The 50 Absolute Best Songs in History

Source: Jim Summaria, http://www.jimsummariaphoto.com/ / Wikimedia Commons

20. Immigrant Song
> Artist: Led Zeppelin
> Billboard Hot 100 entry date: Nov. 21, 1970
> Total weeks on Billboard Hot 100: 13
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One of the most recognizable songs of the rock era, “Immigrant Song” has been played in movies such as “Shrek the Third,” “School of Rock,” and “Thor: Ragnarok.” It’s the first track and single from the “Led Zeppelin III” album and is on regular rotation on classic rock radio stations. Grunge rockers Nirvana did a cover of the song as did Moby and Ann Wilson to name a few.

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19. Honky Tonk Women
> Artist: The Rolling Stones
> Billboard Hot 100 entry date: July 19, 1969
> Total weeks on Billboard Hot 100: 15
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“Honky Tonk Women,” about the licentious lifestyle, brought the Rolling Stones their fifth No.1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 in August 1969. It was also their first chart-topper after the death of ousted guitarist Brian Jones.

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18. Yesterday
> Artist: The Beatles
> Billboard Hot 100 entry date: Sept. 25, 1965
> Total weeks on Billboard Hot 100: 11
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“Yesterday,” a lament about lost love, is probably the most covered song of all time. At first, Paul McCartney thought he had accidentally plagiarized the melody but once he was confident he had not, he started writing the lyrics. It was originally titled “Scrambled Eggs,” but McCartney eventually, fortunately, changed it to “Yesterday,” which went to No. 1 in October of 1965.

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17. Louie Louie
> Artist: The Kingsmen
> Billboard Hot 100 entry date: Nov. 9, 1963
> Total weeks on Billboard Hot 100: 18
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The big party favorite with the indecipherable lyrics prompted an FBI probe to see if obscenity laws were violated. The song — initially performed by Richard Berry & The Pharaohs — was the biggest hit for the Portland, Oregon-based group The Kingsmen, reaching No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song also achieved lasting fame when it was played in the 1978 comedy “National Lampoon’s Animal House.”

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16. Let It Be
> Artist: The Beatles
> Billboard Hot 100 entry date: March 21, 1970
> Total weeks on Billboard Hot 100: 14
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The gospel-inspired Beatles hit that tapped into the anxiety of the tumultuous late 1960s. The Paul McCartney-penned single was the Fab Four’s next-to-last chart-topper, reaching No. 1 for two weeks in April 1970. McCartney said he was inspired by his mother named Mary — who had passed away about 10 years earlier — who came to him in a dream and comforted him during a personal time of turmoil.

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15. What a Wonderful World
> Artist: Louis Armstrong
> Billboard Hot 100 entry date: Feb. 20, 1988
> Total weeks on Billboard Hot 100: 11
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“What a Wonderful World” is the song most associated with beloved trumpet player Louis Armstrong. Originally released in 1968, the slow tempo ballad that was turned down by Tony Bennett failed to find an audience in the United States, though it did top the charts in the U.K. The song reached No. 32 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1988 when it was played in the movie “Good Morning, Vietnam.” The song has been used in at least 50 TV shows and films.

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14. Bad Moon Rising
> Artist: Creedence Clearwater Revival
> Billboard Hot 100 entry date: May 3, 1969
> Total weeks on Billboard Hot 100: 14
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This song is one of true rock gems from one of America’s most popular and influential bands from the 1960s. “Bad Moon Rising” was one of five CCR songs to reach No. 2, and it gained more attention after its use in the movie “American Werewolf in London” when the unfortunate victim of a werewolf’s bite transforms into a werewolf.

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13. Somebody to Love
> Artist: Jefferson Airplane
> Billboard Hot 100 entry date: April 1, 1967
> Total weeks on Billboard Hot 100: 15
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The poster children for the Haight-Ashbury psychedelic and countercultural scene in the 1960s scored their biggest hit on the Billboard Hot 100 with “Somebody to Love.” The song had been released by the Bay Area band The Great Society that included singer Grace Slick. The song failed to find an audience. Slick left the band to join Jefferson Airplane and brought the song with her. “Somebody to Love” reached No. 5, just before the arrival of the famed Summer of Love in 1967.

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12. Walk, Don’t Run
> Artist: The Ventures
> Billboard Hot 100 entry date: July 18, 1960
> Total weeks on Billboard Hot 100: 30
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The quintessential surf band from Tacoma, Washington (think the theme from the television show “Hawaii Five-O”) had its biggest hit, “Walk, Don’t Run,” reaching No. 2 in August of 1960. The Ventures recorded subsequent versions in disco and heavy-metal styles, and the 2000 track featured a saxophone. Influential guitar master Chet Atkins recorded a version of “Walk, Don’t Run.”

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11. Paint It, Black
> Artist: The Rolling Stones
> Billboard Hot 100 entry date: May 14, 1966
> Total weeks on Billboard Hot 100: 11
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The Rolling Stones had four chart-toppers in the United States within two years in the mid-1960s, and “Paint It, Black” was their third No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song, about depression and desolation, is famous for its use of sitar, a contribution by Brian Jones, who studied the instrument under the tutelage of Ravi Shankar disciple Harihar Rao.