People have called Blind Melon a one hit wonder, which makes me re-think that label completely. Sure Blind Melon's only song that hit the charts was "No Rain" but they've had many moments of brilliance and countless great songs. Many are more enjoyable than "No Rain"...."Change" for example. Lyrics from this song were used as Shannon Hoon's epitaph.
49. Sponge - "Have You Seen Mary?"
There's undeniably something about girls named Mary. I'm not sure if it's because the name fits effortlessly into lyrics, the name itself is common or merely the fact that girl's named Mary tend to have attributes that compel musicians to scribe about them. Denmark's Sponge were weak to one Mary's powers. Lucky us.
48. Primitive Radio Gods - "Standing Outside A Broken Phone Booth With Money In My Hand"
This song i'm sure gets attention from the younger audience not only for it's absurdly long title, but what the heck is a phone booth?? As I mentioned one hit wonders earlier this was a notable one from the 90's. Peaking at #10 Primitive Radio Gods wouldn't be heard from again....which is a shame. The song is etheral, dream-like and calming. It samples B.B King's "How Blue Can You Get?" Something not many artists outside of hip-hop were doing at the time.
47. Naughty By Nature - "Jamboree"
Most historians will glaze over "Jamboree" in favour of Naughty By Natures other staples "OPP" or "Hip Hop Hurray". "Jamboree" always had the more instant classic feel for me. It felt like i'd be listening to it decades after it's 1999 release date and I am.
46. R.E.M. - "E-Bow The Letter"
An album that is often missed when thinking about great releases from R.E.M is New Adventures In Hi-Fi. It showed maturity and began R.E.M's journey of independence. Making music and creating the albums that they wanted to. "E-Bow The Letter" exemplifies that perfectly. A beautiful piece of music overlayed with words that Michael Stipe initially intended for his friend River Phoenix before his death in 1993.
45. Santana - "Put Your Lights On" Feat. Everlast
Santana staged a much welcome comeback in the late 90's but thankfully he knew well enough that the landscape had change and didn't try to squeeze a six minute guitar solo in between Barenaked Ladies' "One Week" and Marcy Playground's "Sex & Candy". What he did provide us though is a musically diverse album that incorporated some talented and extremely willing guests on each track. Everlast must have been the favoured son as "Turn Your Lights On" was the album's nadir and is still haunting this many years later.
Doug Hopkins was a tragically lost soul. Suffering from depression for much of his life he dreamt of getting a gold record. After receiving one for "Hey Jealousy" he destroyed it after only 2 weeks. In 1993 we killed himself after one of many stints in the hospital. He brilliance hasn't gone unnoticed however, unlike so many talented musicians. His gift for crafting songs could have had it's roots in a troubled past. Whatever the case 'Found Out About You' remains one of the Gin Blossoms' best.
43. The Offspring - "Gone Away"
The Offspring's 1994 album Smash put these guys in the stratosphere. Everyone had a copy, in some cases people had two. Front to back a definite must own from the nineties. The follow-up to that album Ixnay On The Hombre wasn't as well received, but it did yield The Offspring's most impressive song to date. "Gone Away" took the swing from cranked up skater-punk jams into a cry to the sky lament to one of life's harshest lessons. Dexter Holland rarely talks about the inspiration to this track, but if their anything what the lyrics suggest, I think he's entitled to that.
42. Blues Traveler - "Runaround"
From a sombre song of the 90's to one of my top picks for a great pick-me-up on a Monday morning. This song often gets mistakenly credited to Hootie & The Blowfish or Counting Crows. Blues Traveler were from New Jersey and had the distinction (and great boon) of having John Popper as their front man. An imposing figure physically, but he had a unique voice and to this day one of the most proficient and prominent harmonica players out there.
41. Lisa Loeb - "Stay"
Loeb was a virtual unknown musician living in New York City in the early 90's. Her big break came when a friend of hers gave a copy of her song "Stay" to Ben Stiller who was working on the film Reality Bites. The song was used at the end of the movie and was included on the soundtrack. As a result the song skyrocketed to the the #1 position on the charts. Making it the first time an unsigned artist hit #1. Who was Lisa Loeb's friend who got this ball rolling? Ethan Hawke.
40. Our Lady Peace - "Naveed"
I wonder if anyone will call me on this.
39. Wilco & Billy Bragg - "California Stars"
When the great Woody Guthrie left behind annals of unfinished songs. Lyrics without music. Billy Bragg got together with Chicago band Wilco, picked them up, dusted them off and finalized Guthrie's legacy on the album Mermaid Ave. "California Stars" is one of those stars I can listen to on repeat for hours. I can't imagine anyone being in a bad mood when this song is going.
38. Smashing Pumpkins - "33"
Melon Colie & The Infinite Sadness was definitely the Pumpkins' opus. It was really the first double album to gain major recognition from the 90's and while the highlighted songs like "Bullet With Butterfly Wings", "Zero" and "1979" got more attention there were plenty of songs behind the curtains I felt were more worthy. Among them "By Starlight", "Farewell & Goodnight" and "33". "33" is a dream of a song, unlike anything heard of before or since. Just a delight to listen to. The video appears to be shot intentionally choppy, when it's really a series of photographs all strewn together.
37. Better Than Ezra - "Desperately Wanting"
Better Than Ezra's homage to fraternities was one of those forgotten gems from the 90's. Had a great initial run but then quickly vanished under the more favoured single "King Of New Orleans". A song like this can bring right back to a better time, like the singer is harkening back to his younger days.
36. Red Hot Chili Peppers - "Scar Tissue"
I was never really much of a Chili Peppers fan. They had some good songs, but I felt their greater material were either covers or released in the 80's. Though not exactly a comeback album, Californication saw the return of guitarist John Frusciante and with the mediocre One Hot Minute in the past RHCP were back in everyone's heads. With those infectious little solos that get more complex with each pass and a perfect vibe to close out the 90's "Scar Tissue" was the perfect shot in the arm the Chili Peppers needed to keep them going through the next decade.
35. Fiona Apple - "Criminal"
So much potential summed up in one exquisite song. Her sultry, yet brash voice. The slow, tumid cadence of the instruments. The overlaying sexuality of the entire song..."Criminal" is a delight from the 90's that I will be listening to for many years to come. Sadly, Fiona's career suffered many pitfalls and she has since dropped off the map. I'll cover those in a future post.
34. Metallica - "Nothing Else Matters"
This song was not initially intended for a Metallica album. As singer/rhythm guitarist James Hetfield was talking to his then girlfriend over the phone he was plucking an acoustic guitar with his one free hand. The more he played the less he paid attention to the voice on the other end and focused on what would eventually become one of the greatest ballads from the 90's. James thought about saving the song for a solo album, but thankfully it was included on Metallica's 1991 legendary Black Album.
33. Bush - "Swallowed"
It always seemed Bush were fighting for their own survival throughout the 90's. Like there was always some factor working against them and someone was just willing to see them fail. Razorblade Suitcase was the last solid effort from the English quartet and the lead off single was pure alt-rock delight. As soon as the opening sounds of "Swallowed" begin you're instantly taken back to those first few times you sat down and watched the video. Those were simpler times weren't they?
32. Oasis - "Don't Look Back In Anger"
During the studio sessions for What's The Story? (Morning Glory) Noel Gallagher threatened his brother that he would sing lead vocals on one of the songs that would become hits...he gave Liam the choice to pick either "Wonderwall" or "Don't Look Back In Anger". "Wonderwall" was a song Noel wrote as a profession of love to his future girlfriend so of course Liam chose that one in spite of his brother. I think Noel won out "Don't Look Back In Anger" has always been the superior song.
31. Rage Against The Machine - "Born Of A Broken Man"
Nearing the end of the decade and consequently the end of a millenium many bands were releasing important and beautiful albums. Rage Against The Machine were no exception. The Battle Of Los Angeles was a perfect record from start to finish and it would turn out to be the last full album of original material that Rage would release as they would break up in 2000. "Born Of A Broken Man" is one of those deep tracks that is a favourite at Rage shows and never seems to get old. Love the guitar part at about 3:30.
30. The Roots - "You Got Me" feat. Eykah Badu
There is little rap more delightful than intellectual rap. Words that seem to be written with a deeper purpose than just to shake some booty or establish a pecking order on the charts. The Roots are a Grammy Award winning group from Philadelphia that formed in the late 80's. "You Got Me" is a great song that takes a darker look at relationships and the flow of the song pulls us in and we just need to know how the story turns out. Erykah's addition just makes the song that much more timeless.
29. Pearl Jam - "Alive"
In to the top 29! Here we go! Pearl Jam's Ten was not just a great record. To this day I can't be sure that Pearl Jam were alone in writing it. From start to finish it seems to be from another existence...we listeners get but a mere glimpse of what's waiting for us on the other side of the afterlife's curtain. When it's over we aren't exactly sure what we just heard, but we know we've been changed. "Alive" is perfection in 50 different languages. Eddie and co. were in top form when this song came about and this isn't even PJ"s highest charting song!
28. Sublime - "Santeria"
It's difficult to describe Sublime because there isn't really anything to compare them to. It was the genius of Bradley Nowell and his easy living mentality that made Sublime so impossible to ignore. Sadly he'd never live to see the true success of the group as he overdosed days before the release of their self-titled album's release which saw Sublime finally break in to the consciousness of the masses.
27. Goo Goo Dolls - "Name"
This song might be higher than some would have anticipated, but admit it, when this song comes on the radio you ask everyone to be quiet. Or you wish you hadn't quit trying to learn the acoustic guitar when you were 13. Or you wish you hadn't blown it with that girl with the curly brown hair. Or you wish you could go back to when you were young and give it one more shot.
26. The Watchmen - "All Uncovered"
Us Canadians had nothing to lose when we threw our hats into the musical arena. The Watchmen had everything to gain after they released this gem back in 1994. It's what most 90s songs and every Canadian song should aspire to be. Simply joyous.
25. Hayden - "The Hazards Of Sitting Beneath Palm Trees"
Songs need not be complex, showy or heavily produced to be meaningful. Canada's Hayden understands this perhaps better than most. His 1998 album The Closer I Get is pure art. It should be hung on walls and taught in schools. "Hazards Of Sitting Beneath Palm Trees" is a delightful track that freezes a moment in time that most people can relate with. The ending of the song is pure genius. I wish I thought of it.