Digital Editor

Thomas R. Martinez is the digital editor for the Victoria Advocate. He has a long, storied newspaper career with stops in Colorado, Oregon, Nebraska, Wyoming and Arizona.

The Rolling Stones

The Rolling Stones

Let us dispense with the argument up front. Top 5 or Top 10 lists are very subjective — especially when you are talking all-time lists.

Music is very subjective. It has the power to take you back in time, to relive memories both powerful and emotional. 

For example, I remember listening to America's Top 40 every Sunday night as a kid as I was getting ready for the upcoming school week. I still remember Casey Kasem reading the long-distance dedications, his voice choking with emotion as he conveyed the messages. 

Great memories.

This is my all-time Top 5 list. If I were to write this again tomorrow, it would probably look different. That's the fun of such things.

This list omits a lot of great songs from artists world renown, to wit: Bruce Springsteen, Queen, Elton John, U2, Madonna, Adele, Parliament, Run DMC, Prince, Buddy Holly, Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones, Elvis, Johnny Cash and other country legends.

That's a mind-boggling amount of very good music left off this list. And I can already see my boss, a music aficionado, shaking his head in disagreement.

But it doesn't matter. Like I said, music is subjective, and here's my list. At least for today.

No. 1: Smells Like Teen Spirit, by Nirvana

Listing this song at the top is no surprise to those who know me. This song propelled a largely unknown band into the spotlight and allowed alternative music to rule the 90s. Nirvana's success was straight out of the box, and, within a year, they and the bands that followed in their wake had largely wiped the charts clean of the hair metal that had ruled rock for the previous five years, according to Diffuser. To me, though it's transcending in its historical perspective, this song's not even close to Nirvana's best song. Those would include "All Apologies," "Come as you Are," "About A Girl," "Heart-Shaped Box" "Rape Me" and cover songs "The Man Who Sold the World," "Lake of Fire" and "Where Did You Sleep Last Night?"

No. 2: Hey Jude, by the Beatles

Disclaimer: I am not a huge Beatles fan, but, man, did they have a lot of good songs. You can list many Beatles songs in this spot, but "Hey Jude" gets the nod because of its commercial success and popularity. According to legend, Paul McCartney wrote this song about John Lennon's split with his first wife and its potential impact on Julian Lennon. The lyrics at first included "Hey Jules" but were later changed to "Hey Jude."

No. 3: Billie Jean, by Michael Jackson

I will leave the politics about Michael Jackson out of this discussion and focus on his music. Like the Beatles, you can choose many songs here from Jackson's list of hits. You can't go wrong with this song, though.

No. 4: Faith, by George Michael

"Faith" is the self-titled song from Michael's first — and breakthrough — album. He gave new popularity to sunglasses, 5-day beards, jeans and a leather jacket. I tried to copy that look, but never succeeded. This song is good, and it's listed here for its historical impact, but it's far from Michael's best song. Those songs would include "Freedom 90," "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face," "Older," and others.

No. 5: Lose Yourself, Eminem

This song comes from the movie "8 Mile." It was also the first R&B song to win an Academy Award. Whether you like Eminem, this song has chops.

Honorable Mention

1: Zombie, by the Cranberries

This song is a protest song about an IRA bombing that killed two youngsters. Dolores O'Riordan's haunting voice and chilling lyrics make this song hard to forget.

2: Dodged a Bullet, by Greg Laswell

This is probably the only semi-current song I have on my list. This song is about heartbreak, and it's haunting, thought provoking and soulful. Give it a try.  

Thomas R. Martinez is the digital editor for the Victoria Advocate. He can be reached at or 361-580-6519 or @thomasrmartinez on Twitter.

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(1) comment

ccobler Staff
Chris Cobler

Wow, it's so hard to come up with a Top 5 list. It changes every moment based on my mood. At this moment, I'd go with: 1) Second side of "Abbey Road" by the Beatles 2) "Prove It All Night" by Bruce Springsteen 3) "The French Inhaler" by Warren Zevon 4) "Broken" by Tift Merritt 5) "Put the Gun Down" by ZZ Ward. If you ask me in five minutes, I'll give you a different answer. Thanks for the fun, Tom.

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