200. The Kinks: "Sunny Afternoon"
While already rightly revered as bratty garage rockers by the time of this track's release, the Kinks truly excelled when singer Ray Davies took a more observational, wry approach to songwriting-- and "Sunny Afternoon" is one of his wriest on record. As the song's ground-down, sadsack narrator, Davies sounds utterly exhausted by the task of telling his miserable tale, backed by a descending chromatic bassline that nearly flatlines by song's end. --Adam Moerder
199. Nina Simone: "Black Is the Color of My True Love's Hair"
The famous Celtic ballad begins with a lustful list of physical attributes-- a true love's hair, face, eyes, and hands-- but Nina Simone's voice is less than interested in the material world. She emits a spectral trill, as confident and crestfallen as a death-row inmate. Even the skeletal piano feels too heavy for Simone's vaporous devotion. --Alex Linhardt
198. Dionne Warwick: "Walk On By"
People talk about "perfect pop" and I generally have no idea what they're talking about. "Walk On By" is perfect pop, though, in the strictest sense: not a hair is out of place, no smudged eyeliner, nothing to taint its inherent loveliness. Any Bacharach/Warwick collaboration is a pick hit to click, but this is the most famous for a reason. Poised to the brink of formality, the song moves with the utterly unhurried grace of a woman in a ball gown. Perfect composure is one way to keep the tears inside, after all. -- Jess Harvell
197. Charles Mingus: "Solo Dancer"
The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady is regularly cited as a masterpiece of jazz orchestration, but that hardly accounts for the sheer fury of Mingus' creativity. "Solo Dancer" is like a jazz diagram of the psyche or a chronology of the 20th century: a swarming assembly of neon alto, cracked trumpets, chromatic discord, and prolonged lyricism. --Alex Linhardt
196. Irma Thomas: "Time Is on My Side"
Though Thomas is... [continues]
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