My 200 Favorite Alternative Songs of the 2000s: #21-65

8.31 interpol_matador_records4
Interpol

Hey, thanks for hanging with me through this, the final week of my alternative music lesson. I know the 21st century music is not that familiar to the masses, yet much of it is playing a crucial role in keeping the genre alive and relevant. But, when you look back at these lists from my series you can see how the genre has developed over time, as well as incorporating trends and fads of the day into the musical mix. To me, this whole thing has proven that music is still living and breathing, waiting to strike just at the moment when society needs its, not when we want it.

8.31 bloc party
Bloc Party

I still hear my beloved power pop surviving both in the traditional sense but also in the music that has been called emo or punk pop. I can find the dance/rock hybrid that The Cars had a small hand in developing in the music of The Killers and Franz Ferdinand. Moody music by the likes of Joy Division and Gang of Four have kindred spirits with the likes of Interpol and Bloc Party. And, punk is alive and well with Against Me and Rise Against leading the way.

8.31 the killers
The Killers

I guess Billy Joel said it best when he sang, “It’s all rock and roll to me.” And, I know that I get emotional about popular music, but I also realize the Stones had it correct when they sand, “It’s only rock and roll, but I like it, like it, yes I do.” What can I say?

Except, for the magic words, “On with the countdown!”

21. Interpol – “Evil” (2004)

22. The Hives – “Hate to Told You So” (2000)

23. Green Day – “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” (2004)

24. The Flaming Lips – “Do You Realize??” (2002)

25. Everclear – “AM Radio” (2000)

26. System of a Down – “Chop Suey” (2002)

27. Randy Newman – “A Few Words in Defense of Our Country” (2007)

28. Andrew WK – “Party Hard” (2001)

29. Weezer – “Island in the Sun” (2001)

30. Foo Fighters – “The Pretender” (2007)

31. Red Hot Chili Peppers – “By the Way” (2002)

32. Foo Fighters – “Best of You” (2005)

33. JET – “Are You Gonna Be My Girl” (2003)

34. Coldplay – “Viva la Vida” (2008)

35. The Killers – “Somebody Told Me” (2004)

36. The White Stripes – “Fell in Love with a Girl” (2001)

37. Green Day – “Minority” (2000)

38. Queens of the Stone Age – “No One Knows” (2002)

39. American Hi-Fi – “Flavor of the Weak” (2001)

40. Muse – “Uprising” (2009)

41. Kings of Leon – “Use Somebody” (2008)

42. Enuff Z’Nuff – “There Goes My Heart” (2000)

43. Paramore – “crushcrushcrush” (2007)

44. Arcade Fire – “Rebellion (Lies)” (2004)

45. Panic! At the Disco – “I Write Sins Not Tragedies” (2005)

46. MGMT – “Time to Pretend” (2007)

47. Vampire Weekend – “A-Punk” (2008)

48. U2 – “Vertigo” (2004)

49. Arcade Fire – “Neighborhood #3 ((Power Out)” (2004)

50. Fleet Foxes – “White Winter Hymnal” (2008)

51. MGMT – “Electric Feel” (2007)

52. Santigold – “L.E.S Artistes” (2008)

53. Green Day – “21 Guns” (2009)

54. Interpol – “Obstacle 1” (2002)

55. Arcade Fire – “Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)” (2004)

56. OK Go – “Here It Goes Again” (2005)

57. Ryan Adams – “New York, New York” (2001)

58. The Exploding Hearts – “Sleeping Aides and Razorblades” (2003)

59. Bloc Party – “Helicopter” (2005)

60. Interpol – “PDA” (2002)

61. Feist – “1234” (2007)

62. System of a Down – “B.Y.O.B.” (2005)

63. The Ting Tings – “That’s Not My Name” (2008)

64. Weezer – “Keep Fishin’” (2002)

65. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – “Maps” (2003)

One more day and this whole thing will be over. Thanks again for bearing with this obsessive/compulsive act that I have put you all through. But, now I have given my radio friends a nice, big playlist of alternative songs for the classic alternative terrestrial station that we have been discussing. Now, if I were truly into this idea, I would due another list of the 2010s, but we are not even out of them yet, so I don’t think I have a firm grasp upon this decade yet. Give another five years so I can judge things more fair.

8.31 Fleet-Foxes
Fleet Foxes

So, rock friends, see you tomorrow for the big pay-off. Or, maybe it will be an anticlimactic ending to this little history lesson. If you have any suggestions for topics, write them in the comment section! I have received one about cut-out bin classics, which could be fun. Otherwise, you just get my continual drivel about Cheap Trick, Prince and power pop music, and do we REALLY want that?

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My 200 Favorite Alternative Songs of the 2000s: #66-115

8.30 alt rock

Now that the 2000s have been over for 17 years, I would like to pose a question. Which artists the got their start during the first decade of the new millennium should be considered for induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Sure, I am focusing on alternative artists, but I want to look at all artists who hit the big time between 2000 and 2009.

8.30 at the drive in
At the Drive-In

As I was constructing the list for the decade under question (The Aughts, right Bondo!?!?), Foo Fighters and Radiohead immediately jumped out ahead of the others. However, do they really count, since they had each released three albums in the Nineties. Then, I choose the Queens of the Stone Age, one of the finest metal/alternative bands of any decade. Now, if I focused on Hip Hop, then Jay-Z, Eminem, Missy Elliott and Kanye West are all shoo-ins. Then, from the pop world, which is always controversial to choose from these artists, my list would include Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Adele, No Doubt/Gwen Steffani, *N SYNC/Justin Timberlake, Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera. And, from the rock world, we could have White Stripes/Jack White, The Black Keys and, maybe Coldplay and/or Maroon 5, but people seem to be split on both of them. And, there’s one of my favorite artists of the 21st century, Daft Punk, who deserve induction, if nothing else but pointing out what a great artist/guitarist Nile Rodgers is.

8.30 MyChemicalRomance
My Chemical Romance

On the other hand, there are the artists, who all at one time or another, I though would get inducted, but now seem like outsiders. I am talking about artists such as The Strokes, The Hives, Kings of Leon, The Flaming Lips, The Killers, Franz Ferdinand, LCD Soundsystem, MGMT and Moby. Then, there’s the one of my favorite cult bands, Drive-By Truckers, who deserve consideration, even though their sales are probably more like the Velvet Underground as opposed to Adele. Then, Gnarls Barkley and The Postal Service did not stick together long enough to eek out a career. Finally, what I am supposed to do about Audioslave? Neither Soundgarden nor Rage Against the Machine have been inducted.

8.30 scissor sisters
Scissor Sisters

In other words, the current array of artists are not making a lasting impression upon music so far this century. Back in the Sixties through the TRL Generation, there always seemed to be a buzz when a great artist was about to release an anticipated album. I really cannot vouch for what happened in the Sixties and Seventies, but the anticipation of the new Prince, Springsteen, Guns N’ Roses, Metallica, even Mellencamp albums could spark a long line at the local record store. And on those big release days, the record would be blaring that new album, plus kids who had just purchased their latest Holy Grail of a rock album would be blaring that very cassette through their Alpine Speakers in their vehicle. Album release day was a magical time. The Napster destroyed everything.

8.30 valley lodge
Valley Lodge

The only new release day that has come close to matching those heady days, was when Adele released her last album. But, the only lines that occurred were the virtual lines in the Amazon checkout and the iTunes download, not some physic record store, one of the last bastions of human contact and interaction.

8.30 belle and sebastian
Belle and Sebastian

Now, just because the artists are not as long-lasting as in the part, the songs have become the point of collecting music. So, there are still great songs being released, but that is the only thing being encouraged. So, with that said, let’s take a look at the next section of My 200 Favorite Alternative Songs of the 2000s, or the Aughts (for my good friend Bondo – that’s TWO name-drops!). Let’s see the list from #66 to 115.

66. Audioslave – “Like a Stone” (2002)

67. Scissor Sisters – “Take Your Mama” (2004)

68. The Postal Service – “Such Great Heights” (2003)

69. Arcade Fire – “No Cars Go” (2007)

70. The Shins – “New Slang” (2001)

71. LCD Soundsystem – “Losing My Edge” (2005)

72. Queens of the Stone Age – “Feel Good Hit of the Summer” (2000)

73. Arctic Monkeys – “I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor” (2006)

74. Snow Patrol – “Chasing Cars” (2006)

75. Green Day – “Know Your Enemy” (2009)

76. Panic! At the Disco – “Nine in the Afternoon” (2008)

77. U2 – “Moment of Surrender” (2009)

78. Paramore – “That’s What You Get” (2007)

79. Weezer – “Hash Pipe” (2001)

80. The Flaming Lips – “Do You Realize??” (2002)

81. Pearl Jam – “The Fixer” (2009)

82. Avril Lavigne – “Sk8r Boi” (2002)

83. Maroon 5 – “This Love” (2002)

84. Fall Out Boy – “Sugar, We’re Goin’ Down” (2005)

85. Incubus – “Wish You Were Here” (2004)

86. Queens of the Stone Age – “The Lost Art of Keeping a Secret” (2000)

87. blink-182 – “What’s My Age Again” (2000)

88. Everclear – “Wonderful” (2000)

89. Valley Lodge – “All of My Loving” (2005)

90. The Walkmen – “The Rat” (2004)

91. Radiohead – “Everything in Its Right Place” (2000)

92. My Chemical Romance – “Welcome to the Black Parade” (2006)

93. At the Drive-In – “One-Armed Scissor” (2000)

94. Daft Punk – “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” (2001)

95. Belle and Sebastian – “I’m a Cuckoo” (2003)

96. Phoenix – “1901” (2009)

97. blink-182 – “I Miss You” (2003)

98. Hoobastank – “The Reason” (2004)

99. The Strokes – “Barely Legal” (2001)

100. Bowling for Soup – “1985” (2004)

101. blink-182 – “All the Small Things” (2000)

102. Green Day – “Holiday” (2004)

103. blink-182 – “The Rock Show” (2001)

104. Nickelback – “How You Remind Me” (2001)

105. Gorillaz – “Clint Eastwood” (2001)

106. Red Hot Chili Peppers – “Dani California” (2006)

107. Green Day – “21 Guns” (2009)

108. The xx – “Crystallized” (2009)

109. The New Pornographers – “Letter from an Occupant” (2000)

110. Beastie Boys – “Ch-Check It Out” (2004)

111. Daft Punk – “Human After All” (2005)

112. Morrissey – “Irish Blood, English Heart” (2004)

113. Fall Out Boy – “Thnks Fr Th Mmrs” (2007)

114. Champagne – “Summer and Kisses” (2009). NOTE: This is NOT the ’70s/’80s R&B band of the same name. This Champagne is a power pop band.

115. TV on the Radio – “Wolf Like Me” (2006)

Three days down, and two to go. What song is my number one song for the latest decade to be completed?

My 200 Favorite Alternative Songs of the 2000s: #111-155

8.29 rock sign

I know! I know! I know! I’m with you!

8.29 Ken Sharp
Author and Musician Ken Sharp

My whole alternative music obsession is getting a little old. I totally understand. Yet, I am determined to see this historical timeline through its “logical” conclusion. My thought process was to show the progression of this musical genre known as “alternative music”. Little did I realize until taking on this series that I loved the so-called alternative music from the Sixties as a young child, through my adolescence, teens, twenties and into adulthood.

8.29 Gorillaz
Gorillaz

And, yes, today’s alternative music today sounds little like the alternative music of the Sixties and Seventies. That’s evolution. Unfortunately, today’s alternative music generally sounds as if these artists’ musical starting points are Duran Duran, and not some warped version of the blues, as much of the early alternative did. Oh, sure, the 21st century has given us The Black Keys and The White Stripes, in addition to the more pop/dance oriented artists such as The Ting Tings, Panic! At the Disco and Maroon 5.

8.29 Wolfmother

Unfortunately, these pop bands are getting more radio play than the actual alternative artists that are around, causing a couple of problems. First, most people think alternative music today is pop/dance-oriented music. Second, this homogenization of alternative music is leaving the true alternative musicians alone to fight for existence. And, maybe that’s the ultimate point?!?!

8.29 the vines
The Vines

So, if you are willing to dig past the “alternative” pop songs being pushed by Ryan Seacrest, you will find a rich scene festering underneath the industry-labeled alternative artists currently jamming the alternative airwaves.

8.29 the libertines
The Libertines

With that said, let’s do the countdown! Here’s my next 45 songs.

111. Daft Punk – “Human After All” (2005)

112. Morrissey – “Irish Blood, English Heart” (2004)

113. Fall Out Boy – “Thnks Fr Th Mmrs” (2007)

114. Champagne – “Summer and Kisses” (2009)

115. TV on the Radio – “Wolf Like Me” (2006)

116. Ken Sharp – “Beautiful” (2000)

117. Phoenix – “Lisztomania” (2009)

118. Gorillaz – “Feel Good Inc.” (2005)

119. Arcade Fire – “Keep the Car Running” (2007)

120. The Libertines – “Can’t Stand Me Now” (2004)

121. The Dandy Warhols – “Bohemian Like You” (2000)

122. Evanescence – “Bring Me to Life” (2003)

123. Papa Roach – “Last Roach” (2000)

124. Band of Horses – “The Funeral” (2006)

125. LCD Soundsystem – “All My Friends” (2007)

126. Belle and Sebastian – “Legal Man” (2000)

127. Thirty Seconds to Mars – “From Yesterday” (2007)

128. Red Hot Chili Peppers – “Snow (Hey Oh)” (2007)

129. Linkin Park – “Numb” (2003)

130. Chad Kroeger feat. Josey Scott – “Hero” (2002)

131. Animal Collective – “My Girl” (2009)

132. Beck – “E-Pro” (2005)

133. Spoon – “The Beast and Dragon, Adored” (2005)

134. Red Hot Chili Peppers – “Otherside” (2000)

135. The All-American Rejects – “Move Along” (2005)

136. Linkin Park – “In the End” (2001)

137. Arctic Monkeys – “Fluorescent Adolescent” (2007)

138. Fall Out Boy – “Dance, Dance” (2005)

139. Sum 41 – “Fat Lip” (2001)

140. Coldplay – “The Scientist” (2002)

141. Death Cab for Cutie – “Company Calls” (2000)

142. Green Day – “Jesus of Suburbia” (2004)

143. Wolfmother – “Joker and the Thief” (2005)

144. Gossip – “Standing in the Way of Control” (2006)

145. Nickelback – “Rock Star” (2005)

146. P.O.D. – “Youth of the Nation” (2002)

147. Weezer – “Pork and Beans” (2008)

148. The Vines – “Get Free” (2002)

149. Weezer – “Beverly Hills” (2005)

150. Pearl Jam – “World Wide Suicide” (2006)

151. Arctic Monkeys – “A Certain Romance” (2006)

152. Foo Fighters – “All My Life” (2002)

153. The Starting Line – “Best of Me” (2002)

154. Bloc Party – “Banquet” (2005)

155. Foo Fighters – “Let It Die” (2007)

And that’s a wrap for today! Fear not, I shall return tomorrow with the next section of my list. See you all tomorrow!

My 200 Favorite Alternative Songs of the 2000s: #156-200

8.28 tv on the radio
TV on the Radio

For me, personally, the 2000s were a mixed bad of great things, such as my boys graduating from high school and #1 graduating from college for the first time. I had some professional success in teaching and coaching. Yet, I also was dealing with back issues which caused me to eventually have eight surgeries. And, that total does NOT include the procedures I have gone through all in an effort to reduce my pain, none of which worked. One day, I am coaching the fifth best boys’ track and field team in Indiana, and six months later, I have trouble picking up a T-shirt off the floor. Who knew that November 11, 204 would become my fateful date of the beginning of my dance with chronic pain and back spasms. It was during this time that I began my slow transition from being a chemistry teacher/basketball and track & field coach to disabled blogger. We all need a hobby.

8.28 bon iver
Bon Iver

So, during the 2000s, I found that there was little quality music on the radio, so that forced me to use streaming and downloading services to discover new music. I understand how much richer my musical collection is now that we have the “world-wide inter-web”.

8.28 the ataris
The Ataris, originally from Anderson, Indiana

Now, what we considered to be alternative music is largely found under the moniker of “indie rock” or “indie pop” and less so the “alternative” label. Now, the alternative label means a pop song that simply drives down the alternative highway, yet still retains some pop gloss.

8.28 velvet-revolver
From the ashes of Stone Temple Pilots and Guns N’ Roses came Velvet Revolver!

No matter how we label the music, I will be listing My 200 Favorite Alternative Songs of the 2000s, #156-200. Let the countdown begin!

156. Muse – “Hysteria” (2003)

157. Doors Down – “Kryptonite” (2000)

158. Good Charlotte – “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” (2002)

159. 3OH!3 – “Don’t Trust Me” (2008)

160. New Found Glory – “My Friends Over You” (2002)

161. The Ataris – “Boys of Summer” (2003)

162. Kaiser Chiefs – “I Predict a Riot” (2005)

163. Rooney – “When Did Your Heart Go Missing?” (2007)

164. AFI – “Miss Murder” (2006)

165. Coldplay – “Clocks” (2002)

166. A Perfect Circle – “Weak and Powerless” (2003)

167. TV on the Radio – “Halfway Home” (2008)

168. Phantom Planet – “California” (2002)

169. Bon Iver – “Skinny Love” (2007)

170. JET – “Cold Hard Bitch” (2004)

171. Peter Björn and John – “Young Folks” (2006)

172. Jimmy Eat World – “Pain” (2004)

173. Evanescence – “Going Under” (2003)

174. Sum 41 – “In Too Deep” (2001)

175. Linkin Park – “One Step Closer” (2000)

176. Alter Bridge – “In Loving Memory” (2004)

177. Alien Ant Farm – “Smooth Criminal” (2001)

178. The Killers – “All These Things That I’ve Done” (2004)

179. Snow Patrol – “Make This Go on Forever” (2006)

180. The Used – “The Taste of Ink” (2002)

181. 311 – “Love Song” (2004)

182. Good Charlotte – “The Anthem” (2002)

183. Klaxon – “Golden Skans” (2007)

184. Antony & the Johnsons – “Hope There’s Someone” (2005)

185. Puddle of Mud – “Blurry” (2002)

186. Velvet Revolver – “Slither” (2004)

187. Farrah – “Stereotypes” (2009)

188. Coldplay – “Yellow” (2000)

189. All Time Low – “Weightless” (2009)

190. My Chemical Romance – “I’m Not Okay” (2004)

191. Incubus – “Drive” (2001)

192. Fuel – “Hemorrhage (In My Hands)” (2000)

193. Incubus – “Megalomaniac” (2004)

194. Three Days Grace – “Animal I Have Become” (2006)

195. Thirty Seconds to Mars – “The Kill” (2005)

196. The All-American Rejects – “Swing Swing” (2002)

197. Beirut – “Postcards from Italy” (2006)

198. Nine Inch Nails – “The Hand That Feeds” (2005)

199. Yellowcard – “Ocean Avenue” (2003)

200. Lifehouse – “Hanging on by a Moment” (2000)

That’s Day 1 of this countdown, which will last one week. See you all tomorrow!

The Final Day of My 300 Favorite Alternative Songs of the Nineties: The Top 10

8.25 fight-the-power-wall-sticker-3903

I never really considered the depth of great alternative music in the Nineties. It really was a great decade, and arguably the last decade, for a vast collection of great artists making fantastic music. I cannot wait to evaluate all of the music in the Nineties one day, just to gain an even greater appreciation for the decade.

The alternative music of the Nineties was the conclusion to the vision started by those garage bands in the Sixties banging out the proto-punk music that I covered a couple of weeks ago. You can just envision those teenagers setting up their equipment in their parents’ garage, and amateurishly banging away until a flash hits them causing them to create a hit song, as depicted in the great Nineties film That Thing You Do! That film showed the lifespan of one of those Sixties garage bands. And, although the movie was set in the Sixties, the band’s big hit song, “That Thing You Do”, displayed the timeless of the songs from that era.

Now that we are finishing this countdown, I need to give my buddy “Bondo” a shout out. After I published my first blog in this series, he called me to discuss my list. Then, “Bondo” predicted that two songs would definitely be in or near the top spot. Well, “Bondo”, you were right. One of those songs you mentioned is #1, just as you predicted, though my voice probably gave it away.

With that said, on with the countdown! Here’s my Top 10. Let the arguments begin!

1. R.E.M._-_Losing_My_Religion

1. R.E.M. – “Losing My Religion” (1991). Was there ever any doubt? This is THE quintessential R.E.M. song. Everything that made R.E.M. the voice of the Eighties is wrapped up into one neat song, from the obtuse lyrics to the arpeggiated mandolin (as opposed to the usual guitar) to the impassioned, yet slightly mumbled vocals to the rock solid rhythm foundation. R.E.M. finally made their signature song.

2. pearl jam - black

2. Pearl Jam – “Black” (1991). Let’s just state a simple fact right now. Pearl Jam’s first album, Ten, plays just like a greatest hits package. And, this song is the emotional center around which the rest of the album is build. “Black” is the sound of the band peeling back their emotions to the most basic level, where everything that makes up their being as a collective is found. Now, 26 years on, I am so glad the band never released this as a single nor as a video. The song continues to fascinate music lovers.

3. Nirvana - Smells_Like_Teen_Spirit

3. Nirvana – “Smells Like Teen Spirit” (1991). This was the grunge shot heard around the world. When compared to the other bands from Seattle, Nirvana was the pop band. That explains Nirvana’s ascent in the pantheon of rock. They were a fresh and authentic voice supported by powerful instrumentation that allowed for the cathartic release from the pain of the lyrics. Sorry Kurt. Your pain spoke volumes about our pain. You were the only person who could articulate it into such beautiful music. I wish you could have grown into the role of being the voice of a generation.

4. Smashing Pumpkins-1979

4. Smashing Pumpkins – “1979” (1995). Wanna know what the Cars may have sounded like if they had been a Nineties band? Billy Corgan showed us with his band’s smash hit song called “1979”. Whenever I hear the song, my first inclination is to be transported back to the late-Seventies. When I realize the song was popular during my first year in teaching, I then change course in my stream of conscience to that time as an adult.

5. New_Radicals_You Get What You Give_Single

5. New Radicals – “You Get What You Give” (1998). I was so close to making this song my #1. When I first heard it in the late-Fall of 1998, I thought it was a new Todd Rundgren song. Instead, I soon discovered that this was the product of a power pop genius and his band. And the band just wanted to be a one-hit wonder. This is power pop perfection and stands right alongside all of the greatest Power Pop songs of all-time.

6. u2 - one

6. U2 – “One” (1991). This U2 ballad is now the namesake of Bono’s vision to save third countries from poverty and all that is linked to that status. Yet, the song is a relationship ode in a spiritual sense. This is the band’s lyrical masterpiece.

7. Temple_of_the_Dog_Hunger_Strike

7. Temple of the Dog – “Hunger Strike” (1991). Here’s the second song from the Pearl Jam family. Temple of the Dog was formed as a one-off project between Soundgarden’s late singer Chris Cornell and some members of Pearl Jam to celebrate the life of Cornell’s late-roommate and Mother Love Bone Singer Andrew Wood. MLB was the band that became Pearl Jam upon the overdose death of Wood. And, this song is the emotional good-bye to the guys’ friend.

8. pearl jam - yellow ledbetter

8. Pearl Jam – “Yellow Ledbetter” (1991). This song was only included on cassette versions of Ten. But the fans loved the song so much that it now stands as another classic from that time period. It might just be the band’s signature song in concert.

9. Mother Love Bone - chloe dancer - crown of thorns

9.  Mother Love Bone – “Chloe Dancer/Crown of Thorns” (1992). Here is the fourth song from the Pearl Jam family. Mother Love Bone was the name of the band when Andrew Wood was the lead singer. This song is the one MLB song that anticipates the sound of Pearl Jam, the configuration that conquered the world.

10. Pulp_-_Common_People

10. Pulp – “Common People” (1995). Wait a second! What’s a Britpop song doing in the Top 10? Well, when the brilliant, nearly power pop music is coupled with great lyrics about the economic divide that keeps people separated in society. It also deals with how the rich use the middle class and poor as their playthings. Plus, the song has a good beat, and it’s easy to dance to.

Thanks for reading this series! I truly appreciate all of your support in my endeavor. Have a great weekend! See you Monday with another blog from the demented mind of Keller. Peace!

How Can I Possibly Rank That Song in That Spot? My Favorite Alternative Rock Songs of the Nineties, #11-20

8.16 Alternative_Rock-9526

These past two weeks have been a wild journey through the Nineties. There are songs on this list that I had not heard in decades. I spend some much time listening to music from the Seventies and Eighties, that my listening tastes have diverted me away from the Nineties. Ironically, I have been listening to more music from the Twenty-First Century than the Nineties. So, I definitely will be listening to more music from the Nineties, and not just Pearl Jam, Green Day and Teenage Fanclub. Looks like I will be digging out my Nineties CDs. Nope, I need to re-evaluate my Smashing Pumpkins, Soundgarden and Nine Inch Nails collection.

Most of the Nineties music I listened to was influenced by the first group of students that I taught. Through those kids, who are now in their mid-thirties (CRAAAAAZZZZZZYYYY!) I remember giving them assignments or doing lab work with MTV playing, and the kids becoming excited when they saw the latest videos by Pantera or The Offspring, which made me realize that the youth of America’s taste in music was still evolving. Their enthusiasm for “1979” or “When I Come Around” helped my discernment in the music of their generation.

Enough of this tomfoolery! Let’s get back to the countdown.

11. soundgarden - black hole sun

11. Soundgarden – “Black Hole Sun” (1994). Yesterday, I stated that critics were calling Jane’s Addiction “the Led Zeppelin of Alternative Music”. They got that one wrong because the Led Zeppelin of Alternative Music was Soundgarden, the first Seattle band signed to a major label. From the late Chris Cornell’s banshee wail to Kim Thayil’s tasteful solos, Soundgarden updated the basic Zeppelin blues rewrites for the Prozac generation. And, this slice of psychedelia showed the world the Zep- like diversity in the band’s approach.

12. pearl jam - jeremy

12. Pearl Jam – “Jeremy” (1991). When Pearl Jam burst on the scene in the aftermath of the Nirvana-induced grunge explosion, they did so with a clear statement of purpose. Where Nirvana was steeped in the punk esthetic, Pearl Jam’s sound was based in rock of ’70s stalwarts such as The Who. They aimed, and thus succeeded, at being as transcendent as their heroes. Still, they maintained their grunge credentials by turning away from the mass adulation bestowed upon them with the song. By the way, the video for this song is a stone-cold classic. Then, after this, they stopped making videos and accepted their role as one of the greatest bands in the history of rock music.

13. the cure - friday im in love

13. The Cure – “Friday I’m in Love” (1992). A new decade rolls in, and Cure leader Robert Smith shows a sliver of optimism. The misunderstood Eighties’ Prince of Gloom, caught his audience off guard when he delivered this power pop masterpiece.

14. New_Order_Regret

14. New Order – “Regret” (1993). Upon the demise of Joy Division, New Order evolved into the alternative dancefloor outlaws. Although New Order created a rich catalog of updated disco tunes during the Eighties, the band outdid themselves in the new decade with this transcendent song that is equal parts dance classic and alternative rock hit.

15. sinead oconnor - nothing compares 2 u

15. Sinéad O’Connor – “Nothing Compares 2 U” (1990). O’Connor had released a great album in 1987, but nothing prepared us for the total artistic transformation she took on the album from which this version of a then-obscure Prince song. O’Connor took this song originally recorded by Prince protege The Family, stripped the song of all the pretentious Prince production and coupled the song with a video that was essentially a close-up of her face displaying all of the emotion she felt during the song. With a single tear streaming down her cheek, O’Connor became an international pop sensation from which she ultimately turn her back on.

16. R.E.M._-_Nightswimming

16. R.E.M. – “Nightswimming” (1992). Easily the most beautifully reminiscent song in the R.E.M. arsenal. For a band that refused to be sentimental, they sure tapped into the emotion perfectly.

17. weezer - buddy holly

17. Weezer – “Buddy Holly” (1994). Weezer has always been considered ground zero for the emo explosion of the new century. Personally, I never understood this whole emo category. But, I do know Power Pop, and this song IS Power Pop. “Buddy Holly” is simply a classic song.

18. beastie boys - sabotage

18. Beastie Boys – “Sabotage” (1994). Everybody’s favorite white rappers in the Eighties, started digging around record stores around New York City for inspiration, rediscovered the instruments from their punk band days and created a new alternative rap language that is still reverberating to this very day. In “Sabotage”, the trio took a Ted Nugent sample and refurbished it into a Gen X classic. Plus, the video is nothing but a stone cold post-modern classic.

19. sugar - if i cant change your mind

19. Sugar – “If I Can’t Change Your Mind” (1992). So, in the Eighties, Bob Mould lead the band Husker Du into pop punk gods wielding buzzsaw guitars and playing faster than any band ever played before. Then, he broke the band up, releasing a late-Eighties acoustic-based classic alternative album before starting a new punk pop band that made the world safe for similar artists like Green Day and blink-182 in the future. With this song, you can hear a classic power pop song played faster and harder than any band had since his own Husker Du. Now, we have had been exposed to hundreds of lesser bands trying to catch up to Mould’s Sugar.

20. RATM - killing in the name

20. Rage Against the Machine – “Killing in the Name” (1991). Political bands have been around since MC5 in the late-Sixties. But none transcended the rock world like Rage Against the Machine. Their lyrical integrity was impeccable, yet critics called them hypocrites for being signed to a major label. I call that subversive. Today, the band’s reputation as a voice against the status quo influenced pop fans in the U.K. to purchase copies of this song instead of the latest X-Factor winner’s song to become the song of the Christmas season in 2009. Rage Against the Machine was America’s Sex Pistols and The Clash all rolled into one band. Plus, they had one of the true guitar heroes of the Nineties in Tom Morello.

8.25 rockininthefreeworld

With that, 290 songs down and, finally, there is ten songs to go. That means we will wrap this thing up tomorrow. Have a great Thursday, and I’ll be back tomorrow for the conclusion of this countdown. Have a fantastic day!

Who Is Nick Cave? He’s in My Top 30 Alternative Songs of the Nineties

8.16 Alternative_Rock-9526

Wow! It is so much easier to make a list like this when the decade in question is nearly 20 years in our collective rearview mirror. In the pre-blog, pre-internet days, I would make these lists for my eyes only. Two things would happen. One, with the music fresh in my mind, I would make emotional choices for songs that would not stand the test of time (Anybody remember the Bus Boys? They used to be all over my ’80s lists). And two, I would not have heard all the music on my lists. Back then, we would have to buy the records or hope a local radio station would play a particular song. Now, with streaming, one can access nearly any song he or she wishes to hear. So, I am no longer dependent upon a critic’s opinion.

Now, I have heard every song in my countdown. Additionally, I worked on these countdowns, one after another until I had them complete. By doing so, I noticed that my lists were strong up to and including the Nineties. After that, the lists are weaker. It’s not the music’s fault. No, I simply believe less music is being released at this time. And, because of that, the public latches on to a song for longer periods of time. Think about how much terrestrial radio STILL plays Imagine Dragons’ “Radioactive” from five years ago or “Shut Up and Dance” by Walk the Moon that is a couple of years old now. In the Seventies, Eighties and Nineties, thousands of cases of music were being pushed out for consumers throughout the world. Now, since Napster was unleashed, the music industry has kept only proven moneymakers, and then hope their young bands can score one monster hit in order to keep that artist around. Otherwise, the artist is cut loose. The industry has no time for artistic development. All you can do is hope that an independent band can quietly develop, then have its first couple of hits on an independent label before the companies swoop in and steal the nearly finished product.

It will be interesting to see how music develops. Bono once said in a late-Eighties interview that when kids finally tired of electronics, that the kids would be turning to acoustic instruments. Are we beginning to witness that, with the rise of Mumford & Sons and The Lumineers? Or, was that simply a passing fad, not unlike the Swing Revival of the late-Nineties? I do not know. Then again, maybe we will find out in couple of years. Regardless, it will be interesting to listen to the change. Personally, I continue to hold out to how things develop.

Today, in the countdown, we venture into the Top 30 of my list. As Casey Kasem used to say, “The numbers get smaller, and the hits get bigger. Now, on with the countdown.” Here we go…

21. Beck_Loser

21. Beck – “Loser” (1994). Here it is, the song that was considered Gen X’s anthem. At the time, our generation was considered to be slackers, when we were much more than how the Boomers defined us. When Beck released this song, it was yet another statement of our collective disaffection with society. We embraced the “Loser” label and ran with it.

22. R.E.M._-_The_Sidewinder_Sleeps_Tonite

22. R.E.M. – “The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite” (1992). This is the song that R.E.M. never understood its appeal to the fans. It could have been a huge hit for the band if they had simply released the song as a single. The song’s genius lies in the lyrics’ cut-and-paste layout.

23. phish - boucing around the room

23. Phish – “Bouncing Around the Room (live)” (1995). The heir-apparent to the Grateful Dead, who had a hit single in 1987, had their own fluke hit with this buoyant song that the band perversely leaves this song out of their setlists more times than not.

24. Green_Day_-_Longview_cover

24. Green Day – “Longview” (1994). Okay, after what I said what I said about “Loser”, up comes this ode to slacking off. But, who didn’t slack off around the house while in their twenties? But, this song is full of humor that breaks through the cliches of a generation.

25. Jane's_Addiction_Been_Caught_Stealing

25. Jane’s Addiction – “Been Caught Stealing” (1990). On Jane’s first album, critics were calling them an alternative version of Led Zeppelin. Since they were a punk band at heart, they were more than Zeppelin. Yes, they knew the blues, except they were much more succinct and not as “jammy”. “Been Caught Stealing” was their punk song that had arguably the strangest low-budget video ever.

26. The_Verve_-_Bitter_Sweet_Symphony

26. The Verve – “Bitter Sweet Symphony” (1997). This is one of the finest Britpop songs ever. It is also the song that was involved one of biggest screw jobs ever in rock history. The song has a sample from a Rolling Stones song, which was owned by sleazy rock attorney Allen Klein. Check out the story online. I thought we had heard the last of him in the Seventies. You just can’t keep a bad sleaze down. Still, this song is fantastic, and the band, not some parasite, should be reaping the benefit of writing a timeless song.

27. nick cave - Henry Lee

27. Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds with Polly Harvey – “Henry Lee” (1996). A beautifully dark vision of love between the literary genius of Nick Cave with a female counter-point from guest Polly Harvey of the band PJ Harvey. Cave’s music has a Gothic beauty to it, but when Harvey sings, the song transcends the time-space continuum.

28. paul westerberg - dyslexic heart

28. Paul Westerberg – “Dyslexic Heart” (1992). The former Replacements leader hit a homer with his first solo single that was brilliantly included on the classic soundtrack to the Gen X movie Singles. You can tell from the song who was responsible for the Replacements’ sound.

29. stone temple pilots - plush

29. Stone Temple Pilots – “Plush” (1992). Sure, STP had the ability to sound like any alternative band from Pearl Jam to R.E.M. Still, the band was original enough to add their own sound to the grunge sound that was so popular at the time. This song has become one of their classics.

30. jamiroquai - virtual insanity

30. Jamiroquai – “Virtual Insanity” (1997). This English band was lead by a singer who sounded very much like Stevie Wonder. What better way than for an alternative band to be in touch with its “soul”. Plus, the video was mind-blowing.

Well, there you have it! We are ready for the Top 20. So, hang on people! The end of this countdown is near.