Supreme 13!

Supreme 13!

t’s never easy to pick the best records, especially when you’re as big a music buff as I am. You always want to add one more - just one more - and feel bad when you’re forced to omit a ton of worthy songs. But it’s safe to say that some records deserve special mention for their landmark qualities. Perhaps they embodied the peak of a genre or style, or they may be rays of greatness in an era of otherwise poor music. Whatever the case, these 13 songs changed the direction of the music industry and remain cornerstones of their respective movements and genres. Give them a spin!     - Ashwin
 
“Kashmir” – Led Zeppelin (1975)
Led Zeppelin’s iconic rock classic is a far cry from the genre as it stands today. While stalwarts like the Rolling Stones and Aerosmith are still hanging around, trying to inject what little legend they can into the scene, rock stars simply don’t write songs like “Kashmir” anymore. From the famous riff to lyrics like “Oh let the sun beat down upon my face/Stars to fill my dream/I am a traveller of both time and space/To be where I have been”, rock doesn’t get more classic than this.
 
“Billie Jean” – Michael Jackson (1982)
Credit has to be given all around for the magic of this song. Not only did Jackson work wonders with his broad vocal range and soulful voice, but Quincy Jones took the concept of production to another level. It’s one of the first tracks to loop a bass line throughout the duration of the recording, and paved the way for an era of groove-heavy music.
 
“Billie Jean” – Michael Jackson (1982)
Billie Jean – Michael Jackson (1982)
 
 “Let the Music Play” – Shannon (1983)
The first freestyle record came about during the disco backlash, but producer Chris Barbosa’s writing and arrangement created something completely new. The drum and keyboard patterns were generated using a Roland TR-808 drum synthesiser and the gate effect, and the record was very well-received by the public, peaking at the eighth spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The song is also one of the cornerstones of the dance-pop era that dominated the next two decades.

“Let the Music Play”
Let the Music Play
 
“Livin’ On A Prayer” – Bon Jovi (1986)
Marking the peak of the synth-laden glam rock/metal era, this Bon Jovi record combines the band’s musical talent with electronic samples to give us one of rock’s most famous tracks. The lyrics tell the tale of several people who struggle through adversity, making it out fine thanks to the power of hope and love.
 
“Children’s Story” – Slick Rick (1989)
British-born rapper Slick Rick remains an icon of hip-hop music. Revered for his unique voice and creative songwriting, Rick came out with this record about a misguided youth and his encounters with the law. Widely praised for its lyrics and arrangement, “Children’s Story” went on to become one of the defining songs of the genre.
 
“Children’s Story” – Slick Rick
Children’s Story – Slick Rick
 
“Sadeness (Part I)” – Enigma (1990)
German electronic music collective Engima’s most popular track combines Latin and French lyrics of a semi-religious nature with entrancing synth patterns and ambient atmospherics to create a very serene yet sombre mood. Bells and whistles - quite literally - add to the rustic factor and new-age feel of this marvel of audio engineering.

“Sadeness (Part I)” – Enigma
“Sadeness (Part I)” – Enigma
 
“(I Can’t Help) Falling In Love With You”– UB40 (1993)
Originally recorded by Elvis Presley, this UB40 cover went on to catapult the English group to tremendous fame. Influences of reggae, jazz and dance music combine to create one of history’s most famous pop numbers. Combined with Ali Campbell’s unmistakable voice, “Falling In Love” went on to top the major charts in Australia, the US, the UK, Canada and Finland.
 
“It Was A Good Day” – Ice Cube (1993)
Another old-school classic, Ice Cube’s hit took the concept of “Billie Jean” and applied it to the hip-hop genre. A reflection of an unusually “good day” in the life of a Los Angeles gangster, it’s a mainstay record emblematic of the West Coast rap movement that was peaking at the time.

It Was A Good Day
It Was A Good Day
 
“Children (Dream Version)” – Robert Miles (1995)

One of the earliest trance records, “Children” has been heard by millions on the radio, in films and on television. Combining a dreamy atmosphere with a lush piano melody and driving drum patterns, it went on to establish the commercial viability of underground dance music.
 
“California Love” – 2Pac feat. Dr.Dre (1995)
No list of iconic records is complete without mentioning the great Tupac Shakur (2Pac). The proud California native took to the mic to proclaim his love for his home state. “California Love” is both a hip-hop classic and a California anthem that blends hip-hop sampling and production with 2Pac’s slick, flowing, effortless rapping - all topped off by Dr.Dre’s star power.
 
“California Love”
California Love
 
“Dirt Off Your Shoulders” – Jay-Z (2004)
If 2Pac represents West Coast rap, nobody stands up for New York better than the legend known as Jay-Z. “Dirt” is one of his biggest hits, and for good reason. The famous riff is one thing, but the confidence-stirring lyrics about the winner and champion within us all strike home and inspire us to do anything we can imagine.

Dirt Off Your Shoulders
Dirt Off Your Shoulders

“The Way Up” – Pat Metheny Group (2005)
This Grammy-winning progressive jazz recording is technically an album. However, The Way Up is really just one huge track divided into four parts for easy navigation, allowing it to sneak its way onto this list by merit of a verbal loophole. Its true merit, of course, lies in the sheer brilliance of the recording itself. The first segment, called the “Opening”, is a wonderful piece of contemporary jazz that will have you hooked from the moment you press play. But the real genius of Pat Metheny shines in “Part 2”, which transitions from deep and mellow to energetic and soulful, all before ending with an arrangement that is both an ode to classic jazz and the perfect set-up as you move into the more mature “Part 3”.
 
“Space Bound” – Eminem (2011)
More recently, the collective quality of hip-hop records has dropped considerably. Between Drake and Lil’ Wayne, lyrics just aren’t as creative as they used to be. Eminem offers a breather with this easy-on-the-ears, acoustic guitar-powered track. His trademark creative rhymes and impeccable delivery form the core, but the sampled hook lends “Space Bound” a sense of emotional character.

Space Bound
Space Bound