Sunday, March 2, 2014

Play Them Again, Sam!: 10 Songs I Can Never Listen to Just Once

Some great songs are like potato chips. Betcha can't eat just one of Lay's savory snack staple, and once is never enough when the iPod shuffle lands on certain favorite tunes. Standout musical moments, though, don't necessarily make you want to hit repeat. Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven" and Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" are two of rock & roll's most iconic numbers, but after eight and nearly six minutes, respectively, does anybody really want to hear either one more time?

The key to ensuring that a great song demands repeat listening is not only making it catchy and high quality but keeping it short and sweet enough that it always sounds like it's ending way too soon.

"Nathan Jones" The Supremes If I had to live out my days with only one song by The Supremes on my iPod, it would be a 1971 Top 20 hit (and Top 5 UK hit) that came two years after Diana Ross left.

"More Than a Feeling" Boston The unprolific band's 1976 debut single contains what might be the best fade-out outro of the '70s, if not in the history of rock & roll. The song within the song may very well be the song itself.

"The Cutter" Echo and the Bunnymen Thirty-one years and a million listens later, I still have no idea what it's about, but every time Echo's first and biggest Top 10 UK hit (No. 8) gets to 3:34, and Ian McCulloch sounds like he's blowing up up and away on the other side of a wind tunnel, I know I'll soon be listening to it all over again.

"Dead" Pixies Two minutes and twenty-one seconds of infectious cacophony from 1989's Doolittle, Pixies crowning artistic and commercial achievement and one of the best albums of the decade, if not in the history of rock & roll.

"Angel" Belly I once spent an hour dancing around my apartment to this song after coming home from a club in New York City, and I still wasn't ready for the night, or the song, to end.

"Uh Oh" Jonny Polonsky I first listened to Polonsky's 1996 debut album, Hi My Name Is Jonny, because he reminded me of an ex-boyfriend. I kept listening to it because of the 10th and final track.

"Islands in the Sun" Weezer The perfect song to listen to on repeat while running along the boardwalk in Tel Aviv, or in Cape Town.

"Better Version of Me" (the unreleased versions) Fiona Apple So worthy of a second spin that the bootleg version of Apple's 2005 Extraordinary Machine contained two versions of it.

"I Love It" Icona Pop featuring Charli XCX More than a year after I heard it for the first time on an episode of Girls, the Swedish duo's international smash still sounds so fresh, like it was just released yesterday.

"Applause" Lady Gaga So good (still) that it almost makes me sad that for the moment, Gaga's moment has apparently passed.

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