are_you_experienced_-_us_cover-edit#15 – The Jimi Hendrix Experience – “Purple Haze” – (1967)

Jimi Hendrix may have been an incredible guitarist, but he doesn’t sound anything like his records when he performs live. This was a big hit all over the world and was only Hendrix’s second single so we can thank it for really help launch him into the mainstream.

the_turtles_-_happy_together#16 – The Turtles – “Happy Together” – (1967)

The 60s were a great time for rock and roll – but pop music had its place too. This psychedelic pop song was a #1 hit in the U.S. and, as its name implies, is just a very upbeat and happy song.

61fcdkzeqkl#17 – The Chambers Brothers – “Time Has Come Today” – (1967)

This is one of few songs that can easily be imagined to be blaring out of the side of a helicopter buzzing over Vietnam. Probably because it was used in a movie to that effect. It’s a great example of psychedelic rock. The album version of this song is 11 minutes long, but the radio version is much shorter. Also, The Chambers Brothers were four brothers from L.A. (all African-American) and they had one white guy in the band, the drummer. Which I think makes them the inverse of Hootie & the Blowfish.

supremes-sing-hdh#18 – The Supremes – “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” – (1967)

Damn The Supremes were good. Not only them: so were Lamont Dozier and Brian and Eddie Holland, who wrote this and so many other Motown hits. This song has been a #1 hit twice, first with The Supremes, and later again in the 1980s with Kim Wilde.

220px-the_feel_of_neil_diamond#19 – Neil Diamond – “Cherry, Cherry” – (1966)

Ugh. This is technically from 1966 (the year Neil Diamond released his debut album, from which this was a single). It was a top 10 hit on the Hot 100 in the fall of 1966 and remains one of Neil Diamond’s best-known and catchiest tunes.

the_youngbloods_get_together_album#20 – The Youngbloods – “Get Together” – (1967)

Those first notes of this song can really set your state of mind. It puts you right there in the flower power era. First recorded by the Kingston Trio, it became a huge hit for The Youngbloods – their only top 40 hit.

incense_and_peppermints_album#21 – Strawberry Alarm Clock – “Incense and Pepermints” – (1967)

This is about as psychedelic as psychedelic pop and rock ever got. 1967 was a great year for music – the 60s turmoil thing was in full swing. You had far out stuff like this, Motown was firing on all cylinders, and some of the best protest songs ever came out this year. This song is pure 60s. It was even a #1 hit.

220px-acloveAlice Cooper – “I’m Eighteen” – (1971)

This was Alice Cooper’s first top 40 hit – having been released as a single in the fall of 1970 ahead of the release of their third album, Love it to Death. Most of Alice Cooper’s early work seems like they were all written by someone in high school, including this temper-tantrum of a song about barely being an adult.

220px-bella_donna_albumStevie Nicks – “Edge of Seventeen” – (1981)

When an artist goes solo and has a huge hit I always wonder if their solo hit would’ve worked if it came from the band. In this case, I don’t think this would’ve made a great Fleetwood Mac song. This was her first true solo single (there were two before it but both were duets). The guitar riff was later used by Destiny’s Child on “Bootylicious.” “Edge of Seventeen” has to be Stevie Nicks’ signature solo tune, even if it (barely) failed to crack the top ten on the Hot 100.

220px-the_house_that_dirt_builtThe Heavy – “Sixteen” – (2009)

The Heavy is a British indie rock band that had one smash hit, but this follow up single didn’t get as much love. But it should – it has a very old feel and fit in really well with other songs that came out about this time (see: horns). It’s worth a listen.

220px-a-fresh-aire-christmas-coverMannheim Steamroller – “Cantique de Noel (O Holy Night)” – (1988)

“O Holy Night” was composed in 1847 in France as music to match a poem. It was all written to be performed in a church, making it one of what seems like only a handful of Christmas carols that are actually allowed to be played in church (sorry, Mariah Carey). Even if this version is a little new-agey, it still gets the point across and is instantly recognizable.

r-3519121-1412977518-7113-jpegGene Autry – “Frosty the Snowman” – (1950)

He didn’t write it, but Gene Autry was the first to record it and made it famous. It was a top ten hit around Christmas of 1950 and would later be made into an animated TV program (though Jimmy Durante sang this song there). If you like the idea of a mid-century Christmas like I do, then this is a must-have song.

bingBing Crosby – “Silent Night, Holy Night” – (1935)

I think Bing Crosby recorded this like every few years, because there are a number of different versions out there, with this being the earliest (but not necessarily the best). When it comes to Christmas standards, Bingle is hard to beat.

220px-mrhankeyschrismasclassicscoverTrey Parker – “Merry Fucking Christmas” – (1999)

Probably one of the most offensive Christmas songs of all time, but then again it is from an album called “Mr. Hankey’s Christmas Classics.” I’ll admit, I don’t watch South Park and haven’t seen an episode in a long time, but I have seen the Mr. Hankey episode. You might not like it, but this song is actually very funny.

Steve Martin – “A Holiday Wish” – (1986)

This was an SNL sketch back in the 1980s where Steve Martin just sits in front of the camera telling us his five Christmas wishes. And it’s hilarious. It works as just audio too, because you can see his mannerisms just by hearing his voice. The wishes start sweet, but quickly descend into madness. Classic Steve Martin.

500x500Bob Rivers – “I’ll Be Stoned for Christmas” – (2002)

Bob Rivers does some pretty convincing parody songs and this take on Bing Crosby’s “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” is among the best. It says that it is supposed to be a drunken Perry Como impression, which might be accurate, but Bingle owned this song originally.

220px-tlc-tipTLC – “Baby-Baby-Baby” – (1992)

Baby was a popular word in early-90s pop music, apparently. Also, TLC’s cover for this single looks like a still image from a Nickelodeon show from ’92. This was the girl group’s second-ever single and first huge hit. This song just goes to remind us all that the girls from TLC are all now in their mid-40s, which makes me feel old.

220px-heart_in_motionAmy Grant – “Baby Baby” – (1991)

Amy Grant’s career has mostly been spent in the Christian music realm but in the early 1990s she released a pop-tinged album, and this (the first single) went to #1 on the Hot 100. And because it was 1991, it naturally knocked Wilson Phillips out of the top spot. Oh, and this song is catchy as hell.

brandy_norwood_-_brandy_albumBrandy – “Baby” – (1994)

Brandy released her first album when she was only 15 and this Grammy-nominated song is probably the highlight of the album, and definitely the one that still gets the most radio airplay. It was a top five hit.

220px-rhythmnation1814Janet Jackson – “Rhythm Nation” – (1989)

This is sort of the title track from Janet’s 1989 album Rhythm Nation 1814. As the second single, it went to #2 on the Hot 100 and its video is one of the most recognizable of the first 10 years of MTV. It’s one of the best songs from an album loaded with “best” songs.

pink_floyd_wish_you_were_here_1975Pink Floyd – “Have a Cigar” – (1975)

I love the beginning of this song because it’s kinda bluesy and kind of funky, really. This is one of many Pink Floyd songs written about the world around them that they existed in, namely because it’s about the music business. But it doesn’t really matter what it’s about because it’s the best track from this album.

220px-theoffspringamericanaalbumcoverThe Offspring – “Why Don’t You Get a Job?” – (1998)

The second biggest single from Americana, “Why Don’t You Get a Job?” is one of The Offspring’s better offerings. The video is interesting because it was shot on Universal’s backlot in California and features a lot of famous places from film and TV, like the square from Back to the Future

220px-the_phantom_menace_ostJohn Williams & the London Symphony Orchestra and the London Voices – “Duel of the Fates” – (1999)

“Duel of the Fates” is a seriously epic piece of orchestral music. With the choir, it has a very “O Fortuna”-feel to it. Originally featured in Star Wars:Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace, the piece has been a recurring piece of music throughout every successive piece of Star Wars film. It’s great – and, it actually appeared on TRL for 11 days. 

weird_al_yankovic_-_dare_to_be_stupidWeird Al Yankovic – “Yoda” – (1985)

Weird Al is the master of parody songs and he’s also great at writing songs about very specific things, like Star Wars. “Yoda” is a parody of The Kinks’ brilliant “Lola.” And, while Weird Al didn’t write the original music for this song, his lyrics are every bit as brilliant as the original. This song is weird because he had to get permission both from The Kinks and George Lucas. 

Mark Jonathan Davis – “Star Wars Cantina” – (1996)

Mark Jonathan Davis is known by the stage name of Richard Cheese, and he recorded this pretty good spoof of Barry Manilow’s “Copacabana” but all about Star Wars. It was originally aired on Dr. Demento’s radio show but it has never officially been released, thus the lack of an album cover above.