A few years ago, the good folk at retroCRUSH decided to publish the top 50 coolest song parts of all time (http://retrocrush.buzznet.com/archive2004/coolsongs/index.html). I decided to revisit their list, select the ones I agreed with and add a few of my own to compile my own list. To those wondering, a “song part” is just a segment of a song (an intro, an ending, a solo, a refrain, a chorus, etc.). Some of these songs could be great or not, and some may even be lame as a whole… but a cool part usually saves the day:
1. Phil Collins – In the Air Tonight
Just when you think you’re going to fall asleep… wait a minute, here it comes… and you find yourself flailing your arms like a bunch of crazed orangutans!... And who could blame you? No one can resist air-drumming to this part that bring an otherwise macabre song well into life… Just to prove my point, here is a segment from the defunct sit-com Carpoolers:
2. Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody
This song has so many cool parts that it’s hard to select just one… For some people it’s the a cappella intro (“Is this the real life?”)… for others it’s the opera segment (“Galileo, Galileo”) but for most, it’s the guitar burst that pretty much marks the beginning of head-banging… I wonder which one Wayne and Garth would choose…
3. The Rolling Stones – Sympathy for the Devil
Robert Berry writes: “There's two parts in The Stones' "Sympathy For The Devil" that I just love the hell out of. First, you have the intro, with the tribal drums, weird backward voodoo chants, and other effects that lead into Mick as Satan singing, "Please allow me to introduce myself, I'm a man of wealth and taste!". So intriguing...you just have to hear more. And you do, as Mick tells you how he's been behind all the horrible events of the world since the dawn of man. When he screams, "I shouted out who killed The Kennedys, when after all, it was YOU and ME!", however, it's a jaw dropping line that really makes you think. It just hits you over the head with a shovel and leaves you wondering just what the hell he meant by that.”
4. Queen – We Will Rock You
Stamp-stamp-clap, stamp-stamp-clap, stamp-stamp-clap, stamp-stamp-clap….We Will.. We Will… Rock You!.... can you honestly tell me it is not cool?... See what happens when the good folk at Cheers (where everybody knows your name) start an impromptu stamp-stamp-clap…
5. Van Halen – Hot for Teacher
Robert Berry again: “That sweet and amazing drum intro from Alex Van Halen is a mysterious thing of beauty. It's as if a specially trained squid with 4 extra arms is whacking on that drum set. I've heard everything from studio trickery, to extra bass drums, to his brother Eddie drumming alongside of him as explanations. If you know, I'm dying to find out for sure!”
6. The Who – Won’t Get Fooled Again
Scott Yasukawa writes “Right before the end, right before Roger sings the line "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss", right after the drums kick up he belts out a scream that's unmatched. YYYYEEEEAAAAHHHHH!!!!!" How a man can scream like that without his head exploding like someone from the movie Scanners is beyond me. I can't think of anyone else who can imitate it. Or how they would ever talk again if they could.”
7. Pink Floyd – Another Brick in the Wall
So many cool parts to choose from… the helicopter, the enraged teacher at the end shouting “How can you have any pudding if you don’t eat your meat?”, the kids shouting “Hey Teacher! Leave us kids along” at the top of their lungs… but to me… the coolest part was that “The Happiest Days of out Lives” smacked right there between Parts I and II…
8. Led Zep – The Immigrant’s Song
Robert Berry: “So primal. So godly. The beginning of Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song" with Robert Plant's war-cry over Jimmy Page's invasion worthy guitar is just amazing.”
9. Heart – Barracuda
Robert Berry from retroCrush describes the opening guitar riff in "Barracuda" as “punch-you-in-the-mouth rock.” No wonder it has been used in so many cool movie scenes. In fact, the geniuses behind Shrek The Third combined it with the war-cry from The Immigrant’s Song above to give Snow White an extreme makeover…
10. Metallica – One
I think overall this is one damn cool song, but the part that makes the cut is the guitars sounding like machine-gun fire… The best head-banging moment in Rock history as proclaimed by Mr. Berry.
11. Michael Jackson – Thriller
Darkness falls across the land; the midnight hour is close at hand
Creatures crawl in search of blood to terrorize yawls neighborhood
And whosoever shall be found without the soul for getting down
Must stand and face the hounds of hell and rot inside a corpses shell
The foulest stench is in the air, the funk of forty thousand years
And grizzy ghouls from every tomb are closing in to seal your doom
And though you fight to stay alive, your body starts to shiver
For no mere mortal can resist the evil of the thriller
12. Prince – Let’s Go Crazy
From the very first opening line (Dearly beloved, we are gathered 2day 2 get through this thing called life) to the transition into guitar riff (and if the de-elevator tries to bring you down, go crazy and punch a higher floor) this is one of the most memorable intros in rock history… and I didn’t even talk about looking for purple bananas.
13. Meat Loaf – Paradise by the Dashboard Lights
Everyone who knows me knows I am a hardcore Steinfan… Jim Steinman is truly the Lord of Excess… and this is Steinman at his best… NY Yankees’ long time announcer Phil Rizzuto broadcasting a play-by-play of the sexual attempts of the guy (Holy Cow, I think he’s gonna make it) only to be interrupted at the very last minute by Ellen Foley screaming at the top of her lungs (You stop right there!!)… ja ja ja… talk about teenage angst!
14. Blue Oyster Cult – Don’t Fear the Reaper
Two words: More cowbell!
15. Madness – One Step Beyond
Whenever you hear the sax intro, does it make you want to shake those elbows and dance like an asshole too? I bet it does! je je je
16. Garth Brooks – The Thunder Rolls (Live)
I get a chill whenever I hear the line “And he knows that she knows”, but ahh, that mysterious third verse Garth only sings in concerts. She goes back in and fetches her gun… Ain’t Easter Eggs cool?
17. Meat Loaf – You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth
On a hot summer night would you offer your throat to the wolf with the red roses?
18. Los Fabulosos Cadillacs – Matador
This song is amazing, but that bass drum solo at the middle of the song, which invites whistles and all types of percussion to join in, reminds you of carnival. Carnivals are cool.
19. Heart – Crazy on You
The flamenco intro to this song is considered one of the best performances in rock history. If I played guitar, I would surely want to learn to play it. If I composed music, I would surely want to compose it.
20. B-52’S – Love Shack
Three words: Tin Roof – Rusted!
Next Week: Top 20 Funniest Song Names