Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Rock, Radio, and my favorite songs

As I state in my Blogger profile, my favorite genre of music is classic rock, with a spotlight on the 80's. I love the big hair bands, the hair metal, the anthem rock, the power ballads, the over-the-top songs and performances. It's what rock is all about to me. And more than anything else, I love the sound of the guitar that was popular then, especially the solos. The lead guitar was on equal footing as the lead singer in so much of 80's rock, and that's where it belongs. There's not a lot of current rock that I enjoy, and it's mostly because rock now focuses more on beats, rhythms, and repeatable riffs rather than meticulously intricate guitar playing. I also love long rock epics, and there's very little of that anymore. Almost everything now seems to fit neatly into the 3:30-4:30 minute range, to please radio producers, I imagine. And when a song is "too long," parts are cut out - usually the instrumental portions that are just as important to the feel of the song as the chorus and hook.

This is one reason that about the only radio station I listen to (when I'm not listening to my iPod) is 95.5 KLOS in the Greater Los Angeles area. They play tons of classic rock, they'll play 20-minute songs, they'll even play entire albums. It's great, and I discover more awesome songs all the time.

Without further ado, here's what I currently consider my favorite 20 songs.

20) Right Side of Wrong - Bon Jovi

This song has one recurring theme with most of my favorite songs: it tells a story. I love storytelling (as is evidenced by my writing and voracious reading), and doing it to great music is awesome. And I think Jon Bon Jovi has a great voice that's just perfect for it.

19) Shooting Star - Bad Company

Another story. Great vocals, great story, and some beautiful guitar solos. I especially like how the second solo builds, and builds, and builds to the climax.

18) More Than Words - Extreme

I saw Extreme in concert last year in Vegas at the House of Blues at Mandalay Bay. Great show, and this song was incredible. It's very different from most on this list, as it's very stripped down and almost simplistic. The guitar is incredible, and the harmonies and falsettos are beautiful.

17) Turn the Page - Metallica

The Bob Seger version is okay, but Metallica took this song and made it shine. The grittiness that James Hetfield brings to the vocals makes it a more powerful story.

16) You're All I Need - Mötley Crüe

I love power ballads, and this one is a great one, even if the lyrics are twisted and disturbing. It shows a diversity to Mötley Crüe's music that is often overlooked.

15) Paint it Black - The Rolling Stones

I'm not a big Stones fan, as I can generally take 'em or leave 'em. Something about Paint it Black really appeals to me, however. I love the main guitar riff, and the lyrics are fun.

14) Free Bird - Lynyrd Skynyrd

What would a top 20 list of classic rock songs be without Free Bird? It's so iconic, so great, and the guitar solos so could I pass it up?

13) Paradise City - Guns N' Roses

As is typical for GnR, the guitar riffs and solos in this song are nearly beyond belief. Slash is easily my all time favorite guitarist, and he's in fine form in this song.

12) Juke Box Hero - Foreigner

Another story. This one makes it mostly on the power of Lou Gramm's voice. The slow beat of the intro pulsing in the background, he describes the scene and the scream of the guitar, and I can see what he's describing. Awesome.

11) Hotel California - The Eagles

Yep, another story. I love how, similar to Free Bird, the lyrics end relatively early in the song, and the rest is just pure instrumental. I want to write a book using this song as a base, but something tells me I'd never persuade The Eagles to let me do it.

10) The Unforgiven - Metallica

A lot of Metallica fans think that they went "commercial" with the black album. I disagree; I simply think they expanded their abilities and reached new heights. This song is, you guessed it, another story. The song contains everything that defines Metallica to me: great, soft intro leading into powerful vocals and heavy guitar, and a great solo.

9) Cliffs of Dover - Eric Johnson

The only pure instrumental song on this list, this one is all about the beauty of a well-played electric guitar. Great intro, catchy chorus, and awesome solos.

8) Dry County - Bon Jovi

An epic song with a compelling story, sung by Jon Bon Jovi's hauntingly mournful voice. And the band's best solo of all their work.

7) Don't Stop Believing - Journey

One of the greatest karaoke songs of all time, and I don't even like karaoke. But when this song comes on in the car, when I'm alone, I sing as if I was on stage.

6) Foreplay / Long Time - Boston

Boston's Peace of Mind and More Than a Feeling just missed this top 20. I love their very-distinctive sound, and Brad Delp was one of the greatest vocalists in rock history.

5) God Gave Rock and Roll to You II - KISS

I just love this song. Guitar that practically sings the lyrics, good solo, and a great premise.

4) Bohemian Rhapsody - Queen

Freddy Mercury just may have been the best vocalists ever. Simply incredible. And Queen just may be the best band ever. Only their innovative, groundbreaking style could bring about a song such as Bohemian Rhapsody. Who else can merge soft a cappellas, heavy guitar solos, rock and roll, bell chords, and fricking opera?

3) November Rain - Guns N' Roses

Probably the most beautiful guitar solos I've ever heard, and Axl Rose singing beautifully. What more needs to be said?

2) 18 and Life - Skid Row

Sebastian Bach's performance is so guttural, so passionate, that it feels real. He makes you believe Ricky really exists, that his trials and tribulations were actually happening.

1) Sweet Child o' Mine - Guns N' Roses

Sweet Child o' Mine features one of the most famous guitar riffs of all time, one of the first that aspiring guitarists try to learn and play as soon as they get their instrument. It's ironic that Slash had to be convinced by his band mates to include the riff in a song, as he thought it was too simplistic and used it as part of his warm-up routine. Axl Rose was at the top of his game when he sang this song. It's just a shame that Axl is so adamant about never working with the rest of GnR again as long as he lives. He may release new albums using the same band name, but everybody knows it's not really Guns N' Roses.

1 comment:

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