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“Dolby’s Top 300 ’90s Alt-Rock Singles (100-1)”

100 Better than Ezra – “In the Blood” (Deluxe — 1993)
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“In the Blood” kicks off Deluxe, which is really a great ’90s rock LP through and through without a single bad track on it, in style, chugging bass and distant, hazy guitar reminding you that even though this band is catchy and radio playable, they’re anything but ordinary.
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99 LIVE – “Freaks” (Secret Samadhi — 1997)
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“Freaks” is still sort of an enigma to me for several reasons, one of course being the puzzlingly abrasive and unapproachable disposition of this LP as a whole, another being my inability to conjure thoughts about this song without picturing that otherworldly music video to it, and finally there’s the fact that with all the emotion and feeling gushing throughout this song, I still don’t even have the foggiest idea of what the he** it’s supposed to be about. But maybe that’s their own little version of perfection, anyway — an affective truth through the convergence of distant, unrelated elements.
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98 Soul Coughing – “Down to This” (Ruby Vroom — 1994)
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Really, it’s foolish in a way to even put Soul Coughing on this list since if I were to listen to just this cut alone I would have like a spasmodic knee-jerk reaction forcing my finger to click on the whole album on Spotify (I never said my music listening techniques were unorthodox)… “Down to This” I think is an especially egregious case of this just because of the bonkers sort of thing he’s feeling in this stylistically goofy song which is like a scat-hip-hop song about throwing somebody into Lake Michigan. I guess he’s just so sure of his vision of the whole thing, and everything.
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97 R.E.M. – “Tongue” (Monster — 1994)
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I’m not sure if I’m just a tad bit sick of this song or if life has just gotten faster and more intense and so it soundtracks it with less aplomb, but a year or three ago I might have put this cut in the top 10 — it’s definitely supremely catchy, delicate and original, featuring the best seven-note guitar solo of all time, and of course that infectious Mike Mills synth which I think also graces Out of Time’s “Low” in spookily subtle rhythmic style, another favorite of mine.
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96 Nirvana – “All Apologies” (live) (MTV Unplugged in New York — 1994)
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For this unplugged soiree, they slow “All Apologies” down just a tiny bit, and with the decrease in Steve Albini’s In Utero volume it’s nice to just sit back and sublimely ingest the infrastructure of this song — the eerie, subtle chorus which is augmented nicely the final time, and that pair of riffs which govern the whole song with a stately alt-rock monarchy.
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95 CAKE – “The Distance” (Fashion Nugget — 1996)
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This is one of those tunes that I heard my friends singing so much before I’d ever actually encountered the real song that to form an authentic opinion still seems like a complete exercise in futility — anyway, a couple things are sure, like it gets by on one biting, profuse guitar riff in the chorus, as well as funny lyrics which I just figured out might be a metaphor for being a pathetic guy who can’t get over a girl he still likes. Pretty clever.
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94 The Verve Pipe – “Villains” (Villains — 1996)
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Lots of people accuse lots of people accuse lots of people of copying Nirvana and Pearl Jam, but in my opinion, they never accuse the RIGHT ones of this. Anyway, now, I’m going to really look like a doofus here on this list, because I’m ranking my exact purported culprits very highly, like The Verve Pipe, and… uh you’ll find out in a minute. These bands made full albums off of which singles could be culled and askance from the indie ‘00s, these singles are essentially how they made money, on radio or MTV. Then, insofar as it were possible for them to achieve fame and acclaim by the virtue of just one song being really good like in the case of, say, Sugar Ray – “Fly,” they stacked the deck in that department, forgoing the subtlety or ethereality necessary on certain tracks for a full LP to have ebbs and FLOWS, instead platooning up 12 potential singles full of good ol’ bombast and drama straight out of prom or Days of Our Lives. I find the title track on Villains listenable and not “Photograph” because on the former the emotion just seems a little bit realer, stamping down all the overwhelming imagery we see in advertising as something to be aware of, something to be combated for the sake of one’s own sanity. In a way, in the ‘90s, you had three choices: write songs that were really funny, write songs that were about heroin, or just actually be not ONE OF THE BEST, but THE BEST at writing straight-ahead alt-rock. At least for one track here, Grand Rapids, Michigan’s The Verve Pipe were that final choice.
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93 Dave Matthews Band – “Jimi Thing” (Under the Table and Dreaming — 1994)
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Dave Matthews Band is obviously a pretty divisive entity in music in this or any time in the last two decades, perhaps for more reasons that you already even know. The British don’t like them, or the Grateful Dead, for instance, at least in Everett True’s version of the story holds up. What’s more, along with the whole mainstream, good ol’ boy or yuppie contingent that would cotton on to tracks like “Crash into Me,” say, or “Warehouse,” you’ve got the hippie sector which welcomes them with decently open arms and would veer toward “Jimi Thing” and what are probably the original lyrics, “Smoke my kind” (short for “kind bud,” which is slang for high-grade marijuana). It’s funny then to me that “Jimi Thing” was even a single at all — I remember “Ants Marching” working well, which I thought was Blues Traveler when I first heard it, and “What Would You Say” likewise, leaving “Jimi Thing” for my sort of guilty blogging pleasures in equating radio play with festival girls with hairy armpits in a way I otherwise might not have been able to do.
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92 Eve 6 – “Inside out” (Eve 6 — 1998)
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Oh, God. “Inside out.” Where to even start? Well, you might have noticed that Fred Durst is a fan, as he claimed the “She put my tender / Heart in a blender” line as his own for the imposing “Nookie.” I remember having this one retarded conversation with this one chick back in ’04 or so that we wanted to rig up a soundsystem to our bicycles and blast “Inside out” from them. During that same conversation I got into retelling how I’d caught Eve 6 at the 2000 Q101 Jamboree in Tinley Park, IL and Max Collins had been dressed in these red leather pants and this tight white shirt, asking the audience as be strutted slowly around the stage, “Does this outfit show off my figure well?” Word is still pending as to how all those homophobic Chicagoans took the interaction, of course. Anyway, anybody who grew up in the ’90s knows this song.
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91 Blur – “Girls & Boys” (Parklife — 1994)
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I remember I had this song on my best music videos list but really, with all its color, flair and unorthodox sex, it hardly needs a video at all. It features on Blur: The Best of, which was the first place I heard it, but it’s track 10 on there, so I was surprised and pleased to learn that it kicks off 1994’s Parklife, which I’ll admit an adulation for in the wake of its featuring in Pitchfork’s “Top 100 Albums of the 1990s” list.
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90 Soul Coughing – “Super Bon Bon” (Irresistible Bliss — 1996)
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Soul Coughing here are an absolute light-attracting, heat-seeking phenomenon, to me, full of unexplainable miracles like how despite the fact that this track is composed basically of white-metal-hip-hop, it can still coexist so precociously on an album that also features mellow Beatles pop and jazz. How this song would play as a single, as I’ve never actually heard it on the radio, is a little up in the air to me — its success would probably presuppose its audience having heard it in the context of the album, an activity which would leave little room for the possibility of anything but tickled approval.
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89 Foo Fighters – “Everlong” (The Colour and the Shape — 1997)
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I probably don’t get serious enough on this blog, but here is something I will say with tongue firmly placed in center of mouth: rock, music, and the world, could use more people like Dave Grohl. Sure, the mid-’90s were a thriving time for earnest emotions over Fender stacks, but like I said, with the Foo Fighters, he got his deal without the help of his fame and then the songs just kept coming and coming (I think it’s him playing those mind-boggling 16th notes on the drums in this song, then enlisting Taylor Hawkins after this album), in my opinion up through and with 2002’s One by One. He’s always honest and illuminating in interviews and for how preternatural and awe-inspiring his vocals are on songs like this and “My Hero,” it’s hard to believe indeed that he could have started out as a drummer relegated literally to the “back” of the limelight.
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88 Stone Temple Pilots – “Lady Picture Show” (Tiny Music… Songs from the Vatican Gift Shop — 1996)
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One thing I notice in looking back at this song now, which has definitely always been an infectious favorite of mine, is the potentially supremely heterogeneous vocal disposition of Scott Weiland — he can get dark and brooding on “Silvergun Superman” or loud, proud and anthemic on “Crackerman,” but when he’s at his best, his voice has that narcotic “laziness” which can only translate to a seen-it-all type “coolness,” all that desperation and upheaval in his personal life paying off with something totally unique, but more than anything, miraculously mellow, pliable and allegorical.
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87 Pearl Jam – “Alive” (Ten — 1991)
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I don’t think any discussion of this song could start without centering on the monstrous domination of that opening riff, so simple but so textural full of gushing distortion and wailing pain. The lyrics take a typical PJ term — abandonment, desperation, uncertainty, every bit groundworks for songs in rock or pop, ergo their overtaking of the world with the convergence of the two making all the more sense, you might say.
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86 Bjork – “Army of Me” (Post — 1995)
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“Army of Me” kicks off Bjork’s second album and basically immediately lays to waste the possibility of any other song on the album outdoing it, in tempo, lyrical poignance or overall ferocity, as much as some people might rightfully dote on “It’s Oh So Quiet.”
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85 The Verve Pipe – “The Freshmen” (Villains — 1996)
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I have to say as a Soundgarden fan that that eerie, mellow opening riff on Fender Squier (or something like that) takes me right back to “The Day I Tried to Live,” which is emotionally dangerous and crazy territory as we close out the 2010’s decade. Like “The Day I Tried to Live,” “The Freshmen,” an enormous hit single from the mid-’90s, looks back on one of life’s little episodic failures and ruminates over the hopelessness of everything, of actually matching your ideal self with your real self amidst such impossible odds. Anyway, the fact that I was in middle school when this “Freshmen” song came out probably makes me like it any more, but I don’t think you can deny the mood or the emotion.
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84 The Smashing Pumpkins – “Thirty-Three” (Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness — 1995)
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Say what you want about The Smashing Pumpkins… one thing for sure is that they could write every kind of radio rock song, like this beautiful ballad driven by “disarm”-ingly simple rudiments (gentle, strummed acoustic guitar, a piano riff that a four year old could play with one finger), and one of Billy Corgan’s best vocal yowls to date. Every sound in this song contributes equally to the whole, Corgan shuffling us into his chorus of “Love can last forever” for a nice anthemic little moment of repast in the middle of a busy, violent decade.
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83 Soundgarden – “Fell on Black Days” (Superunknown — 1994)
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Yeah, sh**, haha. Yup. He said it. Like most of the great songs on this list, this one is simple, driven by a single, bluesy riff and Chris Cornell’s inimitable, genuine vocal, full of metaphor and little life commentaries that most of us now remember forever, even if we heard them only one time.
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82 Nirvana – “All Apologies” (In Utero — 1993)
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I was all of 10 when this album came out so in my mind all the Nirvana songs have this curious way of blending into each other as if they were one single organism, buoyed all the time by Kurt Cobain’s classic vocal roar, of course. Like I say about the unplugged version, I’m a huge fan of the elongated chorus at the end of the song, which is sort of similar to what he did with stretching “Where Did You Sleep Last Night” out to its full capacity, toward the end of that one.
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81 U2 – “One” (Achtung Baby — 1991)
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Something I noticed in again taking in the Anton Corbijn version of this video is that the shots of the woman are never complete — you’ll maybe get a glimpse of an arm, or only part of her face like her jaw, perhaps symbolic of the song’s subject matter, and a would-be romance falling into the murky territory of heartbreak and deceit.
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80 Filter – “Take a Picture” (Title of Record — 1999)
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To me, Filter’s “Take a Picture” is a perfect example of how MEMORABILITY and PERMANENCE (ironic then given the song’s title and lyrics) make a perfect ringer for quality in music. By this I mean, so many people hated this song when it came out simply BECAUSE it was by Filter and it was soft and poppy, similar to the whole “Time of Your Life” phenomenon, but made an impression, in other words. I dunno, I’m just a Filter guy — sometimes I take one former member of a band (Nine Inch Nails or Uncle Tupelo) over the other, more famous members, for reasons I can’t even fully describe, although in this case you have to admit it’s a nice, sublime simplicity and the ability to be up front with all of humanity in a way that’s equally optimistic and pragmatic.
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79 Green Day – “When I Come around” (Dookie — 1994)
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Well, he did tell us that “Nice guys finish last” and that “You’ll feel washed up like pi** goin’ down the train” and now he’s telling us we have “No time to search the world around” and this song’s all about his coming around. Christ, it never occurred to me, but is this Billie Joe dude really just an a**hole? Plus, I would still like to search the world around. I would like to ride on sea otters, penguins and various ocean crafts.
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78 Ben Folds Five – “Brick” (Whatever and Ever Amen — (1997)
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This song just seems to kinda say, “life sucks”… I think it definitely helps to grow up in a sh**hole town or at least a town where the weather is pretty bad to truly understand it. The way I gather it, by a lot of people’s standards it would be certainly considered rather melancholy but growing up I would just kind of put it on (actually I remember this one January where it rained for a week straight, Monday through Friday) and it just kind of was my world. Life was simple. Well, not for the people living it, obviously.
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77 Throwing Muses – “Counting Backwards” (The Real Ramona — 1991)
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Oh yeah I remember when Kristin Hersh did a tower dive and competed with Nirvana on Top of the Pops… kidding… this is just a great opener to what is really, like I said, patchier album than theirs that would come subsequent in University, wherein yes, the first two songs are about getting head. He said head, hehe.
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76 Extreme – “Hole Hearted” (Extreme II: Pornograffiti — 1990)
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If you ask the members of Nirvana, this song is a humanitarian atrocity on par with like the AIDS epidemic, roughly: one thing I noticed right away is that Matchbox 20 EMPHATICALLY ripped off the acoustic guitar intro for “3am,” then you get Extreme themselves borrowing a little bit of an “Ooh yeah” from Supertramp and “Give a Little Bit.” It’s a similar type of song, really.
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75 Butthole Surfers – “Pepper” (Electriclarryland — 1996)
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For all my wracking my brain trying to figure out what the he** this song is about, I haven’t really come up with too much as of just yet — well it helps to know the history of the Butthole Surfers, a group of Texans marked decidedly by their non-redneck disposition, who would apparently in their early days tour relentlessly on almost no money, food or sleep, finding anything preferable to life in Texas. In “Pepper” they lyrically broach every malodorous topic from disease to racism to rape to… well in the video there’s that cripple like gimping around or whatever… the video is great. 1996 was surely a busy year for Paul Leary who also produced the Sublime record of that same time.
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74 Dave Matthews Band – “What Would You Say” (Under the Table and Dreaming — 1994)
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One interesting thing about the intro to “What Would You Say” is that it’s the unorthodox instrument, the saxaphone, that has not only the less virtuosic part of the score assigned it but also gets the less treatment in production, that is my tenuous theory that Dave’s guitar here is really FUTURISTIC sounding has any clout to it, of course.
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73 Better than Ezra – “Rosealia” (Deluxe — 1993)
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I was gettin’ pretty squared away with the liner notes to Greatest Hits and apparently this particular cut was borne in Kevin Griffin’s mind from the look of a terrified woman at some parade type of shindig. Regrettably, the Greatest Hits version doesn’t have that awesome salsa outro we get on the album version. Ironically, Greatest Hits has some bad songs on it, but Deluxe is an album you can play straight through.
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72 LIVE – “I Alone” (Throwing Copper — 1994)
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LIVE will always be quite the complex, enigmatic organism in my mind, and even in this song, somewhat like with “Selling the Drama,” I think they’ve crafted an undeniably astonishing, intimidating verse to go along with probably about a B- chorus or so… anyway it’s rare to find a playlist, live album or discussion of this band that doesn’t feature this particular single from their breakthrough 1994 album.
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71 The Proclaimers – “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” (Sunshine on Leith — 1993)
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Wow, I just discovered something I’d never known before — this song is like, straight ’80s style, having come out in Britain on Chrysalis as early as ’88, only to mire in U.S. inactivity until ’93, when it finally received a proper release therein, from the same label. At that time then it also obviously enjoyed significant ubiquity through its feature in Benny & Joon, a film with Johnny Depp.
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70 Soundgarden – “Black Hole Sun” (Superunknown — 1994)
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Not that it’s possible to have a “normal” relationship with a band like Soundgarden, but I’d like the authority to say that mine has morphed and changed over the years in a lot of obviously unexpected ways, particularly last year, such as all of a sudden listening to “Kickstand” and not enjoying as much (I still appreciate the hard-rock wind spring of “Ty Cobb”)… well this cut is sort of like that one that’s always lurking in the underbrush to be the center of any discussion of the band, with the quintessential grunge deliberateness of “The Day I Tried to Live” with lyrics that are mainly, though not entirely, psychedelic, instead of metaphorical.
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69 Bjork – “Human Behaviour” (Debut — 1993)
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Technically this song does have that electric guitar breakdown toward the end so I can at least with some righteousness slot it in this “Alt-Rock” list, which makes me even gladder to hear that the whole thing is this majestic and awesome electro safari romp, showcasing both the crazy musical jungle going on in Bjork’s mind (she is the leading all time female producer and advocate for women’s agency and autonomy in the industry, by the way, for anyone wondering), as well as, as we know, the crazy metaphorical jungle of dealing with all this crazy “human behaviour.”
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68 Morphine – “Honey White” (Yes — 1995)
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Morphine the way I understand is a band based in the Boston area consisting of a veritable chronic heroin addict in vocalist/bassist Mark Sandman (at least the album Yes features no six-string guitar at all), and this incessant saxaphone, both tenor and baritone, duties held at once by one Dana Colley, a guy. Yes can be a disconcerting, troubling listen as a whole, Sandman mired inescapable in romantic petulance and self-absorption, but “Honey White” is a great single which is also featured on the 120 Minutes compilation.
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67 Fastball – “The Way” (All the Pain Money Can Buy — 1998)
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In a way this is sort of like my “honorary #67”… I mean it was never my official favorite song on the album and I heard it so much in the summer of ’98 to get really sick of it, but the video is something to boggle minds and marvel troglodytes, and more than anything I just HATE Fastball’s haters — this is blue collar, hard hat ’90’s rock for the seen-it-all and the everyman, and All the Pain Money Can Buy has precious few weak spots as an album, given this tense, somewhat jazzy or ragtime-y opener.
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66 Stone Temple Pilots – “Interstate Love Song” (Purple — 1994)
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I think for the video for this song they should have just had a four-minute still shot of the CD design, which depicted this wondrously gorgeous floral growth rendered in paint job in beautiful yellow, oranges and blues, which seem to perfectly sum up the curiously still, reflective and yes, narcotic, mood this band were capable of getting across when they truly put their bone gristles to wax. In a curious parallel with Jim Morrison, Scott Weiland was likewise a So Cal denizen with ties to the South, materialized in this song and as well as with the sublime No. 4 closeur “Atlanta.”
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65 Soul Asylum – “Runaway Train” (Grave Dancers Union — 1992)
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It’s funny, sometimes these mini-blurbs are just borne out of a lack of anything to say — I mean just to level, I put “Runaway Train” on Dolby Radio pretty high up, without even thinking twice, I hear this song in grocery stores and always enjoy it, but I was at a complete loss as to comment on it, given its extreme lyrical bareness and completeness. There’s a lot I could say, I suppose, in terms of cosmological theory and Caucasianness, I could dig really deep into my eccentric English education and all that good stuff, but at the end of the day everybody has their own opinion but one thing remains the same: it’s a good song. And that’s how life should be.
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64 Blues Traveler – “Hook” (Four — 1994)
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This song in my opinion absolutely ignited late night television with its live performance — John Popper’s vocals are absolutely electrifying and it’s got a way better chorus, and it’s a way better song than “Run-around,” full of more feeling, guided at, in my opinion, this time, the general public instead of the record label, which give it that much more spin and emotion, as we all should know by now. One interesting thing about Popper is that he’s from Cleveland and speaks with what I consider to be actually no accent whatsoever, the earmark of somebody really put under a microscope of fine-tooth comb, to use a couple of Eminem phrasing platitudes.
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63 Sonic Youth – “Disappearer” (Goo — 1990)
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What the point was of issuing this as a single is entirely beyond me, but then, Sonic Youth were always a little bit better than they got credit for — actually lately I’ve been putting on Murray St. at work and it’s a da** near flawless album, perfect work music. Any track on Goo is better than “Kool Thing,” for Christ’s sake.
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62 Pearl Jam – “Dissident” (Vs. — 1993)
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It’s like “Alive” pt. 2! It’s like “Alive” gave birth asexually to a song that isn’t really “Alive” at all, but it is alive, in terms of being living! Ah! So why and how did this happen, why doesn’t it suck and why did I rank it higher than alive? Well if you’ve never read my blog before at all, I guess it’ll be necessary to explain that Brendan O’Brien’s importance in Pearl Jam is sort of like Mr. Wolf’s in Pulp Fiction — he tightened those drums up into something gutbucket, working class and everyday, and he arguably assuaged the differences in the band which almost caused them to break up during recording of their mind-blowing Vs. followup Vitalogy. But eh, that’s about it. It just sounds better, I guess. I guess I’m just a simple man.
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61 Hum – “Green to Me” (Downward is Heavenward — 1998)
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I have this friend who’s a Hum fanatic and one thing I pointed out to him one time about their lyrics I liked is that they’re weird, futuristic and several times reference artificial respiration (in this tune I think he goes “She wakes up fine and rested well / Release the glass from in the sleeping cell / Breathing comes with ease”). In other words, they’re good for the very ability to say “fu** you” to convention. I think the discussion should stop there, for now.
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60 Alice in Chains – “Over Now” (live) (Unplugged — 1996)
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To love grunge bands whose members have committed suicide. This seems to be my lot in life and yet strangely it makes a weird sort of sense, like how it’s when you feel your best that people will fu** with you and try to get under your skin, and it’s when you think you look your best that you actually look your worst, or so I glean from things that have gone on in my life. Anyway, on this unplugged version (and yes I did put the studio version and the unplugged version of this song on this list… you might say I’m sort of a fan of it) the band seems tight but loose in the best sort of way too, happy to be playing with each other and resigned to just enacting the trenchant magic of these melodies. Alice in Chains probably put out the second best unplugged album of all time next to Nirvana.
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59 Everclear – “Everything to Everyone” (So Much for the Afterglow — 1997)
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I think Everclear just knew that this song was so good that they could shoot the whole video in one little panic room-looking room, sort of like when the writer and director of 12 Angry Men was like, we can shoot this whole fu**in’ movie in one shot and it’s going to be one of the greatest of all time. Of course, this is only three angry men, which is part of why it works so well, but I swear to Christ nothing feels better than calling somebody on this, except, of course, expelling those negative feelings from your system by way of cathartic rock and roll in the first place, that is.
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58 Soul Coughing – “St. Louise is Listening” (El Oso — 1998)
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This song is so absolutely incredible and otherworldly, yet pliable and catchy, that it’s hard to believe the band would have ever broken up after it, let alone Mike Doughty always bit**ing about how awful his experience in Soul Coughing was. Maybe it was that his bandmates ro shambo’d him into playing “Houston,” a really terrible song, during that Houston gig in ’96. Yeah, that must be it.
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57 Blur – “End of a Century” (Parklife — 1994)
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This song takes me back to this one Phish-in’ trip down state ’03… I had Blur: The Best of and Jane’s Addiction – Nothing’s Shocking on and I’d end up shroomin’ my ears off… Phish did “2001” which I ended up really liking but what stood out from that whole concert day was the tunes I was listening to on the way down (as you can tell from this mini-blurb I’ve given up even trying to understand Blur, probably for the best).
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56 Alanis Morissette – “Hand in My Pocket” (Jagged Little Pill — 1995)
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Unfortunately, in my experience, writing to my old high school classmates and asking them to guest-post on my blog isn’t the best idea, which is unfortunate since I have this distinct memory of these four girls in my elementary class all singing this song (it wasn’t going on on the radio or anything, they were just singing it ).. eh that’s a good enough memory in and of itself, I guess… it’s hard to ask for too much more than that in life. We were living in the golden age in music, I don’t think there’s any question.
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55 Counting Crows – “Omaha” (August and Everything after — 1993)
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Here in “Omaha” we have basically just a great pop song, great for hearing in pancake houses, grocery stores or wherever else, and what it’s about is completely concordant with what your own life is about. If you have problems in your life, then it’s about your problems, in all likelihood. If you’re forgetting about everything and just tracing the love in somebody’s eyes it will jibe with that too, or I’m a da**ed liar.
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54 Our Lady Peace – “Clumsy” (Clumsy — 1997)
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I sort of get the sense that not everything’s fully alright with the subject of this song here… really I’m not quite a fan of the general Our Lady Peace catalogue, as the rudiments of this list will indicate, but on this one I think they’ve hit upon something truly as stupefying as it is radio-playable… what could be more quintessentially ’90s? And how ’bout that classic video? Oh yeah, and this was the other band that copies off Pearl Jam and Nirvana a lot, in case you wondering from my previous selection, although I do find this song indicative of a certain vision.
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53 Supergrass – “Sun Hits the Sky” (In it for the Money — 1997)
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For some wholly unexplainable reason, Parlaphone didn’t release “G-Song” as a single off of this album… it could be the horrible title, or it could be their fear that they’d incur a success on the approximate scope of Nirvana and “Smells Like Teen Spirit” which would prompt the entire music-listening world to dressing like Supergrass and stuff… anyway “Sun Hits the Sky” is the song after “G-Song” which is about as good… and with all this vitriolic emotion I’ve just unleashed it’s an equally repugnant thought to me to ever listen to one of these songs without the other.
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52 Dave Matthews Band – “Ants Marching” (Under the Table and Dreaming — 1994)
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So “Ants Marching” edges out Blues Traveler all along… I swear this is just a coincidence, and a funny once since when I first heard this cut I thought it WAS a Blues Traveler song, albeit one of the SIMPLEST BT put to wax to date. I think it must have been a grower to me along with toting some charming lyrics about a kid “playing under the table and dreaming,” in the vein of which you’ve gotta love these albums that have no title tracks but state the title within a nondescript portion of one of the songs.
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51 Soul Coughing – “Rolling” (El Oso — 1998)
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Oh yeah, everybody’s favorite club banger… “Rolling”… in all seriousness El Oso is one phenomenal cloudy day work album, for some reason being good for being around silent, tense people. What is there to say about Soul Coughing? Mike Doughty is a neverending enigma to me, always bad-mouthing his old band which I adore, always following horrendous solo albums (Stellar Motel) with awesome ones (The Heart Watches While the Brain Burns). Your guess is as good as mine.
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50 Blur – “Coffee & TV” (13 — 1999)
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Per my computerized SongWizard Tabulator 2000, I’m showing a seven-slot merciless, humiliating defeat of “End of a Century” by its surly, snot nosed, paper airplane flinging younger brother “Coffee & TV”… it’s just not an accident both these songs ranked so highly because they’re both of the best of Blur disc I had in high school before streaming existed and they’re both sublime driving music, this one getting the nod for simply establishing a little more of a groove, probably.
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49 Weezer – “Undone (The Sweater Song)” (Weezer — 1994)
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We are entering a dangerous territory where the next two songs on this list have dangerously awesome videos to them… it’s dangerous… I’m gonna need another bowl of buttered popcorn, lightly salted… anyway what I keep coming back to with this career defining statement from everybody’s favorite awkward garage-rock slackers is that trippy “ooh-ooh-ooh” part at the end, where they retain the initial melody established by the guitar intro, at that.
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48 Radiohead – “Karma Police” (OK Computer — 1997)
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This is another one of those songs where, maybe I’m dumb but to this day I actually have no idea if he’s being serious or facetious, like if he’s actually bothered by the “Hitler hairdo” or mocking someone who would be so bothered by it… also I don’t get “Burn the Witch” either but that’s an amazing song and video. Props to 120 Minutes for the great Matt Pinfield stand-in in their comedic rendition of this here cinematography.
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47 Nirvana – “In Bloom” (Nevermind — 1991)
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I might have ranked this song higher except that Kurt Cobain sort of pi**es me off sometimes… like it seems like he just had a problem with anything and everything, sometimes… he was very hypocritical as in he once wrote a song “Opinion” chiding hipsters but then himself would form noxious opinions and publicly vocalize them on bands like Extreme and Pearl Jam and there’s only so many times I can hear someone say “Nature is a whore” and not preternaturally lunge for some Zoloft tablets to hand to them.
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46 Pearl Jam – “Jeremy” (Ten — 1991)
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I think in my Pearl Jam list I made some grandiose, bombastic, godlike statement on how despite how the production on this album is pretty tacky in general with those ’80s drums, “Jeremy” were somehow sociologically aligned for arena rock hence appropriating those drums… I mean it’s hard to make a song about punching and biting breasts sound corny but let’s just say they came pretty close on this one.
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45 Marcy Playground – “Sex and Candy” (Marcy Playground — 1997)
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So there’s randomly a brewery in Gary, Indiana now (for anybody unfamiliar with Northwest Indiana, it’s generally held that if you so much stop at a gas station in Gary, you’ll be shot and killed), but anyway they came out with one brew called “Sex and Candy IPA” or something like that… that should give an idea of the scope of this song although to be honest John Wozniak doesn’t seem like the beer drinking type, although also this song is so hazy and lazy and yet he claims to have had “too much caffeine.” Anyway, I was saying they could name a beer after every song on this album, like “St. Joe on the School Bus” could be a barley communion wine.
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44 Supergrass – “Alright” (I Should Coco — 1995)
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Ok, I’m feeling it coming on that this is one of those songs that’s just impossible to divorce from the high-profile Hollywood movie it jimmied in on, in this case that atrocious chick flick Clueless that everybody’s like all about nowadays, but really only took in five times its budget in the box office. I guess if anything, it’s rare that I’m in a happy enough mood for this song, like as rare as the instance when I’d be in a giant mansion with some girls that keep saying the word “like” over and over.
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43 Blur – “On Your Own” (Blur — 1997)
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Life is a continually unfolding, astonishing entity, for a reminder of which I need just remember that this used to be my LEAST favorite Blur album (I mean it opens with a sort of faux-disco romp about getting head but then I guess Parklife opens with disco too) and I saw that Tim Footman guy in the Radiohead book Welcome to the Machine cite it as their best album. Also, I still hate Gorillaz and it reminds me of them, sort of like there being too many cooks in the kitchen, the acoustic guitars layered over programmed, glossy beats — it’s the exact opposite of my Midwest-American garage rock upbringing. Maybe I was just adverse to futuristic things until… the future, and nobody would deny that we’re living in the future now, or at least it feels like it with a failing casino tycoon as president and people saying “black lives matter,” as if anybody said they didn’t.
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42 Red Hot Chili Peppers – “My Friends” (One Hot Minute — 1995)
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So this remaining friends with your ex-significant other thing, is that just a California thing? Or a gay thing? Anyway, it might seem like identity crisis that the band would foment down into this focused pop gem here, but let’s face it, songs like this don’t exactly grow on trees, so the band forms a stylistic “funk” m.o., or a “shtick,” in other words, then which I don’t think anyone would argue is their true forte, for that matter.
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41 Fastball – “Fire Escape” (All the Pain Money Can Buy — 1997)
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No thanks to an extremely boring music video, “Fire Escape” I think has still buddied up as one of the iconic songs of the ‘90s. It doesn’t get much more slackerish, that is, than “I don’t wanna be president / Superman or Clark Kent / I don’t wanna walk ‘round in their shoes”. Is it possible that there’s actually something to this whole slacker thing, like you can’t “try to throw your arms around the world”, like U2 said? That’s a great song. I love the Onion article “Account Manager Fondly Remembers Day in College When Everyone Hung out on Roof.”
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40 The Smashing Pumpkins – “1979” (Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness — 1995)
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It’s hard to pin down exactly what sort of life situation calls for this song. You know it when you feel it though and the exact steady, narcotic disposition of it you found boring when you were younger will seep into your psyche like a cat sitting on top of an easy chair, when your older, representing pure resignation and wisdom.
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39 Pavement – “Father to a Sister of Thought” (Wowee Zowee — 1996)
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It’s funny to think, being in this resoundingly mainstream realm I’m in now making this list, that Pavement was existing that whole time as a bratty garage-rock unit with relatively low-budget production, yet somehow also probably pressured to be in some way CHIC, or culturally aware, or something stupid like that. In particular with 1996, it gave us so many mainstream gems that ARE especially mainstream like Bush – Razorblade Suitcase, Soundgarden – Down on the Upside and the Primitive Radio Gods album, that surely you’re like, Pavement will fold under the pressure. They did anything but on Wowee Zowee, unleashing intimidating roars of punk rock like “Serpentine Pad” and “Flux = Rad,” while also having these pocket aces of steel guitar rockabilly like this one lying in wait. This is the type of song you’ll hear on a juke box in Boulder, Colorado. Very posh, dahling, but pretty genuine, original and affective, too.
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38 John Mellencamp – “Key West Intermezzo (I Saw You First)” (Mr. Happy Go Lucky — 1996)
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Do you like American music? I like American music and my bizarre inclusion of this song on this list this high up should all but seal the deal, a selection so funny that defending it would really be an endeavor of diminishing returns, so I’ll just give you the whole I’m from Indiana and like all types of music thing too, and the this music video is great featuring a black couple and a very inclusive vibe thing too, and the somehow Mellencamp really understands ’90s alt-rock way better than he has any right to. Somehow this song sounds newer, too, than “I’m Not Running Anymore,” the albeit equally stellar, which would come on his later album.
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37 Soundgarden – “Spoonman” (Superunknown — 1994)
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The pressure, I imagine, was great, before this album, during the tour of this album, in following up this album with a project that was just destined to be grotesquely underrated by every repugnant meat-tearing hipster on this side of the globe, making it easy to see why all his friends would be Indians, brown and red, playing primitive musical instruments and deaf to convention. If only that could have been Soundgarden’s oeuvre their whole career, they maybe would have remained a bit saner, but then, we wouldn’t have the enjoyment of this. For the record, I think they should remaster this song so that the latter part of the third chorus doesn’t escalate in production volume… other than that it’s a near perfect take.
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36 The Cranberries – “Free to Decide” (To the Faithful Departed — 1996)
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Wow, what a horrible drum beat… freakin’ limeys… anyway it’s hard not to hear this song and feel your heart soften a bit, a track which I’m very glad made it on to Stars: The Best of the Cranberries, and which I hadn’t heard or thought of in a criminally long time until I heard it on the greatest hits in a record store one time out in Boulder.
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35 Beck – “Loser” (Mellow Gold — 1994)
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One of the astonishing things to me with me being an aspiring critic is seeing those awesome dudes write up these blurbs where like diagnose Beck with all these different mental disorders (I think it’s the Pitchfork review of Guero I’m thinking of here), and on Mellow Gold they allotted him schizophrenia and the tendency toward the symptom of “word salad,” the assemblage of sentences composed of random, unrelated words making sense only syntactically. Apropos, psychology was my favorite class in college probably, and I loved seeing the sample speeches the schizos would make… it would be like “Oak trees more on the ice cream side,” and all this wigged out sh**, hehe.
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34 Alice in Chains – “Man in the Box” (Facelift — 1990)
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Wow, ’90? This album temporally rubs shoulders with Shake Your Money Maker and Pornograffiti II? You’ve gotta give the band credit for being fairly a head of its time here, although this track is a tad bit similar to Metallica. What they pushed forward, probably, for better or worse, is the completely masochistic, self-defeating lyrics that for some odd reason we all seem to never get sick of.
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33 Radiohead – “Paranoid Android” (OK Computer — 1997)
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I know a lot of people who really like this cartoon music video… I never got into it… I don’t like any cartoon spots that I know of even Pearl Jam “Do the Evolution”… anyway I love this song as well as the excellent Easy Street All Stars rendition on Radiodread. Boy was this, though, a “jagged little pill” to swallow, an extremely uncomfortable song placed only second on the album (being then uncomfortable in completely different way from “Climbing up the Walls,” compellingly enough).
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32 Fountains of Wayne – “Radiation Vibe” (Fountains of Wayne — 1996)
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I’m probably going to sound like an a**hole if I say anything about this song other than that my awesome dad got me into it in the early ’00s after I’d initially cast it off as “pu**y” and I used to crank out to it driving back from college with a 32 oz. styrofoam cup of St. Pauli Girl, a tasty libation I recently learned is made in the Beck’s brewery and which I certianly hope they keep making.
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31 PJ Harvey – “50ft Queenie” (Rid of Me — 1993)
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To be honest, Rid of Me to me is all one big whirl of fuzz, noise and undeniable female dominance. It’s an album that sometimes it takes a while to get into given what I consider a sort of slow initial three songs. “Rub ‘til it Bleeds” comes in then as one of the crowning statements in all of grunge, and from what I remember of this song it’s fast, loud and fu**in’ proud. I’m gonna rank Rid of Me probably third all time in PJ albums behind Dry and Let England Shake, in that order, but they’ve pretty much all been good, with the possible exception of Hope Six Demolition Project (that one commendable in that she let fans view the recording process in through that glass panel or whatever).
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30 The Wallflowers – “Three Marlenas” (Bringing down the Horse — 1996)
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I’ve learned in life, eventually, not to try to be the best. It’s best, I think, to just, if you have something to say, say it, and otherwise remain tacit and not try to do too much. There are some ways in which I think this is like a perfect song, but that last verse still irks me a little bit, like he really didn’t have good lyrics written for it (which is ironic since verse two is so brilliant lyrically)… it’s a ’90s syndrome I see elsewhere with Our Lady Peace and Stabbing Westward, bands which could have been elite if not for identity crisis channeled through inferiority complex.
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29 Stone Temple Pilots – “Plush” (Core — 1992)
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This might seem like a boring, conventional pick to rank this highly on this list. Oh, anything but, compadres, anything but! Christ, just rent a new car and crank this up on the awesome soundsystem… it’s literally one of the best SOUNDING songs ever but to wax, engineered by… guess who? I’ll give you a hint, it’s Brendan O’Brien.
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28 Soundgarden – “The Day I Tried to Live” (Superunknown — 1994)
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Finally it’s just funny, how these Pitchfork a**holes try to carry a torch for Chris Cornell and pay tribute to him when all they ever did when he was alive was bash him from their comfortable parochial school lives. I was just thinking of the 15-bar phrasings in this song and scratching my head in wonderment as to how any imbecile could miss the genius of this stuff. Chris Cornell’s rafter-tickling vocal peal has every bit the virtuosity of a guitar solo and somehow his chops never seemed to tire, which certainly strikes the listener as somewhat of a miracle.
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27 Radiohead – “No Surprises” (OK Computer — 1997)
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I used to work with this 22 or so year old dude who had a tattoo that said “No Surprises” and he got me into A Moon Shaped Pool for which I’m very thankful and grateful… anyway this has also always been one of my favorite tracks by the band (it’s the highest ranking selection from OK Computer on this list), for its delicate simplicity and malleability into any life situation, and oh what a video.
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26 Better than Ezra – “Good” (Deluxe — 1993)
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I’m not sure if it’s a coincidence or not that this song positions second both on Deluxe and on Greatest Hits, but somehow it seems like an earmark of destiny, like a great hitter like Ryne Sandberg batting second in a baseball lineup or the Lit classic “My Own Worst Enemy”: some things are just too da** Apollonian to bat third.
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25 Everclear – “Santa Monica” (Sparkle and Fade — 1995)
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I just ripped through this CD my last trip home, just numbed myself to everything, sat back in the driver’s seat of that rented car and let the sound waves crush my ear drums, lay waste to my neck hairs and just pummel me to sleep, while I watched the world die. Hey, at least I’m good at something.
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24 The Verve – “Lucky Man” (Urban Hymns — 1997)
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I just knew this was the best song on this album from the start, to be honest… it’s almost like it’s so good that it made everybody jealous (corroborated by Richard Ashcroft’s declaration of being a “lucky man,” I guess). It’s full of majestic little flairs like the vocal echo and what I once described as “tinny guitar frills” on Facebook, attaching my favorite activity in the world as “sitting in my room, smoking weed and listening to it.”
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23 Soul Asylum – “Just Like Anyone” (Let Your Dim Light Shine — 1995)
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God, there’s something just so HEARTBREAKING about Soul Asylum that I can’t help but find them making an impression on me… I had Let Your Dim Light Shine on on my last road trip… it’s in the lyrics which handle starvation, poverty, eccentricity and general struggle, but it’s in also the guitar sound itself, which seems so full but also just to melt like M&M’s before the ears.
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22 The Smashing Pumpkins – “Disarm” (Siamese Dream — 1993)
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The “Siamese Dream” aspect of this album is rendered not in a title of a song at all, I think, but in the middle of “Geek U.S.A.”: “In my dream I connected / Siamese twins at the hip / And I knew we’d been forsaken / Expelled from paradise”, well I think you can pretty well easily put together a theory that Corgan had the urge to “cut” himself, seeing part of his body as the connection of the Siamese twins, it being well publicized on Wikipedia that he was having suicidal thoughts before or during the recording of Siamese Dream. I think “Disarm” is definitely a powerful statement although in a way it’s hard to pin down what kind of life situation would call for it… I guess we never wish it on ourselves or our worst enemies.
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21 Beck – “Jack-A**” (Odelay — 1996)
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I have this vivid memory of riding around with my dad on the outskirts of suburban Chicago (I’m talking a pretty pastoral scene, like creeks and little bridges and hills and stuff)… this song came on and I thought to myself, as long as I’m alive, this droll, pliable and miraculous little piece of music will be an active part of my life. It features on my Dolby Radio playlist most proudly.
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20 Soul Coughing – “Soft Serve” (Irresistible Bliss — 1996)
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I don’t think it would even be possible to imagine a finer soundtrack to the thawing of snow: this whole album blows my mind, at least the first five tracks, but this one in particular just impossibly combine that great Beatles influence they wielded with their mild funk element, with some great lyrics: “My sister / Your words can be held against you in a court of law”. Poignantly enough, at least for me, it was my older sister that first got me into this bizarre and brilliant band.
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19 Goo Goo Dolls – “Flat Top” (A Boy Named Goo — 1995)
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Yes, I am talking about the same band that did “Name” here… believe it or not that’s not the best song on this album, instead giving way to this amped-up arena rocker of glory and brilliantly placed, declining guitar riffs of bite. I just made an awesome discovery: both this song and “Name” share that same three-phrase verse structure. Weird!
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18 Nirvana – “Heart-Shaped Box” (In Utero — 1993)
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Even on From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah, really a fine live album in its own right, the band cranks it up on this one and gets their abrasive and hypnotic point across robustly and powerfully, a couple of mythological things surrounding this song being that it’s a grunge nod to the Ramones “Hi-ho” (sort of like how the grunge riff is just the punk riff played backwards as allotted by Leighton Beezer in Hype!) and Wayne’s World watching it and going “Is he saying ‘Hey Wayne’?” Also I think it’s the last music video they ever did, a very weird Christ-depicting one, and Courtney Love was apparently getting on his case about every little appearance-related thing during the shoot.
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17 Pearl Jam – “In Hiding” (Yield — 1998)
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Again, much props go to Pitchfork on this one… this album is just so DORKY that for a while I’d cast it off but some girl on Pitchfork wrote this great thing on it asking whether their fans will be ready for this turn toward maturity on Yield. Again, I can’t emphasize enough, I thoroughly recommend Single Video Theory for any fan of this album.
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16 Radiohead – “High and Dry” (The Bends — 1995)
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That stand-up bass drum just gets me every time on this cut and now if I may thoroughly lambast Pitchfork for a second, their scribe said of A Moon Shaped Pool that Yorke were “finally capable of true surrender,” or something like that. Um, he’s apparently never heard this cut.
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15 Soul Asylum – “Black Gold” (Grave Dancers Union — 1992)
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Again, it’s the FEEL of these songs that’s almost more anthemic than the lyrics themselves — to be honest while sure I feel kind of bad for people in wheelchairs or people who run away from home, that’s not REALLY what these songs are about to me — it’s that hopeless feeling we get when faced with cold, machinated corporate American which attempts to package us and market us and make us subservient to money make schemes. These little Soul Asylum numbers are barbaric yawps of being truly alive as an everyman, nothing more and nothing less.
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14 Counting Crows – “Mrs. Potter’s Lullaby” (This Desert Life — 1999)
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It is now my supreme honor to come to one of my favorite songs, the divine, epic and wholly inimitable “Mrs. Potter’s Lullaby” which issues on This Desert Life which I thought had a pretty cool album cover, really. I remember this song would come on in this grocery store I worked in and sort of like “Nightswimming” it played as perfectly sublime background music for just living your life… I don’t think I’d ever talk during it if I didn’t have to, and if I did, I’d laugh a little slower and talk a little lower, without any doubt.
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13 The Breeders – “Cannonball” (Last Splash — 1993)
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Wow, how many songs do you know that feature a key change lodged directly within their respective bass-guitar intro? That’s what’s important class, that and knowing what to do if you encounter a “cuckoo cannonball,” which with them being a girl band from Dayton, Ohio, was probably pretty often, I’d imagine.
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12 Spacehog – “In the Meantime” (Resident Alien — 1995)
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If you looked up “One Hit Wonder” in the dictionary you’d probably find a picture of these bloody blokes… I actually did enjoy one other song on this album, “Cruel to Be Kind,” which wasn’t released, not so much the “Mongo City” single that would follow on their next LP. As it is on Earth from 2013 is an album I found pretty listenable, anyway. Perhaps their being pigeonholed as “glam” hurt them. Something did, that’s for sure.
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11 LIVE – “Lightning Crashes” (Throwing Copper — 1994)
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Resident getting-a-tattoo music, “Lightning Crashes” will always stand as one of the most powerful statements of the ’90s to me as well as very much embodying that realm of everybody’s-heard-and-likes-this-song-but-no-one-knows-who-it’s-by. I remember it soundtracked the highlight video of my high school’s soccer team sometime in the mid-’90s. Very inspirational, sports loving stuff.
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10 The Black Crowes – “She Talks to Angels” (Shake Your Money Maker — 1990)
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It should be noted here that this song was MEANT to be five and a half minutes… I mean it’s every bit as good as “November Rain” at least, for Christ’s sake, so that the shortening of the single to four minutes should be roundly discarded for the album version, as a minor but important variation on this list.
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9 Nirvana – “Where Did You Sleep Last Night” (live) (MTV Unplugged in New York — 1994)
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As far as covers being released as singles, this is sort of the alpha here, culling from a blues artist active in the early 20th century, performed by a loud garage rock band stripped of its reverb and set to acoustic instruments, the singer even improvising vocal part toward the end of its track to the point where it would screw up his band mates, but leave all of our hearts like jelly.
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8 The Smashing Pumpkins – “Mayonaise” (Siamese Dream — 1993)
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Like I said, Hum definitely ripped off the intro for “Stars,” and knowing humanity, they’ll probably like turn around and say they hate the Pumpkins and call Billy Corgan a pompous prick or something. Oh, well please allow the Pumpkins to veritably stomp them like Godzilla in every sense, even sonically, here, on their initial commercial breakthrough album.
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7 Helmet – “Give it” (Meantime — 1992)
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It’s sort of funny putting this song on this list because with Helmet it’s like, how much do you WANT? “Give it,” though, while being one of their tamer songs the remainder of their catalogue composed of sonically uncompromising garage rock, happens to equally be tense, dark and genuine, so that even, like, their most ardent frat-boy fans might not skip over it, if we’re lucky.
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6 Radiohead – “Fake Plastic Trees” (The Bends — 1995)
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Again, I sort of get the Soul Asylum phenomenon going on here, like either that this song is about nothing or that it just doesn’t matter what it’s about, the statements made by things like vocal timbre, chord progression and overall genuineness of the singer and the band. Radiohead were masters of this, even more so than R.E.M.
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5 Soundgarden – “Burden in My Hand” (Down on the Upside — 1996)
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I put this on the videos list on sheer strength of the song itself, like I mention — lyrically it’s about as uncompromising as you get, in true Soundgarden form. My cousin apparently takes to the lines “Kill your health and kill yourself / And kill everything you love / And if you live you can fall to pieces / And suffer with my ghost”… I’m personally partial to “Crack a smile and cut your mouth / And drown in alcohol”. The prototypical post-punk formula is setting catastrophic, apocalyptic lyrics to bubble-gum Beach Boys chords, sort of like with the Pixies’ “Wave of Mutilation,” Soundgarden pretty much doing the same thing here but able to tell it with a valuable flair maybe because of the forgotten corner of the country from which they came.
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4 The Offspring – “Come out and Play” (Smash — 1994)
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There’s something just so perfect about driving around to punk rock in the spring, whether it’s The Libertines, the Swell Maps or this classic LP here, my favorite song on which has always been “Come out and Play” with the possible exception of “It’ll Be a Long Time” with its awesome tempo changes and palm muting. It’s obviously a touchy subject and if you listen to this song all year round, there’s probably something wrong with you. But we won’t get into that right now.
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3 Blur – “Song 2” (Blur — 1997)
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One funny thing about “Song 2” is that it’s only “2” minutes long, which certainly seems weird, but all the more ebullient given that it comes right in the thick of the phenomenological “inferiority complex ‘90s,” read Our Lady Peace, read Stabbing Westward, read Wallflowers and all those bands that would try to do too much, pile too many verses into a song, pile too many instruments and styles into a soundscape, pile on sarcasm when all the while they really had something to say. Usually what Blur had to say amounts just to sarcasm, which fits the occasions just fine, really.
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2 Nirvana – “Lithium” (Nevermind — 1991)
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Structurally, there’s a lot going on here to talk about — even with its rather deliberate pace, this mid-album Nevermind showstopper plays as a roller coaster ride for its ability to represent having no footing in life. You’re never actually sure, that is, what the REAL chorus is encompassed by — there’s that “yeah-ah-ah” part and then there’s the “I like it I’m not gonna cry”, possibly with some tragicomic lyrics ending eventually in death, for sure. It makes you wonder if he could have really shaved his head.
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1 Nirvana – “Smells Like Teen Spirit” (Nevermind — 1991)
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It’s hard to put it much better than Jonathan Poneman did on when he first heard “Smells Like Teen Spirit” (a performance in Seattle which I believe is actually the one filmed in the movie Hype!): he said how the intro came in and the verse and they were one of the coolest things he ever heard, and then the chorus came in and absolutely blew them away… as if time had stopped. Cobain would have been the first to tell you that he stole that soft-loud-soft song structure from the Pixies and tracks of theirs like “Gigantic” (in the spirit of some fine tabloid rock mudslinging Lou Barlow quips in an interview “Why would anybody want to be influenced by the Pixies?”) Anyway, to get back on track here, just in general I have this memory of driving from our pad in college to some drunken party (a bad decision laced with good ones, I promise), having my friend as usually talk sh** to me in a friendly way saying the music I put on was going to be “chotchy,” only to find it being this CD, on which “Smells Like Teen Spirit” rudely bats leadoff, then hearing him say, “This is like the least chotchy thing imaginable.”

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Full index alphabetized by band:

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311 – Flowing [282]
4 Non Blondes – “What’s up?” [239]
Alice in Chains – “Man in the Box” [34]; “Over Now” (live) [60]; “Heaven beside You” [119]; “Over Now” [144]; “Down in a Hole” [264]; “Got Me Wrong” [290]
Barenaked Ladies – “It’s All Been Done” [110]
Beck – “Jack-A**” [21]; “Loser” [35]; “Where it’s At” [137]; “The New Pollution” [154]; “Devil’s Haircut” [167]
Belly – “Feed the Tree” [233]
Better than Ezra – “Good” [26]; “Rosealia” [71]; “In the Blood” [100]; “Desperately Wanting” [139]
Big Head Todd and the Monsters – “Bittersweet” [153]
Bjork – “Human Behaviour” [69]; “Army of Me” [86]
The Black Crowes – “She Talks to Angels” [10]; “Jealous Again” [228]; “Twice as Hard” [247]
blink-182 – “Adam’s Song” [188]
Blues Traveler – “Hook” [64]; “Carolina Blues [112]; “Run-around” [212]
Blur – “Song 2” [3]; “On Your Own” [43]; “Coffee & TV” [50]; “End of a Century” [57]; “Girls & Boys” [91]
The Breeders – “Cannonball” [13]; “Saints” [134]
Bush – “Comedown” [103]; “Machinehead” [122]; “Swallowed” [155]; “The Chemicals between Us” [172]; “Everything Zen” [199]; “Glycerine” [267]
Butthole Surfers – “Pepper” [75]
CAKE – “The Distance” [95]; “Never There” [177]
Tracy Chapman – “Give Me One Reason” [246]
Chumbawamba – “Tubthumping” [135]
Collective Soul – “Gel” [160]; “The World I Know” [170]; “Where the River Flows” [193]; “December” [203]; “Listen” [211]; “Precious Declaration” [260]; “Smashing Young Man” [279]
Cowboy Mouth – “Jenny Says” [149]
Counting Crows – “Mrs. Potter’s Lullaby” [14]; “Omaha” [55]; “A Long December” [158]; “Mr. Jones” [225]; “Round Here” [257]; “Rain King” [296]
Cracker – “Low” [157]
The Cranberries – “Free to Decide” [36]; “Linger” [195]; “An Ode to My Family” [227]; “Dreams” [243]
Crash Test Dummies – “Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm” [231]; “God Shuffled His Feet” [261]
Days of the New – “Touch, Peel and Stand” [131]
Eve 6 – “Inside out” [92]
Everclear – “Santa Monica” [25]; “Everything to Everyone” [59]; “One Hit Wonder” [136]; “I Will Buy You a New Life” [168]; “Father of Mine” [273]; “So Much for the Afterglow” [300]
Extreme – “Hole Hearted” [76]
Fastball – “Fire Escape” [41]; “The Way” [67]; “Out of My Head” [223]
Ben Folds Five – “Brick” [78]; “Philosophy” [200]; “Battle of Who Could Care Less” [221]; “One Angry Dwarf and 200 Solemn Faces” [256]
Filter – “Take a Picture” [80]; “Hey Man, Nice Shot” [298]
Foo Fighters – “Everlong” [89]; “Big Me” [127]; “Monkey Wrench” [145]; “My Hero” [171]; “Alone + Easy Target” [234]; “Learn to Fly” [253]; “I’ll Stick around” [272]; “For All the Cows” [289]
Fountains of Wayne – “Radiation Vibe” [32]
Goldfinger – “Here in Your Bedroom” [185]
Goo Goo Dolls – “Flat Top” [19]; “Name” [143]
Green Day – “When I Come around” [79]; “Basket Case” [109]; “She” [118]; “Longview” [174]; “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” [180]; “Welcome to Paradise” [217]; “Redundant” [251]; “Geek Stink Breath” [280]; “Nice Guys Finish Last” [286]; “Brain Stew”/“Jaded” [294]
PJ Harvey – “50ft Queenie” [31]; “C’mon Billy” [125]; “A Perfect Day Elise” [201]; “Dress” [237]; “Send His Love to Me” [238]
Helmet – “Give it” [7]
Hole – “Celebrity Skin” [274]
Hootie & the Blowfish – “Time” [115]; “Only Wanna Be with You” [147]; “Hold My Hand” [268]; “Let Her Cry” [285]
Hum – “Green to Me” [61]; “Stars” [229]
INXS – “Beautiful Girl” [218]; “Not Enough Time” [252]
Jane’s Addiction – “Been Caught Stealing” [108]
Korn – “Got the Life” [216]; “Freak on a Leash” [255]
Len – “Steal My Sunshine” [208]
Annie Lennox – “Walking on Broken Glass” [129]
LIVE – “Lightning Crashes” [11]; “I Alone” [71]; “Freaks” [99]; “All Over You” [133]; “Turn My Head” [161]; “Selling the Drama” [213]; “Lakini’s Juice” [240]; “Rattlesnake” [283]
Marilyn Manson – “The Beautiful People” [284]; “The Dope Show” [292]
Marcy Playground – “Sex and Candy” [45]; “Poppies” [128]
Matchbox 20 – Back 2 Good” [164]
Dave Matthews Band – “Ants Marching” [52]; “What Would You Say” [74]; “Jimi Thing” [93]; “Don’t Drink the Water” [151]; “Satellite” [179]; “So Much to Say” [222]
Mazzy Star – “Fade into You” [186]
Meat Puppets – “Backwater” [123]
John Mellencamp – “Key West Intermezzo (I Saw You First)” [38]
The Mighty Mighty Bosstones – “The Rascal King” [107]; “Royal Oil” [204]; “The Impression That I Get” [242]
Alanis Morissette – “Hand in My Pocket” [56]; “Ironic” [220]; “You Learn” [245]; “Head over Feet” [266]; “Thank U” [287]
Morrissey – “The More You Ignore Me the Closer I Get” [250]
Morphine – “Honey White” [68]
Nirvana – “Smells Like Teen Spirit” [1]; “Lithium” [2]; “Where Did You Sleep Last Night” (live) [9]; “Heart-Shaped Box” [18]; “In Bloom” [47]; “All Apologies” [82]; “All Apologies” (live) [96]; “On a Plain” [117]; “The Man Who Sold the World” (live) [132]; “About a Girl” (live) [205]; “Lake of Fire” (live) [254]
Oasis – “Champagne Supernova” [175]; “Rock ‘n’ Roll Star” [277]
The Offspring – “Come out and Play” [4]; “Self Esteem” [141]; “Bad Habit” [248]; “Pretty Fly (For a White Guy)” [265]
Orgy – “Stitches” [178]
Our Lady Peace – “Clumsy” [54]
Pavement – “Father to a Sister of Thought” [39]; “Spit on a Stranger” [146]; “Cut Your Hair” [183]; “Summer Babe (Winter Version)” [194]
Pearl Jam – “In Hiding” [17]; “Jeremy” [46]; “Dissident” [62]; “Alive” [87]; “Better Man” [102]; “Given to Fly” [124]; “Even Flow” [148]; “Wishlist” [182]; “Do the Evolution” [207]; “Daughter” [224]; “Black” [275]; “Animal” [291]
Liz Phair – “Whip-Smart” [105]; “Never Said” [165]; “Stratford-on-Guy” [198]
Porno for Pyros – “Kimberly Austin” [130]; “Tahitian Moon” [192]
Primitive Radio Gods – “Standing outside a Broken Phone Booth with Money in My Hand” [140]
The Proclaimers – “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” [71]
Propellerheads – “History Repeating” [187]
R.E.M. – “Tongue” [97]; “Drive” [101]; “Nightswimming” [241]
Radiohead – “Fake Plastic Trees” [6]; “High and Dry” [16]; “No Surprises” [27]; “Paranoid Android” [33]; “Karma Police” [48]; “Just” [104]; “Creep” [270]
Red Hot Chili Peppers – “My Friends” [42]; “Under the Bridge” [249]; “Aeroplane” [269]
The Smashing Pumpkins – “Mayonaise” [8]; “Disarm” [22]; “1979” [40]; “Ava Adore” [159]; “Thirty-Three” [84]; “Bullet with Butterfly Wings” [191]; “Fu** You (An Ode to No One)” [214]; “Tonight, Tonight” [230]; “Rocket” [244]; “Zero” [271]; “Cherub Rock” [288]

Sonic Youth – “Disappearer” [63]
Soul Asylum – “Black Gold” [15]; “Just Like Anyone” [23]; “Runaway Train” [65]; “Somebody to Shove” [111]; “Close” [219]
Soul Coughing – “Soft Serve” [20]; “Rolling” [51]; “St. Louise is Listening” [58]; “Super Bon Bon” [90]; “Down to This” [98]; “Screenwriter’s Blues” [114]; “Circles” [121]; “Soundtrack to Mary” [232]; “Sugar Free Jazz” [281]
Soundgarden – “Burden in My Hand” [5]; “The Day I Tried to Live” [28]; “Spoonman” [37]; “Black Hole Sun” [70]; “Fell on Black Days” [83]; “Pretty Noose” [138]; “Blow up the outside World” [226]; “Ty Cobb” [259]
Spacehog – “In the Meantime” [12]
Stabbing Westward – “What Do I Have to Do?” [299]
Stone Temple Pilots – “Plush” [29]; “Interstate Love Song” [66]; “Lady Picture Show” [88]; “Vasoline” [120]; “Down” [162]; “Pretty Penny” [173]; “Sour Girl” [196]; “Big Empty” [235]
Sublime – “What I Got” [276]; “Wrong Way” [293]
Supergrass – “Alright” [44]; “Sun Hits the Sky” [53]
Texas – “Say What You Want” [262]
Toad the Wet Sprocket – “Good Intentions” [116]; “All I Want” [152]; “Walk on the Ocean” [209]; “Something’s Always Wrong” [263]; “Come down” [297]
Tonic – “Open up Your Eyes” [166]
Third Eye Blind – “How’s it Going to Be” [113]; “Semi-Charmed Life” [126]; “Never Let You Go” [169]; “Jumper” [215]; “Losing a Whole Year” [258]; “Deep inside of You” [278]; “10 Days Late” [295]
Throwing Muses – “Counting Backwards” [77]; “Bright Yellow Gun” [176]; “Not Too Soon” [197]
U2 – “One” [81]; “Numb” [150]; “Who’s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses?” [181]
The Verve – “Lucky Man” [24]; “Bittersweet Symphony” [156]; “The Drugs Don’t Work” [184]; “Sonnet” [206]
The Verve Pipe – “The Freshmen” [85]; “Villains” [94]
The Wallflowers – “Three Marlenas” [30]; “One Headlight” [163]; “6th Avenue Heartache” [210]
Weezer – “Undone (The Sweater Song)” [49]; “El Scorcho” [106]; “Buddy Holly” [142]; “The Good Life” [190]; “Say it Ain’t So” [202]; “Pink Triangle” [236]
White Town – “Your Woman” [189]

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