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71. Breaking It Slowly – George

When I chose this song for the countdown, I had only heard it 2 days prior. It had an astonishing affect on me the first time I heard it. I don’t know what it was, perhaps it was the beautifully sweet melody, the vocals of Tyrone Noonan, the message of environmentalism or a mixture of everything that attributed me to choosing this song. But whatever it is, it made me fall in love with this song so much that I actually spent an afternoon with this song on repeat.

As I said, the song it about environmentalism and the how the big corporations are in fact breaking the world slowly. However, it is the way that the message is said that makes it seem intriguing. The vocals are soft and flowing, but the underlying message is that of political concern which makes you really sit up and inadvertently take notice of what is being said. It’s such a rare song though. In fact, George are a rare band as well. The singing is handled by siblings Tyrone and Katie Noonan, both of which have had classical vocal training. It’s rare to have such good singers in a band such as this, but the mixture of the two manages to give the band an extremely powerful aspect, as seen in the chorus of the song. This is a beautiful song with a pure message, and it needs to be heard again and again to be truly appreciated.
If you are anything like me, then you may find it strange that out of all the songs released by The White Stripes in this decade (which, mind you, is where the majority of their music was released), that I picked one of the very few songs in which Jack White does not sing. Yes, I picked one of the few songs in which Meg White is the singer, and frankly, it is something she should do more often.
I have always admired Meg White for a few reasons. Namely the fact that she has been able to make a name for herself as a competent drummer in the music business which, let’s face it, is essentially a man’s world. Then of course, her voice. For one of the shyest and (in my opinion) one of the most attractive musicians out there, she manages to utilise her voice in this song to a level not seen before. Her voice perfectly suits the song and the bridge of the song features her voice reaching an unthought of level of brilliance.

The song itself is utterly simple. Just a couple of chords which repeat before a bridge which is still essentially the same thing, just with Meg White’s drumming. But I chose this song only because of the atmosphere it has. I believe it’s much better and much more ‘rock’ than any of the other White Stripes songs, and frankly I think this song should be more well known.

Close Competitors

Seven Nation Army

I’ll bet that the second you saw that it said ‘The White Stripes’, you instantly assumed I had chosen this song. Well, no. While I do admit it’s an amazing song, it’s become far too cliched now. I know that’s a terrible reason not to include the song, but I do prefer In The Cold, Cold Night anyway. Most people would have discovered The White Stripes thanks to this song, and what a song to come in on! It has THAT riff and Jack White’s signature vocals. This song has it all!

Fell In Love With A Girl

In the second that you press play for the first time, you have no idea what you are about to unleash upon yourself. Jack White’s barking vocals, an atomic blast of a song that is gone within the blink of an eye and the beyond simple 4 chord guitar riff. It’s short, it’s abrupt, but oh my word is it a great song!

We’re Going To Be Friends

Childhood innocence. It’s essentially the inner monologue of a young child going to school and the simplicity of the child’s mind. It’s a short sweet song that shows how emotional Jack White’s guitar playing and lyric writing can be without becoming too saccharine. It’s a pretty song, which unfortunately not well known. But thanks to Conan O’Brien’s friendship with the band and their appearance on his last ‘Late Night with…‘ show, this song has gained new fans.

73. Pork And Beans – Weezer

Ah, the ol’ ‘middle finger’ approach to songwriting, it’s bliss. Generally these types of songs come when the songwriter is royally pissed off. In this case, Rivers Cuomo was told by his record executives that Weezer needed more commercial material. That being said, Cuomo wrote this song about standing up for himself, about the triviality of the record industry and above all, defiance.

It’s ironic really, and slightly annoying to me, how bands can be told they need to be more ‘commercial friendly’ and instantly write a hit song. It makes me wonder, “Why couldn’t they do that before? Why did they wait to be told?”. But it also makes me realise that there is a reason these songs were written. By any measure, this song is wonderful. The music is typical thumping Weezer and the lyrics are once again, typical Weezer. You could not get a more Weezer-ish song if you tried.
I would like to start this post off with a quote from Tom Reynolds in his book ‘I hate myself and want to die’; “Having listened to numerous drug songs over the years and studied their critical analyses, I’ve concluded that they basically fall into two categories: 1. stark, 2. harrowing. Music writers use these descriptors alternately when writing about drug songs. What separates the two normally depends on whether the songwriters were themselves addicted. The Velvet Underground’s ‘Heroin‘, for example, is ‘stark’ because Lou Reed was once an addict. Billy Joel’s ‘Captain Jack‘ is ‘harrowing’ because he wasn’t.” That being said, I can assure you that ‘Feel Good Hit Of The Summer‘ is stark due to the fact that it effectively tells a true account of the band’s appetite for drugs.

Rock rumours state that the band was ingested the entire content of the song’s lyrics in one night. Allegedly, they consumed “Nicotine, valium, vicodin, marijuana, ecstasy and alcohol” before following it up with “c-c-c-c-c-cocaine“. If these rumours are true, it not only shows that the odds of QOTSA splitting following an overdoes in the band is unlikely, but it also shows how raw the band can be. A stark drug song, such as this, shows great honesty in the songwriter for being able to talk about drugs in this way. But in this case, it’s just a fun song.

I’ll be honest, if I could teach ‘Writing A Hit Song 101’, I would use this as an example. This song is not complicated at all. The verse consists of one chord, as does the chorus. It features a fast and sloppy guitar solo, a very simple and straightforward drum beat and lyrics which only consist of 8 unique words. In short, this is musical mastery. If every song was like this, not only would it be clear that there are a LOT of users out there, but it would show that good songs are not a thing of yesterday.

Close Competitors

Mosquito Song

When I first heard this I imagined the context of the song and I was honestly scared. It has a very scary premise, but the musical direction taken in this song is amazing. The guitar is unorthodoxly tuned down 2 steps and there is an orchestral arrangement present as well. However, most people that listen to this song will not recognise this as a Queens Of The Stone Age song. It is very strange for the band, but the music in this song is absolute perfection. Many musicians dream of creating a song as good as this, and quite frankly, many never will.

Little Sister

Can Queens Of The Stone Age make a bad song? I’ll say no. This upbeat song is characterised by a cowbell of all instruments, and features a famous mini-solo following the chorus. Josh Homme’s voice in this song proves how good of a singer he is. The chorus shows how amazingly ‘rock’ his voice can get without becoming cliched. Truly Queens Of The Stone Age are an amazing band that will be around for years since they continue to churn out great songs such as this.

Burn The Witch

It is in this song that Queens Of The Stone Age show their stoner-rock roots. The intro is typical of the genre, in which a strong beat is present and a small riff as well which then goes on to anchor the entire song. The distorted vocals again portray Homme’s perfect vocals, and frankly this song is the epitome of rock music.
Before you start sending hate mail at the fact I’ve got a Fall Out Boy song in here, please understand, Fall Out Boy mean a lot to me. I’m not kidding either, I got into Fall Out Boy in 2006 after they released From Under The Cork Tree, it was around this time I went through one of the hardest times of my life. I listened to these guys on repeat for roughly three months, and in the end I found out that I had become drawn towards the acoustic version of Nobody Puts Baby In The Corner.
Maybe it’s the lyrics that make me love this song. I do believe that the lyrics in the bridge; “So wear me like a locket around your throat, I’ll weigh you down, I’ll watch you choke, you look so good in blue, you look so good in blue”, are utterly amazing. Or maybe it’s the fantastic acoustic guitar and the unorthodox, but utterly inviting, chords that manage to make the song work. But whatever makes this song so awe-inspiring is done with perfection. The vocals don’t overshadow the rest of the song, the guitar is clean and well played and the lyrics are beautiful.
What’s not to love?

Close Competitors

Dance, Dance

The first Fall Out Boy song I heard. I was amazed at how great a song that was essentially a cliched emo-punk song could be.  And Patrick Stump even gave me hope that the nerdiest looking guy (I mean how nerdy he looks in real life, no just the film clip) could be a great musician. All I knew when I heard this song was that I wanted to write songs like this and make catchy tunes as well as they did.

Sugar, We’re Goin’ Down

I first saw this song title and saw the word ‘sugar’ in it. I instantly assumed it was some shitty rap song, so I avoided it. But then, the same night I heard “Dance, Dance”, I heard this song, and I was massively blown away! I was shocked at how good these guys were. The inspiring, indirect lyrics, the guitar, the catchyness and the chorus. Oh man, the chorus! I STILL get chills listening to it.

I’ve Got A Dark Alley And A Bad Idea That Says You Should Shut Your Mouth (Summer Song)

Again, this song is beautiful. The lyrics make this song. Theway that Pete Wentz writes songs is inspiring. If I can somehow write songs as well as he does, I will be happy. The lyrics are not only powerful, but they truly show a sense of desperation that goes well with the minor key of the song. And again, I still get chills from the chorus.

Note: As I said, I was obsessed with Fall Out Boy for 3 months, so I can’t write ALL the songs that made my shortlist. But I was hooked on their 3rd album, which is why all the songs here are from that album.
Other songs in my shortlist were:

  • XO
  • Hum Hallelujah
  • Our Lawyer Made Us Change The Name Of This Song So We Wouldn’t Get Sued
  • Grand Theft Autumn/Where Is Your Boy?
  • Of All The Gin Joints In All The World

    By now you should have realised my penchant for strange and deliciously alternative bands. Well, they don’t get much stranger than Machine Gun Fellatio. MGF are Australia’s answer to Ween, who have been commonly referred to as a ‘jack of all trades’ band, whereby they can change genres with ease. Well this song is a more rock orientated departure from their previous songs; the sombre Unsent Letter, the upbeat Rollercoaster and the a cappella (Let Me Be Your) Dirty Fucking Whore. Regardless of their history, in What The Fuck? MGF manage to essentially deliver an anthem for the apathetic people.

    The song discusses the art of not caring. To put it bluntly, the song is a about Pinky Beecroft (the singer) essentially saying “What the fuck do I care? I’ve got bigger problems.” However, the message is delivered with great eloquence, which is actually quite surprising. But the song’s upbeat and catchy atmosphere manage to overshadow the message of the song, and actually make the song seem to be of a totally different nature. But despite this, the song is able to be not only fun, but incredibly serious whilst raising a good point.

    Close Competitors

    The Girl Of My Dreams (Is Giving Me Nightmares)

    Let me take you through a rundown of what the average listener might say when they listen to this song; “What?”
    That’s right. This song does not make a lot of sense, other than the obvious theme which is about how the perfect girl has turned into something other than perfection. But somehow, the strange metaphors and confusing sayings manage to make this song almost sensible. It’s strange, but the strangeness manages to make the song normal. If you can work out why the heck that is, you know where to find me.
    For me, spoken word songs are amazing. Clearly, this song is one of those otherwise it wouldn’t start off this way. Regardless, Thou Shalt Always Kill is essentially the commandments the new generation should live by. However, the ironic underlying message is ‘think for yourself’. So instantly this song possesses and amazing sense of irony.

    The song manages to recognise the single mindedness that every person in the world seems to employ in their lives by pointing out the common flaws and fallacies in their thinking. It even manages to point out that “Thou shalt not put musicians and recording artists on ridiculous pedestals no matter how great they are, or were” and that The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, The Beach Boys, The Sex Pistols, The Clash, Crass, Minor Threat, The Cure, The Smiths, Nirvana, Pixies, Oasis, Radiohead, Bloc Party, Arctic Monkeys and the next big thing are all ‘just bands’.

    Along with the poignant statements made, there are some social observations made as well; “Thou shalt not think any male over the age of 30 that plays with a child that is not their own is a peadophile, some people are just nice”, Thou shalt not attend an open mic and leave as soon as you’ve done your shitty little poem or song, you self-righteous prick” and “Thou shalt not return to the same club or bar, week in, week out Because you once saw a girl there that you fancied; that you’re never gonna fucking talk to”, and even manages to branch out into humour by repeating the lines “Though shalt not make repetitive, generic music”.

    All in all, this song manages to serve as a new age mantra for the new generation whereby we must think for ourselves, live our lives and be true to ourselves. But we must always remember to give our all, or as the song says “
    Thou shalt always kill.”
    Note: This is a much better interpretation of the song.
    This is yet another song in which the meaning is not clear, but who really cares? Some songs are stronger when the meaning is not known, such as the case here. There has been speculation that this song is about a former member of UNKLE, DJ Shadow (who, by the way, released on of the best albums of all time in 1996), while others believe that the songs is about moving on from the past. But the one thing that is clear, is that this song is extremely powerful

    The vocals are supplied by frontman of The Cult, Ian Astbury, whose deep and almost haunting voice gives this song a rather eerie, atmospheric tone. Another strange twist to the song comes from the video. I saw the video first while changing channels one night, and I must say that it is one of the best videos I have ever seen. It features a male character who wakes to find a bomb attached to him and he then, well, I won’t spoil it. But the video perfectly manages to sync with the song in terms of the atmosphere it incorporates.

    The song begins with an acoustic guitar (which is heavily affected so you can hardly tell it’s a guitar) before the heavy beat comes in. The beat continues until Astbury’s vocals cut into the track, and from then on, the beauty of this song is unexplainable.

    There are songs that exist only to be enjoyed. That does sound like a stupid statement, but most songs are made with a purpose; some songs are political, some songs are intended to be serious, and in this case, People Say is intended to be optimistically fun. While the song tends to focus on the necessity of war, or the lack thereof, there is an optimistic tinge to this song which can drag a casual listener into the song and not let go until the end.

    The song is in the key of C, which means it is a very straight song that lacks in experimentation, but it somehow manages to be incredibly interesting. With obvious blues influences and jazz-based chord styles, the song manages to present optimism through the breath-taking lyrics. The song predominantly focuses on the human cost of war, but the lyrics are able to trivialise that aspect so well that it feels as if the song is about something totally different. The thing about this song that makes it stand out though, is the fact that not only does the music maintain an upbeat feel, but the fact that this is one of the few songs in this countdown that follows the standard ‘verse chorus verse’ structure and manage to maintain originality and interest. This song does not get boring quickly, and if you think it does, well that’s your loss.

    80. 77% – The Herd

    I have mentioned previously about how I feel regarding the topic of hip hop and how I differentiate my thoughts on Australian hip hop. Well dig out those old sentiments because this is another fine example of Australian hip hop. The Herd is a hip hop group featuring members such as Ozi Batla (a fine lyricist and singer) and Urthboy. In 2003 they released their breakthrough album An Elefant Never Forgets, which featured the song 77%. The song dealt with the touchy subject of the then controversial ‘Tampa affair’ in 2001, which regarded a vessel from international waters coming into Australian waters. In a survey conducted following the event, 77% of people surveyed agreed with John Howard’s actions regarding the barring of the boat people from Australian shores. This led to the song mentioning that “77% of Aussie are racist”, and the fact that all Australians are themselves immigrants. The touchy subject was delivered with a powerful wake up call to Australians (in fact the lyrics of the song are “Wake up, this country needs a fuckin’ shake up, wake up, this cunts need a shake up”). The band are themselves noted for their fierce nationalism and their political views, so of course if any band was to record a song that featured such topics, it would be The Herd.

    At the best of times, Australian hip hop is quite eloquent and very sharp. 77% is no exception. The band manages to make a song that effects every single emotion that a nationalistic Australian would feel, and in doing so, manages to drive a very important topic home. If all hip hop was made in this sense, and every political song featured the same format as this one, there would be very little chance of there ever being a bland, preachy political song ever again.

    Close Competitors

    We Can’t Hear You

    Again, hip hop songs are very well written when they are done right. Even songs such as this which manage to incorporate a very strong party vibe whilst still incorporating the typical political undertones that The Herd enjoy implementing into their songs. The fun, bouncy beat of the song makes reference to the current political situation in Australia and how the ‘little guy’ is quite often unheard. The almost motivational song is once again delivered with great dedication and total relevance to the subject being delivered. The Herd are not to be messed with, they are one of the most serious and most fun hip hop groups of recent years.