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500 Greatest Songs of All Time

Rolling Stone’s definitive list of the 500 greatest songs of all time.

By Jay-Z

A great song doesn’t attempt to be anything — it just is.

When you hear a great song, you can think of where you were when you first heard it, the sounds, the smells. It takes the emotions of a moment and holds it for years to come. It transcends time. A great song has all the key elements — melody; emotion; a strong statement that becomes part of the lexicon; and great production. Think of “Bohemian Rhapsody,” by Queen. That song had everything — different melodies, opera, R&B, rock — and it explored all of those different genres in an authentic way, where it felt natural.

When I’m writing a song that I know is going to work, it’s a feeling of euphoria. It’s how a basketball player must feel when he starts hitting every shot, when you’re in that zone. As soon as you start, you get that magic feeling, an extra feeling. Songs like that come out in five minutes; if I work on them more than, say, 20 minutes, they’re probably not going to work.

Read Jay-Z’s full essay here.

475

The Supremes, ‘Where Did Our Love Go’

Writers: Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, Eddie Holland
Producers: Brian Holland, Dozier
Released: June '64, Motown
14 weeks; No. 1

After eight flop singles, the trio were known as the "No-Hit Supremes." The Marvelettes — Motown's top girl group at that point — passed on this song, and the Supremes didn't like their own recording. Until it hit Number One, that is. That foot-stomping beat is actually two boards banged together.

Appears on: The Ultimate Collection (Motown)

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