#12 – Jimmy Buffett – “Fins” – (1979)

Depending on where you’re from, Jimmy Buffett is either a singer from the 1970s and 1980s or some kind of mid-life crisis savior figure. Where I’m from (and it’s mentioned in this song, much to this city’s delight), it’s definitely the latter. “Fins” only hit #35 on the Hot 100 but it remains one Buffett’s most popular songs and concert goers expect it played so they can sway when “Fins to the left, fins to the right” is sung. Like him or not (and I do), you have to admit his songs are fun. “Can’t you feel ‘em closing in honey…”

#13 – The Clash – “Train in Vain” – (1979)

London Calling just barely squeaks in as an album of the 1970s, being released in mid-December of 1979. This song is far superior than the album’s title track. Honestly, this might be my favorite Clash tune, part of which is due in part to the pop-like delivery of the lyrics. The singing here is well done – not something punk bands are especially known for. It’s fantastic.

#14 – Fleetwood Mac – “Tusk” – (1979)

Famous for its featuring of the USC marching band, “Tusk” is a drum-heavy song from the Fleetwood Mac album of the same name. The drums here outweigh everything. The lyrics seems whispered and the beat just marches on – it’s much more rock than some of their more immediately previous work. It’s a pretty awesome song with a very different feel from most of their stuff.

#15 – Michael Jackson – “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” – (1979)

This song was a turning point in Michael Jackson’s career. It was the transitional hit from little kid from the Jackson 5 to solo superstar and a little insight into what we could expect from his fantastic albums of the 1980s. It was the first song that Michael had complete creative control over and you can see what that allowed him to do. It was his first Hot 100 #1 in seven years and remains one of his best-known songs.

#16 – Kenny Loggins – “This Is It” – (1979)

The 1970s gave us soft rock. And Kenny Loggins was one of the flag-carriers. This top 15 hit (#11) is a fine example of late-70s, early-80s adult contemporary. And one reason is because it featured un-credited backing vocals from the (to me) definitive voice of 70s/80s soft rock: Michael McDonald. It also won Loggins a Grammy. This kind of music always makes me happy and reminds me of being a kid.

#17 – Van Halen – “Dance The Night Away” – (1979)

Yep. This song is ranked too high. Sorry. This was Van Halen’s first entry into the top 20 on the Hot 100 (it reached #15). This is one of my favorite Van Halen songs because as it is hard rock, the “Oooh baby baby” line sounds like straight up pop music. It’s more friendly than some of Van Halen’s later, guitar-heavy stuff – in fact, Eddie Van Halen left a guitar solo out of this song. They knew what they were doing, if it put them on the charts.

#18 – Sister Sledge – “We Are Family” – (1979)

Here’s another great disco tune (a phrase not uttered since a radio DJ said it back in early 1980). Can’t you just picture people on roller skates dancing around a rink with a disco ball above it to this #2 Hot 100 hit? Sister Sledge consisted of three sisters (guess what their last name was) from Philly and this wedding staple was their biggest hit.

#19 – Donna Summer – “Hot Stuff” – (1979)

The beginning of this sing (where the synthesizer comes in) sounds an awful lot like music from an early Sonic the Hedgehog video game on Sega Genesis. Just my opinion. This is a #1 hit from the Queen of Disco and one of the biggest hits of her career and a staple of disco (yes, disco music is in my top 21 – but why shouldn’t it be? It dominated 1979).

#20 – Electric Light Orchestra – “Don’t Bring Me Down” – (1979)

Jeff. Mother$%&*#!$. Lynne. He’s one of the best songwriters of all time and front man of ELO. Yet he isn’t a household name like other huge artists. He was in the Traveling Wilburys. This song was ELO’s biggest hit, charting at #4 on the Hot 100 and in the top ten in countries all over the world. Lynne’s singing style is on display here, hitting some high notes – something not many rockers can do.

#21 – Bad Company – “Rock ‘N’ Roll Fantasy” – (1979)

“Here come the dancers one by one… your mama’s callin’ but you’re havin’ fun…” Everyone has a rock ‘n’ roll fantasy – that’s what’s great about rock and roll music – it’s “the life” everyone wants (supposedly). This was Bad Company’s last big hit, reaching #13 on the Hot 100.


This is our new form of countdown – I couldn’t reconcile the entire 1970s (or 1960s, or 50s) into a single “Top 100 or 200″ list because the decades sort of blended together – 1969 and 1970 are very similar where 1970 and 1979 are totally different. So we’ll start with 1979 and work backwards. Only one entry per artist per year (for 1977, Fleetwood Mac would’ve had the top 10 covered if not for this rule). And why 21? Because it is evenly divisible by three of course.

3 Doors Down – “Not Enough” – (2000)

The Better Life was a huge success. It had four huge singles, three of which were #1s on the rock chart and one was a top three single on the Hot 100. This was not a single, but it did receive airplay (at least where I live) on rock radio. It’s really not that bad either, and right in line with the rest of the album. Give it a go if you don’t know it.

Sade – “Is It a Crime” – (1985)

Sade’s second album, Promises, had big shoes to fill because Diamond Life was incredible. This album had three singles and “Is It a Crime” was the third and final one. It was also the least successful of the three – and while that’s understandable considering the other two, it’s still a great song with soulful vocals, roaring sax, and haunting music. Sade is truly one of the greatest musical acts ever.

B.B. King – “Chains and Things” – (1970)

Let’s start by all agreeing that a guitar made out of a watermelon would be delicious. Indianola Mississippi Seeds was B.B. King’s 18th (!) studio album and it’s some of his finest work. The album only had eight tracks, and this was one of three charting singles. It reached #45 on the Pop Singles chart and #6 on the even-racist-for-1970 Black Singles chart (the highest position of any song on the album). Another reason this album is amazing? The people who played on it: B.B. King, Leon Russell, Carole King, and Joe Walsh, among others.

John Mayer – “Bigger Than My Body” – (2003)

Look at how young John Mayer looks in this video. This was the first single from his second studio album, Heavier Things. The album title is John being snarky at his critics that said he only wrote light, poppy songs. In a different way, this song has much more electric guitar (a heavier sound) and was his first post-9/11 album (and light, poppy songs sort of disappeared for a bit). Yet this song is still upbeat and happy and very radio friendly (something Mayer seems to be grasping for at this point, but at the same time, I don’t think he cares).

Godsmack – “Whatever” – (1998)

This was Godsmack’s first single – and it remains one of their best-remembered songs. You can tell it was the first single but an up-and-coming rock band because the video is terrible: it’s the band playing a show at some outdoor venue. It’s quite typical of late-90s rock videos. This song was a top ten hit on the Mainstream Rock chart back in 1998.

Animotion – “Obsession” – (1985)

Animotion was a new wave band from San Francisco that came together in 1983. This was their best-known song and it was actually a synthpop cover of a little known duet by Holly Knight and Michael Des Barres. The Animotion version has become a staple of 1980s new wave and in 1984, it was a top ten hit on the Hot 100.

Michael Buble – “Nice ‘n’ Easy” – (2005)

Nice ‘n’ Easy was the title of a 1960 Sinatra album with this as the title track. It’s one of Sinatra’s signature songs (one of his many, anyway) and while I think Buble does a pretty decent cover of it, it takes either a certain arrogance or balls to even cover Sinatra and think you can do it over and over again. Like him or not, he pulls this one off.

The Who – “Going Mobile” – (1971)

Who’s Next is the greatest album by The Who and I’d call this the fifth-best song on the entire album. What I can’t understand however, is how this song has not been licensed for a cell phone commercial. It’s like that’s what it was written for! Fun fact: Roger Daltrey (whose name I just typed as Doger Raltry before correcting it) was not present for the recording of this song – the guy singing is actually Pete Townshend, who wrote it.

Sammy Davis Jr. – “The Birth of the Blues” – (1955)

Sammy Davis Jr. was one of the most famous members of the “Rat Pack” – after Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. But I don’t think he was nearly as talented as those two. This standard was released on his debut studio album in 1955. The song was first published in 1926 and recorded by a number of people over the years. In 1965, Davis, Sinatra, and Dean Martin performed this together on a live TV special. That’s probably the song’s most famous moment (not that anyone knows it anyway).

Klingande – “Jubel” – (2013)

This is one of my favorite songs from the past 12 months. “Jubel” (which is some kind of Scandinavian language for “jubilance” or something) is a wonderful tune from Klingande, a French deep house duo. If you like saxophone, check this out! It was a #1 in 10 European countries and, like the song from Monday, a top ten in the rest of them (more or less). I love it. Hope you had/are having a great summer.

Don Omar – “Hasta Que Salga El Sol” – (2012)

Latin music is some of the best summertime music. I’ve included a link to the lyric video – which is worthless unless you’re fluent in Spanish. The song’s title translates to “Until Sunrise,” in case you wanted to try and follow along. Don Omar put out some solid singles from this album that came out two years ago. Fun fact: this was the theme for the 2012 Miss Universe pageant – which is the most presumptuous of all beauty pageants (you don’t know how beautiful people are on other plants in the universe!).

Mr Probz feat. Robin Schulz – “Waves (Robin Schulz Remix)” – (2014)

Mr Probz is a Dutch singer/rapper and his song “Waves,” which was originally released in the Netherlands in November 2013, was remixed by German DJ Robin Schulz – catapulting this version of the song up the charts in more than a few countries. It was a #1 in more than 10 European countries and a top ten in nearly all of them. It never charted in the U.S. on the Hot 100 (or even the dance chart). That said, it was one of the biggest European hits in the early part of 2014. It’s good for summer because it’s laid back and about waves (and the beach is a very summer thing).

Boy Tedson – “Kylie” – (2013)

Here’s a song that came out last summer that still carries enough freshness every time I hear it that it makes it to this summer. Boy Tedson is from Germany and, appropriately, they list their type of music as “chillout” – which is exactly what this song is. If you don’t like techno, you might still like this song. When I hear this I just picture being outside on a late, arm evening when the sun is about set, just relaxing and having fun.

Marc Anthony – “Vivir Mi Vida” – (2013)

This song is a Spanish cover of a French song. Both are super catchy, but I like the Spanish one better because Marc Anthony added a salsa element to it that the French one obviously lacked. This was a big hit, topping the charts in Colombia (I didn’t even know they had a chart) and doing quite well in Mexico and Spain. It also topped three Billboard charts: Hot Latin Songs, Latin Pop Songs, and Tropical Airplay. It also won the Latin Grammy for Record of the Year.

Tom Novy feat. Amadeas – “Dancing in the Sun” – (2013)

Well what’s better to do in the summer than dance in the sun? Nothing. Tom Novy (from Germany) is mostly behind the scenes today, producing for other artists. But this single from last year is kinda nice (high praise, right?).

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