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Killer Pop Songs, Round One

These tunes are in no particular order, and do not suggest a list of the greatest songs on the planet.  They are pop songs that get stuck in my head, so they are well-done.  I've picked only one song by any given artist, otherwise I could fill the list by just listing the Beatles' discography.  Here goes:

“Surrender” Cheap Trick

The ultimate ode to teenage/parent frustration, and possibly the best power pop song ever.

“Candy Music” Stupid Club

Neal Cleary is amazing, and deserves worldwide attention.  This track off his first album, released under the Stupid Club name but really a solo album, is a great tribute to pop music.  A little derivative maybe, but up-frontedly so and charming as hell.

“Ridin’ In My Car” NRBQ

A line from this is cribbed in the abovementioned Neil Cleary track.  Teenage desperation, with no prospects and no worries, and a girl to cruise the town with.  If only life were this simple. “I can’t find no true love, oh baby it’s so hard/ but I still think about you every time when I’m riding in my car…”

“Burn Don’t Freeze” Sleater-Kinney

I have no idea what they’re saying in this song, not even sure which album it’s off (call the doctor?).  I have a crappy MP3 copy and am blown away by the round-robin harmonizing that goes on.  These girls rock, but they also know how to craft an amazing, catchy, intricate melody.

“Train In Vain” The Clash

Everyone knows this song.  Everyone knows it’s not about trains.  It’s a really catchy way of saying ‘thanks a lot, peckerhead’ to a lover that left you.  Wonderful stuff.

“Picture Book” The Kinks

It’s damned hard to pick one Kinks song for a list like this, so I pulled what’s probably the catchiest track off of arguably their greatest album.  Picked up for an HP Photo Printer commercial recently, this song deserves wider recognition.  That walking bass line, cracking snare, and irresistible melody keep you humming all day long. “Picture book/ pictures of your mama/ taken by your papa/ a long time ago…”

“Baby Green Eyes” Husker D�

Yeah, Husker D� were kings of ‘alternative rock’ in the 80’s, and were known for their visceral punk-pop.  Bob Mould has been given the bulk of the spotlight in the course of history, but drummer and songwriter Grant Hart was the true pop genius in the band.   This one off of 1985’s Flip Your Wig showcases Hart’s pop sensibility and pushes   Mould’s bile and buzzsaw guitar to the side for a spell.

“Bobcaygeon” Tragically Hip

My wife really likes these guys.   I think they are a really good bar band.   A bar band with intelligent, bordering on pretentious lyrics, and tight as can be. Well this song belongs on this list due only to the lyric, “When I left your house this morning/ ‘bout a quarter after nine/ could have been the Willie Nelson/ could have been the wine…”

“Radio” Teenage Fanclub

I really wanted to include something from TF’s 1991 album Bandwagonesque, since that one has probably most consistently been in my rotation since high school.  Problem is, as great as that album is, I hear it as a song cycle, and while I can digest it as a whole, I rarely leave the table humming any one track.   Okay, maybe ‘Star Sign.’ But really, ‘Radio,” off their followup, Thirteen, sticks in your head for a long time, bouncing that melody around your skull.  Isn’t that what Pop music is about?

“Game of Pricks” Guided By Voices

Yeah, Bob Pollard has written about a million songs, some great, some pretty good, some need work.  During GBV’s tenure they never topped their ninety-second pop masterpiece about being a shitty husband off of 1995’s Alien Lanes.

 

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