New York "Yesterday," the wistful Beatles ballad that has been recorded more than 3,000 times by other artists, was chosen the greatest pop song since 1963 by MTV and Rolling Stone magazine.
The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Michael Jackson and Madonna have two songs each within the top 25 of the 100-song list.
The Rolling Stones' ode to sexual frustration, "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction," was second. Another music channel, VH1, named it the greatest song in the rock era in a list earlier this year.
Nirvana's 1991 single, "Smells Like Teen Spirit," which launched rock's grunge era and was the career apex for the late Kurt Cobain, was third.
The list is sure to fire up arguments among music fans. MTV and Rolling Stone arbitrarily used the emergence of The Beatles as a starting point and said their list was based on songs that had the most influence on popular culture, not necessarily the best songs. That's why, for example, Eric Clapton's "Layla" wasn't included but his ballad, "Tears in Heaven" (No. 45), was.
The choice of "Yesterday," which has been covered by Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra, Boyz II Men and many others, was "an automatic," said Tom Calderone, MTV's senior vice president for music programming.
"Every generation knows 'Yesterday,"' Calderone said.
While a simple melody, the Paul McCartney-sung tune tells an emotionally complex story of regret, said Joe Levy, music editor at Rolling Stone.
The current teen pop phenomenon is well represented: the Backstreet Boys' "I Want it That Way" (No. 10), Britney Spears' "... Baby One More Time" (No. 25) and 'N Sync's "Bye Bye Bye" (No. 55) are all included.
The Backstreet Boys "are hard-wired in your brain," Levy said. "In a year or two, you might succeed in unwiring them."
"Smells Like Teen Spirit" was the top-ranked song from the 1990s, Madonna's "Like a Virgin" the highest from the 1980s and the Eagles' "Hotel California" topped the '70s. There are 16 songs from the 1960s, 27 from the 1970s and 28 each from the 1980s and 1990s. 'N Sync's song was from this year.
Both "Yesterday" and "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" came out in 1965.
Michael Jackson sang three songs in the top 22: "Billie Jean" and "Beat It" from his "Thriller" album, and "I Want You Back" with his brothers in The Jackson 5.
U2's "One" from 1992, recently covered by Johnny Cash, was a surprise selection in the top 10. "It's without a doubt one of the greatest-sounding things they've ever done, and the band has always made great records," Levy said.
Rolling Stone is devoting a special issue to the list, and MTV is counting it down in a five-part series starting Monday.