INXS – “Never Tear Us Apart” Kick, 1988, Atlantic Records
Written by INXS’ late vocalist Michael Hutchence, this single off the band’s sixth studio album screams 80s. Synthesisers drive the song, which leads to an awesome saxophone solo. It’s a big hit back home in Australia, often chanted along to by football club fans at games. The lyrics don’t go into much detail, but they hint at a sort of eternal, unbreakable romance (I was standing / You were there / Two worlds collided / And they could never tear us apart).
Florence + the Machine – “You Got the Love” Lungs, 2009, Island Records
This one’s a cover, originally from American gospel singer Candi Staton. Florence covered it for their debut album, transforming it into an anthem that’s one of the highlights off of Lungs (and that’s saying something from the album that has “Dog Days Are Over”). Florence said it best herself, in an interview on their website: “As a kid, going to clubs and raves, this song made me feel love… Then playing it live and seeing everyone’s arms in the air, and the faces— it was the best feeling ever!”
Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros – “Home” Up from Below, 2010
This is one of the newer songs on the list, but arguably one of the best. Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros are an American folk rock band, and “Home” is undoubtedly their biggest song. The album is sung back-and-forth between the band’s leads Jade and Alexander (Jade: Alabama, Arkansas, I do love my Ma and Pa / Not the way that I do love you / Alexander: Holy moly, me oh my, you’re the apple of my eye / Girl, I never loved one like you) and even has a spoken-word bridge describing a scary-but-cute memory between the couple.
Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell – “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” United, 1967, Tamla Records
A duet between Motown superstars Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, it was a cover that itself was eventually covered by Diana Ross. But this version came out in 1967, and has since been immortalized in films such as Guardians of the Galaxy. It’s a great karaoke song and a prime example of how great Motown is.
Prince – “I Would Die 4 U” Purple Rain, 1984, Warner Bros. Records
A deep cut from Prince’s magnum opus (which is a soundtrack to the 1984 film Purple Rain), this one is also probably the dance-ist song on the list. It went up to the Top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 and features some defining lyrics from the Purple One (“I’m not a woman / I’m not a man / I am something that you’ll never understand… I’m not a human / I am a dove / I’m your conscious / I am love”).
Common — “I Used to Love H.E.R.”Resurrection, 1994, Relativity Records
Okay, this one is cheating a bit. It’s a metaphor, the titular ‘H.E.R.’ is in fact rap & hip-hop as a musical genre (H.E.R. stands for Hip-Hop in its Essence is Real). Many consider this one of, if not the, greatest hip-hop songs ever. RapReviews consider it to have one of the best beats ever.
David Bowie- “Heroes” Heroes, 1977, RCA Records
The title song of the album of the same name, part of Bowie’s famed Berlin Trilogy, this one has become one of the most famous and significant songs of all time. The lyrics tell of a couple who are separated on the East & West Side of the Berlin Wall. The German government even thanked Bowie posthumously for helping to ‘bring down the Wall’ with this record.
Bruce Springsteen – “Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)” The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle, 1973, Columbia Records
Chris T-T has called this the greatest rock’n’roll song of all time, and Uncut has said it’s “as close to a perfect song as anyone’s ever recorded.” The song was recorded on The Boss’ second album, and only really began getting airplay after the success of Born to Run. The song describes a forbidden love between and up-and-coming musician and a woman whose parents disapprove of their relationship (“Now, I know your mama, she don’t like me, ‘cause I play in a rock and roll band / And I know your daddy, he don’t dig me, but he never did understand”).