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220px-the_vogues#14 – The Vogues – “Five O’Clock World” – (1966)

Also known as one of the theme songs to The Drew Carey Show this awesome hit is from the Pittsburgh-based vocal group The Vogues. That’s right, they are just singing to an already awesome backing track. It should be the theme for every person that works a 9-to-5. The tempo is quick and it’s a great rock song… just sung by a a non-rock band. It was also featured in Good Morning, Vietnam, cementing its place among other Vietnam-era hits.

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.

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.

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-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. 

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.

mi0000488311#3 – Louis Armstrong – “What a Wonderful World” – (1968)

Not sure I really need to say much about this song. It’s one of the prettiest songs ever recorded. Although originally released as a single in October of 1967, it didn’t appear on an album until 1970. Don’t ask why we’re included it in 1968. Armstrong rose to fame in the 1920s and to release this sort of landmark song in your late 60s is unbelievable. It doesn’t matter what genres you prefer, it’s hard to dislike this song.

220px-odessey_and_oracle#4 – The Zombies – “Time of the Season” – (1968)

This is one of the best examples of 1960s flower power psychedelic rock. I mean, just look at that album cover. This song almost never become a hit – the record company only released it after other singles from Odyssey and Oracle flopped and it went to #3 in the U.S. It’s simply one of the most “1960s” songs you can listen to.

220px-odessey_and_oracle#4 – The Zombies – “Time of the Season” – (1968)

This is one of the best examples of 1960s flower power psychedelic rock. I mean, just look at that album cover. This song almost never become a hit – the record company only released it after other singles from Odyssey and Oracle flopped and it went to #3 in the U.S. It’s simply one of the most “1960s” songs you can listen to.


james_taylor_james_taylor_1968#6 – James Taylor – “Carolina In My Mind” – (1968)

James Taylor recorded his first album on Apple Records. That means he had to audition to the Beatles to get his first record contract. No pressure. This was his first single about his homesickness (even though he is from Boston) and it has sort of become an anthem for North Carolina.

220px-Crimson_&_Clover_(album)#8 – Tommy James & The Shondells – “Crystal Blue Persuasion” – (1969)

This single came out in 1968 and the album it was released on was released in January of 1969. So there. This is one of those “classic oldies” hits that is definitely 1960s. It has a soulful, psychedelic feel – and it has been stated that the song might be about James’ meth habit in the 60s. This was a #2 hit on the Hot 100 – the second highest-charting single off of this album.

James_Taylor_-_Sweet_Baby_James#10– James Taylor – “Sweet Baby James” – (1970)

One of James Taylor’s best songs, this was also the name of his second studio album. It was the album’s first single but it never charted – yet it is still one of his most loved songs. It was not written about himself, though, but rather his nephew and it’s pretty much just straight lullaby.

220px-MungoJerryElectronicallyTestedAlbumCover#11– Mungo Jerry – “In the Summertime” – (1971)

This album actually came out in 1971, but the single was released in 1970 – the same year it peaked on the charts. It hit #3 in the U.S. and #1 all over the world. This was easily the band’s biggest hit and was supposedly written in 10 minutes.

 

Simon_and_Garfunkel,_Bridge_over_Troubled_Water_(1970)#12– Simon & Garfunkel – “Cecilia” – (1970)

Bridge Over Troubled Water is a legendary album, so to be the chosen song off of that album is pretty big. This top five hit actually features a relatively strange instrument: a piano bench that Paul Simon’s brother was banging on during a party. They recorded it and then played it back and recorded the banging over the recording making a cool sound and, once in the studio, Simon looped a section of it for the backing sound in this song.

Creedence_Clearwater_Revival_-_Pendulum#19 – Creedence Clearwater Revival – “Hey Tonight” – (1970)

CCR put out a ton of awesome hit songs in only three short years. 1970 was chock full of them but this is my favorite, even though it might not be the best (1969 was a better year for them anyway). This was the last album with the full CCR crew and the only single was a dual single: “Have You Ever Seen The Rain?/Hey Tonight.” Together, they peaked at #8. It’s a fun song.

Bluesimageopen#20 – Blues Image – “Ride Captain Ride” – (1970)

This song is kind of reminiscent of The Looking Glass’s “Brandy”. Maybe nautical-themed songs were just popular in the early 1970s, who knows. Blues Image was kind of a one-hit wonder with this #4 hit.

Ray_Stevens_-_Everything_Is_Beautiful#21 – Ray Stevens – “Everything Is Beautiful” – (1970)

Here we are with our final Top 21 countdown for the 1970s before we take a break for the summer and return with the 1960s. Ray Stevens is best remembered for comedic songs that border on novelty status like “The Streak.” But he actually had two #1 hits, “The Streak,” and this beautiful tune. Story time: I was once sitting in France eating dinner outside and I heard a bunch of kids singing something in French (that I couldn’t understand) to a strangely familiar tune. It was this. And it was a strange experience.

220px-ScorpionsCrazyWorldScorpions – “Wind of Change” – (1990)

It’s the whistling that gets you here and sucks you in. I always forget that the Scorpions are German and I usually forgot about this song. This is from that awful era of the late 1980s and the first few years of the 1990s where hair band ballads were still relevant and black and white music videos were all the rage. Here’s a famous one.

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. 

RamMcCartneyalbumcover#2 – Paul & Linda McCartney – “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey” – (1971)

The band Wings would not form until after this album was released, so it was technically a Paul McCartney solo album, though he did share credit with his wife, Linda. Not everyone loves this song, but I think it’s marvelous. From the sound effects to the split A/B layout of the track. Apparently, this song was multiple McCartney half-written tracks stitched together. Strange process, but it worked, propelling it to #1.

 

Whosnext#3 – The Who – “Wont Get Fooled Again” – (1971)

Who’s Next is one of the best albums of the 1970s and the best thing The Who ever did. It has some of their best songs on it, including this eight and a half minute epic of a rock song with a brilliant opening that makes a good number of people want to dramatically take off their sunglasses and peer into the distance like David Caruso on CSI: Miami, the show for which this was the theme song.

 


220px-Hollies_Distant_Light_LP#4 – The Hollies – “Long Cool Woman (in a Black Dress)” – (1971)

The Hollies album Distant Light was released in the U.S. in 1972 but it came out in the U.K. in 1971. Additionally, the U.K. version of the song does not have the parenthetical title like the U.S. version does. This. Song. Rocks. Peaking at #2 on the Hot 100, it has a very recognizable guitar twang that is purposefully reminiscent of the style of Creedence Clearwater Revival.

 


220px-Poems,_Prayers_and_Promises#5 – John Denver – “Take Me Home, Country Roads” – (1971)

Well this spot was originally reserved for Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline”… but that came out in 1969 (not sure what I was thinking). So I needed a replacement. It came down to “Me and Bobby McGee” or this. I made the right decision because the more you listen to John Denver (and the more you really listen to the songwriting) the better it gets. It was a #2 song on the Hot 100.


Don_McLean_-_American_Pie_(album)_Coverart#6 – Don McLean – “American Pie” – (1971)

Many people consider this among the greatest songs ever written. It’s Don McLean’s biggest (but not only) hit. Most know that the song has strong allusions to the death of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and The Big Bopper on their plane or “The Day The Music Died.” Aside from that, the song has a lot of references to other pop culture events in the 1960s. It’s timeless.

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