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Staff Top 10
Top Ten VH1 Countdowns

ecently, VH1 has given into their fate of becoming a 24-hour-a-day nostalgia network, constantly and consistently recycling the old into band biographies, accounts of movements and eras long since passed, and, most importantly, endless streams of best-of lists. First they started out basic—everyman lists like Top 100 Albums, Top 100 Artists, Top 100 Songs. But as such foundational lists soon became scarce, VH1 got more and more obscure with their lists, and consequently, more and more fun. At any given point in time, the chances of you finding a countdown show on VH1 is about one in two, and those odds are getting higher with each new list they crank out.

They’ve cranked out so many, in fact, that a strong backlash against these lists has inevitably begun. With each new list, a hundred new webboarders quip “How long do you think it’s going to be until they do a Top 100 VH1 Countdowns List?” Well, like any humorless and list-obsessed rock critic would, I’ve taken upon the responsibility of taking that joke to its logical conclusion and created a top ten (not enough yet for 100—wait a year or so) VH1 countdowns list. Enjoy. And be sure to check your cable listings when you’re done reading.

10. Top 100 Dance Songs

No “Blue Monday” (an unforgivable omission) and way too heavy on classic disco—but still, an enjoyable list with enough deserved classics and creative selections to have you aching to be out on the floor by the end. Highlights: #75. “Show Me Love” – Robin S., #53. “Back II Life” – Soul II Soul, #32. “Louie Louie” – The Kingsmen.

9. Top 200 Pop Culture Icons

When 100 just isn’t enough. Watching this one all the way through is a logistical nightmare, but it was a great idea for a list—the kind of list whose likely candidates aren’t immediately apparent, but when they’re shown, it’s like “oh yeah, that makes sense.” Except, of course, in the case of the list’s #1: Oprah Winfrey. Seriously—did anyone besides middle-aged housewives vote for this damn thing? Highlights: #139. Molly Ringwald, #117. William Shatner (with The Pixies’ “Space (I Believe in)” in the background!), #99. Henry Winkler (as Fonzie).

8. 100 Greatest Shocking Moments in Rock and Roll

Like one hundred mini-episodes of Behind the Music, this list laid the groundwork for the more outrageous fun in VH1 lists to follow. Along with #7, an essential transition point in the annals of VH1 list-dom. Highlights: #96. Bjork attacks a reporter, #73. John Fogerty gets sued for ripping himself off, #22. The Beach Boys befriend Charles Manson.

7. 100 Greatest Moments that Rocked TV

Another non-obvious one. Unearths some long-forgotten classic music/TV moments, finding itself torn between the legitimately touching (Sonny and Cher’s reunion gig) and the absolutely outrageous (Tim Meadows freaking out at the 1999 VMAs and scaling the set). As such, a good half-way point between VH1’s two incarnations. Highlights: #96. Public Image, Ltd. on American Bandstand, #79. Vanilla Ice going nuts on a copy of the “Ice Ice Baby” music video after being named one of the lamest videos of all-time, #54. Elaine dances on Seinfeld.

6. 40 Greatest Celebrity Feuds

Loses points for a lame #1 (David Lee Roth vs. Van Halen—a fine feud, except that the territory could easily have been covered in #23, David Lee Roth vs. Sammy Hagar) and some other underwhelming choices, but come on—where else are you going to get to hear Joel Stein weigh in on the bitter feud between Barney and the San Diego Chicken? Plus, it’s hosted by Stone Cold Steve Austin—a choice far more inspired than any on the list. Highlights: #34. RuPaul vs. Milton Berle, #32. Vincent Gallo vs. Roger Ebert, #12. Nancy Kerrigan vs. Tonya Harding.

5. 100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock

I know I’m being shallow on this, but regardless of how good or bad the rest of it was, I had to give this one a slot for being the only VH1 show in history to give respect to Sonic Youth, Bad Brains, Fugazi, Husker Du, Sonic Youth and Ministry. The rest is pretty good too—excellent top five—but it’s the indie props that seals this one’s greatness. Highlights already mentioned.

4. 100 Hottest Hotties

They aren’t kidding. It’s a recycled list for VH1—they had done a 100 Sexiest Artists lists barely a year prior—but this one is superior to do its lack of oldsters like Debbie Harry, Mick Jagger and Tina Turner. Everyone already knows how sexy they were (and in the all-too-rare case of Debbie, are), but the 100 Hottest Hotties gives much-needed props to up-and-coming hotties like Gabrielle Union, Paul Walker and Adrien Brody while still finding the room for (relatively) old favorites like Denise Richards, Gavin Rossdale and Angelina Jolie. Well-crafted for maximum hotness, this list manages to actually sizzle a fair amount. Highlights: #68. Jake Gyllenhaal, #66. Scarlet Johansson, #28. Diane Lane

3. 100 Most Metal Moments

This list is the best tribute to metal’s more outrageous side since Spinal Tap. Getting a lot of the genre’s heavy hitters to weigh in on some of the most extravagant excesses of the genre (including the increasingly awesome Sebastian Bach from Skid Row), the list strikes just the right balance between passionate metallic self-righteousness and utter self-deprecation (true episode highlight: W.A.S.P.’s pyrotechnic-friendly frontman admitting that if he wrote better songs, he wouldn’t have to do half the shit he does). Highlights: #84. Headbanger’s Ball goes to the water park with Alice in Chains, #72. Nikki Sixx comes back to life, #41. Anthrax trashes houses on MTV and Married With Children, #22. L7 raffle a one-night stand with their drummer, #15. Faster Pussycat drummer ships heroin to himself, #11. Poison become first band to keep track of groupies through electronic database.

2. 100 Greatest One-Hit-Wonders

The last of VH1’s straight music lists to have any real lasting appeal, this one is a long overdue tribute to the great one-offs of history that’d never make lists like this otherwise—like Nena, Biz Markie, ? and the Mysterians, Eddy Grant and countless others. Probably the most enjoyable music list VH1 ever made. Highlights: #76. “Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat)”-Digable Planets, #69. “A Girl Like You” – Edwyn Collins, #53. “Genius of Love” – Tom Tom Club, #32. “Unbelievable” – EMF, #16. “Groove is in the Heart”-Deee-Lite

1. 100 Most Outrageous Celebrity Moments

It’s a testament to the greatness of this list that Andy Dick—quite possibly the most annoying person in the universe—doesn’t even manage to ruin it with his shenanigans. This is the definitive list of the VH1 list we currently know and love, almost every single entry on the list being downright hysterical. The #1 is a little underwhelming, but after the 99 before it, anything but Christina Aguilera going back in time and having a three-way with David Bowie and John Lennon would’ve been disappointing. Television doesn’t get much more fun than this. Highlights: #96. ODB collects welfare, #87. Danny Bonaduce smacks a transvestite hooker, #81. Martin Lawrence goes on a dehydration-fueled “Fuck the Police!” tirade in the middle of traffic, #78. Bush vomits in Japanese Prime Minister’s lap, #73. Rick Wakeman puts his rock opera on ice, #55. Diana Ross jiggles Lil’ Kim, #47. “You are just a captain, but I am R.E.M.!!,” #18. George Michael gets set up for public indecency, #10. Anne Heche gets abducted by aliens, #7. Michael Jackson dangles his new baby over a hotel balcony.

By: Andrew Unterberger

Log In to Post Comments
Posted 07/02/2004 - 05:54:57 PM by murdo2002:
 One hit wonders? Didn't EMF have a few hits? There was one called "I believe" if my memory serves me correctly. Also, how about "Wordy Rappinghood"(think that's how it's spelt) by the Tom Tom Club, that was a mega-hit...Oh, and didn't Edwyn Collins have a few his with Orange Juice?
Posted 07/02/2004 - 06:06:22 PM by AUnterberger:
 The EMF and Tom Tom Club songs were very secondary type hits--at least not nearly as big as "Unbelievable" and "Genius of Love". And Orange Juice had absolutely no hits in the US.
Posted 07/05/2004 - 11:59:49 AM by ihgsoi:
 speaking of unforgivable omissions, where is the "top 40 greatest reality tv moments" countdown?! i wish they'd made that one a full 100.
Posted 07/06/2004 - 09:35:06 AM by hutlock:
 I'll go you one better, Andrew -- Orange Juice never even had a record released in the United States, and they weren't exactly hit machines in the UK either ("Rip It Up" was the only big one there). So I think Edwyn can still be called a two-hit wonder myself... : )
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