Friday, August 8, 2008

The 40 greatest grunge songs (20-16)

(Click here for the whole list.)

20. Veruca Salt - Seether

This music video gives you a nice little recipe for coming up with a breakthrough hit song:

1. Write a lot of parts -- verse, pre-chorus, chorus, bridge -- but don't use too many different chords.

2. Make sure the chorus is a hook that people can't get out of their heads.

3. Use vocal harmonies liberally.

4. Have two cute female singers.

19. Collective Soul - Shine

This is exactly the kind of song that will get me in trouble with the official arbiters of grungedom (watch out -- they're out there!) for putting it on the list. "How can you include that lame MTV hit but not the real grunge like Mudhoney / Screaming Trees/ Afghan Whigs / Archers of Loaf?!"

Well, because I've never heard a song by any of those bands that I remembered the next day. "Shine" is a song I'll always remember.

Being commercial and accessible doesn't subtract any points from you in my book. I just care whether something's a good song or not. And this is.


18. Nirvana - School

Nirvana was always a heavy band, but they were more uncompromisingly heavy before they switched to a major label. "School," from their first album, Bleach, gives a taste of their early period.

The entire lyrics to the song are:

Won't you believe it, it's just my luck
No recess
You're in high school again

17. The Smashing Pumpkins - I Am One

This is the first song from their first album, back when they were a straightforward rock band with minimal frills. Billy Corgan and James Iha actually showed off their guitar virtuosity -- a relic of the '80s that would become verboten in the '90s (and even more so in the '00s). You certainly don't hear two simultaneous shredding guitars anymore.

There's something wonderfully unironic about this song -- possibly related to its surprising religiosity ("Time is right for a guiding light...").

16. Meat Puppets - Backwater

A solid, no-nonsense, well-constructed rock song. That's all.

>>> Go to #15-11 >>>


Richard Lawrence Cohen said...

Song #20 Point #2 -- that's the hard part, isn't it?

Unknown said...

The reason "Shine" doesn't belong on this list is because it's just too damn happy to be a grunge song! :-) It is a great song though.

John Althouse Cohen said...

The reason "Shine" doesn't belong on this list is because it's just too damn happy to be a grunge song!

You're absolutely right, but I felt like the pre-chorus (the part where the lyrics are just "Yeah! ... Yeah! ... Yeah! ... Yeah! ...") justified it. It's like they suddenly become Soundgarden for a few seconds.