2017 NCAA Bradley Terry Bracket #11 (March 5 – CHAMP WEEK 1)

BASED ON CURRENT RATINGS:  WEST v SOUTH, EAST v MIDWEST

WEST REGION (San Jose, CA)

  • (1) Gonzaga v (16) NC Central/Texas Southern
  • (8) Michigan v (9) South Carolina
  • (4) Florida State v (13) East Tennessee State
  • (5) SMU v (12) Vermont
  • (2) Louisville v (15) Iona
  • (7) Creighton v (10) Dayton
  • (3) Florida v (14) FLORIDA GULF COAST
  • (6) Iowa State v (11) Michigan State

EAST REGION (New York, NY)

  • (1) Villanova v (16) New Orleans/Mount Saint Mary’s
  • (8) Oklahoma State v (9) Northwestern
  • (4) Virginia v (13) Texas-Arlington
  • (5) Saint Mary’s v (12) UNC-Wilmington
  • (2) Baylor v (15) Northern Kentucky
  • (7) Virginia Tech v (10) Arkansas
  • (3) Arizona v (14) Akron
  • (6) WICHITA STATE v (11) Clemson

MIDWEST REGION (Kansas City, MO)

  • (1) Kansas v (16) JACKSONVILLE STATE
  • (8) Minnesota v (9) Marquette
  • (4) Oregon v (13) Princeton
  • (5) Notre Dame v (12) Nevada
  • (2) North Carolina v (15) South Dakota
  • (7) Wake Forest v (10) Seton Hall
  • (3) West Virginia v (14) Bucknell
  • (6) Wisconsin v (11) USC/Indiana

SOUTH REGION (Memphis, TN)

  • (1) UCLA v (16) UC-Irvine
  • (8) Maryland v (9) Kansas State
  • (4) Duke v (13) WINTHROP
  • (5) Cincinnati v (12) Providence/VCU
  • (2) Kentucky v (15) Eastern Washington
  • (7) Miami-FL v (10) Xavier
  • (3) Purdue v (14) New Mexico State
  • (6) Butler v (11) Middle Tennessee

Last four byes: Kansas State, Baylor, Michigan State, Clemson

Last four in: USC, Providence, VCU, Indiana

First four out: Syracuse, Vanderbilt, Texas Tech, Illinois

Next four out: Georgia, Iowa, TCU, Rhode Island

Four more: Illinois State, California, Utah, Houston

2017 NCAA Bradley Terry Bracket #10 (thru February 26)

BASED ON CURRENT RATINGS:  WEST v SOUTH, EAST v MIDWEST

WEST REGION (San Jose, CA)

  • (1) Gonzaga v (16) UC-Irvine/Texas Southern
  • (8) Michigan v (9) Dayton
  • (4) Virginia v (13) Monmouth
  • (5) Butler v (12) Nevada
  • (2) Florida v (15) Akron
  • (7) Miami-FL v (10) Marquette
  • (3) Baylor v (14) New Mexico State
  • (6) Cincinnati v (11) Kansas State/TCU

EAST REGION (New York, NY)

  • (1) Villanova v (16) New Orleans/Mount Saint Mary’s
  • (8) South Carolina v (9) Wake Forest
  • (4) Purdue v (13) Texas-Arlington
  • (5) Notre Dame v (12) Vermont
  • (2) Louisville v (15) Bucknell
  • (7) Minnesota v (10) VCU
  • (3) West Virginia v (14) UNC-Asheville
  • (6) Creighton v (11) Clemson

MIDWEST REGION (Kansas City, MO)

  • (1) Kansas v (16) North Dakota
  • (8) Maryland v (9) Arkansas
  • (4) Florida State v (13) East Tennessee State
  • (5) Saint Mary’s v (12) USC/Providence
  • (2) North Carolina v (15) Florida Gulf Coast
  • (7) Wichita State v (10) Michigan State
  • (3) Arizona v (14) Valparaiso
  • (6) Oklahoma State v (11) Seton Hall

SOUTH REGION (Memphis, TN)

  • (1) UCLA v (16) NC Central
  • (8) Iowa State v (9) Northwestern
  • (4) Duke v (13) Belmont
  • (5) SMU vs (12) UNC-Wilmington
  • (2) Kentucky v (15) South Dakota
  • (7) Virginia Tech v (10) Xavier
  • (3) Oregon v (14) Princeton
  • (6) Wisconsin v (11) Middle Tennessee

Last four byes: CMarquette, VCU, Seton Hall, Clemson

Last four in: Kansas State, USC, Providence, TCU

First four out: Indiana, California, Georgia, Texas Tech

Next four out: Illinois, Syracuse, Vanderbilt, Illinois State

Four more: Pittsburgh, Tennessee, Rhode Island, Houston

2017 NCAA Bradley Terry Bracket #8 (thru February 19)

BASED ON CURRENT RATINGS:  WEST v SOUTH, EAST v MIDWEST

WEST REGION (San Jose, CA)

  • (1) Gonzaga v (16) UC-Irvine/Texas Southern
  • (8) Iowa State v (9) Dayton
  • (4) Virginia v (13) Nevada
  • (5) Creighton v (12) East Tennessee State
  • (2) UCLA v (15) Akron
  • (7) Oklahoma State v (10) Wake Forest
  • (3) North Carolina v (14) Princeton
  • (6) Butler v (11) Arkansas

EAST REGION (New York, NY)

  • (1) Villanova v (16) New Orleans/Mount Saint Mary’s
  • (8) South Carolina v (9) Kansas State
  • (4) Wisconsin v (13) Texas-Arlington
  • (5) Florida State v (12) Vermont
  • (2) Baylor v (15) Bucknell
  • (7) Wichita State v (10) Clemson
  • (3) Duke v (14) Valparaisos
  • (6) Maryland v (11) Seton Hall/TCU

MIDWEST REGION (Kansas City, MO)

  • (1) Kansas v (16) North Dakota
  • (8) Northwestern v (9) VCU
  • (4) Oregon v (13) Monmouth
  • (5) Notre Dame v (12) UNC-Wilmington
  • (2) Florida v (15) Florida Gulf Coast
  • (7) Virginia Tech v (10) Michigan
  • (3) Arizona v (14) New Mexico State
  • (6) SMU v (11) Michigan State/Texas Tech

SOUTH REGION (Memphis, TN)

  • (1) Louisville v (16) NC Central
  • (8) Minnesota v (9) USC
  • (4) West Virginia v (13) Belmont
  • (5) Saint Mary’s vs (12) Middle Tennessee
  • (2) Kentucky v (15) North Dakota State
  • (7) Xavier v (10) Miami-FL
  • (3) Purdue v (14) UNC-Asheville
  • (6) Cincinnati v (11) Marquette

Last four byes: Clemson, Wake Forest, Arkansas, Marquette

Last four in: Michigan State, Seton Hall, TCU, Texas Tech

First four out: Tennessee, Indiana, California, Georgia

Next four out: Pittsburgh, Providence, Georgia Tech, Syracuse

Four more: Georgetown, Illinois State, Illinois, Vanderbilt

2017 NCAA Bradley Terry Bracket #8 (thru February 12)

BASED ON CURRENT RATINGS:  WEST v MIDWEST, EAST v SOUTH

WEST REGION (San Jose, CA)

  • (1) Gonzaga v (16) UC-Irvine/Texas Southern
  • (8) Kansas State v (9) Virginia Tech
  • (4) Wisconsin v (13) Valparaiso
  • (5) Oregon v (12) Nevada
  • (2) Kentucky v (15) Bucknell
  • (7) Northwestern v (10) Wake Forest
  • (3) UCLA v (14) New Mexico State
  • (6) Butler v (11) VCU

EAST REGION (New York, NY)

  • (1) Villanova v (16) New Orleans/Mount Saint Mary’s
  • (8) Iowa State v (9) Dayton
  • (4) Purdue v (13) Texas-Arlington
  • (5) Notre Dame v (12) Vermont
  • (2) Virginia v (15) Florida Gulf Coast
  • (7) Xavier v (10) TCU
  • (3) Arizona v (14) Akron
  • (6) Maryland v (11) Seton Hall/Tennessee

SOUTH REGION (Memphis, TN)

  • (1) Baylor v (16) Weber State
  • (8) Wichita State v (9) Miami-FL
  • (4) Duke v (13) Monmouth
  • (5) Creighton v (12) UNC-Wilmington
  • (2) Florida v (15) Princeton
  • (7) Oklahoma State v (10) Clemson
  • (3) Florida State v (14) UNC-Asheville
  • (6) SMU v (11) California

MIDWEST REGION (KANSAS CITY, MO)

  • (1) Kansas v (16) NC Central
  • (8) Minnesota v (9) USC
  • (4) North Carolina v (13) East Tennessee State
  • (5) Cincinnati v (12) Michigan State/Marquette
  • (2) Louisville v (15) North Dakota State
  • (7) South Carolina v (10) Michigan
  • (3) West Virginia v (14) Belmont
  • (6) Saint Mary’s v (11) Middle Tennessee

Last four byes: TCU, Clemson, VCU, California

Last four in: Michigan State, Seton Hall, Tennessee, Marquette

First four out: Indiana, Syracuse, Arkansas, Texas Tech

Next four out: Georgia, Georgetown, Georgia Tech, Providence

Four more: Pittsburgh, Illinois State, Rhode Island, Ohio State

Every #1 Song of the 1980s – Series 2

Well, after a rather long pause – the second round.  This takes us through to Valentine’s Day on each of the years in question.  The ground rules and such are here.  The new additions here?

“Rock With You” by Michael Jackson (1980) – The clear number one of songs that were number one on a particular day I care about, this was the second #1 from Off the Wall, one of the greatest brand extensions in pop culture history.  He died as a rather creepy serial weirdo, but it is impossible to explain to the kiddos how big a deal Michael Jackson was.  His canon still holds. (48 points)

“Down Under” by Men At Work (1983) – Honestly, there are very few songs which evoke the decade like this one. The video is unforgettable, and honestly – it still shapes my mind of what Australia actually looks like. Needless to say, I do not read a lot. (44 points)

“The Tide is High” by Blondie (1981) – Seriously, Blondie almost seems too good to lump into a survey of pop songs. Deborah Harry’s studied super-cool indifference is extremely magnetic, charismatic from anti-charisma as it were. This is probably my favorite of their big hits. (42 points)

“Centerfold” by The J Geils Band (1982) – The best popular song Boston has ever produced by among the best bands it has produced. It was the number one in the Top 40 flashback Sirius did this past week. There is nothing that is not compulsively listenable or singable about this. Off topic, power rankings from Boston (42 points)

1. Centerfold
2. Love to Love You by Donna Summer
27. You’ve Got a Friend by James Taylor
772. Summer Girls by LFO

“Celebration” by Kool and the Gang (1981) – If you have ever been to a wedding in the States, this might have happened. The song has aged well in its intended form. Sometimes it doesn’t need to be profound. If Earth, Wind and Fire were not a thing, Kool and the Gang would be way up there if all you wanted to do was be happy. (38 points)

“Karma Chameleon” by Culture Club (1984) – Boy George was the first androgenous pop star I remembered. While this is not the band’s best song – it’s awfully close. Hell, “Time won’t give me time” from that song probably explains the conundrum of life better than anything any philosopher has written. The video datelines “Mississippi, 1870” which contradicts how I pictured Reconstruction. It is hard to listen to this without smiling. (38 points)

“So Emotional” by Whitney Houston (1988) – She’ll come up a lot in this series. I have written about her before when she died. This was probably her fastest song – and certainly one which does not underline her chops. But it’s less croony qualities work really well. Honestly, when you see how hard dealing with stuff was for her, it is striking just how natural and easy this stuff looked. (38 points)

“Need You Tonight” by INXS (1988) – Actually, I remember the “Mediate” second half of the video more. INXS was one of the better more consistent acts of the decade – with a distinctive sound. This was their biggest hit, with a VMA winning video (back when that was something which you’d remember). (38 points)

“Two Hearts” by Phil Collins (1989) – I like Phil Collins. This is not something I will defend. It clearly will color the rankings here. He is often derivative of his influences, but fortunately those influences are things I like too. This is a pretty clear attempt to reach back to 1960s Britpop – and it actually works on that dimension. (38 points)

“Got My Mind Set on You” by George Harrison (1988) – This is a pretty silly, kind of indefensible song. But it’s George Harrison – and there is so much cheeky charm, that you kind of go with it. It has the same spirit of the Beatles. The Beatles, especially early, evoked smiles – this made me smile. (37 points)

“My Prerogative” by Bobby Brown (1989) – 1989 is really the year I got into pop music generally. This was near the top of the pops at the time – I think the Don’t Be Cruel record was one of the first tapes I owned. This was actually kind of risque 27 years ago. Of course, it looks quaint now. (37 points)

“Owner of a Lonely Heart” by Yes (1984) – Obejctively, one of the best pure songs on the list. I don’t have the same affection as for others – and it’s my list dammit. But this is a legitimately outstanding prog rock piece. (36 points)

“Open Your Heart” by Madonna (1987) – Honestly, this qualifies as lesser Madonna for me. This is still ridiculously evocative and the song itself is not bad. But really, looking at other stuff which she did in the 1980s, there were better songs. Of course, there is the peep show – ever the marketer. (36 points)

“The Way You Make Me Feel” by Michael Jackson (1988) – The third single from Bad. This is a lesser Michael Jackson entry – which actually shows how high his floor was in his heyday. (35 pts)

“Straight Up” by Paula Abdul (1989) – For better or for worse, this unleashed Paula Abdul on the American psyche, and thus made her eligible to be a has-been by the time American Idol rolled around. The bonus Arsenio Hall appearance here is an extra point. He was cool once (?) (35 points)

“I Can’t Go For That” by Hall and Oates (1982) – We discussed them in the first entry of this series. The videos are just so awkward. This is not one of my favorite songs of their. (33 points)

“That’s What Friends Are For” by Dionne Warwick and Friends (1986) – It’s pretty soppy, and the video has a lot of overacting. It’s a pleasant enough song – but it’s real virtue is Elton John’s curious wardrobe choice here. I am not sure whether Laurence Fishburne used it as inspiration for his gear on Pee Wee’s Playhouse, but I’d understand. (33 points)

“Africa” by Toto (1983) – Toto is one of those bands who have done more songs than you think. That 99 song, “Hold The Line”, “Rosanna”. This is their best though, and the video shows some of the characteristics of more ambitious stuff as MTV inspired these things to be more cinematic, and thus sillier. (32 points)

“At This Moment” by Billy Vera and the Beaters (1987) – Given that it’s revival was launched by a TV show (Family Ties), it had to have a high rating for 80’s zeitgeist. It’s a good song, but one I don’t remember honestly without looking it up otherwise. (30 points)

“Shake You Down” by Gregory Abbott (1987) – This is a song I like better than I should, given the genre and tempo. It is pretty dated now – but somehow the smoothness works for me still. (29 points)

“I Want to Know What Love Is” by Foreigner (1985) – Despite the extra points for Lou Gramm’s rather spectacular hair, this is a pretty lousy turn for a fairly entertaining 70s rock band. The part when the choir comes in is particularly snort inducing. (24 points)

“Escape (The Pina Colada Song)” by Rupert Holmes (1980) – Like “Please Don’t Go”, this song really reads 70s more than anything. It is funny and cheesy, but hard to rank up there at all. (23 points)

“Could’ve Been” by Tiffany (1988) – The other big Tiffany hit, and does not age well at all. The earnestness combined with the tempo combined with her just not being that talented makes this hard to sit through. (22 points)

“When I’m With You” by Sheriff (1989) – The 80s were all about rock ballads. This is a particularly bad one. (20 points)

The Big Board

Song Artist
1 Rock With You Michael Jackson
2 Down Under Men At Work
3 Faith George Michael
4 Like a Virgin Madonna
5 Centerfold J Geils Band
6 The Tide Is High Blondie
7 Walk Like an Egyptian Bangles
8 Karma Chameleon Culture Club
9 Celebration Kool and the Gang
10 So Emotional Whitney Houston
11 Two Hearts Phil Collins
12 Need You Tonight INXS
13 Every Rose Has Its Thorn Poison
14 My Prerogative Bobby Brown
15 Got My Mind Set on You George Harrison
16 Owner of a Lonely Heart Yes
17 Maneater Darryl Hall and John Oates
18 Open Your Heart Madonna
19 Say, Say, Say Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson
20 Straight Up Paula Abdul
21 The Way You Make Me Feel Michael Jackson
22 That’s What Friends Are For Dionne Warwick
23 Physical Olivia Newton John
24 I Can’t Go For That Hall and Oates
25 Africa Toto
26 At This Moment Billy Vera and the beaters
27 Shake You Down Gregory Abbott
28 Say You, Say Me Lionel Richie
29 (Just Like) Starting Over John Lennon
30 I Want to Know What Love Is Foreigner
31 Escape (The Pina Colada Song) Rupert Holmes
32 Could’ve Been Tiffany
33 When I’m With You Sheriff
34 Please Don’t Go KC and the Sunshine Band

2017 NCAA Bradley Terry Bracket #8 (thru February 5)

BASED ON CURRENT RATINGS:  WEST v MIDWEST, EAST v SOUTH

WEST REGION (San Jose, CA)

  • (1) Gonzaga v (16) Texas Southern/UC-Irvine
  • (8) Iowa State v (9) USC
  • (4) Creighton v (13) Vermont
  • (5) Duke v (12) Nevada
  • (2) North Carolina v (15) Bucknell
  • (7) Xavier v (10) Miami-FL
  • (3) Arizona v (14) UNC-Asheville
  • (6) Cincinnati v (11) UNC-Wilmington

EAST REGION (New York, NY)

  • (1) Villanova v (16) Sam Houston State/Mount Saint Mary’s
  • (8) Minnesota v (9) Virginia Tech
  • (4) West Virginia v (13) East Tennessee State
  • (5) Oregon v (12) New Mexico State
  • (2) Kentucky v (15) Florida Gulf Coast
  • (7) Northwestern v (10) TCU
  • (3) Virginia v (14) Akron
  • (6) Butler v (11) Indiana

SOUTH REGION (Memphis, TN)

  • (1) Baylor v (16) Weber State
  • (8) Wichita State v (9) Clemson
  • (4) Purdue v (13) Belmont
  • (5) Notre Dame v (12) Tennessee/VCU
  • (2) Wisconsin v (15) Princeton
  • (7) Kansas State v (10) Dayton
  • (3) Florida State v (14) Texas-Arlington
  • (6) South Carolina v (11) Seton Hall

MIDWEST REGION (KANSAS CITY, MO)

  • (1) Kansas v (16) NC Central
  • (8) SMU v (9) Wake Forest
  • (4) UCLA v (13) Monmouth
  • (5) Saint Mary’s v (12) Michigan State/Arkansas
  • (2) Louisville v (15) IPFW
  • (7) Oklahoma State v (10) Marquette
  • (3) Florida v (14) Valparaiso
  • (6) Maryland v (11) Middle Tennessee

Last four byes: TCU, Miami-FL, Seton Hall, Indiana

Last four in: Tennessee, Michigan State, Arkansas, VCU

First four out: California, Texas Tech, Michigan, Syracuse

Next four out: Georgia, Georgia Tech, Georgetown, Rhode Island

Four more: Illinois State, Ohio State, Providence, Utah

39 Years, 40 Songs

Updating last year’s list of songs which were #1 on my birthday.  Anyway, here we go – and obviously this is an authoritative list that should be accepted as fact.

40. “Have You Ever” by Brandy (1999) – ooh, the mid to late 90s was a fallow period here.  There were a lot of simpering slow jams, and this was probably the worst of them, but the competition is fierce.  Brandy in particular sang these songs like she was half asleep

39. “Un-Break My Heart” by Toni Braxton (1997) – really the comments for #39 apply here, although instead of low talking there is the sort of balladeering earnestness which can inspire snorts from heartless people like me.

38. “All For Love” by Rod Stewart, Brian Adams and Sting (1994) – I actually like early editions of all of these musicians and don’t despise Sting’s solo material as much as a well read person ought to.  But this is that special cocktail of simpering earnestness and low quality that can make really bad pop music.

37. “One Sweet Day” by Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men (1996) – I am detecting a pattern in the years here among our really shaky songs.  No wonder I did not enjoy college more.

36. “On Bended Knee” by Boyz II Men (1995) – It is funny – if I described the song (unironic love song, Motown label, great singers) in 1967, I’d be all in.  But a 90s version of this sort of song just doesn’t age well.  Really, only “End of the Road” is tolerable now.  This is too hard to listen to to even be snort-worthy.

35. “The First Time” by Surface (1991) – The only song for this study I looked up and did not remember.  That sums it up well.  Another 1990s disposable slow jam.

34. “Bad and Boujee” by Migos f/ L’il Uzi (2017) – I listened to this just for this purpose.  This is pretty clearly the worst hip-hop song on this list.  Slow,  but without force.  The rapping sounds half asleep but without cool.  It is tempting to put this even lower but then I remember how much I hated so many of those 90s ballads.

33. “Sorry” by Justin Bieber (2016) – It’s the first Bieber song I listened to on purpose.  I will always rank up-tempo-ish songs above the simpering dreck we’ve seem earlier, but that is not saying much.  It’s actually not that bad though – does that sound like a compliment?

32. “Grillz” by Nelly (2006) – Clearly the worst hip-hop song to qualify for this list.  It is a shame because a large portion of Nelly’s canon is quite good.  This feels like a lapse in reason.  Or maybe it’s because I am jealous that I don’t have a grill of my own.

31. “Truly, Madly, Deeply” by Savage Garden (1998) – Another simpering 1990s ballad, but significantly better than normal.  It’s not the best example on the list, but the more understated vocals keep this from being a total mess.

30. “How Am I Supposed to Live Without You” by Michael Bolton (1990) – The no talent ass-clown  covered a forgettable Laura Brannigan song and did it quite well.  Really, this is a pretty good edition of a pretty awful genre, and holds up fairly well.  Or maybe it’s because it worked so well for John Oliver.

29. “All 4 Love” by Color Me Badd (1992) – This is a pretty indefensible boy band song.  In case you have forgotten Color Me Badd, this is the vocal group who brought boy band harmonizing to “I Wanna Sex You Up”, one of the cheesier pop songs of the last few decades – and somehow the biggest hit from the soundtrack to New Jack City.  But sometimes, pop music is as much about cheese which can make a sing-along in stuck traffic worthwhile.

28. “U Got It Bad” by Usher (2002) – Nearing the end of the 1990s-2000s slow jamz blessedly – Usher infuses a little bit of soul and style into a pretty disposable song – it’s not enough to qualify as “good”, but better than the other ones.

27. “Physical” by Olivia Newton-John (1982) – I remember this song because it played during my mother’s aerobics classes when I was a kid.  It is amazing that this song was a year’s #1 overall song.  It certainly has not aged well – really the kitsch is all there is.  That said, the song is fun – which is more than can be said about the others below this.

26. “Tik Tok” by Ke$ha (2010) – Deciding between this and “Physical” was tough.  You could go either way – both are sublimely silly songs which are hard to justify as year end #1s.  I guess recency is enough – as this song does not seem quite as dated.

25. “Let Me Love You” by Mario (2005) – If only there was a B-side by Luigi.  That said, it’s a breezy R&B song with some slow jam aspects but a much more pleasant listen.

24. “We Found Love” by Rihanna (2012) – The quality of the songs starts to increase here.  In fact, I’d say the next 24 are all at least partial thumbs-ups.  Rihanna’s prodigious success eluded my real interest in pop music – so others know her canon better than I do.  That said, this is a solid entry.

23. “Grenade” by Bruno Mars (2011) – Style is everything sometimes.  Bruno Mars here is no less earnest and simpering than some of the stuff which I scoffed at earlier in this list.  However, the piano and the tempo of the song provides a bit more of a dramatic touch – like it could have been in a musical or operetta perhaps.  It feels a bit more weighty.

22. “(Just Like) Starting Over” by John Lennon (1981) – John Lennon is among the more overrated artists in rock history.  He was tremendously important of course – and really he defined the Beatles early sound, where you can see the band’s Rock and Roll influences.  Lennon’s voice was that of someone who played music in bars and clubs – and he created the hard driving sound that the Beatles became known for in the early days.  After the breakup, though?  “Imagine” is a very dated slog that tries too hard for its message – overtly preachy songs are always issues.  His songs lacked the craft of Paul McCartney’s Wings stuff, and his deeper material lacked the complexity of George Harrison’s, and he took himself much more seriously than say Ringo Starr.  The posthumous Double Fantasy contained some of his best work, including “Woman” which is undoubtedly his best non-Beatles song.  This song is okay, but it is hard to hear it and not think that his death drove this song’s success.

21. “That’s What Friends Are For” by Dionne Warwick and Friends (1986) – A song everybody knows, and it is hard to put anything Stevie Wonder touches so low.  It has some of the snort-worthy earnestness that came with those 1980s compilations – and the video is hilarious, at least the idea that the friends all hang out together.  It probably should be ranked lower, but it’s ubiquity keeps it here.

20. “Irreplaceable” by Beyonce (2007) – We’re at the Beyonce portion of the program.  Overall I am not a huge fan – and actually like the Destiny’s Child stuff a little better.  So a middle ranking for a middle of the road song.

19. “Independent Women (Part I) by Destiny’s Child (2001) – See, I like it a little better?

18. “I Will Always Love You” by Whtiney Houston (1993) – The soppiest song on the list?  Maybe.  But Whitney Houston was always a defining voice of pop music in my life.  Stuff from earlier albums hit me more – but a song like this does show where she could have been a Streisand for people my age.  This is a fairly indefensible genre, but she works it better than anybody.

 

17. “Low” by Flo-Rida (2008) – One of things that becomes clear as I ran through this list was recent years pop music has actually gotten better.  Now it’s not better than the 1970s or mid 1980s, but catchy hooks and bouncy beats have rescued the era from some of the horrid material which permeated the late 1990s.  This song is infectious – and it is nice to have a hip hop song about butts in here – somehow an era-spanning survey would feel incomplete without it.

16. “What A Girl Wants” by Christina Aguilera (2000) – Christina and Britney Spears came up at about the same time, and they parallel nicely Madonna and Cyndi Lauper coming up around 1984.  In both cases you have female artists who were popular in their time, and in each case you had one artist who actually could really sing.  In both cases Britney and Madonna had more success, but Aguilera and Cyndi Lauper were much better singers.  In Christina Aguilera’s case, especially that first album, it gave the disposable pop songs a dimension that Britney certainly could not reach.  This is a genuinely good pop song which has aged well.

15. “At This Moment” by Billy Vera and the Beaters (1987) – A forgotten song from 1981 which was revived because of Family Ties, one part of the ultimate TV Sitcom powerhouse night growing up.  Hearing it now, the song is actually more pleasant and low key than I remember it.   The sound clearly is meant to evoke jazzy standards – much like George Michael’s “Kissing A Fool” would later in the year.  Uncharitably, I could say it is derivative of old world crooning, but hey, it does work on that level.

14. “Just Dance” by Lady Gaga (2009) – Lady Gaga’s first big hit.  I remember dismissing this in sort of a grumpy old man way – because it was pop of this kind, and thus had to stink.  But I remember friends playing it during a camping trip and somehow it sounded different.  It’s still a dance-pop song, but Lady Gaga does them well.  No reason to run from it.

13. “Timber” by Pitbull (2014) – I like Pitbull.  The Pitbull Channel on SiriusXM is continuously listenable.  His songs all sound the same, but are infectious anyway.  I like how he insists on that sort of “non dancing” sorts of moves which would make him a dead ringer for a plaid-shirted douchebag if he were a white guy and not a sharply dressed Miami Cuban-American.  Making silly dance songs is not the same noble goal that say John Lennon had – but I have to tip my hat to someone who does it well consistently.

12.  “Like A Virgin” by Madonna (1985) – Really, this is the song that announced Madonna as a really big f’ing deal – even if you had heard “Lucky Star”.  It’s a song and tune everybody knows, and it certainly deserves its pop reknown.  Indeed that it did not crack the Top 10 tells you the quality of the songs that have been at the top near January 20th.

11. “Locked Out of Heaven” by Bruno Mars (2013) – I am sure there is some recency bias here.  But this is a really fun song and the radio always stops when it comes on.  Usually I am a compulsive channel change – but this always gets my attention.  Bruno Mars is one of the better artists that the last few years has produced – indeed my 3-year old would approve (and will, later).

10. “The Way You Make Me Feel” by Michael Jackson (1988) – It is hard to properly communicate to youngsters how big a deal Michael Jackson was.  There are boy bands who make girls instinctively fling their panties and whatnot, and there are bands like U2 the world admires – regardless of whether its a good idea.  Michael Jackson had numerous issues and problems which can’t help but detract from his musical legacy, but his album drops and videos were clock stopping sorts of events.  He became a parody of himself later, and the criminal charges are what they are.  It is also clear that he never had much of a childhood and was mistreated by a lot of people who saw him talent and dollar signs.  This was the 3rd single from Bad, and while the idea of Michael Jackson macking on a woman is hard to picture without snorting, this song works.  He was a great pop music craftsman.

9. “Baby Come Back” by Player (1978) – The #1 song when I was born.  This list is littered with slow jams from the 1990s, most rather unpleasant in terms of quality.  A song like this one (and another one a few songs from now) are such a repudiation to something like (insert Boyz II Men song here) by just being so much better.  I sing a version of this song when it’s time to change my son’s diaper.

8. “Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson (2015) – Bruno Mars appears again.  You know this song.  Do we need to cover it?  My daughter loves this song, and she smiles and gives me a “Don’t Believe Me Just Watch!”  It has everything a party song should have – and when it was the first song to play at a wedding I was at, I wondered why so early when it was unlikely any other song would be better.  The video is a clear throwback to 80s Michael Jackson – which in itself makes me feel old.

7. “Owner of a Lonely Heart” by Yes (1984) – Progressive Rock as a genre has a lot of weird bloated songs.  Yes was a pioneer of the genre – and “Roundabout” is particularly rough to listen to.  But this song, an early entry in what was to be a really great pop music year, is a tight, elegant tune with a good hook.

6. “Two Hearts” by Phil Collins (1989) – This is probably the ranking which will inspire the most snorts of derision.  Phil Collins does that.  He either works for you, or he doesn’t.  He has always worked for me and I am not sure why.  There are no guilty pleasures – so I refuse to be embarrassed by this.  This song was from his movie Buster, unseen by me, and it intentionally evokes some of the BritPop of the 1960s (time of polka-dotted dresses, go-go boots and such).  It’s a terrific pop song.

5. “Down Under” by Men At Work (1983) – Vegemite sounds disgusting.  This is among the very best songs on this list – with a reggae-touched beat which is hard to remain angry with.

4. “Le Freak” by Chic (1979) – Really this is arguably the best pop song of the 1970s.  Disco is one of those things I have evolved with.  As a teenager listening to classic rock in a talcum powder white hometown – disco seemed ridiculous.  I wrongly fell into the same traps that classic rock fans fell into – talking about disco ruining the world of music, and supporting things like record burnings.  However, and this is a dirty secret that you only learn when you listen to a lot of 70s pop, disco flat saved popular music.  Seriously.  Paul Anka, Eric Clapton, countless John Denver songs.  Yeesh.  Disco rode into to just provide some diversity and some life affirmation, and when you had a decade of Carpenters and Captain and Tenille, you need all the help you can get.

3. “Hey-Ya” by Outkast (2004) – How the hell is this #3?  I am still surprised too.  Yes, it’s my list – but I did want to look at these things new.  This song still works and Andre 3000 is just so brilliant.  How do you brighten your day?

2. “Lose Yourself” by Eminem (2003) – Right there with songs like “Cult of Personality” and “Welcome to the Jungle” – this is among the songs I turn to when getting fired up for a competition (or a game where my team is playing).  It’s become cliche of course – but the beat and baseline is just absolutely perfect.

1. “Rock With You” by Michael Jackson (1980) – Really any of the top 4 would have worked here.  However, there is real soul here – the kind which sounded weird with Jackson 5 songs – and such a smooth beat and flow.  Michael Jackson produced many soul songs of consequence as a member of the Jackson Five – but his pre-pubescent voice to me, made it hard to really feel songs like “Got to be There” and “I’ll Be There”.  It helps to be a grown up to give love songs the sort of gravitas it needs to be special.  This qualifies.  I was too young to remember Off The Wall, but as a solo album to reintroduce Michael Jackson it is perfect.  I remember a magazine somewhere talking about it as the perfect brand extension – how do you not alienate your boy band customers while pushing into a new space.  Jackson managed that perfectly here, with an album that evokes classic motown while remaining wholly Michael’s.