The 411 Music Top Five 09.17.13: Top 5 Songs Named After Fictional Places
Posted by Jeremy Thomas on 09.17.2013
From Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven" and Blind Guardian's "Valhalla" to The Eagles' "Hotel California," Guns N' Roses "Paradise City" and more, the 411 staff counts down the top 5 songs named after fictional places!
THE TOP 5 SONGS NAMED AFTER FICTIONAL PLACES
Criteria: We finish up our look at songs named after proper names with a look those tracks named after fictional places. Of note here: by "fictional places" we considered it to mean places that do not exist or cannot be physically reached. This includes mythological and religious locations of all faiths past and present. This is not a statement that these places do not exist; merely that they are places that are not physical and their existence is not confirmed scientific fact.
Led Zepplin - "Stairway to Heaven": This song is one that is here because I know that it should be, but it's also one that while I enjoy it, it's not listened to as much as everything else on this list, but it's still a great song!
Black Sabbath - "Heaven and Hell": I've talked about this song recently, it has a great atmosphere and is from one of the best times in the careers of both Black Sabbath and Ronnie James Dio.
Slayer-"South of Heaven": Another song I've covered recently, another great atmospheric song, with loads of dread being laden at the beginning and the thrash cutting in at the right time. Such a great song, and one of Slayer's best!
5. Candlemass - "Emperor of the Void"
This is the only song on my list where the name of the song isn't obviously about a fictional place. It isn't obvious what the fictional place is until the chorus kicks in when it starts talking about the being the ruler of the grey islands, and the emperor of the void, which I assume is the same thing, which means that technically this song was talking about some fictional grey islands the whole time. But about the song, it has a really good opening, that gets invested in the song, and the song itself is carried by the commanding vocals of Robert Lowe, who is an amazing vocalist, in his work with both Solitude Aeturnus and Candlemass. I also love the solo sections in the middle that lead to a quiet section, that goes into the final chorus of the song. Such a good song by one of my favorite bands!
4. Blind Guardian - "Valhalla"
I went looking on the internet to see what this song was about, and damn, I got more than I thought I would. Because they're Blind Guardian, their lyrics are a bit cryptic, but what the consensus on this song is that this song is about how in Germany the how Christianity was stomping out the Norse religion. Pretty neat way of telling that story, if you ask me, but as for the song itself. The song is one of Blind Guardian's best, if you ask me, it has great guitar work, an incredibly catchy chorus, and very good vocals during the chorus that was ever so catchy. the version I'm posting is one of the greatest crowds at a metal show I've ever witnessed on tape, they manage to make the song go twice as long because they wouldn't stop singing after the song was over!
3. Grand Magus - "Valhalla Rising"
I love this album so much, this song is one of the main reasons because of how good this album is, because a large amount of the songs had a similar style to this one. It's endlessly catchy, with a great beat, and vocals by one of my favorite vocalists going right now JB Christoffersson, I highly recommend this tune of a man's plight to get to Valhalla!
2. Amon Amarth - "Vahall Awaits Me"
THE song that got me into Amon Amarth, it was this song and this one alone that did it. Because I blindly bought Amon Amarth's, 'With Odin on out Side' from Edward McKay in Winston (GO THERE, it's amazing), and popped it into my CD player in my car and fell in love. The opening draws you in with pure fury and speed, and the intelligible growl of Johan Hegg telling the story of a warrior who is out to slay and will soon die in battle got the hooks in me, and has yet to let up, because Amon Amarth are one of my most favorite bands now! Go listen to this track, you'll become addicted soon, I guarantee it!
1. Iced Earth - "A Question of Heaven"
This song mixes two of my favorite things in the world, metal, and comic books, and does it perfectly! It's the finale to one of my favorite concept albums of all time, telling the story of Todd MacFarlane's Spawn character, who was a soldier who died and sold his soul to the devil so that he could come back to be with his wife. But as every deal goes, there was a catch, and he has become a hellspawn, and his wife has moved on. What this song covers is his want to die and make his way to heaven, but now he can't, and he is a mix of hopelessness and anger, and it is wonderfully conveyed by Matt Barlow, and the song itself is just epic in its' buldup, and the payoff is mighty indeed. Listen to this song, if not the whole album to reach its' full scope, but this song has to be heard at least once!
Honorable Mention: Ricky Nelson - "Lonesome Town," Lipps Inc. - "Funky Town," Richard Marx - "Hazard," Green Day - "Boulevard of Broken Dreams"
5. The Eagles - "Hotel California"
It is important to note here: a lot of these locations could be conceivably (and I've heard arguments that some of them are) inspired by actual locations. However, the veracity is hard to determine so unless it was definitvely proven I've given the shadow of a doubt. The Eagles' signature hit is a great example of that; there's conceivably an actual place they are referring to here but all the research I looked up said otherwise. To be honest I find the Eagles to be a very talented but very dull band. I get why people love them and they are undeniably a great band, but they've never just clicked with me. However, this song is universal and absolutely amazing. "You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave?" How do you not love that lyric?
4. AC/DC - "Highway to Hell"
Again, let me reiterate for people who may be religiously offended; we are not making statements denying the existence of Heaven or Hell (or Valhalla, in Robert's case). That is a matter of personal faith and we're leaving it there. Now, with that being said, AC/DC's hit is my personal favorite song with "Hell" in the title. It's one of the band's absolute signature hits and contains one of the more iconic choruses in hard rock, not to mention the famous opening. This is one of those songs that just gets you up off your feet and wanting to rock out no matter where you are.
3. Guns N' Roses - "Paradise City"
Despite impassioned arguments from people, I feel thoroughly confident saying that this song is not named after a real place, under a pseudonym or not. How do I know? The band has admitted as such; they came up with the lyrics spontaneously in the back of a van while Slash was playing the guitar riff. So with that out of the way, you have to appreciate the greatness of this song. Slash has his classic guitar work on display, Axl's voice is as powerful as ever, the lyrics are great...what more could you want?
2. Elvis Presley - "Heartbreak Hotel"
Bow down to the King, musical peons. Listen, Elvis isn't even one of my favorite rock & roll artists, but I have to give him full appreciation and credit for being one of the most influential and beloved artists of all time. And "Heartbreak Hotel" may just be one of his greatest works. It's soulful, bluesy but has some elements of what rock was morphing into at the time...things that would become mainstays of the genre. And really, who doesn't know this song? It's an easy #2 and the rest weren't even close.
1. Led Zeppelin - "Stairway to Heaven"
Speaking of not even close...this was an immediate no-brainer for me. Led Zeppelin was one of the most influential bands in rock music and for good reason. "Stairway to Heaven" has been listed on many Best Songs of All-Time list and managed to become the most requested song on FM radio in the 1970's despite never having been released as a single. The lyrics work on enough levels that they've been often misinterpreted to mean one thing or another. It's a remarkably complex song that has several different sections to it and while it is a bitch to perform right, that doesn't stop everyone in the world from trying. No one has ever done it quite like Jimmy Page though and it's difficult not to just listen in awe of his talent when he rips into the solo at the end. Fantastic stuff.
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