100. Something (1969)
George’s greatest contribution to the Beatles bulging musical legacy.
Like most: The middle bit where it goes ‘you’re asking me will my love grow. I don’t know I don’t know…dum dum dum dum dum..!
Favourite line: ‘Something in the way she moves attracts me like no other lover’
99. Substitute (1965)
A great rocker with some cynical lyrics and a top melody.
Like most: The booming drums.
Favourite line: ‘I was born with a plastic spoon in my mouth’
98. Mr Tambourine Man (1967)
A Bob Dylan cover which is better than the original.
Like most: The fantastic guitar intro.
Favourite line: ‘Take me for a trip on your magic swirling ship; oh my senses have been stripped and my hands can’t feel to grip’
97. Good Vibrations (1966)
The Beach Boys
Brian Wilson took six months to complete this classic and it was well worth the effort.
Like most: The spine tingling vocals and atmospherics of the first two verses.
Favourite line: ‘Aaah I love the colourful clothes she wears and the way the sunlight plays upon her hair’
96. Supersonic (1994)
A song with an instant hook which you can’t help singing along to.
Like most: Liam Gallagher’s whining, sneering vocal.
Favourite line: ‘Can I ride with you in your BMW; you can sail with me in my yellow submarine?’
95. Mr Jones (1994)
When I bought the single (and then album) I couldn’t stop playing it.
Like most: Adam Duritz’s vocals. He brings the lyrics to life.
Favourite line: ‘If I knew a Picasso I would buy myself a grey guitar and play’.
94. Great Southern Land (1982)
My favourite Icehouse song.
Like most: The way the lyrics and music evoke images of a rugged Australian coastline, surrounded by nothing but ocean – without the need for a video clip!
Favourite line: ‘Standing on the limits of an endless ocean, stranded like a runaway, lost at sea’.
93. Reckless (Don’t Be So) (1986)
I loved this the first time I heard it. At the time I thought it was a slight change in direction for the band.
Like most: The slow and brooding tempo with a few Australian references thrown in.
Favourite line: ‘As the Manly ferry cuts its way to Circular Quay’.
92. Bitter Sweet Symphony (1997)
The song which introduced me to The Verve.
Like most: The incessant string beat that carries the song.
Favourite line: ‘It’s a bitter sweet symphony this life’.
91. Africa (1982)
I remember as a teenager trying to tape this off the Top 40 radio broadcast.
Like most: The soaring harmony laden chorus.
Favourite line: ‘Sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti’
90. Live Forever (1994)
A song which gets better the more I hear it.
Like most: The falsetto vocal in the chorus line that goes ‘you and I we’re gonna live forever.’
Favourite line: ‘Maybe I don’t really wanna knooow how you’re garden grooows, cos’ I just wanna fly’.
89. Private Investigations (1982)
Like most: The instrumental section at the end: the guitar riff, drums and the amazing piano climax.
Favourite line: ‘This is my investigation, not a public inquiry’.
88 Parklife (1994)
Very, very addictive. You either love it or hate it!
Like most: The extremely catchy chorus, which you can’t get out of your head!
Favourite line: ‘Confidence is a preference for the habitual voyeur of what is known as parkilfe’
87. West End Girls (1985)
Pet Shop Boys
An eighties favourite - at the time it seemed a little different.
Like most: The high pitched vocal chorus.
Favourite line: ‘Faces on posters, too many choices, if, when, why, what, how much have you got?’
86. Amazing (2001)
The song which finally made commercial radio sit up and take notice.
Like most: The sweeping melodic chorus.
Favourite line: ‘The things that seem to bind us are the things we put behind us on this day’ – yes it’s NOT a love song!
85. Money (1973)
A typical Pink Floyd offering: intelligent, thought provoking lyrics with brilliant musicianship.
Like most: Dave Gilmour’s guitar work.
Favourite line: ‘Money, so they say, is the root of all evil today’.
84. Band On The Run (1974)
Paul McCartney and Wings
His solo work may be patchy but this has always been my favourite.
Like most: The acoustic guitar strums that lead into the main part of the song as well as the drums leading into the chorus.
Favourite line: ‘In the town they’re searching for us everywhere but we never will be found’.
83. Whip It (1980)
A song I remember as much for its quirky video clip as its great beat.
Like most: The funky, stuttering, disco-like beat.
Favourite line: ‘Cerack that whip!!’
82. Why Does It Always Rain On Me? (1999)
Instantly likeable and very melodic-pop rock.
Like most: The way the upbeat melody disguises the very downbeat, gloomy lyrics.
Favourite line: ‘Why does it always rain on me?’
81. Even Better Than The Real Thing (1991)
This track and the album it came from (Achtung Baby) were a complete change in musical direction for U2. It was a surprise for me at the time, but a very pleasant surprise!
Like most: The psychedelic guitar and the first line of ‘take me higher’.
Favourite line: ‘Gonna blow right through you like a breeze’.
80. Wuthering Heights (1971)
This song is unique from Kate Bush’s peculiar vocal to the very catchy – some may say annoying – chorus and melody. I have always found it intriguing.
Like most: The extremely catchy chorus – another one you can’t get out of your head no matter how hard you try!
Favourite line: ‘I pine a lot; I find a lot slips through without you’.
79. Candle In The Wind (1974)
A great ode to Marilyn Monroe– why couldn’t Elton leave it alone and pen Princess Diana her own eulogy??
Like most: The lyrics – a real life story in song:
Favourite line: ‘All the papers had to say was that Marilyn was found in the nude’.
78. In My Life (1965)
John Lennon could write ballads just as well, if not better, than Paul McCartney.
Like most: George Martin’s piano instrumental in the middle.
Favourite line: ‘In my life I’ll love you more’.
77. Hurricane (1976)
This has always been a favourite but even more so since I saw the movie of the same name a few years ago.
Like most: The lyrics: a real life tale of a purported miscarriage of justice.
Favourite line: ‘Put in a prison cell, but one time he could have been the champion of the world’.
76. Sure Know Something (1979)
A favourite from my Year 8 days. The lyrics are weak but its pure rock at its best!
Like most: Gene Simmons’s bass line.
Favourite line: None really – the lyrics are meaningless.
75. We Are The Champions (1977)
Often linked with ‘We Will Rock You’, this is a great motivation song and is still played in sports stadiums around the world.
Like most: When Freddie Mercury bursts into the first line of the chorus: ‘we are the champions my friend’.
Favourite line: ‘We’ll keep on fighting till the end’.
74. Piano Man (1973)
A song which must have been played on the radio thousands and thousands of times in the past thirty years.
Like most: That singalong feel – it makes you want to….sing along!
Favourite line: ‘And they sit at the bar and put bread in my jar and say man what are you doing here?’
73. Under The Bridge (1991)
Red Hot Chilli Peppers
Up until this song was released, I wasn’t the least bit interested in the Chilli Peppers. However, I soon became interested.
Like most: When the choir kicks in.
Favourite line: ‘I don’t ever wanna feel like I did that day’.
72. When Doves Cry (1984)
This was a huge hit at the time and is Prince at his very best.
Like most: The unrelenting, repetitive backbeat.
Favourite line: ‘Animals strike curious poses’.
71. You Shook Me All Night Long (1979)
I remember when this was released. I had one of those crappy various artists’ compilation albums and this was just about the only decent song on it.
Like most: The almost earth-shattering beat….thump, thump, thump.
Favourite line: ‘She told me to come but I was already there’
70. Nights In White Satin (1967)
The Moody Blues
A song I’ve liked for many years now. For as long as I can remember, every time I hear it on the radio, it grabs my attention.
Like most: The brooding slow tempo and atmospheric feel of the entire song.
Favourite line: ‘Nights in white satin never reaching the end’.
69. Pinball Wizard (1969)
In typical Who fashion, this is a great rocker. Unfortunately, Elton John does not do it justice with his terrible cover version.
Like most: The amazing acoustic guitar playing.
Favourite line: ‘That deaf, dumb and blind kid sure plays a mean pinball’.
68. Down Among The Dead Men (197?)
Flash and the Pan
I I remember liking it and thinking it was a catchy tune. It wasn’t until years later that I realised it was about the sinking of the Titanic.
Like most: That it tells the tragic story of the Titanic – an incident I have always been interested in. It helps that it has a good melody as well.
Favourite line: ‘She was big, the ship of luxury: everything was peaceful, no safer place to be’.
67. The Chain (1977)
A song which was actually never released as a single but it’s one of my favourites.
Like most: The instrumental at the end, especially the bass line.
Favourite line: ‘And if you don’t love me now you will never love me again’.
66. Starman (1972)
In the early days Bowie seemed to be obsessed with all things cosmic and outer space. Also, how can you not love those great Seventies terms like ‘far out’, ‘jive’, ‘boogie’ and ‘cat’ – not of the feline variety either!
Like most: The melody in the verse, climaxing with the big chorus.
Favourite line: ‘Let the children lose it, let the children use it, let all the children boogie’. – huh??
65. I Don’t Like Mondays (1979)
I remember this song being absolutely huge at the time. I also remember the first time I heard it – Year 8 Art class! It was the last period of the day, the radio was on in the background, we were doing print transfers and I was hanging out for the bell to ring so I could go home!
Like most: The lyrics, which are apparently based on a true story – in America of course!
Favourite line: ‘The silicon chip inside her head had switched to overload, and nobody’s gonna go to school today she’s gonna make them stay at home’.
64. Money For Nothing (1986)
This song turned Dire Straits from experimental, alternative to mainstream rock. They never recovered. Original Dire Straits fans hate it, but plenty others love it!
Like most: The great guitar riff.
Favourite line: ‘I shoulda learned to play the guitar, I shoulda learned to play them drums’.
63. My Sharona (1979)
Another one I remember being all the rage when I was in Year 8. All the girls loved The Knack.
Like most: The very danceable beat.
Favourite line: ‘Ma ma ma my Sharona’.
62. The One I Love (1987)
Despite the title and repeated line in the chorus, this is not a love song. It is R.E.M. and Michael Stipe at their cynical best.
Like most: The repetitive lyric and melody.
Favourite line: ‘Another prop has occupied my time’.
61. The Sounds Of Silence (1966)
Simon and Garfunkel
This is probably the first Simon and Garfunkel song I recall hearing. I have always loved it.
Like most: The very catchy melody coupled with Simon and Garfunkel’s beautiful vocal harmonies.
Favourite line: ‘Hello darkness my old friend, I’ve come to talk with you again’.
60. You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away (1965)
Heavily influenced by Bob Dylan this, along with other tracks on ‘Rubber Soul’ marked the start of a new phase for the Beatles. It has a folk-rock feel and contains meaningful lyrics.
Like most: John Lennon’s vocal: an attempt at sounding Dylanesque, especially the ‘hey…you’ve got to hide your love away’ bit in the chorus.
Favourite line: ‘How could she say to me love will find a way?’
59. Space Oddity (1969)
I first heard this as a young child at a neighbour’s Christmas party. There was a David Bowie concert on the TV and this song stood out.
Like most: The big chorus, starting with the great drum fill.
Favourite line: ‘And I’m floating in a most peculiar way, and the stars look very different today’.
58. Relax (1983)
Frankie Goes To Hollywood
This was a huge hit for these one hit wonders. It was banned by radio for allegedly containing sexually explicit lyrics of the homosexual kind.
Like most: Its great electronic dance beat
Favourite line: ‘Hit me with your laser beam’.
57. Tusk (1979)
The album of the same name was a disappointing follow-up to the highly acclaimed ‘Rumours’, but this the title track, has always been a personal favourite.
Like most: The drums.
Favourite line: None as there’s hardly any to choose from!
56. Bridge Over Troubled Water (1970)
Simon and Garfunkel
A classic Paul Simon composition. They could never better it.
Like most: The fantastic climax to the song, starting with the Paul Simon vocal ‘sail on silver girl…’ and finishing with Art Garfunkel’s angelic climactic vocal. Brilliant.
Favourite line: ‘Sail on silver girl, sail on by, your time has come to shine’.
55. Orange Crush (1988)
I have no idea what this song is all about, which makes it all the more intriguing. Surprisingly I have only recently added it to my CD collection – courtesy of ‘the album ‘Green’, from which it appears.
Like most: The pounding drums at the start and the highly hypnotic beat and melody.
Favourite line: ‘We are agents of the free, I’ve had my fun and now it’s time to serve your conscience overseas’.
54. Day Tripper (1965)
One of my favourite early Beatles tracks.
Like most: The relentless guitar riff.
Favourite line: Nil. It’s the music not the lyric which makes this song.
53. Angie (1973)
The Rolling Stones
The Stones are better known as rock and R&B champions, but they come up trumps with this great ballad.
Like most: The beautiful, melancholic Jagger vocal and melody.
Favourite line: ‘All the dreams we held so close seemed to all go up in smoke, let me whisper in your ear, (Angie – whispered) where will it lead us from here?’
52. My Generation (1965)
This song became an anthem for the young, rebelling against the older generations of the time.
Like most: The sneering, stuttering vocal and guitar playing.
Favourite line: ‘Why don’t you all f..f..f..fade away!’
51. Turn Turn Turn (1965)
I have always liked this song; I seem to recall it being used quite a lot as background music in several movies and television series set in the sixties.
Like most: The harmonies in the bits that go….’a time for love a time for hate / a time to kill a time to heal’ etc etc
Favourite line: ‘To everything (turn turn turn), there is a season (turn turn turn), and a time to every purpose under heaven’.
50. The House Of The Rising Sun (1964)
A well known R&B standard, this ballad is actually a cover of Bob Dylan’s interpretation of the song. This version however is the one most familiar to the public and is rated by most music critics as the best. It shot to number one and instantly thrust the band into the musical spotlight. Eric Burdon’s vocals are what make the song – his voice seemingly perfect for belting out R&B standards like this! It has remained a favourite of mine for a long time.
Like most: The guitar intro and very bluesy melody – how can you not want to sing along to it?
Favourite line: ‘There is a house in New Orleans they call the rising sun; and it’s been the ruin of many a poor boy, in God I know I’m one’.
49. Dreadlock Holiday (1978)
It may be my love of cricket which makes me like this song so much. When I was growing up, the West Indies cricket team was Australia’s arch rival on the cricket field and this is the story of a foreign tourist, (presumably an Englishman), who is holidaying in the Caribbean. Also, Channel Nine actually used it one summer as the theme music to their cricket coverage – though they used different lyrics of course! That aside, it’s an amusing song, with fun lyrics and a very catchy melody.
Like most: The reggae beat and cricket references.
Favourite line: ‘I don’t like cricket no, I love it’.
48. Tomorrow (1994)
When this song was first given airplay by JJJ, the members of Silverchair were barely fifteen years old. While they have since released four albums, this track still remains my favourite. While the lyrics are noting special, the depth of the music indicates that even at the age of fifteen, Daniel Johns was a talented musician and songwriter in the making. Compared to the other tracks on their debut album ‘Frogstomp’, this is an absolute standout and belies the young ages of the three band members.
Like most: The guitar melody and the ending where it goes ‘you’re gonna wait too fat boy, fat boy wait till tomorrow’.
Favourite line: ‘You say money isn’t everything, I’d like to see you live without it: you think you can go on living like a king, well I strongly doubt it’.
47. Slipping Away (1975)
Max Merritt and the Meteors
Another one of those songs I remember first hearing a long time ago – probably on the radio as it’s one of those classic tracks that mainstream radio love to play over and over again. Luckily however I can forgive the radio robots for this one, as it‘s always been a personal favourite of mine. In fact, I actually bought the greatest hits CD just so I could get this one song. I haven’t even bothered playing the other sixteen tracks on the disc!
Like most: The way the mood and atmosphere of the song fit the lyrics like a glove. It sets the tone beautifully and makes you really feel like he is coming to grips with the knowledge that a relationship is crumbling around him and the torment this is causing.
Favourite line: ‘Though the web you weave can hold me I would rather that you told me where you wanna be’.
46. Paint It Black (1966)
The Rolling Stones
One of my very favourite Stones tracks. The lyrics are very, very dark, but by contrast the music is very upbeat. Mick Jagger could always write an interesting lyric, even in the earlier days of the sixties when most groups, including The Beatles, were singing about boy meets girl etc (not that the Stones were entirely innocent of this themselves though). Apart from the brilliant guitar and drum work on this track, Jagger’s vocals are awesome as well.
Like most: The brilliant into: first the guitar then the drums boom, boom, boom, boom…..
Favourite line: ‘I see a red door and I want it painted black, no colours any more I want them to turn black’.
45. Solid Rock (1982)
I remember when this song was released. I thought it was fantastic and went out and bought the album (Spirit Of Place) from which it was lifted. Shane Howard doesn’t have the greatest voice but the music and lyrics more then compensate for that. The song of course is about the white settlement, or invasion, depending on your point of view, of Australia. However, it’s obvious from the lyric which point of view Howard and the band take!
Like most: The wonderful lyrics and the drums, which help create that great beat.
Favourite line: ‘They were standing on the shore one day, saw the white sails in the sun: it wasn’t long before they felt the sting; white man, white law, white gun’.
44. Keep On Running (1966)
Spencer Davis Group
This is a great song, full of energy, and driven by a brilliant Stevie Winwood vocal and fantastic drumming throughout. It’s a song that never loses its intensity from start to finish. Aside from the drums and vocals there are many other instruments including trumpet, keyboards, guitar, and a brilliant base line contributing to the mix. Unfortunately the group only remained together long enough to produce this and a few other highly successful tracks, before Winwood departed.
Like most: The brilliant start to the song, where the drums build in momentum, reach a climax and then Winwood’s great vocal comes in.
Favourite line: ‘Keep on running, running from my arms’ and the often repeated ‘hey, hey, hey!’
43. Breathe (1997)
This was released at a time when electronic dance or techno-rock / industrial rock were very much in vogue. The song was huge and seemed to stay in the Top Ten for an eternity – I swear it was there for almost an entire year! I remember the video clip well and also remember thinking the members of the group were very scary looking guys. I also remember Super League hijacking it to use as their theme music for their Saturday afternoon footy coverage – much to my annoyance!
Like most: The great electronic dance beat as well as the very scary vocal!
Favourite line: ‘Don’t play my game!’
42. Wonderwall (1995)
This remains Oasis’s biggest song to date and is probably regarded as their signature tune. The title itself, like so much of Oasis’s work, was ripped off from a George Harrison solo album of the same name. This is the song which turned the group from everyday Brit-rockers to mega-rock stars and had everyone hailing them as the new Beatles. I remember being swept up in all the hype myself, purchasing the album and their earlier stuff, and absolutely loving it all. But I never went as far as to think of them as the new Beatles!
Like most: The start of the song, guitar strumming then Liam’s big whiny vocal ‘todaay, is gonna be the daay…..’
Favourite line: ‘Today is gonna be the day that they’re gonna throw it back to you’.
41. Khe Sanh (197?)
Regarded as an Australian icon, this song is played endlessly on Australian popular radio and frequently tops all time favourite song lists in this country. It gets played over and over again in pubs and nightclubs and even gets a fair work out in the dressing rooms of the Australian cricket team! All in all it’s a great song, one you can sing along to, and one that Jimmy Barnes doesn’t screech the crap out of!
Like most: The lyrics and the great sing-along ending which repeats….’the last plane out of Sydney’s almost gone’.
Favourite line: ‘There were no V-Day heroes in 1973’.
40. I Was Made For Loving You (1979)
When this was released the Kiss phenomenon really took off big time. Up until then the group had a strong cult following, but the enormous mass appeal of this song ensured it would become a mega smash hit on the charts. This in turn brought the band a whole new army of fans. I remember the song being played over and over again on ‘Countdown’ and the band getting heaps of publicity, including a slot with Ray Martin on 60 Minutes.
Like most: The middle bit where Paul Stanley turns on the high falsetto vocal for ‘I can’t get enough…..’, which leads into Ace’s big guitar solo.
Favourite line: ‘I was made for loving you baby, you were made for loving me’.
39. With Or Without You (1987)
When U2 released this song and the accompanying album ‘The Joshua Tree’, the America music buying public finally saw the light, bought the song and album in droves, and turned them into the biggest band in the world. Up until then I had always liked U2, especially songs like ‘New Year’s Day’ and Sunday Bloody Sunday’, but it was the ‘Joshua Tree’ album, with this as it’s lead single, which got me really hooked on the band. They soon became one of my very favourite artists.
Like most: The way the song gradually builds in tempo from start to finish.
Favourite line: ‘Sleight of hand and twist of fate, on a bed of nails she makes me wait; and I wait……without you’.
38. My Sweet Lord (1970)
Whilst in the Beatles, George Harrison was a frustrated songwriter, forced to play second fiddle to the formidable Lennon / McCartney song writing machine. However, when the group split up he proved he was a more than capable songwriter himself with the release of his first solo effort, the highly regarded triple album ‘All Things Must Pass’. This track was the first single lifted from that album and although he copped a lawsuit for plagiarism for it, it still remains my favourite Harrison composition.
Like most: George’s guitar and the gospel sounding melody.
Favourite line: There aren’t too many lyrics in the song and I don’t really have a favourite line.
37. I Am The Walrus (1967)
You have to ask yourself what planet John Lennon was on when he wrote this one. The lyrics are bizarre to say the least - nothing more than meaningless gibberish in fact. But no matter how hard people may try to analyse them or attempt to attach some sort of significant meaning to them, the fact is the lyrics are meant to be nonsense. John was simply playing around with words and sounds and hoping they would somehow conjure up an interesting image for the listener. But who cares anyway. The song is a gem and you’ll sing it no matter how weird it may sound.
Like most: John’s brilliant vocal and the way he makes gibberish sound really significant.
Favourite line: ‘Yellow matter custard dripping from a dead dog’s eye’.
36. One Step Ahead (1981)
When this song was released, I remember Molly Meldrum whinging on Countdown that he thought it was weak and therefore shouldn’t be released as the first single from the band’s new album and follow-up to the highly successful ‘I Got You’ single and ‘True Colours’ album. I couldn’t understand his complaints as I thought the song was fantastic. Apparently so did a lot of other people as it debuted on the Australian charts at Number 6. I really enjoyed seeing Molly have to eat his words the following week. I was also very excited in the knowledge that Neil Finn was not a one hit wonder!
Like most: The base guitar that drives the beat and Neil’s very subtle but catchy melody.
Favourite line: ‘Either way I’m confused, I don’t know what I’m s’pposed to do; I can only stay one step ahead of you’.
35. San Francisco (1967)
This song was written by John Phillips of The Mamas and the Papas and was released in 1967 at the time of the American hippie movement. The song itself is actually dedicated to this movement and the so-called period of ‘flower-power’, ‘free love’, ‘peace’, ‘getting high’ and psychedelic rock music. It was hugely successful and became the official hippie anthem. San Francisco was where all the hippie folk ‘hung out’, hence the title and the suggestion that if you planned to go there ‘be sure to wear some flowers in your hair’.
Like most: The beautiful sweeping and evocative melody.
Favourite line: ‘If you’re going to San Francisco be sure to wear some flowers in your hair’.
34. The Day You Come (1999)
For me, this is the song that turned Powderfinger from a good band into a great band. I had been a follower of the group up until then, believing they had the potential to make some really good music. However, when this song was released as the first single and teaser for the new album ‘Internationalist’, I loved it so much I bought the single, knowing full well I would end up buying the entire album only a few weeks later. They may have had more success with later single releases, but to date this remains my favourite Powderfinger track.
Like most: The guitar and melody in the verses.
Favourite line: ‘Over population, media sensations, the damage has been done’.
33. Wish You Were Here (1975)
This has always been a firm favourite of mine despite the saturation airplay granted to it by commercial FM radio over the years. It was impossible for Pink Floyd to better the success of the ‘Dark Side Of The Moon’ album, but with ‘Wish You Were Here’ they gave it a very good shot. Though ‘Dark Side’ remains my favourite Floyd album, this the title track off the follow-up album, is my favourite song from either of the two recordings. It’s amazing that no matter where you are when you hear it or how often you hear it, it still has the power to invoke strong feelings of yearning and longing.
Like most: The guitar, the lyrics, and the atmospherics – they all combine to set the mood and tone.
Favourite line: ‘We’re just two lost souls swimming in a fishbowl, year after year’.
32. New Year’s Day (1983)
This is the first U2 song I remember hearing (or seeing! again on Countdown. Even though I thought it was just brilliant, I surprisingly didn’t really get into U2 until a few years later. At the time I thought it was very different to the usual synthesized early 80’s musical schlock played back then on video shows such as Countdown. These guys were real musicians and they sure could play. The guitar, piano and bass all sounded sensational and Bono had a very unique voice. I sensed then that these guys could be big!
Like most: The instrumental near the end, firstly the guitar and then the piano – both of which are played expertly by the Edge.
Favourite line: ‘So they say this is the golden age, and gold is the reason for the wars we wage: I want to be with you, be with you night and day, but nothing changes on New Year’s Day’.
31. In The Air Tonight (1981)
I have never been a huge fan of Phil Collins solo work – it’s too slick, too polished, too formulaic and far too sickly sentimental. However, this song is an exception. I remember the video clip being very simple and there being numerous rumours and discussions about the meaning behind the lyrics. Collins has denied the suggestion that the lyrics are based on a true story only commenting that they really don’t mean anything much at all.
Like most: Phil Collins brilliant drumming, particularly from the point where about three-quarters of the way though, the big drums come in and the song picks up in momentum.
Favourite line: ‘Well I was there and I saw what you did, I saw it with my own two eyes: so you can wipe off that grin, I know where you’ve been, it’s all been a pack of lies’.
30. Friday On My Mind (1966)
This is one of the most successful and enduring Australian rock anthems of all time. The Easybeats were something of a phenomenon in their adopted homeland of Australia in the 1960’s and this is their best known and most loved composition. It’s very Australian from the pub rock sound and beat to the knockabout, working-class lyric – how many of us look forward to Friday at the start of a working week? It’s a pity this band didn’t have greater success overseas as they deserved it. On another note, I can’t say I liked the Channel Nine Friday Night Football version of the song – yet another hatchet job of a classic.
Like most: The guitar and drums which lead into the chorus.
Favourite line: ‘Monday morning feels so bad, everybody seems to nag me’.
29. Billie Jean (1982)
Michael Jackson exploded onto the charts in a big way with this track and the album ‘Thriller’. I remember buying Thriller from the Australian Record Club – it was my first purchase from the club and the start of a long membership with them. While there was a lot of publicity about the video clips for the singles ‘Beat It’ and ‘Thriller’, ‘Billie Jean’ was always my favourite track from the album. Lyrically it’s fairly average, which is typical of Jacko, but this is more than made up for by the magnificently danceable beat.
Like most: The incessant bass line: the beat which makes this song such a classic.
Favourite line: ‘I said don’t mind but what do you mean I am the one?’
28. Message In A Bottle (1979)
I loved this song from the first time I heard it as a thirteen year old school student. The Police were just coming on to the scene and they along with a number of other exciting new British groups were killing off, (thank goodness), the crap era of disco and extravagantly, over the top seventies drivel. This is when I started to really get into music and this track really helped open my eyes to what real music was all about.
Like most: The bass: as with most of their work, the music is composed around the bass.
Favourite line: ‘I walked out this morning, I don’t believe what I saw: a hundred billion bottles washed upon the shore’.
27. Hotel California (1975)
When I first heard this song I was at a religious youth night which I had been dragged along to by a school friend. We were told not to listen to it as it contains evil lyrics about devil worship. I should thank these people for introducing me to such a great song, as instead of not listening to it; it has actually become one of my very favourites. It should also be pointed out that the song is not promoting devil worship at all as the lyric refers to the storyteller ‘running for the door’ and escaping the hotel because he didn’t want to get involved with such activities.
Like most: The lyrics which apparently are based on a true story.
Favourite line: ‘You can check out any time you like but you can never leave’.
26. Eye Of The Tiger (1982)
Very much the archetypical one hit wonders, Survivor wrote and performed this song for the third instalment of the Rocky movies. I absolutely hated the movie but loved the soundtrack. I liked this song the first time I heard it and recall rushing out and buying the single on vinyl when it was released. I also remember taking the time to learn all the lyrics by heart. Like the original Rocky theme, it has since become a favourite motivational song for numerous sports athletes around the world.
Like most: The big intro with guitars and drums cranking.
Favourite line: ‘Went the distance now I’m not gonna stop, just a man and his will to survive’.
25. The Real Thing (1967?)
Molly Meldrum actually produced this Johnny Young composition. Apparently Molly was trying to achieve a sound similar to that of the very psychedelic Small Faces hit ‘Itchycoo Park’. In my opinion he certainly achieved his goal. It has since gone on to become an Australian classic and has even been used to advertise Coca Cola. I remember being very excited when I finally discovered it one day in a compilation package of sixties songs – of course I had to buy it! On the down side however, I don’t think much of the reworked version which was released in the early 1990’s. Unfortunately this version goes on for far too long and the song suffers as a consequence.
Like most: The psychedelic tone of the song.
Favourite line: ‘There’s a meaning there but the meaning there doesn’t really mean a thing’.
24. Come As You Are (1991)
This is the second single from the hugely successful and ground breaking album ‘Nevermind’. I took an instant liking to it, most probably because of that brilliant bass riff which carries much of the song. It was always going to struggle to be as big as ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ but there can be no doubting that it’s a great song in its own right. As with much of the material on ‘Nevermind’ it’s characterised by slower melodic verses which burst into an equally melodic but louder chorus. Whenever I hear the line ‘well I swear that I don’t have a gun’ I find it quite ironic given what Kurt Cobain did to himself just a few years later.
Like most: The amazing bass line.
Favourite line: ‘Come as you are, as you were, as I want you to be; as a friend, as a friend, as an old enemy’.
23. Wicked Game (1991)
A brooding, melancholic ballad, this was a favourite from the very first time I heard it. I was never really interested in anything Chris Isaak did before it, nor have I had any real interest in anything he’s done since. In fact I had never even heard of Chris Isaak until this song was released. I bought the album for this song only, and even to this day, I don’t think I’ve ever listened to any of the other tracks on it. I vaguely remember the video clip but it’s of little significance. All you need to do to appreciate this song is to sit back, relax and listen. It’s even better if you’re in a melancholic mood!
Like most: Chris Isaak’s very evocative vocal, which sends tingles down your spine.
Favourite line: ‘World was on fire, no-one could save me but you: strange what desire will make foolish people do’.
22. You Oughta Know (1996)
I remember the first time I heard this on the radio. It was very unusual in that the angry person snarling into the microphone was a female. I’d heard many a male performer howling out bitter and angry lyrics, but not too many female. Alanis certainly doesn’t hold back in giving it to her cheating ex-lover, exploding in a venomous attack on him and the other woman. There’s even the big ‘f’ word thrown in for good measure and it’s used in a manner which leaves you in no doubt as to Alanis’s opinion of the whole situation. Following the success of this song, a whole swarm of copycat female artists arrived on the scene trying to emulate it, but no-one has ever come close.
Like most: Alanis’s very angst filled vocal and vitriolic lyrics.
Favourite line: ‘Did you forget about me Mr Duplicity; I hate to bug you in the middle of dinner’.
21. California Dreamin’ (1966)
The Mamas and the Papas
I remember reading somewhere that this was voted by some American music poll as the pop song of the year for 1966. This is not at all surprising to me given the sheer quality of the song. The four band members combine brilliantly to produce a highly exuberant and infectious harmony, and this coupled with the magnificently contagious melody ensure it will remain an all time classic
for many years to come. Though the song is actually about being homesick and yearning for home (the band come from California), the music is so very uplifting you wouldn’t know it.
Like most: The absolutely brilliant soaring vocal harmonies and melody.
Favourite line: ‘All the leaves are brown and the sky is grey, I’ve been for a walk on a winter’s day’.
20. Bohemian Rhapsody (1975)
This is probably Queen’s most memorable song and was a smash hit for the band at the time. It was also accompanied by a video clip which for those days was considered to be progressive. Music critics are split on its significance, some referring to it as ground breaking, others describing it as nothing more than an appalling novelty song. For as long as I can remember it has always held a prominent place on commercial radio play lists and frequently tops listeners’ opinion polls. The track highlights everything synonymous with Queen from Freddie Mercury’s falsetto vocal, to over the top group harmonies and chunky guitar.
Like most: The multi-piece harmony in the middle which starts with ‘I saw a little silhouetto of a man’ and finishes with ‘Beelzebub has a devil put aside for me’.
Favourite line: ‘(Oh mama mia, mama mia.) Mama mia, let me go’
19. Smells Like Teen Spirit (1991)
For a while there I was almost resisting the temptation to like this. For a song to appeal to me it must possess one or more of the following ingredients: a great melody, a great hook (i.e. guitar or bass riff), an emotive or evocative vocal, and an interesting lyric. This song delivers all four of these elements in bucket loads, and I knew it. Deep down I loved it but tried to ignore it, probably because of its popularity with the teens and because it was loud and ‘in your face’. How stupid: the fact is this is a brilliant song and a benchmark in the progression of modern rock. It gave rock a much needed shot in the arm just when things were beginning to look very bleak. The truth is I am a huge fan and deep down always have been.
Like most: The brilliant intro, first the guitar hook, then the slamming drums, then guitar again.
Favourite line: ‘I find it hard; it was hard to find, oh well, whatever, nevermind’.
18. Downunder (1982)
Men At Work
This song had been around a good few months before it became our unofficial national anthem. It was adopted by the victorious ‘Australia II’ yachting team as their theme song during the 1983 America’s Cup challenge. When we won the Cup, the first time the yanks had been beaten in over a century of competition, this song was played every time the media did a story on the history making crew – which just happened to be an awful lot of the time. The song consequently stormed to number one on the national charts. It then did the unthinkable and climbed to the top of the American Billboard charts, making Men At Work national heroes as well. I remember all the hype and hysteria very well, and though it isn’t the reason I love this song, it certainly didn’t hurt.
Like most: The quirky lyrics and infectious melody.
Favourite line: ‘I said to the man are you trying to tempt me, because I come from the land of plenty’.
17. Itchycoo Park (1967)
I’ve been a huge fan of this one for a long time. In true psychedelic fashion, I have no idea what this flower-power tune is supposed to be all about. Either the writers were high on drugs when they wrote it, or in the same vein as Lennon’s ‘Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds’ the lyrics are meant to evoke some sort of colourful image in the listener’s mind when they hear it – perhaps an image of what things might look like if you were high on drugs???? . How else could you explain ducks grooving about while having fun in the sun? But in all seriousness that’s what psychedelic music was all about – free love, peace man and drugs. Throw in some groovy beats and an infectious melody and what more do you need? Perhaps it’s the ducks that are high on drugs?
Like most: The psychedelic groove and the big drum roll at the beginning of the last chorus.
Favourite line: ‘I feel inclined to blow my mind, get hung up; feed the ducks with a bun’.
16. A Whiter Shade Of Pale (1967)
This is a hauntingly majestic masterpiece. The lyrics are a cross between surrealist imagery and real life drama. It’s purported to be the tale of a young woman who drowned on board a ship, though I’m not sure whether it’s meant to be based on a true story or is simply a piece of lyrical fiction. Throw in the superbly played organs and stirring vocals and you have a magnificently moving piece of work. It’s one of those songs which is used endlessly as background music in movies or television series, probably because of its sheer depth and capacity to move the listener. It’s only a very rare song that can reach the listener on an emotional level in such a subtle way.
Like most: The organs: even if you removed the wonderful vocals, the music alone would still stir your emotions.
Favourite line: ‘We skipped the light fandango, turned cartwheels ‘cross the floor’.
15. Song 2 (1997)
The first time I heard this I couldn’t believe it was Blur. The Brit-rockers I knew and loved sang happy-chappie, very British sounding tunes and in contrast this sounded almost grungy. Instead of a slick, polished melody, the mix is very raw. Also, the song has a much harder edge to it and is all over in just two blistering minutes. Fortunately however, it still contained the most vital ingredients of all – a great melody and hook. I absolutely loved the song and proceeded to play it over and over again. I remember spending endless hours with the music lovers in my then workgroup, trying to decipher the lyrics. I was very disappointed when one day, one of the group decided to bring the lyrics to work after he had downloaded them from the Internet.
Like most: The guitar intro which is then followed by the first ‘whoo-hoo!
Favourite line: ‘I got my head checked by a jumbo jet’.
14. Losing My Religion (1991)
In the 1980s, R.E.M. were a band with a very strong cult following and were considered to be one of the most influential alternative groups at that time. At the start of the 1990s they signed a new record deal, released this track and subsequently widened their appeal to the broader American and world markets. I remember seeing the video for the first time and thinking ‘this will be big’ – and that it was. There has been much debate about the typically obscure Michael Stipe lyrics. Stipe says it has nothing at all to do with religion and apparently the title is a southern saying in common use in his home state of Georgia. I originally thought it was referring to the loss of privacy which comes with being thrust into the public spotlight. But these days I’m not so sure as the lyrics are very contradictory. Whatever it means, it’s a great song, and I love it.
Like most: The mandolin, an instrument which isn’t used too often in modern rock.
Favourite line: ‘Oh life is bigger, it’s bigger than you and you are not me’.
13. Hey Jude (1968)
No other artist other than the Beatles could have got away with releasing a single, which in 1968, was an unprecedented seven minutes and eleven seconds in length. But of course they did and it went on to become their most successful single ever. Though it has a very simple structure, the song has become something of an epic. With an orchestra playing a myriad of instruments as well as joining in with singing and handclapping duties, the last four minutes sees the song change from what is essentially a very simple ballad into a full blown anthem. No matter how hard you may try, you can’t help but sing along to the ‘na na na na’s’ which are repeated over and over again.
Like most: The four minute ending, which builds in momentum till it reaches a climax and eventually fades out.
Favourite line: Hey Jude don’t make it bad, take a sad song and make it better’.
12. Message To My Girl (1982)
When Tim Finn quit Split Enz, I was very excited with the prospect of brother Neil taking on more song writing duties. I remember listening to the radio one evening and hearing for the first time ‘Straight Ol’ Line’, a Neil composition and the first single from the band’s new album. Although it didn’t really sound like Split Enz, I thought it was okay. A month or so later the album was finally released and when I listened to it for the first time, I was immediately taken with the third track: ‘Message To My Girl’. It didn’t sound like anything the band had ever done before and, in hindsight, it sounded more like the material Neil would later write with Crowded House. One thing was certain though, now more than ever, I was an even bigger Neil Finn fan.
Like most: The absolutely gorgeous melody.
Favourite line: ‘It’s no New Years resolution, it’s more than that’.
11. One (1991)
U2 completely revamped their musical style in 1991 with the release of the album ‘Achtung Baby’. When I listened to it for the first time, I loved it, but was a little saddened by the passing of the old U2. However, I was in no doubt as to my feelings for this track. In my opinion it is the standout track on the album and my personal favourite. I have never heard Bono deliver such a soulful and aching vocal as he does here, nor have U2 ever composed such a beautifully poignant and melodic ballad. When the band embarked on their Zoo TV concert tour extravaganzas, I believe some songs were lost in the theatre gimmickry, but not this one. It sounded fantastic.
Like most: Bono’s superbly soulful vocal.
Favourite line: ‘Love is a temple, love a higher law, you ask me to enter but then you make me crawl’.
10. Every Breath You Take (1983)
In this, Sting created the perfect pop song. It has a very simple beat, simple lyrics and a straight, deadpan vocal. However, despite its simplicity, it went on to become the group’s biggest selling single ever as it topped charts around the globe. I seem to recall it being at number one for ages in Australia and the Americans going nuts over it. I remember reading somewhere that it was the second longest serving number one British recording ever to top the American charts – second only to The Beatles ’Hey Jude’. And while there are numerous people out there who still think it’s a love song, they should take note of Sting’s cold vocal delivery, for it’s actually written from the perspective of an obsessed stalker.
Like most: The rhyming lyric and subtle melody.
Favourite line: ‘Every move you make, every step you take I’ll be watching you’.
9. (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction (1965)
The Rolling Stones
This would have to contain the best riff ever written for a rock song. It hits you from the very first bar of the track and continues right through to the end. The story goes that apparently Keith Richard went home from a party one night with a riff going through his head. When he got home he put on his tape recorder, played around with his guitar and fell asleep. When he woke up he discovered on the tape a few minutes of the famous riff, played on acoustic guitar, and forty minutes of him snoring. Mick Jagger added the lyrics, and a classic was born. The lyrics touched a chord with the public as they were both anti-establishment and anti-corporate giant, yet they were banned on some radio broadcasts for the lines “I can’t get no girl reaction’ and ‘trying to make some girl’.
Like most: The brilliant riff.
Favourite line: ‘When I’m driving in my car and a man comes on the radio, and he’s telling me more and more about some useless information..’
8. Let It Be (1969)
Long before I started to really get into The Beatles and their very prolific catalogue, this was possibly my favourite Beatles song. The first Beatles recording I ever owned was called ‘The Beatles Number Ones’ and contained all their chart topping Australian hits. I remember buying it in cassette format and liking this song the most. It wasn’t until a few years later, when my interest in the band really started to peak, that I discovered the track came from the documentary style movie of the same name. This movie is an interesting insight into the break up of the group and for me, the highlights are the famous rooftop performance and this McCartney composition. Also, when I saw Paul in concert in 1993, I thought his performance of the song was one of the show’s standouts.
Like most: The hymn like melody and feel of the song.
Favourite line: ‘When I find myself in times of trouble mother Mary comes to me’.
7. Sweet Child ‘O’ Mine (1988)
Although it took me some time to finally get this track on CD, it has always been one of my very favourites. Axl Rose really wears his heart on his sleeve and reveals to the listener something which perhaps he could have kept to himself. The victim of physical abuse himself as a child, Rose’s lyrics touch on his own treatment of his then girlfriend. He refers to her as having ‘eyes of the bluest skies’ but then goes on to say “I hate to look into those eyes and see an ounce of pain’. Apparently his own experiences of abuse as a child had turned him into a man with a very short temper. The relationship eventually ended thus answering the question ‘where do we go now?’ However, even without the heart wrenching lyrics, this song is an absolute champ.
Like most: The guitar instrumental which leads into the very poignant question ‘where do we go now?’
Favourite line: ‘Where do we go now?’
6. Imagine (1971)
This is John Lennon’s best known and most loved post Beatles tune. It’s also one of the most covered songs of all time. The message is straightforward, though some may say naïve, and the song itself is very, very simple in structure: just a piano playing a fairly repetitious melody and John, by his usual standards, singing in a fairly monotone voice. However, despite its obvious simplicity, it touched a chord with millions of people around the world and went on to become something of a peace anthem which is still revered today. It along with the album of the same name, have always been my favourite Beatles solo recordings.
Like most: The simple melody and message.
Favourite line: ‘You may say I’m a dreamer but I’m not the only one’.
5 I Got You (1979)
When I first heard this on the radio at school lunch break one day, I took an instant liking to it. I had to know who it was. A little while later I saw the video on television, thus informing me the band’s name was Split Enz. I thought they looked a little weird all dressed up in makeup and colourful clothing, but they sure could write a great song. Later investigation revealed the song writer was Neil Finn, younger brother of the band’s founder Tim. When the follow up album produced two more great Neil compositions, I was hooked forever and became a massive Neil Finn fan. I saw Split Enz in their farewell concert tour of 1984 and the biggest highlight for me was Neil performing this in the encore. It may have been the end of Split Enz that night, but not Neil Finn.
Like most: The very catchy melody.
Favourite line: ‘Where do you go, I get no answer: you’re always out, it gets on my nerves’.
4 Stairway To Heaven (1971)
This is a rock epic of monumental proportions. It runs for a whole eight minutes plus, starting with some soft acoustic guitar and vocals, and finishing with a flurry of electrical guitars, drums and power vocals. At the time of release Led Zeppelin were refusing to release singles, claiming they were an album band. They backed themselves to produce an album of consistently good songs, rather than releasing a short-lived hit single onto the commercial mainstream. So when this song was released, buyers were forced to purchase the entire album if they wanted a copy of it. I love the way the track builds in momentum, starting out a folk song and finishing very much heavy metal. The lyrics are also obscure, making it fascinating on more than one level.
Like most: The shift in tempo from start to finish.
Favourite line: ‘There’s a sign on the wall but she wants to be sure, ‘cause you know sometimes words have two meanings’.
3 Another Brick In The Wall Part II (1979)
When I first heard this song I thought it was absolutely brilliant. At the time, just thirteen years old, I had never heard such fantastic guitar and bass playing. I especially loved the part where the school choir sings in their funny English accents, and as a year 8 student at the time, I thought the lyrics were really clever and in your face. I remember having a music teacher, who believe it or not, had a decent taste in music. We spent a good few lessons analysing the lyrics and those of Parts 1 and III of the song, from the album The Wall’. This was much better than learning how to read and write boring sheet music of crappy 200 year old folk songs. I also love the video clip with the marching hammers, symbolising a form of regimented oppression.
Like most: When the school choir joins in.
Favourite line: ‘We don’t need no education; we don’t need no thought control’.
2 Don’t Dream It’s Over (1986)
I knew the moment I first heard this song that it was something very special and proceeded to play it over and over again. The beautiful melancholic tempo can be attributed to three main things. Firstly, Neil Finn’s amazing knack for writing brilliantly poignant and melancholic tunes. Secondly, the fact that, due to high stress levels at the time, the track was accidentally mixed one or two percent slow, thus adding to Neil’s intended atmospheric effect. And finally, the massive argument amongst band members which preceded the recording and saw them enter the recording session feeling highly emotional and overwrought, a mood which was carried though into their playing. It has always been a great point of annoyance for me that the song didn’t succeed in Australia or New Zealand until after it became a smash hit in America. To me, it had timeless classic written all over it from the very first time I heard it. Neil had truly excelled himself this time.
Like most: The opening guitar hook, which is apparently borrowed from the start of traditional Maori singalongs, the melancholic organ pieces, the rhythmic bassline and Neil’s great vocal.
Favourite line: ‘There is freedom within, there is freedom without: try and catch the deluge in a paper cup’.
1 A Day In The Life (1967)
At the time of release, nothing like this Lennon / McCartney masterpiece had ever been attempted before in popular music. It starts with John’s magnificently evocative vocal, accompanied by just acoustic guitar, piano. gentle bass and brilliant Ringo drum fills. Following the first two verses, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra play a myriad of instruments in a frenzied rush till the music climaxes and stops suddenly. Then, a completely juxtaposed piece of music from Paul is thrown in to ‘fill a gap’, as if it were always intended to be there. The song returns to John’s brilliant vocal narrative, and then back to another frenzied crescendo from the orchestra, which again concludes suddenly, this time with one dramatic piano chord which echoes for a further 40 or so seconds as the song fades out. Add to this the wonderfully, visually evocative lyrics and it’s almost too much to take in. Despite their prolific catalogue of work, this is easily The Beatles greatest ever composition and possibly the greatest popular recording of all time.
Like most: John’s magnificently eerie and evocative vocal, the orchestra, the lyric and the brilliant climactic ending. What more can you ask for?
Favourite line: ‘Four thousand holes in Blackburn Lancashire, and though the holes were rather small, they had to count them all; now they know how many holes it takes to fill the Albert Hall.’