February 2012

#38 – Supergrass – “Pumping On Your Stereo” – (1999)

Supergrass was a British alternative rock band and this was their biggest charting single – in that it charted on the most charts, although not in the U.S. I do, however, distinctly remember seeing the crazy music video on MTV and MTV2 back when it was released. It’s a pretty kick-ass song. I’m not sure what it means, unless “pumping” is some kind of weird British slang meaning “rocking.” But I’m no linguist. Oh, and Happy Leap Year!

#39 – INXS – “Elegantly Wasted” – (1997)

INXS had some massive hits in the 80s. Some of them are great songs but whenever I hear this one I can’t help but think “this is the best of them” – even though I have similar thoughts upon hearing the ones from the previous decade. Michael Hutchence was a rock star and Elegantly Wasted was the final album released before his death in 1997. This song was a hell of a way to go out. The lyrics are delivered… well, awesomely. To take the phrase “I am elegantly wasted” and draw it out as done in the chorus of this song takes true talent. I couldn’t come up with that. Fun fact: Hutchence had an argument with Liam Gallagher (of Oasis, who apparently just liked to argue) prior to finishing this song. So he went back into the studio and recorded some more vocals for the chorus that said “I am better than Oasis” – which you can kind of hear it you listen to it. This song is really good – I hope for your sake that you give it a chance if you haven’t already.

#40 – Blur – “Song 2” – (1997)

Talk about creative song titles. This is one of those songs that you’ve probably heard more in licensed form than on the radio. It’s been in movies, TV shows, video games, commercials. You name it. It’s a two minute alternative rock song with a catchy “chorus” consisting mostly of “woo-hoo.” Blur is definitely more popular in the U.K. than in the U.S. and this is their best-known song stateside – a top ten on the Modern Rock chart while it was #2 on the U.K. Singles chart.

#41 – Crazy Town – “Butterfly” – (1999)

Hey, man, what the hell – this song hit #1 in 2001. Yeah, yeah. But this album was released in 1999. You could say that this song totally doesn’t belong here but whatever I’m calling it a “grey area” and leaving it here. I do remember it more for its post-2000 radio play, but at the same time, in my mind, the 90s continued on up until September 11, 2001. That’s when the fun of the 90s kind of ended. And this was a #1 in March of 2001… within the year and a half of leftover 90s that were 2000 and 2001. Crazy Town popped up near the end of the popularity of rap rock or nu metal – genres more or less owned in those days by Limp Bizkit – but Fred Durst never had a #1 hit.

#42 – Aerosmith – “Cryin’” – (1993)

This list is simply titled “rock songs” and we’re going all over the rock genre: from synthpop to bluesy power ballad. Check that, a bluesy power ballad with Alicia Silverstone in the music video. I’ll be honest, I don’t particularly enjoy listening to this song. “So why’d you pick it?” Well, “Livin’ on the Edge” sounds like it’s from the 80s, “Crazy” is even worse, and anything from later in the decade doesn’t have the same Aerosmith feel to it that these early-90s songs do. And Aerosmith needed to be represented on this list – they were major artists in the decade (we used “I Don’t’ Want to Miss a Thing” on the other countdown). You know who else is in this video? Sawyer from Lost.

#43 – Depeche Mode – “Policy of Truth” – (1990)

This is one of Depeche Mode’s best songs. Actually, it might be their best. It’s the only Depeche Mode song to chart higher in the U.S. than in the U.K. (by one position). Do yourself a favor and click that YouTube link above and enjoy the awesomeness that is this song. Depeche Mode is listed on Wikipedia as an “alternative dance, synthpop, and new wave” band. I’ll give them “electronic” but their songs – and this one in particular – sound heavy enough that I’d consider them rock. New Wave was a kind of rock. Then again, it was #1 on the Modern Rock chart. Aha! Vindication!

#44 – Orgy – “Stitches” – (1998)

“Stitches” was actually the first single by Orgy, but it didn’t’ go anywhere. Then they covered “Blue Monday” – which went wild – and they re-released “Stitches” as the follow-up single to “Blue Monday” and it performed better the second time around. It was a success enough to film a music video of it which was popular enough to hand around on TRL for a while. Yeah, “Blue Monday” is way better but that was on our 90s countdown. It’s just one of those late decade rock songs that is tied to good memories, better days, and all that.

#45 – Candlebox – “Far Behind” – (1993)

This early post-grunge (that’s really breaking it down, isn’t it?) song was, statistically, Candlebox’s biggest hit, charting in the top 20 on the Hot 100. As was our #48 song – er, make that band (Temple of the Dog), “Far Behind” is also a tribute song to Andrew Wood. Candlebox was formed in Seattle in 1991 during the height of grunge so it’s no surprise that they were successful. I think anyone in Seattle could have formed a band between 1989 and 1992 and they would have found success – not to take away from those who did. The self-titled Candlebox album was their largest, going Platinum 4x.

#46 – Korn – “Falling Away From Me” – (1999)

Korn’s Issues was released near the end of 1999 and this was the album’s first single. It’s awesome. So is the music video. This was the follow-up single to “Freak on a Leash” which has one of the best music videos of all time and this one, while not nearly as cool, is still pretty good and I distinctly remember it owning TRL for a little bit – the mark of any successful song from 1999. Actually, the video was directed by Fred Durst of Limp Bizkit. This song came out during a time when TRL (the then-current barometer for music popularity) featured songs from bubblegum Britney Spears backed up against alternative metal songs like this. It was an interesting (and awesome) time to be a music fan. Korn rocks.

#47 – The Cure – “Friday, I’m in Love” – (1992)

Well this is a big change, style-wise, from the past three songs. We’ve gone from punk to metal to grunge to… whatever The Cure is. I’m not a huge fan of The Cure, Robert Smith is just too weird and most of their songs are kind of whiney. However, “Friday, I’m in Love” is an amazing song that I’ve always loved. The Cure is a rock group and this is an alternative rock song so it is eligible for this list – but yeah, it does sound like pop music. “I don’t care if Monday’s black. Tuesday, Wednesday – heart attack. Thursday, never looking back. It’s Friday, I’m in love.”

#48 – Temple of the Dog – “Hunger Strike” – (1991)

Temple of the Dog was kind of a grunge super-group. It featured Chris Cornell of Soundgarden, Mike McCready, Jeff Ament, Stone Gossard and Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam. And Matt Cameron (of both bands). The group released one album in 1991 and was conceived as a tribute to the late Andrew Wood, the lead singer of Mother Love Bone. Of course, when this album came out, no one really knew who Pearl Jam was yet. And no one really knew who Temple of the Dog was until Pearl Jam broke through in 1992. “Hunger Strike” is the best known and highest charting of the songs from this album (although, not necessarily the best). It’s actually a duet between Chris Cornell and Eddie Vedder (which is a pretty awesome thing, as both can really belt out some lyrics).

#49 – White Zombie – “More Human than Human” – (1995)

White Zombie was a heavy metal band fronted by Rob Zombie and this is their best-known song. Again, this song charted in the top 10 on both American rock charts (I sense this will be a continuing trend so I’ll go ahead and explain the difference: the Mainstream Rock chart charts songs played on radio stations that play primarily rock. It’s been around since 1981. The Modern Rock chart (now called “Alternative Songs”) is somehow different, listing the Top 40 most-played songs on modern rock radio stations. The difference is pretty thin, but I guess it’s there). Anyway, this is about as heavy as our chart is going to get (sorry, no Slipknot) and this song has been featured in many movies and TV shows such as the 90s movies The Cable Guy and Can’t Hardly Wait. Yes, we realize this is a strange song to publish on Valentine’s Day.

#50 – Green Day – “Brain Stew” – (1995)

Green Day more or less carried the mainstream punk rock flag through the 90s. Yeah, they had help from The Offspring and, later, Blink 182, but as far as commercial success goes, Green Day wins the war. Insomniac wasn’t the first album from Green Day that had commercial success (that would have been Dookie the previous year) – in fact, “Brain Stew” was the only track of note from this album (go ahead, Green Day fans, tell me why I’m wrong). “Brain Stew” received a fair amount of airplay, becoming a top ten hit on two different rock charts (Mainstream and Modern).

So yes, we’re on another countdown. It’s the Top 50 Rock Songs of the 90s. Over the next 10 weeks we’ll be counting down 50 rock songs from 50 different artists (yes entry on the list per artist, again). We’ll be looking at different kinds of rock – grunge, metal, some heavier rock, some pop-ier rock, some from bands associated with the 80s, some punk and some one-hit wonders. And none of these songs will be repeats from out Top 200 of the 90s list.

Tom Petty – “Saving Grace” – (2006)

Tom Petty’s 2000s offerings aren’t as well known as his earlier work and I had it narrowed down between two songs to feature today. I went with “Saving Grace” because it was from Petty’s third (and most recent) solo album, Highway Companion. So this week we’ve featured a track from every Tom Petty solo album, coincidentally they all fell perfectly within out 80s/90s/Present split. “Saving Grace” starts out with a very George Thorogood-feel to it and then you hear Petty’s voice which definitely sounds as if it has aged a fair amount even since 1994. This song cracked the Hot 100 – hitting #100. It was also an almost Top 25 hit (#26) on the Mainstream Rock chart. It just screams Old School in a very cool way. Sorry, Heartbreakers, perhaps we’ll have a Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers week soon.

Tom Petty – “You Wreck Me” – (1994)

Well, I guess it’s Tom Petty week this week and this is our 1990s entry (if you haven’t noticed, lately Monday has been an 80s tune, Wednesday is from the 90s, and Friday has been a track from 2000+). Wildflowers was another Petty solo album and “You Wreck Me” wasn’t the biggest single from the album but it’s a pretty good one that is kind of the standard Petty fare.

Tom Petty – “I Won’t Back Down” – (1989)

Full Moon Fever was a solo album (meaning sans The Heartbreakers) and it contained some of Tom Petty’s most famous songs. This is among them. This song was written by Petty and co-Wilbury Jeff Lynne. Actually, Lynne and George Harrison both provided backing vocals as well as additional guitar, making this a 3/5 Wilbury tune. Every now and then this song pops up in America for reasons of Nationalism (9/11) or during Presidential campaigns (which is kind of annoying). It’s one of those songs that everyone has probably heard and it’s one of the best tracks from Full Moon Fever.

Staind – “Fade” – (2001)

Staind was (are they still around?) the band fronted by Aaron Lewis – the apparent protégé of Fred Durst. Well Staind put out an album in 2001 called Break The Cycle and if the cycle was “Releasing Every Track as a Single” then Staind most certainly did not break the cycle (okay, only five of 13 tracks were singles, with at least six of them receiving radio airplay – so they aren’t Linkin Park or anybody). But it seemed like track after track kept coming out. “Fade” was the third single and it was pretty good – better than most but not necessarily the best. It was a Top 5 track on two different U.S. rock charts. Staind received some crossover airplay on mainstream stations and this song would have been on the fringe of that at best. It’s a decent example of early-2000s rock.

Scatman John – “Scatman (Ski Ba Bop Ba Dop Bop)” – (1995)

Well, I hope you aren’t easily annoyed. This is the most famous song by Scatman John (born John Paul Larkin) who came up with the idea to combine scatting with mid-90s electronica. The lyrics (there are lyrics other than “be bop do boo do bop”) deal mostly with stuttering and how to turn it into being able to sing really fast and make up sounds as you go. After a few radio stations picked it up, sales spread and it hit #1 in a handful of European countries and was a top ten dance track in the U.S. “If the Scatman can do it, then so can you.”