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Another Stupid Top Ten List

This was particularly tricky. It’s hard to list “pop” songs because “pop” as a genre is kind of nebulous. Do you include R&B? What about hip-hop? Pop punk? Rock? Dance? Electronica? There’s a lot of things you could label as “pop”, even things that are simply popular, but I tried to go for things that were generally dance-oriented, or specifically written in the pop style, with the three-minute-or-so length, catchy hooks, and an emphasis on vocal melody over intrumentalism.

Since I have the self-imposed limitation of “things on my computer”, I left out some “obvious” choices like Michael Jackson or Madonna (e.g., the only Madonna album I have is Bedtime Stories, which is arguably an R&B record), and I had to cheat a little and include videos, like the Kylie Minogue and Christina Aguilera I’ve included. (Yes, I have Kylie Minogue and Christina Aguilera videos on my computer. This is because I’m male. Deal with it, ladies.) I’ve also sidestepped pop-punk, pop-rock like Goo Goo Dolls or The Beatles or Moxy Fruvous, and Brit-pop like early Radiohead or Coldplay.

“But Rick,” you’re probably saying, “why even make this list at all? Who cares?” Well, I have one specific friend in mind for this list, but I think this would make a decent companion to my earlier metal list. Secondly, I was listening to “I Know It’s Over” by The Smiths, and I needed some reason to not kill myself, because that’s probably the most depressing song ever.

So here it is: The Ten Poppiest Songs I Have on My Computer at This Moment

“One for the Shareholder” – Maria Taylor (11:11)
This song is probably the least “pop” song on the list. Ms. Taylor is on Saddle Creek Records, the same label that puts out things like Bright Eyes and Cursive. They’re that weird emo/folk label that occasionally spits out rock bands. So this song on an overtly emo/folk album is pretty amusing. I have to laugh, because that’s the only thing I can do, other than totally bob along to it. It’s sort of like Jewel’s “Intuition”, it’s that song that an artist isn’t “supposed” to make, but they do, and it’s totally poppy and probably gets a bunch of attention for them, even though it’s not really their style at all. See also: “Enter Sandman”.

“For Nancy (‘Cos It Already Is)” – Pete Yorn (musicforthemorningafter)
I am an unabashed Pete Yorn fan. Or at least, I was for this one album. In fact, I still am, for this one album. His second album, Day I Forgot, was pretty good, and his third album, the name of which I can’t even remember, really ran the Pete Yorn train into the ground. As polished as the first album is, the next two just went further and further with the production until it squeezed every last ounce of life out of Yorn’s weezy-yet-energetic style from the first album. I really love this album, and this song is probably the “poppiest” song on it.

“Rock DJ” – Robbie Williams (Sing When You’re Winning)
Robbie Williams never really hit it in the US. Most people could name “Millenium” as “something I’ve heard of”, but “Rock DJ” is vastly superior to it. When I was a DJ for the campus radio station I was working at in my sophomore year (for one semester) this one always, always, always got play from me. It’s so prototypically early-2000s-era pop, with its live drums over sampled beats, and its synth filter sweeps, and big disco strings. Arguably, that’s a formula to probably thousands of pop songs, 2000s or no, but without Williams’ swagger, this song would be nothing. There’s a reason he’s got an album called The Ego Has Landed. I nearly named “Kids” from this same album, because Robbie is consistantly singing higher (pitch-wise) than Kylie Minogue, who guests on the song. You know what? I’m cheating. We’ll just name the entirety of Sing When You’re Winning. The album is one of the best pop records ever made.

“Discotheque” – U2 (Pop)
How could I write an article of “Best Pop Songs” and not include a song from an album called Pop? It’s the name of the fucking record. In all seriousness, U2 is pushing the edge of what I’d call “pop”, because they’re more of a rock band, but the 90s albums are definitely meant to go in a certain direction. And considering Bono said at one point that “Discotheque” was meant to be their “Sledgehammer”, you have to give it a little credit. My wife is sad that the remix removed the “Boom-chas” from the end. I have to admit I agree. Even if the mix does sound a little better.

“Sledgehammer” – Peter Gabriel (So)
This song is possibly the best evidence there is that you can turn just about anything into a sexual innuendo. Beside that, this is on my list of songs to tune sound systems with. A perfect marriage of funk, synthpop, sex, and the best production team of the 80s (at turns Gabriel, Daniel Lanois, David Bottrill, et al.) made this one of the biggest songs of the 80s, possibly ever. Having a kickass video helped, too. (Maybe that’s what “Discotheque” was missing?) Honorable Mention here to “Big Time”. Stewart Copland plus Tony Levin equals rhythm section from hell.

“Dope Nose” – Weezer (Maladroit)
Every song Weezer has (even on the super-depressing Pinkerton album) is just as much rock as it is pop. The choruses, the simplicity of the hooks, all of it. I could name any of their songs here. This one just happened to be the one that caught my eye first. Plus it’s a super-poppy two minutes and seventeen seconds long. Honorable Mention: Every Weezer song ever.

“Girl” – Beck (Guero)
I contend this is the best pop song of the last five years. Nothing I can say will describe it properly.

“Can’t Get You Out of My Head” – Kylie Minogue (Fever)
Yes. Really. I think this might be the best pop single since I was born (way back in 1981.) That puts it up against most of Michael Jackson’s solo work, all of Madonna’s, all of Mariah Carey’s, all of Destiny Child, all of TLC, all of pretty much anyone that’s sold more than a million records. I dare you not to have this song stuck in your head for the next three weeks. Winner of the Most Aptly-Titled Song Ever Award. Honorable Mention: “Come into My World”, if only for having one of the most interesting videos ever made.

“Come on Over (All I Want is You)” – Christina Aguilera (Christina Aguilera)
I make no apologies whatsoever for this song. Aside from the “dance break” in the middle, this song is nothing but Aguilera belting out good music. All that shit about teenybopper pop? Fuck. That. Considering this album was released when she was just shy of nineteen years old, I’d give my left nut to have half the talent this woman does at singing. If you’re still with me at this point, I probably don’t have to explain myself anymore.

“Santa Monica” – Everclear (Sparkle and Fade)
Now, long after the grunge/alternative push, near the death throes of pop-punk, after the drink the band named themselves after has faded into obscurity, and after most of Everclear’s original audience has graduated high school, probably college, maybe grad school, and some might even have doctorates, this song will not die. Everyone loves this song. Everyone. Even if they say they don’t, they do.

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