January 2010

#118 – Hootie & The Blowfish – “Hold My Hand” – (1994)

Cracked Rear View is one of – if not the – best album of the 1990s. Truth is, I originally had “Time” listed as number 118 and while looking for which other Cracked Rear View track I wanted to mention along with it, I fell back in love with “Hold My Hand.” They are equally as good. All four big singles form this album are good. I just picked one of two to talk about here. Also I want to mention “I Will Wait” from 1998’s Musical Chairs. I recently re-discovered this one myself.

#119 – Foo Fighters – “Learn to Fly” – (1999)

So here is that second song I promised where the music video features Dave Grohl in pigtails. The video also features: Dave Grohl in a fat-suit, Dave Grohl as a very John Waters-looking flight attendant, and both members of Tenacious D. This song is inexplicably linked in my mind to Filter’s “Take a Picture.” “Learn to Fly” was the only good single from There is Nothing Left to Lose. Their previous album, The Colour and the Shape was responsible for the songs “Everlong,” “Monkey Wrench,” and “My Hero.”

#120 – Third Eye Blind – “Jumper” – (1997)

So here’s that other song about people jumping off buildings. I wouldn’t call the song “upbeat,” but it’s definitely more… inspired than say, “How It’s Going to Be,” which is a great song in its own right – but this list is only 200 songs long and Third Eye Blind has enough spots on here. “Jumper” is one of those pop-rock songs with meaning, which is something that has become increasingly rare in newer songs as most bands confuse “angst” with “meaning” nowadays.

#121 – Will Smith feat. K-Ci – “Will 2K” – (1999)

I can sing this entire song… when I typed “Will 2K” into the top I didn’t know if I should be putting “Wild Wild West” up there instead, then I listened to this again and realized I was correct. Side note: if you’re familiar with Willennium you’ll know that the album version of “Wild Wild West” contains a weird intro where Will and his son are discussing filling time on the album and that’s the only reason “Wild Wild West” even made the album – to fill time – it already was huge from the movie’s soundtrack. “Will 2K” is another one of those new-millennium songs that were popular at the end of 1999. The other single from this album was “Freakin’ It” – but it’s not even close to being on the same level as the other two.

#122 – Everclear – “Santa Monica” – (1995)

“Santa Monica” was the breakthrough hit for Everclear from their album Sparkle and Fade. It’s relatively simple in nature but catchy nonetheless and proved Everclear would be a fairly reliable alternative band for next few years. In 1997 they released So Much for the Afterglow which contained the singles “Father of Mine” and “I Will Buy You a New Life.”

#123 – Green Day – “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” – (1997)

I loathe Green Day – Billie Joe Armstrong’s voice is like fingernails on a chalkboard. That said, this is a good song – orchestra strings never hurt in that regard. It is the only worth mentioning from Nimrod but 1994’s Dookie had a few songs to note: “When I Come Around,” “Basket Case,” and “Longview.” “Brain Stew” was the only ‘good’ song from 1995’s Insomniac.

#124 – Live – “Lightning Crashes” – (1994)

Live is one of those bands that are impossible to Google because every other band on earth has at some point performed live. But they were formed pre-search engine so I’ll let it slide. “Lightning Crashes” is a wonderfully beautiful song that builds and builds until it finally explodes. It is absolutely one of the most powerful and meaningful popular songs to come out of the 1990s. And it has a haunting quality about it – and a haunting quality is the quickest way for a song to earn both my interest and respect. On an unrelated side note, how many successful songs can you name that use the word “placenta?” Another one of their songs that you’ve probably heard is the popular “I Alone.” If you didn’t listen to rock stations during the 90s, you may not have heard of “Selling the Drama.”

#125 – Shawn Colvin – “Sunny Came Home” – (1996)

“Sunny Came Home” is one of the more recognizable top 40 hits from the 90s. It was her only real big hit and something I happen to like is that the title of the album, A Few Small Repairs, comes from a lyric within this song.

#126 – Lenny Kravitz – “Fly Away” – (1998)

Lenny Kravitz is more or less a badass. For some reason I can’t help but picture him as a modern day Hendrix – and not just because he’s black. He has his own style, and although not as innovative as Jimi, he definitely knows how to rock. His cover of the Guess Who’s “American Woman” is probably his best known song to date.

#127 – Sixpence None The Richer – “Kiss Me” – (1997)

“Kiss Me” was used, quite popularly, on Dawson’s Creek and in the film She’s All That (and there was a music video for each). If you remember this one, you probably also remember “There She Goes” which features the same unique voice of lead vocalist Leigh Nash.

#128 – *NSYNC – “Tearin’ Up My Heart” – (1998)

This song is quite different than anything from Orgy’s Candyass (#129) – except for maybe the title. I find this to be the most tolerable (er, I mean, “best”) song from the boy-band of boy-bands. Also from their eponymous debut album: “(God Must Have Spent) A Little More Time On You,” and “I Drive Myself Crazy.” Watch the video from the latter and tell me that Lance Bass… um… wasn’t extremely obvious. It’s obvious. If you’re looking for any “Bye Bye Bye” info you’re gonna have to wait for out post-90s countdown.

#129 – Orgy – “Blue Monday” – (1998)

Sorry to all you new wave fans, but this is the version of “Blue Monday” – it absolutely rocks (I don’t care how many singles New Order sold) – and it’s one of my favorite rocks songs post… say… 1980. Listen to the drums. They had another single from Candyass called “Stitches” that I distinctly remember getting heavy rotation on MTV. I’m gonna be pissed if tagging this song with the band’s name gets me in trouble.

#130 – Dishwalla – “Counting Blue Cars” – (1995)

For some reason I know that the song “Counting Blue Cars” appeared on the album Pet Your Friends. I guess it’s just one of those album names that you can’t forget… because there is no other real reason to know anything about Dishwalla. From about 1996 through 1998 I think this song was playing at all times, somewhere in the world. “Tell me all your thoughts on God, cause I’d really like to meet her…”

#131 – TLC – “Waterfalls” – (1994)

“Waterfalls” was one of the biggest singles of 1995. I think everyone knows the chorus: “Don’t go chasing waterfalls/please stick to the rivers and the lakes that you’re used to” – I have no idea why bodies of water would ever make a good song, but it’s one of the definitive R&B songs of the decade. TLC released FanMail in 1999 and it spawned their biggest single “No Scrubs” as well as the lesser “Unpretty.”

#132 – Everything – “Hooch” – (1998)

“Hooch” is fun, different kind of song from a little known band called Everything. It’s been featured on TV shows and in movies – famously in The Waterboy. It sold well and was a mainstay on the radio at the end of the 90s. After this hit, Everything descended into mainstream obscurity, although they remain one of those bands whose name is so un-original that they are nearly impossible to Google using the band name alone and, when told of them, people tend to think there are more words coming.

#133 – The Mighty Mighty Bosstones – “The Impression That I Get” – (1997)

I often hear this song mistakenly referred to as “Knock on Wood,” which it isn’t. The Mighty Mighty Bosstones were a ska punk band and this song exemplifies that style with the massive amount of brass in play. This was by far the band’s biggest hit and lead singer Dicky Barrett has since become the announcer for Jimmy Kimmel Live – which I find to be incredibly random.

#134 – Baz Luhrmann – “Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen)” – (1999)

This is probably the weirdest and most unlikely song on this list. Baz Luhrmann directed such films as Moulin Rouge! and the DiCaprio version of Romeo + Juliet and in 1999, for reasons known solely to him, he released an album. Actually those reasons are this song. He remixed a song, adding the words of a speech written by Mary Schmich, and created this. A DJ on a syndicated radio show played it once and its popularity exploded from there. It hit number one in the UK but barely cracked the top 50 in the US. But it was still huge and a staple of graduations everywhere in 1999. Another big graduation song from 1999 was the creatively titled “Graduation (Friends Forever)” by Vitamin C.

#135 – Jewel – “Foolish Games” – (1995)

It’s kind of a toss-up between what the better Jewel song was from her 1995 album Pieces of You. The other two are “You Were Meant for Me” and “Who Will Save Your Soul” – actually, “Who Will Save Your Soul” might be my favorite of the three. Also Jewel related, this Scrubs quote when J.D. finds out that Elliot is living out of a moving truck: “Elliot! Come on! This is crazy – you’re living out of a van like a hobo… or Jewel.” Mean? Yes. Funny? Also yes. (If you don’t know the story, Jewel once lived out of her van). She had another hit in 1998 with “Hands.”

#136 – Céline Dion – “My Heart Will Go On” – (1997)

You know this was going to pop up eventually, after all Titanic is the biggest movie of all time. Plus, the song dominated the Grammys and won an Oscar – it was everywhere. Now, Céline Dion had numerous other hits during the 90s, none of which managed to make this list – but don’t worry, we’ll cover those once this list is over – because there are other things to talk about here. For instance, when this song hit number one and was insanely popular, there was a movie mix that was played on radio (and eventually released on the second Titanic soundtrack – yes, that’s right, they released another soundtrack). There was another semi-popular song from the first soundtrack, James Horner’s “Southampton” – and I swear I remember it having its own movie mix but I have not been able to find it anywhere. Speaking of movie mixes, I feel compelled to mention Bruce Springsteen’s “Secret Garden.” The Jerry Maguire movie mix was just as popular at the time. And while we’re talking about Bruce Springsteen songs from soundtracks from movies of the 1990s, I guess I could throw in “Streets of Philadelphia,” the Grammy and Oscar award winning song from the Tom Hanks film Philadelphia.

#137 – The Black Crowes – “Hard to Handle” – (1990)

“Hard to Handle” was the breakthrough hit for the Black Crowes and it was also their biggest mainstream hit. The song was originally written and released by Otis Redding back in the 60s. Without this song, and The Black Crowes in general, I don’t think we would have ever heard of Sublime or some of the other bigger alt rock bands of the 90s. Chris Robinson’s provides some of the best rock vocals of the decade, on this track and the others. Shake Your Money Maker also spawned two other lesser (in success) hits: the acoustic “She Talks To Angels” and very rock-y “Twice as Hard.”

#138 – Puff Daddy & The Family feat. Faith Evans & 112 – “I’ll Be Missing You” – (1997)

Puff Daddy (er, uh, Diddy) made a living in the 1990s by having hit singles that sample previous hit singles by other artists (I believe this is called the MC Hammer method… or Vanilla Ice… Kanye West… just pick about any hip-hop artist from the past 20 years). This time the victim was The Police and their song “Every Breath You Take.” But I’m not trying to knock this song down because it’s good song written in memory of the murder of the Notorious B.I.G. Puffy had another hit earlier that year with “Can’t Nobody Hold Me Down” – which is much less depressing and samples (heavily) from Grandmaster Flash’s “The Message” and some lyrics from Matthew Wilder’s “Break My Stride.” Too bad I can’t link to it on YouTube because it isn’t there. Sting must be keeping tabs on his copyrights.

#139 – Collective Soul – “The World I Know” – (1995)

I love strings in a rock song and I love Collective Soul. This is one of two songs on this list about possibly committing suicide by leaping off a building (all right, maybe that isn’t what the song is about, but it is what the music video is about and it’s kind of mentioned in the song)… I don’t know what that says about the list, or anything for that matter… I just thought that was interesting… kind of… all right, it’s not really interesting either. Great song, though.

#140 – The Smashing Pumpkins – “1979” – (1995)

It seems to me that everyone thinks “Bullet with Butterfly Wings” is the most genius song from Mr. Corgan & Co. but as much as I love hearing him incoherently scream about Bond villains and that, despite all his rage, ‘he is still just a rat in a cage’ I would have to admit that I like “1979” more – not necessarily a lot more, just more. It’s more pop-sounding but that isn’t always a terrible things. And Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness remains one of the all-time great album names.

#141 – Ace of Base – “The Sign” – (1993)

“The Sign” was single number two from the album of the same name. It hit #1 in America (where “All That She Wants” had failed to do; only making it to #2). They followed it up with “Don’t Turn Around” (#4) and two years later, their sound not having changed much at all, they hit #15 with “Beautiful Life.” Regardless, Ace of Base remains one of the most successful Europop artists ever to cross the Atlantic.

#142 – LFO – “Summer Girls” – (1999)

The “Lyte Funky Ones,” or, preferably, LFO (because then you don’t have to type or say “Lyte Funky Ones”) were how I learned of Abercrombie & Fitch. I can’t say I will thank them for that. Also, I know that Michael J. Fox portrayed Alex P. Keaton on Family Ties. Yes, this song might help you with random trivia. But I’ll give any song a shot if it is described as “containing numerous non sequiturs.” And that’s all it is: the lead singer just saying phrases that rhyme and have no tie-ins between them – and that’s why it’s great: because it shouldn’t be. What’s great about the video is that exemplifies late-90s fashion like few others. Late-90s fashion, as I know it, consists of solid color shirts and bleach-white cargo khakis, aka my current wardrobe 10 years later. It is also a prime example of late-90s music videos – just a bunch of youngish people hanging out dancing and not doing anything (or “being cool”). I think the earlier-mentioned Jordan Knight video qualifies here as well. LFO had another smaller hit that is only worth seeing if you want to see a boy-band try too hard: “Girl on TV.”

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