Special Report

The 100 Absolute Best Songs in History

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80. Chain of Fools
> Artist: Aretha Franklin
> Billboard Hot 100 entry date: Dec. 9, 1967
> Total weeks on Billboard Hot 100: 12
> Listen here

“Chain of Fools,” written by Don Covay, was initially proposed to Otis Redding. Atlantic producer Jerry Wexler decided it was a better fit for Franklin, however, thereby making history. The song topped the R&B charts and peaked at No. 2 on the Hot 100, spending a total of 12 weeks on the pop chart.

Source: Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images

79. La Bamba
> Artist: Ritchie Valens
> Billboard Hot 100 entry date: Dec. 29, 1958
> Total weeks on Billboard Hot 100: 15
> Listen here

“La Bamba” was not the biggest hit for Latin rock pathfinder Ritchie Valens (that was the No. 2 “Donna”). “La Bamba” rose to No. 22 in February of 1959, the same month Valens perished in a plane crash. The song would achieve greater glory 18 years later, when the version recorded by the group Los Lobos for the Valens biopic “La Bamba” would soar to No. 1.

Source: Keystone / Getty Images

78. You Don’t Own Me
> Artist: Lesley Gore
> Billboard Hot 100 entry date: Dec. 28, 1963
> Total weeks on Billboard Hot 100: 13
> Listen here

Though written by two men — David White and John Madara — “You Don’t Own Me” has developed a status as a feminist anthem. The song also marked the maturation of then 17-year-old singer Lesley Gore, who up to that point had been known mostly for light-hearted pop hits such as “It’s My Party.” The song peaked at No. 2 on the Hot 100.

Source: Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images

77. Summertime Blues
> Artist: Eddie Cochran
> Billboard Hot 100 entry date: Aug. 4, 1958
> Total weeks on Billboard Hot 100: 16
> Listen here

“Summertime Blues” has been covered many times by music acts, including The Who, Joan Jett, and even Olivia Newton-John. It was Eddie Cochran’s breakthrough hit, climbing to No. 8 on Billboard’s Hot 100. The song about teenage frustration cast the Minnesota native as a musical rebel in the style of James Dean. Like Dean, Cochran’s life was cut short by a car accident in 1960.

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76. The Boys Are Back In Town
> Artist: Thin Lizzy
> Billboard Hot 100 entry date: May 15, 1976
> Total weeks on Billboard Hot 100: 17
> Listen here

“The Boys Are Back in Town” is the biggest hit of Irish rockers Thin Lizzy, reaching No. 12 on the Hot 100. Guitarist Scott Gorham has recounted that the band nearly left the iconic track off their album “Jailbreak.” The song went on to become the album’s best-performing single by far, with its double guitars and powerhouse chorus.

Source: Evan Agostini / Getty Images

75. Bullet With Butterfly Wings
> Artist: The Smashing Pumpkins
> Billboard Hot 100 entry date: Nov. 11, 1995
> Total weeks on Billboard Hot 100: 20
> Listen here

“Bullet With Butterfly Wings” was Chicago-based Smashing Pumpkins’ second biggest hit, rising to No. 22 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song is about the stress of being a rock star, and songwriter/singer Billy Corgan said the overly dramatic lyrics were not meant to be taken totally seriously. The song won a Grammy for Best Hard Rock Performance in 1996.

Source: David Redfern / Getty Images

74. Jolene
> Artist: Dolly Parton
> Billboard Hot 100 entry date: Jan. 26, 1974
> Total weeks on Billboard Hot 100: 8
> Listen here

Country superstar Dolly Parton has scored numerous crossover pop hits, including the No. 1 songs “9 to 5” and “Islands in the Stream,” performed with Kenny Rogers. However, “Jolene” may be her best, despite it only peaking at No. 60 on the Hot 100. The song features Parton begging the titular character Jolene not to steal her lover. This classic country story has been performed by artists including Olivia Newton-John, Reba McEntire, and The White Stripes.

Source: Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images

73. He’s So Fine
> Artist: The Chiffons
> Billboard Hot 100 entry date: Feb. 23, 1963
> Total weeks on Billboard Hot 100: 15
> Listen here

“He’s So Fine” wasn’t fine, according to the major recording companies, who all rejected it. One company called the song “too trite.” A smaller record company, Laurie, took a chance, and the song became the Chiffons’ only No. 1, holding the top spot for four weeks in March of 1963.

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72. Baby Blue
> Artist: Badfinger
> Billboard Hot 100 entry date: March 25, 1972
> Total weeks on Billboard Hot 100: 10
> Listen here

Badfinger’s “Baby Blue” was a hit upon release, reaching No. 14 on the Hot 100. The song recently underwent a resurgence in popularity following its inclusion in the series finale of “Breaking Bad,” which triggered thousands of streams and online purchases.

Source: Keystone / Getty Images

71. The Letter
> Artist: The Box Tops
> Billboard Hot 100 entry date: Aug. 12, 1967
> Total weeks on Billboard Hot 100: 16
> Listen here

“The Letter” was the biggest hit for The Box Tops, a blue-eyed soul group from Memphis known for the robust vocals of singer Alex Chilton. “The Letter” topped the Billboard Hot 100 for four weeks in September of 1967.

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