The best songs inspire, elevate and move the soul the way few things can. With so many great songs, choosing a playlist can be challenging. Likewise, choosing the top songs for this list was no easy feat. What makes a song a good choice for a playlist? Is it the melody, the mood it invokes or the lyrics? Many people believe that a song that can transcend time and space and take them back to memories long since past is an ideal choice for a playlist entry. You may prefer to go for a wide array of songs to reflect different genres of music and those wonderful feelings they provoke.
1. Midnight Train to Georgia
Gladys Knight and the Pips
How can anyone resist belting this one out? With its smooth rhythm and vocals, Midnight Train to Georgia is an all-time favorite for many. This song showcases the talent, musical ability and substance of Motown’s very best.
2. Smells Like Teen Spirit
Nirvana’s disgruntled and alienation-infused 1991 hit became a generation’s battle-cry against conformity, resulting in one of the best songs of the early 90s. Melodic and surprisingly insightful, Smells Like Teen Spirit ushered in the era of grunge music, paving the way for bands like Pearl Jam and Soundgarden.
3. Sitting On the Dock of the Bay
Dock of the Bay, 1967
Smooth and mellow, this song perfectly captures a feeling of longing, melancholy, and nostalgia felt at one time or another by everyone. Listening to Redding makes people remember and appreciate the small moments of solitude.
4. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, 1973
Elton John spoils fans hit after glorious hit, year after year. Choosing just one from his laundry list of iconic hits was very difficult. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road fully encompasses Elton John’s lyrical genius and mastery of musical composition.
I Never Loved a Man the Way I Loved You, 1967
You can call her a diva, a goddess of soul, or just one of the greatest female voices of our time; however, regardless of the title, when Aretha Franklin demanded respect, the world sat up and took notice. This all-time classic call to arms puts men on notice, and gives women worldwide the wherewithal to demand some respect for themselves.
6. Gin and Juice
Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg
The Chronic, 1993
No one can deny the power of the 1993 summer classic, Gin and Juice. Snoop Dogg’s trademark mellow style of rapping coupled with Dr. Dre’s raspy, low-sung vocals combined in such an electrifying manner that it forever changed the American culture. Rap was brought to the masses. Snoop and Dr. Dre’s iconic The Chronic is one of the best-selling rap albums of all time and with good reason. The Chronic harkened back to a time when the pleasures of life were simple; the backyard barbeque, a fierce game of volleyball and of course, a nice, tall cold one. Teenagers everywhere stood up and took notice. .
7. Where the Streets Have No Name
The Joshua Tree, 1987
Can one man change the world? U2’s Bono comes very close. However, before bringing awareness to the plight of the African continent and breaking down AIDS stereotypes, Bono was on a roof top in LA, shutting down traffic and wreaking havoc with police contingency plans. U2 gave the people what they wanted; a good live show filled with good live music. U2 went on to produce a string of hits, but it was with Where the Streets Have No Name that America really began to listen. Infused within the song seems to be a melancholy and longing that harkens back to the band’s roots in Ireland. Forever grateful, fans continue to support the band’s music and humanitarian efforts.
8. On the Radio
Endless Summer: Donna Summer’s Greatest Hits, 1979
Donna Summer’s forlorn-sounding intro alerts the listener that something great is about to happen and On the Radio does not disappoint. Melodic, dramatic, and just plain great, this song ushered in the era of Studio 54, and signaled to the world that it was time to party. Donna Summer delivers in this hip-swinging, booty-shaking late-70s classic.
9. Push It
Hot, Cool & Vicious, 1987
Where would TLC, Destiny’s Child, and Queen Latifah be without these three smoldering tempests in teapots? Their bawdy lyrics and gyrating hips taught a female generation that it’s okay to express their sexual needs. With a theme of healthy self-respect running throughout, Push It got women off of the dance floor and where they belonged – behind the microphone.
10. Oops I Did it Again
…Baby One More Time, 2000
Britney batted her doe-eyed peepers and slammed shut the door on grunge rock. Before Ms. Spears came on the scene, women had thrown out their lip gloss and men seemed to have headphones permanently attached to the sides of their heads. It was all about substance and letting the inner soul glow. Britney ushered in the era of the pop tarts, and once again women donned their makeup and got gussied up. Say what you want about Britney, she did teach fans that music could be fun again, and that happiness and music are not mutually exclusive.