It’s now estimated that ninety-seven million songs have been written, recorded and released in the rock’n’roll era. Ninety-seven million. So, understandably, picking NME's ultimate list of the best 500 has been as divisive and row-inducing in our office as it will be in your pub. What, after all, makes a song great? A rousing sing-along crescendo? A tear-tugging sentiment? Twenty clashing rock opera 'cycles', seven minutes of found-sound dentistry samples and a moose solo?
Everyone had different ideas so, once again, we let the numbers decide. As with our 500 Greatest Albums issue, we polled a wide array of NME writers past and present for their Top 50 favourite songs of all time, added in votes from every end of year poll in the magazine's history, almost killed the hardy workie who had to add it all up and came out with this behemoth of a list. A common complaint from our voters was ''but my top 50 favourite songs change every day!", which makes our Top 500 – and any best songs list you'd care to compile - very much a snapshot in time, a definitive shutter-snap of opinion on the day the votes fell. There were shocks, upsets, triumphs and anguished cries of ''how can 'Wuthering Heights' not be Top Ten?!?", ''where's 'Girls Just Want To Have Fun'?" and – current Twitter regular – ''how come 'Imagine''s so low?' (because a fair chunk of our writers consider it a bit schmaltzy, sorry). Here's a peek at some of the Top Tens from the NME office.
1. Donna Summer - 'I Feel Love'
2. The Beatles - 'A Day In The Life'
3. Warren G - 'Regulate'
4. Pulp - 'Pink Glove'
5. Teenage Fanclub - 'The Concept'
6. Belle & Sebastian - 'Lazy Line Painter Jane'
7. New Order - 'Bizarre Love Triangle'
8. Bob Dylan - 'Hurricane'
9. Joe Jackson - 'Steppin’ Out'
10. Grimes - 'Oblivion'
1. Pavement - ‘Gold Soundz’
2. R. Kelly - ‘Ignition (Remix)’
3. Beastie Boys - ‘Sabotage’
4. The Beatles – ‘Yesterday’
5. Michael Jackson - ‘Thriller’
6. Dirty Projectors - 'Rise Above'
7. Outkast – ‘Hey Ya’
8. Kanye West - ‘Runaway’
9. Nirvana – ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’
10. Broken Social Scene - ‘7/4 Shoreline’
1. The Smiths - 'There Is A Light'
2. Beyonce - 'Crazy In Love'
3. The Rolling Stones - ‘Gimme Shelter’
4. LCD Soundsystem - 'All My Friends'
5. Dizzee Rascal - 'Fix Up Look Sharp'
6. Arcade Fire - 'Wake Up'
7. Yeah Yeah Yeahs - 'Maps'
8. The Streets - 'Blinded By The Lights'
9. Pixies - 'Debaser'
10. Dolly Parton – 'Jolene'
1. Radiohead - 'Paranoid Android'
2. Radiohead - 'Everything In Its Right Place'
3. Radiohead - 'True Love Waits'
4. Prince - 'Let's Go Crazy'
5. Lauryn Hill - 'Doo Wop (That Thing)'
6. The Cure - 'The Edge Of The Deep Green Sea'
7. David Bowie - 'Word On A Wing'
8. Biggie Smalls - 'Juicy'
9. Glen Campbell - 'Wichita Lineman'
10. Donna Summer - 'I Feel Love'
1. The Ronnettes - 'Be My Baby'
2. Lee Hazelwood and Nancy Sinatra - 'Some Velvet Morning'
3. Billy Bragg - 'A New England'
4. Patti Smith - 'Pissing In A River'
5. Le Tigre - 'Deceptacon'
6. Pulp - 'Babies'
7. Prince, 'Purple Rain'
8. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - 'Straight To You'
9. Hole - 'Celebrity Skin'
10. Cyndi Lauper - 'Girls Just Wanna Have Fun'
1. Glen Campbell - 'Wichita Lineman'
2. The Beach Boys - 'God Only Knows'
3. Big Star - 'September Gurls'
4. The Stooges - 'I Wanna Be Your Dog'
5. The Jesus And Mary Chain -'Never Understand'
6. Joy Division -'Transmission'
7. Led Zeppelin -'When The Levee Breaks'
8. David Bowie - 'Ashes To Ashes'
9. Wire - 'Outdoor Miner'
10. Tubeway Army - 'Are "Friends" Electric?'
1. New Order – 'Temptation'
2. Blondie – 'Heart Of Glass'
3. The Beatles – 'Drive'
4. David Bowie - 'Ziggy Stardust'
5. Blur – 'For Tomorrow'
6. Elastica – 'Line Up'
7. The Strokes – 'Last Nite'
8. The Cure – 'Friday I'm In Love'
9. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – 'Maps'
10. The Ramones – 'The KKK Took My Baby Away'
1. LCD Soundsystem – 'All My Friends'
2. Pulp – 'Common People'
3. The Stone Roses – 'I Am The Resurrection'
4. Oasis – 'Live Forever'
5. Nirvana – 'Very Ape'
6. The White Stripes – 'Black Math'
7. David Bowie – 'Breaking Glass'
8. Bob Dylan – 'Visions Of Joanna'
9. Kanye West - 'Power'
10. Mclusky – 'Lightsabre Cocksucking Blues'
The 500 Greatest Songs Of All Time - 400-301
The 500 Greatest Songs Of All Time - 500-401