Wednesday, 3 October 2012

The Top 100 Songs Of The 90's Part 1 (100-76)

It's October! The best month of the year as far as i'm concerned. Not too hot not too cold...a plethora of seasonal colours everywhere you look. Also, it happens to be the month that my birthday is in. So I thought i'd give you all a birthday present to help you celebrate. The 90's was when many of us came into music and in reality the 90's had a very distinct style and feel to them and a lot of that had to do with the music. This wasn't easy...and I have a feeling as soon as I post this list i'll want to change everything. Enough stalling, here now the Top 100 songs from 1990-1999. Happy Birthday to me!!

100. Bjork - "Hyperballad"

We start with her Strangeness, Bjork. Being hailed as Iceland's greatest musical export Bjork hasn't been without her share of controversy. Her songwriting and talents have never been in question. "Hyperballad" is a haunting new look at being a relationship. Finding time away from everyday comfort to just destroy something beautiful

99. Alanis Morissette - "Uninvited"

Alanis' undeniably brilliant debut came in 1995 with the release of Jagged Little Pill. The album was everywhere and earned her 4 Grammy awards, 5 hit singles and worldwide recognition. Obviously fans and critics alike were waiting with baited breath for her follow up. In 1998 she released "Uninvited" for the City Of Angels soundtrack, a song that would later be featured on Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie. I loved her first album, but it didn't feature anything of this calibre in my opinion. Slightly darker, slighty more mature and slightly more jaded...which makes "Uninvited" a listening experience worth repeating.

98. The Cure - "Cut"

Perhaps known more as a band of the 80's The Cure's success did not stop once the 90's rolled around. Overshadowed by the single "Friday, I'm In Love", "Cut" is an intense and powerful rock song featured near the end of their 1992 album Wish. Not only does it exemplify the continued desperate lyrics of Robert Smith but also the masterful proficiency The Cure had at their instruments.

97. John Hiatt - "Cry Love"

John Hiatt is a seasoned veteran out of Indiana. He's had his songs covered by artists like Three Dog Night, Willie Nelson, Jewel, Iggy Pop and Eric Clapton. His crowned jewel, in my opinion, opens up his thirteenth studio album Walk On. "Cry Love" is an uplifting, almost gospel infused pop gem. There is no denying his love for his music when he belts the chorus at the top of his lungs. Got to love the ukelele as well.

96. Rage Against The Machine - "Down Rodeo"

There has never been nor will there ever be a band like Rage Against The Machine. Uniquely belonging to the 90's Rage released 3 studio albums until disbanding in late 2000. Front man Zach de la Rocha stated that the 4 members' ideals had changed over the years and Rage needed to end. Evil Empire was the album that launched Rage Against The Machine headlong into the very system they were trying to avoid. "Down Rodeo" is a remarkable specimen of the energy, conviction and anti-establishment mentalities one could expect from a Rage song.

95.  Smashing Pumpkins - "I Am One"

Known as The Smashing Pumpkins' first came off 1991's Gish. It's an interesting song not only because it avoided overexposure in the spotlight, but it's one of the few Pumpkins songs to give writing credit to guitarist James Iha. Shortly after Billy Corgan would assume full control of writing every song on the albums even going as far to re-record tracks originally laid down by other members of the band. Regardless, "I Am One" has a great feel...every instrument is featured wonderfully and I love how the song builds to a climax.

94. Manic Street Preachers - "Motorcycle Emptiness"

"Motorcycle Emptiness" comes off Manic Street Preachers' debut album Generation Terrorists. It's partially inspired by the book Rumble Fish and a poem by Welsh poet Patrick Jones. As a whole it's a great 90's track with an infectious guitar hook and many memorable lines. Darkness would befall the Manic Street Preachers in 1995 when their rhythm guitar player Richey Edwards vanished. It is thought he deliberately ran off at his own decision. He has yet to be found. In 2008 his family had him officially declared dead.

93. The Tragically Hip - "Nautical Disaster"

Kind of unknown hit for The Tragically Hip, nowhere near as popular as "New Orleans Is Sinking" or "Ahead By A Century". After repeated listens "Nautical Disaster" is a greater song than most in the Hip catalouge. The lyrics are intentionally ambiguous and slightly hidden under amped up instruments. Frontman Gordon Downie asked his grandfather to tell him something he remembered from fighting in the second world war. The results were haunting and used as lyrics to this song.

92. Yo La Tengo - "Autumn Sweater"

Yo La Tengo formed in 1984 and still perform music to this day. Their name means "I Have It" in Spanish in case you were wondering and perhaps their best album was released in 1997. I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One is wildly praised as their finest and most coherent album. "Autumn Sweater" is a sweet and shy ballad that combines many delightful elements and weaves a romantic tale from a simpler time.

91. Creed - "My Own Prison"

Perhap's Creed's finest moment was sadly their first. No artsy circle jerks, no musical tricks. Just a brooding, pounding rock song borne to bang heads. I think Creed's down fall had a bit to do with their failure to get into new territories. Most of their songs after 'My Own Prison' seemed like alterations instead of independent pieces.

90. Bad Religion - "A Walk"

The 90's saw a revival of the punk movement that was born in the late 70's and early 80's. Though it never truly disappeared through the 1980s bands like Rancid, The Offspring, NOFX, Pennywise brought it to new heights through the 90's. A big part of that was the record label known as Epitaph started by founding member of Bad Religion Brett Gurewitz. Though "A Walk" does come off Bad Religion's first CD with Atlantic records.

89. Radiohead - "Stop Whispering"

The Pixies were one of the most influential bands of the 90's though they never really found fame until years later. That mostly has to do with the bands they inspired raving about them and covering their music. Radiohead's Thom Yorke was a huge Pixies fan and recorded "Stop Whispering" as a tribute to them. Though not a Pixies song it is definitely on track with their style.

88. Duncan Sheik - "Barely Breathing"

I don't care how many times this song was played in 1997 when it was released, it's fantastic.  Duncan has a very unique voice that stands out in a overcrowded genre of mumbling "talkers" and the production just screams 90's here. Though it seems Duncan Sheik is destined to be a one hit wonder "Barely Breathing" is a great song to be known for.

87. Live - "All Over You"

Live are another group that seemed were unstoppable in the 90's but slowly became disconnected when the turn of the decade came rolling by. Throwing Copper was Live's critically acclaimed juggernaut of an album. Topping charts and critics lists' worldwide, even the songs deleted were great! "All Over You" is a relentless assault that is lightly dusted with sexual energy, like most Live songs. Some may criticize it's repeating lyrics, but that's one of the main reasons this song has become timeless.

86. Spin Doctors - "Two Princes"

Who doesn't hear that opening drum roll and get instantly teleported to the first time you heard this song? Or a time when this was your jam? I wore the tape out on Pocket Full Of Kryptonite I played it so often. Spin Doctors were another group who failed to strike gold twice, but this song is so legendary and so respected from the 90's era I'm sure they don't mind.

85. The Dandy Warhols - "Not If You Were The Last Junkie On Earth"

Warhols singer Courtney Taylor-Taylor wrote this about one of his ex-girlfriends who became a heroin addict while on tour with the band. Instead of writing a sad lament about her, he put it in a happy pop song and mocked her in the chorus.

84. Soul Asylum - "Summer Of Drugs"

I wasn't sure about including covers on here, but changed my mind when I realized that some are just too damn good not to include. Soul Asylum recorded "Summer Of Drugs" for Sweet Relief an album designed to raise funds for Victoria Williams. Williams was a respected songwriter and singer in California, but never had huge success outside of her circles. She had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and couldn't afford health care for the treatment. So a gathering of artists banded together and recorded versions of her songs for a benefit album. Soul Asylum chose "Summer Of Drugs" and knocked it out of the park.

83. Nirvana - "Smells Like Teen Spirit"

There is no denying that this is a fantastic song, but I don't think it's Nirvana's best. It's also not the best of the decade, but because of the sheer impact it made upon it's release back in 1991 it can't be ignored. Cobain got the idea for the song's title while at a party and saw written on the wall "Kurt smells like teen spirit". He included it as the title without realizing it was a brand of deodorant. Every element of this song has became engrained in the folklore of 90's culture. The recording process, the writing process and even the video who's simple concept became the framework of 90's videos to come.

82. REM - "Nightswimming"

The 90's brought out the best of Georgia's REM. Automatic For The People combined many different styles of REM's music. "Nightswimming" recalls moments from the band's youth. Innocence. Harmless fun. Some people felt it was possibly about homosexuality and the time before AIDS was a real issue. Either way a beautiful chorusless song. And oddly a song where the lyrics came long before music was assigned to it.

81. Silverchair - "Pure Massacre"

This one gets forgotten about a lot when discussing great 90's tracks. Silverchair were Australia's answer to Nirvana. Sadly after Nirvana made it big, every record label was looking to sign the next long-haired, disenchanted grunge trio and Silverchair naively signed a terrible contract. Their first album Frogstomp was a delight, but subsequent records were not given the proper time frame and were pumped out faster than they could be absorbed. Thankfully songs like "Pure Massacre" still hold up in this day and age and can remind us of the rage we had in our youth.

80. Del Amitri - "Always The Last To Know"

Known more for their later hit "Roll To Me" Del Amitri were a Scottish band who enjoyed a few years of success on American airwaves. This song follows formulaic 90's pop sensibilities but it's the catchy guitar riff and silky smooth voice of Justin Currie that gives it a slight edge over some of the others.

79.  Ben Lee - "Cigarettes Will Kill You"

It's almost an offense to listen to this song with the inane racket of keyboard typing over top of it. Ben Lee is another Aussie on the list with eight studio albums to his name and a few acting roles as well. "Cigarettes Will Kill You" has a great retrospective feel to walking along to the song with everything in your past behind you trying desperately to catch up. Lee describes the song's title like a bad relationship that you keep going back to expecting it to get better but always getting hurt.

78. Matthew Sweet - "Sick Of Myself"

One of the truest, most honest love songs from the 90s. Matthew Sweet i'm sure loves October as well because his birthday is in it too (it's actually the same day as mine). Sweet has made a steady career of guitar driven, honest pop songs. "Sick Of Myself" is no exception EXCEPT the guitar playing is brilliant in this! Not just the solos but even the underlying rhythms. Takes me back.

77. Collective Soul - "Precious Declaration"

One thing that Collective Soul always brought to the party was a catchy, amped up guitar riff. It's like they couldn't let a song get to album without it. We all appreciate it CS. "Precious Declaration" came in the late 90s but there is no sound on Earth like that opening guitar. It sounds like Zeus himself is playing it with a lightning bolt. Once you hear the riff after all there is no turning back.

76. Alice In Chains - "Nutshell"

We're all having a little too much fun at this point. We can't forget that the 90's weren't fun for everybody. My favourite Alice In Chains song comes in at #76. From the Jar Of Flies EP released in 1994 "Nutshell" is a sobering and dark look into the mind of Layne Staley. The song is about dealing with untruths and winding up alone. Chillingly foretelling as Layne Staley would die in 2002 of an overdose. The last person to see him alive was his friend and former bass player Mike Starr who walked out after an arguement. Allegedley Staley's last words were "Not like this man, not like this"

That's it for part one!

Keep checking back for parts 2,3 and 4 where I will name the best song of the 90's!!

Johnny Zhivago

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