151. Suspicious Minds (Elvis Presley)
“Suspicious Minds” was written by American songwriter Mark James, who also wrote “Always on My Mind”. But after flopping commercially, Elvis Presley picked “Suspicious Minds” up, turning it into a number one song in 1969 as well as one of his most career-defining hits. “Suspicious Minds” was widely regarded as the single that returned Presley’s career success, following ’68 Comeback Special. Elvis first performed the song live at the Las Vegas International Hotel (later rebranded Hilton) on July 31, 1969. It was his seventeenth and last number-one single in the United States.
Meaning of the Song: The song is about a mistrusting and dysfunctional relationship, and the need of the characters to overcome their issues in order to maintain it.
Accolades: Presley’s 17th and final No. 1 single.; RS/500, No. 91; peaked at No. 1 in the United States, remaining there for the week of November 1, 1969.
152. American Pie (Don McLean)
American folk rock singer-songwriter Don McLean recorded “American Pie” for the the 1973 album of the same name. The song famously recounts “The Day the Music Died”, referencing the 1959 plane crash that killed Ritchie Valens, Buddy Holly, and the Big Bopper (Jiles Perry Richardson, Jr.) and its sad aftermath. And although McLean dedicated the American Pie album to Buddy Holly, none of the musicians, not even Holly, in the crash are identified by name in the song. Says McLean, “You will find many interpretations of my lyrics, but none of them by me. Sorry to leave you all on your own like this but long ago I realized that songwriters should make their statements and move on, maintaining a dignified silence.”
Meaning of the Song: Its cryptic lyrics, the exact meaning(s) having long been intensely speculated about, are an ode to the memory of Buddy Holly and, presumptively, the other legendary singers Valen and Big Bopper after their plane crashed in 1959, killing all aboard. McLean has acknowledged, however, that the first verse is indeed about his prolonged grief over Holly’s death.
Accolades: The No. 5 song on the RIAA project Songs of the Century; “American Pie” is considered Don McLean’s signature song and magnum opus; a No. 1 hit in the U.S. for four weeks (1972), No. 2 in the UK; its 1991 re-release reached No.12 on the U.S. chart.
153. Someone Like You (Adele)
Composed by Adele and Dan Wilson as the second single from Adele’s second studio album, 21, “Something Like You” is a 2010 pop ballad that was inspired by Adele’s breakup with her boyfriend; it henceforth describes her final acceptance of the breakup. And with virtually no instrumentals in tow (only Wilson on the piano), Adele took “Someone Like You” to the top of charts worldwide–becoming her first number one single in the United Kingdom (staying there for five consecutive weeks) and killing the charts in the U.S., Australia, Ireland, France and Switzerland. Additionally, with “Someone”, Adele became the first female British soloist in the history of the Billboard Hot 100 to have two number-one hits in a single album.
Meaning of the Song: “Someone Like You” basically embodies the entire 21 album lyrically. Adele once offered: “Well, I wrote that song because I was exhausted from being such a bitch, with ‘Rolling in the Deep’ or ‘Rumour Has It’…I was really emotionally drained from the way I was portraying him, because even though I’m very bitter and regret some parts of it, he’s still the most important person that’s ever been in my life, and ‘Someone Like You,’ I had to write it to feel OK with myself and OK with the two years I spent with him. And when I did it, I felt so freed.”
Accolades: Became the first single of the 21st-century to sell a million units in the U.K.; certified Platinum by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI); RIAA-certified 5× platinum; voted third most favorite single of the last 60 years in the UK (with Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” as No. 2 & Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” as No. 1); the 42nd best-selling single ever on the UK Singles Chart; won the 2012 Grammy for Best Pop Solo Performance at the 54th Grammy Awards.
154. Uptown Girl (Billy Joel)
Written and performed by musician Billy Joel, first released in 1983 on his album An Innocent Man. Although “Uptown Girl” was not as successful in the U.S. as “Tell Her About It,” the first single released from An Innocent Man, the single was still a big hit for Joel. According to interviews with Joel, the song was initially written about his relationship with his then-girlfriend Elle Macpherson, but it ended up also becoming about his soon-to-be wife Christie Brinkley (both women being two of the most famous supermodels of the 1980s) Joel also has said that the song was inspired by the music of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons
Meaning of the Song: The lyrics describe a working-class “downtown man” attempting to woo a wealthy “uptown girl.”
Accolades: Peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100; charted at No. 1 in the United Kingdom, staying at that position for five weeks; No. 2 on Billboard‘s Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks; peaked at No. 3 on the Hot 100; the second biggest selling single of 1983 in the United Kingdom behind only Culture Club’s “Karma Chameleon”; the 19th-biggest selling single of the 1980s in the United Kingdom; No. 99 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 100 most important singles of the period 1963-1988.
155. Make You Feel My Love (Adele)
“Make You Feel My Love” is a 2008 cover by singer Adele of a Bob Dylan song from the 1997 album Time Out Of Mind. It was recorded by British singer Adele as the fifth and final single for her No. 1 debut album, 19.
Meaning of the Song: Via the Manchester Evening News in January of 2008, Adele explained “Make You Feel My Love” and why she decided to make it: “I wrote 9 songs in a short space of time, all about this awful relationship I was in. I never quite got down what I was really feeling in those songs, though. Although I was trying to. It wasn’t that I was holding back or anything, but I just couldn’t get it down. I was bitterly upset and then my manager played me this Bob Dylan song ‘Make You Feel My Love.’ The lyrics are just amazing, and summed up exactly what I’d been trying to say in my songs. It’s about regretting not being with someone, and it’s beautiful. It’s weird that my favorite song on my album is a cover, but I couldn’t not put it on there.”
Accolades: Initially peaked at No. 26 on the official UK Top 75 Singles chart after a series of performances; spent a total of 55 weeks on the U.K. Top 75 (16th-longest runner of all time there) and three non-consecutive weeks within its top 10; No. 1 on the British Heart Radio‘s Hall of Fame Top 500 compilation.
156. Turn The Page (Bob Seger)
“Turn the Page” is a country-rock song by Bob Seger that was produced for his 1973 Back in ’72 album. Though it never released as a single, Seger’s live version of the song (with The Silver Bullet Band) on his 1976 Live Bullet album became a real staple of album-oriented rock radio stations and still gets significant airplay on classic rock stations ’til this day.”Turn the Page” is about the emotional and social ups and downs of a rock musician’s life on the road. Seger wrote it in 1972 while touring with Teegarden & Van Winkle.
Meaning of the Song: Seger manager Tom Weschler basically affirms the meaning behind the song by saying: “Turn the Page,” Bob’s great road song, came along in ’72, while we were driving home from a gig. I think we were in Dubuque, Iowa, in winter and stopped at a restaurant. We stood out when we entered a store or a gas station or a restaurant en masse. At this restaurant it was particularly bright inside, so there weren’t any dark corners to hide in. All these local guys were looking at us like, “What are these guys? Is that a woman or a man?”…just like in the song…that was one incident, but there were so many others on the road that led Seger to write that song.”
Accolades: Peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock chart.
157. My Savior My God (Aaron Shust)
Contemporary Christian artist Aaron Shust released “My Savoir My God” in 2006 as a radio single for and for his album, Anything Worth Saying. The song was released around early 2006 and became a number 1 hit on Christian radio by April 2006 Although usually credited as author and composer, Shust used the verses from Dora Greenwell’s 1873 poem “I Am Not Skilled to Understand” and added a new bridge. The song was also appears the compilation album WOW Hits 2007.
Meaning of the Song: “My Savior My God” is about a guy who knows that God is always there for him, regardless of how astray from the holy word he may go: that always and in the end, God will be there for him when he needs a helping hand.
Accolades: Became a No. 1 hit on Christian radio by April of 2006 and the most played song of that year on Christian adult contemporary radio; was the second most played song on the Christian CHR format; won a “Dove Award” for the Song of the Year at the 2007 GMA Dove Awards; nominated for Pop/Contemporary Recorded Song of the Year and Worship Song of the Year at the GMA Dove Awards.
158. Fireflies (Owl City)
The 2009 debut single from Owl City’s album Ocean Eyes, featuring Matt Thiessen (Relient K) as guest singer, “Fireflies” enjoyed tremendous, global success from 2009 through early 2010, topping charts from the U.S. and Australia and throughout Europe. “Fireflies” was the group’s first and only US Top 40 until it released “Good Time”, which featured Canadian artist Carly Rae Jepsen on lead vocals. And in 2011, “Fireflies” became the twentieth most-downloaded song of all time in the U.K.
Meaning of the Song: As Adam Young put it, “Fireflies” is “a little song about bugs and not being able to fall asleep at night.The song is built around a “bleepy” 80s-influenced synthline and includes lyrics about insomnia, fireflies and summer.”
Accolades: Reached No. 1 in its tenth week on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming Owl City’s first No. 1 single that stayed at No. 1 for two non-consecutive weeks; ranked No. 16 on the Billboard Hot 100 2009 year-end chart, 30th on the Billboard Hot 100 2010 year-end chart; RIAA-certified triple-platinum (June, 2010); as of November, 2012, it reached 4,648,000 U.S. downloads in the United States; rose to No. 1 in the United Kingdom, remaining there for three consecutive weeks and where it’s also sold 639,587 copies to-date; topped charts Australian charts and sold more than 37,354 copies there.
159. Firework (Katy Perry)
“Firework” is a combination dance, rock, europop, and electro house song by Katy Perry that was produced for her third studio (2010) album, Teenage Dream. A proclaimed motivational, self-empowerment anthem of sorts, Perry considers it as the most important song on her album Teenage Dream. On the week ending of January 8, 2011, “Firework” sold 509,000 digital downloads in the US, which is the fourth highest amount ever sold by a female artist , and on January 5, 2012, “Firework” was proclaimed the fifth most-played single on U.S. radio during 2011 by Nielsen Broadcast Data Systems–with 509,000 plays.
Meaning of the Song: In Perry’s own words to Billboard magazine: “Basically I have this very morbid idea…when I pass, I want to be put into a firework and shot across the sky over the Santa Barbara Ocean as my last hurrah.” “I want to be a firework, both living and dead. My boyfriend showed me a paragraph out of Jack Kerouac’s book On The Road, about people that are buzzing and fizzing and full of life and never say a commonplace thing. They shoot across the sky like a firework and make people go, ‘Ahhh’. I guess that making people go ‘ahhh’ is kind of like my motto.”
Accolades: No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, marking Perry’s fourth U.S. No. 1 single in the US and third number-one single from the same album; RIAA-certified 2x platinum; Grammy-nominated for Record of the Year and Best Pop Solo Performance; Perry’s fifth single to sell 3 million copies or more; one of three of Perry’s songs to top 5 million paid downloads, making her the first artist in digital-download history to sell more than 5 million copies of three different hits.
160. Werewolves of London (Warren Zevon)
A rock hit by LeRoy Marinell, Waddy Wachtel, and Warren Zevon and performed by artist Warren Zevon for the 1978 album Excitable Boy, “Werewolves of London” featured bassist John McVie and Fleetwood Mac’s drummer Mick Fleetwood of Fleetwood Mac; it was released by Asylum Records as catalog number 45472 and uses a melody based in the key of G major and chord progression of V-IV-I (per BBC Radio 2). This Zevon’s only Top 40 hit for Zevon as a singer, but his popular “Poor Poor Pitiful Me” for singer Linda Ronstadt also made it at No. 31 in 1978.”Werewolves” was featured in the 1986 movie The Color Of Money (Paul Newman, Tom Cruise).
Meaning of the Song: Zevon and guitarist/co-writer Robert “Waddy” Wachtel wrote the lyrics to “Werewolves of London”, which illustrate the tale of “a hairy-handed gent who ran amok in Kent.” The werevolve’s well-dressed (i.e. “I’d like to meet his tailor”), well-groomed (i.e. “His hair was perfect”), and “preying on little old ladies.”
Accolades: Peaked at No. 21 on the U.S. Top 40 charts in 1978, staying there six weeks.