As I sat and watched events unfold on the TV, I knew I was not going to be happy about the outcome, but I couldn't tear myself away. It's a controversial election without precedent, without reason. I'm not talking about the ballot counting in Florida, but the MTV & Rolling Stone 100 Greatest Pop Songs of All Time. This is the magazine and cable channel's audacious and absent-minded attempt to narrow down the impact of popular music from the past 40 years. First of all, you'll notice the indiscretion of it failing to be of "all time." Apparently popular music didn't exist pre-1960, but then again, the music did die with Buddy Holly.
I knew that MTV and Rolling Stone would try their best to pander to the current generation of teenyboppers, but I had no idea how low they would stoop. The first indication of their madness came at #67, where Eminem's My Name Is holds a shaky slot, three positions ahead of The Beach Boy's Good Vibrations. Even though I am far from being a fan of Eminem, I do acknowledge that he has had an impact, although unfortunate, on pop music. But to even suggest that he could take claim to such an honor is pure folly, especially when compared to the genius of Brian Wilson at his creative peak. I dare say that Mr. Marshall Mathers will never truly attain this status, and he would be lucky to stand in the threshold of one Vanilla Ice. Remember, my friends, even Mr. Ice sold a heck of a lot of records about 10 years ago. How soon we forget.
Even more nauseating was the inclusion of comments from such great "talents" like Carson Daly, Gwen Stefani, L'il Kim, Puff Daddy, Fred Durst, *NSYNC, and the almighty Backstreet Boys, among others. They were backed up ironically enough by pop icons such as U2, Paul McCartney, and Elton John. It is one thing when Elton John points out a brilliant pop song. It is quite another when Jennifer Lopez does likewise. Night and day. The list is so inconsistent, so bizarre, and so unbelievable that I found myself laughing out loud.
Sometimes the list holds a pleasant surprise, like the inclusion of the Ramone's I Wanna Be Sedated (#71). Then there are times when it makes you scratch your head: the Backstreet Boy's I Want it That Way is actually sitting pretty at #10. A great pop song? Perhaps. #10? Not on your life! Here's where it gets really funny. Remember that Boys II Men song from a few years back called The End of the Road? It was a HUGE song on the charts; it was #1 for a record number of weeks. It's as good if not better than the Backstreet hit, not that I'm fond of either one. Where is it on the list? It's NOT on the list. And neither is the music of the founding fathers of today's boy bands, New Kids On the Block. And almost as unbelievable, MTV also ignores Mariah Carey.
Britney Spears is on the list, and so is Blink 182 (huh?). But, the Doors' Light My Fire is absent, as is Led Zeppelin's Stairway To Heaven. No Peter Frampton, no Carole King, no Simon and Garfunkel, no Buddy Holly, and (the most glaring omission) no Elvis Presley. No kidding.
Sitting at the top of this heap is the Beatles' Yesterday. A great pop song, arguably among the best, but it is only one of three Beatles songs in the countdown, the same amount as Michael Jackson, the Rolling Stones, Madonna, and Elton John. The entire Beatles' singles catalog could blow away at least half of this pitiful list without question.
It is more than obvious that MTV and Rolling Stone want to stay hip with today's youth. When they feature the Police's Every Breath You Take (#42), they feel the need to mention the weak and embarrassing cover version by Puff Daddy. The same routine is repeated with a meaningless acknowledgment of Britney Spear's version of the Rolling Stone's (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction(#2).
I realize that the latter half of the 90s saw a resurgence in pop music, if not a complete rebirth. But, part of the charm of a timeless classic is the test of time. Go figure. Will the music of Britney and the Backstreet Boys last more than another six months? Or will the finicky pop tastes of today's youth make them fall flat like the flavorless bubble gum legacy of Debbie Gibson, Tiffany, Donny Osmond and Pat Boone? We'll know the answer in about 15 minutes, which is the shelf life of this ill-conceived joke of a list.