The 411 Music Top Five 08.27.13: The Top 5 Songs Named After People
Posted by Jeremy Thomas on 08.27.2013
From Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean" and Ozzy Osbourne's "Mr. Crowley" to The Police's "Roxanne," Aerosmith's “Janie's Got A Gun" and more, the 411 staff counts down their top 5 songs named after people!
THE TOP 5 SONGS NAMED AFTER PEOPLE
Criteria: Summertime is almost done, and there has been a lot of music released during it. Some definite highs but some pretty soul-shattering lows as well. We're going with the lows this week, and thus we present to you the worst songs that came to infect the airwaves during the summer time of 2013!
Annihilator - "Alison Hell": An amazing piece of thrash about a girl who is going insane and her parents won't do a thing to help her, happy stuff, right?
Megadeth - "Mary Jane": A nice creepy song about a man being haunted by the ghost of a woman. Love Megadeth and it's definitely one of the best tracks off of, 'So Far, So Good, So What?'.
5. Joe Bonamassa - "The Ballad of John Henry"
This was the first song that I thought of that didn't have something to do with Odin (I decided to let Amon Amarth rest this week), this song is the song that introduced me to one of my favorite non metal artists (which is a really short list, because so much metal, so little time). This song has such a great intro, it's fairly simple but it carries quite a nice punch, and is very memorable, if not for the simple repetition of, "Who killed John Henry?". The song pretty much does a tribute to the story of John Henry, who battled a steam powered hammer with his own human driven one in a race to see who could work the most. Henry won in the end, but died for his efforts, and that is the story of this song. It's admittedly a bit repetitive, but it's a damn fine song that I must have listened to a hundred times in the time I've owned the album titled by the same name.
4. Sabaton - "Carolous Rex"
It's sad really, how I love this album SO much, yet haven't really delved into Sabaton like I should be, considering that the album this song is off of has been almost nonstop in my car stereo for months now. But let me get to the song, if the name doesn't give it away, it's about Sweden's Charles XII who was the ruler of the country for 21 years and did a pretty good job, by what I've heard. The song could very well be described as epic and very catchy, which really is a calling card for Sabaton, who thrive on such music. But this song here is the centerpiece of their pretty fun album that is also titled, 'Carolous Rex', I'd at least give this song a listen, because it's the high point of the album, for sure!
3. Ozzy Osbourne - "Mr. Crowley"
This song does everything right, it has a very ominous intro that fits the subject matter well. The song is about Aleister Crowley, so that dark atmosphere works really well for this song. Randy Rhoads is also at his very best here with solos that are perfection personified.
2. King Diamond - "Abigail"
This is the title track off of one of the best concept albums that I've heard in a very long time. This song is kind of absurd in silly in subject matter, but if you listen to it and think of it as the horror movie. Pretty much the story up to this song is this couple moves into this house in 1845 and they find out the defecation will hit the oscillation if they don't move. Well, they don't, and the husband finds that the wife carries the spirit of a stillborn child who died in the house, and if they don't leave, the child will be reborn. She is about to be born in this song, and this song covers the couple's conversation on whether or not the wife should kill herself so that she doesn't birth this child (who is evil). (spoiler for the next song) The spirit is in control of the wife, who throws the husband down the stairs and kills him, then the wife dies in childbirth. But the child is out, and so ride the black horsemen to destroy her (which they did the first time). So yeah, there's the whole concept album, and this song is the penultimate chapter in a great album, and by itself it is a very good song! With a great riff, King Diamond's falsetto at its best, and a good story to be told by that falsetto.
1. Iron Maiden - "Alexander the Great"
Let me blow your minds, this song is about Alexander the Great, not only that, but it's actually fairly accurate to history. I love this song, it's off of one of my favorite Iron Maiden albums, which happens to be a tight race. This is a very long song, I'll warn you all of that, but when you're telling the story of one of the greatest leaders of the ancient times. There are also some great progressive flairs and guitar solos throughout this song, to boot, so if you're feeling froggy and have about 9 minutes, go ahead, jump on this song!
Honorable Mention: "Maria Maria" by Santana, "Jonathan" by Fiona Apple
5. Lady Gaga- "Bloody Mary"
A highlight on her second LP Born This Way, this song has the best breakdown I've ever heard. The lyrics are haunting and the production is top-notch. For you religion nuts, she does have religious references in here (i.e. Jesus). I was highly disappointed that it wasn't released as a single.
4. Eminem - "Stan"
Hearing this as a kid, I was instantly intrigued in this song watching it on MTV. I had no idea this song was by Eminem, but I knew whoever made it had serious skills. Dido is a favorite of mine (insomnia) and she adds excellent vocals into this song.
3. Fighters - "Arlandria"
This is me, again being biased. I have no idea who Arlandria is, but she must have pissed Grohl off. There is this awesome switch between Dave screaming and Dave whispering. The guitar work is of amazing quality (being biased) and this is one of The Fighter's best songs to date.
2. Aerosmith - "Janie's Got A Gun"
This is the song that made me an Aerosmith fan. The lyrics are so heavy and socially conscious which isn't a norm for them. Steven Tyler's vocals propel this song into a whole ‘nother level. Janie's dad got what was coming to him thanks to the powerful storytelling of Aerosmith.
1. Michael Jackson- "Billy Jean"
Without a doubt my number one. Apparently even Michael Jackson can have baby mama drama. Too bad Maury wasn't around then. that would have made for some excellent television. Michael Jackson has always been a great storyteller and besides "Ben," there was no song beforehand and afterwards that captivated an audience as much as this one did. The video is iconic and that quarter he gave the hobo must be worth a fortune.
Honorable Mention: KISS - "Beth," Eminem - "Stan," Johnny Cash - "A Boy Named Sue," Tommy Tutone - "867-5309/Jenny," Michael Jackson – "Billie Jean"
5. John Cougar Mellencamp - "Jack and Diane"
Okay, I get that John Cougar Mellencamp isn't everyone's cup of tea but how can you honestly hate this song? It's pure Americana in its purest form. The storytelling is brilliant and effortlessly tells the tale of the quintessential American couple. This song defines its era for many people and deservedly so; call JCM a Springsteen wanna be all you want but that doesn't change how great this song really is.
4. Bob Dylan - "Visions of Johanna"
Gasp! A Dylan song on a list of mine? What's next: a Death song on one of Robert's? All joking aside, "Visions of Johanna" is more than just another great song from Bob Dylan; it's a great song even among Dylan's repertoire. The track is arguably greatest song on what is one of the greatest albums of all-time in Blonde on Blonde. The identity of "Johanna" is, like many of Dylan's songs, a subject of much debate and has never been nailed down. But it doesn't honestly matter who it is; what matters is that she (if there even is a real she) inspired Dylan to create one of the most subtly and masterfully-written songs of all-time. The lyrics contain a level of depth and allusion that every songwriter should aspire to, but few should ever hope to achieve. Dylan never lets the song get away from him and manages to make it both ephemeral and substantive, which is a tricky feat to manage but one that Dylan makes look easy.
3. Concrete Blonde - "Tomorrow, Wendy"
This is my personal favorite song on this list. My love for Concrete Blonde, that brilliant alterna-rock group from the '80s to mid '90s, is complete and unabashed and this song is one of many reasons why. As the live version off of the 1994 LP Still in Hollywood reveals, the song is about the AIDS epidemic and it's an unbelievably powerful piece of music regarding the dreadful disease. The visual imagery in the song is exceptional and Johnette Napolitano's voice is exquisite. I still get chills every time I hear the line "I told the priest, 'Don't count on any second coming/God got his ass kicked the first time he came down here slumming.'" It speaks so powerfully to the hopelessness of AIDS and HIV in the early 1990s and while that's thankfully not quite as much the case these days, the song hasn't lost any of its power for it.
2. The Police - "Roxanne"
Talk about a song that everyone knows from the opening moments. If by some miracle (or, more appropriately, curse) you don't know the song from those opening bits, the second sting belts out the titular name you're sucked in. It's probably the Police's greatest song from every aspect (yes, even more so than "Every Breath You Take") and it was honestly the first song I thought of for this list.
1. Simon & Garfunkel - "Mrs. Robinson"
My number one with a bullet. Simon & Garfunkel are one of the greatest songwriting duos of all time without question and when it came to songs with a name in the title, this was never really in debate for me. "Mrs. Robinson" is an iconic song of the 1960s, not only due to its placement within The Graduate but just as a song that captured the era's mood perfectly. It's reflective, a little bit jaded but a little bit optimistic too. It's a tour de force of a song and easily my top choice.
The Final Word
As always, the last thoughts come from you, the reader. We're merely unpaid monkeys with typewriters and Wikipedia. Here's what you need to do: List your Top Five for this week's topic on the comment section using the following format:
5. Artist - "Song": Why you chose it
4. Artist - "Song": Why you chose it
3. Artist - "Song": Why you chose it
2. Artist - "Song": Why you chose it
1. Artist - "Song": Why you chose it