Random Songs


41b2nxwzv1lJohn Williams – “20th Century Fox Fanfare” – (1980)

You probably didn’t notice, but a few months ago I did three songs in a row: the first with “16” in the title, then “17” and “18.” This week we are doing 19-21 and there aren’t a whole lot of songs with “20” in the title, hence this. The iconic 20th Century Fox intro music was originally composed and recorded by Alfred Newman in 1933 and later updated to the version we now recognize in 1954. John Williams recorded a new version of it in 1980 for The Empire Strikes Back. It was later released on a Star Wars box set in 1993 (see image). Not sure there’s a more iconic sound to start a movie… other than maybe MGM’s lion roar… but we won’t feature that here…

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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.

220px-drivealanjacksonAlan Jackson – “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)” – (2002)

Consider this the much subtler cousin to Toby Keith’s patriotic anthem. Country fan or not, it should be noted that Alan Jackson is a much classier singer than Toby Keith. Regardless, we still have the issue of a really long title… but while this might be standard fare as far as country songs go, there’s a big problem lyrically that makes this song seem incredibly dated “I’m just a simple songs, I’m not a real political man… I watch CNN but I’m not sure I could tell you the difference in Iraq and Iran.” Maybe in 2002. But nowadays if you can’t differentiate between Iraq and Iran, there’s a problem. But maybe this is just horrible foreshadowing of what would come a year after this album came out.

220px-keithunleashedToby Keith – “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American)” – (2002)

This song is a victim of all of that patriotism that exploded after 9/11 and faded away in the years after. There was a weird phenomenon shortly after 9/11 where country singers recorded tacky songs about ‘Murica… and this is the prime example (side note, the song is partly about Keith’s dad’s death, which is fine and I have no problem memorializing him in song). But come on, the title is horrendous… and talking about putting a “boot in any country’s ass” just seems kind of… well, country. Which I guess is the point.

220px-ACDC-LetThereBeRockAC/DC – “Whole Lotta Rosie” – (1977)

This is a classic AC/DC tune from the Bon Scott era. It is the last song on Let There Be Rock and the third and final single released from the album and remains not only the most popular track from the album, but one of the band’s most popular songs overall.

The_Cars_-_The_CarsThe Cars – “You’re All I’ve Got Tonight” – (1978)

From the opening chords and lyrics you might think (see what I did there?) that this isn’t anything special – but the chorus is really what sells this song. It wasn’t a major hit (it wasn’t even technically released as a single) but it still receives airplay here and there.

220px-BeatlesforsaleThe Beatles – “No Reply” – (1964)

Okay, it’s apparently hard to find Beatles songs on YouTube. The video below sort of has the song, broken up by a bunch of weird, racist 60s cartoons. It’s not The Beatles’ best work, but it’s not terrible and is kind of underrated. 

Reddy-WomanHelen Reddy – “I Am Woman” – 1972

I remember singing this song to someone and they didn’t believe me that the opening lyrics actually were “I am woman, hear me roar.” Which… I guess, makes Helen Reddy the original Katy Perry. This was Reddy’s first #1 hit and her first really big hit. It’s one of her two best-known songs, with “Delta Dawn.”

220px-Continuum_(album)John Mayer – “Dreaming With a Broken Heart” – (2006)

Continuum is one of my favorite albums. It’s full of really good songs from John Mayer right before his sound started to change. I mean, this was a departure from his previous albums as it’s pretty somber and blues-y, but it hadn’t gone folksy just yet. This was the fourth single from the album – but it only just barely made it onto the Hot 100, peaking at #99, which is a shame, because it’s pretty good.

220px-Ozzy_Osbourne_-_No_More_TearsOzzy Osbourne – “No More Tears” – (1991)

This is the title track of Ozzy’s sixth solo album and what I like most about it is the really nice groove it has going with the bass in the background. It actually charted on the Hot 100, peaking at #71. The awesome metal rhythm is broken by this weird and unnecessary Meat Loaf-like piano bit that really tended to mar most rock songs from the late 1980s through the early 1990s. Otherwise, good tune. 

220px-LikeAVirgin1984Madonna – “Into the Groove” – (1985)

Madonna’s second studio album Like a Virgin had its share of hits none more dance-worthy than this track, which wasn’t originally included on the album’s release. It was added for a 1985 re-release after being used in the film Desperately Seeking Susan, in which Madonna stared. It’s a synth-infused 80s dance track and a fine example of early Madonna.

Wilco – “Impossible Germany” – (2007)

Here’s a random song by Wilco, a band I kind of don’t really “get” (just like KISS or Frank Zappa). I get the appeal of country/folk/rock bands, but Wilco has never stood out. But I do have this song and I think it has to do with Jeff Tweedy just repeating “impossible Germany, unlikely Japan” and the music is kind of nice. But other than that I can’t explain it.

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.

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).

Teresa Brewer – “Music! Music! Music!” – (1949)

“Put another nickel in, in the nickelodeon” is the opening line to this #1 hit from 1950. It was released in December of 1949 and other than that catchy hook of a chorus, the song is just okay. It could be construed as kind of annoying. It was Brewer’s biggest hit and signature song. Teresa Brewer was born in Toledo, Ohio, in 1931 and died in New York state in 2007.

Ike & Tina Turner – “Proud Mary” – (1971)

“Proud Mary” is one of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s best songs. And it’s one of the most-famous. This 1971 cover is a big part of the song’s fame. In fact, it’s become one of Tina Turner’s signature songs as well as one of her biggest hits – it hit #5 in the U.S. (CCR made it to #2). What’s great about this version is that it’s their own take on the song and not a direct cover. It starts off real slow and soulful and then at like the 2:20 mark if goes crazy. It’s wild. And a legitimately awesome song.

Sonny & Cher – “The Beat Goes On” – (1967)

This isn’t a duet in the same vein as the other duets we’ve featured. Sonny & Cher were a duo and thus, all of their songs were duets. This song was written by Sonny Bono. This song made it to #6 on the Hot 100 and it remains one of their best-known songs.

Fantasia – “I Believe” – (2004)

The purpose of this site originally was to highlight songs from the 1990s that you (and time) forgot about. Over time it has evolved into a site about music in general – a song-a-day type of thing. Well here is a song I’m almost certain you don’t remember. By an artist you might not even remember. Fantasia Barrino won the third season of American Idol and then disappeared as far as I know. What sucked about American Idol then (don’t worry, it still sucks now) was that the final song by the winner would always shoot to #1 on the Hot 100 because for some dumb reason Billboard counted all of those teenagers’ text votes as song requests or something. This was a #1 hit. That should infuriate you. I have never heard it on the radio. Not even then. The only good thing here is, unlike all of these crappy shows like The Voice where some over made-up weirdo sings a cover of a song already made famous by a talented individual – this was an original song written for American Idol.

Michael Buble – “Summer Wind” – (2003)

We’ve covered a number of Buble hits that were originals to his albums. Well now we’re getting into his covers of old standards (and how about a switch-up from the two songs from earlier this week?). The song was released on his 2003 album and it was not released as a single. The song was originally written in 1965 by Johnny Mercer and Heinz Meier. It was first recorded by Wayne Newton but the best known version is by Frank Sinatra. This version ain’t bad either.

Rob Zombie – “Feel So Numb” – (2001)

I used to be a big Rob Zombie fan. Can’t quite explain why now. I couldn’t even tell you when the last album was that he released. For all I know, this was it (just checked, it isn’t). This album only had one official single, yet I seem to have half the album. This was a “promotional single” that I definitely recall hearing on rock radio a little over 10 years ago. I think the reason I like his music is that, for being hard rock, most songs seem to usually have a cool groove to them. Yeah, his lyrical delivery is more akin to yelling than singing, but the songs all feature some cool element in them.

Bobby “Boris” Pickett & the Crypt-Kickers – “Monster Mash” – (1962)

One of my favorite parts of Halloween is that I get to hear this song on the radio – even if it’s only once. As far as novelty songs go, I think this has to be one of the greatest – it was a #1 hit! And I think its chart history is interesting because in 1962, the Beatles hadn’t really broken through yet and this was more doo-wop-ey than rock, but it still had to sound fairly strange on the radio back then. In any case, this is the best Halloween song ever.

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