the greatest pop song ever?

apropos of absolutely nothing, i just listened to the song "five o clock world" by the vogues for the first time in perhaps 20 years. i heard it on a really good lexus (levinson) sound system and have concluded that it's arguably the greatest pop production ever--the damn thing's incredible. in the space of a quick two minutes you get 12 string guitar, marimba, horns, incredible drumming and a really wild honky-tonk piano, all on top of those weird doowop harmonies. add to the mix a really tight melody and sorta meaningful lyrics and you have something that makes phil spector look unambitious and timid.

also from left field, i've been touting a song called "i can see you" by someone or something called june and the exit wounds as the single most beautiful tune ever written. as far as i know, it's only been released on a sampler by parasol records (an indy label out of urban il). this song sounds like some lost brian wilson masterpiece and is well worth finding for those in search of audio nirvana.
thats like asking to pick out the most beautiful woman in the world?
Both are easy: "Wouldn't It Be Nice" and Princess Grace. Don't believe me? Plop your copy of "Pet Sounds" on the 'table even as you begin to watch "Rear Window." Next questions?
the 'things go better with coke' jingles of the 60's
My Sharona

Sade, "Diamond Life"
"Starry Eyes" by The Records
Impossible to pick "the best" but we can pick our favorites. For me, Dreams by Fleetwood Mac. Impossible to justify why but with some art and music you just don't have to. You just like it.
And I thought your other favorite was by Leftfield (I like them), not from out of left field!
It's funny you should mention 5 O'Clock World. I recently heard this song in my car and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed listening to it. I guess I will have to purchase a copy of it.

This may not be the most beautiful pop song but I thought it was pretty good back in the day:

"Quick Joey Small" by Kasenetz Katz Singing Orchestral Circus from 1968. It's a real toe tapper.
Check out Gary Puckett's Greatest Hits. By all parameters, there are some real pop gems on that disc. And his voice is amazing.
Schipo got the right answer.
Billie Jean.............
you can start the debate here

it's as good a list as any.
Mike great list and btw great system
"Five O'Clock World" is a great song that got a second life as the theme song for Drew Carey's sitcom. Loved it before that, loved it even more afterwards.

For me, "Would't It Be Nice" can't quite match "Good Vibrations". Talk about production values! Theremin anyone? Or, in the immortal words of Dewey Cox in "Walk Hard" - More Digideroo! I need fifty Digideroos!

On the beautiful side of the contest, if picking from the Brian Wilson songbook, I'd personally opt for "God Only Knows". Maybe even if I'm picking from everyone's songbook.

The Rolling Stone list looks more RnR than pop to me, so:

That said:

Perfect Pop Song - "Crybaby" by Todd Rundgren/Utopia. The mother of all vocal harmonies and an irresistable melody. Although Nick Lowe's "Cruel To Be Kind" is awfully perfect.

Most beautiful tune:

Gotta think about "Moon River", "Maria" (West Side Story) and "Beeswing" by Richard Thompson to cover some ground.
Maybe "The Wrong Girl" by The Showmen (General Johnson). There are a bunch of painfully beautiful Doo Wop melodies to choose from, as well.

I guess that's more than one.

well, if we're debating best beach boys, i'd submit "surf's up", with "in my room" a close second. if we braqoden the category, i believe dylan called "tracks of my tears" the prettiest song in the english language, while robert christgau cited "waterloo sunset".hard to argue with either.
Hey Martykl-not too many people know about Norman Johnson and the showman--"It will stand " best of their pure rock and roll hits --I grew up with them --going to their shows in hs and college --great group--Rich
Greatest pop song?

For me, old f***that I am, "The Lion Sleeps Tonight".

Pop from the Beach Boys?
"Let's Go Away For Awhile".
"Tutti Frutti" by Little Richard, hands down. Also: runner up: "Private Idaho" by the B-52s. IMHO.
Tenderness, General Public.
"The Weight" by The Band is my pick. Some good candidates so far.
T. Rex "Bang a Gong"
Whichever has sold the most records. That's what pop music is all about. Once the answer is found, no further debate is required.

However, finding a definitive answer is problematic due to RIAA certification rules.

Bill Haley's "Rock Around the Clock" is the unofficial winner having reported selling 25 million copies since 1955, but it does not qualify under current RIAA certification rules.

The present official RIAA winner is Elton John's "Candle in the Wind" with 11+ million sales.

"Here Comes The Sun" by those Beatles is, for my money, the perfect pop song.

"On the beautiful side of the contest, if picking from the Brian Wilson songbook, I'd personally opt for "God Only Knows". Maybe even if I'm picking from everyone's songbook."

Gotta' agree with this one. Was our wedding song played before my bride walked down the aisle...memorable.
Love's "Orange Sky". from their De Capo album.
"Music was my first Love" John Miles
Hotel California
Ras 422,

I always thought that The Showmen were overlooked. Everyone hailed Brian Wilson when he fused vocal music (doo wop) with Chuck Berry, Cal sunny lyrics and his own lunatic production vision. Meanwhile, over on the East Coast, Allen Toussaint was doing something similar with Johnson and The Showmen - but in a low key manner that lacked the production values. Even though the music had IMHO more emotional resonance, no-one seemed to notice.

Johnson got his due later with The Chairmen of The Board and a more Motown approach. He also wrote "Patches", my nomination for the best truly bad song ever written.

IMHO, Johnson's a great singer and generally cool guy who had a great, largely unappreciated contribution to RnR over its first two decades.
Brown-Eyed Girl - V. Morrison
I agree with Tvad. Special mention should go to Chuck Berry's: "Johnny B. Goode"
This is kind of a silly thread, who can name ONE "greatest pop song EVER", lol. But having said that, I think "Brandy" by Looking Glass is right up there.

another vote for the Monkees version of "I'm a Believer" as well.
I know 4 songs that aren't the greatest pop song ever:

"Love Will Keep Us Together" and "Muskrat Love" by Captain & Tennille

"Afternoon Delight" by Starland Vocal Band

"The Night Chicago Died" by Paper Lace
02-26-10: Tvad
Whichever has sold the most records. That's what pop music is all about. Once the answer is found, no further debate is required.
I'd also say most covered song would qualify as best pop song. There has to be a reason why it's covered the most.

I think for decades, that title was held by "Louie Louie" by Richard Berry circa '55/'57 but made infamous by The Kingsmen in ~1963. There have been something like 1,500 covers/versions of that tune recorded.
In the somewhat obscure, yet I definitely love category:

Reading about Five-O'Clock World (which I love) reminded me of The Zombies and "Tell Her No". I also like "She's Not There" a whole lot too.

Fun thread.

Not pop, and not *that* obscure, but, if I could nominate a somewhat obscure rock/blues song, it would be "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed".
I don't think of the Rolling Stone list being pop. I've never understood the raves about Satisfaction. I like it, but probably not in my top 100. And Born to Run? I'd put that in the top five easily - rock songs, that is...not pop.
Michael Jackson was the King of Pop. Why not: Man in the Mirror. Must of heard that a million times after he died.
lady gaga has not recorded it yet.
Not sure I would actually pick it myself, but surprised to see that Lennon's "Imagine" has not been mentioned yet. If show tunes count, "Somewhere" from West Side Story is up there, too.
tapioca tundra

'"Tapioca Tundra", a wildly experimental piece of poetry put to music by Nesmith, charted surprisingly well as the b-side to "Valleri" at #34, perhaps the strangest song to hit American top 40 radio ever"

- Wikipedia
Reading this list, I'm no longer sure what a "pop" is. It sometimes (especially when spelled out as "popular music") seems to mean "everything but classical," or "everything but classical and (most) jazz," in which case most everything on the thread counts, even things I'd have thought of as rather unlikely, like the B-52s or the Stones. Anyone have a definition? Sales is one possibility,as Tvad notes, but the we get things like Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon," which seems a very different animal than, say, Madonna.

@Jdoris - DSOTM on Billboard top 200 for 741 weeks

From wikipedia: "The Billboard charts tabulate the relative weekly popularity of songs or albums in the United States. The results are published in Billboard magazine. The two primary charts - the Hot 100 (top 100 singles) and the Top 200 (top 200 albums) factor in airplay, as well as music sales in all relevant formats."

Not sure of the OP's constraints for methods of determination, however you get what you get when asking such a question in an audiophile forum - grab some popcorn.
Slothman: Exactly. DSOTM definitely popular and music, but I have a hard time featuring it as "pop." J
Martykl--could not agree more with your views on the Showmen--great R&R and also beach music group--CH of the board did expose his music nationally with motown--another group the Tams were also great----Rich
This pop song is a highly polished production by Trevor horn that will sound better than any other pop song when really cranked.

Look for the hot blooded mix.
"Friday on my Mind"
Mama's & The Papas - California Dreaming, Cat Stevens - Moon Shadow
American Pie "the Day the Music Died" - Don McClean

Or maybe;
Art Garfunkel - Geometry :)

02-28-10: Shadorne
This pop song is a highly polished production by Trevor horn that will sound better than any other pop song when really cranked.
Funny to hear how much of that style was carried over into Seal's work, just updated with better syntehsizers.

The really impressive thing is listening to the 1985 studio original and then hearing this 2005/6 live version. Not always easy to do such a highly polished/produced studio dance tune live and catch the essence of it.
Also dig Friday on my mind. There are so many good poppy flavors available. Can't help thinking how much better radio could have been:
See Emily Play/ Pink Floyd (the Bowie one is good too)
Yellow Pills/ 20/20
I Can see For Miles/ The Who
Go All The Way/ The Raspberries
Sister Havana/ Urge Overkill
Little Green Bag/ George Baker Selection
The Move/ Do Ya
She's A Sensation/ The Ramones
Here Comes My Baby/ The Tremeloes
Sunshine Superman/ Donovan
Summer in the City/ Lovin' Spoonful
Just What I Needed/ The Cars
That Thing You Do/ Dwight Twilley
Breakup Song/ Greg Kihn
Strangers When We Meet/ Smithereens
Modern World/ The Jam
You Really Got Me/ Kinks
Look Sharp/ Joe Jackson
Speedy's Coming/ Scorpions
Walk Don't Run/ Ventures
Sleepwalk/ Shadows
Fleetwood Mac/ Albatross
Seven and Seven is/ Love
Too Much To Dream Last Night/ Electric Prunes
(Like the Stiv Bators one too)
Procol Harum/ Whiter Shade Of Pale
Jimi Hendrix/ Wind Cries Mary
She's a Rainbow/ Rolling Stones
Adventures in a Yorkshire Landscape/ Be Bop Deluxe
Space Oddity/ David Bowie
Backwater/ Meat Puppets
Where is My Mind (and lots of others)/ Pixies
Radiohead/ Creep
I Will Follow/ U2
Eddie and the Hot Rods/ Do Anything You Wanna Do
Never Say Never/ Romeo Void

Gobs of glaring omissions, but gotta stop somewhere