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My Favorite Songs of the Years: 1977-2010

I decided to cater to my OCD and make a list of all of my favorite songs, one for each year (and a runner-up) from 1977 to today. A few years – notably 1979, 1994, and 2006 – were very difficult for me as there were many songs I liked from those years. In some cases, I couldn’t help but having more than one runner-up. Other years – 1985, for instance – I couldn’t even find another song I loved besides the ones on my list. Enjoy.


Bodies – The Sex Pistols

Runner-up: He’s a Whore – Cheap Trick


Surrender – Cheap Trick

Runner-up: Kentucky Avenue – Tom Waits


Leaving Home Ain’t Easy – Queen

Runners-up: Counting the Beat – The Swingers, Hateful – The Clash


Pulling Mussls from the Shell – Squeeze

Runner-up: Crowds – Bauhaus


11th Street Kidzz – Hanoi Rocks

Runner-up: The KKK Took My Baby Away – The Ramones


Town Called Malice – The Jam

Runner-up: Oriental Beat – Hanoi Rocks


Poor Girl – X

Runner-up: Add It Up – The Violent Femmes


I Will Dare – The Replacements

Runner-up: A Spy In the House of Love – The dB’s


Road to Nowhere – The Talking Heads

Runner-up: Swingin’ Party – The Replacements


Erica’s Word – Game Theory

Runner-up: Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want – The Smiths


Livin’ on a Prayer – Bon Jovi

Runner-up: Innocent When You Dream (78) – Tom Waits


Straight Outta Compton – N.W.A.

Runner-up: Carolyn’s Fingers – The Cocteau Twins


Ana Ng – They Might Be Giants

Runner-up: Poison – Alice Cooper


Late – Trip Shakespeare

Runner-up: Golden Blunders – The Posies


Couldn’t Call It Unexpected #4 – Elvis Costello

Runner-up: Green Mind – Dinosaur Jr


Summer Babe (Winter Version) – Pavement

Runner-up: That Summer Feeling – Jonathan Richman


Dumbjaw – Barkmarket

Runner-up: Ghost at Number One – Jellyfish


Couldn’t You Wait – Silkworm

Runner-up: You Tripped at Every Step – Elvis Costello, Goin’ Through Your Purse – Material Issue


Big Brown Eyes – Old 97’s

Runner-up: She Digs Her – You Am I


Why Bother? – Weezer

Runner-up: Can’t Make Your Life – Lilys


Timebomb – Old 97’s

Runner-up: Brick – Ben Folds Five


These Others – The Vandalias

Runner-up: Painted from Memory – Elvis Costello & Burt Bacharach


I Try – Macy Gray

Runner-up: Papa Was a Rodeo – The Magnetic Fields


Calling All Destroyers – Tsar

Runner-up: Rollerskate Skinny – Old 97’s


Down Like Me – Ken Stringfellow

Runner-up: With Tired Eyes, Tired Minds, Tired Souls, We Slept – Explosions in the Sky


The Seed – Cody Chestnutt

Runner-up: Beauty Is the Beast – The Ark


In the House – In a Heartbeat – John Murphy

Runner-up: Alright – The Lost Patrol


Can’t Stand Me Now – The Libertines

Runner-up: Me and Mia – The Pharmacists and Ted Leo


Reconsider Me – Moneybrother

Runner-up: Start Wearing Purple – Gorgol Bordello


Teenagers – My Chemical Romance

Runners-up: Wild Is the Wind – The Second Band, Morning After Pill – Louis Logic & JJ Brown, Backstabber – The Dresden Dolls


Tears Dry on Their Own – Amy Winehouse

Runner-up: Say It’s Possible – Terra Naomi


No Song – The Second Band

Runner-up: The World Should Revolve Around Me – Little Jackie


When We Swam – Thao and the Get Down Stay Down

Runner-up: That Look You Gave That Guy – The Eels


When Universes Collide – Gogol Bordello

Runner-up: Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na) – My Chemical Romance

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Category: LISTS

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  • Hanoi Rocks makes it twice! Love it. I rarely see them get any nods in best of list. Love ’em too. Great list.

  • Great list, James. Out of curiosity, why 1977? Did you just stick a bunch of calendars in a hat and pull one at random or is there some special significance?

    • The Sex Pistols were extremely important to my life, so they seemed like a good place to start. I’m also much more conscious of music post-punk than pre-punk.

      • Makes sense. I could never narrow it down to a song list but I did start work on a blog last year picking one favorite album from every year since my birth. I abandoned it because I didn’t feel it was focused enough. Half the albums were legitimate favorites even today but the rest were simply significant to me at the time and I didn’t feel that Meco’s “Star Wars And Other Galactic Funk” deserved to be on the same list as The Pogues’ “Rum, Sodomy And The Lash”.

  • Man, I love it when James does music lists! Just like old times, eh guys?

    I was so into The Ramones and the Sex Pistols in the 80’s and then toned it down a little when I discovered Duran Duran but I’ve always had somewhat of an eclectic music history.

    Ironically enough, I was too busy with a baby and being a single mom in the 90’s when the whole grunge thing hit so I missed most of the local scene that blew up like crazy around the rest of the country.

    I do think My Chemical Romance is brilliant and far too underrated as an “emo” band. The Black Parade has legs and future generations will dig it.

  • Cool list. I remember I bought the Clay Pigeons soundtrack just to get that Old 97’s tune. And the rest of the music ain’t bad either.

    I remember Alice Cooper’s Poison. It was the first time I’d heard of him since the Jason 6 movie. It was all over MTV at the time. And yes, I watched the shit out of MTV when I was a kid. It was a time when MTV was awesome and VH1 was the pussy channel.

    I never really got into Bauhaus all that much, but I loved the Bela Lugosi and Terror Couple tunes.

    I liked the first couple Weezer ablums, but not so much the others.

    Have you given Wednesday 13 or Murderdolls a chance? Murderdolls do a Dawn of the Dead tribute on the Beyond the Valley of the Murderdolls. And the lead singer Wednesday 13 pulled a Rob Zombie and went on his own, but the music is just as good.

  • Great list! Really amazing. I wouldn’t know where to start if I tried such a list. Though I think “Timebomb” would by my 1997 entry, too. I love your John Murphy entry. I think my most played album of 2004 was the “Intermission” soundtrack, which has some of his score from the film and some great tunes (including Colin Farrell doing a scruffy rendition of “I Fought the Law” that I thought was pretty dang good).

    I think of all the songs on your list I was most surprised by “Living on a Prayer”. Great pick though!

    • Man, who hasn’t done an I Fought the Law cover. I think Dead Kennedys did an amusing one. And there was a pretty good one by Mary’s Danish.

      But I would be the same on not knowing where to begin a list like this. There’s so much music out there. Out of all the music that was in this list, Livin’ on a Prayer stood out to me as well. Not because I loved it. I thought it was an okay song and all, but I think I was more fascinated with Def Leppard, but I think they were really integrated into 1988 as far as popularity was concerned. But then Bon Jovi’s Bad Medicine came out, which I thought was an awesome video. It was shot by fans in the audience. I think they had so much footage that they wound up editing a couple versions.

      But I will say, even today 1994 still rocks ass with Frank Black’s Teenager of the Year and Speedy Marie is still a top fave.

    • I was most surprised by Living on a Prayer as well. But I have to admit, as cheesy as it is, I still love that song and rock out every time it comes up on my iPod.

      • Troy Hart

        I was also surprised by Living on a Prayer because, if memory serves, that song came out about the same time as Master of Puppets, so I hated Bon Jovi. LOL. It’s a great karaoke song though.