Growing up I mostly listened to country music as that’s what my parents mostly listen to, even to this day. But, thanks to some old vinyl records, I was introduced a lot of classic rock including the famous band from Boston, called, um, Boston. Around the time I was introduced to Boston and James Taylor, among others, I began tuning in to classic rock stations on good ole FM radio. One of the first songs I heard was a song called “You Really Got Me Now” by Van Halen.
Being the inquisitive type, I wanted to learn more about the history of the song; yeah, I was doing this song as we got internet access around 1998. This is when I learned about the Kinks being the original artist of the song. Soon after, I learned about the Kinks entire discography, and several of these songs are still in rotation for me to this day.
First a couple honorable mentions. “Dandy” and “Lola” used to be regular playlist mix songs for me, but over the years, I’ve dimmed a bit on each of these two. However, Weird Al Yankovic’s parody “Yoda” is freaking hysterical. Perhaps I’ll do a future breakdown of each of these songs. Now, onto the countdown.
#6: All Day and All of the Night
While this isn’t close to the best of the Kinks work lyrically, there’s obvious and completely intentionally parallels between “All Day” and their greatest hit “You Really Got Me Now” (hey, I wonder where that song is on this countdown, hmm…) As a sound-a-like tune, it became a big hit, too. Again, a song I enjoy, but it’s on this list moreso for his historical relevance; it’s not one that’s even in daily rotation for me.
#5: State of Confusion
Not to be confused with Land of Confusion – a brilliant Genesis song and covered masterfully by Disturbed – State of Confusion is the title track of a record by the Kinks of the same name, naturally. I’ve actually been practically in this position in my life, during the 2020 pandemic, when everything ever was going wrong for me. As a kid, I greatly enjoyed this song, just because it’s a fun song watching everything go wrong for the narrator. But, now, I actually relate with that guy, unfortunately.
#4: Sunny Afternoon
This song is awesome, because it is not the carefree summer song it sounds like. Interestingly, this topic should be even more relevant in the 2020s than when I first heard it in the 1990s. There are definitely plenty of subtexts in the lyrics to appreciate, and believe it or not, it’s actually quite a direct parallel to the Kinks financial issues at the time. You can find much of the history behind the writing of Sunny Afternoon on Songfacts. This song deserves a deep dive for sure.
#3: Low Budget
For a while, “Low Budget” was practically my theme song, because I was always broke, and even when I had a little cash, I’m known to be cheap. There’s a lot to break down lyrically here that deserves its own post. Interestingly, money is far from scarce in the 2020’s, even if it sometimes feels that way. In any case, I always put myself on a low budget even today when I’m well off.
#2: Celluloid Heroes
“Celluloid Heroes” is a brilliant song on many levels, especially the line “Celluloid heroes never really die,” the very phrase that crossed my mind before I set to writing this little favorite song countdown. But the opening verse has always held special meaning to me. There are stars in every house and on every street, just as the song suggests, but it is only they immortalized on film and only still famous on the long run if their names are carved into the Hollywood walk of fame.
#1: You Really Got Me Now
“You Really Got Me Now” is the best song ever, of course. OK, that’s major hyperbole, but it’s easily my favorite Kinks song simply because of its historical relevance, as well as the song that introduced me to the band, albeit indirectly through the greatness of Van Halen’s cover. Yes, I absolutely love the Van Halen version, yet at my core, I still somehow prefer the much more raw original to the much more polished cover.
Eventually, I’ll get around to doing deep dives on each of these songs, because they definitely deserve them. The Kinks are not only extremely historically relevant to music, but they have a lot of genius that deserves to be more appreciated by the general public.
What are your favorite songs by The Kinks?