June 20, 2012


NME Says Joy Division Released Best Song of the Last 60 Years. Really?

Martin O'Neill
Martin O'Neill

To commemorate their 60th birthday, NME put together one of those argument-inducing lists—this time, it's the "100 greatest tracks of its lifetime."

They famously stymied the music world in 2006 when they ranked Oasis, the Stones Roses and Arctic Monkeys above the Beatles on their 100 Greatest British Albums of All Time list. In keeping with their decided non-mania for the Beatles, they don't even include a Fab Four track in the Top 10 (the highest ranked Beatles song is "A Day In the Life" at 15, below songs from The Specials and Dizzee Rascal. Controversial!)

The most confounding thing about the list, however, is its choice for the No. 1 best song of the last 60 years: Joy Division's "Love Will Tear Us Apart." Um... no. Now I love Joy Division: they're one of my favorite bands and I've probably listened to Closer a few hundred times. But "Love Will Tear Us Apart" is not the best song since 1952. Hell, it's not even Joy Division's best song: "Transmission"—with its near-dance music bass line and raving madman vocal delivery—easily takes that honor. 

"Love Will Tear Us Apart" is certainly a classic, but it really does sound best when you're 16 and a Goth. Not to state the obvious, but ranking it above every Beatles and Rolling Stones song is cray. (Or daft, as the Brits would say.)

Pulp's "Common People" follow Joy Division at No. 2, just ahead of David Bowie's "Heroes" and the Beach Boys' "Good Vibrations" (both of which would be much more defensible choices as greatest song of the last 60 years). And the Top 10 includes a few choices that are decidedly British—it's hard to imagine an American music publication claiming the Stone Roses, Dizzee Rascal and The Specials have created better songs than anything from Bob Dylan, Prince and Michael Jackson.

But that's pretty much what these lists are about—riling people up to get them talking about their faves. What would YOU say is the best song of the last 60 years? Something from the Beatles? Dylan? Baha Men?