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Popdose 100 Tag

It’s generally agreed upon that if you don’t have any new flavor to add to the original, you shouldn’t bother doing a cover.  But what exactly are the ingredients for a great cover?

There’s no secret recipe.  Some of the songs below are great because they completely deconstruct the original, stripping it down to its most basic components of chords and lyrics, and build it back up again in a completely different style.  For others, the genius of the original song was always present but the presentation was lacking, and when the talents of a different performer are added, the song gains a gravity that it didn’t have in its original form.  And some of them, whether by generational ignorance or through the general obscurity of the original artist, simply didn’t receive the exposure they needed for their greatness to be recognized until they were delivered by a more familiar voice.  But the finest of these, the ones we love the best, are simply great songs by great artists where the addition of a new twist and a new voice creates something that is greater than the sum of its parts.  You can hear and recognize the glory of the original version in every note of the cover, but the listening experience is taken to another level through the talents of the covering artist.

The process for generating our list was fairly simple.  We created a huge list (800+ songs) of nominees, and each of the authors that participated selected their own top 100.  Those top 100 lists were weighted on a curve and used to generate the list that you see below.  Next week, we’ll publish a separate “honorable mention” post featuring some of the songs that didn’t earn enough votes to make the list, but were important enough to individual authors that we wanted to make sure they received some attention as well.  If you’ve got a Spotify account, you can listen to most of the originals here, and the cover versions here.  If you don’t have an account yet, you can request an invitation (they issue them pretty promptly now).  Enjoy! — Zack Dennis

How many albums did you own ten years ago?

How many do you own now?

Without question, the last decade has seen a massive shift in the way we collect music, with an emphasis on the collect — thanks to mp3s, music has become one big all-you-can-eat buffet, devaluing everything from bootlegs to boxed sets while changing the definition of “huge collection” from hundreds of CDs to tens of thousands of binary files. And it seems like we’ve all become aware of a lot more music, too — this decade lacked a true superstar artist, but if you look back on the last ten years, chances are you’ll remember a handful of songs you fell in love with by artists most people have never heard of. Top 40 is dead, and now you’re the DJ.

Like our list of the decade’s best singles, our albums list is a blend of the major and the obscure — much like your own ever-expanding library, we imagine. How many of these do you own? How many did we miss? Let us hear about it in the comments!

As Jason Hare joked in his most recent Chart Attack!, radio’s influence has taken a remarkable tumble in the last several years. For a number of reasons, many of them problems created by the radio and music industries, people don’t turn to the airwaves for new music the way they used to, and as a result, the Billboard Top 40 is now less of a mirror for current trends than a hastily assembled crazy quilt of miniature, hitlike things that appeal briefly to small subsets of music listeners before blinking out — and, more often than not, leaving no impression after they’re gone.

Of course, from a certain very cynical point of view, the same thing could have been said about the Top 40 in recent decades — and in fact, we don’t bring up radio’s loss of gatekeeper status as an indictment of where music is now, but instead as a way of prefacing a very eclectic list that may not contain more than a handful of songs you’ve actually heard. And if you’ve spent any amount of time here, you know that isn’t because we’re a particularly hip group of writers; it’s simply a reflection of how many options there are for finding music now, how many subgenres there are, and perhaps above all, how rigidly many listeners stick with what they know.

So here’s hoping you find at least a few songs you’ve never heard before in this list of the 100 (okay, 103 — we couldn’t resist adding a few more) songs we loved the most over the last ten years. We’re all rabid music collectors now, and no one’s library is ever big enough — and what’s better for a real fan than the thrill of discovering something great? Happy listening!

51FCS66VA1L._SCLZZZZZZZ_[1]103. The Fratellis, “Chelsea Dagger
Armed with the best drunken barroom chorus since “Tubthumping,” the Fratellis apply the foolproof trick of using nonsense words for your biggest hook, thereby making your song instantly accessible. –David Medsker

102. Tegan and Sara, “You Wouldn’t Like Me
After two well-received indie records, twin sister pop-punk singer/songwriters Tegan and Sara Quin were due for a breakout. With the help of some well-placed songs in an up-and-coming medical drama called Grey’s Anatomy, and some smart Internet marketing, the Canadians did just that with their 2004 album, So Jealous. For new listeners, there was no better introduction to the introspective lyrics and fist-pumping/dance-around-the-room music of Tegan and Sara than the leadoff track, “You Wouldn’t Like Me.” It begins with a guitar and the sisters singing their trademark harmony. The song slowly builds as other musicians join in, until it’s a fury of guitars, drums and heartache. Pop perfection. –Scott Malchus

Last year’s Thanksgiving-timed Popdose 100 proved so popular that this season we’ve compiled three critical-consensus lists for your reading (and arguing) pleasure — documenting our choices for the best films, albums and songs of the 21st century’s first decade. In fact, we’ve become so enamored of building these lists that it wouldn’t be surprising, a couple years from now, to find us offering one every day from Thanksgiving to Christmas. (Nah … that might detract from Mellowmas.) What can we say? We just love to quantify what we like, using elaborate point systems.

We begin with the decade’s best movies — and, if nothing else, our list is certainly genre-film-friendly: Somewhere in the middle, Let the Right One In, Hellboy, Hot Fuzz and Mulholland Drive sit proudly side by side. Because our crew of participants isn’t all that big (11 of Popdose’s writers contributed), a few personal favorites that one might not expect somehow earned enough votes to make the cut (hello, Dodgeball!); nonetheless, we were all pleasantly surprised to see that our compiled Top 100 offers such a nice balance of prestige films and high-quality popcorn fare. Of course, since this list is being posted before Thanksgiving, 2009’s holiday films (and likely Oscar bait) aren’t represented; over the coming months we’ll no doubt be kicking ourselves that we didn’t yet know the quality of films like Up in the Air, Invictus, The Lovely Bones, Nine Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel… With that caveat in mind, away we go!

Welcome to the third installment of a continuing series exploring some of the best – and some of the most egregiously wronged – hits of the rock era. A whole lot of hits that only reached pop’s runner-up slot have been largely forgotten; for example, oldies radio seems to have little use for the Poppy Family’s “Which Way You Goin’ Billy?” or BT Express’ “Do It Til You’re Satisfied.” But at least, as I looked back at the 1950s and ’60s, it seemed a healthy proportion of the #2 hits were terrific, or truly important songs that were justifiably blocked by other great singles … or at least got the shaft from idiotic trifles whose momentary appeal was understandable.

But then there was the ’70s – when, as it turned out, most of the hits that broke down during the 199th lap were just as silly and insubstantial as the ones that took the checkered flag. (See how the euphemisms keep on comin’? It remains to be seen whether I can maintain this level of cleverness straight through the Oughts, or whether I’ll pull up lame in the final stretch. See – another one!) Anyway, here we go with 10 good ones from the Me Decade. As always, I’ll list some more #2s at the end, and we can debate their merits in the comments.

10. “YMCA,” the Village People. Be honest: Who would you rather have coming after your children – the innocuous, mustachioed and very gay Village People, or “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy”-era Rod Stewart? Well, if you answered Rod, you got your wish in the winter of ’79, as he pulled a Kris Allen on everyone’s favorite bunch of costumed Adam Lamberts and bogarted #1 for four weeks. As for the other 99.9 percent of us, we can take delight in the fact that the last time we heard “Do Ya Think,” we were able to fast-forward through it on the TiVo during the American Idol finale – while you get to dance along to “YMCA” (though not this remix) during every single professional baseball game ever. So there.

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9. “Live and Let Die,” Wings. Why did Paul McCartney’s Bond theme fail to reach the pinnacle? Maybe because it’s mostly an instrumental? Nah… (Edgar Winter’s “Frankenstein” had topped the chart just a couple months earlier.) Perhaps because nobody cared much about its host film? As if! (Live and Let Die topped the box office through much of June and July 1973, and was the 10th-biggest film of the year.) Perchance were there simply better songs out at the time? Well, the three (three!) songs that leaped over Roger Moore’s speedboat were Maureen McGovern’s “The Morning After,” fresh off its Poseidon Adventure Oscar victory; Diana Ross’ diva anthem “Touch Me in the Morning”; and Stories’ cover of Hot Chocolate’s “Brother Louie.” So I’d argue, no, that wasn’t it either. (Here’s the original version of the last song, which far less obviously references the Kingsmen.) Personally, I’d like to think that radio still had Macca in the penalty box for turning out so much crap over the past two years, up to and including his previous single “My Love” – one of the Worst #1 Songs of the ’70s.