24 April 2007

40 songs that changed the world?

Rolling Stone recently released another self-celebratory anniversary issue. To commemorate their staunch place in middle age, the editors put together a weakly defended list of 40 songs "that changed the world."

To the magazine's credit, at least this humbly titled list did not include any overt self-references at the top (Dylan's "Like A Rolling Stone" was chosen as "The #1 Song of All Time" by the magazine) although they are still included nonetheless. Such an exercise in pretention goes beyond simple self-praise to become so masturbatory I imagine the editors had a hard time typing up the list with so much semen on the keyboard.

There's plenty else to nitpick, however, particularly the bottom two choices. By definition, songs/albums/artists less than 10 years old are not world-changing. Regardless of how great or revolutionary they might eventually be regarded as, they currently have not been around long enough to show any strong, lasting influence. Girl-rap groups like Salt-n-Pepa or TLC were just as if not more popular in the 1990s as minimalist Detroit rock is today, but the their popularity did not sustain any lasting influence.

Audiophile already noted the lack of truly groundbreaking artists such as Woody Guthrie or "seminal moments in rap" such as N.W.A. To that I'd add the global influences of music: the popular spread of J-pop, for example, proves that cultural trends don't strictly move from west to east.

To be truly pedantic, I have problems with specific song choices by unequivocally important artists: Bowie, Hendrix, Berry, Madonna. Is it really possible--to say less of important--to define an influential moment down to one song?

So, I present two lists of my own: 5 songs that should be removed from RS's list, and 5 more (in no order) to replace them.

Take out:
#2 "I Got A Woman," Ray Charles
#8 "Dancing in the Street," Martha & The Vandellas
#19 "Ziggy Stardust," David Bowie
#39 "Baby One More Time" Britney Spears
#40 "Fell In Love With A Girl" The White Stripes

Instead include:
"This Monkey Gone to Heaven," The Pixies
"Da Funk," Daft Punk
"Cloudbusting," Kate Bush
"Die Roboter," Kraftwerk
"Hallelujah," Jeff Buckley

Other works that have a case: "Head Like a Hole," Nine Inch Nails; "Paranoid Android," Radiohead; "Losing My Religion," R.E.M.; "Kick Out the Jams," Motor City 5, "Blue in Green," Miles Davis.

What would your picks be?

1 comment:

Jess said...

You know June, by critiquing such a list you just lend credence to an irrelevant publication :P It's best to ignore such tripe. I hate harping on the past. On with the future, I say!