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Top 50 songs of all time
(limit one song per artist) (updated July 2008) 
 
 
1.  Born to Run         Bruce Springsteen  
Springsteen set out to write the greatest rock song ever, and who's to say he didn't succeed? Bombastic, epic, romantic, dense, this song demands attention. A breakthrough for Springsteen also in terms of situating his heroes palpably in the "American Dream". A driving, powerful, sublime classic.

2.  Love Minus Zero (No Limit)      Bob Dylan  
In the midst of his word-tripping in 1965, Dylan created this - a modest, serene love song. Still wordy, the opening line is "My love, she speaks like silence." It is a paean to a woman who doesn't exist, who perhaps can't exist. But the timeless, flitting melody wills her into our consciousnesses.

3.  Frederick         Patti Smith  
Like Dylan's "Sara", a directly biographical love song, blurring the art/reality line. Smith can invest her music with anthemic power, and to do so with a love paean is bold. Almost impossible to listen to without breaking down. "My soul surrenders, astonished to death". Life and death, ultimately, are one.

4.  SOS        Abba  
Abba redefined pop music as something that can be emotionally rich as well as entertainingly light. Deep in their best songs, there is no kitsch, only beauty and majesty. "SOS" is the sweetest and saddest lost-love song in existence. "Where are those happy days? They seem so hard to find."

5.  I Want to Hold Your Hand      The Beatles  
This must have been a revolution in 1963 - the excited, staccato intro, the tantalising build-up, and then Lennon's double-tracked vocals, with handclaps, and the sublimest guitar fill at the end of each line. Even now, this is the sound of pure energy and joy - joy at creating music, joy at simply being alive.

6.  Ever Fallen in Love?         The Buzzcocks  
The Buzzcocks' signature single in a body full of great work. Masters of the explosive introduction (see "Orgasm Addict" or "Paradise" also), here the song starts on a high and never lets up. But it's a high of romantic angst - the sound of their buzzing guitars and drums is like the sound of a frantic, breaking heart.

7.  Thirteen         Big Star  
In the midst of Big Star's debut album's glam-like rock songs, is this - a breathtakingly tender acoustic guitar ballad. Chilton sings of the experience of being 13 and in love, and he captures the ache of that perfectly. But the song is not nostalgic - it affirms innocence as a potent force no matter what age one is.

8.  Stray Cat Blues         The Rolling Stones  
A track on Beggar's Banquet, it is astonishing that this song actually exists. A no-holds-barred auto-portrait of sexual predatory with under-age girls, its lasciviousness practically leaps from the speakers. The guitars are particularly cutting, and listen for Jagger's excited yelp mid-way through. 

9.  Mr. Tambourine Man        The Byrds  
This Dylan cover is a revelation. It's the same glorious song (well, a shortened version of it), with the same meaning, but it is transformed musically into a richly-layered, harmony-filled folk-rock hymn. It is an inspired rendering that, unbelievably, enhances (but doesn't overwhelm) the original.

10.  Norman 3         Teenage Fanclub  
Tremulous emotion, tender hope, slacker stylistics, wig-out wonder - this is the world of Norman Blake. "Come on over / Break some bread / Close the window / And we'll lay on the bed." Norman, I wanna thank you for providing us with such incredibly beautiful and spiritual songs. Your ragged innocence is uplifting.

11.  The Good Life       Weezer
12.  Going Underground        The Jam
13.  Love Will Tear Us Apart        Joy Division
14.  Career Moves         Loudon Wainwright III
15.  Like a Hurricane       Neil Young
16.  Happy X-mas        John and Yoko
17.  The Lady Came From Baltimore         Joan Baez
18.  The Ship Song        Nick Cave
19.  Confide in Me       Kylie Minogue
20.  White Noise       Stiff Little Fingers
21.  Seven Minutes to Midnight        Wah!
22.  There is a Light that Never Goes Out        The Smiths
23.  Superstar        The Carpenters
24.  Texarcana       R.E.M.
25.  Anarchy in the U.K.       The Sex Pistols
26.  Happy Together        The Turtles
27.  High Fidelity        Elvis Costello
28.  You Keep Me Hangin' On        Diana Ross and the Supremes
29.  Kool Thing        Sonic Youth
30.  Could You Be the One?        Husker Du
31.  Come on Eileen        Dexy's Midnight Runners
32.  Touch Me        The Doors
33.  A Song From Under the Floorboards        Magazine
34.  Think          Sebadoh
35.  Halloween         The Dead Salesmen
36.  Deny        The Clash
37.  Rid of Me       P J Harvey
38.  The Happy Song        The Box Tops
39.  Reach Out I'll Be There        The Four Tops
40.  Little Fury Things        Dinosaur Jr
41.  Broken Face         The Pixies
42.  Made of Stone        The Stone Roses
43.  Letting Go         Wings
44.  Red Pony        The Triffids
45.  Like a Prayer       Madonna
46.  Love Song        The Cure
47.  Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood        The Animals
48.  California Dreamin'         The Mamas and the Papas
49.  Only the Lonely          Roy Orbison
50.  Edge of Reality        Elvis Presley

See also
 
Top 50 albums of all time
Top 50 artists of all time