The Shit List: Ten Greatest Ballads Of All Time That Weren't Hits!

Is it just me or should every GREAT ballad be a huge fucking hit?  I mean, if any of these songs wouldn't sound better on the radio than "Every Rose Has It's Thorn" or "My Heart Will Go On", then you and I are just gonna have to agree to disgaree and since this is our list, we win! :P

10. Here Comes A Regular - The Replacements

You don't have to be a raging alcoholic to know the smell of the place Westerberg's talking about.  His lyrical narrative is just about as cinematic as it gets and you can almost hear the crash of a spilled drink in the background.  Working in a line like "Summer's passed, it's too late to cut the grass/There ain't too much to make anyway in the fall" is where the real genius lies.  If only he'd dressed it up with a sloganeering refrain like "Ain't that America!" or some shit.

9. Y.O.Y.O.Y. - Cheap Trick

I can barely listen to this song without getting pissed off at the band for working with Todd Rundgren and at Todd Rundgren for making one of the loudest rock bands on the planet sound like a cardboard cut-out of themselves on this tune, much less the entire album (Next Position Please).
Now, I've always said that a good song can rise above shitty production, but not if it isn't released as a freakin' single.  Everything about this song is stadium-sized; the verse, the chorus, the TITLE!  So, yeah, let's EQ the drums all mid-rangy, make all the guitars sound like something you'd hear on an early Fabulous Thunderbirds album that nobody bought, and have Jon Brant add one of his instantly forgettable bass parts!  PERFECT!

8. Tears - The Chameleons

There are two versions of the song on their lone Geffen record Strange Times, the first is without drums and is driven by shimmering layers of guitar and Mark Burgess's sing-speak voice and heartfelt lines like "waiting for the light to turn green, carry me home, to the kindest eyes that I've ever seen, carry me home".

7. Your Sweet Voice - Mathew Sweet

For anyone who has had their heart ripped out and handed back to them while still beating by someone who once claimed their undying love to you, this album is almost mandatory listening.  Thing is, you don't have to be on the losing end of a break-up to appreciate Sweet at his most confessional, especially when the results are so hauntingly original.

The intertwining guitars, the plaintive pedal steel, and the multi-layered harmonies of Sweet weaving lines that, even in the best of circumstances, cut like a knife: "Speak to me with your sweet voice/if I can close my eyes without a fear/speak to me with your sweet voice near"

Here's the thing, though: Sweet has yet to include this song on any of the multitude of compilations that have come out in the two decades since its release and, for an artist of Sweet's admittedly moderate commercial stature, there are a fuckloud of comps out there.  Even the most recent one - a 2-CD "Essential" collection that includes just about every other song he released from "Girlfriend" on couldn't find room for it.  What the motherfuck?

6. God Isn't Real - Robbie Fulks

This one's from Fulks' much-maligned Geffen record :et's Kill Saturday Night, which is a really a kick-ass record, no two ways about it.  Truth is, we wish more folks would misproduce Fulks like this.  And leave it to the snarky Fulks to fashion that most perfect of pro-God atheist anthems, or is it the other way around?

5. Sick Day - Fountains of Wayne

At more than one company I've worked for, there's a woman in the accounting department who is personable and pleasant, does great work and is an inavaluable part of the company, but, every couple weeks, takes an unscheduled "me" day ad you just know she's curled up in the fetal position in her footed jammies, exhausted by the world.  Leave it to Fountains of Wayne to celebrate her in song.

4. Perfect Day - Lou Reed

This tune may as well have been a hit for Reed, as popular as the song has become in recent years, but damn if it still hasn't actually been a hit for anyone.  Granted, Duran Duran covered it.  What makes Lou's performance so daunting, I suspect, is that most singers try to sing the song "properly", but doing so somehow minimizes the song's greatness, which is ALL in Reed's delivery, which is about as honest and conversational as a walk in the park.  I find it hilarious that this tune WAS released on a single...the B-side to "Walk On The Wild Side".

3. Billy Austin - Steve Earle

I have to wonder if heroin-addled Steve Earle even remembers cutting this one, but damn if he didn't take you inside that prison, down those concrete hallways, and into that cage on death row.  Anyone who is heretofore unimpressed by Earle's recent fare and wondering what all the fuss about need only start here to start to "get" what makes this man one of America's great musical treasures.

2. Hook Line And Sinker - Jon Brion

The first time I heard this tune, I literally stopped listening to what my girlfriend was saying at the time, to which she hissed "Are you even listening to me?", at which point a woman at the next table silenced her with a devil-eed "shhhhhhhh" and that was the end of that.  I was convinced that I had just heard a #1 hit.  Hell, Ahmet Ertegun was two tables away absolutely glowing with pride, having just signed Brion to Atlantic.  Sadly, Atlantic would later inexplicably balk at even releasing the album, dropping Brion, and momentarily robbing the world of a real wizard, a true star.  Thankfully, Brion has found steady work on scores for films such as ParaNorman and Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, among others.  This song, though...just kills me.

1. Skyway - The Replacements

Ah, you knew it was coming.  Never has a song so simple been performed so sparingly and sung with such bare bones honesty.  And in it's two-minute running time, it still manages to somehow say all that needs to be said, conveying nothing certain, leaving a ton of nooks and crannies for us to inject our own meaning.

Superior St. Rehearsal Facility

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