Friday, July 18, 2008

The 40 greatest grunge songs (35-31)

It's Friday, which means another 5 songs from the grunge top 40.

(Click here for the whole list.)

A quick disclaimer, since the definitional boundaries of the list have drawn comment from around the blogosphere:

As I said last week, my goal is not to spend two months just providing a dictionary definition of the word "grunge." If anyone wants to make a list like that, more power to you — send me your blog post and we can compare our lists! (Church of Rationality has already accepted the challenge! Except instead of staying with "grunge" and narrowing the definition, he's taken the opposite route: switching from "grunge" to "alternative" and expanding the timeline.)

I'm trying to collect songs that fit in that general style (and time period) but that stretched the boundaries of grunge and milked it for all it was worth. If they stretch the boundaries past the breaking point so it's a whole other genre that you wouldn't even call "grunge," then ... cool!

But more important than any of that, the "grunge" premise wasn't intended to open up an academic debate on the proper use of the term (which could hardly be more antithetical to the whole idea of grunge) — it's just an excuse for me to make a list of music I like. If you like the songs too, then mission accomplished.

On that note, here's this week's installment:

35. Dig - Believe

This is how it's done: young people who are really adamant about something or other, with five chords and two great hooks.

34. Superchunk - Hyper Enough

The intro to this video is an all-too-accurate reminder of a thousand band practices. No envelopes being pushed here, just a great guitar lead and tons of energy.

33. Belly - Feed the Tree

Here's a twist: a song without a wall of distorted guitars. Clean grunge!

32. My Bloody Valentine - Only Shallow

I think this is the earliest song on the list. I've made a point of staying within the '90s. You could start looking for "seminal" grunge songs from the '80s, and then pretty soon you're listing tracks from the Velvet Underground and the White Album. This is from 1990 — ancient.

You have to give them credit for pretty much inventing the Smashing Pumpkins. Compare this song to the next one, "Rocket," which came out a few years later. (Of course, you'll notice I rated the Pumpkins higher than MBV. Originality isn't everything!)

31. The Smashing Pumpkins - Rocket

Guitar-fuzz ecstasy with a video about childhood that always gives me goosebumps.

This song has a beautiful production that couldn't possibly be captured on YouTube, so make sure to get out your copy of Siamese Dream, turn up the volume, and give it a listen.

I shall be free!

I highly recommend the Smashing Pumpkins music video collection on DVD — each song includes the official video + an alternate version + commentary by band members and others.

>>> Go to #30-26 >>>


LemmusLemmus said...


Just joking. Thanks for the link.

somefeller said...

Glad to see that MBV is on the list, though I would have put "Only Shallow" in the top 20, together with Smashing Pumpkins' "Rocket". But this project continues to have my approval. That approval may be withdrawn if you include Matchbox 20 in the list, however.

rumetzen said...

yeah, my bloody valentines pretty awesome. BLOODY awesome. heh heh. i can hear you groaning. good to see a smashing pumpkins song on the list.

chuck b. said...

It's no surprise to see MBV dominate any subsequent discussion. They had that effect.

Not sure what all the definitional boundaries foreclose ("to make a list of music that I like"), but in the spirit of grunge expansion, I commend to you the artist known as Sylvia Juncosa, one self-styled Guitar Goddess muy furioso (and surfer) who played with misc. D-list LA punk bands (e.g., the leaving trains and to damascus), later breaking out on her own with SST, then making one more outing in the 80s, before finally, in 1991, quite oblivious to the smells of teen spirit wafting up every nostril, she turned in her final document, the record titled Is.

Asked about her music, she gave laid out the grungy groundwork, without using the word grunge.
HIP: Can you give your music a name?
SYLVIA: Well if you needed an easy phrase I guess it would be psychedelic hard rock. Kind of like power trio thrash overdrive. I put a lot of time into lyrics, I like to write about personal feelings, and some of the other songs are socially conscious...but I try to have some definite meaning in the lyrics and I don't have any "Ooh baby, yeah" in.