Superlatives are often thrown around rather haphazardly in every facet of existence, and the music world is no exception. Writers and publications often patch together lists that deem ten or twenty or a hundred songs, albums or artists as “the greatest,” “the best,” or some other hyperbole “of all time.” Why bother such an exercise in futility and exclusivity? Quite simply, because it’s fun.
I am not attempting to create such a list to stir debate or evoke emotion. Rather, this is more of a “journal entry,” a highly personal account of the dozen songs that have impacted me the most up to this point in my life. For some odd reason, I have decided to publicly post the results, as if anyone was truly concerned about such matters. To be honest, there are two motivations for such an action: 1. Let’s be honest, this hibernating blog could use some posts, and 2. I am just pleased that I was able to finally craft and finalize such a list.
To address the latter point, creating one of these definitive, “all-time” lists is borderline maddening. To take the large pool of music I have been exposed to in my lifetime and distill this into a compact list of surefire “greatest” songs is almost absurd. However, I think I have finally narrowed down the songs that most represents my current music taste. These songs all have a few things in common: They are all very influential on my interest in a particular artist or genre and they are all great enough to warrant the prestigious title of “infinite replay value.”
One quick caveat: I decided to neglect, for lack of a better umbrella term, “classic rock” songs. There are a ton of amazing ones out there, but I decided to limit my list to songs I was alive for upon release and that more directly impacted my musical taste.
Without further ado, here are My Top 12 Songs of All-Time…Right Now, one day at a time. Naturally, we begin at Number 12:
Single from the album Mellow Gold
Single Release Date: March 8, 1993
Billboard Hot 100 Peak Position: 10
Billboard Hot Modern Rock Tracks Peak Position: 1
Beck has been one of my favorite artists for a while now, consistently impressing with his wide-range of musical influences. While I was only a wee lad when initially released, most people would also likely cite “Loser” as the first Beck song to which they were introduced. No surprise: “Loser” was Beck’s breakthrough, and perhaps most popular, song, cracking the Top 10 on Billboard’s Hot 100, back when rock wasn’t music’s oft-neglected bastard child and things like that mattered in the first place. The song truly encapsulates what Beck does best: Seamless genre-blurring, nonsensical stream-of-consciousness faux-rapping and infectiousness. The song starts with that unmistakable slide guitar intro, which leads into Beck flawlessly sing-speaking about spray-painting the vegetables, beefcake pantyhose and shaving one’s face with mace in the dark over an unorthodox sitar backing. Then, there’s that chorus: “Soy un perdedor / I’m a loser, baby / So, why don’t you kill me?” While Beck claims that this is merely a reference to his poor rapping skills, its simplicity is still somehow profound. We can all relate at times to that pathetic, defeatist attitude that Beck is exuding, rather apathetically. It is as if to say that he recognizes his flaws, but could care less, as suggested by his sardonic claim to be killed. Beck has expanded his musical palette since Mellow Gold, but his initial folk roots will always be a part of his music, including “Loser”, which was his answer to getting his music heard: “I knew my folk music would take off, if I put hip-hop beats behind it.” Without a doubt, Beck definitely represents qualities I have appreciated over the years in music, and “Loser” is the distillation of said qualities.