John Mayer's 20 Best Songs: Critic's Picks

John Mayer's 20 Best Songs: Critic's Picks


Streets Talkin's most up-to-date cowl star John Mayer has been making music within the public eye for almost 20 years. The singer-songwriter has gained seven Grammys, scored probably the most No. 1s on Streets Talkin's Top Rock Albums chart of any artist (7), and notched 20 Hot 100 hits.

Adult pop-rock is his bread and butter, and in his personal phrases, “I don’t make music for the membership. I make music for the omelette on the Sunday after the membership" — a time once we’re all probably the most trustworthy with ourselves.

The essence of John Mayer’s music is trustworthy, nostalgic and uncooked. It is metaphorical but direct. John Mayer makes music that describes what you’re going via, even in the event you don’t understand you’re going via one thing. He finds the metaphors and analogies that assist life make sense, even when it doesn’t. 

Below, Streets Talkin ranks John Mayer's 20 greatest songs. 

20. "Why Georgia" (Room for Squares, 2001)

Off Mayer’s 2001 debut album, Room for Squares,’“Why Georgia” is an upbeat ode to coming of age and carving your individual path. The tune additionally offers us a preview of his easy skill to toss uncommon phrases into pop songs with out sounding compelled: “Either approach I ponder typically concerning the end result of a nonetheless verdictless life.” 

19. "Waiting on the World to Change" (Continuum, 2006)

Releasing a mildly politically charged tune was undoubtedly an influence transfer for John Mayer along with his Continuum lead single, however the tune is one thing of an anti-anthem — whereas Mayer sings about ready, the purposeful lack of urgency in his lyrics and vocals carries all through the tune. “Waiting on the World to Change” gained the Grammy for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance in 2006. 

18. "Vultures" (Continuum, 2006)

Mayer’s vocal vary in “Vultures” is what makes the tune so nice. Traditionally identified for his velvety, clean voice, so when he really flexes on a pair excessive notes, you may't assist however discover. With daring metaphors layered over funky piano and searing guitar solos, “Vultures” is quintessential John Mayer. 

17. "Clarity" (Heavier Things, 2003)

“Clarity” was the second single off 2003’s Heavier Things, and it didn’t disappoint. With clean horns by the not too long ago handed Grammy-winner Roy Hargrove, drums and piano by Roots legend Questlove, and Mayer’s infectious “ooOOooh, ooOOooh” sighs earlier than every refrain, the tune comes collectively for easy-listening perfection. 

16. "Gravity" (Continuum, 2006)

“Gravity” is the right tune for while you’re in your emotions. Here, we see John Mayer’s blues on the forefront of the tune, protecting the singing to a minimal in favor of a heavy guitar solo — you may hear extra of the ache and emotion in Mayer's guitar than in his vocals. The artist himself appears to have quite a lot of fondness for the tune — he’s launched it on three separate albums, and it gained the Grammy for greatest solo rock vocal the third outing as a stay model on 2008's Where the Light Is: John Mayer Live in Los Angeles.

15. "Edge of Desire" (Battle Studies, 2009)

John Mayer has a approach of claiming issues one is likely to be ashamed of and making them sound lovely; on this case, “I need you so dangerous I'll return on the issues I imagine.” “Edge of Desire” questions how far you’ll go for love. His uncooked honesty crescendos to the purpose the place he’s virtually screaming, begging on the finish of the monitor. The tune additionally consists of maybe one among Mayer’s most inventive lyrics: “Maybe this mattress will spin on its axis and discover me on yours.”

14. "Bigger Than My Body" (Heavier Things, 2003)

A feel-good tune via and thru, the distinguished drums and bouncy guitar carry the monitor. Mayer additionally shares the sentiment that the very best is but to come back: You’re able to far more than what you or anybody else offers you credit score for, and Mayer will get the message throughout with out being tacky or preachy. 

13. "No Such Thing" (Room For Squares, 2001)

“No Such Thing” is the debut single that John Mayer burst onto the scene with, peaking at No. 13 on the Streets Talkin Hot 100 and enduring as one among his signature hits. It’s the primary of many time we hear Mayer sing of his dad and mom and their inevitable ageing, which he returns to on later albums. But the ultimate takeaway of the monitor is about not taking your self too severely, whereas additionally not promoting your self quick: “I’d prefer to suppose the very best of me remains to be hiding up my sleeve.”

12. "Your Body Is a Wonderland" (Room For Squares, 2001)

Mayer’s second profession single peaked at No. 18 on the Hot 100, however extra importantly, it was the primary time America realized he could possibly be seductive. With strains like “One mile to each inch of your pores and skin like porcelain,” and his repetition of “I’ll use my fingers,” John Mayer introduced intercourse enchantment to this acoustic ballad with out making it really feel soiled. 

11. "Who Says" (Battle Studies, 2009)

“Who Says” is 100 p.c an IDGAF tune — albeit a reasonably mild one. It’s a center finger to the naysayers, however Mayer’s clean voice delivers the message inoffensively. The opening line “Who says I can’t get stoned?” gave Mayer an edge and a cool issue that he now exudes effortlessly. 

10. "Love on the Weekend" (The Search For Everything, 2017)

This tune is all concerning the easy pleasure of spending the weekend with the one you’re keen on. While most of Mayer’s greatest songs have a melancholy romanticism about them, this tune is the other: He mixes easy sentiments like “I can’t imagine I get to see your face” with signature multi-syllable surprises within the candy lyrics, treating the listener to strains like “And I’ll be dreaming of the following time we are able to go into one other serotonin overflow" — which mechanically make you crave larger serotonin ranges, one thing you’ve in all probability by no means thought of. What different pop tune can say the identical? 

9. "The Heart of Life" (Continuum, 2006)

Sometimes, John Mayer’s voice is so pretty that it’s not arduous to get whisked away by the sound. However, “The Heart of Life” is a type of songs that may make you emotional in the event you take heed to the phrases — stuffed with lyrics like “Bad information by no means has good timing,” which principally quantity to “It be like that typically.” The one liner “The coronary heart of life is sweet” will immediately fill you with gratitude, irrespective of how difficult life might be.

eight. "You’re Gonna Live Forever In Me" (The Search For Everything, 2017)

The whistling on the introduction virtually hits you over the pinnacle with nostalgia. It brings you to easier occasions, and also you simply realize it’s going to be one thing healthful. You can hear and really feel Mayer’s uncooked emotion as he units up behind the piano this time, moderately than his standard six-string, and as a listener you may’t assist however undertake the identical emotions. 

7. "Daughters" (Heavier Things, 2003)

No one however John Mayer could make a tune accusing a girl of getting daddy points sound so rattling lovely. Mayer’s recurring theme of how our dad and mom have an effect on our lives is carried via the tune with folk-y guitar strums and mild percussion. “Daughters” gained the Grammy for tune of the yr in 2005, and it’s straightforward to see why.

6. "Emoji of a Wave" (The Search For Everything, 2017)

Mayer’s tune title for this monitor is tremendous new-school, however the message is as basic as ever. This time, the singer-songwriter likens hardships in life and relationships to the cyclic nature of waves: They come and go, and also you simply have to simply accept them to get via it. The strings within the background actually elevate the tune to a brand new stage, and the lyric "Your coronary heart is the place my head ought to be, the dissonance is killing me" is quintessential Mayer. 

5. "New Light" (Non-album single, 2018)

“New Light” ushers in a brand new period of John Mayer in some ways. For one, we infrequently hear the singer pining for a lover, and particularly not whereas caught within the friend-zone. The funky single, co-written and produced by No. I.D., showcases a sound that Mayer has been engaged on over the previous couple of years by collaborating with artists from all corners of the business — Shawn Mendes and Travis Scott to call a pair — and the result’s sonically not like every other tune in his catalog, however the mid-song guitar solo nonetheless brings us again to basic John Mayer. 

four. "Half of My Heart" (Battle Studies, 2009)

By the time this tune was launched, Mayer had earned a popularity as one thing of a participant. This tune addresses that persona, however softens the blow by acknowledging that it takes two to make a tabloid romance. Mayer and famed eventual-ex Taylor Swift’s voices harmonize so properly collectively that they sound like they had been meant to be as one on the monitor. Mayer apparently felt the identical approach, revealing in a since-deleted tweet that Swift “would make a killer Stevie Nicks to my [Tom] ‘Petty’ of a tune.” The harmonies between the 2 and piercing guitar riffs make for a perfectly-balanced hit, incomes the hit single a Grammy nomination for greatest male vocal pop efficiency in 2010. 

three. "Stop This Train" (Continuum, 2006)

“Stop This Train” addresses the anxieties we really feel about rising up straight, through the use of a practice as a metaphor for all times. It’s a really, very actual feeling that twenty-somethings typically have bother vocalizing — wanting annoying phrases like “adulting” — however that’s why we’ve John Mayer to do it for us. He displays on his personal life, whereas once more referencing his dad and mom in a really blunt facet of life all of us should face: “Don’t know the way else to say it, don’t need to see my dad and mom go.”  

2. "Free Fallin’" (Where the Light Is: John Mayer Live in Los Angeles, 2008)

Mayer’s cowl of Tom Petty’s 1989 basic “Free Fallin’,” launched as a part of his Where the Light Is stay set, does full justice to the incomparable unique, but additionally breathes new life into the tune by switching up the tune's melodies. Mayer’s vocal vary will get the highlight on the refrain, emphasizing the “singer” a part of his standard "singer-songwriter" billing. Just as he did along with his cowl of Beyonce’s “XO" — each of which perennially rank amongst his top-streamed songs on Spotify — he manages to make a Tom Petty tune right into a John Mayer tune.

1. "Slow Dancing In a Burning Room" (Continuum, 2006)

“Slow Dancing in a Burning Room” is the final word John Mayer Song. “Slow dancing in a burning room” is likely to be one among his most poignant metaphors, the imagery lovely but chaotic. The tune brings layers of intimacy, from its lyrics to its slow-cooked groove, that set it aside even from his different greatest songs. Lines like “You'll be a bitch as a result of you may” are out of character for the singer, making the lyric that rather more memorable. "Slow Dancing" takes a reverse format from lots of his different most well-known songs, ending with a collection of questions (“Don’t you suppose we oughta know by now?”) moderately than posing them from the outset. 

As a recorded spotlight of 2006's Continuum, the tune is nice, however when it’s performed stay, it’s an expertise. Watching Mayer play the tune in particular person is to see an artist actually immersing himself in his craft, and as a spectator it’s mesmerizing to look at. There’s no saying how lengthy he’ll lengthen the guitar solo, or by which path he’ll take it. John Mayer takes stay music to an entire new stage, and it’s one of many explanation why he’s being honored at Streets Talkin’s Live Music Summit on Nov. 13-14.