AC/DC – “Ballbreaker” – (1995)

“Ballbreaker” was the title (and final) track on AC/DC’s 1995 album. This is the only song I’ve ever heard from this album, and it was never a single (the album had three singles and only one of them charted). In any case, this is not AC/DC’s best work – but the album is still certified 2x platinum (that’s over two million sales) by the RIAA. Which is crazy. AC/DC is one of the biggest selling musical acts in history and it’s no wonder – whatever they put out people buy.

Rob Zombie – “Feel So Numb” – (2001)

I used to be a big Rob Zombie fan. Can’t quite explain why now. I couldn’t even tell you when the last album was that he released. For all I know, this was it (just checked, it isn’t). This album only had one official single, yet I seem to have half the album. This was a “promotional single” that I definitely recall hearing on rock radio a little over 10 years ago. I think the reason I like his music is that, for being hard rock, most songs seem to usually have a cool groove to them. Yeah, his lyrical delivery is more akin to yelling than singing, but the songs all feature some cool element in them.

Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers – “Jefferson Jericho Blues” – (2010)

Mojo was the first studio album by Tom Petty with The Heartbreakers since 2002. It is also the first album since 1981 to feature the band’s original bassist on every track. The album isn’t along the lines of previous Petty albums, as it is primarily blues-based. This is the first track on the album and it’s a good one. People may say Petty peaked in the 80s or 90s – but songs like this show he is a true rocker, capable of producing solid rock tracks – good music – and will hopefully continue to do so for many years to come.

Dog’s Eye View – “Everything Falls Apart” – (1995)

Dog’s Eye View was a one-hit wonder in the immediate post-grunge alternative rock scene. You don’t hear this on the radio anymore but you used to hear it all the time in the mid-to-late-90s. The lyrics are really good and their delivery is even better. And the music just screams of the era. If you’re a fan of The Wallflowers, the Counting Crows, the Gin Blossoms or any similar band – then this is a song you must hear. You’ll remember it.

Aerosmith – “What It Takes” – (1989)

It’s not that the song is terrible – it isn’t – but it certainly isn’t my favorite and I wouldn’t say I enjoy listening to it. I think it has mostly to do with the fact that it’s from a period of rock music that I don’t necessarily enjoy. Not the high point of rock and roll, the late 80s. This also wasn’t the high point for Aerosmith. We’ll call it an “average” Aerosmith tune.

Also, this is Aerosmith week (not an official holiday)! An 80s track on Monday. A 90s track on Wednesday. And something newer than that on Friday. Enjoy.

#1 – Nirvana – “Lithium” – (1991)

I’m wondering, if Nirvana knew how big this album would turn out to be, would they have changed the album cover at all? It’s not the content, but look at the typeface of “Nevermind.” It looks incredibly cheap, like this album was made in someone’s basement. Maybe it looked okay at the time, but it certainly hasn’t aged well. I guess it’s kind of irrelevant seeing how timeless this album has become. I’ve known a few gigantic Nirvana fans in my life and every one of them has called this their favorite song from the band. And I have to agree. There’s a lot of Kurt just yelling “Yeah!” over and over, dragging it out and such. The rest of the lyrics are pretty good too, “I’m so happy ’cause today I found my friends – they’re in my head. I’m ugly but that’s okay ’cause so are you.”

Nirvana was the biggest thing – and most important thing – in rock music in the 1990s. This might not be their signature song but it’s damned fine and a great example of their work. What an era grunge was. To have been in the Pacific Northwest in the early 1990s must’ve been one hell of a time.

#2 – Metallica – “Enter Sandman” – (1991)

While grunge was gaining steam and becoming the newest form of popular music, good old heavy metal was coming down off of its hair-crazed 80s-ness and resuming just being heavy and metallic. This is one of Metallica’s most popular songs and if you come across someone that has never been introduced to the music of Metallica, this is the song to send them to as it is the perfect introductory course. It hit #10 on the Mainstream Rock chart and then it went mainstream, hitting #16 on the Hot 100 and #1 in countries such as Canada, Finland and Norway. The song itself is about children’s nightmares. There is an eerie part where a kid is saying his bedtime prayers, and then the lyrics turn a lullaby into this: “Hush little baby, don’t say a word. And never mind that noise you heard. It’s just the beasts under your bed, in your closet and in your head.” And then right on into the chorus, “Exit light, enter night. Take my hand, we’re off to never never land.”

#3 – Toadies – “Possum Kingdom” – (1994)

I don’t think rock songs can get much better than this. What riffs! This song seriously rocks. “Don’t be afraid, I didn’t mean to scare you. So help me Jesus.” This is the Toadies’ most well-known song and it was a top ten on the Mainstream and Modern Rock chart. It just keeps building and building as the song goes – or at least it seems like it does, which is a good thing for a heavy grunge song such as this. You get the feeling that it’s going to explode at some point. The Toadies aren’t household names like the artists with the top two songs on the lists, but the song stands right there with them.

#4 – Smashing Pumpkins – “Bullet with Butterfly Wings” – (1995)

This is the most well-known song from the Smashing Pumpkins. Starting with the lyrics: “The world is a vampire” and continuing through the chorus, “despite all my rage I’m still just a rat in a cage.” It was the lead single from the fun sounding album Mellon Collie & the Infinite Sadness, hitting #22 on the Hot 100 and becoming a top five hit on the Mainstream and Modern Rock charts. This song appears on multiple “Top Lists” from the likes of VH1 and Rolling Stone. There’s no denying it’s an awesome song and one of the best rock songs of the decade.

#5 – Soundgarden – “Spoonman” – (1994)

“Feel the rhythm with your hands – steal the rhythm while you can. Spoonman” This was the first single from Superunknown, Soundgarden’s best album. This album had their biggest hits and “Spoonman” was among them, hitting #3 on the Mainstream Rock chart and #9 on the Modern Rock chart, helping establish Soundgarden as a legitimate mainstream rock band. The song is about a guy who plays the spoons and there used to be such a guy here locally who was quite old and quite well-known in certain parts of town – and I became familiar with him about the time this song was popular. You don’t see many people playing the spoons anymore – and even less do you hear grunge songs written about them.

#7 – Pearl Jam – “Jeremy” – (1991)

Pearl Jam’s Ten is one of the seminal albums of the 1990s. And this is one of Pearl Jam’s signature songs. It was a top five hit on the Mainstream and Modern Rock charts and – because of the content, caused a bit of controversy when it came out. The song was written after Eddie Vedder saw a story about a 15-year-old boy who killed himself in front of his class in Texas. The video takes places in a school and the ending had to be edited and it becomes vague as to what happens – whether he (“King Jeremy the Wicked”) shoots his classmates or himself. After the 1999 Columbine school shooting, MTV more or less hid this video away. But it’s still a great song and a brilliant example as to why Pearl Jam is rock royalty.

#8 – The Cranberries – “Zombie” – (1994)

Dolores O’Riordan’s voice is unmatched when it comes to female rock vocalists of the 90s. This song is why. This was the band’s follow-up single to their hugely popular hits “Dreams” and “Linger.” This song was also less pop-y and more grunge than the previous two. Thus it hit #1 on the Modern Rock chart but was also a top 20 hit on the Top 40 Mainstream chart. In other words, it was a big hit and it is intensely kick-ass. Lyrics: “It’s the same old theme since 1916. In your head, in your head they’re still fighting. With their tanks and their bombs and their bombs and their guns. In your head , in your head they are dying.”

#10 – Radiohead – “Karma Police” – (1997)

Originally, I had “Creep” at this place on the list. Then I realized, “why do I have ‘Creep’ on the list when ‘Karma Police’ is eligible?” Damn good question, self. I’ve never been a big Radiohead fan, and my knowledge of their music catalog is limited. But this is a brilliant song and further proof that the best rock songs come from England. You can hear Oasis in this song if you listen and you can also hear Coldplay (if you’re a Radiohead nut, please ignore that sentence). It’s quintessentially British in composition. It’s haunting and powerful and it rocks. It was a top ten in the U.K. and a top 20 hit in the U.S. (on the Modern Rock chart). It wasn’t huge but it’s widely recognized as great – and rightfully so.

#12 – Nine Inch Nails – “Closer” – (1994)

Parental Advisory, indeed. A couple of days ago I talked about certain people feeling the need to censor music to protect others. Well, it’s because of songs like this. Any song that whose chorus exists mostly of “I want to f*** you like an animal” is bound to draw the ire of over-protective parents, or, well, just parents in general. If you want an introduction to industrial rock, this is as good as it gets. Trent Reznor, the go-to man for recent Oscar-winning film scores, is the man behind Nine Inch Nails and this was his biggest hit. In fact, I recently heard a heavily-edited version of this song on a “mix” radio station not too long ago. It was sandwiched in between something like Ace of Base and Duran Duran, which was weird. The music video raised even more hell than the song, which is why you need to log in to YouTube to view it. At any rate, this song is completely badass.

#13 – Rage Against the Machine – “Guerrilla Radio” – (1999)

Grammy Award-winning “Guerrilla Radio” was the first of three big singles from The Battle of Los Angeles. Rage Against the Machine was a pretty political band and I’m sure there is some fine meaning behind this, but I don’t care enough to figure it out. Rage only released one album after this, but this was their final album of original songs and this was the best of them.

#14 – Beck – “Loser” – (1994)

“Loser” was originally released independently by Beck but once it got picked up on the radio Beck received a record deal and the song was released again, which catapulted it to #10 on the Hot 100 and #1 on the Modern Rock chart. It was Beck’s first single of note and it made him a huge star (it also remains his biggest hit to date). The song sounds really simple musically and Beck’s monotone rapping really offsets it. “I’m a loser, so why don’t you kill me,” might stand as one of the most un-inspiring lyrics of all time.

#15 – Limp Bizkit – “Break Stuff” – (1999)

Limp Bizkit was huge at the end of the 1990s. I don’t remember hearing their music much on the radio (not this album, anyway) and especially not this song, which is packed full of profanity. Censoring music isn’t something I enjoy (I loathe it). I can see why people want to do it – all in the name of “protecting” the youth. Whatever, this is a song that you must listen to uncensored. It’s so angry and it was the ultimate pump-you-up song to listen to before sports games. It still works, too. Fred Durst just yelling about having a bad day is a great thing. You can totally relate and on days like that, this is the perfect song to listen to. You couldn’t find bigger rock stars in 1999 than Limp Bizkit and this remains my favorite song of theirs. The music video has a bunch of cameos from people popular in the day, like Seth Green and Pauly Shore.

#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.