Great songs, according to me (Part 38)
371. My Lovin' (You're Never Gonna Get It) (by En Vogue on the album Funky Divas, 1992): This album is very good, thanks to strong tunes like this, a great pop single that feels older and more classic than it actually is. The ladies of En Vogue cruise nastily through the song, kissing off their potential mates who don't respect them, and the doo-wop bit at the end is amazing. They often blended well in their songs, but rarely did they do it better than on this, as they flipped back and forth throughout, creating a rich tapestry of vocals. Plus, it's a funky little groove.
372. My Name Is Prince (by Prince on the album that has the weird symbol thing as a name, 1992): This album marked the end, really, of Prince's dominance of the charts. It had a few singles that charted, but after Diamonds and Pearls, Prince kind of fell off the pop culture map. Which is a shame, because this weird concept album and The Gold Experience (1995) are two of the better albums Prince has in his catalogue, and this song kicks it all off. It's a hard-rocking dance tune with a shocking change for the Purple One, in that he raps. Plus, he has a "guest rapper" as well. It's a celebratory song about himself, of course, but it's musically amazing, somewhat coarse (I know, another shock), and quite fun. Prince takes a nice shot at Michael Jackson along the way, too. It shows what Prince can do both sonically (the guitar is astonishing) and lyrically (he mixes God in, as usual, and manages to to be spiritual and profane, often in the same verse). It's too bad Prince is known only for the stuff he did in the 1980s, because the Nineties were a marvelous decade creatively for him.
373. Mysterious Ways (by U2 on the album Achtung Baby, 1991): Do I really need to write about how great this song is? This was the first U2 album I bought (I liked The Joshua Tree, but never bought it, and then Krys had it when we got together, so that took care of that), and it was partly because of this song. It's got that great funky vibe and those great lyrics ("If you want to kiss the sky, better learn how to kneel"), and it just gets inside you and twists you around. U2 was never better than this album (and yes, I do like The Joshua Tree), and "Mysterious Ways" is a big reason why.
374. The Name Of The Game (by ABBA on the album The Album, 1977): This is a lesser-known ABBA song, but it's still a great one. It reflects the latter-day ABBA in that the sad songs are a bit sadder than earlier in their career (1974-75), where they were more likely to sing songs about breaking up with a snarky attitude. This is the work of more mature songwriters, as the music is weightier than earlier songs, and the lyrics show a more jaundiced view toward relations between lovers: "And you make me talk/And you make me feel/And you make me show/What I'm trying to conceal/If I trust in you/Would you let me down/Would you laugh at me/If I said I care for you/Could you feel the same way too/I wanna know the name of the game." The music begins with a dark, jazzy groove, and then soars along with Agnetha and Frida's despairing harmonizing. It's just another marvelous song from everyone's favorite Swedish supergroup.
375. Nashville (by Indigo Girls on the album Rites Of Passage, 1992): As you may know, I'm not a huge fan of country music, but the Indigo Girls are more folksy, so when they write a song about Nashville, it transcends genre and becomes a great song. Musically, the song is nothing special (jangly, twangy guitars - you know what it sounds like!), but Amy's scratchy vocals and the lyrics about the way the town seduces you and then betrays you makes this a great tune. It's a song of failure, which is unusual, as we usually get a defiant tone from the singer unless it's a love song. The singer in "Nashville" has been defeated, and it lends a certain gravitas to the song and makes it much more interesting.
376. Nervous Breakthrough (by Luscious Jackson on the album Electric Honey, 1999): This is the first track off of this album, and I absolutely love it. It's too bad it's the first track, because there's no place to go but down (although "Ladyfingers," the second track, is almost as good, and then there's an unfortunate drop in quality). "Nervous Breakthrough" begins with a funky street scene sound, with a whirring beat that draws you slowly into the song. Then the horns start, and so do the vocals: "Sometimes somebody can bring you down so far, below anywhere you've gone ..." The lyrics are stellar, reminding us that "all the best things make you nervous, and all the best things come in disguise." Throughout, the beat keeps things breezy, providing a groovy foundation for a hopeful song. It's a pop song, sure, but an excellent one.
377. Never A Time (by Genesis on the album We Can't Dance, 1991): A fine love song on the "last" Genesis album (the 1995 one doesn't count), this song is somewhat like the schlockiest of the Phil Collins love songs, but Collins, whenever he's with the band, seems to rein in his mawkish tendencies and actually write good love songs, and this is one of them. The music is typical - lush Tony Banks string arrangements, smooth jazzy Mike Rutherford guitar - but Phil manages to sing the fine lyrics earnestly, not with a wink (the problem with many of his solo tunes), and we believe him when he says, "It's a long long way to fall when we both thought we had it all ..." This is an excellent example of a return to form for Genesis on this album after the overwrought Invisible Touch.
378. Never Satisfied (by Living Colour on the album Stain, 1993): This might be Living Colour's best album, but it was their poorest-selling and last for a decade, which is a shame. It gets them back to a hard-rock edge after Time's Up (which is a good album, but somehow off), and this song exemplifies that kind of vibe. Corey Glover snarls the lyrics, and the chorus is a celebration of nastiness: "I will never be satisfied until it ends it tears." But it's also a sad song, as Glover is despairing his awful lot in life. Meanwhile, Vernon Reid's guitar brings the right amount of fuzz and crunch to the song. It's a great song on a very good album. Too bad it didn't sell!
379. Neverland (by Marillion on the album Marbles, 2004): I can't seem to make it through one of these lists without a Marillion song, so I apologize for that. I just love them so much! This is the most recent great song I have on this list, because I made this list back in 2004 and haven't had a chance to update it yet. It's the final song on this double album, and it begins with a beautiful piano introduction and musically rises to a stellar guitar solo and then back down to a quiet ending. Lyrically is where the song shines, though, as Steve Hogarth tells a gorgeous love story about being a better person because of someone else's love: "At times like these, any fool can see your love inside me." He winds his way through a Peter Pan metaphor and ends triumphantly. It's the kind of song that is great on its own, but its position on the album makes it even better.
380. Next To You (by The Police on the album Outlandos D'Amour, 1978): I'm not the biggest Police fan, but their first album is pretty darned good, and this, the first song, sets a great tone. It's a love song, sure, but it has a good snotty punk vibe to it, and Sting has yet to become the pompous pretentious blowhard he later became. It's not a terribly important song, but for just under 3 minutes, you get a pure piece of music, and there's nothing wrong with that!
I know I am posting these a bit more slowly than I used to, but I hope nobody minds. Considering my tiny audience, I don't think there will be much of an uproar. But as usual, if you want to tell me how very wrong I am, feel free! I can take it!