Highlights: Neutral Milk Hotel, Yo La Tengo, Elliott Smith, and Tool. Bonus: More Remembering Headbangers Ball
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.
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?)
dedicated to votaries
miserable, and suspicious
of the absurd, beautiful,
obscure history, superstition, and satire
On Watching Headbangers Ball
as a Fifth Grader, and Other Topics
This list needs help. A lot of help.
This list. Christ, this list. It’s bad. It’s really, really bad. I mean, the eyeballs of my sixteen-year-old self would not be recoverable, they would have rolled back so hard. It’s not alllll bad but collectively, it sucks. It’s also really long, so I guess I am going to have to screenshot it. I am too lazy to type out all of these shitty songs and give them even that much more legitimacy. We can deal with them in chunks, shall we?
1. Smells Like Teen Spirit – Nirvana (Nevermind, 1991, DCG Records)
Okay, so I know I am probably literally quoting Jack Black’s character from High Fidelity here (a character I very much identified with btw), but come on. It’s a little obvious no? It’s a good song sure, but there are better ones. I like Nirvana. I liked them then, and I still like them (not so much on Foo Fighters though, my apologies. Dave Grohl seems like a truly wonderful human). I bought Nevermind on cassette tape in the 7th grade sometime after this video came out. I watched Headbangers Ball, and I remember them being on it, and that Kurt Cobain wore a ballgown in a joke that seemed kind of lost on the host, and probably most of the at-home audience. That seemed as good a reason as any to spend what little money I had on their album. Music was the only thing I ever spent money on. I guess I used to babysit because I can’t think of any other way I had any at all. There is no way my parents would have given me money to buy records. I don’t know.
Anyway, I liked Nirvana, and for a couple of years, I loved them because the boy I loved from 8th grade, all of my high school years, and probably a few years after that even, loved them. Incidentally, one of the only letters I have ever received that would approximate a love letter even quotes a Nirvana song. I still have it. I was always writing him these long, intense letters asking why he would not give me the attention I so craved the answer, as painfully obvious then as it is now, was that I was fourth on a list of priorities that ranked as follows: drugs, skateboarding, other girls). When In Utero came out in 1993, I spent a lot of time listening to it on CD in his garage bedroom in Belgrade, Maine. Listening to this CD, smoking cigarettes, losing my virginity, and getting high. Oh, wasted youth. Anyway, in the letter he wrote out the lyrics Swap Meet, which after all is said and done, I still think was absolutely perfectly ninth grade, and rather sweet.
Final Verdict: Yes, good song but there are better, less played ones.
Better: You Know You’re Right*
*I know this is cheating a bit, but obviously it was recorded in the 1990s, 1994 specifically.
2. Loser – Beck (Mellow Gold, 1994, DCG Records)
Okay, also a good song. I always preferred the shit kickin’, speed takin’ Truck Drivin’ Neighbors Downstairs, and if I had complete power of this iTunes list, I would pick someone else all together. With this in mind:
3. Spiderwebs – No Doubt (Tragic Kingdom, 1995, Trauma Records and Interscope Records)
4. Creep – Radiohead (Pablo Honey, 1993, Capitol Records)
Ugh, I am already bored by this project. There are so, so, so many Radiohead albums and this song is okay, but there are better ones. To be fair, now that I am looking, most of them came out after 2000.
5. Say It Ain’t So – Weezer (Blue, 1994, DCG Records)