Bryan Adams, Rod Stewart, & Sting – “All For Love” – (1993)

The movie was The Three Musketeers and I guess Bryan Adams, Rod Stewart, and Sting were supposed to be the musical equivalent of the Three Musketeers? Maybe in 1993. Now it seems a little absurd. Let’s look at where they are now: Bryan Adams has all but disappeared off the face of the Earth after a fairly decent and long career. Sting is still a fairly well-liked and well-respected public figure, but he doesn’t put out a lot of new radio-friendly music these days. And Rod Stewart stopped singing original songs over a decade ago – releasing CD after CD of standards. This was a #1 hit on the Hot 100. The title is inspired by the Three Musketeers motto “All for one, and one for all” and was transposed into this romantic soft rock song. Ooookay.

Sting – “If I Ever Lose My Faith in You” – (1993)

Ten Summoner’s Tales is one bad-ass Sting album. And it starts with this song, the biggest hit of the album. It’s a good one with the right blend of early-90s adult contemporary and light rock – and the one-of-a-kind voice of Sting. It was a top 20 hit in the U.S. – and could it have been just as big in the 80s? Absolutely.

Sting – “Fields of Gold” – (1993)

This song would’ve been popular in the 80s – but it has one very 90s thing going for it. And that is the almost Enigma-like use of the Northumbrian smallpipes. That’s right, name another song using that instrument. Don’t forget Sting’s vocal touch: lyrics that are soft and well-delivered and decipherable followed immediately by some word you cannot understand. Ten Summoner’s Tales, for my money, was Sting’s last great album (the lead single from Brand New Day) notwithstanding. And this is about as good as solo Sting comes (again, “Desert Rose” notwithstanding).

The Police – “Every Breath You Take” – (1983)

This is the Police’s signature song – and Sting’s. Gotta love the upright bass he plays in the video. So why was “Synchronicity II” on the countdown and not this? Valid question. It probably should have been, is my answer. But it wasn’t – so here it is.

#21 – The Police – “Synchronicity II” – (1983)

Okay, so there was a more obvious choice for The Police but I thought it was too obvious. I narrowed it down between this and “Spirits in the Material World” but I thought since Synchronicity is one of the best albums of the decade, it should be represented – with its near title track at that. There’s kind of a dark tone to this song. “Another suburban family morning… Grandmother screaming at the wall.” It is, lyrically, one of the Police’s most interesting songs. “Many miles away… something crawls to the surface… of a dark, Scottish loch.” And of course there is that wonderful Police-only blend of reggae, punk and rock. Good stuff.

#44 – Sting feat. Cheb Mami – “Desert Rose” – (1999)

So do you know what Sting is saying during the chorus? I don’t – but love this song, and have since the day I first heard it. Cheb Mami is the featured Algerian singer and this song has very distinct Arab musical influences, which may account for part of its appeal. The music video kind of plays like a commercial for the then-brand-new Jaguar S-Type. Sting had other hits in the 90s and, although they don’t quite fit in with the nature of the rest of the songs on this list, I’ll mention them anyway. The big ones were: “If I Ever Lose My Faith in You” and “Fields of Gold” – both from 1993’s Ten Summoner’s Tales. Except both of these songs to make our forthcoming “Songs from the 90s that sound like they could be from the 80s” list.