Very few songs have announced themselves with such authority as this lo-fi indie rock smash for then-unknown L.A. oddball Beck Hansen. Carl Stephenson's musical backing is a technicolor tether providing propulsion and shading to Beck;s sung-spoken vocal track. What ensures this song a place on this list is the fact that it still sounds as fresh today as it did twenty years ago. And, yes, it's been that long.
I'm A Loser-Beatles
Lennon was well on his way to cementing his reputation as a working class hero by the time he wrote this buoyant ode to lost love. In it, Lennon admits to losing his one "girl in a million" and we can't help feel for the guy. We've all been there: having caught the eye of someone completely out of our league, but blowing it one way or another. Listening to it today, the unabashed country-ness of the tune, a loving nod to Chet Atkins, is so refreshing.
Beautiful Loser-Bob Seger
The veteran Detroit rocker had long been a regional phenomenon, but national success continued to allude him after seven albums. Perhaps believing that his fate had been permanently cast, Seger wrote this song from the viewpoint of a man just trying to keep his head above the wves in trying times. Whether autobiographical or not, Segar finally managed to successfully tap into the vein of the common man and hit upon a lyrical POV that would take him to heights he never could have imagined.
Even The Losers-Tom Petty
I could probably write an entire book about all the things I love about this track from Petty's third album, Damn The Torpedoes. Thing is, it's not even my favorite song from that album, but as far as second-tier material goes, this told the whole damn industry that this Petty guy was something special. And if there's a better slogan for the working class than "Even the losers/get lucky sometime", I have yet to hear it.
Losers Wall-King Tuff
King Tuff may not be a household name (yet), but his command of the language of rock & roll is encyclopedic, enabling him to construct deceptively sticky hooks and dig grooves no mortal listener can get out of until the song ends. On "Loser's Wall", Tuff busts out a Stonesy guitar riff that soon yields to a playfully slurred vocal that drills its way into the part of your brain that likes to drive you crazy with stray hooks from songs you can't quite place.
Women Is Losers-Big Brother & Holding Company featuring Janis Joplin
I'm about as far from a Janis Joplin fan as you can get, but even I can't get enough of this upbeat blues romp. Of all the songs that get played to death on classic rock radio, I'm still stunned at how little attention this song gets. For fck's sake, Joplin's vocals are ballsy, but understated, ye she stiull tears the roof off the dump.
I'm A Loser-UFO
This sorely underrated British hard rock outfit turned in one of their most anthemic performances with this stunner from their No Heavy Petting album. The band was still searching for that elusive American hit that would propel them to full-fledged headliner status. New keyboardist Danny Peyronel's dynamic piano flourishes add a new dimension to the band's sound. Sadly, his involvement with the band was short-lived and both this song and the album on which it can be found reain a footnote in the band's 40-year career. Do yourself a favor, though, and give it a listen.
Lonesome Loser-Little River Band
Sure, this is a song that conjures up all sorts of really corny '70s memories, but isn't that the mark oif a great song? Exhibit A would be Little River Band's glitzy disco-era smash hit "Lonesome Loser", which walked that fine line between disco and country, yes, we said country. Hell, we can't believe Rascal Flatts haven't sucked the life out of this song for their own financial gain like they did that Tom Cochrane tune, but I digress.
Three Lovers Were Losers Today-Red Sovine
I contend that if you can listen to this song without getting a lump in your throat, you may need to be checked for a pulse. Sovine, of course, is best-known for the 1976 tearjerker hit, "Teddy Bear", but the mood manipulation doesn't end there. On "Three Lovers", Red spins the tale of a husband who sits down with the mother and father of the woman who has left him (and them too, it would appear).and explores the sadness in a conversational manner that feels like a private letter left out for all the world to read.
With an opening verse like "If I had a gun for every ace I had drawn/I could arm a town the size of Abilene", how could the voice of David Lowery not wrap its snarly self around such a tune and take it to all-new heights. Those unfamiliar with the Grateful Dead's original version need not seek it out, as Cracker absolutely surpasses the original in every way. slowly unwinding a hypnotic country drawl that joyously strays into Velvet Underground territory at times. "Low" was the radio hit that got us to buy the album, this song was the reward we did not expect, remiding us how good it felt to listen to a band that could hold your attention for an enire album, as Cracker did on their masterful Kerosene Hat LP.