Tuesday, June 30, 2015

New Musical Express (NME) Top 100 Songs

Originally posted 5/29/2012; updated 4/10/2019.

New Musical Express (NME) is a British music magazine first published in 1952. The magazine was responsible for the first UK singles chart that same year and has gone on to publish multiple best-of lists (links at bottom of page) throughout its history. This is an aggregate of 18 of those lists, resulting in an interesting meshing of classic rock alongside alternative rock with the occasional pop or R&B song thrown in for good measure.

  1. The Strokes “Last Nite” (2001)
  2. Bob Dylan “Like a Rolling Stone” (1965)
  3. Arctic Monkeys “I Bet You Look Good on the Dance Floor” (2005)
  4. Joy Division “Love Will Tear Us Apart” (1980)
  5. The Verve “Bittersweet Symphony” (1997)
  6. The Smiths “How Soon Is Now?” (1985)
  7. The Rolling Stones “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” (1968)
  8. The Kinks “You Really Got Me” (1964)
  9. The Beach Boys “Good Vibrations” (1966)
  10. The White Stripes “Seven Nation Army” (2003)

  11. The Libertines “Time for Heroes” (2003)
  12. Yeah Yeah Yeahs “Maps” (2003)
  13. The Who “My Generation” (1965)
  14. The Killers “Mr. Brightside” (2004)
  15. The Streets “Dry Your Eyes” (2004)
  16. Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliott “Get Ur Freak On” (2001)
  17. The Beatles “Paperback Writer” (1966)
  18. Futureheads “Hounds of Love” (2005)
  19. Nirvana “Smells Like Teen Spirit” (1991)
  20. The Smiths “There Is a Light That Never Goes Out” (1986)

  21. Pulp “Common People” (1995)
  22. OutKast “Hey Ya!” (2003)
  23. The Beatles “Strawberry Fields Forever” (1967)
  24. The Rolling Stones “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” (1965)
  25. Franz Ferdinand “Take Me Out” (2004)
  26. BeyoncĂ© with Jay-Z “Crazy in Love” (2003)
  27. Marvin Gaye “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” (1968)
  28. Jay-Z “99 Problems” (2004)
  29. The Ronettes “Be My Baby” (1963)
  30. The Smiths “This Charming Man” (1983)

  31. Stone Roses “Fools Gold” (1989)
  32. Lou Reed “Walk on the Wild Side” (1973)
  33. Manic Street Preachers “A Design for Life” (1996)
  34. The Beach Boys “God Only Knows” (1966)
  35. Dizzee Rascal “Fix Up Look Sharp” (2003)
  36. The Rapture “House of Jealous Lovers” (2002)
  37. Johnny Cash “Hurt” (2003)
  38. The Rolling Stones “Paint It, Black” (1966)
  39. Hot Chip “Over and Over” (2006)
  40. Stevie Wonder “Superstition” (1972)

  41. The Miracles “The Tracks of My Tears” (1965)
  42. Arcade Fire “Rebellion (Lies)” (2005)
  43. The Beatles “I Want to Hold Your Hand” (1963)
  44. David Bowie “Space Oddity” (1969)
  45. The Undertones “Teenage Kicks” (1978)
  46. The Beatles “She Loves You” (1963)
  47. Eminem “The Real Slim Shady” (2000)
  48. David Bowie “Heroes” (1977)
  49. Oasis “Live Forever” (1994)
  50. Oasis “Wonderwall” (1995)

  51. Radiohead “Paranoid Android” (1997)
  52. SinĂ©ad O’Connor “Nothing Compares 2 U“ (1990)
  53. Ike & Tina Turner “River Deep, Mountain High” (1966)
  54. The Clash “London Calling” (1979)
  55. Sex Pistols “God Save the Queen” (1977)
  56. M.I.A. “Paper Planes” (2008)
  57. LCD Soundsystem “Losing My Edge” (2002)
  58. The Cure “Boys Don’t Cry” (1979)
  59. Arcade Fire “Wake Up” (2005)
  60. The Kinks “Waterloo Sunset” (1967)

  61. The Walkmen “The Rat” (2004)
  62. New Order “Blue Monday” (1983)
  63. Queens of the Stone Age “No One Knows” (2002)
  64. The La’s “There She Goes” (1989)
  65. Sex Pistols “Anarchy in the U.K.” (1976)
  66. MGMT “Time to Pretend” (2008)
  67. The Gossip “Standing in the Way of Control” (2007)
  68. The Libertines “Can’t Stand Me Now” (2004)
  69. Joy Division “Transmission” (1979)
  70. Kylie Minogue “Can’t Get You Out of My Head” (2001)

  71. Marvin Gaye “What’s Going On” (1971)
  72. The Beatles “Hey Jude” (1968)
  73. The Jimi Hendrix Experience “Hey Joe” (1966)
  74. The Jackson 5 “I Want You Back” (1969)
  75. Blur “Song 2” (1997)
  76. This Mortal Coil “Song to the Siren” (1982)
  77. The Pixies “Gigantic” (1988)
  78. Roxy Music “Virginia Plain” (1972)
  79. Otis Redding “(Sittin’ on) The Dock of the Bay” (1968)
  80. Aretha Franklin “Respect” (1967)

  81. The Jimi Hendrix Experience “Purple Haze” (1967)
  82. Klaxons “Golden Skans” (2007)
  83. The Doors “Light My Fire” (1967)
  84. The Jimi Hendrix Experience “All Along the Watchtower” (1968)
  85. Wolfman with Pete Doherty “For Lovers” (2004)
  86. Amy Winehouse “Rehab” (2006)
  87. Bob Marley & the Wailers “No Woman, No Cry” (1974)
  88. Robert Wyatt “Shipbuilding” (1982)
  89. Four Tops “Reach Out (I’ll Be There)“ (1966)
  90. The Byrds “Eight Miles High” (1966)

  91. Rihanna with Jay-Z “Umbrella” (2007)
  92. My Bloody Valentine “You Made Me Realise” (1988)
  93. Bloc Party “Banquet” (2005)
  94. The Specials “Ghost Town” (1981)
  95. The Beatles “Penny Lane” (1967)
  96. Michael Jackson “Billie Jean” (1982)
  97. The Byrds “Mr. Tambourine Man” (1965)
  98. The White Stripes “Fell in Love with a Girl” (2001)
  99. Donna Summer “I Feel Love” (1977)
  100. The Stone Roses “I Am the Resurrection” (1989)

NME Song Lists:

Saturday, June 27, 2015

In Concert: The Rolling Stones

The Rolling Stones

Arrowhead Stadium; Kansas City, MO (6/27/2015)

image from The Pitch (6/28/2015)

Opening Act:

Ed Sheeran


  • Mick Jagger (vocals)
  • Keith Richards (guitar, vocals)
  • Ronnie Wood (guitar)
  • Charlie Watts (drums)


Seeing the Rolling Stones in concert was a mistake. I made the mistake of not bringing my son, thinking a 12-year-old couldn’t care less about a band only on his radar because of Maroon 5’s “Moves Like Jagger.” I made the mistake of joking that these septuagenarians (except for young pup Ronnie Wood – all of 68) would have difficulty commanding a stage, given the interference of their walkers, canes, and wheelchairs. I made the mistake of dismissing Mick Jagger’s a reputation as possibly rock music’s greatest frontman ever. Finally, I made the mistake of thinking it would be a good idea to go to any other concert again after this one.

I’ve seen my fair share of rock legends on stage – Allman Brothers, Pat Benatar, David Bowie, Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, Journey, John Mellencamp, The Police, Bruce Springsteen, Styx, Roger Waters, and Yes all spring to mind. However, none came close to matching the stage presence of Mick Jagger. The man didn’t just command a stage, but an arena with his exhaustive prancing and ability to get a crowd revved up. This was not a fat cat millionaire just phoning it in.

Aside from Jagger, there were a lifetime of memorable musical moments. How does one not melt when Keith Richards launches into the arguably most famous guitar riff off all time with “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”? Who wouldn’t be moved by the choir at the beginning of “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”? How about the chops of the female singer on “Gimme Shelter” or the bass solo during “Miss You”? Hell, the final curtain call with just Jagger, Richards, Woods, and Charlie Watts bowing to their audience was tear-worthy.

So I offer my apologies to my son for not making this his first show. I apologize to the Stones for ever dismissing them as past their prime. I apologize to every other performer I’ll ever see when I say, “Well, they were good, but they weren’t the Rolling Stones.”

Click here to see other concerts I’ve attended.

The Set List:

1. Start Me Up
2. It’s Only Rock and Roll But I Like It
3. Tumbling Dice
4. Doom and Gloom
5. Beast of Burden (with Ed Sheeran)
6. Kansas City
7. Bitch
8. Wild Horses
9. Street Fighting Man
10. Honky Tonk Women
11. Before They Make Me Run
12. Happy
13. Midnight Rambler
14. Miss You
15. Gimme Shelter
16. Jumpin’ Jack Flash
17. Sympathy for the Devil
18. Brown Sugar


19. You Can’t Always Get What You Want
20. (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction

Resources and Related Links:

First posted 6/27/2015; last updated 8/5/2023.

Friday, June 26, 2015

50 years ago: The Byrds hit #1 with “Mr. Tambourine Man”

Mr. Tambourine Man

The Byrds

Writer(s): Bob Dylan (see lyrics here)

Released: April 12, 1965

First Charted: May 8, 1965

Peak: 11 US, 11 CB, 11 GR, 11 HR, 1 CL, 12 UK, 1 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): --

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 14.88 video, 71.04 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

“Mr. Tambourine Man” “elevated [Bob] Dylan from folk hero to bona fide star.” RS500 He pecked “out the lyrics on a typrewriter in the back of a station wagon” BR “during a drug-fueled cross-country trek in 1964,” RS500 which included “wild scenes they had witnessed at Mardi Gras” SS and incorporated the influence of the Federico Fellin film La Strada. SS Some people interpreted “Tambourine” as being about a drug pusher, but Dylan said the song was inspired by Bruce Langhorne, a guitarist who brought a tambourine to the recording session which he said was “as big as a wagon wheel.” SJ

Dylan recorded the “hallucinatory ramble” BR during sessions for Another Side of Bob Dylan, but left it off the album. He re-recorded it and released it on Bringing It All Back Home, the album which began his transition from acoustic to electric. SS In the meantime, however, a Columbia Records promotions man gave a recording to Jim Dickson, the Byrds’ manager. BR The band was “resistant to a song with such abstract imagery,” SS but eventually gave it a shot.

After an attempt with Gene Clark singing lead, they recorded a version with Roger McGuinn assuming vocal duties. SS He said he was trying to sound like a mix of Dylan and John Lennon. BR They recorded their own version five days after Dylan. RS500 The original “was a multi-versed acoustic meander through typically elliptical wordplay,” TB but the Byrds whittled it down to a one-verse, more conventional three minute single. HL “If nobody sings Dylan like Dylan, the Byrds at least came close.” DM Dylan said of their recording, “Wow, man. You can even dance to that!” RS500

Roger McGuinn said, “I just rearranged it into a Beatles song.” TC Not only did the recording tap into the Beatles harmonies, but a Beach Boys’ beat, and a bit of Bach in the guitar intro. RP Terry Melcher, who’d also worked with the Beach Boys, gets credit for the “influence on the harmonies, tempo, and overall sound.” PW He also decided that, other than McGuinn, the Byrds “were too rough and unpolished to play on their own single” BR and tapped session musicians instead.

The Byrds’ David Crosby and Gene Clark contributed backing harmonies but only McGuinn played on the hit. Inspired by George Harrison’s electric twelve-string on the Beatles’ “A Hard Day’s Night,” BR McGuinn’s played the “chiming twelve-string Rickenbacker guitar [which] became folk rock’s defining sound.” RS500

“The Tambourine Man was the Pied Piper for others to follow.” HL It “started the folk-rock movement” SJ “and the whole singer/songwriter tradition.” TC McGuinn said, however, that “We weren’t really thinking about the folk background. In fact, we were trying to subdue it and become legitimate rock & roll people. Fortunately, we weren’t able to shake it, and the residue is what made us sound interesting.” TC


Related Links:

First posted 4/18/2020; last updated 4/13/2023.

Friday, June 19, 2015

50 years ago: Four Tops “I Can’t Help Myself” hit #1

I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)

The Four Tops

Writer(s): Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, Eddie Holland (see lyrics here)

Released: April 23, 1965

First Charted: May 15, 1965

Peak: 12 US, 12 CB, 11 HR, 19 RB, 10 UK, 1 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): -- US, 0.6 UK

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 3.0 radio, 32.0 video, 253.05 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

The Four Tops formed in 1953 in Detroit. They were high school students who sang jazz standards. They would record together for more than 40 years without any lineup changes – a claim no other group to top the Billboard Hot 100 can make. FB Their big break came when they signed with Motown after a decade of minimal success. They achieved their first chart hit, “Baby I Need Your Loving,” in 1964, reaching #11.

The song was written by the legendary songwriting and production team of Holland, Dozier, and Holland – as were many Four Tops’ hits to come. The song was inspired by Lamon Dozier’s grandfather, who catcalled women, saying ‘Hey, sugar pie! Hi there, honey bunch!’” 500 The words were paired with a chord progression almost identical to a previous hit by Holland-Dozier-Holland: the Supremes’ 1964 hit “Where Did Our Love Go.”

However, with Levi Stubbs singing lead, it became “all about conveying fervent passion.” SG Holland-Dozier-Holland knew how to use his voice. He “was a rarity, a baritone who sang lead…They pushed him into a higher register, so that his voice would sound strained and desperate. He had a preacher’s urgency, and that gave the group’s records a raw intensity” SG that wasn’t typical of Motown artists.

It was the group’s first chart-topper and “defines ‘the Motown sound.’” FB Billboard magazine named it the biggest R&B single of the year and the second biggest single of 1965. WK It was also their first top-40 entry in the UK.


Related Links:

First posted 11/4/2022.

Monday, June 15, 2015

In Concert: Tears for Fears

Tears for Fears

Uptown Theater; Kansas City, MO

image from scmp.com (2015)


Tears for Fears has an ‘80s nostalgia vibe to them, considering they had their biggest hits in that decade (four top ten hits in the U.S., including #1’s “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” and “Shout”). Understandably, their show focused mostly on this output (4 songs from 1983’s The Hurting, 3 from 1985’s Songs from the Big Chair, and 4 from 1989’s The Seeds of Love). Still, I hoped for a few more songs from that era, especially “The Working Hour,” “I Believe,” and “Mother’s Talk” (the last two were even singles).

The “band’s” nineties output (1993’s Elemental and 1995’s Raoul and the Kings of Spain) were really Roland Orzabal solo efforts since Curt Smith had flown the coop. “Break It Down Again” was the only song they played from either album, although they did a cover of Radiohead’s “Creep,” which was a B-side from 1995. I had hoped for more – “Goodnight Song,” “Power,” and “God’s Mistake” were all minor singles from that time which would have been nice to see live.

The two reunited in 2004 for Everybody Loves a Happy Ending and again on the Ready Boy and Girls? EP in 2014, but neither appeared on anyone’s radar but the TFF faithful. They tackled three songs from the Happy Ending, but nothing from the EP. I was hoping for their cover of Arcade Fire’s “Ready to Start.”

All in all, however, it was a good show despite the brevity.

Click here to see other concerts I’ve attended.

The Set List:

1. Everybody Wants to Rule the World 2
2. Secret World 6
3. Sowing the Seeds of Love 3
4. Pale Shelter 1
5. Break It Down Again 4
6. Everbody Loves a Happy Ending 6
7. Change 1
8. Mad World 1
9. Memories Fade 1
10. Closest Thing to Heaven 6
11. Advice for the Young at Heart 3
12. Creep (Radiohead cover)
13. Badman’s Song 3
14. Head Over Heels 2


15. Woman in Chains 3
16. Shout 2


1 The Hurting (1983)
2 Songs from the Big Chair (1985)
3 The Seeds of Love (1989)
4 Elemental (1993)
5 Raoul and the Kings of Spain (1995)
6 Everybody Loves a Happy Ending (2004)

Resources and Related Links:

First posted 6/15/2015; last updated 8/5/2023.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

On This Day (1925): Bessie Smith and Louis Armstrong charted with “St. Louis Blues”

St. Louis Blues

W.C. Handy

Writer(s): W.C. Handy (see lyrics here)

Composed: 1914

First Charted: November 24, 1923

Peak: 9 PM (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 (sheet music)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, -- video, -- streaming

St. Louis Blues

Marion Harris

First Charted: August 28, 1920

Peak: 13 PM, 16 GA (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 (sheet music)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, -- video, -- streaming

St. Louis Blues

Bessie Smith & Louis Armstrong

First Charted: June 13, 1925

Peak: 3 PM (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 (sheet music)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 1.57 video, 1.35 streaming

Awards (W.C. Handy):

Click on award for more details.

Awards (Al Bernard, 1919):

Awards (Marion Harris, 1920):

Awards (Smith & Armstrong, 1925):

Awards (Louis Armstrong, 1930):

Awards (Milton Brown, 1935):

About the Song:

Not only is this the most recorded blues song of all time DJ and maybe the most recorded American song of all time, PM but is has been called “the most important blues song ever written.” LW William Christopher Handy, who became known as “The Father of the Blues,” was a bandleader who performed to mixed race audiences throughout the southern United States. As jug bands gained in popularity, he was driven to compose music in a similar style, LW most notably with “St. Louis Blues,” a lyric he claims he was inspired to write after hearing a St. Louis woman complaining about her cheating husband. LW

He wrote the song in 1914, a time when the popular songs of Tin Pan Alley began fusing “with folklore to explore the blues, the form that led to the full-fledged birth of American jazz.” NPR Handy tapped into Afro-Spanish rhythms he picked up on trips to Cuba LW and mixed “the ‘humour of a coon’ song, the syncopation of ragtime, and the spirit of a Negro spiritual, and call[ed] it the blues.” RCG The great theatrical producer Florenz Ziegfeld credited Handy with putting black bands on the previously all-white map of Broadway in New York. RCG

The song didn’t take off until Sophie Tucker incorporated it into her vaudeville act. TY2 It went on to chart fifteen times over the next forty years PM generating $25,000 a year, which by today’s standards would make Handy a billionaire. LW Prince’s Orchestra first hit with it in 1916 (#4), but Marion Harris had the greatest success with it in 1920 (#1). PM The best-selling version was by the Original Dixieland Jazz band in 1921. DJ In 1925, Bessie Smith’s version with Louis Armstrong on cornet hit #3 and it is the highest ranked version according to Dave’s Music Database. The Mills Brothers hit #2 in 1932. PM In 1935, Milton Brown & His Brownies recorded what music historian Steve Sullivan called “the best of all country versions of the W.C. Handy blues classic.” SS

Among others to record it were Bing Crosby, Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington, Guy Lombardo, Lena Horne, Dinah Shore, Johnny Mercer, and Pearl Bailey. RCG The song has been featured in more than 25 Hollywood films, including the 1958 biopic St. Louis Blues, in which Nat “King” Cole plays Handy and sings his signature song. RCG

The song was successful outside of America as well. It was said to be one of Queen Elizabeth II’s favorites. In the 1930s, Ethiopian soldiers used it as an anthem when fighting off Italian invaders. SS


Related Links:

First posted 11/24/2011; last updated 9/7/2023.