The Monkees' 10 greatest songs ever, ranked

30 July 2021, 13:09

The Monkees
The Monkees. Picture: Getty

By Mayer Nissim

Unfairly dismissed as 'The Prefab Four', appreciation of The Monkees' music has only grown in the last half-century.

Mickey Dolenz and Mike Nesmith will play their last ever shows as The Monkees in 2021.

It will mark the end of an amazing story that started with a quartet of lads brought together by TV execs for a sitcom, who just happened make some of the sharpest, catchiest songs of the 1960s.

The Monkees
The Monkees. Picture: Getty

Despite some reunions of varying quality in the '80s and '90s (and a surprisingly good one in the '10s), the band's best work came in their original run between 1966 and 1971.

Below we round up the ten very best songs by The Monkees.

  1. A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You

    The second Monkees song written for them by Neil Diamond (you'll definitely know the other), Neil never recorded his own studio version of this one, though there's rumours that's him on the backing vocals.

    Davy Jones had the lead and took it all the way to #2 on the Billboard 100, with only Frank 'n Nancy's 'Somethin' Stupid' keeping it from the very top.

  2. You Bring The Summer

    After some less-than-impressive '80s and '90s studio comebacks, The Monkees got back together for 2016's surprisingly excellent Good Times!

    Adam Schlesinger (of Fountains Of Wayne) took production duties and helped them make a late-classic, mashing up some older recordings with new stuff and some hot collaborations (Weezer, Noel Gallagher/Paul Weller, Harry Nilsson) including this bouncy single written by XTC's Andy Partridge.

  3. Valleri

    One of the many Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart-written hits for the band, Valleri went all the way to number three in the US, and ended up being the band's last top-ten hit Stateside.

    It featured quirky ahead-of its time hammer-on guitar that had a flamenco vibe from Louie Shelton of the Wrecking Crew.

  4. She

    Another Boyce/Hart track, 'She' wasn't actually a single in the US, but its so catchy that it ended up on most of the band's compilations anyway.

    It opened the band's second album More of the Monkees, one of THREE albums the group released in 1967.

  5. I'm A Believer

    The other Neil Diamond song recorded by The Monkees, 'I'm A Believer' deservedly went to number one in the US and UK.

    Its credits are a who's who of 60s pop. As well as that writing credit for ND, the man himself plays acoustic guitar on the track, with extra guitar from Al Gorgoni (who played on 'The Sound of Silence' and 'Brown Eyed Girl')

    Oh, and it was produced by John Barry.

  6. Porpoise Song (Theme from Head)

    The Monkees had been edging away from their manufactured beginnings since they formed, looking to play more, sing more, and choose their own directions.

    Things came to a (ahem) head, with the release of 1968 movie Head, billed as "the most extraordinary adventure, western, comedy, love story, mystery, drama, musical, documentary satire ever made (And that's putting it mildly)".

    The movie and its soundtrack still splits fans to this day, but this title song by Gerry Goffin and Carole King is an undisputed psychedelic rock classic.

  7. Last Train To Clarksville

    The Monkees first single, and the Tommy Boyce/Bobby Hart team set them off with a bang.

    Despite being the drummer (in name at least), Micky Dolenz took lead vocals and the song – a regular feature in The Monkees sitcom –  went all the way to number one on the Billboard 100.

  8. Daydream Believer

    Davy Jones took the lead on this stone cold classic, while Peter Tork sorted that excellent piano intro.

    'Daydream Believer' was written by John Stewart of the Kingston Trio, and the song went to number five in the UK and was the band's last number one single in the US.

    It later popped up on the band's The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees album.

  9. (I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone

    We're not going to say anything daft like "The Monkees were actually punk rock, you know", but this wasn't far off.

    Another Boyce/Hart number, the song was originally recorded by Paul Revere & the Raiders, but it's the spitting, snarling version by The Monkees we all know and love.

    After The Monkees everyone from the Sex Pistols to PJ & Duncan covered it, but the version sung by Mickey Dolenz is hard to beat.

  10. (Theme From) The Monkees

    "Hey, hey, we're the Monkees and people say we monkey around / But we're too busy singing to put anybody down"

    The signature song of The Monkees sitcom that launched the band, it was (of course) a Boyce/Hart number and it blazed the way for everything that was to follow.

    A shorter version opened the show, with a full-length take opening the band's self-titled debut album The Monkees.

    It wasn't a single in the US or UK (why?!) but charted the countries it did get a release in.