“Jesus Etc.” is one of the catchier tracks from Wilco’s (in)famous Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. YHF was the album which got them expelled from their label, only to be streamed free on the internet by the band and become a consensus pick for best album of 2001 (and, finally, land them at another label that was part of the same parent label that kicked them out in the first place!). The song has remained a staple of their live shows for years and is a fan favourite.
After “I Say a Little Prayer,” “Walk On By” is Dionne Warwick’s biggest hit of the ’60s and it’s one of her most iconic songs. The song, written for her by Burt Bacharach and Hal David, is also one of her most covered, with countless versions including hits by Isaac Hayes, Sybil and many others. There are so many covers, it’s hard to imagine a new take on the song.
Even 33 years later, “It’s The End Of The World As We Know It And I Feel Fine)” remains one of R.E.M.‘s most iconic songs. From Michael Stipe’s rapid-fire, pop-culture reference-filled lyrics on the verses to the very catchy chorus, it’s instantly recognizable and fun song to (attempt to) sing along to. It has endured longer than any other of the band’s 80s hits, despite reaching only #69 on the Hot 100 on its initial release and it’s possible it’s more famous than any other song of theirs outside of maybe “Man on the Moon” or “Everybody Hurts”. It’s back in vogue with the pandemic, with Michael Stipe using the chorus to introduce his recent PSA about staying home and washing your hands.
“Holes” is the lead track to Mercury Rev’s chamber pop classic Deserter’s Songs, a musical left-turn for them which saved their career. The songs feature elaborate, orchestrated arrangements around Jonathan Donahue’s fragile voice and “Holes” is no exception. The song begins with mellotron approximating an orchestrate but more and more instruments join the wurlitzer and tambourine accompanying his voice, slowly building to a massive crescendo featuring, among other things, a musical saw.
“Never Tear Us Apart” is perhaps INXS’s most famous ballad, a dramatic waltz with synthesizer strings and an iconic saxophone break. The song is about an intense romantic connection between two people that feels like it will last forever.
Kraftwerk’s “Autobahn” is a landmark fusion of experimental German electronic music and pop hooks. Most people have only heard the single version, a three-minute edit of the 22-minute track, which could be considered the first ever synthpop song and became an international hit. Though Kraftwerk’s version contains a few organic instruments like guitar, it is primarily composed of electronic instruments and prominently features electronically distorted vocals. The success of the song showed that there was commercial potential for music made largely with electronic instruments, whereas most electronic music prior to its success was a very niche thing.