Hearing this playlist is like taking a class in rock music genetics. See what UG readers voted as the most influential songs ever.
Posted on Nov 30, 2012 04:28 pm
On Wednesday we asked you to nominate and vote for the top 10 songs that changed the world.
Music has a fascinating genetic history. With a keen ear and a little research, you can often trace a song's history back through genres to particular point in time. Sometimes, you can trace entire scenes of music back to the same artists and songs.
You did a great job of voting for the most influential songs ever, because the artists in this playlist are an authentic set of musical forefathers. But it makes you wonder: who could all these artists artists trace back to?
10. Deep Purple "Smoke On The Water" (1973)
A great song by a great band, but its real influence is that so many beginner guitarists start out with its unmistakable opening riff. On the original it's actually doubled up by the late Jon Lord on a keyboard running through a guitar amp. Guitarist Richie Blackmore says most beginners play it wrong; he says it should be played with "all forths," but to newbies it's still liberating to pull it off as regular power chords.
While their British punk cousins were raging against the establishment, The Ramones were onto something far more fun and accessible. This song became and the anthemic "Hay! Ho! Let's Go!" became something of a trademark. Whether you like pop punk or not, the genre has become a rite of passage for teens in the western world, and can be traced back to this very song. Modern acts still pay tribute to it, with covers from the likes of The Misfits, Green Day, New Found Glory and Pennywise.
"'My Generation' was very much about trying to find a place in society," said guitarist Pete Townshend. The rest of his generation agreed with its hedonistic attitude. The stuttering lyrics were particularly original and showed how you could experiment with the style of a performance, though the band insist it was just an accident they decided to keep.
Some see it as an atheist anthem, others as an anti-capitalist mantra. Whichever way you read into it, the core message to simply fantasise about how a world that coexists in peace inspires millions of people to this day.
At its launch, rock music was already well established and relatively heavy compared to pop at the time. That is, until this song showed the world how dark music could be. The resulting metal genre has since fragmented into thousands of offshoots, but you can trace all of them back to this satanic hit.
The sepia-toned video for this single exploded like a bomb in the early 90s. Its sudden success forced the major labels to rethink everything they knew about popular music, and turned their attention to underground bands in a bid to find "the next Nirvana". Nowadays, sadly, the so-called "indie" genres don't sound very independent at all.
Unlike other entries, this song didn't spark off its own revolution. What it did, however, was show how far a creative band could push the limits of their instruments and recording equipment. Every band had the same tools at hand, but few could imagine its potential before this concept song (or album, depending which way you look at it). Perhaps this is the message to the world: up your game, or you're just another brick in the wall.
It's most requested song on radio of all time, with over 3 million radio plays logged by the year 2000. It's also the biggest selling piece of sheet music ever, with around 15,000 copies sold every year. Perhaps it's no wonder that so many people are sick of it, including frontman Robert Plant. But we all remember the first time we heard it, and you can ignore the haters because its poetic beauty can never be tarnished.
When Queen wanted to release this 5:55 long track as a single, everyone said it would fail - until it became one of the top selling tracks of all time. Its legacy was cemented in popular culture by the movie "Wayne's World", and a second edition of the official video was released intercutting scenes from the film. Actor Mike Myers was horrified, but the band were said to be grateful for the resurgence in its popularity.
This post has given credit to some truly great artists, but none of them could exist without the founding father of rock n' roll. This song is so highly regarded that it was included in the Voyager spacecraft to represent rock n' roll as a highlight of human culture. Rolling Stone rightly named it the greatest guitar song of all time, and so did you.
See the "Johnny B Goode" guitar tab.
That's the end of the UG reader's top 10 songs that changed the world. But how would you personally stack it up? Let us know in the comments.