The five most underrated classics of pop music

To qualify, has to be something you almost never hear on the radio. And it has to compel you to crank the volume to an unsafe level.

5. Lonely is the Night, Billy Squier. Aggressive guitaring. True story: When I was a wee tot I listened to (I think it was) WKRQ “Top Banana!” in Memphis. This was the station where Rick Dees was a DJ prior to hitting the big time with Disco Duck and moving to bigger media markets. Anyway another WKRQ DJ once ‘locked himself in the broadcast booth’ (a stunt, yes) and played Everybody Wants You over and over, something like 50+ times in a row. Even he got tired of it. But the point is, Billy rocked.

4. The Reflex, Duran Duran. Girls on Film is a better tune but less underrated.

3. Outside, The Fixx. Passive-aggressive guitaring. Also this one actually belongs on the ‘top five album-ending songs’ list. Who says I don’t like slower pieces? They just have to be kooky.

2. Groovy Train, The Farm. You don’t remember that one, do you?

1. Message of Love, The Pretenders. Also on the ‘top two pop songs quoting Oscar Wilde’ list (there aren’t five). Chrissie Hynde rocks Billy Squier (and everyone else) out of the room.


13 thoughts on “The five most underrated classics of pop music

  1. “Stop” by Erasure easily makes my top 5. Can’t fill out three of the remaining 5 of the top off my head. But there is a clear-cut No. 1 for me, in my opinion the greatest pop song of the last 10 years. The song is called “Heal Me, I’m Heartsick”. So underrated that it only appears on the soundtrack of the movie “School of Rock” and is performed by Jack Black’s fictitious ex-bandmates “No Vacancy”. In the climactic Battle of the Bands scene at the end of the movie, Jack Black derisively refers to the band as they perform the song “those amateurs”, which is hilarious because the band happens to be fronted by the immensely talented Broadway singer Adam Pascal and is backed by what is assuredly a very professional group of musicians. Just an awesome, awesome, song.

  2. Let’s see, off the top of my head…

    “Groove is in the Heart” by Dee Light
    “Cannonball” by The Breeders
    “Supernova” by Liz Phair
    “Short Skirt/Long Jacket” by Cake

    In the “Guilty Pleasures” department, i.e. overplayed kiddie-pop songs that I really like:

    “Girlfriend” by Avril Lavigne, but it must be the “Explicit” version. It’s cool to hear this bubble-gummy pop star sing “Hell yeah, I’m the Mother F-ing Princess!”

    “Since U Been Gone” by Kelly Clarkson, I know, I know, but it rocks!

    There are many more…


  3. Greg – truly obscure :) Now I gotta get School of Rock.

    Matt – Cake!!! Yes. That song is hilarious. On the other hand, Girlfriend has the WORST lyrics. (Sorry!) It’s of the quality of Vanilla Ice to me. But yeah, I like Since You Been Gone (*blushes*).

  4. Agreed about the lyrics to “Gilfriend”, but it’s a damn catchy song. I let my annoyance with it flow out of my veins and just went with the beat, and found I liked it. I thought that would pass, but I still listen to it.

  5. I only laugh in kinship, because I owned and liked several Flock of Seagulls albums. (I’m telling you, so much more to them than the hair.) But I can’t say I was aware Men Without Hats had more than one song. :)

  6. Beds are Burning – Midnight Oil
    Blood and Roses — Smitherines ( another Bass Heavy song)
    Birth School Work Death — Godfathers
    Rock Lobster — B52s
    ( and I agree with Matt on Cake)

  7. You must rent “School of Rock,” Derek! It’s such a sweet, entertaining movie!
    My addition to the list of under-rated pop, or in this case, Prog Rock, tunes is “Tom Sawyer” by Rush. Definitely with blaring on the stereo.

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