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


Billboard'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 received seven Grammys, scored probably the most No. 1s on Billboard'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 sincere with ourselves.

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

Below, Billboard ranks John Mayer's 20 finest 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 track additionally provides us a preview of his easy skill to toss uncommon phrases into pop songs with out sounding pressured: “Either means I ponder typically concerning the final result of a nonetheless verdictless life.” 

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

Releasing a mildly politically charged track was undoubtedly an influence transfer for John Mayer along with his Continuum lead single, however the track 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 track. “Waiting on the World to Change” received the Grammy for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance in 2006. 

18. "Vultures" (Continuum, 2006)

Mayer’s vocal vary in “Vultures” is what makes the track so nice. Traditionally identified for his velvety, easy voice, so when he really flexes on a pair excessive notes, you possibly can'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 easy 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 track comes collectively for easy-listening perfection. 

16. "Gravity" (Continuum, 2006)

“Gravity” is the proper track for whenever you’re in your emotions. Here, we see John Mayer’s blues on the forefront of the track, protecting the singing to a minimal in favor of a heavy guitar solo -- you possibly can 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 track -- he’s launched it on three separate albums, and it received the Grammy for finest solo rock vocal the third trip as a dwell 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 means of claiming issues one could be ashamed of and making them sound lovely; on this case, “I would like you so unhealthy I'll return on the issues I consider.” “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 track additionally consists of maybe one in all Mayer’s most artistic 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 track via and thru, the outstanding drums and bouncy guitar carry the monitor. Mayer additionally shares the sentiment that the most effective is but to come back: You’re able to far more than what you or anybody else provides 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 Billboard Hot 100 and enduring as one in all his signature hits. It’s the primary of many time we hear Mayer sing of his dad and mom and their inevitable growing old, which he returns to on later albums. But the ultimate takeaway of the monitor is about not taking your self too critically, whereas additionally not promoting your self brief: “I’d prefer to suppose the most effective 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 may very well 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 palms,” 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 % an IDGAF track -- albeit a reasonably light one. It’s a center finger to the naysayers, however Mayer’s easy 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 track is all concerning the easy pleasure of spending the weekend with the one you're keen on. While most of Mayer’s finest songs have a melancholy romanticism about them, this track is the alternative: He mixes easy sentiments like “I can’t consider 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 will go into one other serotonin overflow" -- which mechanically make you crave increased serotonin ranges, one thing you’ve in all probability by no means thought of. What different pop track can say the identical? 

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

Sometimes, John Mayer’s voice is so beautiful that it’s not laborious to get whisked away by the sound. However, “The Heart of Life” is a kind of songs that can make you emotional for those who hearken 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 nice” will immediately fill you with gratitude, regardless of how sophisticated 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 top with nostalgia. It brings you to less complicated occasions, and also you simply comprehend 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, slightly than his standard six-string, and as a listener you possibly can’t assist however undertake the identical emotions. 

7. "Daughters" (Heavier Things, 2003)

No one however John Mayer could make a track 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 track with folk-y guitar strums and mild percussion. “Daughters” received the Grammy for track of the 12 months in 2005, and it’s straightforward to see why.

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

Mayer’s track 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 just accept them to get via it. The strings within the background actually elevate the track to a brand new degree, 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 track 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 track was launched, Mayer had earned a popularity as one thing of a participant. This track 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 nicely collectively that they sound like they had been meant to be as one on the monitor. Mayer apparently felt the identical means, revealing in a since-deleted tweet that Swift “would make a killer Stevie Nicks to my [Tom] ‘Petty’ of a track.” The harmonies between the 2 and piercing guitar riffs make for a perfectly-balanced hit, incomes the hit single a Grammy nomination for finest male vocal pop efficiency in 2010. 

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

“Stop This Train” addresses the anxieties we really feel about rising up immediately, by utilizing a practice as a metaphor for all times. It’s a really, very actual feeling that twenty-somethings usually have bother vocalizing -- in need of annoying phrases like “adulting” -- however that’s why we have now 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 dwell set, does full justice to the incomparable unique, but in addition breathes new life into the track by switching up the track'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 track right into a John Mayer track.

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” could be one in all his most poignant metaphors, the imagery lovely but chaotic. The track brings layers of intimacy, from its lyrics to its slow-cooked groove, that set it aside even from his different finest songs. Lines like “You'll be a bitch as a result of you possibly can” are out of character for the singer, making the lyric that rather more memorable. "Slow Dancing" takes a reverse format from a lot of his different most well-known songs, ending with a sequence of questions (“Don’t you suppose we oughta know by now?”) slightly than posing them from the outset. 

As a recorded spotlight of 2006's Continuum, the track is nice, however when it’s performed dwell, it’s an expertise. Watching Mayer play the track in individual is to see an artist actually immersing himself in his craft, and as a spectator it’s mesmerizing to observe. There’s no saying how lengthy he’ll prolong the guitar solo, or through which course he’ll take it. John Mayer takes dwell music to a complete new degree, and it’s one of many the explanation why he’s being honored at Billboard’s Live Music Summit on Nov. 13-14.