(picture courtesy Starpool’s facebook page)
80. All My Best Friends Are Metalheads – Less than Jake
“This is a fair request, and I promise I will not judge any person only as a teenager.” This song preaches the simple and common message about how you should get to know someone before you judge them. Relatively simple in execution, this song showcases Less Than Jake’s strengths: the unique whiny, yet emotional singing; horn parts that weave well with the vocal melody; and an impressive horn break. The emotional and musical climax of this song lies in the modulation at the end. Overall, this is a short, sweet song with nothing truly exceptional about it and no shortcomings.
79. Try Living in this World – Starpool
Starpool is a band made up of former Save Ferris members as well as former No Doubt member Alan Meade, and while they haven’t met the same commercial success as those bands, their sound should not be overlooked. “Try Living in this World” demonstrates how good Starpool is, with well-written horn parts that interact with the strong vocal line. My only complaint with this song is that the beginning of the bridge drags on too long, but aside from that, this song is fantastic.
78. This is Me Getting Over You in Two Chords or Less – Coffee Project
Coffee Project is an interesting group, made up of Less than Jake’s Buddy Schaub on trombone and Rehasher’s Jake Crown on guitar and vocals. I love the vibe this song gives off, demonizing the woman but not enough to lose the half-sarcastic tone that many Coffee Project songs have. Short and sweet, this song showcases what Coffee Project has to offer, catchy trombone parts and emotional singing. The two chords are E and A, by the way.
77. The Hippopotamus – The Planet Smashers:
Sometimes, a song is defined by a specific moment; something that, when you think of the song, is the first thing to come to mind. While “The Hippopotamus” boasts catchy horn lines throughout, a fantastic trombone solo, and lyrics that are reminiscent of the dance songs of years past (Think “the twist,” “the locomotion,” etc.”), the clear standout moment in this song is the chorus. The overlapping, syncopated vocals with the simple horn line in the background is just so fun. This may be the most fun song on this list.
76. Sell Out – Reel Big Fish
Where to begin with this song? Reel Big Fish opened with this when I saw them live. My brothers were in a band that played this live. The main horn riff was included in a trombone solo by my brother Patrick, and it’s one of the first ska songs I learned to play on trumpet. Reel Big Fish’s most commercially successful song, Sell Out parodies the systematic process of signing on to a record label(which was the style at the time). Sell Out wasn’t popular without reason, and the song really shines in its catchy horn lines and satirical lyrics; it’s as catchy on the 100th listen as it was on the first.
75. Come Back Home – Suburban Legends
There is an ongoing dispute between me and my brother Brad about this song. One side of the argument says that this song is about the lead singer’s lover who left at the first sign of trouble, something the lead singer is upset about. The other, funnier, interpretation of the song is that the lead singer has lost his cat, and is upset about it. I mean think about it, “just a crack of the door and you ran out,” could easily apply to a pet. In fact, he even refers to the being that has left as his “little kitty.” In fact, the entire second verse makes more sense when thinking about a cat. Either way, this song has a great groove, great vocals, killer cowbell, and the worst guitar solo in the history of music.
74. Despise – Starpool
Slower than many other Starpool songs, “Despise,” describes the feelings of a guy who resents a girl after a breakup, particularly how he dislikes her eyes. With Starpool’s characteristic catchy horn lines and well executed vocals, there’s not much to dislike about this song. The stand-out moment in this song, though, is the chorus, which is highlighted with great shout vocals, escalated energy, and horn parts that overlap with the vocals very well.
73. Up All Night – Suburban Legends
“Up All Night” comes from the Tim Maurer era Suburban Legends album, “Rump Shaker,” my favorite LP from the band. The highlights of the album are “Bright Spring Morning,” “Autumn in the Park,” and, in particular, this song. Starting with an addicting trombone line and the memorable first line, “Shake your booty, prepare for domination,” “Up All Night” tracks the mindset of a guy who’s trying to get with a girl and his inner struggle before he finally gives into his personal desires, which marks the emotional and musical climax of the song. The high energy, addicting horn lines, and catchy vocals make for a brilliant song.
72. Take on Me – Reel Big Fish
Reel Big Fish has a knack for covering pop songs. They’re so good at it, in fact, that one of the three discs on their 2012 greatest hits re-recording compilation A Best Of Us For The Rest Of Us – Bigger Better Deluxe Version is a full album dedicated to covers, titled The Best Songs We Never Wrote. “Take on Me” is a cover done right, showcasing the band’s best features: upbeat horn lines, tightly knit craziness in the instrumentals, and the absurdity of the band, showcased by the falsettos in the chorus. Take On Me is also the only Reel Big Fish song I’ve ever performed live.
71. Suckerpunch – Five Iron Frenzy
One of my early ska favorites, Suckerpunch chronicles the daily life of a middle schooler who is stressed socially and isn’t too fond of his current lifestyle. Five Iron Frenzy manages to craft a sympathetic scenario with a good, Christian lesson without sounding preachy and while maintaining their trademark humor. The tightly knit horn parts and catchy chorus make this song musically as great as it is lyrically.