Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Greatest Song Ever Written Contest 2010: Round One

It has begun. From our initial list, the contenders have been narrowed down to 32 songs which will compete for the title of "Best Song Ever Written."

I'd like to take this moment to remind everybody that the emphasis is on the "Written" portion. This isn't about popularity or commercial success or notoriety. This is about the quality of the work from the most objective point of view possible when examining music. Does the quality of the music supplement and enrich the lyrics, if there are any? Do those lyrics reach out across generational and cultural gaps? Could anyone, at any place, at any time, listen to this song and grasp its meaning? Will it age itself into irrelevance, or will the tune truly become timeless?

In the next 5 rounds of competition, that is what you, the reader, will decide. The contest is now out of the hands of These Gentlemen and into yours. Each week, the votes will be released and the list reduced by half until a clear winner emerges. That song will be declared the Best Song Ever Written.

To vote, simply send an e-mail to TGSongContest@gmail.com with "Song Contest" in the title line. All you need to do is list the name of the song you're voting for. No more than one vote per person, per bracket. That means this week you can vote for 16 songs, next week 8, and so on and so forth.

Now, I present to you the songs which will contend in this, the opening round of the very first These Gentlemen Greatest Song Ever Written Contest! Take the time to listen, think carefully, and get your votes in by Tuesday, January 13th at midnight.

Off we go!


1st Bracket:

"Wake Up" by The Arcade Fire
"Music Sounds Better With You" by Stardust

2nd Bracket:

"Renegade" by Styx
"Hallelujah" by Jeff Buckley

3rd Bracket:

"Ain't No Sunshine" by Bill Withers
"In My Life" by The Beatles

4th Bracket:

"Just a Girl" by No Doubt
"Moon River" by Henri Mancini

5th Bracket:

"Roadrunner" by The Modern Lovers
"Somewhere Over the Rainbow" by Israel Kamakawiwo'ole

6th Bracket:

"I Only Have Eyes For You" by The Flamingos
"Wonderwall" by Oasis

7th Bracket:

"Build Me Up, Buttercup" by The Foundations
"Don't Stop Believing" by Journey

8th Bracket:

"Leaving on a Jet Plane" by John Denver
"Billie Jean" by Michael Jackson

9th Bracket:

"Love Song" by The Cure
"Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" by Wham!

10th Bracket:

"Juicy" by The Notorious B.I.G.
"Born In the U.S.A." by Bruce Springsteen

11th Bracket:

"Under Pressure" by Queen & David Bowie
"God Only Knows" by The Beach Boys

12th Bracket:

"Superstition" by Stevie Wonder
"Tangled Up in Blue" by Bob Dylan

13th Bracket:

"Clair de Lune" by Claude Debussy
"Dock of the Bay" by Otis Redding

14th Bracket:

"Walk the Line" by Johnny Cash
"Comfortably Numb" by Pink Floyd

15th Bracket:

"I Want You Back" by The Jackson 5
"Moondance" by Van Morrison

16th Bracket:

"Georgia On My Mind" by Ray Charles
"Imagine" by John Lennon


Christian said...

This list sucks and I refuse to vote.

David Pratt said...

Some day, Christian, you will learn more than hate.

Ryan said...

Sorry champ, but Hallelujah was written by Leonard Cohen, not Jeff Buckley.

ali d said...

It must have been the Jeff Buckley version that got nominated over the Leonard Cohen version. It's legit.

David Pratt said...

Yes it was, but Jeff Buckley's rendition of it is the one that was determined to fit the criteria, much like Israel Kamakawiwo'ole's performance of Somewhere Over the Rainbow.

Ozkirbas said...

Pssh. I say Renegade wins by default

dropslash said...

Was "More Than A Feeling" by Boston left off the list because it's already understood to be the Greatest Song Ever Written? This is like a 2nd place thing, right?

Dialectric said...

1) You emphasize "written." And then you ignore who wrote it? In fact, one of the things that gauges a songs "immortality" is whether it BECOMES a standard, and recorded by successive generations who find new relevance to mine. But that STILL doesn't make Hallelujah Buckley's, and as much as I like the recording (maybe you mean best RECORDING ever?) I'll still take Cohen's raspy wail over the Shrektone any day and twice on Sunday.
2) Ummm... I don't wanna hate, but Christian has kind of a point here. This is a VERY strange list... I am curious as to how it was compiled. Even more curious as to how it was bracketed.

Dialectric said...

And seriously, Renegade isn't even a GOOD Styx song.

Dialectric said...

And by the way - as long as we're picking holes in your methodology - Leaving on a Jet Plane by Bob Denver? Has anyone even heard it? You have to make up your mind whether you are crediting the song, as a piece of musical literature, or the recording, as a treatment of the song.

I'll vote later, after I get the disappointed dad look off my face.

David Pratt said...

"Well-written," as pertains to music, encompasses both the lyrical and musical content. If the lyrics are great but it sounds terrible, the meaning gets lost. I would nominate Johnny Cash's version of "Hurt" over Nine Inch Nails because the former is powerful, heart-wrenching, and moving, whereas the latter, which has all the same words and was performed first, is whiny and annoying.

The cover/remakes that are on this list spoke to the contributors in ways that the originals did not, thus they were included.

Max Nova said...

I hate that version of "somewhere over the rainbow" more than I hate duke.

A lot of good brackets, though. 9-16 seems to have a lot of heavy hitters.

Ozkirbas said...

And, Renegade is awesome

chibent said...

@Dialectric: I too was a bit confused at the inclusion of covers in a "Greatest Song Ever WRITTEN" contest. So in my mind, it's the "Greatest Song Ever Written, Arranged, and Recorded." (Really, I just like internet voting.)

One could make the argument that the very existence of covers gives a song a boost toward "Best Ever Written." I currently own 42 covers of LC's "Hallelujah," not counting his own recordings. The fact that so many artists chose to record this song surely speaks well for the song itself.

chibent said...

Incidentally, John Denver's recording of "Leaving on a Jet Plane" is actually my favorite version. I adore both his writing and his performance. No accounting for taste, eh? :)

nevie said...

is the focus on "hallelujah" and ignoring "over the rainbow" (which is the actual copyrighted name of the song that Kamakawiwo'ole chose to change) because Kamakawiwo'ole's version is a different melody and arrangement, though the same lyrics? because i like his version, but the original arrangement is better.

and yes i copy-pasted his last name both times.

David Pratt said...

Needs more votes!