If anyone hasn’t realized it yet, I really enjoy lists, whether I agree with them or not, and I’ve found a lot of entertaining lists from Miss Mutant of Cinema Parrot Disco. While she focuses on “mainly movies,” she also has plenty of musical posts and song lists. Well, I like music too, so why can’t I join in? Movies and poetry will still be first and foremost for me, but favorite songs may pop up now and then. I’ll still try to find some way to tie it in with movies.
For my first such list, I went with that easiest and perhaps laziest of song lyrics, the “Na na na.” If you don’t know the lyrics, it’s natural to just follow along with this syllabic stand-in, but sometimes songwriters just dispense with further choruses and let the na nas roll. Not only is this easy to remember, it often fits the tune splendidly and makes it stick in the mind…endlessly. Good luck getting these songs out of your head.
Whether the na nas be short or whether the na nas be long,
I’m singing these na nas and bringing these na nas, song by indelible song.
- “What Makes You Beautiful” by One Direction
As their debut single, “What Makes You Beautiful” put One Direction on the map of pop music. It’s modern; it’s catchy; it’s got that boy-band glossiness; and as far as mainstream teen music goes, I like it more than most. The actual “na na na” portion is much too short, but it underscores the catchiness of the hook.
- “F Games” from the Phineas and Ferb episode “Got Game?”, written by Dan Povenmire, Jeff “Swampy” Marsh, Martin Olson, and Michael Culross
Almost every episode of Disney Channel’s Phineas and Ferb had an original song, many of which are outstanding. This one, from the obligatory boys-vs.-girls episode, has all the intensity of a major sporting event, and I can easily picture fans epically chanting this from the stands.
- “I’ll Be Your Shelter” by Diane Warren, sung by Taylor Dayne
Soulful and with some distinctively Tina Turner-ish vocals, this Taylor Dayne single creates an aura of romantic strength, and the na nas bridging each chorus only heighten its appeal. I wonder if this would sound much different if Tina Turner did a cover?
- “We Are Young” by fun.
I like fun. That being said, I love “Some Nights” way more than this song, and I don’t think “We Are Young” is all that great until the na na part. Then, as with most na na lyrics, it becomes a rousing earworm worthy of a swaying singalong. I wonder how lead singer Nate Ruess will feel singing this in forty years.
- “All the Small Things” by Blink-182
Surprisingly pop-ish for a punk band, “All the Small Things” is utterly catchy, and the more I hear it, the more I like it. The “na na na” portion is upbeat and repetitive enough to leave one out of breath by the end.
- “You Are the Music in Me” from High School Musical 2, written by Jamie Houston
I knew I could make a movie connection. High School Musical 2 is easily the best of the HSM films, and this duet is just one among many great songs. This one is also unique in that it has two versions, a sincere love song between Troy and Gabriella and a forced but faster rock version between Sharpay and a hilariously intimidated Troy. I prefer the sincere first one, but my VC actually likes the second version better. Which one do you like?
- “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye” by Paul Leka, Gary DeCarlo and Dale Frashuer, attributed to the band “Steam”
Dripping with 1960s/70s-ness, this head-bopper was a number-one hit and is a natural favorite for “in-your-face” rivalries at sporting events. Plus (another movie mention!), it was used to tear-jerking effect in Remember the Titans.
- “Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’” by Journey
This song used to act as an introduction to Journey’s “City of the Angels,” but it’s still tender and romantic (if a little less rocking) by itself. During the “na na na” part, I always picture a huge stadium of fans all waving their lighters in the air.
- “Hush,” written by Joe South for Billy Joe Royal, better known version by Deep Purple
There are many covers of this song, but I’m personally only familiar with Deep Purple’s version. This early hit was groovy enough for 1968, while setting the stage for heavier rock to come. The instruments go all over the place, but the na nas are there from the very beginning. Plus, it has apparently been in several movies, including Apollo 13.
- “Hey, Jude,” by the Beatles
“Hey, Jude” is one of the biggest songs ever produced by the Beatles and a special favorite of my dad’s. A more gentle form of rock, its strength still builds and lingers in the memory, thanks especially to the extended “na na” fadeout. This particular video show the universal appeal of both this song and the “na na,” both easily understood in any language.
- “The Look” by Roxette
What do you do if you want to break your music out of Sweden and introduce it to the world? You write a song as awesome as “The Look.” That’s what the duo Roxette did, and the “na na na” section alone bumps it this high on the list. Not enough na nas for you? It has la las too!
- “Centerfold” by The J. Geils Band
I’m the last person to be checking out centerfolds, but I looooooove this song! IMO, this is easily the catchiest song on the list and the one to which I most enjoy rocking out in the car. Na nas don’t get much better than this.
“12lb Toothbrush” – Madder Lake
“A Horse with No Name” – America
“Comeback Kid (That’s My Dog)” – Brett Dennen
“Come Back Song” – Darius Rucker
“Crash” – The Primitives
“Gettin’ Jiggy wit It” – Will Smith
“How Do You Do” – Mouth & MacNeal
“Kick in the Teeth” – Papa Roach
“Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na)” – My Chemical Romance
“Na Na” – Superchick
“P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)” – Michael Jackso
“So What?” – Pink
“Tell the World” – Eric Hutchinson
“Tonight, Tonight” – Hot Chelle Rae
“Undo It” – Carrie Underwood
“Welcome to the Jungle” – Guns N’ Roses (I barely remember the na na part, but my VC insisted on mentioning this one.)
I’m sure there are plenty of other good na na songs out there, but these are the ones I’ve heard and liked. Feel free to recommend other potential favorites!