#990 – SOS, ABBA (1975)
It took me a long time to like ABBA. Part of it is because they’re a bit too saccharine for my tastes, but I think the bigger reason is I learned of them through the Mamma Mia! musical, which was my first introduction to jukebox musicals — where the greatest hits of a band or artist are loosely strung around a half-baked plot — and jukebox musicals, if you couldn’t tell by my editorializing, are garbage, and so I unfairly resented ABBA a while for that.
Now I think ABBA is fine, and this number is fine, mainly for the key change halfway through the chorus.
#989 – I’m Not Okay (I Promise), My Chemical Romance (2004)
Hey, it’s the first guilty pleasure song from 1995-2005! I wouldn’t say I was ever a *fan* of My Chemical Romance, but I did admire their ability to write hook-filled songs with operatic flourishes, and everyone is already laughing at me, aren’t they?
But this is nice fast-paced pop punk song, with little production quirks throughout to hold my interest for three minutes.
#988 – Springtime For Hitler, The Producers (2001)
So in my last iteration of this list a decade ago, there was a separate Top 100 section for my favourite Broadway/Disney songs, because I felt that while comparing my feeling towards, say, Paint It Black and Wonderwall was dumb, it was even dumber to try and compare pop and rock songs with showtunes, because they really occupy two different parts of my brain, and the reasons why I like a particular song in each genre are very different.
(Short form: I enjoy pop/rock songs as singles, and generally don’t care about its placement in an album, while for showtunes so much of it is about its context in the show)
Unfortunately, when I told friends about this, they told me that wasn’t acceptable, and an inherently silly project should embrace its silliness by mashing them all together.
And that’s how we get to Springtime For Hitler, which separated from its musical, is an overly-long, eight-minute pastiche of what a Broadway showstopper is supposed to sound like, with a few cute turns of phrase.
However, within the context of musical version of The Producers, Springtime For Hitler was building for 33 years, ever since the 1968 film had it as a three-minute showpiece which is still talked about today because of how audacious it was for the time.
There are a lot of reasons why the 2001 musical became one of the biggest Broadway smashes in decades, but probably the biggest is that as an audience member, you know Springtime For Hitler is coming, you’re excited for how it’s going to actually be shown as the musical within the musical, and then it hits, and it’s deliriously as audacious as you’d ever imagine, with giant dancing pretzels and goosesteps transitioning into tap dance and Hitler doing a Judy Garland impersonation, and the high of that moment stays with you, despite its weaknesses as an actual song.
Or at least the moment stayed with me after seeing it London 12 years ago, so that’s why it’s here.
#987 – Right As Rain, Adele (2008)
“Liking Adele before it was a thing” is not something to be overly proud of, but Adele’s debut album 19 was something I listened to quite a bit when it first came out, and a lot of it was because she balanced ballads like Make You Feel My Love with nimble ditties with a neat melodic progression like this one.
#986 – Scared, The Tragically Hip (1994)
I’m not going to write a Hip think piece for this or any of their nine songs on my list, because lord knows plenty of them were produced in 2016 that were much better than anything I’d write. Still, it was a reminder that, outside the 4-5 hits everyone lionizes (or delightfully belittles, if you’re Colby Cosh), there are dozens that randomly stick with people for all sorts of reasons.
So it is with me and Scared, mainly for that riff that repeats and repeats with just enough variation, and with just enough fragility in Downie’s voice, to make lift it above 99% of acoustic noodling ruminations.
#985 – Oh! Darling, The Beatles (1969)
A great plodding piano part + Paul doing his best Little Richard schtick + … well, that’s pretty much all there is to this song. But I love both of those things, so it gets on here.
#984 – Debaser, The Pixies (1989)
I have two friends – let’s call them “Paul” and “Trevor” — whom I lived with in a university flophouse in the richest part of Vancouver, and they loved The Pixies, enough to play them often, particularly late at night, particularly once at 3am, very loudly, screaming along, stomping their feet, when I was trying to sleep, on a Tuesday, because that’s what happens when you’re 22.
The day afterwards our next door neighbour was furious, I had to play the peacemaker for several hours, and this *probably* did not help my perception of the loud band with the buzzy guitars, as I came to know them over that year.
I should probably try and give The Pixies a second chance at some point in my life, but Debaser? Even when you’re hoping against hope that your roommates quiet down for the night, some riffs are too perfect to stay mad at.
#983 – Private Eyes, Hall & Oates (1989)
Hey, it’s the Hall & Oates song with a nice groove that you have generally warm feelings towards! You know, that one!
#982 – Party Pit, The Hold Steady (2006)
I really like The Hold Steady, and I really like Boys and Girls In America as a general album (and if you don’t think it’s a great album for a university house party then we can’t be friends), but picking specific songs to like outside the opener is like playing darts blindfolded.
Still, Party Pit gets an edge because of a great introduction that builds and builds, which is probably the most memorable part in an album full of Moments I Like.
#981 – So You’ve Got A Lover (Demo), Buffalo Springfield (1966)
The Buffalo Springfield Box Set is a wonderful thing to listen to if you’re ticked off the band only lasted for two years, because it is packed with outtakes and throwaways like this one, which mixes a great lick with a foreboding bridge.
Categories: Top 1000 Songs