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10 Of The Prettiest Damn Songs On The Planet

By Scott Buckner

I'd be willing to bet that there have been more songs written, for better or worse, since the dawn of man than there are grains of sand on North Avenue beach. That's a lot of sand. And a lot of songs, too. The guys in the original Alice Cooper band were my personal musical heroes during high school, and as much as I still love a good Motley Crue-AC/DC headbanging today, my world still stops whenever I hear a really gorgeous song that has somehow managed at various points during the past 20 or 30 years to lilt its way over all that goddamn racket Angus Young and his brother have been graciously gifting to people just like me.

I'm a sucker for the pretty song. Not just the nice-enough song, but the song that makes the planet stop turning for that three or four minutes you're listening to it; the completely-pretty song that makes you think this is exactly why someone invented music. And really, the entire human race relies upon songs like these to bring proper perspective, order and balance to the world, especially on those nights when you walk into your neighborhood bar to discover the management is letting that godfuckingawful Black Sabbath/Ozzy Osbourne tribute band play until closing time.

Still, that's not to say that all pretty songs are nature's gift to the balancing act. Most of us spent the 1970s believing that Janis Ian records were specifically created for people to kill themselves to. Matter of fact, I fully intend to come back and haunt anyone in my family who comes up with the bright idea to play Sara McLaughlin's "I Will Remember You" at my memorial service.

I was going through my laptop's massive collection of MP3s this evening, so I thought I'd share 10 of the prettiest songs on the planet. This is strictly my personal opinion because, well, there's one particular guy who hangs around my local bar who swears "Fear of the Dark" by Iron Maiden is one of the prettiest damn things he's ever heard.

Go figure. Taste is often acquired as much as it is dismissed. You be the judge.

1. Over the Rainbow/Celtic Woman.

Yeah, this song's been covered a bazillion times just like Louis Armstrong's "What A Wonderful World," but not a capella with four-part harmony by kinda-hot babes in prom dresses that are just old enough to not make you feel like a creepy uncle for staring at them. Mesmerizing. Like angels singing, I tell ya.

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2. What Can I Do (Tin Tin Out/Remix)/The Corrs

Christ, Susanna Hoffs should have been so lucky. If there was ever another argument to be made for Celtic women to dominate the world so we can love them unconditionally until the stars fall from the sky, these three sisters would be it. As it happens, the littlest one can really play drums. Still, the guitarist brother always seems out of place, kinda like Fred Schneider of the B-52s or Dave Stewart when he was in the Eurythmics.

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3. Baby, Now That I've Found You/Alison Krauss and Union Station

Alison and the guys who were half-responsible for the O Brother Where Art Thou? soundtrack turn the 1967-68 R&B tune by The Foundations into the one song I'd choose to be stranded on a deserted island with, and Alison Krauss the woman I'd choose to have stranded on a deserted island along with it.

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4. Only Love/Wynonna Judd

Yeah okay, she'll never be as hot as her mom, and not exactly someone I'd choose to have stranded on an island, but still.

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5. I Need You/LeAnn Rimes

During the 1990s, she was the original Hannah Montana when the rest of us were just managing to forget Billy Ray Cyrus. In 2001 we found her breaking out into the sexy-ass little homewrecker she is today. It appears that Jesus had an epic TV mini-series that same year, too. I missed it, but I and every other red-blooded hetero breeder with MTV and a spare box of Kleenex didn't miss this video, which has her bursting into flames or having some sort of immaculate conception halfway through. Happily, it's only momentarily distracting.

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6. Amarillo By Morning/George Strait

Serves as the undisputable truth why God created fiddles, pedal steel guitars, puppy dogs, and Texas. In that order. You'll have to click here to see for yourself because embedding has been disabled.

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7. How Far/Martina McBride

On one hand, this song is the official soundtrack for anyone whose marriage is disintegrating before their eyes, with some "Eleanor Rigby"-esque strings in the bridge. On the other hand: Oh. My. Fucking. God. That. Voice. (Click here to hear it; embedding disabled.)

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8. I Am A Town/Mary Chapin Carpenter

"I am Texaco and tobacco, I am dust you leave behind. I am peaches in September, and corn from a roadside stall. I am Pabst Blue Ribbon American, Southern serves the South, I am tucked behind the Jaycees sign along the rural route." Fucking-A, sister. There hasn't been a folkie since Harry Chapin able to pull off a cello accompaniment like this that could make Garrison Keillor want to rip his own heart out.

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9. Samba Pa Ti/Santana

Carlos Santana is one of the few musical geniuses still left from back in the day when Jimi and Janis were mainlining, which are two - no make that three - reasons enough to support the legalization of marijuana. Prominently features keyboardist Gregg Rolie, who - along with Santana guitarist Neal Schon - was Journey's keyboardist and vocalist before he blew out his voice and Steve Perry showed up. A bitchin'-better version than Jose Feliciano's, which is nice enough, but Jose doesn't quite light my fire like Carlos.

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10. Stay/Lisa Loeb & Nine Stories

Nine Stories? Who are they - the anonymous maniacs backing Natalie Merchant? No matter. There's something very notable and yet untoward to be said about a hot girl wearing the only pair of glasses ever created that are able to make looking nerdy so, um, hot.

Oh, yeah - the song's pretty damn good, too.

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Comments and suggestions welcome.



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Posted on October 23, 2009


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