The Revered Instrumental Solo

Way back when I was a kid, we had Hypercolor T-shirts and phones with cords.

We also had a ton of songs with instrumental solos. Something happened in the 90’s where musical interludes were replaced by rap lyrics. It’s true! Listen to any Top 40 song and there is now a rap where a synthesizer, or guitar, or saxophone once lived.

Sure, plenty of rock songs still have solos. I mean, Guitar Hero made like 14 video games out of them. But what about Top 40?

Katy Perry is the only Top 40 artist, in most recent times, to use an instrumental solo. Her song Last Friday Night, featured Kenny G on his soprano sax. Ah, Kenny. So 90’s. So here are a few other Top 40 goodies, by solo type.


Baby Baby, Amy Grant. Oh heck yeah. No more Christian-only music! I’m gonna be rated G with a hot guy now, thank you very much. Some awesome synth work at 2:22.

Never Gonna Give You Up, Rick Astley. How on earth does that voice fit that man? Or the denim on denim. Classic. The Original Clay Aiken! He cheats a bit with his synth solo and and has his backup ladies singing- he also says, “never gonna get” like 4 times. Honestly, I just love the dancing in this one.

Take on Me, A-Ha. The ultimate synth solo- no one can beat this!!! The English vocal is really secondary to the amazing synth work.


Hold Onto the Night, Richard Marx. Yeah, Richie is banging on the ivories, but it’s his guitarist, Jon Walmsley, at the 3:42 mark that brings it home with the solo.

Addicted to Love, Robert Palmer. Who could forget the braless stone-cold brunette models? Well one fembot does a mighty fine, albeit short, guitar solo at 2:30.

Shakedown, Bob Seger. It wasn’t a mistake that Beverly Hills Cop II was a bad a$$ movie. Guitar solo at 2:27 reminded us why a Beverly Hills robbery ring wouldn’t be able to survive with Eddie Murphy in town. You saved the Kardashians!


Hungry Eyes, Eric Carmen. Apparently Kenny G had some stiff sax competition with this random chick. I’m pretty sure she was synch-saxing, but you can decide for yourself around the 2:45 mark. I hear you can grip the sax better with silk, elbow-length ballroom gloves, btw.

Lost in Emotion, Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam. Lisa. Lisa. You were the original Paula Abdul. Wait, you are the same age. Ok, so you’re twinsies. Another great sax sample at 2:58.

And the tricky category, SAX AND GUITAR COMBO:

Harden My Heart, Quarterflash. Not only is there a sax solo but there is a guitar solo too! This song’ll make you a sax addict- that is, if the wood paneling and leotard don’t. I love a girl who can sing- and play sax!

Smooth Operator, Sade. Damn, I forgot about those lips. Haunting.

Long live the solo!


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