March 2012


#16 – Bush – “Glycerine” – (1994)

Sixteen Stone was one of the best rock albums of the decade. It came out in December of 1994 and it launched Bush as a major rock group in the immediate post-grunge era. As they were British, they never really fit into the grunge era that is so readily identified by American bands of the upper Northwest. This was the fourth single from the album (released as a single in late 1995) and it’s amazing. It’s a weird mix of alternative rock and slow-dance ballad. There are cellos where the drums should be. Gavin Rossdale’s lyric delivery is spot-on. (I was halfway through writing this post for “Comedown,” when I realized we’ve already featured that song… so go listen to it as well!). This was a #1 on the Modern Rock chart and #2 on the Mainstream Rock chart as well as being in the top 30 on the Hot 100.

#17 – Kid Rock – “Cowboy” – (1998)

Since “Bawitdaba” was on our 90s countdown, I had to substitute “Cowboy” in for it, not that it’s a bad song. It’s a great example of Kid Rock – a mixture of southern rock and hip-hop. Rap Rock, but without calling it Rap Rock. This was the follow-up single to “Bawitdaba” and it was a top ten hit on the Modern Rock chart (#11 on the Mainstream Rock chart). It missed hitting the Hot 100 by four positions. But it was all over TRL, with a music video featuring Gary Coleman and Ron Jeremy. The video also has a Smokey & the Bandit feel with the old, black Trans Am with poultry on the hood. All I can say, when I go back and watch it now, is that Kid Rock looks way more dignified now than he did then. Maybe it’s because he always wears sunglasses now and buttons his shirt. Buttoning your shirt can go a long way.

#18 – Sublime – “What I Got” – (1996)

Sublime has such a strong following to this day and if front man Bradley Nowell hadn’t died right before this album came out, Sublime might still be rocking it. This is one of two big hits from the album, which was the band’s third release (first on a major commercial label) and it really catapulted them into the mainstream. It was a #1 Modern Rock track as well as cracking the top 30 on the Hot 100 Airplay chart. The album was all over the place, stylistically, but this song is a mixture of alternative rock, ska and a little bit of hip-hop (lyrically). In other words: it’s awesome.

#19 – Kenny Wayne Shepherd – “Blue on Black” – (1997)

Blues rock is still rock. Kenny Wayne Shepherd was 20 years old when this song came out. He sounds much older. “Blue on Black” was a #1 on the Mainstream Rock chart and it still receives a fair amount of radio airplay on rock stations. This is just a completely badass song. And when that’s all I can come up with to say, I just post some lyrics: “Blue on black, tears on a river. Push on a shove, it don’t mean much. Joker on jack. Match on a fire. Cold on ice, a dead man’s touch. Whisper on a scream, doesn’t change a thing. Don’t bring you back. Blue on black.” And yeah,  technically, it’s the “Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band.” But whatever.

#20 – Live – “I Alone” – (1994)

Live is a good band name to give yourself if you want to make it somewhat difficult for people to search for you on the internet. Luckily, Wikipedia comes up first, but after that you’re gonna get all kinds of results for live music. Throwing Copper was a pretty big album and it included the amazing “Lightning Crashes” as well as “I Alone,” which was released as a single right before “Lightning Crashes.” It was a top ten on the Modern Rock chart and features lyrics that I had no idea were there, such as the lead-in to the chorus: “The greatest of teachers won’t hesitate to leave you there by yourself chained to fate.” Sure, that’s what he’s saying. That line would need some serious punctuation to fit how it is sung. Either way, good song.

#21 – Foo Fighters – “Everlong” – (1997)

Foo Fighters tracks don’t come better than this. Listen to those riffs. Hell, riffs don’t come much better than this. If any song has the ability to propel itself forward, it’s this. You can actually feel the song moving, it’s incredible. The Colour and the Shape (with the un-American extra “u”) is one of their best albums (okay, it might be the best). This is 90s rock at its best. Post-grunge too. AND, it has a music video by Michel Gondry.

#22 – Cracker – “Low” – (1993)

“Low” is a prime example of “post-grunge” music from the early-to-mid-90s. The guitar is kinda whiney, the lyrics sound like they are being sung by someone who is a little hung over (and still a little drunk) and angry. It’s a great song to belt along with because the somewhat raspy and quite loud (but not bad) voice of lead singer David Lowery will help drown out whatever you sound like. Plus it’s an intense rock song that you can really get into. “I’ll be with you girl, like being low, hey, hey, hey, like being stoned.” Go head, get into it.

#23 – Buckcherry – “Lit Up” – (1999)

Buckcherry used to be a badass hard rock band before they released the song “Sorry” in 2007, which ruined them forever in my mind (it was way overplayed on Top 40 radio). “Lit Up” was their first single and it received a fair amount of airplay back in 1999 – on rock stations. Gotta love a song whose primary lyrics include “I love the cocaine, I love the cocaine.” If you say “Buckcherry,” this is the song I think of. Rightfully so.

#24 – Oasis – “Slide Away” – (1994)

Yes, Oasis had bigger hits in the 90s, but we featured most of them during our big Top 200 of the 90s countdown. Plus, I love this song. So here it sits. It is from their debut album, Definitely Maybe and has all of the classic trademarks of an Oasis rock song: great lyrics written by Noel, throat-wrenching vocals delivered by Liam, and kickass music all around. Oh, and there was an argument while recording. This was never an official single but it is among the best songs they ever did. When “slide in baby together we’ll fly” is delivered, the song takes on an awesome groove and that is the part of the song that seals it for me. Take a listen and tell me if you disagree.

#25 – The Offspring – “Come Out and Play” – (1994)

This was the first big single from The Offspring, who would get even bigger as the 90s progressed, peaking in about 1998-99 with “Pretty Fly (For a White Guy)” – and by “peaking” I don’t mean “the best they’ll get,” I mean in popularity. Smash was their third album and “Come Out and Play” (sometimes referred to by the common lyric “keep ’em separated”) was their first #1 on the Modern Rock chart. The Offspring have had a number of big hits over the years and this is among the best of them.

#26 – Marilyn Manson – “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” – (1995)

The version of “Sweet Dreams” by the Eurythmics is a staple of 80s pop radio. So when someone (who looks as he does in the photo at left) comes along to remake it, purists will no doubt freak out. As strange as Marilyn Manson looks and as strange as the antics of the band on stage and their music, I have to admit that this version of this song is pretty awesome. It’s not terrible. They didn’t butcher an 80s classic – they made their own version of it. The lyrics differ a little here and there but the style of its performance is different. They really shouldn’t be compared (although it’s inevitable). I guess this might be the song they are most known for by people outside of the realm of Marilyn Manson.

#27 – Garbage – “Stupid Girl” – (1995)

Released as a single in March of 1996, “Stupid Girl” where it became more or less immediately popular, reaching #2 on the Modern Rock chart and #5 on the Hot Dance Music chart. It has that very 90s mix of alternative rock and electronica. Shirley Manson’s awesome vocals (and not just on this track) were possibly the best female rock vocals of the decade. This track includes a sample of The Clash’s “Train in Vain” but I’ve always found it difficult to hear. Why pick apart a good song?

#28 – Guns N’ Roses – “You Could Be Mine” – (1991)

Yes, I realize “November Rain” came out on Use Your Illusion I, also in 1991, but let’s be honest: as a “rock” song, it kind of sucks. It’s an 8+ minute ballad with sounds of water in it. This is way more upbeat, and for the purpose of this countdown, better. GNR released two albums on the same day, more or less a double album: Use Your Illusion I & Use Your Illusion II. This was the first single from either of the two and the song appeared in Terminator 2: Judgment Day. Arnold Schwarzenegger is even in the music video (I spelled his name right on the first try, without looking!). Grunge was in full swing about this time and music like this was going away but Axl, Slash & Co managed to slip one more 80s hard rock song past us.

#29 – Rob Zombie – “Dragula” – (1998)

I don’t listen to near the amount of rock music like this that I used to, but damn, I love this song. It charted okay in the U.S. but where I remember hearing this most was in video games – back in the late 90s this appeared on multiple popular titles including Twisted Metal 4, and more iconically (in my mind), in Gran Turismo 2. Dragula is the name of a car from the TV show The Munsters – it and The Munster Coach were built by legendary car builder George Barris. It’s basically a coffin with a huge V8 sitting out front – which is perfect for Rob Zombie. It’s weird, but I don’t know of an artist whose songs align more with their image than Rob Zombie – his songs are about death, the undead, and freakish things like that. But this is the best.

#30 – Stone Temple Pilots – “Creep” – (1992)

This was actually a hard one. Core was STP’s debut album and it is packed with awesome 90s rock songs. “Take time with a wounded hand, cause it likes to heal” is the lyric that stands out the most, other than “I’m half the man I used to be.” Do they even say “creep” in this song? This song is more ballad-like than some of the others but I just really like it. Stone Temple Pilots are one of my favorite bands of the era and they don’t always come up in talks about “grunge bands” but they should because this is a hell of an album that came out right in the midst of the grunge era.

#31 – AC/DC – “Thunderstruck” – (1990)

One of AC/DC’s best songs and, without a doubt, one of the greatest guitar riffs of all time. Watch the video and watch Angus Young hop across the stage tearing it up. And Brian Johnson up there going “Ooohhhh.” But it’s the beginning of this song that cements its place as a rock and roll legend. “Thunder!” as the guitar just keeps building and building. It’s kind of a carryover from the 80s but it was technically released in 1990, which is why it’s here. But, honestly, it’s timeless.

#32 – Blink-182 – “What’s My Age Again?” – (1999)

This is, hands down, my favorite Blink-182 song. It’s upbeat and definitely more pop-punk than straight punk (which I prefer). This was the first single from Blink that really showed you where they were headed and what they were going to do. There are lyrics in the jokes – well the album title is a great joke in itself (Enema of the State). It’s about growing up but acting like a kid – which is pretty much what Blink-182 was all about. Or at least they were back when this was a regular on TRL. Another great song from 1999.

#33 – Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers – “Mary Jane’s Last Dance” – (1993)

Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers’ 1993 Greatest Hits album would be a great album to own considering all of the hits that were contained on it (including Petty’s solo stuff from Full Moon Fever). But then add one of the greatest songs Tom Petty ever did as a brand new track. It has a blues-rock feeling but throw in the reminiscing and nostalgia that the lyrics contain and you get a mid-western, almost Mellencamp-y, feel. Some people like this because they say “Mary Jane”… and I’m sure these same people giggle and snicker because they think they are being sneaky talking about drugs. Well, whatever it’s about, it has a great vibe – although the music video, where Tom Petty (morgue assistant) brings home a dead body (Kim Basinger) and keeps her around the house Weekend at Bernie’s-style.

#34 – Red Hot Chili Peppers – “Give it Away” – (1991)

This was a tough one. It was obvious that the Chili Peppers were going to be on this countdown somewhere but with there only being room for one of their songs, it became a toss-up between this, from 1991’s Blood Sugar Sex Magik or “Otherside” from Californication, which was released in 1999. This one won out mostly because “Otherside” didn’t come out as a single until 2000. Plus, this song – and it’s weird black and white Flintstones-esque music video (I’m not sure why I’ve always made that connection) – is way more reminiscent of why RHCP were popular in the 1990s.

#35 – Seven Mary Three – “Cumbersome” – (1995)

“I have become cumbersome to my girl – too heavy too light, too black or too white, too wrong or too right…” The first single from Virginia-based post-grunge rock band Seven Mary Three was their biggest. This song topped the Mainstream Rock chart and continues to receive a fair amount of airplay today. In fact, as recently as 2005 I remember hearing this song so frequently on rock radio stations that, had I not know, would have assumed that it was a brand new track.

#36 – Godsmack – “Voodoo” – (1998)

This album (their self-titled debut) came out in 1998 even though this song was released as a single until early 2000. It’s one of the top two Godsmack songs, in my opinion. I think this is Sully Erna’s best vocal performance. Rarely do a song title and the feel of the song match up so well as it does here. There is a distinctly creepy and supernatural feel to the music, lyrics and the overall vibe of this track.

#37 – The Black Crowes – “Twice as Hard” – (1990)

The distortion in this song aligns it more with hard rock or classic rock but with a bluesy feeling. It could have come out 25 years earlier. This was the third single from their debut album Shake Your Money Maker. For the longest time I never knew he was saying “twice as hard” but something like “twice is my fault.” I was wrong. We featured the biggest song from that album on our 90s countdown (“Hard to Handle“). At first, I thought that would’ve been the ideal song for this list had we not already used it (we’re not in the habit of repeating songs) – but it turns out that this one is definitely rock-y enough for this list. It’s some sweet southern rock.