"Top Five" greatest songs of all time


Each week, this list is your home for subjectively picked songs that are the best and brightest in a mélange of randomly conceived categories. But this week, let’s throw subjectivity out the window. The songs on this list are truly the upper echelon of the worldwide music landscape – the tiny bubbles of foam at the top of a pint of freshly poured draft beer, the cherry on top of an ice cream sundae. The artists on this list have provided listeners with a lifetime of musical enjoyment with these songs and are deserving of constant praise and recognition. Yes, it’s been danced around for months in this column, but here are the five best songs ever recorded. Ever.

“Rollin” – Limp Bizkit
What the Beatles are to Liverpool, Limp Bizkit is to Jacksonville. No Jacksonville band has better captured the culture, attitude and lifestyle of the city like this group of musical virtuosos. When listing the best songwriters of all time, frontman Fred Durst has to get some consideration along with greats like Bob Dylan, Brian Wilson and Paul Simon. How can you argue this after hearing the lyrics “Move in, now move out/ Hands up, now hands down/ Back up, back up/ Tell me what you’re gonna do now/ Breathe in, now breathe out/ Hands up, now hands down/ Back up, back up/ Tell me what you’re gonna do now/ Keep rollin’ rollin’ rollin’ rollin’”? It’s unclear why this song wasn’t considered for a Pulitzer Prize in music, but rest assured someone on the deciding board lost their job because of it.

“We Built this City” – Starship
What happens when hippie musicians (Jefferson Airplane) grow up and stop making important psychedelic music at the frontline of the counter-culture movement of the ‘60s? They take corporate money and write a song against taking corporate money. And when you write a powerhouse of a song like this one, you deserve all the money you make, no matter how ironic it is. In this song, record executives – who obviously know the most about music – created beautifully synthesized, slickly-polished instrumentation that is carried out by singer Grace Slick and the best studio musicians’ money can buy. Starship rattles off the soundtrack to the everyday heroes of the rat race who put their backs into their living on a quarterly basis on Wall Street. On top of that, the song’s lyrics serve as a constant reminder that rock and roll rebellion owes a debt of gratitude to Jefferson Airplane, Jefferson Starship, Starship or whatever they decide to call the band that day. There is absolutely nothing pretentious or greedy about this song.

“What’s Up?” – 4 Non Blondes
In music, it’s rare when the stars align and a popular genre of music comes out from the underground and finds its rallying anthem. But grunge music found its perfect storm when these dreadlocked, drop-dead-delicious-divas hit the scene in the early ‘90s. While their peers were busy writing socially conscious and anti-mainstream songs, 4 Non Blondes went in a refreshingly different direction with this tune. Who needs to elicit change when you can just proclaim lyrically: “I said hey! What’s goin’ on?/ And I sing hey-yeah-yea-eah, eah hey yea yea/ I said hey! What’s goin’ on?/ oooh, oo! ooh-hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo/ oo-ooh-hoo-hoo-hoo-hoooo-ahh-haa”? And their influence didn’t stop with this genius-level social commentary. Who could forget vocalist Linda Perry’s top hat adorned with ski goggles from the video? From Paris to Milan to New York, her uber-practical look for all seasons is still being celebrated.

“Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American)” – Toby Keith
Git-R-Done! This country is great. So freakin’ great, we can write songs about being an unapologetically imperialistic bully on the world stage. Toby Keith reminds us all that it’s perfectly fine to pound our chests in an orgasmically patriotic way and denounce those whose ideas and culture we don’t understand. When Keith sings: “Justice will be served/ And the battle will rage/ This big dog will fight/ When you rattle his cage/ And you’ll be sorry that you messed with/ The U.S. of A./ cause well put a boot in your ass/ It’s the American way,” the bloodlust he evokes is so damn enjoyable, you’ll be hard-pressed to keep your 1985 Chevy Blazer with 44-inch swamper tires on the trail, at least without spilling your can of beer and tobacco spit cup. Amen, brother.

“Butterfly” – Crazy Town
Why is it that semi-buff, tattooed, shirtless guys with bleached hair always make the best music? It’s a mystery, but the guys in Crazy Town sure adhere to this formula. However, the appeal doesn’t stop there. By calling themselves “Shifty Shellshock” and “Epic,” these two upstanding L.A.-natives further legitimized their talent by creating personas that everyone who shops at Hot Topic can look up to. Whether you work at a 7-11, sell pot to middle-schoolers out of a dark van or dress like a prostitute and sweat out your troubles on the dance floor with a fist full of ecstasy, this song is for you. And if you love double entendres and one of the sickest, most complex beats ever carved into wax, you’re enthralled when “Come my lady/ Come, come my lady/ You’re my butterfly/ Sugar, baby/ Come my lady, you’re my pretty baby,/ I’ll make your legs shake/ You make me go crazy,” pumps through a club.

Compiled by Jason Yurgartis.