What is the perfect pop song?

edited January 2010 in Fight Club
My wife is a member of a message board that is currently debating the perfect pop song, and I thought I'd ask the same question here.

So what is it?

I'm having trouble coming up with an answer.



  • Are you looking for a specific song, or theoretically what comprises the perfect pop song?
  • i believe the general criteria for the perfect pop song has changed with each decade.
    it may be easier and more revealing to break it down in that manner.
    my favorite pop song changes every time i hear it.
  • Looking for specific songs.

    I'm leaning towards Van Morrison "Brown Eyed Girl" at the moment.

  • in 1965, when i was 8, i would have said "The Night Before" by the Beatles.
    In 1971, at 14, it was "Baby Blue" by Badfinger.
    in 73 it would have been "Way Out West" by Big Star...and so on.
    The most popular or influential might be easier to pin down; otherwise, it's all subjective.
  • Oh it's certainly subjective.

    That's why this is in Fight Club!

  • edited January 2010
    Gotta say: "(What's so funny 'bout) Peace, Love and Understanding". Runners-up: "Maybe Baby" and "Don't Worry, Baby."
  • edited April 2010
    43 years ago I would have said The Moody Blues - Nights in White Satin
    Today I will say Nights in White Satin.

    - But this is just one example, I bet there's thousands.
  • There was a thread on the eMusic boards debating this very question a few months ago. I believe my choice was "When Will I See You Again" by the Three Degrees. Not the kind of thing I listen to very often, but it kills me every time I hear it. Of course, if I spent 15 minutes looking through my iTunes library, I could come up with dozens of other candidates.
  • I think at the time my vote was this one.
  • That's easy - Come on Eileen.
  • edited January 2010
    3 storm king stouts into year 53 and today it's "Everything Will Turn Out Fine" by Stealers Wheel and "Clara Clairvoyant" by Donovan.
  • "Victoria" by The Kinks.
  • There was a thread on the eMusic boards debating this very question a few months ago.

    Yeah. I started that thread (my claim to fame!). It's an impossible question, since (a) no song does enough to be a clear choice and (b) my selection changes with my mood. Having said all that, I think I'll choose now what I chose then.

    And as of tonight, my second choice.
  • edited January 2010
    California Dreamin' is another one.
    - And God Only Knows

    And . . . . . . . . .
  • hmmm. "sweet jane" is hard to kick off the top of the heap

    in the "indie" framework, "teenage riot" is whips.

    "my funny valentine" gets worked over time and time again.

    play "what's so funny 'bout peace love and understanding" near closing time and the place will berserk.

    elvis' "suspicious minds" gets frogkopf into jumpsuit frenzy

    tons of great stuff out there
  • Weird. It wasn't until this thread that I realized that time turns many pop songs into classic rock. Pop songs had always seemed to imply, to me, a certain impermanence, that it is very in the moment, reaches a public saturation point, and then kind of barely lingers at the fringes of peoples memories, but typically not taken very seriously. But there's a lot of songs listed here that don't fit that category. Maybe I've just never known what a pop song really is.
    The first song I thought of when I saw the thread title was "Three Kings" by Spin Doctors (that whole album was chock full of perfect pop songs). Another would be "Shout" by Tears for Fears.
    If I were to take a stab at a song that seems to fit in with the above criteria, I would vote for George Harrison's "Give Me Love".
  • The Beatles' (Harrison's) "Here Comes the Sun" is what first pops into my mind with the question.
  • I wonder what irony it was that brought Leonard Cohen to make pop chord progressions the divine revelation that G-d gave to David in "Hallelujah".
  • I think a sign of being a great pop song is its ability to be covered by someone of a very different ilk than the original...
  • its ability to be covered by someone of a very different ilk than the original...
    (just joking)
  • Sometimes a song that seems a little cheesy just needs to be stripped down to show what a great pop song it is.
  • But in all seriousness, a well done reinterpretation can be enough to make you realize the brilliance of a classic. This gets my vote, for now...
  • Being "coverable" doesn't seem sufficient. The covers themselves must prove that the song is not inert. That's why this has a power unique to this, or this can be turned from its folk origins (regardless of what BN says). On the other hand, millions of covers of this just plain suck.
  • I don't think I've said anything, other than perfect pop songs are counted by the thousands.
    - The definition "perfect" seems apropriate to The Original
  • A lot of great stuff here. Thanks guys!

    I need to add one I thought of: Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline". I am unrepentant in my love for that song!

  • "Lovefool" by the Cardigans. I love this song - it's silly, frothy and damn catchy, but really nicely played and arranged. That bass line is so weird but it's just right, besides I love her voice.
  • @jonah

    mention the name of that scourge-band again and you will be sent to your room with no supper.

    (per innernet rules established well before al galore made 'em popular)
  • @BigD-Bluez When that song came out I worked in a shop that made pre-cast molds and every time that song came on the radio the burly welders would stop what they were doing to sing it in voices thick with Russian and Spanish accents. It was genuine, sweet, and terribly surreal all at once with the soot blackened faces and hulking forms doing slow shuffling dance steps in accompaniment.
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