Friday, June 17, 2005

The Coolest Songs

Coolness – what is it that constitutes a cool song? We can talk about best selling pretty easily, as that type of thing is easily measured. It’s also (relatively) easy to discuss technical proficiency and popularity, and those things have been done ad infinitum on the web.

But what about overall coolness? Is that defined just by how much a given listener likes a song, or how much a whole lot of people like or have liked said song? Or, are there more important intangible properties? E.g. I can recognize that the Eagle’s Hotel California is a cool song, even though I don’t like it very much. I guess that impact constitutes a lot of what coolness means – both the impact of the song as well as the person performing it. Elvis made some pretty silly stuff very cool just by singing it, and some of the Beatle’s material is so damn good that any reasonably good remake still has coolness. Then again, I’m sure we are all aware of out-of-the-way hole-in-the-wall groups, known to a very few, who have had little impact on music in general, but who are just so darn cool. But, I can’t speak to those, as I don’t know about them – you do ;) .

Longevity means a lot, but isn’t everything, or even most. Happy Birthday and New York, New York have both been around a long time, but you can guess which one is the cool one. Have you noticed that some pieces come and go, to return again with a new generation with renewed popularity? That’s pretty cool. I submit I Melt With You by Modern English as evidence.

Up next: Some candidates…

Turning Japanese by the Vapors

Baba O'Reilly by The Who

New York, New York by Frank Sinatra

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