Monday, June 11, 2012

The A-List: Rock Songs That Everyone Should Know By Now

Music is a very subjective experience, both personal and collectively.  It sometimes inspires, but mainly we listen because we just like the sound of a song.  Most of us grew up listening to the radio, and the radio told us what we were supposed to like by playing what they liked.  I would love to be able to say otherwise, that the DJs played an expansive list of new and old music so that their listeners would have a well-rounded musical experience, but that would be a lie.  Radio stations have always played whatever they think we will buy. If we liked the song, they played it more.  

As a consequence of this, some songs got played over and over,  eleventy-billion times.  Even if we did not want to, even if we did not particularly like the song, we often found ourselves humming along.   By sheer repetition, those songs crept into our consciousness, and have resisted removal, despite our current Disney-fied ways.  By virtue of repetition, then, there are some songs that everyone who listens to the radio, watches television, or hits the movie theater should have heard by now. 

These songs have been submerged into our culture just because we've heard them so many times.  I would bet good money that most of us could identify these songs pretty quickly, if we were playing Name That Tune.  These are not necessarily songs that I love or hate.  I am certainly not so pretentious as to think I have the ultimate list, and there's a good probability that I will change my mind by next week.  Feel free to add yours in the comments.   Except for "Sweet Child O' Mine", because I do hate that song with the passion of a thousand white-hot suns.   It is an ear-worm of plague proportions, and all copies of that song should be destroyed.   

1.  Bohemian Rhapsody--Queen    I love Queen.  Freddy Mercury was just a phenomenal vocalist, without the aid of Auto-tune.  This song has been featured in movies, and on Glee,  and it is still in heavy rotation on radio stations world-wide.  I don't think that it is the very best Queen song ever, but it is still very clever.

2.  You Shook Me All Night Long--AC/DC   There are a few AC/DC songs out there that are pretty popular, and many of them are easily recognized, like the intro to Highway to Hell(featured on Glee, of all places), Back in BlackFor Those About To Rock, etc.  You Shook Me All Night Long is a perennial party favorite, and I've not only heard it played on radio stations, but also at weddings, country bars, and street parties.  People still seem to want to dance when they hear it, at least in these parts.

3.  Layla  Eric Clapton(Derek and the Dominoes)    Eric Clapton is probably the best guitar player living today, and no, I do not want to argue about how Hendrix was better.    This song has not only been played on the radio every day since it was released, it's also been featured in movies like Goodfellas.  My husband feels that Sunshine of Your Love is a better representation of Clapton's genius, but unfortunately, this isn't a list about genius. 

4.  Iron Man--Black Sabbath   When I was growing up, Black Sabbath was considered devil music.  Which was just plain ignorant and silly, now that I am an adult and have listened to Taylor Swift(I kid!).  A song about a man made out of iron is devil music?  Pfft.  Hmmm...a man made out of iron...say, isn't there a movie about that?   

5.  Stairway to Heaven--Led Zeppelin   There is a reason that the movie Wayne's World discussed the "No Stairway to Heaven" rule in the guitar shop scene.  While this is certainly not Led Zeppelin's best work, it seemed to explode in popularity for some reason.  I don't even think that the record execs expected it to be so popular.  But the intro to this song should be as familiar to everyone as the names of their children.


  1. Wooooo hooooooooo!! Loved this..but...don't hate me, 4 and 5 were never faves of mine...what about Bruce Springsteen's "Born To Run", "Dream On" by Aerosmith?

    1. I don't hate you! You are right about those two songs.

  2. I LOVE Queen and you are right Bohemian Rapsody is the "word" when it comes to them. I'm not a Black Sabath fan either and do agree wight Dream On but we all have our lists, don't we? Great post on a Monday morning?

    1. Thank you, ma'am! My list is certainly not would be wayyy longer!

  3. You're right - if you're my age and you don't know these songs by now, you need to take your medication and go back to your padded cell. Bohemian Rhapsody also qualifies as the least successful karaoke song of all time!!! Downunder (HOME of AC/DC) 'It's a long way to the top' is probably even more well known, as is Men At Work's 'I come from a land downunder'. My all time HATE song is Whitney singing I will always love you with those extraordinarily irritating vocal gymnastics, closely followed by Annie Lennox 'Must be talking to an Angel'! Maybe Be-el-ze-bub has a hold of me after all ...


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