Summarize a Musical Group/Artist in One Song

My girlfriend told me a story where she was giving her a brother a ride somewhere and she was listening to a cd.
Her brother: “This guy sounds like he is just trying way too hard to be the Smiths.”
Her response: “This is the Smiths.”

I got to wondering what the song was that could so capture their essence as to almost sound like a caricature. Never found out, but I thought this might be a fun question. Imagine you had to sum up the particular style, sound, feel, idea of a band or solo artist in just one song. What would it be for whom?

For example, I would say Anarchy in the UK pretty much sums up the attitude and sound of the Sex Pistols. Even if you only heard that song by them, you’d still have a pretty good idea of what they’re about.

It need not have to be a single or hit or anything like that. The Smashing Pumpkins were my favorite band for a long time but I’d say if I had to sum them up in one track it’d be Thru the Eyes of Ruby, off of Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. Ambitious in scope, jammin’, great guitar work, the deal with it or hate it voice of Billy Corgan, powerful dynamics. All the things that I identify with the Pumpkins.

Anyone got any other ideas?

Anything by AC/DC sounds very much like anything else by AC/DC.

Oh good! :wink:

Trying to pick one from my girl Hap is tough, because with 11 eclectic albums, her music ranges from beautiful melodic acoustic ballads to rock to pop to trance instrumentals to epics to why-the-hell-wasn’t-that-a-hit? radio-friendly to tone poems to weird-ass-wtf-was-THAT? to sinister to bizarre to gorgeous luminosity and more, but if I had to pick one, this would start things off:

“Temporary and Eternal” (live acoustic version). 1st, it shows off her incredible range (all voices are her). 2nd, it’s mesmerizing (not for everybody of course, but if you’re the right person in the right frame of mind it can be). 3rd, you can be hypnotized by the music and singing without paying attention to the lyrics, but, 4th, if you do listen to the lyrics, it’s slightly creepy (she is singing about dead people, after all), and Hap LOVES creepy. 5th, there are deeper ideas here than your average love/lack-of-love woe-is-me type songs. It’s actually about something. 6th, I just really really like it, so I went with it. (here’s the original album version, which is much more ethereal, and a video of the live version to show there’s no trickery involved).

Interesting question. For Bruce Springsteen, I’d say the original version of “No Surrender”. It has all of the Springsteen themes and sounds.

For the Rolling Stones, “Sympathy for the Devil.”

Oak, I definitely hear you on the AC/DC. Bombastic riff, solid groove, a man who sounds like his balls have accidentally fallen into a blender…

I like Alessan’s Springsteen suggestion too. It’s a song I’d never heard, but I agree - from the rambling flow of the lyrics, the upbeat kick, the band chiming in place behind, talk of neighborhoods and not giving in - it’s classic Bruce.

And Equipoise, having never listened to Happy Rhodes before I can now say I have some grasp of her style, so thank you!

Other possibilities:
Interpol - Obstacle 1
Wilco - Pot Kettle Black
Supertramp - School

Springsteen - Either “Born To Run” or “Thunder Road.” (“No Surrender” doesn’t have enough of The Big Man)

Fleetwood Mac - Much harder, since there were some many iterations. But I’ll select “Oh Well Parts 1 & 2” for early Mac and “Go Your Own Way” for Classic Mac.

Rolling Stones - I don’t think it can be done. 76 albums, 107 singles. Too much. But I’d select “Street Fighting Man” over “Sympathy.”

Rush - “Subdivisions” (see SaS’s reference to AC/DC above for vocals)

I would say Satisfaction.

Pink Floyd: Echos

Early Beatles: Twist and Shout

Late Beatles: I am the Walrus

Jethro Tull: Songs from the Wood

“Songs from the Wood?” Really? I think that is a bit too light for Tull. “Bouree” or “Heavy Horses” would be more typical, IMO.

Bouree? No. While I find it delightful, that to me is very untypical. But Heavy Horses was my 2nd choice. Roots to Branches was my third.

KISS - Rock & Roll All Nite

Aerosmith - Walk This Way

Motley Crue - Kickstart My Heart

The Doors - Light My Fire

I’d pick Hunting Girl or Too Old To Rock and Roll for Tull. Got to have some of that Anderson humour, preferably dirty or black.

Einsterzende Neubauten can be effectively summarised by ZNS. It misses the softer side of Blume or Sabrina, but that’s hardly the essence of Neubauten, now is it.

Joy Division - I think it’d be Novelty for me. Not as well known as Love will Tear… or She’s Lost Control, but captures the essence, again.

For Pink Floyd, I’d say either Let There Be More Light or The Narrow Way. Both have psychedelic-era themes and production, but also hint at their later bombastic, choral-sounding music and/or indulgent song structure, respectively.

I’ve always considered “Prove It All Night” to be the quintessential Bruce song.
The Who: “Won’t Get Fooled Again”.
Metallica: “Master of Puppets” or “One”.
Ben Folds Five: “The Battle of Who Could Care Less”.

The Wiggles: Quack Quack

Byrds: Eight Miles High

Bob Dylan: Hey Mister Tambourine Man.

I was thinking about Dylan. For some reason, I think “Sara” would be a better choice.

Iron Maiden - Phantom of the Opera - off their first album, has their signature twin guitar sound, as well as a variation of the classic maiden “gallup”, multiple time changes, and the lyrics are based on a classic story.

Dire Straits - Romeo and Juliet

Warren Zevon - Mr. Bad Example

Mumford & Sons - The Cave