Saturday, July 26, 2008

The 50 Greatest Love Songs of All Time, Pt. 4

20. "Burning Love", Elvis Presley--First put to tape by Arthur Alexander in 1971, then claimed for the ages a year later by the once-King. Hearkens to his salad days as heavenly messenger, with hellish imagery thrown in.

19. "Crazy Little Thing Called Love", Queen--From Elvis to Elvis-influenced rockabilly. Done by English dudes. Flawlessly. And leave it to Freddie Mercury, Our Lady of the Eternal Ego, to drop a shout out to himself in a love song.

18. "Nothing Compares 2 U", Sinead O'Connor--Written by Prince, but Sinead rented to own. Immaculate performance, indelible imagery, a minimalist joy. Perfect to bawl to.

17. "Sweet Love", Anita Baker--Modern R&B sucks. It has no heart, no soul, no brain, and an insane compulsion to seek the cred that only shitty pop rappers can provide. The sentiment of "Sweet Love" is cliche, sure; I'm not claiming that eighties music was straight outta Faulkner, crazy father-griever named Emily. But the vocalists then tended to emote (without vocoders, thanks) and the producers actually sought to compose.

16. "So Far Away", Carole King--Tapestry owned the collective heart and mind of the seventies woman. Intelligence, heart and playfulness--Carole King displayed all three traits in spades, enough to affect the lives of millions. For a song so utterly stripped of the joy of romance, I'm always happy to hear it, because the distance isn't eternal.

15. "Superstar", the Carpenters--Originally a groupies lament, Richard Carpenter changed a lyric (from "I can hardly wait to sleep with you again"), lacquered up the sound, and placed the rest in the dependable hands of his sister. One take later, a hit. Would probably be top 10 if Richard didn't insist on chiming in.

14. "Don't Change", INXS--The definition of "anthemic", and all other songs that would be labelled such must be held up to the lofty standards set by the hymnal to propulsive and back again structure, the ambulance wail of the chorus (one of the greatest hooks in pop music history) and the earnest, universal pleading of the lyrics. How did this not rule radio in 1982? Why were the airwaves saturated with the putrid likes of "Open Arms" instead? "Don't Change" still makes me want to punch cinderblocks into pebbles with all the joy of a child opening Christmas presents.

13. "Things We Said Today", the Beatles--One of the most underrated Beatles songs ever, and yes such a thing is possible. You never see this one on any top Beatles songs list, but meanwhile there's "Across the Universe" on every damn poll. You know how this song is better than that one? McCartney knew how to record vocals, for one.

12. "Magic", Olivia Newton-John--Sappy and simple guitar and synth over a mid-tempo slink that signifies glossy Aussie pop as up in here. Those strings? Uncalled for like extra syrup on a stack of waffles.

11. "I Feel Love", Donna Summer--Coke spoons and mirror balls replace wine and candlelight. Love as a hedonistic, paranormal experience.

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