SPB’s Top 100 (Best?) (Favorite?) Records EVER!

{I love lists. I love ranking things, even as I realize how fundamentally arbritary and ridiculous such endeavors can be. Every time Rolling Stone rolls out another “Top 10o songs Middle-Aged White Guys THINK They Should Like and Have in their Vinyl Record Collections”—and mind you, I pretty much have nothing against middle-aged people (I’m damn near one; yeah, damn near) or white guys or vinyl record collections—I accept them as arbitrary and ridiculous but I also always feel like those lists are so stagnant in the most trendy, impersonal, rock-crit way that they have nothing whatsoever to do with the songs/albums/concerts that people actually like. So upfront, I’m letting you know that I think these records are the best records mostly cause they’re my favorite records, the ones with the highest number of plays on my iTunes, the ones I force onto new and old friends via mix-CDs and Facebook-status-message lyric quotes. And though I know many of you would NEVER EVER allow that you like some of them—too pop? too rap? too girly? too cheesy? too something?—I’m the type that once I like a record I tend to love it forever. Records don’t get old for me. In fact a few of the songs on this list are records I first heard at age 9 on AM radio in my mother’s Cutlass. Yeh, some of them are old-fashioned; some of them have probably lost their preening pop-culture luster after a few years. But I don’t care; even though I like to tell people that I have lousy taste in music (but my eyes and calves are lovely), I think these records are great—and I suspect many of you peeps will, too. So, if you care, let’s get this thing started, from the bottom to the top, though the order does, in real-life, sometimes change depending on my mood, my aging knees, and love life. At least stick around for the memories?}

#100:

Wanna Be Startin’ Something” by Michael Jackson

This can’t be a surprise to anyone, that the first song on my list is by the greatest singing/dancing/songwriting entertainer of the past 50 years, the one who I’ve loved since I could stack 45s on my Close ‘N’ Play, the one who sadly  wrung way too many tears and memories outta me last June. Yes, the opening track of my list is also the opening track of Michael Jackson’s Thriller. I can still remember hearing it for the first time in 1982, having already decided that I didnt love “The Girl is Mine,” the first single off the album. But hearing the percussive intro, the multi-tracked MJ, and the choral backgrounds at the beginning of “Wanna Be Startin’ Something” (paired with the major attitude of the lyric—“Someone’s Always Tryin’ To Start My Baby Cryin’/Talkin’, Squealin’, Lyin'”) sealed the deal for me: I wouldn’t be playing Off the Wall and Triumph for a minute because Thriller was obviously going to be the bomb. The chorus is undeniable, and the “I am Somebody” bridge that leads into the gloriously rendered “Mamase Mamasa Mama coo sa” tribal shouts is the perfect summation of MJ’s ability to mix the self-regarding gloss of early 80s pop with the frenzied communal joy of post-disco dancefloor dramatics. MJ knew best: you gotta get the peeps singing and dancing along with you by the first listen of the second chorus or there was no point of even going into the studio to record. “Sing it with me/Sing it to the world”: This was the beginning of many he-he-he’s to come. It had only, in some ways, just begun…

Here’s the tune:

{Every week for the next year, I’ll be posting two songs a week. Hope some of them are your favorites too!}

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3 Comments

Filed under Michael Jackson, music, Top 100 Records

3 responses to “SPB’s Top 100 (Best?) (Favorite?) Records EVER!

  1. I love lists, too! I’m looking forward to seeing the upcoming songs.
    http://vamptillcue.wordpress.com/

  2. I love this song. My family and I danced to it at my wedding and it’s one of my favorite memories!

  3. Pingback: Scott Poulson Bryant’s top 100 songs… @ Ferentz Lafargue

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