Which group of 60 had the best lyrics?
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It was published on March 13, 2014, the no less than 700th edition of the Musikexpress. And it was tough: we had a prominent jury of tens of musicians such as Lana Del Rey, Mark Lanegan, Danger Mouse, Marteria, Thees Uhlmann, Judith Holofernes, WhoMadeWho as well as authors, journalists and experts from other magazines, daily newspapers and radio stations and record labels asked for their all-time favorite songs. The result of painstaking detailed work was nothing less than a list with the 700 best songs of all time including lyrics for each (!) Of these songs, and we have gradually presented this list to you online at Musikexpress.de/700.
Here is an overview of the individual parts of our "700 best songs of all time":
And here come after our places 700 to 651, 650 to 601, 600 to 551, 550 to 501, 500 to 451, 450 to 401, 400 to 351, 350 to 301, 300 to 251, 250 to 201, 200 to 151, 150 to 101, 100 to 51 and 50 to 11 now our places 10 to 1 in detail:
10. The Clash - "London Calling"
With “London Calling” Joe Strummer and Mick Jones succeeded in creating a title which, with its staccato chords and spoken chant, had to become a highly emotional, emphatic hymn. The title - based on the news broadcasts of the BBC in World War II with the recognition call "This is London calling" - also works because the description of reality at the end of the 70s was hardly ever so succinctly and accurately put into words (and rhythm): Whether it is the fear of an approaching nuclear catastrophe, the warning of famine, the banning of police weapons or the current flood disaster in England, the song seems threateningly realistic.
Unlike the internationally accepted stadium anthem “You’ll Never Walk Alone”, it does not yet have the potential to become a cross-border super hit. The title alone does not raise the associated album to the work of the century. Rather, it is the daring fusion of rock, pop, jazz and reggae. The topics of the clash are still on the agenda, whether in London, Cairo, Kiev or Hamburg. The "financial center" London seems to continue to function. And English football is alive: the London clubs in particular have been calling for players from Germany in recent years. Podolski & Co and last but not least Felix Magath have answered the call for money (and recognition). Perhaps they will also discover the social upheavals on the island - and the song from The Clash that goes with it.
9. Leonard Cohen - "Hallelujah"
The story of "Hallelujah" is as elegiac as the song itself. As one of many titles on "Various Positions", an album by Leonard Cohen, it did not generate a particular response. That only happened when Jeff Buckley recorded the song in 1994 for his album "Grace" and made it famous, based on a lyrically altered version by John Cale that he recorded for "I'm Your Fan". again a tribute album for Leonard Cohen. Jeff Buckley's musically clearer version (without this keyboard) was released as a single in 2007. A total of over 300 official cover versions are known.
Which is not surprising, "Hallelujah" sounds like a folk song that should have been around forever. Cohen himself, more and more a poet than a musician, struggled for years with his composition and is said to have written 80 verses for it, of which only four remained in the end. In fact, in the third line of the text, there is already a barb that cannot be let go: “But you don't really care for music, do you?” Is simply a sentence from the mouth of a Cohen or Buckley or Cale that is fundamentally sad screams for dissolution - and she gets. Hallelujah.
8. David Bowie - "Heroes"
King Crimson man Robert Fripp only needs two notes for the hypnotic guitar figure that runs through the stanzas of Bowie's love song about two alcoholics. It would not have been possible without this minimalism. Suddenly, after the fascinating numbness of its predecessor LOW, Bowie had this chunk of emotion in his hand, the grandiosity of which he tried to save from the threatening pathos with the soothing quotation marks in the title. The attraction of this hymn lies in the friction between sparse heroin chic and the bombastic wall of sound. Perhaps Bowie and co-writer Brian Eno chose this recording technique out of a love of metaphor. After all, Heroes is at the heart of Bowie's trilogy about the divided city of Berlin:
"I can remember standing by the wall / And the guns shot above our heads / And we kissed / As though nothing could fall." In 2003, Bowie made it clear that the idea for the two mysterious lovers came from a secret affair of his - then married - Producer Tony Visconti came with the backing singer Antonia Maaß.
7. Nirvana - "Smells Like Teen Spirit"
If you took a closer look, you recognized it early on: The wildly devil Guns N’Roses, celebrated as the savior of rock, were ultimately only part of the problem, part of the show. By the end of the seventies, rock'n'roll had already lost the ability to at least make people feel that they knew something about their fears and abysses. Hollow that thing. But then MTV took “Smells Like Teen Spirit” into the program, a hymn about the disillusionment that seemed to draw its tremendous strength from precisely this.
"I feel stupid and contagious / Here we are now, entertain us", yelled a blond shag with tilted head from the television. And even before Kurt Cobain shot himself in the head, people wanted to believe him.
This truthfulness is only half the explanation why this song, which neither the band nor their new record company expected to be successful, drew such circles: The band Nirvana showed their great talent here, courageously using simple but drastic means Of all things, with their first major release at the zenith. The song's secret is its dynamism. The explosiveness of "Smells Like Teen Spirit" is created by the hotties of the "More Than A Feeling" riff stolen from the classic rock band Boston and the bloodcurdling screams of the Pixies fan Kurt Cobain, by the melancholy of the almost already ridiculously simple arranged verse and the brute force of the chorus, through the simple juxtaposition of loud and quiet. “Smells Like Teen Spirit” turned out to be as clear as possible: Even someone who doesn't speak a word of English understands what this song is about.
6. The Beach Boys - "God Only Knows"
"I may not always love you." As the first line. In a love song. Even if something like the resolution follows in the following words: That was for a pop band in the 1960s ... well, unusual.
Perhaps “God Only Knows” is the song that most closely stands for that trait of the album PET SOUNDS to leave the past behind completely, not only in terms of the technical, the work in the studio and with melodies, but also in terms of things Content: "God Only Knows" is a spiritual song. "The best that has ever been written," Paul McCartney once said. It is of course not a typical pop song, it deviates from the norm in too many nooks and crannies. Like seven other songs on PET SOUNDS, the lyrics were written by Tony Asher, a copywriter who otherwise left little mark on contemporary pop. Brian Wilson, who had recently stopped touring with his band and preferred to work in the studio, did the rest.
He did a masterful job: the music is structurally far removed from what was customary at the time, plays with additional bass undertones, instrumental and vocal parts and ends in a canon. A French horn plays part of the hook, and harpsichord and glockenspiel can be heard in the background. Brian Wilson left the lead vocals to his brother Carl, who was just 19 years old at the time - he only appears in the backing vocals.
5. The Smiths - "There Is A Light That Never Goes Out"
You dear Who last managed to combine Weltschmerz and lovesickness in such a melodic-melancholy way? The Smiths several times. Here, on “There Is A Light That Never Goes Out”, grief subscriber Morrissey takes us on a trip that most of us have already booked ourselves. A youthful drama of longing unfolds, until at the 1:02 minute mark a multi-story bus makes the protagonist's heartfelt wish for closeness and affection come true. After all, as a teenager you look for every conceivable escape from loneliness. Even a deeply romantic traffic accident fantasy serves as a moment of redemption.
What makes the song so inimitable is not only that it hits the puberty nerve of any unhappy lover. It is the simple picture that the title paints: a quiet light in the lonely children's room, while at night you fantasize about the colorful glow of the city. The sullen / sad interplay in Morrissey's lines of text is given an even more bittersweet tone by the synth strings and the flute melody that begins after the second verse. In addition, Johnny Marr's guitar playing - makes perfected youth trauma pop.
4. Marvin Gaye - "What's Going On"
A hymn to peace with the subtle power of an incredibly smooth arrangement. The tragedy: For Marvin Gaye, then in his early 30s, inner peace in the early 1970s was just an illusion. As an artist, husband and son, he suffered permanent crises. At his Motown label, he had lost his status as the favorite child of boss Berry Gordy, his marriage to his sister Anna threatened to fail, and the conflict with his strictly religious father continued to come to a head.
For Marvin Gaye, the musical departure of “What’s Going On” was an artistic and personal liberation: finally a song with a message far removed from the usual oaths of love; plus an instrumentation that clearly distanced itself from the stenciled Motown style and indicated the direction in which the label soon developed and which later bore the name of a Smokey Robinson song, "Quiet Storm". Gaye thanked the two authors Renaldo Benson and Al Cleveland and offered one of the best vocal performances in soul history.
Of course, "What's Going On" is a song of its time, a child of the political unrest and arbitrary police force in the United States in the early 1970s. But no matter how many years go by: the song doesn't get old. It still makes precise reference to all the injustices of this world, and anyone who hears it and watches the "daily topics" without sound can still feel this intoxicating mixture today: on the one hand, everything is in flux, on the other hand, it cannot go on like this.
And here it goes to places 3, 2 and 1 of our 700 best songs of all time!
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