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Thread: Great simple pop songs

  1. #1

    Great simple pop songs

    I've been on a pop binge recently. Prog detoxing I suppose. I'm talking about those artists who by no means and under no conditions could ever be thought of as prog: Elvis Costello. Belle & Sebastian. Sparks.

    Re-listening to some great 70's singles too- The Kinks' Lola. Gordon Lightfoot's If You Could Read My Mind'; Linda Ronstadt's 'Long Long Time'. All spine-tingling.

    So what's your go-to pop hit/3 minute/three-chord 'best of' list?

  2. #2
    Lucky Man
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    Have a long standing love affair with ChiLites Have You Seen Her.

    The rhythm guitar in that song sounds like sad drops of rain.
    Perhaps finding the happy medium is harder than we know.

  3. #3
    "Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me)" by Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel. That major chord sequence seems almost banale, yet when the minors turn up and there's a layer of synth below the female choir (after the nylon solo) morphing into the final verse, all assets of the sarcastic lyric come to the fore and existentialist awe sets in. One of the great, simple and still intelligent pop/rock tunes of mid-70s UK.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frankh View Post
    Have a long standing love affair with ChiLites Have You Seen Her.

    The rhythm guitar in that song sounds like sad drops of rain.
    Love all their singles. 'It's Time For Love' is another great one, great laid-back, trippy-synth mood on that. Not sure it did much in the US but it was a big hit in the UK. 'The Coldest Day In My Life' is a lesser-known classic.

    The Stylistics when Thom Bell was producing/writing for them were also magnificent...the production and material went downhill when Hugo and Luigi took over, but again they were big in the UK in that period. They seemed to cross over to the sort of middle-class dinner party set.

  5. #5
    Todd Rundgren, "I Saw the Light"
    Roberta Flack, "Where Is the Love"
    Joni Mitchell, "Help Me"
    Just about anybody, "Send in the Clowns"

    H'mmm. Even in pop I tend toward the more complex...
    Maka ki ecela tehani yanke lo!

  6. #6
    Member Emeritus (A.M.P.) rcarlberg's Avatar
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    This song always reminded me of Camel.

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    The Bears Fear is Never Boring
    Robin Trower Day of the Eagle
    David Bowie Space Oddity
    Alice Cooper Under my Wheels
    Genesis Taking it all to Hard
    Jellyfish New Mistake
    The Police Synchronicity II
    Radiohead High and Dry
    Talking Heads And she Was
    Sting Shadows in the Rain
    Todd Rundgren Parallel Lines
    Freak Kitchen Porno Daddy
    Elvis Costello Radio, Radio
    Joe Jackson It's all too Much
    XTC Dear God
    Steely Dan Aja
    Roxy Music Avalon
    Adrian Belew The Momur

  8. #8
    Progdog ThomasKDye's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Teddy Vengeance View Post
    Re-listening to some great 70's singles too- The Kinks' Lola.
    What a coincidence - this one has been on my repeat list recently. It's a great little catchy song.

    This, for some reason, has been a massive favorite for me for a long time:

    "Arf." -- Frank Zappa, "Beauty Knows No Pain" (live version)

  9. #9
    Member Emeritus (A.M.P.) rcarlberg's Avatar
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    There are very few perfect songs in the world. This is one.


  10. #10
    You listed the Kinks, so I'd recommend the CD "Give the people what they want".

    From the 70s, Dave Mason's "Let It Flow" fits the bill.

    But for pure, simple POP, I have a guilty pleasure of Walter Egan's "Not Shy" (produced by Buckingham/Nicks)


  11. #11
    Member bill g's Avatar
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    A few off the top of my head:

    XTC - King of the Day
    Genesis - Taking It All Too Hard
    Todd Rundgren - I Saw The Light, Hello It's Me
    Tennis - Mean Streets
    Kings of Convenience - kind of pretty folk pop, but... pretty much everything

  12. #12
    I would immediately go to the catalogs of Harry Nilsson and The Lovin' Spoonful (John Sebastian). They are two of the Great American Songwriters and have tons of great examples.
    The White Zone is for loading and unloading only. If you got to load or unload go to the White Zone.

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    Member Taped Rugs's Avatar
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    The PE community unveils some revealing responses here...

    Among the many many many pops that ring in my own ears:



  14. #14
    Orange Tick Squasher Buddhabreath's Avatar
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    The combined fortunes of the world's 26 richest individuals reached $1.4 trillion last year — the same amount as the total wealth of the 3.8 billion poorest people.

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    Member bill g's Avatar
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    Oh how could I forget Seth Swirskey. The master of well crafted, fairly simple but highly melodic and emotive pop. Pretty much anything on either of his first 2 albums.

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    Member Emeritus (A.M.P.) rcarlberg's Avatar
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    In terms of simple pop songs with absolutely gorgeous melodies, I nominate this one:

  18. #18
    ALL ACCESS Gruno's Avatar
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    A lot of posts with tons of choices pre-1990. Some excellent pop from then and even carrying into today exists. Many from obscure pop artists...

    Youngblood Hawke. "We Come Running"



    Morningwood "Nth Degree"




    Chairlift "Bruises"


  19. #19
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    Electric Guest "The Bait"



    Capital Cities "Safe & Sound"



    Peter Bjorn and John "Second Chance" (used as the theme for the TV comedy 'Two Broke Girls')


  20. #20
    It’s not “simple”—in fact it’s about as complicated as pop gets with all those multiple layers and a near five-minute running time—but it is undeniably great. I think it’s their masterpiece, something to put up there next to “Good Vibrations,” and for some reason never gets mentioned when the name ABBA turns up:

    Confirmed Bachelors: the dramedy hit of 1883...

  21. #21
    Ear worm ‘Time of the Season’ by the Zombies.

    When the singer does the bass ‘Is he rich, is he rich like me?’ bit, you can almost visualize a prime era Mike Ratledge hairdo lookalike wearing tight bell bottoms and sporting a stylish butt.

  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by ronmac View Post
    The Lovin' Spoonful (John Sebastian).
    At his best he was the greatest pop singer/songwriter bar none, IMO. "Darling Be Home Soon", "Coconut Grove", "You Didn't Have To Be So Nice" and more were treasures of the American songbook.

    And The Byrds. While The Notorious Byrd Bros remains one of my top-10 alltime albums, "Turn! Turn! Turn!" is one of the finest pop songs ever. Extremely few tunes capture the spirit of their specific day in that way, and it's still convincing now.
    "Improvisation is not an excuse for musical laziness" - Fred Frith
    "[...] things that we never dreamed of doing in Crimson or in any band that I've been in," - Tony Levin speaking of SGM

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Progbear View Post
    It’s not “simple”—in fact it’s about as complicated as pop gets with all those multiple layers and a near five-minute running time—but it is undeniably great. I think it’s their masterpiece, something to put up there next to “Good Vibrations,” and for some reason never gets mentioned when the name ABBA turns up:
    I remember a Mojo article (ABBA were on the front cover) where within it, none other than Peter Hammill said that was his favourite.

    I do love all those early-mid 60s Brill Building records, as I said on the 'guilty pleasures' thread. Here's a magnificent record I listened to on some compilation the other day, 'Baby Baby (I Still Love You)':

    http://www.45cat.com/record/d1026

    And another one, 'I Can't Make It Alone' with PJ Proby as a one-man Righteous Brothers (in the mono mix, anyway- the stereo is literally missing half the vocals!):

    http://www.45cat.com/record/lib10250

    I think this is better than Dusty Springfield's later (excellent) version, not least because it has a bridge she didn't bother with.

    The Beatles' early set-lists had Brill Building songs aplenty...see the Decca audition, the BBC sessions etc. I could easily see how they learned from the economy and simplicity of Goffin/King etc.
    Last edited by JJ88; 09-07-2019 at 07:33 AM.

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    Member Zeuhlmate's Avatar
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    Member thedunno's Avatar
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    R.E.M. The one I love

    At first glance a simple love song but at second glance not a love song at all. Who would write a love song 'just to occupy my time'.

    A lot of mistery put into a 3 minute song.

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