You don’t have to be a student of linguistics to recoil at the mere sound of the word. “Ain’t” just isn’t acceptable in polite company. Or in modestly proper English. Or really just about anywhere. Anywhere, that is, except for in popular music, where its near omnipresence in song titles, well…ain’t something that can be denied.

As Marvin Gaye once sang, ain’t that peculiar?

Far be it for me to try to explain the phenomenon. Instead, I’m going to enumerate it.

Here then are the best of these worsts, the most noteworthy songs of all time with “Ain’t” in the title. Conveniently, we’ll be counting down the top, um, forty-ain’t.

  1. Rock & Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution – AC/DC
  2. It Ain’t Over Til It’s Over – Lenny Kravitz
  3. It Ain’t Necessarily So – George Gershwin
  4. It Don’t Mean A Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing) – Duke Ellington
  5. Ain’t Even Done with The Night – John Cougar-Mellencamp
  6. Ain’t Misbehavin’ – Fats Waller
  7. Ain’t She Sweet – Beatles
  8. Ain’t That A Kick in the Head – Dean Martin
  9. I Ain’t Living Long Like This – Rodney Crowell
  10. Ain’t Nothing You Can Do – Bobby “Blue” Bland
  11. You Ain’t Going Nowhere – Byrds
  12. Ain’t Nobody Home – B.B. King
  13. Ain’t It Heavy – Melissa Ethridge
  14. (Ain’t That) Good News – Sam Cooke
  15. Grits Ain’t Groceries (All Around The World) – Little Milton
  16. Don’t Look Now (It Ain’t You or Me) – Creedence Clearwater Revival
  17. Ain’t No Crime – Billy Joel
  18. Ain’t That Lonely Yet – Dwight Yoakam
  19. It Ain’t Me, Babe – Bob Dylan
  20. Ain’t That Loving You Baby – Elvis Presley
  21. Your Cash Ain’t Nothin’ But Trash – Steve Miller Band
  22. Ain’t Got No Home – Clarence “Frogman” Henry
  23. I Ain’t Gonna Eat Out My Heart Anymore – Rascals
  24. I Ain’t Got You – Yardbirds
  25. I Ain’t Superstitious – Howlin’ Wolf
  26. Ain’t No Stopping Us Now – McFadden & Whitehead
  27. I Ain’t Gonna Stand For It – Stevie Wonder
  28. Ain’t No Way – Aretha Franklin
  29. Say It Ain’t So – Weezer
  30. (Ain’t Nothin’ But A) House Party – J. Geils Band
  31. Ain’t No Good Life – Lynyrd Skynyrd
  32. Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad – Meatloaf
  33. Ain’t Nobody – Chaka Khan
  34. Ain’t Wastin’ Time No More – Allman Brothers
  35. Ain’t No Woman (Like The One I Got) – Four Tops
  36. Ain’t Nothing Like The Real Thing – Marvin Gaye, Tammi Terrell
  37. You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet – Bachman Turner Overdrive
  38. I Ain’t Got Nobody (Just A Gigilo) – Louis Prima
  39. Love Ain’t For Keeping – Who
  40. Ain’t No Mountain High Enough – Marvin Gaye, Tammi Terrell
  41. He Ain’t Heavy He’s My Brother – Hollies
  42. Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love – Van Halen
  43. Ain’t That Peculiar – Marvin Gaye
  44. I Ain’t The One – Lynyrd Skynyrd
  45. Ain’t Too Proud To Beg – Temptations
  46. Ain’t No Sunshine – Bill Withers
  47. Ain’t That A Shame – Fats Domino
  48. Is You Is Or Is You Ain’t My Baby? – Louis Jordan

‘Is You Is Or Is You Ain’t My Baby?’ Really?! It’s the single most mangled usage in music annals ever…ain’t it? Written and first recorded by swing/jump blues pioneer Louis Jordan in 1943, this standard has now been covered by more than 130 artists over the years, from Bing Crosby to Dr. John. We’ll bring it to you here from Joe Jackson’s stellar 1981 career-pivot album Jumpin’ Jive.

So, might Jordan have possibly re-directed songwriting history by instead penning it correctly as “Are you my baby, or not?” Surely. But I ain’t gonna even think about that (see how bad that sounds??).

And in case you were worried, here they are all compiled on a new SMGM playlist: Ain’t That Peculiar. In a few cases I’ve chosen a version other than from the original writer and/or recording, whose rendition was deemed more recognizable or suitable. But that ain’t no big thing (Yuck!)