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10 Best Medley Songs

Home > Everywhere > Lists | Music | Performing Arts | Quirky | Vintage and Retro
by Steven G (subscribe)
Too much tertiary education... Former performer/wrestler, teacher, scientist; Published author & Father... Want to be a writer if I grow up...
Published May 26th 2020
100 songs for the price of 10
The medley. That short-cut for live acts where they can mash together the only bits of the songs they know into one, long piece.

What? Too cynical?

Okay, that is a little mean. But the last time I performed any music in front of an audience, this was our second-to-last song – six songs crudely smashed together that we only knew the first verse and chorus to. Sad, I know. Having said that, there is something about a really well-done piece of medleying that is actually quite wonderful.

In broad, untechnical music terms, a medley is when two or more songs are combined into a coherent whole to form a new track. Bands with huge back catalogues will often throw together a medley of their greatest hits that might otherwise not fit in in order to appease an expectant audience. And some artists will also play medleys of favourites that inspired them for their audiences – Springsteen's 'Detroit Medley' is one of the greatest examples of this. So the medley is a staple of many live acts.
medley, songs, music, rock, pop, band

One of the first albums I was given was Stars On 45 in 1981 (I was 10; it was my choice). Everyone knew the Beatles medley track, but on the album it was longer, and there were three other medleys on side two! Then, also in 1981, was released 'Beach Boys Medley' on the greatest hits album they released that year. That was it; I was hooked on medleys.

So this is my list of 10 of the best. Some rules to start with, though. First, these have to have been recorded or put together and released on an album. That means no YouTube mashups. I am not sure if Pentatonix's 'Evolution Of Michael Jackson' was released on an album or just on YouTube, but because I've looked at it before, I won't risk it.
Second, no songs that were recorded only in a live version. A medley done live is a short-cut for time (imagine how long a Springsteen concert would be – they can be 4 hours long as it is – if he didn't do medleys!).

Third, a medley here has to consist of at least 5 songs. Why 5? Random choice. I wanted it to be more than 3, and 5 sets itself as a decent point. This does mean that 'Grease Megamix' by John Travolta & Olivia Newton-John with only three songs does not make the cut.
Finally, the side two medley on The Beatles' Abbey Road album I decided to discount. The main reason is that it was not originally put forth as a medley, as that was a later description, and with the added bit that some of the songs actually sound complete. Having said that, it is brilliant, listen to it and lost yourself in the glory that was the Beatles.

Of my usual rules – one song per artist still holds, but I am allowing comedy songs in this list.

My list. This is in alphabetical order of title because despite owning all of these tracks on various CDs/Albums/Cassettes, I don't have original release dates for around half of them.

'4 Chord Song' by Axis Of Awesome

We start with a comedy track. Axis Of Awesome were an Australian comedy music trio (how many great comedy trios did Australia produce? DAAS, Tripod, these guys… great!) and this was the song of theirs that really hit the zeitgeist. I have seen it referenced by Youtubers from the USA, UK and Japan – and all of them positively. Basically, it's showing how many songs have the same four chords by singing an absolute shed-load of them. Just brilliant. Rob Paravonian does the same with Pachelbel's Canon but I've only seen live versions of that. Speaking of live, here is a live version of the Axis Of Awesome version as well (NSFW!!:

'Alternative Polka' by 'Weird Al' Yankovic

Weird Al's polkas are often a highlight of his albums. And this is my very favourite of them. The earnest music of the 1990s was just delivered in the only way it should have been recorded – as a polka medley! Seriously… for those of us who grew up in the 1990s (I was in my 20s), these songs were everywhere and this was the perfect antidote to that. And in concert when he performed a polka, the video on the back screen was just like this – video clips with the speed changed to match Al's vocals.

'Anniversary Waltz (Part 1)' by Status Quo

A song that has come up before, this is Status Quo doing their own version of the '4 Chord Song' (though a little less tongue in cheek). And I know this because I learnt this medley in guitar class. One of my favourite medleys, I just enjoy the way they merge all of these classic rock songs together into one gorgeous, seamless piece of music. The Quo are wonderful.

'Back To The 60s' by Tight Fit

The 1980s seemed to be the time for medleys. Tight Fit released this as, I believe, their follow-up to their cover of 'The Lion Sleeps Tonight'. In Australia, I saw it on a music show twice and then never saw it again. I never forgot it. I didn't manage to get a copy until the late 90s on a CD of medleys. Yes, I bought a compilation CD of medleys. The version in the video is the 12-inch mix; there is a great single version as well (which I also own).

'Beach Boys Medley' by The Beach Boys

Designed, I believe, to sell a greatest hits album (which I bought without knowing about the medley), this was a track that really suckered me in, as I mentioned earlier. I love the way they mixed the songs together. There was another medley on the album – 'Beach Boys Ballads' – but this one is just so much more fun. I had a group of friends in primary school who enjoyed 60s music and we grooved to this track. Such great memories.

'Holliedaze (A Medley' by The Hollies

The Hollies were sort of making a bit of a comeback in the early 80s and so they capitalised on the growing medley market by putting together their own, which they performed on the UK's Top Of The Pops, so maybe it was somewhat popular. Their songs worked really well in this format. I got it on one of those 1980s K-Tel compilation albums and, truth be told, it was my first introduction to The Hollies. Good way to do that, I reckon.

'It's… It's… The Sweet Mix!' by Sweet

Here's a track I'm not sure if they ever released a single version of. I only ever saw or heard the 12-inch, which I own (of course) on vinyl. I already had a Sweet's greatest hits album, and this was just something interesting to own because, well, it was a medley and I think we've established I am weird. No, this is great. And it was how I introduced my son to Sweet. "Are you ready, Steve?"

'Seven Year Scratch' by Madness

Featured on the album Utter Madness, this medley/mash-up of the hit songs of Madness is more than just songs joined together, with some overlays, although there is at least one dodgy transition. It's Madness – you're going to get all the big hits and some songs you forgot that Madness sang and that you knew. Madness are all but forgotten today – maybe this will help reverse that. And who of my age hasn't done the Madness walk with a group of drunk mates at some point or another?

' Stars On 45' by Stars On 45

Not the 'Beatles Medley', but the opening track of side two of that first album, and the disco/1960s mashup version that was used in part to create the single version of the track known as 'Stars On 45', featuring this with the Beatles. Confusing, but that was the time. Still, I do like this track, performed by sound-alikes (not the originals), and done very well. Yes, the clapping is annoying, but if you sing along to the songs, you hardly notice it. Honestly.
Stars On 45 also did Stevie Wonder, Abba and Elvis medleys, so if you hear any of those, check to see if they are original artists or these guys.

'That's What I Like' by Jive Bunny & The Mastermixers

While denigrated at the time (and now, let's be honest), you could not escape Jive Bunny for a while in the early 90s. The mixes of classic music they put together were more than just samples tacked onto one another. They overlayed like Madness but with far more precision and more trickery and more finesse. The whole thing sounds like it was re-recorded, but it is just masterful studio artwork. And so good to see Little Richard in there as well!

10 medleys. Over 100 songs. This is a very niche musical taste, I admit, but I am sure you will admit that these are a load of fun. And the best thing is, like a book of drabbles, if you don't like one song, it'll be over in a few seconds.

I'd like to see a few more, to be honest. I think there was a Beatles one produced using songs from their movies, but I don't own that one; ditto for a Village People one I remember hearing years ago. I reckon a Rolling Stones one (although Weird Al has done a polka version) would be great. Sorry, going off on a tangent. But these tracks – wonderful.

Hope you enjoyed it too.
medley, songs, music, rock, pop, jive bunny

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Why? Medleys are great
Where: Everywhere
Your Comment
I am a fan of DAAS and Tripod but I'd never heard of Axis of Awesome before now. Thanks for introducing them!
by May Cross (score: 3|8394) 1105 days ago
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