Highlights: Neutral Milk Hotel, Yo La Tengo, Elliott Smith, and Tool. Bonus: More Remembering Headbangers Ball. Also I read Lance Armstrong’s autobiography and lived to write about it.
Okay, this next segment is quite a doozy, and I don’t have a lot of good things to say about it. It features one of my most-loathed bands of all time, and a host of other sub-par picks, so let’s dive in.
Some of you might be asking what have I done to prepare for the final word on such a list, and I will have you all know that I have as of late re-watched all the seasons of Seinfeld to get myself in the right frame of mind; I am wearing a t-shirt and boxers as outwear, and on Sunday, I re-watched Point Break (it holds up).
6. One – U2 (Achtung Baby, 1991, Island)
U2 has absolutely no business being on this list. By 1990, they had like 4 hit records, played at Live Aid, a movie and a double album based on the movie. Their inclusion on any list regarding “alternative” anything is astonishingly oxymoronic.
Also, I do not like them, but it doesn’t matter because again they do not belong here.
Final Verdict: No. Every song I have ever heard by U2 sounds like a song you are kind of supposed to like, maybe even want to like, but just winds up annoying you.
Replace With: Initially, I was going to try to limit to only songs from the 1990s that I knew in the 1990s, and not later but I broke that rule with the very first song.
So, let’s bump Bono the f off of here with one of my favorite bands Neutral Milk Hotel – Everything Is from The Hype City Soundtrack (1993, The Egg as a Whole Music). I have never found an actual copy of this soundtrack, but it is really good and on YouTube.
7. Basket Case – Green Day (Dookie, 1994, Reprise)
This one is a tough call because I really loved this album at the time, but I don’t like them anymore. Before this album came out, I had probably heard a few of their songs and knew that they had toured with Bad Religion. They had skateboard park approval as far as I know (I do not skateboard, but as I told you in yesterday’s post, I had reason to be interested in their opinions and spent a stupid amount of time at skateparks, but I suppose anything was better than being home). Anyway, before this album, they seemed like a palatable enough band.
In the summer of 1994, I listened to this album a lot with my friend Amanda. A lot, a lot. I can barely recall listening to anything else, except maybe also a NOFX dubbed cassette tape that someone must have made for me. Possibly my friend Maryann.
They were on MTV and obviously very popular, and then they were huge and no self-respecting alterna-teen would be caught dead listening to them by October. And so it remained. I think Billy Joe Armstrong’s voice is pretty annoying now, but I do remember digging it.
P.S. I rediscovered the song She. Oh my god, this song spoke to me in 10th grade. I loved this song, I must give it its proper due. I still like it, but mostly for the nostalgia, it brings.
Final Verdict: Fine, but again, please remember that in real-time, they got way too big to be cool. This was very important to us for some reason.
Better: Yo La Tengo – Sugarcube (I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One, 1997, Matador Records)
8. Under the Bridge – Red Hot Chili Peppers (Blood Sugar Sex Magik, 1991, Warner Bros.)
Another tough one. I really loved the album Blood Sugar Sex Magik, though the misspelling has always bothered me. I have never liked this song. Other than this song, I would listen to them now if I heard them on the radio, but never really otherwise. Anthony Kiedis was excellent in Point Break.
Oh, negative points for the nauseating Rolling Stone cover where they are all wearing just socks on their junk. I would confirm it was Rolling Stone, but then I would also have to see the picture again, so apologies if the reference is incorrect.
Final Verdict: No. I don’t like this song. I didn’t like it then, and I don’t like it now. I think songs from then that I did not like make me so angry because I heard them so many times. The thing my children will never understand is that we just watched MTV, whether we liked the music video that was playing or not. We just waited them out. Kind of like how we just read shit that was there, which is also how I happened to read the autobiography of Lance Armstrong. The whole thing. I can’t explain.
Better: Elliott Smith – The Biggest Lie I hesitate to put this in here so early, because I think it is one of the most heartbreaking songs ever written, and I could not tell you how many likely thousands of times I have listened to it. It probably deserved a better setup, but I search randomly through a group of albums I have written down for this, so here you are and you’re welcome.
9. Been Caught Stealing – Jane’s Addiction (Ritual de lo Habitual, 1990, Warner Bros.)
Jane’s Addiction is kick-ass. You may have noticed yesterday that I mentioned watching Headbangers Ball? My relationship with music had some weird phases. I definitely remember listening to 45s in between Disney Storytime Records and being young enough to not understand why my parents laughed at us when we sang along with The Horny Toad, the B-side of Prince’s single Delirious.
I was absolutely too young to see Flashdance, but somehow I did and loved it (doesn’t every 6-year-old kind of want to become a pseudo-stripper dancer?) I know in second grade, I had Purple Rain on cassette and sang all the words to Darling Nikki on a Walkman as big as my head while cleaning my room and having absolutely no idea what they meant.
By the time Guns ‘n Roses jumped on the scene in the late 1980s, I was sold. I was in upper elementary school and I fucking loved hair metal. And some older stuff, mostly Aerosmith and AC/DC. Back in Black was a morning bus ride staple. My Walkman only had one button, and now I can’t remember if it was rewind or fast forward.
Anyway, I used to set my alarm clock to watch Headbangers Ball, and, yes, my family still makes fun of me for this. This is a very long-winded way of telling you that I bought the Ritual de lo Habitual CD in the 6th grade, and when my music preferences changed wildly over the next few years, this was the only CD that made the cut (don’t worry a number of tapes did as well).
Final Verdict: Just like the one above, I like the band, I never loved this song in particular. It was a cool music video though from what I remember. Almost any other song on the album is better, and I am not trying to be smug about it. Them’s just the facts.
Instead: Undertow – Tool (Undertow, 1993, Zoo Entertainment)
Up next: Pearl Jam
This one’s gonna need a new post.