The Best Reggae Songs of All Time

Yes, yes, we know, we know live in the world of electro and clubbing tunes, spiked with an occasional catchy pop chorus and such, and the age of old-school hip hop or reggae and dancehall hits has all but died. Don’t get us wrong: we don’t dislike more contemporary musical hits either, but we don’t agree that reggae should be forgotten by far. That’s why, in today’s post, we will prove that reggae isn’t necessarily dead and especially today, when the world craves ethnic products of all kinds, this genre deserves attention more than ever. Without further ado, here are the 5 best reggae songs of all time, in our opinion, after a brief overlook about the current itself.

Bob Marley in the traditional reggae and rasta colors.

Bob Marley in the traditional reggae and rasta colors.

The Roots of Reggae

The reggae musical genre originated in the urban Jamaica of the late 1960s and even if the term is broadly used today to describe all Jamaican dance music, reggae only refers to a particular type of music influenced by rock, dance and jazz current from the USA, and by the traditional mento and calypso music of the folk culture of Jamaica. Known for its special vibes and optimistic feel (although the lyrics are often sad or they articulate pertinent social criticism, if you pay closer attention to them), reggae is characterized by the dominant use of bass guitar, with an emphasis on the lower frequencies.

Some of the best reggae songs were produced after Spanish language reggae spread to the other Caribbean countries and incorporated local folk elements into the current itself. After the world-wide success of famous artists such as Bob Marley (pictured above) that actually changed how we see the world, there have been many new European artists trying to emulate the style as well. The peak of popularity was the late 80s and early 90s, when some of the best reggae songs of all time were produced. The genre came to be associated with the wearing of dreadlocks, the wearing of the red, yellow and green color combination, and for its more or less direct encouragement to smoke weed. We’re not preaching any political stance ourselves, but musically, reggae songs still have a lot to give, and the slight revival of these songs in 2012 and 2013 can only make us hopeful to see this genre brought back to its former shine.

Top 5 Best Reggae Songs

1. “Kingston Town” by UB40 – This song should be the first on any list of the best reggae songs, not only because it incorporates the sound perfectly into just one track, but also because it sings about Kingston, the capital of Jamaica and the place of birth for the entire reggae culture. It was recorded by UB40 in 1989 as a cover after the original song by Lord Creator.

2. “I wanna wake up with you” by Boris Gardner – This song is one of the lighter weight reggae songs, that talks simply of love instead of burning social issues, and it’s usually featured on any list of the best 100 love songs of all time. Not only it’s romantic and with a feel-good vibe, but we’d say that it’s also the best tune for your morning alarm.

3. “It’s a pity” by Tanya Stephens – One of the best songs by a female reggae singer, “It’s a pity” talks about an adulterous relationship in a lovely and heartbreaking way, while still being a great song to dance to. The song has been covered in a multitude of languages, including Greek, and if you haven’t listened to it so far then drop everything and enjoy it a.s.a.p.

4. “Sunshine Reggae” by Laid Back – This song reflects the shiny and optimistic feel we were talking about earlier, even when said positive vibes are actually accompanying less than cheerful lyrics.

5. “No woman no cry” by Bob Marley – Of course, the list of the best reggae songs of all time couldn’t be complete without a song belonging to the father of reggae himself, Bob Marley.

We could add many, many more reggae songs to this list, from UB40’s “Red, red wine” to Marley’s “I shot the sheriff”, but we think it would be better to keep it short and let you discover or rediscover the gems of reggae music yourself, after we just stirred up your appetite. Enjoy!

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