My Top 10 Favorite Songs with Words

It's high time I wrote about music on this site, and also I've been blogging for several months now, and so I think it's time to count down my top 10 favorite non-instrumental, non-John Williams tunes.

Here they are. And there will be no seagulls on the list. Be prepared for a list mostly made up of charity motivation songs and other musical equivalents of Very Special Episodes.

10. "Shake It Off" by Taylor Swift (2014). I don't particularly like Taylor's music, but she sure is good-looking. This is one of her only songs I find myself actually liking. The song's message paired with Taylor's looks make this a good #10.

9. "The Greatest Discovery" by Elton John (1994). This ballad of a baby boy being born was on a CD I listened to a lot as a young child. I think it's the nostalgia of childhood that makes me like this song so much. This also qualifies as a charity motivation song, since the CD it was on was released with sales beneficial to the Pediatric AIDS foundation.

8. "100 Years" by Five for Fighting (2000). It makes me cry because it prompts feelings that life's too short. So make the most of it every day. There's only one life. You're "fifteen for a moment", and then you grow up, and things change, but you always have to be making the most of your life.

7. "We Are the World" by USA for Africa (1985). This is the definitive charity single. The message is timeless, and the only thing that would make it better is if children sang it. Oh wait they Super Bowl 27. However, it's hard to take the 2010 reissue seriously after the original has been so often parodied.

6. "Light It Up Blue" by a bunch of kids from Pelham, NY (2012). This charity single released by the possibly uncharitable Autism Speaks ("Hey, I'm looking for a Vera Hategroup!") in 2012 has very simple lyrics, but these lyrics pack an emotional punch, and the montages of blue lights on all the world's landmarks (though possibly for the wrong reasons) can warm your heart.

5. "Fight Song" by Rachel Platten (2016). This female empowerment anthem was played at Hillary Clinton's rallies (although Rachel Platten would make a better president than Hillary Clinton), and written for the 2016 Christian film Miracles from Heaven. Rachel's lyrics are powerful, she truly fights with her words, and my mother likes this song too. This also makes Rachel's Nationwide jingle just as good.

4. "Do They Know It's Christmas" by Band Aid (2012). First, I want to clear up something. For those of you who are certain this song originally came out in 1984, it did, but I typed 2012 because the song was reissued in 2012, with some lyrics changed to be about the Sandy Hook tragedy rather than the '80s Ethiopian famine, and I prefer the 2012 version to the 1984 original. 
Also, the contribution of many artists coming together to raise money is always moving. But this song is actually kinda dark. The original 1984 version contains the lyrics "Tonight thank God it's them instead of you." Why should we thank God that other people are suffering and we're not? Good thing the 2012 version changed the line to "Tonight we're reaching out and touching you", which I heavily prefer. (Correction: I prefer "Tonight we're here to say a prayer for you." "Touching you" could be taken as sexual.)

3. "The Sun Shines in Heaven" by Marissa Wendt (2013). This is another Sandy Hook tribute song. The story of how it was written inspired me to write a 43-page screenplay about the tragedy and the impetus for the song. The song was written by Marissa and her father (who reads my blog) and the music video is lovely. Unlike Baby Kaely's Sandy Hook tribute rap song.


2. "We All Sing With the Same Voice" by Tracey Wise (1982).
This song was from Sesame Street. It's since been retired from appearance on the show because it was aging, but in my opinion, this song will never age. If you don't already remember the classic song from watching Sesame Street as a child, it's footage shot at a Manhattan playground of about forty-something children singing the song, line by line, about their differences and similarities. The song's title is expressed literally in that all the children are dubbed with the vocal stylings of 11-year-old Tracey Wise, who must have been really talented in order to become the universal voice of childhood (and needs to be a Mystery Guest on Ask Me Another).
Wise's husband has spoken out online about the fact that his wife never received credit for singing the song, even though it has become a classic. I agree with him. Sesame Street never credits their child talent, even though their pieces featuring children have become some of their most classic. The now 47-year-old Tracey probably now shares her responsibility on this song as "an interesting fact about her."

1. "Together We Can Change the World" by Rilee O'Neill and the SIFA Africa Choir (2008).
This is a charity single...for nothing and anything. It wasn't meant to raise money for anything in particular. It was just meant to encourage people of all ages to make a difference. The song was written by Mark Shepard and Ginny Dye and performed by a local girl with a good singing voice and a Ugandan choir. It is simple, moving, and catchy. That's why I ranked it #1. Watch the video here.
This song is essentially my personal philosophy put into song - all life is equal, people should live in harmony with each other, and every person is unlimited, unstoppable, and can make a difference - but the biggest difference can be made when the world works together.