Mark Millan's 101 Favourite Songs

(More Or Less)

by Mark Millan

I tried hard to keep this to 101 songs but found myself unable to cut any more from my shortlist of over 150. Some of these songs mean a great deal to me and some mean nothing other than I just love to hear them.

I did employ the rule of one song per artist in an effort to give a broader overview of my tastes – I could easily have filled this list with Dylan, Stones and Beatles songs. I also omitted a lot of more recent songs (from say the last ten years) as I haven’t lived with those for as long as some of these listed below and who knows how I will feel about them in years to come.

Well, having said that, here goes… something.

105. Sting – “The Hounds Of Winter”sting_mercury_150
A moody piece by Sting who has a fair number of those in his cannon but none as beautiful as this one.

104. Vikki Carr – “It Must Be Him”
I love how heartbroken and depressed she sounds at the sheer thought that this fella won’t show – I gotta see this dude…

103. Ginuine – “Pony”
It was fun back in the day and it still is today.

102. Linda Ronstadt & Emmylou Harris – “For A Dancer”
Ronstadt takes the lead for a wonderful re-working of Jackson Browne’s original – I don’t think she ever sounded better.

101. Mavis Staples – “Eyes On The Prize”
Staples creative renaissance began here, it’s a powerful statement still.

100. Nelly feat. LL Cool J & T.I. – “Hold Up”
Nelly is the best at what he does – this is my favourite track from the killer Brass Knuckles album.

99. The Clash – “Tommy Gun”
A justifiably angry social commentary from the band’s second LP.

98. Stevie Wonder – “Part Time Lover”
Undoubtably, Wonder did his best work in the 70’s but I feel that this mid-80’s gem never gets enough love – a clever lyric and relentless groove – what’s not to love?

97. Haddaway – “What Is Love”
I defy anyone to play this and sit still – anyone.

96. Maria McKee – “If Love Is A Red Dress (Hang Me In Rags)”
If ever there was an “I’m over love” song – this is it, McKee’s stunning delivery is phenomenal.

95. Real Life – “Send Me An Angel”
A soaring 80’s tune that has been a favourite since childhood.

94. Vanity 6 – “Nasty Girl”
Another Prince gem written for his girl group signed to Warner – the breakdown is everything.

93. Thompson Twins – “Hold Me Now”
A beautiful song – I love everything about it.

92. UB40 – “Tyler”
UB40 opened their debut album with this tribute to a man (Gary Tyler) wrongfully sentenced to death.

91. The Time – “Gigolos Get Lonely Too”
From their second (and best) album, Morris Day delivers as only he can (penned by Prince of course.)

90. The Eagles – “One Of These Nights”
Not a huge fan of this band but I’ve always loved this song – those harmonies are off the chain.

89. Bryan Ferry – “Slave To Love”
Ferry eases into his middle years with this enchanting track – “We’re too young to reason, too grown up to dream.”

88. Emmylou Harris – “I Don’t Want To Talk About It Now”emmylouharris_reddirt_200
Harris is so sweet, it’s hard to believe she was ever this angry.

87. Parliament – “P-Funk (Wants To Get Funked Up)”
George Clinton and the gang cook up some slow-cooked, deep-fried funk as only they can.

86. Donna Summer – “With Your Love”
Disco wasn’t all bad, this is proof that it was at times brilliant.

85. Flock Of Seagulls – “I Ran”
It may live forever best known as a one-hit wonder for the band however it remains a killer synth-pop track from a very solid album.

84. Megan Washington – “Limitless”
First time I heard this, it was like a breath of fresh air – the entire There There album is like that.

83. R.E.M. – “What’s The Frequency Kenneth?”
Inspiration for a great song can apparently come from anywhere – Dan Rather’s unfortunate run in with two nutters lives forever in R.E.M. folklore.

82. Mary J Blige feat. Grand Pubar – “What’s The 411?”
The first hip-hop song I remember loving, MJB’s world-weary voice defied her youthfulness.

81. Eurythmics – “Never Gonna Cry Again”
An early sleeper from possible the most talented duo ever.

80. Scorpions – “The Zoo”
A great band at the height of their rise to glory.

79. Ronnie Spector – “Oh Me Oh My (I’m A Fool For You Baby)”
A tired old song given new life by Spector – her voice is so unique.

78. Mudcrutch – “Shady Grove”
Petty’s first band reformed in 2008 and kicked off the record with this traditional gem re-worked.

77. Roxy Music – “In Every Dream Home A Heartache”
A dark, disturbing track from their glorious second album that showed Roxy were more than art for art’s sake.

76. Full Frontal – “You Think You’re A Man”
Divine’s original is a ground-breaker still but this version from the Queer As Folk soundtrack packs a heftier punch.

75. Al Martino – “To The Door Of The Sun”
For a lounge-lizard, Martino sang with style and swagger – this song kicks.

74. Peter Gabriel – “Secret World (Live 1994)”
Gabriel’s 1992 LP Us was a somewhat uneven (unfinished actually) affair but once he hit the road with his crack band, every song on that record was enhanced and this sleeper became a show-stopper.

73. Martika – “Love…Thy Will Be Done”
The quality of songs that Prince wrote for other artists is staggering – of all the material he gave away, this is my favourite.

72. Tears For Fears – “Head Over Heels”tearsforfears_bigchair_200
Anthemic track backing a dark lyric – love it.

71. Eydie Gorme – “Blame It On The Bossa Nova”
So funky and Gorme’s tone is so smooth.

70. Tom Waits – “Sea Of Love”
I love every version of this song I have ever heard – Waits took it to a totally different place.

69. Paul McCartney – “Riding To Vanity Fair”
McCartney’s first (and only great) divorce song.

68. Duran Duran – “Rio”
The entire Rio album is a favourite so why not go with the title track?

67. Warren Zevon – “Lawyers, Guns & Money”
“I went home with a waitress, the way I always do” – best opening line ever.

66. James Brown – “The Payback”
An angry man with a cause – The Payback album is statement as relevant today as ever before and this fire-breathing track kicks it off.

65. Leonard Cohen – “Everybody Knows”
Sometimes (most of the time really) the original is still the best.

64. Underworld – “Underneath The Radar”
The title track off the band’s 1988 debut album, unfortunately nothing that followed was this great.

63. Loreena McKennitt – “All Souls Night”
The beguiling opening track to McKennitt’s masterpiece LP The Visit still stands alone as possibly her finest moment.

62. The Whitlams – “No Aphrodisiac”
For some reason whenever I listen to this song, I always imagine Carly Simon singing it – no matter it’s a beautiful moody ballad from a great Aussie band.

61. Black Box – “Ride On Time”
Absolutely thumping late 80’s house track with killer vocals by Heather Small – the entire Dreamland album is still a favourite.

60. Melissa Etheridge – “2001”
The most underrated song in the Etheridge catalogue.

59. Womack & Womack – “Teardrops”
An easy to love, sweet groove from the late '80s.

58. Jo Jo Zep & The Falcons – “Shape I’m In”
A funky rocker – Joe Camilleri’s sax and vocals are everything.

57. Modo Rock – “Summer Of ’81”
Although many summers have passed – this still makes up the soundtrack to every summer playlist for me and now at 40, I feel it more than ever – “We were one day goin' hot, the next day goin' cold / One day growin' restless, the next day growin' old.”

56. Grace Jones – “I’ve Seen That Face Before (Libertango)”
An enigmatic performer, Jones’ is as captivating on record as she is on stage.

55. Yazoo – “Don’t Go”
Vince Clarke’s cold mechanical track and Alison Moyet’s powerhouse soulful vocals are an amazing combination.

54. Wang Chung – “To Live And Die In L.A.”wangchung_tolive
A brilliant song from a crafty band – this was written as part of the soundtrack the band provided for William Friedkin’s brilliant film of the same name.

53. Toni Braxton – “He Wasn’t Man Enough”
Braxton was huge for about ten years and amassed many a great song but this one is just so much fun.

52. Cece Peniston – “Finally”
Another great 90’s R&B dance hit – 25 years later and it’s still a killer song.

51. The Four Tops – “Standing In The Shadows Of Love”
The Temptations were The Beatles of Motown – The Four Tops were The Stones!

50. Sheryl Crow – “If It Makes You Happy”
Crow peaked creatively with her second LP, I’ve seen her live and this one still smokes ‘em.

49. George Michael – “Freeek!”
Good dirty fun for the sake of it.

48. Kriss Kross – “Jump”
Good clean fun for the sake of it.

47. Wendy Matthews – “The Day You Went Away”
A sombre piano ballad elevated to greatness by Matthew’s emotive, heartfelt delivery.

46. The KLF – “AMERICA: What Time Is Love? (Uncensored)”
An overblown bombastic anthem of sorts – it’s completely bonkers but I love all nine minutes and two seconds of it.

45. Salt ‘n Pepa feat. En Vogue – “Whatta Man”
Both song and video became instant favourites of my teenage self – this track hasn’t aged a bit.

44. Aretha Franklin – “Who’s Zoomin’ Who”
Vocally, Franklin was at her peak in the 80’s – despite a couple of massive duets, this one still is my favourite offering.

43. The Easybeats – “Friday On My Mind”
The first truly great Aussie rock song.

42. Armand Van Helden – “U Don’t Know Me”
Another great 90’s club banger – I still blast this thing in my car at least once a week.

41. Max Sharam -- “Jezu’s Jewellery”
Max Sharam came out of nowhere in the mid-90’s, dropped a classic indie pop album and then she swiftly disappeared from the scene for good – this track is a gorgeous ballad featuring not only Sharam’s epic delivery but equally stunning backing vocals from Wendy Matthews.

40. Justin Timberlake – “What Goes Around… Comes Around”
I almost went with “Cry Me A River” here from JT’s solo debut but this one pushes the envelope a little further – the ultimate break-up song.

39. Kate Bush – “Joanni”
is my favourite Kate Bush album, every song is an exercise in masterful song-crafting – “Joanni” is one of many examples of this.

38. Alice Cooper – “Ballad Of Dwight Fry”
A character study in song, sung in the first person – Cooper as Fry is on the verge of a total breakdown whilst institutionalised.

37. Kylie Minogue – “Confide In Me”kylieminogue_s-t_150
A beautifully arranged backdrop for Minogue’s delicate delivery – her finest moment.

36. Mark Morrison – “Return Of The Mack”
A killer R&B banger from back in the day.

35. Australian Crawl – “The Boys Light Up”
Ridiculously infectious tale about a party in a posh Sydney apartment going off – “Hopes are up for trousers down with the hostess on the business flight.”

34. Jennifer Warnes – “Bird On A Wire”
The arrangement, Leonard Cohen’s words and Warnes’ stunning warm delivery – perfection.

33. Guns ‘n’ Roses – “Estranged”
An epic song from a band just about to implode.

32. Divinyls – “Elsie”
An almost sinister arrangement that builds into rage as Chrissy Amphlett weaves her tale of poor Elsie before becoming one with her – “She never had an education, she uses life as her vocation…”

31. Donovan – “The Hurdy Gurdy Man”
This just sounds so creepy, that intro of Donovan just breathing notes into the microphone sets the tone perfectly.

30. Paul Kelly & The Coloured Girls – “I’ve Done All The Dumb Things”
Kelly’s fast fun romp through a life of mistakes and no lessons learnt.

29. Talking Heads – “Life During Wartime (Live 1984)”
Taken from possibly the best live album ever recorded, this song has never been more relevant – “I’ve got some groceries, some peanut butter to last a couple of days…”

28. Patti Smith – “Dancing Barefoot”
The great Patti Smith at her captivating best.

27. AC/DC – “The Furor”
A great boogie from the Rick Rubin produced Ballbreaker LP.

26. U2 – “Mofo”
U2 were never more badass than on “Mofo” from their experimental peak, Pop.

25. Cher – “The Gunman”
A beautifully stylish noir track featuring Cher’s most amazing vocal performance.

24. Tom Petty – “It’s Good To Be King”
Petty’s finest chillout song – “It's good to be king, if just for a while / To be there in velvet, yeah, to give 'em a smile.”

23. Sade – “No Ordinary Love (Live 2011)”
The studio version is prefect but in a live setting the band get to flex and it’s mind-blowing.

22. David Bowie – “Bring Me The Disco King”
A brilliant demented Jazz tune from Bowie’s latter-day catalogue.

21. Renee Geyer – “I Really Love You”
That funk groove and Geyer’s soulful vocals…sometimes less really is more.

20. INXS – “Don’t Change”
A killer song – this was all over the radio when I was a kid and deservedly so.

19. Marianne Faithfull – “Guilt”mariannefaithfull_broken_150
Exorcising her demons on 1979’s Broken English was a painful process but Faithfull did so with dignity and a steely defiance, “I never lied to my lover but if I did I would admit it / If I could get away with murder, I’d take my gun and I’d commit it.”

18. Icehouse – “Crazy”
A perfectly fat slice of ’80s pop rock.

17. The Church – “Almost With You”
The Blurred Crusade is an amazing album so I just chose the opening track.

16. Madonna – “Waiting”
Erotica is still my favourite of Mage’s many great albums, it’s the first time she really got out of her comfort zone. I love the relentless groove of this track and Madonna’s low-key vocals.

15. The Police – “King Of Pain”
An enchanting, introspective piece from the masters of “less is more” – possibly Sting’s finest lyric.

14. Janet Jackson – “Miss You Much”Janet Jackson’ Rhythm Nation 1814 is the best album by any member of that family – full of amazing bangers but none hotter than this one.

13. Tina Turner – “Undercover Agent For The Blues”
A seductive slow-burning blues penned by Tony Joe White and brought to life by the incomparable Ms Turner.

12. Cold Chisel “Bow River”
A killer track from a great band – I love the lead vocal switch from Moss to Barnes.

11. Mariah Carey – “We Belong Together”
The perfect R&B track – Carey’s delivery builds with intensity throughout, her vocals on this track are the perfect balance of ice and fire.

10. Prince & The Revolution – “Paisley Park”
I have many “favourite” Prince songs but I always come back to this one – it’s so chill and peppered with some signature guitar licks.

9. Whitesnake – “Judgement Day”
The mad alpha-dog of the Whitesnake kennel.

8. Cheap Trick – “Heaven Tonight”
The title track of my favourite Cheap Trick album – a nice change of pace for Rockford’s finest.

7. The Rolling Stones – “Sympathy For The Devil”
The audible embodiment of all this band is – Jagger’s best ever lyric and that rhythm track is insane.

6. Martha Reeves & The Vandellas – “Nowhere To Run”
The Motown 60’s catalogue contains some of the most amazing pop songs ever recorded, this is close to the best – that killer drum and bass intro is everything.

5. Blondie – “Union City Blue”
The sound of an amazing band at their peak. Clem Burke’s drumming up a masterclass as Deborah Harry declares her love for her “Union City Man.”

4. The Beatles – “Strawberry Fields Forever”
I’m very much a McCartney man but this has long been my favourite Beatles song – it’s also the first song that really freaked me out as a kid when I heard it.

3. The Supremes – “My World Is Empty Without You”
That opening bass riff and downcast lyrics that gave Diana Ross a chance to really feel the music and not just sing it – Motown’s finest moment.

2. Bob Dylan – “Not Dark Yet”ronettes_presenting_150
I spent longer deliberating Dylan’s songs than any other artist, I could have filled the entire list with the great man’s tunes however this one may well prove to be his greatest. At 56 and recently recovering from a terrible illness, Dylan created one of his finest achievements in Time Out Of Mind, released in 1997. “Not Dark Yet” a beautifully sombre meditation of one man facing his own mortality, is one of many highlights on what is a brilliant album.

1. The Ronettes – “Be My Baby”
Easily my favourite song of all time and I know with almost certainty that this is unlikely to ever change. I still cannot believe how epic this song is whenever I play it, Ronnie Spector’s lead vocal cuts right through that famous “wall of sound” like a hot knife through butter.