Top 40 Vices Playlist

A walk on the wild side with songs of the seven deadly sins

Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll


"Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll," Ian Dury
Johnny Rotten to Madness, Ian Dury's influence made him the UK's street poet laureate with this 1977 corruption of ancient hedonist credo "wine, women, and song." Wed to a riff lifted from Charlie Haden's bassline on Ornette Coleman's "Ramblin'," it only sold 19,000 copies. Today, Dury proclaiming the titular vices "all me brain and body needs" remains his most enduring anthem. – Tim Stegall

"Me So Horny," 2 Live Crew
Tame by today's standards, this 1989 rap fetishized a troubadour's manifesto of booty calls, freaks in heat, and snatching virginities. Despite its limited airplay and album, As Nasty as They Wanna Be, being banned in Florida, the track still peaked at No. 26. "I'm like a dog in heat, a freak without warning/ I have an appetite for sex, 'cause me so horny."  – Alejandra Ramirez

"Sex Style," Kool Keith
This Bronx rapper enlists a wide range of alter egos to live out his bizarro fantasies. Dr. Dooom stashes mutilated body parts in his dingy apartment, Black Elvis cruises the cosmos in a spaceship, and Dr. Octagon clocks in as the world's creepiest OB-GYN. The title track to 1997 porno-core LP Sex Style is a deluge of debauchery packed with rhymes about bestiality, golden showers, S&M, and ass-play. – Thomas Fawcett

"Miami Vice Theme," Jan Hammer
Michael Mann's 1985-89 network television smash rode New Wave's hairstyles, pastel blazers, and soundtracks into prime-time infamy. Crockett and Tubbs thus became rock stars. Czech Mahavishnu Orchestra keyboardist Jan Hammer's instrumental went No. 1 for one week in 1985, and along with Glenn Frey's "You Belong to the City," anchors one of the most successful TV soundtracks of all time. – Jim Caligiuri

"Walk on the Wild Side," Lou Reed
Here's the Vice Hall of Fame roll call! Set to Herbie Flowers' bass slink, lightly strummed acoustic guitars, and "colored girls singin' 'doo-de-doo-de-doo,'" the David Bowie/Mick Ronson-helmed No. 16 hit from Lou Reed's finest non-Velvet Underground LP, 1972's Transformer, counts off male prostitution, fellatio, and tranvestism. AM radio never knew what hit it. – Tim Stegall

Gluttony


"Swimming Pools (Drank)," Kendrick Lamar
The second single (and video) from veritable classic good kid, m.A.A.d city is an undulating club banger with an antithetical message. In the midst of a bender confessing the alcoholism in his family, the Compton rapper runs down inner demons and the peer pressure encouraging reckless overindulgence: "Nigga, why you babysitting only two or three shots?/ I'mma show you how to turn it up a notch." – Kahron Spearman

"Can't Get Enough of Your Love, Babe," Barry White
At close to 400 pounds, Barry White carried a bottomless baritone whose every utterance proclaimed preternatural appetites. In 1974, when the Galveston-born singer husked, "We've shared love and made love/ It doesn't seem to me like it's enough," he gobbled Soul Train glitz soon to reverberate in disco's hedonism. Both the LP and its title track hit No. 1. – Alejandra Ramirez

"I Like Food," Descendents
Clocking in at just 16 seconds, this hyper-caffeinated checklist of comestibles from 1981's Fat EP packs the hardcore gut-punch of a hot dog eating contest. Starting innocently with burgers and fries, vocalist Milo Aukerman rockets to the harder stuff like fish eyes and teenage girls with ketchup. You could've listened to it six times in the time it took to read this. – Greg Beets

"Eat It," Weird Al Yankovic
Chicken! Pie! Yogurt! Spam! All are served on Alfred Matthew "Weird Al" Yankovic's Grammy-winning 1984 Michael Jackson parody. Comedy rock's curlicue honors the King of Pop's original video, re-creating the knife fight with – what else? – a fork and spoon. Produc­er and guitarist extraordinaire Rick Derringer cribs Eddie Van Halen's signature solo before disappearing in a Spinal Tap-esque poof. Yo, Eddie, eat it. – Bryan Rolli

"All You Can Eat," Fat Boys
Best scene from 1985 hip-hop cinema classic Krush Groove: Three hefty dudes in tracksuits emerge from the 49th Street subway station in NYC and go HAM on a Sbarro buffet. Weighing a combined 750 pounds, the trio beatboxes and raps while piling calories onto their trays and in their mouths. "$3.99 for all you can eat? Well, I'mma stuff my face to a funky beat!" – Thomas Fawcett

Lust


"Lust for Life," Iggy Pop
Whether kick-starting Trainspotting or a Royal Caribbean cruise lines commercial, there's no denying the Bo Diddley beat laid down by longtime Austinite Hunt Sales. Title track to Iggy Pop's second 1977 solo LP, this life-affirming ode to the ravishes of drugs, sex, and alcohol was co-written by the singer and David Bowie during their Berlin years. Decad­ence never swung so eternal. – Jay Trachtenberg

"Teenage Lust," MC5
Recorded with future Springsteen svengali Jon Landau for Back in the USA, MC5's 1970 follow-up to counterculture manifesto Kick Out the Jams, "Teenage Lust" cuts faster, tighter, and cleaner. Pop-punk a quarter-century early, its horndoggery sounds as vital as being a revolutionary: "Baby, baby, help – you really, really must/ I need a healthy outlet for my teenage lust!" – Michael Toland

"Young Lust," Pink Floyd
"Where are all the good times?" roars David Gilmour on this lodestone to 1979's The Wall. Pink's finding solace from the road in the arms of a new woman in every city rides a Gotham backbeat and the guitarist's sensual six-string squeals and harmonies with Roger Waters on an idyllic chorus. The bliss fades when a collect call to Pink's wife reveals he isn't the only one getting off. – Bryan Rolli

"Lust," Raveonettes
Danish duo the Raveonettes' third LP, 2007's Lust Lust Lust, unfolds a simmering, understated ode to sensuality. "Lust," doesn't so much ooze sex as it drips a dreamy study of seduction, guided by breathy vox bemoaning a fall from grace for pervasive sexual desires. Punctuated by drum machines and noir guitars, its pace mimics the slow peeling off of clothes – even when you know you shouldn't. – Libby Webster

"Lust to Love," Go-Go's
Fading in on a Ventures skitter from guitarist Charlotte Caffey, "Lust to Love" builds soap opera sentiment into an emotive haunting. Jane Wiedlin's hand comes through in the lyrical thread of a casual romp morphing into gut-churning romance. In a 2011 Chronicle interview, the gals' former bassist and Austin native Kathy Valentine posited "Lust" as a never-released third single from 1981's chart-topping Beauty and the Beat. – Greg Beets

Greed


"Gimme the Loot," The Notorious B.I.G.
Biggie's sole solo LP, 1994's Ready to Die, bags one of the great performances in early East Coast hip-hop, featuring a shameless Christopher Wallace (1972-97) planning a robbing spree. Socioeconomics and a cartoonish (and horrifying) willingness to exert wanton force on anyone guns the rap: "When it's time to eat a meal, I rob and steal/ 'Cause mom dukes ain't giving me shit/ So for the bread and butter I leave niggas in the gutter." – Kahron Spearman

"It's All About the Benjamins," Puff Daddy feat. The Notorious B.I.G., Lil' Kim, and The Lox
Puff Daddy's 1997 ode to the $100 bill and associated trappings perfectly encapsulates the overdrawn excess and undeniable hooks of the Bad Boy era. Released in the wake of Biggie Smalls' murder, "Benja­mins" went to No. 2 and its titular bumper sticker aphorism infiltrated the American go-getter lexicon. – Greg Beets

"Money (That's What I Want)," Barrett Strong
Barrett Strong must've been a nasty piece of work. Or perhaps label boss Berry Gordy was, since he wrote the words Strong snarled atop a vicious riff pounded by distorted guitar, sax, piano, bass, and tom-toms: "Money don't get ev'rythang, it's true/ But what it don't get, I CAN'T USE!" Motown's first hit peaked at No. 2 R&B and No. 23 pop in June 1960. – Tim Stegall

"Money Changes Everything" Cyndi Lauper
When Cyndi Lauper sings, "I'm sorry baby, I'm leaving you tonight," to the poor shmuck she's kicking to the curb for a new, rich beau, she doesn't sound all that apologetic. Opening her smash 1983 debut She's So Unusual, this cover of Seventies rock & rollers the Brains plays a crystalline and callous New Wave acceptance of what wealth wreaks on relationships. – Libby Webster

"Crazy Baldhead," Bob Marley
Reggae's imperial majesty wasn't sizing up skinheads when he vowed, "We're going to chase those crazy baldheads out of town." The deep cut off 1976's Rastaman Vibration instead condemns the colonialism still trampling Jamaica's black working class after 400 years. His people build the buildings, plant the crops, and promote love, while their hateful oppressors ("baldheads") consume it like locusts. Outcry for the people. – Kevin Curtin

Pride


"Pride (In the Name of Love)," U2
War's No. 1 UK debut in 1983 set the stage for the Dubliners' Top 40 bow in the U.S. the following year. Amidst the overtly patriotic Reagan era, "Pride" revisits the late Martin Luther King Jr., but the moody music video stars the group's dramatic frontman as a messianic brooder crooning a preachy oration on martyrdom. More like "Pride (In the Name of Bono)." – Alejandra Ramirez

"Say It Loud – I'm Black and I'm Proud," James Brown
Growing up dirt poor in the Jim Crow South, "Mr. Brown" insisted his band members' suits be as crisp as newly minted dollar bills. He sat under a hair dryer for hours after his shows so that no one would see him leaving the venue disheveled. That ethos became this 1968 anthem: "We demand a chance to do things for ourselves/ We're tired of beatin' our head against the wall and workin' for someone else." – Thomas Fawcett

"Big Shot," Billy Joel
Sneering at the Studio 54-era trappings of coke spoons, Halston dresses, and overdriven egos, Joel's most effective rocker was inspired by having dinner with Mick and Bianca Jagger. While penning the 1978 hit from 52nd Street, the former boxer from out on the island imagined the Stones frontman crooning the lyrics to his spouse. The Jaggers divorced soon after the song's Top 15 landing. – Greg Beets

"I Take a Lot of Pride in What I Am," Merle Haggard
"Hey, I'm not braggin' or complainin', just talkin' to myself man-to-man," declares Merle Haggard on his 1968 single from Pride in What I Am. Reaching No. 3 on the country charts, it's an understated anthem from the blue-collar balladeer, clinging to identity when nothing else is left. Its mournful twang was famously played at the funeral of Lynyrd Skynyrd's Ronnie Van Zant. – Doug Freeman

"I Am a God," Kanye West
Allegedly inspired by Psalm 82:6 and delivered atop pulsating synths, minimalist bass booms, and slashes of ambient noise, Kanye boasts, testifies, and admonishes the unfaithful, delivering one of hip-hop's most hilarious demands: "Hurry up with my damn croissants!" The Chicago MC awarded Yeezus' sole feature credit to the Almighty. – Bryan Rolli

Envy


"Back Stabbers," O'Jays
After 14 years of paying dues, Ohio fivepiece the O'Jays finally hit pay dirt with their Gamble & Huff-produced 1972 album, Back Stabbers. Lush with rolling strings, the title track defines the Philly soul sound standouts. The narrator's made poor friend choices ("A few of your buddies, they sure look shady"), but even worse, neither friend nor girlfriend respects him: "So are they there to see my woman?/ I don't even be home, but they just keep on comin'." – Kahron Spearman

"Jealous Guy," John Lennon
What began as a Beatles song titled "Child of Nature" after a lecture by the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi ended up on Lennon's definitive Imagine in 1971. Roxy Music's version, recorded a decade later after Lennon's murder, topped UK charts. It wasn't as successful as the original, which was unexpectedly released as a single in 1985, its author's whistling imparting a sense of repentance for this particular vice. – Jim Caligiuri

"Jolene," Dolly Parton
Desperation rising as she repeats the name of her rival, Dolly Parton's voice nearly breaks at every turn and has made the name "Jolene" synonymous with beauty, suspicion, and jealousy. The 1973 chart-topper has been covered by artists ranging from Olivia Newton-John to Miley Cyrus, with the song's insecurity and helplessness striking a universal chord in begging the beauty, "please don't take my man." – Doug Freeman

"Jealousy," Spoon
As Britt Daniel songs go, this one from 2000's Love Ways EP is straightforward. A two-minute lament on the useless discontent wrought by the green-eyed monster, the accompanying video depicts a universal truth: Jealousy's final destination looks a lot like the view from the floor of the Hole in the Wall men's room. – Greg Beets

"Jessie's Girl," Rick Springfield
You can learn a lot about the so-called nice guy mentality from this 1981 chart-topper. Despite acting funny and cool, our narrator seethes with resentment as his dream girl chooses the friend wearing a Ron Jessie L.A. Rams jersey. In the video, wish fulfillment unforthcoming, he smashes his guitar into a bathroom mirror from different camera angles. – Greg Beets

Wrath


"Mo' Murder," Mo Thugs feat. Krayzie Bone
Find the most brutal retaliatory track in rap history on the No. 2-charting Family Scriptures album from 1996. Bone Thugs-n-Harmony's authoritative MC takes aim at Three 6 Mafia, who'd questioned Bone's G-status on "Live by Yo Rep." Sampling heavily from Art of Noise's calming "Moments in Love," the Cleve­land MC romanticizes a vengeful bloodbath: "Fin to get 'em with the pump and peel ya/ Buck 'em up until ya body's so badly damaged that you're not familiar." – Kahron Spearman

"I'm Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down," Ann Peebles
From 1974's I Can't Stand the Rain, pint-sized Missouri soul queen Ann Peebles is out for vengeance on this Top 40 R&B hit. Soulful strings employed by Hi Records producer Willie Mitchell take on a sinister tone in delivering a velvet threat: "I'm gonna tear your playhouse down, pretty soon/ I'm gonna tear your playhouse down, room by room." – Thomas Fawcett

"You Oughta Know," Alanis Morissette
"Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned" predated Alanis Morissette by a few hundred years, but the then-21-year-old Canadian's shuddering breakout single of 1995 carved out an uncharted depth to the phrase. Snarling, "And are you thinking of me when you fuck her?," the song won two of Jagged Little Pill's five Grammys and endures as a crucial breakup song for all women wronged. – Libby Webster

"Stagger Lee," Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds
The oft-recorded "Stagger Lee" dates from the 19th century, though Cave's creeping noir-rock appropriation comes from the Aussie's 1996 LP Murder Ballads. In the singer's blackly comic hands, an extreme song about one bad dude viciously killing another over next to nothing hits new levels of violence, profanity, and sneering rage. It's deservedly become a Bad Seeds concert staple. – Michael Toland

"Masters of War," Bob Dylan
From his second LP, 1963's The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan, "Masters of War" finds the future Nobel Laureate at his most livid. Written at the height of the Cold War in the wake of President Eisenhower's warning about the military-industrial complex, Dylan's unrelenting in his scathing condemnation of those who profit from war. "All the money you made will never buy back your soul/ And I hope that you die and your death'll come soon." – Jay Trachtenberg

Sloth


"Shotgun Willie," Willie Nelson
According to Nelson's website, the title track to the 1973 album that turned the Texan's career around and kick-started the outlaw country movement involves an honest-to-God shoot-out with his daughter Lana's husband Steve. That's news, since the lyrics don't actually reference the episode. Instead, Willie sings about sitting around in his underwear and not having much to say. – Jim Caligiuri

"Freddie Freeloader," Miles Davis
The second track on Miles Davis' 1959 modal masterpiece Kind of Blue is said to be about a fan who repeatedly tried to see bands without paying. The name may have been inspired by hobo clown Freddie the Free­loader, created by TV comedian Red Skelton. The only straight-up blues on the LP features the trumpeter's regular pianist Wynton Kelly, who's all pocket. – Jay Trachtenberg

"(Thursday) Here's Why I Did Not Go to Work Today," Harry Nilsson
For an artist once described by The Rolling Stone Record Guide as "almost proudly lazy," it's a wonder there aren't more songs in his catalog like this ditty from 1976's Sandman. Celebrating personal inertia with a jazzy pop melody slowed down to a tortoise tempo, singer/songwriter Harry Nilsson insists that, "If Thurs­day was a boat, I bet it'd sink." – Michael Toland

"Dopesmoker," Sleep
Ironically, Sleep's 63 minutes of stoner babble and variations on a single riff proved hard work. As was getting the San Jose doom trio's slacker epic released: London Records dismissed the 1996 recording it funded, but a posthumous edit titled Jerusalem came out in 1999, and new millennial reissues restored the original. Despite successful offshoots Om and High on Fire, a reunited Sleep continues slouching around the world. – Michael Toland

"Waiting 'Round to Die," Townes Van Zandt
At first, "Waiting 'Round to Die" seems defiant, Van Zandt's drifter staving off desperation with booze and women. Yet the escape reveals as hollow, closing in the clutches of codeine with no meaning left except the slow rot of addiction. The heart of 1968 debut For the Sake of the Song, Van Zandt declared the song the first he ever wrote. – Doug Freeman

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