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10 Best Numbers in Music

  • 10 Best Numbers in Songs

    10. 12xU – Wire
    This track has been covered by Minor Threat, Pink Cadillacs, and a legion of other bands thanks, in part, to the Wire’s satirical take on pop culture’s hypocritical stance on sex and violence. The title, 12XU, is one of rock’s most clever puns: The 1-2 replacing ‘want to’ and the X acting as a sort of ‘place naughty word here’.
    9. 1,000,000 – REM
    The number one million gets a bad rap. To many, it is the mythological monetary sum every Bond villain ransoms the world for or number of times some adult has told some kid to do some thing. To lyricist Michael Stipe, a million marks the number of years someone must wait for something lurking beyond the borders of the world.  If H.P. Lovecraft wrote songs for college radio, he would have written this one.  

    8. Bad Luck – Social Distortion
    13 is one of the most obnoxious numbers. It’s right up there with 420 and 69. These three numbers create an image of  gawking teenagers punching each other’s arms and giggling whenever they  appear on bills or graded papers. Yet, every rule has an exception and Social Distortion front man, Michael Ness, hits this number like it pissed on his shoes and stole his beer. It’s a great track about people who make their own bad luck by just being assholes.  

    7. Fight the Power – Public Enemy
    When Chuck D tells us, “1989 the number. Another summer”, it’s enough to make us long for the 80’s again. Even though the track immediately dates itself, the aggression that follows is timeless. Change the date to any other year and the message still remains. But 1989 itself is much more than ‘just another summer’, it was a time when samples and bold statements like "Elvis was a hero to most / But he never meant shit to me ... Motherfuck him and John Wayne” made rap both dangerous and insightful in the same breath. 1989 was when the genre produced some of its most potent statements.

    6. 1969 – The Stooges
    This is the second song on this list dealing with a decade closing slam dunk. In 1969, while people were packing up their VW buses, bugs, and bongs, The Stooges unleashed one of the first real punk albums of all time. In an America full of johnny-come-lately merry pranksters, naked body painters, and fringed jackets, The Stooges were building walls of distortion and singing about the mundane boredom of suburban life.
    5. 3
    This is the magic number, the number of Beasties, and how high the water rises. And it comes in at number 5 on this list.

    4. The Number of the Beast– Iron Maiden
    Iron Maiden rocks. Lyricist Steve Harris’ nightmare induced track draws on images from the Bible, The Omen II, and the Robert Burns’ poem ‘Tam o' Shanter’. Being well read is very metal.

    3. 777 – Danzig
    Glenn Danzig pulls a Spinal Tap by bringing metal’s love for the number 666 just bit higher. I mean, after all, what exists after Armageddon? Seven. That’s what exists. Add to that some slide guitar and Elvis-impersonation and you’ve got a brilliant song about, er, the things that seven brings. It’s like Sesame Street episode written by Satan encouraging us to ‘Lick the rose of Venus' shame’.

    2. Four Horsemen – The Clash
    Since we’re on an Apocryphal roll, let’s forget the The Clash’s classic Magnificent Seven (a song which tends to overstay its welcome) and look at the glory of this track. Only ever played live once, this song was meant to take the piss out of London Calling and lighten the mood a bit. It’s a perfect bit of self-mockery in which Strummer and the boys set themselves up as the horsemen of the apocalypse. “Well they gave us everything for bending the mind / And we cleaned out their pockets and we drank 'em blind”.

    1. Number One – The Rutles
    Speaking of taking the piss, The Rutles deliver a fantastic spoof of the untouchable Golden Boys of rock, The Beatles, with a track about an anonymous lover being, you guessed it, Number One. It’s pop gold and really no more ridiculous than Eight Days a Week or Revolution 9.