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THE B-LIST: Turn it up to 11 — this is my jam: A mix of the best bangers

What is a banger?

Simple definition: It's a rock song with an insanely catchy beat.

My definition: It's a song that everyone seems to know through cultural osmosis, even if you've never picked up one of the band's albums. You may not even know the band's or song's name. Maybe it was played ad nauseum on the radio, or was featured in a memorable scene in a blockbuster film.

It has a pounding rhythm, or a great hook, or a chorus made to scream along to.

It's a song that gets you headbanging in the car.

A track you sing in the shower, shampoo bottle for a mic.

A perfect jam for a workout or roadtrip.

One woman's banger may be another's dreaded earworm — but there are a few that are nigh undeniable classics.

They're the go-to staples at karaoke, the most popular to play in "Dance Dance Revolution" and in eternal rotation at school dances and parties.

The following list was compiled with the assistance of a Facebook polling among friends. Since the "Ultimate Banger" is a matter of opinion and personal taste, I shan't claim this is the end-all, be-all — nor a definitive ranking.

Instead, treat this as a recommended playlist of pure greatness that's great for all ages; a mix CD for all of your driving or physical fitness needs.

1. "AFRICA" by Toto. Oft-covered. Oft-memed. Eternally amazing.

2. "DON'T STOP BELIEVIN' " by Journey. Even people who have never gone to a karaoke bar have karaoke'd this one.

3. "BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY" by Queen. There are Pulitzer Prize-winning novels that aren't this well-constructed or memorable.

4. "SABOTAGE" by The Beastie Boys. According to the most recent "Star Trek" films, the Beastie Boys will one day be considered "classical music." The future really is bright.

5. "CARRY ON MY WAYWARD SON" by Kansas. Who hasn't wailed along to this on a late-night drive?

6. "THE IMMIGRANT SONG" by Led Zeppelin. Perhaps the most iconic scream in classic rock.

7. "THRILLER" by Michael Jackson. MJ at his best + Vincent Price's monologue + the most impressive zombies ever seen in a music video = priceless.

8. "HOLDING OUT FOR A HERO" by Bonnie Tyler. Keep holding on, Bonnie. The next "Avengers" isn't out until May 2019.

9. "SMOOTH CRIMINAL" by Alien Ant Farm. A cover that does the original justice.

10. "I'M GONNA BE (500 MILES)" by The Proclaimers. Talk about relationship goals.

11. "WHEN DOVES CRY" by Prince. If you look up "sultry" in the dictionary, this song — and Prince — should be there.

12. "SWEET DREAMS (ARE MADE OF THIS)" by The Eurythmics. What a beat! What a chorus! Take us away, Annie Lennox!

13. "PUSH IT" by Salt-N-Pepa. A catchy hook, some serious girl attitude — what more could you want?

14. "SEPTEMBER" by Earth, Wind & Fire. "The happiest-sounding song in the world," according to its co-writer, Allee Willis; this banger taught her to "never let the lyric get in the way of the groove."

15. "IN THE AIR TONIGHT" by Phil Collins. It may start slow, but that just makes it so much better when Phil goes hard with those drums.

16. "MIDNIGHT CITY" by M83. This French electronica band knows how to get the blood pumping and the feet tapping.

17. "SPACE JAM" by Quad City DJ. There are some people who try to deny the cultural significance of this landmark film and its banging soundtrack. Those people are fools.

18. "TAKE ON ME" by A-ha. Incoherent lyrics? Check. Ridiculous music video? Check. Performed by dudes with fabulously feathered hair? Checkity-check-check.

19. "HUNGRY LIKE THE WOLF" by Duran Duran. ...Is it bad that I want to see A-ha and Duran Duran in a cage match to determine who the definitive '80s pop band is?

20. "I BELIEVE IN A THING CALLED LOVE" by The Darkness. If this doesn't move you, seek medical attention immediately. I'm pretty sure Justin Hawkins' falsetto wail could resurrect the dead.

21. "MR. BRIGHTSIDE" by The Killers. (Aka the millennial "Stairway to Heaven.")

22. "NEVER GONNA GIVE YOU UP" by Rick Astley. Sorry — I couldn't resist ending on a rickroll.

• ANGIE BARRY is a page designer and columnist for The Times. To suggest future topics for The B-List, which covers pop culture, history and literature, contact her at

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