Think, for a second, about the absurdity of a countdown of any "greatest" thing in music.

40 Greatest Metal Songs.

100 Greatest Songs of All Time.

The Best Albums of the '90's.

The list goes on and on (and on and on), and something I never understood is why. I know controversy is good for circulation and viewership, and I know the guy from Blender has been waiting for years to get back at the "Breakfast At Tiffany's" hacks. But then what? Are we really supposed to take any of this seriously?

As an example of how pointless the idea of comparing music is, here's something you can try. I'm going to name two songs and I want you to explain to me, in no uncertain terms, how one is superior to the other without using the words "important," "landmark," "significant," or "classic." Remember, we're talking quality and mechanics here, not impact. Ready?

The first song is "Hey Jude" by the Beatles.

The second is "Open Your Heart" by Madonna.


Got it yet? No? Tough to do, isn't it? Is this starting to make sense?

I won't for a second say "Hey Jude" is a bad song, nor will I claim "Open Your Heart" has touched nearly as many lives as McCartney's ballad. What I will point out is that the argument is impossible to make. Is Eb a better key than C? Does one tempo reign supreme over another? Can an outro really kick that much ass?

What's never been made clear is how a survey of industry insiders is supposed to put all this to rest. As though there's any way to measure these things. As though the biggest know best. As though I should believe Ritchie Sambora when he says Glenn Frey is the best thing to happen to rock music.

As though greatness were anywhere but in the ears of the beholder.