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Top 100 Songs Ever: 100-51

on September 20, 2012, 11:58pm
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CoS Top 100 artwork

screen shot 2012 09 19 at 10.55.05 pm e1348113677572 Top 100 Songs Ever: 100 51

Click here to see songs 50-1.


phil collins in the air tonight 260x257 Top 100 Songs Ever: 100 51

100. Phil Collins – “In The Air Tonight”

Face Value, 1981

Phil Collins wrote a song about his divorce that was so taxing, macabre, and vitriolic that people actually thought he witnessed the death of another human and was seeking either atonement or vengeance with the line, “I’ve been waiting for this moment all my life.” In truth, Collins just knew that wretched heartbreak would find him sooner or later. Look at his sad face! But even his defeatist mentality and the wringing of his poor British heart stands in the shadow of Collins’ drum work. “In The Air Tonight” sports one of the first and most popular uses of “gated reverb,” a sound that would later define the ’80s snare, Blondie’s CR-78 drum machine that set the lonely mood in the beginning, and one of the best drum fills of all time. There are parts of the world where it is illegal not to air drum that fill. -Jeremy D. Larson

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sonic youth Top 100 Songs Ever: 100 5199. Sonic Youth – “Teen Age Riot”

Daydream Nation, 1988

Thanks in large part to “Teen Age Riot”, a group of No Wave-y, feedback-loving, odd-tuning Glenn Branca acolytes wound up taking a large part in the shaping of indie rock. The introductory track to the legend-making 1988 album Daydream Nation, the tune jammed together rock star riffage and mystical overtone swirls, Lee Ranaldo and Thurston Moore’s guitar prowess pulling the reins of a massive pop hook. Allegedly inspired by an alternate reality in which Dinosaur Jr.’s J Mascis is appointed president, the song’s rollicking energy is perfectly matched by its inciting lyrics. “You’re never gonna stop all the teenage leather and booze,” Moore smirks, and you can just imagine the waves of kids picking up guitars around the world and starting bands because of Sonic Youth’s empowering eccentricity. -Adam Kivel

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kraftwerk1 Top 100 Songs Ever: 100 5198. Kraftwerk – “Autobahn”

Autobahn, 1974

The Autobahn expressway is an achievement of human engineering and a symbol of how technology removes limits. It’s fitting that German electronic pioneers Kraftwerk would pave their own musical thoroughfare in the form of a titular, 22 minute sprawling opener that seats listeners on the passenger side of a drive along the road of electronic ambiance, synthesized vocoding, and automated melody. The avant-garde song is a journey, rather than a destination. And yet, droves of artists and fans alike took the trip, arriving at a thousand new forms of music. From New Wave to rave, to ringtones, mp3s, and all manners of 1’s and 0’s, its novel exploration of technological enhancement make it the song that plugged this brave new world into the computer age, forever changing the digital landscape of popular music. -Dan Pfleegor

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a tribe called quest scenario Top 100 Songs Ever: 100 5197. A Tribe Called Quest – “Scenario”

The Low End Theory, 1992

With the group’s second album, Low End Theory, A Tribe Called Quest stripped everything down to the essentials, creating a minimalist sound with vocal emphasis on the downbeat. In doing so they produced a genuine fusion of hip-hop attitude with the laid-back atmosphere of cool jazz, hard bop, and rare groove; something not even Miles Davis could accomplish (Doo-Bop?). Initially propelled by word of mouth, it was third single “Scenario” that pushed the album over Gold status. (It has since gone Platinum.) Sampling soul artists in addition to jazz legends Miles Davis and Brother Jack McDuff, “Scenario” is built around a beat developed by Q-Tip, and is a vocal collaboration with Charlie Brown, Dinco D and Busta Rhymes, the three MCs of fellow Native Tongues members Leaders of the New School. During the song’s construction, Q-Tip read Busta Rhymes’ verse and immediately decided to put as the anchor in the relay, reigniting the song’s intensity before its conclusion. However, rather than simply pass the mic to Rhymes at the end of his own verse, Q-Tip wanted Bussa to come in on Tip’s part as a means of setting own verses up, effectively ‘featuring’ Busta Rhymes. Rhymes himself said “[“Scenario”] was the record that pioneered features…That record made me the number one go-to guy for features…for a long time.” -Len Comaratta

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nick cave the bad seeds from her to eternity Top 100 Songs Ever: 100 5196. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – “From Her To Eternity”

From Her to Eternity, 1984

It balances the Sturm and Drang psycho-sexual theatrics with a more straight-forward propulsion. It’s one of the first songs written by Cave and all the members of the Bad Seeds — his first band after the goth pioneers The Birthday Party dissolved. The Bad Seeds build a bed of tension with piano stabs and a bass line idling like an 18-wheeler. Cave writhes and shakes with the kind of heroin histrionics that could make Jim Morrison look like Karen Carpenter, all while wrestling his id into submission with lines like, “This desire to possess her is a wound/ And its naggin’ at me like a shrew/ But, ah know, that to possess her/ Is, therefore, not to desire her.” The junkyard in Nick Cave’s head has manifested itself in poems, books, screenplays, film scores, and ”From Her To Eternity” is one of the most accurate reflections of his work as an uber-artist who lives without a filter. It’s jagged, desperate, and full of so much noise and love. - Jeremy D. Larson

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sleater kinney dig me out Top 100 Songs Ever: 100 5195. Sleater-Kinney – “Dig Me Out”

Dig Me Out, 1997

While Sleater-Kinney had previously released two LPs, Dig Me Out was the first album to feature force of nature Janet Weiss at the kit. With Weiss’ rolling thunder fills now backing Brownstein’s manic guitar and Corin Tucker’s vibratic howls, the opening title track is the emblem of post-riot grrrl, post-alternative, post-punk, post-everything intensity — of a band that refused to be pigeonholed. Tucker admitted in an interview that they “were a little bit overwhelmed with the success” of the album, but “Dig Me Out” is a perfect pop hook in the midst of a riotous punk package, and it justified their newfound attention. -Adam Kivel

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born slippy Top 100 Songs Ever: 100 5194. Underworld – “Born Slippy .NUXX”

“Born Slippy .NUXX”, 1995

Originally released as a B-side in January 1995, “Born Slippy .NUXX” gained traction in 1996 as the galloping anthem at the conclusion of Trainspotting. The track famously backdropped the wry transformation of Mark “Rent Boy” Renton (Ewan McGregor) from a junkie into a smirking, productive member of society — which is fitting because Karl Hyde penned this song amid his own alcohol addiction, trying to capture the mood of a drunken night. He performed the vocals in one take, telling The Guardian, “when I lost my place, I’d repeat the same line; that’s why it goes, “lager, lager, lager, lager.” The track pushed Underworld into the limelight, and was one of the first of its kind to make the jump from the club to the broader pop culture consciousness. It whetted the palette of the masses for talent like The Chemical Brothers, Crystal Method, and The Prodigy, who were able to reach levels of fame unlike many earlier electronica producers. 2012 may be the current high point in EDM, but its status is only possible due to the early ground breaking achievements of Underworld. -Derek Staples

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devo uncontrollable urge Top 100 Songs Ever: 100 5193. Devo – “Uncontrollable Urge”

Q: Are We Not Men? We Are Devo!, 1978

Devo have never been a band to embrace their music with a great deal of fun or playfulness, opting instead to use their music much more deliberately. The high-minded Akron art rockers formed the band as an angry statement against mindless complacency and fall-in-line subordination, and “Uncontrollable Urge”, the first song off their first full-length, Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!, laid the band’s disdain for modern living bare. A new wave song with punk rock flare, the song didn’t generate the buzz or attention of the band’s later, synth-driven work, but in retrospect “Urge” stands as Devo’s de facto mission statement. When Mark Mothersbaugh laments, “Got an urge, got a surge/ And it’s out of control/ Got an urge I wanna purge/ ’cause I’m losing control,” it’s essentially the Devo philosophy at work, the same one that would drive and inspire the band’s influential output to come. Consider it the launching point where the band’s collegial smarts and punk attitude crashed head on. -Ryan Bray

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aphex twin windowlicker Top 100 Songs Ever: 100 5192. Aphex Twin – “Windowlicker”

“Windowlicker”, 1999

Much of the DNA in the recent boom of electronic music traces back to Richard D. James and this song in particular – which remains his most influential work. James has always been a master at seamlessly shifting between disparate styles of electronic, and “Windowlicker” is the prime example of his prowess. From subtle ambient sections to rigid break-beat segments, it manages to be fun, creepy and beautiful all at the same time. Perhaps the most experimental song to ever chart in a major country (reaching #16 in the UK), “Windowlicker” has an inexplicable ability to draw people in, and will be doing so for years and years to come. -Carson O’Shoney

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funkadelic one nation under a groove Top 100 Songs Ever: 100 5191. Funkadelic – “One Nation Under a Groove”

One Nation Under a Grove, 1978

“One Nation Under a Groove” reflects George Clinton at the peak of his social and political consciousness. With lyrics superficially speaking to the liberating power of dance and shouts to James Brown’s “Get On the Good Foot”, Clinton connects his own rally cry of positivity and acceptance with the Godfather’s message of unity through music. Beyond such literal interpretation, the song is reveled as one of Clinton’s most spiritually fulfilled songs. Aside from the obvious groove/God substitution, the song is laden with images of a universal consciousness. From the song’s opening lyric (taken from the gospel hymnal “So High”) to the shepherding hand of the groove (“Gonna be freakin’ up and down Hang-Up Alley Way with the groove our only guide”) to simply “getting down on the one which we believe in,” Clinton brought the pulpit to the dancefloor and nobody was the wiser. -Len Comaratta

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July 17, 2014 at 10:58 pm

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May 22, 2014 at 2:47 pm

Way to completely ignore metal

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Holiday Kirk
October 14, 2012 at 10:22 pm

I dont know the pitch of “Is that your chick” but believe me when I say I do remember the pitch of “WHOS THAT BIIIITCH!”

Big Al
September 27, 2012 at 12:51 am

Did y’all sub-contract the review for Baba O’Riley? “Those three famous descending guitar chords” are made by a piano. No guitar noise until 1:49.

Al McLeod
September 26, 2012 at 4:28 am

Very interesting list. Every top 100 list will cause some to say why this not that but a good effort here. My two cents would be PJ Harvey, down by the water, why this and not the song with the lyric “I’m sucking ’til I’m white, but you leave me dry.” Something to ponder. I’ll leave it to you to find that song and you’ll thank me for it.

September 25, 2012 at 8:41 pm

How old isthemselction committee. This list is a joke….

September 24, 2012 at 8:29 pm

Good lost, though if you’re going to take Nine Inch Nails and Trent Reznor out for Hurt, you should at least put them back in for Closer. That song was nuts and still entrances me.

Kevin Monahan
September 23, 2012 at 7:55 am

Great stuf! Would like to add you as a link to my new blog

Jaimeson Alexander Hall
September 22, 2012 at 12:37 pm

Made a playlist of 1-100 on Spotify:

Robert Ham
September 21, 2012 at 6:00 pm

Friends….you need a real editor. BADLY. This is the most shoddily written batch of appraisals for some otherwise great songs. I sincerely wish I could take a virtual red pen to this whole goddamn mess.

Jon Gronsdahl
September 21, 2012 at 3:48 am

Love it

Blah Blah Blah
September 20, 2012 at 11:23 pm

Better be some RHCP in the top 50

September 20, 2012 at 10:57 pm

This is a list. It’s not some stupid Rolling Stone list where you see the same artists about 15 times. There are some songs that I never knew about and now I really like them.

September 20, 2012 at 1:27 pm

Great list so far! I would have liked to see comfortably numb a little higher. Eager to see where radiohead led zeppelin and the Beatles will end up on this list!

September 20, 2012 at 10:25 am

Many surprising choices and placements. I can’t think of any major complaints so far. So, you know, good work.

Andy Johnson
September 20, 2012 at 2:13 am

ignition remix better be in the top 50 or else this entire list is moot

September 20, 2012 at 10:24 am

As long as Chris Bosman is working for CoS, “Ignition Remix” will be in every “Best of” list forever.


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