Tuesday, December 8, 2009

These Gentlemen Contest: The Greatest Song Ever Written

I'd like to take a moment to direct everyone's attention back to this post.

Shortly after this was written, I came to These Gentlemen with an idea - a proposition, if you will. Just as The Heat outlined in "The Best Songs of All Time" Going off of the criteria he outlined, I put the question to my fellow Gentlemen; what would YOU qualify as the greatest songs ever written?

The answers were as varied as you might expect. Enjoying music is a purely subjective experience, but there are certain songs everyone can agree on as being exceptionally well, if not perfectly, executed by their creators. Elements of music quality, emotional content, and lyrics blend together in a unique way to form a truly unforgettable, timeless piece of art. While none of these may be particularly our favorite song, we have singled them out amongst our individual libraries as fulfilling these conditions, being as objective as we possibly could be in such a scenario.

So how does this concern you, the reader? I'll tell you how.

This will be the beginning of the first ever These Gentlemen Greatest Song Ever Written Contest. From our initial list of nearly 100 songs, we will hold a round of voting to narrow it down to a more manageable 32. Those 32 songs will then be entered into a 5-round, single-elimination tournament which you, the reader, will determine the winner of based on your write-in votes.

Before we get started, I'm going to post the list of what we'll be choosing from up here for everyone to see. Then, some time will be given for the Gentlemen to familiarize themselves with the songs they might not know. When that's done, we'll narrow down our list, and the tournament brackets will be announced. So start commenting now, you may just sway some opinions ahead of the vote.

Without further ado, the These Gentlemen list of candidates for Greatest Song Ever Written:

1) "#1" by Goldfrapp
2) "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" by Marvin Gaye
3) "Ain't No Sunshine" by Bill Withers
4) "A Milli" by Lil Wayne
5) "Another Travelin' Song" by Bright Eyes
6) "Apparitions" by The Matthew Good Band
7) "Baudelaire" by . . . and You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead
8) "Beast of Burden" by The Rolling Stones
9) "Be Thankful For What You Got" by Massive Attack
10) "Billie Jean" by Michael Jackson
11) "Bizarre Love Triangle" by New Order
12) "Blind" by Hercules and Love Affair
13) "Blueberry Hill" by Fats Domino
14) "Born in the U.S.A." by Bruce Springsteen
15) "Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 in G" by Johann Sebastian Bach
16) "Build Me Up, Buttercup" by The Foundations
17) "Canon in D Major" by Pachelbel
18) "Cannonball" by Damien Rice
19) "Carry On My Wayward Son" by Kansas
20) "Cassandra Gemini" by The Mars Volta
21) "Clair de Lune" by Claude Debussy
22) "Comfortably Numb" by Pink Floyd
23) "Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground" by The White Stripes
24) "District Sleeps Alone Tonight" by The Postal Service
25) "(Don't Fear) The Reaper" by The Blue Oyster Cult
26) "Don't Stop Believing" by Journey
27) "El Scorcho" by Weezer
28) "Feel Good Revolution" by Bright Eyes
29) "Fireworks" by The Animal Collective
30) "Float On" by Modest Mouse
31) "Funky but Chic" by David Johansen
32) "Georgia On My Mind" by Ray Charles
33) "God Only Knows" by The Beach Boys
34) "Gonna Fly Now" by Bill Conti
35) "Good Vibrations" by The Beach Boys
36) "Got to Get You Into My Life" by The Beatles
37) "Hallelujah" by Jeff Buckley
38) "Heart of Glass" by Blondie
39) "Heroine" by The Velvet Underground
40) "Holiday" by Weezer
41) "Home" by Marc Broussard
42) "Hurricane" by Bob Dylan
43) "Imagine" by John Lennon
44) "I'm Yours" by Jason Mraz
45) "In My Life" by The Beatles
46) "I Only Have Eyes For You" by The Flamingos
47) "I Think We're Alone Now" by Tommy James and the Shondells
48) "I Want You Back" by The Jackson 5
49) "Juicy" by The Notorious B.I.G.
50) "Just a Girl" by No Doubt
51) "Killing Me Softly" by Roberta Flack
52) "Leaving on a Jet Plane" by John Denver
53) "Love Song" by The Cure
54) "Maiden Voyage" by Herbie Hancock
55) "Margaritaville" by Jimmy Buffett
56) "Marrakesh Express" by Crosby, Stills, and Nash
57) "Mas, Que Nada" by Jorge Ben
58) "Midnight Train to Georgia" by Gladys Knight
59) "Moondance" by Van Morrison
60) "Moon River" by Henry Mancini
61) "More Adventurous" by Rilo Kiley
62) "Music Sounds Better With You" by Stardust
63) "Nemo's Egg" by Thomas Newman
64) "Night and Day" by Cole Porter
65) "Over the Hills and Far Away" by Led Zeppelin
66) "Poison" by Bell Biv Devoe
67) "Renegade" by Styx
68) "Revolution" by The Beatles
69) "Roadrunner" by Jonathan Richman
70) "Samson" by Regina Spektor
71) "Shelter" by Ray Lamontagne
72) "Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay" by Otis Redding
73) "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" by Israel Kamakawiwo'ole
74) "Superstition" by Stevie Wonder
75) "Tangled Up In Blue" by Bob Dylan
76) "The City" by D Plan
77) "The Way I Feel Inside" by The Zombies
78) "Thirteen" by Big Star
79) "Ticket to Ride" by The Beatles
80) "Time is Tight" by Booker T and the MGs
81) "Trapeze Swinger" by Iron & Wine
82) "Under Pressure" by David Bowie & Queen
83) "Wake Up" by The Arcade Fire
84) "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" by Wham!
85) "Walk the Line" by Johnny Cash
86) "Waterloo Sunset" by The Kinks
87) "Wave" by Antonio Carlos Jobim
88) "What's Love Got to do With it" by Tina Turner
89) "Where it's At" by Beck
90) "Wherever I May Roam" by Metallica
91) "Whistling in the Dark" by They Might Be Giants
92) "Wonderwall" by Oasis
93) "Won't Get Fooled Again" by The Who
94) "Worked Up So Sexual" by The Faint
95) "Wouldn't it be Nice" by The Beach Boys
96) "You Can Call Me Al" by Paul Simon
97) "You Shook Me All Night Long" by AC/DC

97 songs have entered! Only 32 songs will leave! Keep reading to find out which of these will make into our first ever Greatest Song Ever Written Contest, and make your thoughts known now!


Max Nova said...

Part of me hopes the person who chose "A Milli" also selected "Heroine."

Daniel said...

"The" Animal Collective! Yes!

Matt Lindeboom said...

I'm glad to see Bob Dylan, because I didn't add him myself and I was feeling a little bit bad about it.

Alex said...

Wow... I can't believe that I wasn't the one to throw in They Might Be Giants.

And ditto to Lindeboom.

Ozkirbas said...
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Ozkirbas said...

Yeah, if I had been more focused, I would have added "All Along the Watchtower."

B.Graham said...

I'm going to have to get to work a'familiarizin. YouTube, here I come!

Jackie said...

As a collective you guys have a pretty eccentric music taste. Sadly its still very limited in terms of genre and doesn't branch too far from the safety of "Stuff white people like". Shrug. I'm just saying I wish there was more variety in a list of "Best Songs of All Time".

Ozkirbas said...

Suggestions? I mean, I could have thrown in some tuvan throat singing or something with a digeridoo, but. sadly, I haven't really been exposed to much

Jason Heat said...

@ Jackie - I hear you in terms of the lack of diversity cross genre (full disclosure - I did not participate) - but I disgree with the dismissal category of 'stuff white people like'

People picked their selections according to their personal aesthetic criteria - I notice a distinct lack of Country, Modern Pop, Folk, or even Showtunes - all stereotypically 'white' music as well. A different group would have picked different music, and a wider sample of people would have created a much more comprehensive and maybe more accurate list of The Greatest Songs of All Time - but I don't see race being the primary factor behind the aesthetic similarities of this group.

Alex said...

I specifically stayed away from show tunes just because of the criteria for song selection. And really, I didn't even send in a list of my favorite songs.

Max Nova said...

I could have done 10 brazillian songs but reined it in.

Go listen to Jorge Ben.

Matt Lindeboom said...

I'm pretty white.

ali d said...

Like Alex said, I definitely didn't send in a list of my favorite songs. There was a definitive criteria for our list that I didn't feel included my favorites. Otherwise my list would have been mostly Disney and country music. And I in no way felt that my list of 10 included all of the songs that I think encompass the criteria from Jason's initial post, but I was excited to eat pancakes while I was coming up with it, so I picked the first 10 that came to mind and seemed to fit.

I mean, it's all subjective. We the blog members have discussed that multiple times. And let's face it, we are a bunch of 20-something suburban white kids. I'd love to hear the songs you would have added to lend it the diversity that you crave, Jackie.

But more importantly, to quote the delectable B. Graham: "It's a fun silly contest... There's no such thing as "The Greatest Song Ever." Relax, guys!"

Jackie said...

I think you all took my comment a bit too personal. Like Ali said, These Gentlemen are "a bunch of 20-something suburban white kids". Most of you have the same background and interest, its no wonder that most of the songs can fit in the same box. Sure you could of faked it for diversities sake and added "10 brazilian songs". I'm just saying if you guys really are trying to get a broad readership then someone has got to branch out or get a more diverse writer base. Take it as constructive criticism not an affront on who you are. No need to be snarkie/defensive because that certainly isn't the way to get more people to read.

David Pratt said...

I disagree somewhat vehemently.

There's a mixture of rock both new and old, hip-hop, rap, pop and indy music, some international music, two symphonies, and some stuff that I don't even know about. I'll agree that there is a larger sampling of alt/pop rock recorded in the last 20 years than any other grouping, but to marginalize the selection as "music white people like" seems very dismissive of not only some legitimately great music, but also the variety of people who enjoy it.

That said, did you have any ideas of what else could have gone on there which would fit the criteria?

David Pratt said...

Of course, all defense of genre and taste aside, my older brother has informed me "at least 35 songs on this list are used to extract information from prisoners."

B.Graham said...

You guys I'm so delectable right now!

Also, David you(r brother) made my day.

Jackie said...

Answering the question of greatest song of all time is easy David. It's "Happy Birthday". It's been around longer then any song on this list will ever be around and will continue to be around. It's known internationally and has been translated into countless languages. It crosses barriers between race, sexuality, religion, economic standings and all that other hub bub. Most people can identify with the song as they are having a birthday and want it to be a good one [I say most people because I know there are scrooges out there that are going to say, "I hate birthdays nah nah nah nah nah"]. Happy Birthday has been changed and variations have been added but the core of the song is still the same.

And David, two or three songs from a limited handful of genres does not mean its not "stuff white people like". Besides white people like rap and hip hop and international music too. My comment was meant to underline the fact that you hit your target audience on the head. 20 something privileged white kids. Why you're offended by this I have no idea. It's not a bad thing but rather a wake up call. You can either decide that is the target audience you want and continue in the direction you are heading or you can change it. Pretty much, the blog needs to stop pretending you are something that you're not. If you want to be diverse then actually be diverse. If you are comfortable being a blog geared towards your current target audience then stop being so angry when someone calls you out on it.

B.Graham said...

I think I'm just gonna be myself and hope everybody likes me... because if I make an effort to be "global" I'll probably just end up alienating people, and that's just not what I want.

So, I hope you guys like They Might Be Giants...

Ozkirbas said...

1) I actually wanted suggestions of songs, other than Happy Birthday, that wouldn't qualify as either A) Stuff white people like or B) Stuff over privileged white kids like. I'm fully willing to expand my horizons if I'm provided the opportunity

2) What don't white people like?

3)This is totally unrelated

Anyone like flash animation?

I've been following this guy for sometime and he just posted his latest video. He's a brilliant animator and creator, and definitely worth a look.

4) Why isn't the blog"Stuff Black People Like" popular?

Jason Heat said...


I don't think we are or have ever pretended to be anything we're not - I know I certainly haven't, and I give credit to the other writers as well. You approach us, much like everyone does, through your own filter - and if our content doesn't either consistently, or at times, meet your needs that's unfortunate, but is what it is.

I think to say that we should gear ourselves towards a 'target audience' of 'privileged white kids' is limited and dismissive. I don't write with race in mind, nor economic class (other than the assumption the reader has a computer), or a plethora of other categories - I write to whoever happens to be interested, primarily myself, and make no assumptions as to who will or won't enjoy. The lens through which you approach us as a reader does not even enter my thoughts as a writer - whereas others do.

ali d said...
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David Pratt said...

Alright, so. First point is that there are 3 songs on this list which predate "Happy Birthday," which is in fact less than 100 years old. It's also translated mainly into only European languages (also, about 20 or so, which is far from countless - I can count to 20), so . . . it's stuff white people like.

Secondly, to suggest a song is the "best song ever written" simply because it is very popular completely misses the point of the criteria laid out for the sake of this contest.

Third point, I disagree in the strongest possible terms with assigning any kind of racial or economic status to the enjoyment of music. Are you suggesting black people wouldn't enjoy our song choices? Would people in Brazil not be able to relate to the content? Yes, there is a distinct lack of J-Pop and Native American tribal chants in our selection. If this list had been done by a different group the songs would be different based upon their exposure to music. However, that does not in any way preclude their song choices in this purely subjective field from being completely valid - just as all of ours are. Enjoyment of music is not limited to any one race or class, and to qualify the music (which I still say you are insanely generalizing and ignoring a wide variety of what is up on this list) as things only enjoyed by white kids of a particular age and background is, in my opinion, nothing short of absurd.

And finally, you came to the blog and marginalized the entire contest. Then, in the same breath as you used to ask why we were so upset about that, you extended that marginalization to the entire blog. So yes, that is upsetting. Here's a protip for you: It's not a wake-up call if you're completely wrong.

Stephen said...

Yes yes, but Brandenburg No. 3 has not been translated into as many languages as Happy Birthday.

Jackie said...

My main issue with this post can be found in the title alone. A better title that reflects the choosen music should be something along the lines of "music we'd never change the station if it was on the radio". You all are much more clever then me when it comes to writing so I'm sure you could do better. Then maybe there wouldn't be so much confusion. Cause generally when I hear "greatest song of all time" I do think it's based on popularity.

B.Graham said...

Experiencing Listener's Remorse: I really wish I had put Lupe Fiasco - "Little Weapon" on here.