1. Blur, “Song 2”. I know Blur have made other songs … they have seven albums, after all. But this is the only one I know, and most American sports fans couldn’t tell you the name of the band (or the song). But we know “Woo hoo!”
2. Missy Elliott, “The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)”. There have been a shitload of inventive samples throughout the history of hip-hop, and I marvel at the ability to hear a tiny piece of a larger recording and know it’s just the right sample. Ann Peebles makes a terrific sample here, but I can’t call it surprising … even my ears can tell it’s perfect.
3. Cornershop, “Brimful of Asha”. The first of three songs that bring 1997 back with great immediacy. I can’t have been the only person in the States who sang along without having the slightest idea what it was about.
4. Hanson, “Mmmbop”. An underrated band comes up with a great single that they will never match, although they deserve credit for trying. Earlier this year they launched their own beer: Mmmhops. The video link is one of my favorites.
5. Chumbawamba, “Tubthumping”. The punk anarchist version of “Song 2”.
6. Shania Twain, “You’re Still the One”. Honestly, all I knew about her for many years was that Jon Landau managed her for a while. I know this song, though.
7. Pavement, “Stereo”. I grapple with Pavement to this day, yet I’ve never gotten any further than my early assessment that I would have loved them very much if I had been born fifteen years later than I was.
8. Spice Girls, “Wannabe”. Another video I love. Yes, their “rebellious” behavior is harmless rather than revolutionary, the lyrics are silly, and Posh comes across as fairly useless (in part because she was not very involved in the recording of the song). It was created in a manner to make a Ramone proud: 30 minutes to write it, an hour to record it. The video is one take, which means they practiced a lot before running the camera. I love the way they have to turn their heads whenever they’re dancing backwards, so they don’t bump into anything. It’s a tossup which is the more delightful pop tune from 1997, this one or “Mmmbop”.
9. Puff Daddy & the Family, “I’ll Be Missing You”. Second only to “Come to Me” as a hip-hop revision of a classic rock band (which is what the Police turned out to be), and it has the added factor of the emotions being real.
10. Sleater-Kinney, “One More Hour”. The pleasures I get from Sleater-Kinney are bittersweet. I knew I loved them … I did see them in concert 12 times. But it was clear when they went on “hiatus” that they would be gone for a lot longer than that word implied. “One More Hour” is one of the greatest break-up songs, not just in the lyrics, but in the way the song is constructed around the simultaneous voices of Corin and Carrie. Yet, as with most of their music, when I hear it now, it hurts inside. The quality of the video in the link is pretty lo-fi, but it shows the band closing the last show they ever performed together.
[edited to add Spotify playlist]