fool" of himself with the woman. How can such an upbeat-sounding tune be about such a sad would-be romance? Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins, that's how. Great songwriting guys!
4. Don't Disturb This Groove - The System: Mic Murphy and David Frank of this group created the epitome of "smooth" here. This is one of only two songs that hooked me by the first chorus (the other one is also on this list of course). Just about everything works with this song: Keyboard melody, heavy beat, and super-smooth vocals by Mic Murphy. It's a crying shame this tune has been relegated to the "hidden gem" category of '80s R&B music. I may have heard it only once on a classic radio station since it was originally released back in 1987.
3. I'm Still Standing - Elton John: While "What a Fool Believes" has a great peppy beat, this song is just all-around "bouncy." I really like the "beach boys" feel of this tune, not just because of the video being shot on a beach in France, but the harmonic backing vocals in the chorus. A great feel-good song that brings a smile to my face every time I hear it, and there will be more of those songs to come on this list.
2. Something About You - Level 42: I've met and have become friends with alot of people who are huge fans of this band as I am, and they would be a little surprised that I didn't put this jazz/funk/pop quartet's breakthrough US single at number 1. Well, when you see the number one song, you'll understand. Nonetheless, this is a song that I have not only played repeatedly in a single day, but it's one that I always come back to. The harmony you hear after the synth riff that kicks off the song is so smooth and soulful, then you get to the first chorus with keyboardist Mike Lindup's haunting falsetto that just stamps this song as a surefire hit. You even get a very nice guitar solo by band member Boon Gould near the end. The video is also delightfully moody and weird, with lead vocalist and bass player Mark King dressing up as a "dark magician" type character, wishing ill will on his bandmates relationships with a woman he can't get. To paraphrase part of the chorus: There's just something about this song, that makes it sound so right.
1. Sweet Freedom - Michael McDonald: Talk about a song that can make you feel like summer even in the middle of a winter rain or snow storm. Everything about it changes your mood: The shuffling club beat, simple melody, Mr. McDonald's vocals, and especially the video. This song was released off the soundtrack to the buddy cop film "Running Scared," starring Billy Crystal and the late Gregory Hines, and they appear in parts of the video with McDonald and just have a great time being silly and having fun. And that's why this song is number one on my list. Any song can be lyrically or musically great, but a great song should be, well, fun. And that's exactly what this song is.
So, that's my top ten favorite song list. There were alot of songs that I had a hard time choosing between to make this cut ( "The Groove Line" by Heatwave and "Easy Lover" by Phillip Bailey and Phil Collins come to mind), but I had to go with songs I grew up with and had some kind of emotional attachment to. Alot of these songs transport me to a particular time or activity in my life when I first heard the song, like a musical time machine. In fact, I'm gonna go listen to some of these songs again and go "back in time" (an okay Huey Lewis song). See you next week!