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1,001 songs to listen to before you die...


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1994 was the year that alternative music became mainstream. It was an important year for me because it was the year I started buying records the day they came out. I don't think you can ever recapture the feeling of being a teenager listening to a brand new record. I'm not sure how much of 1994 alt rock holds up anymore. I'm not fond of revisiting pop culture from the 90s -- music, movies, TV, comic books -- I feel like I lived through it the first time so what's the point in revisiting it? I don't really feel like picking my youth apart. I mean people talk shit about Nirvana Unplugged, but I listened to that record every day for at least six months after I bought it. Sometimes you had to be there.

Glancing through the list, there are a few things that stick out to me. I like Scott Weiland's voice. I feel like he got a bad rap. TLC were easily the best thing to happen in R&B since New Jack Swing or maybe even Prince. Sabotage had a great video clip and it's a good song, but I don't think it's a great representation of what the Beastie Boys were capable of after Paul's Boutique. Hole may not be a great band, but they had some catchy songs. I found myself randomly singing "I wanna be the girl with the most cake" at various points during the past week. Strangely, I was never into Nas or Nine Inch Nails.

A lot of these songs remind me of working at my part time job in '94 where they played Jeff Buckley and Portishead endlessly, or watching afternoon music TV where a bunch of these song were on endless rotation. I can also remember endless Grant Lee Buffalo videos too, for what it's worth.

I love Pavement. I don't know about that next Nirvana crap, but I always loved this video:

There were a few songs that could have easily made the list -- Weezer's Buddy Holly, Green Day's Basket Case, something by Offspring maybe -- but this is an absolute banger:

Here are a few others:


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On 12/5/2020 at 6:34 AM, ohtani's jacket said:


Asphyx? Actually they didn't have an album in '93; Last One on Earth was '92 and the self-titled (a personal favorite) was '94. Or are you talking about the Russian band Аспид? I've never even heard of them myself. The only Russian metal bands I know that aren't black metal are Korrosia Metalla (horribly racist band btw) and Aria. 

And yeah those Death and Demilich records are killer. Nespithe is something I've very happy I have on wax. Now if I just had those demos...

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1994 was arguably hip hop's greatest year. I've always preferred East Coast Hip Hop to West Coast, but '94 was the year where most people believe there was a East Coast renaissance. It was also the year where Southern hip hop rose to prominence. 

Check out some of these tracks:

And that's just the tip of the iceberg:





Edited by ohtani's jacket
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‘Champagne Supernova’, Oasis (1995)

I feel like this would be a potentially divisive inclusion, depending on what your mileage might be on those songs that end up thrown on at an indie club at the end of the night when everyone is drunk and wants to shout along to something. To be quite honest, I didn’t really know this song very well until my University days and times falling out of clubs pissed off of my face, and I always enjoyed it when it came on. Do I care as much for it now? It is a decent enough song and showed that Oasis had better writing chops than some might say, but it doesn’t set the world alight for me.


‘The Fever’, Garth Brooks (1995)

Brooks is notoriously difficult to find stuff from on Youtube, so this is what is purported to be a live version…and I’m vaguely of the opinion it might not actually be Brooks singing. He was one of my mum’s favourite singers, so I’ve had my fair share of listening to him so feel like I’d know. Ah well – it gives you a sense of what the song is about at least. This is oddly a song I’ve never actually heard by him considering all I just said about my experience with him and it is a raucous enough tune that is a revising of an Aerosmith song of all things. I’m not quite sure why it has made the list outside of to get Brooks on there somewhere.


‘Kung Fu’, Ash (1995)

Influenced by: Teenage Lobotomy • Ramones (1977)   

Influence on: Buck Rogers • Feeder (2001)   

Other key tracks: Day of the Triffids (1995) • Luther Ingo’s Star Cruiser (1995) • Angel Interceptor (1995) • Girl from Mars (1996) • Goldfinger (1996)

I genuinely think that Ash are one of the best singles bands in my time listening to music. Their Intergalactic Sonic 7” collection is so good with a load of earworm bangers for your buck. This isn’t their best song by any means in my opinion, but mainly finds its way onto the list as the song that broke them into the mainstream consciousness – all the most impressive as two of them were only 17 at the time of recording. That isn’t to downplay it as a tune. It isn’t quite as refined as some of their later offerings, yet it does have the raucous noise, quirky lyrics and catchiness that they became known for in some of their later songs. I’m glad they made the list, though I’m sure not everyone would agree.


‘1979’, The Smashing Pumpkins (1995)

Influenced by: Everything’s Gone Green • New Order (1981)   

Influence on: Turn My Way • New Order (2001)   

Covered by: Vaux (2006) • Jacksoul (2006) • Lismore (2006) • Kuusimäki (2007) • Young Love (2007)

Before I knew who the Smashing Pumpkins were, I was aware of ‘1979’ as a song. This implies to me that it must have got some radio play in the UK as it would have been the only opportunity I got to listen to music outside of soundtracks and TV adverts. It was always a song that I enjoyed as a child and was happy to rediscover in my late teens. I always feel like I want to like the Smashing Pumpkins more than I do. When they are good, they are very good; they aren’t often good enough for me. However, ‘1979’ smashes it out of the park with its hazy, lazy sound that resonates nostalgia.


‘Common People’, Pulp (1995)

Influenced by: Fanfare For the Common Man • Emerson, Lake & Palmer (1977)   

Influence on: Sliding Through Life on Charm • Marianne Faithfull (2002)   

Covered by: William Shatner & Joe Jackson (2004) • Tori Amos (2005)

This might legitimately be my own personal favourite song on the list thus far. I loved the song as a nine year old when it first came out, only for it to shoot into the stratosphere when I finally got around to checking out ‘Different Class’. What an album. Easily top five for me of all time. I prefer ‘Disco 2000’ (probably because it is played less on the radio) and ‘Something Changed’ (the lyrics are so good), but this is THE Pulp song. I also like that the lyrics could apparently be about the wife of Yannis Varoufakis, a man who is quite well liked in the English department I work in for some random reason – a random mix of reference and personal in-joke. Lastly, it is one of the ten or so songs I've done at karaoke. Badly, I'm sure.

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Welcome back. I've been binge listening to nothing but 1994 Memphis Rap and Black Metal since you left.

I lived through the whole Brit-pop era but wasn't British, so didn't take sides. Oasis was huge in New Zealand, but I was still heavily into grunge at the time, especially after seeing Pearl Jam live. From that point on, I started growing my hair out and wearing a corduroy jacket. The Oasis song is okay but sounds like Beatles wankery. 

The book ignored so much great country that I think we can safely ignore Garth Brooks.

I have a soft spot for Ash. I saw them open for Garbage in '96. They were a great pop act. I especially like Girl from Mars. 

That Smashing Pumpkins song holds up remarkably well. I suspect it's because of the way Corgan sings it. I imagine the Smashing Pumpkins' songs that don't hold up well are the songs where Corgan whines. That was a massive album, though. I remember buying it the day it came out. 

Common People is one of the best singles of the 90s. I also love Disco 2000. Hell, they could both make my 10 ten for the decade. Disco 2000 has the catchier chorus, but Common People is probably the better song overall. I'm not sure if Pulp ever lived up to their promise of being a Smiths or a Cure for their generation (or New Order, Pet Boys, etc.), but they nailed it with those two songs. And you can tell from listening to their earlier stuff that they were really building to those triumphant moments. The narrative was building and the music caught up. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Babies take a lot of time and effort to look after. Who knew?


‘Where The Wild Roses Grow’, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds featuring Kylie Minogue (1995)

Influenced by: Down in the Willow Garden • Hobart Smith & Texas Gladden (c. 1940)   

Influence on: Burst Lethargic • The Silence Kits (2006)   

Covered by: Chicks on Speed & Kriedler (2001) • Chiasm (2006)   

Other key tracks: Stagger Lee (1996)

I absolutely love this song so am happy to see it pop up on this list. From the album Murder Ballads, this is a song a conversation between a man waiting to be executed and the woman he had slain. The darkness of Cave is brooding and sensuous, only heightened by Minogue’s clarity as she ‘plays’ the poor victim. It shouldn’t work, perhaps, but it does – you have to be impressed by Cave’s vision as he had apparently always wanted to do a song with her and they knock it out of the park.


‘Insomnia’, Faithless (1995)

A house song that was appealing enough to go beyond the dance floor and into the charts, this is an absolute banger. The thumping bass drives the song forward and the lyrics do an admirable job of offering an empathise-able element for the listener and a catchy refrain, but it is the keyboard section that takes this over the top in terms of a tune. As an aside, I believe that ‘Weapon of Mass Destruction’ is one of the best songs I’ve ever heard. Might as well just throw that out there.


‘Scream’, Michael and Janet Jackson (1995)

This is a song I remember feeling so big back when I was nine, even though I didn’t really know too much about either Michael or Janet Jackson. I’m sure it was in the media and all over the place for a period of time that meant it was difficult to avoid it. For me, it is actually Janet who does the bulk of the heavy lifting and makes this a really good song. That isn’t to downplay Michael at all, just to give Janet some credit for this edgier, darker – arguably cooler? – move away from what MJ had been known for. A decent song that feels positioned here as a moment more than anything else really.


‘Hell Is Round the Corner’, Tricky (1995)

Apparently, this shared a sample with a Portishead song and lyrics with a Massive Attack song, yet Tricky/Adrian Thaws was happy to put his song up against anything apparently. It is definitely denser, darker and moodier than the music I associate with the former two bands. Coupled with a creepy video, it has the whole package to create an unnerving experience. The use of the female vocals over half way through adds another string to the song’s bow and helps the all-round enjoyable experience.


‘Born Slippy Nuxx’, Underworld (1995)

If you had to create what the word ‘euphoria’ sounded like, ‘Born Slippy Nuxx’ would be just that. The trance synths and the spacey vocal delivery set the tone, the speed increases, before a thumping beat continues to add the layers of sound that make this at once exciting and somewhat overwhelming – so much feels like it is going on at the same time, somewhat disparately but all building to one great sound. This isn’t my ‘type of music’ but I’ve always loved this song.

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Hope the little one is doing well.

I like the Tricky song the best out of this batch, though I'm not sure if Tricky or Portishead used the Isaac Hayes sample better. I was never one for clubbing or raves, so I never got into any of the UK dance acts. I think Trip-hop might appeal to me nowadays, so I'll probably give that a try while you're busy changing diapers and doing midnight feeds. 

Edited by ohtani's jacket
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I guess I forgot about Janet getting nose surgery to look like her brother. 

What a fucked up family. 

Hey, 1995! This is when metal pretty much hits the wall. Looking at the Wiki list I have three picks from it (all 'S'es... Skepticism, Saint Vitus, and Sentenced) but none of those would go on the list. This might though

I sure loved it when it came out. But I was 12 so I didn't know much. 

EDIT: Okay there are many more. Darkthrone, Death, Ulver, Sigh, Deceased (my boys!), Dead Infection (beware looking them up), Suffocation, Deicide, Necromantia (unquestionably my favorite of that year), Ved Buens Ende, the guys in my personal pic, and... yes, Down all made great albums that year. And somebody else can argue for the Gothenburg bands cuz I ain't gonna do it

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On 12/27/2020 at 10:20 AM, ohtani's jacket said:

Hope the little one is doing well.

I like the Tricky song the best out of this batch, though I'm not sure if Tricky or Portishead used the Isaac Hayes sample better. I was never one for clubbing or raves, so I never got into any of the UK dance acts. I think Trip-hop might appeal to me nowadays, so I'll probably give that a try while you're busy changing diapers and doing midnight feeds. 

I listened to Maxinquaye. Not bad, but I didn't release that most of the tracks are sung by Martina Topley-Bird. I thought Tricky would rap more. 

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‘You Oughta Know’, Alanis Morisette (1995)

Add another song to the list of ones I’ve liked to perform on Guitar Hero/Rock Band. It is the power of this song that gets me every time – it takes no prisoners and it isn’t hard to see why Morisette was a poster girl for particularly female music fans. Until I covered the song for this, I didn’t realise that Flea and Dave Navarro were involved the backing music, which does admittedly explain the undeniably funky nature of the hook. Not the best of all time by any means, but a song that I can see ending up on a list like this.


‘Back For Good’, Take That (1995)

I mean, yeah, I guess so.

I didn’t expect to see Take That on this list, but there is something I quite enjoy about them popping up with this, probably their best song. It is a well written pop song about love that isn’t too complex or trying to do too much. I was unaware that this came, relatively speaking, quite close to the end of the band as a whole, and it is also the one that most clearly has Gary Barlow’s fingerprints all over it, probably signposting a solo career which never came close to topping this, ironically enough.


‘Stupid Girl’, Garbage (1995)

Influenced by: Train in Vain • The Clash (1979)   

Influence on: Hot n Cold • Katy Perry (2008)   

Covered by: Zosja (2003) • Alexz Johnson (2005)   

Other key tracks: Driving Lesson (1995) • Alien Sex Fiend (1995) • Only Happy When It Rains (1995) • Queer (1995) • Push It (1998) • Special (1998)

Garbage were never a band I ever got into, though I had a number of friends who swore by their music. I’ll be honest, nothing entirely jumps out at me about this song either as to why I should be overly bothered by them. There is the novelty of a female fronted rock band and the mix of the harsher sound with her emotive vocals is pleasant enough, but I think if I didn’t ‘get them’ at the time, nothing was likely to change my mind now.


‘Miss Sarajevo’, Passengers (1995)

Influenced by: The Great Gig in the Sky • Pink Floyd (1973)   

Influence on: Live Like Horses • Elton John & Luciano Pavarotti (1996)  

Covered by: George Michael (1999)

As always, your mileage with U2 will vary, but this always felt to me like a pretty good song if not one of their very best. This came about through a collaboration between U2, Brian Eno and Pavarotti, the Italian opera superstar apparently pestering Bono to record a song together. The book talks about how this was a good song to hear live on U2’s later tours and I can definitely believe that, though I feel it might lose some of its power when you listen to it on record. Pavarotti’s vocals give the song something just a little bit different as it threatens to meander to a close.


River of Deceit’, Mad Season (1995)

I’m surprised this song has ended up on here, but pleasantly. I’m a big fan of Layne Staley as a vocalist, with the best songs from Alice in Chains often being the ones that allow him to showcase his vocal chops. That is exactly what you get on ‘River of Deceit’ as his singing is front and centre, though the guitar and bass flourishes add layers to an emotive and bluesy tune. It won’t convert anyone who cares little for the style of music, but it is a personal favourite of mine.

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Alanis Morissette was everywhere in 1995. I'm glad they included a song of hers as the authors often eschew the chart-topping hits. I've got to admit that Back for Good is a decent tune. I can imagine banging that one out at karaoke. Robbie looks like a prize dick in the video. 

I could have done without Bono. If they wanted Pavarotti in the book, they should have included Nessun Dorma. 

I was into Garbage at the time. I met they once at an autograph signing. I remember making a dick of myself telling Shirley Manson how beautiful she was. Listening to them years later, they kind of have that 90s Butch Vig production, but the tunes are catchy. I probably would have chosen Queer over Stupid Girl. 

Mad Season never registered with me, even though I was heavily into grunge at the time. 

I'm having some serious flashbacks to '95  -- Everclear, Bone Thugs and Harmony, Jewel, No Doubt... Why didn't they include Don't Speak! That's a great pop song. 

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‘Dear Mama’, 2Pac (1995)

I’ve only ever listened to ‘Changes’ when it comes to 2Pac’s music, so feel poorly positioned to talk much about this song. My main thoughts really are that it is interesting to hear a song from a rapper to his Mum, even one that engages with her flaws as well as everything else that makes her worthy of the song. Apparently this was released around a time that 2Pac was under investigation for a sexual assault charge, perhaps undermining this song and other female positive tunes that he also released. For me, it is often the surrounding tune and vocals that interests me when it comes to rap, and the sparse guitar creates a pleasant groove for the lyrics to work with.


‘The Bomb (These Sounds Fall Into My Mind)’, The Bucketheads (1995)

If there is one thing this project has helped me do, it is to reveal the actual names and artists behind songs that I’ve heard, but never had any idea who they were by. Turning house songs into commercial entities (this was originally 14 minutes long) saw some success in the UK charts in particular, with this being one of the songs that has had some longevity. The Latin flourishes particular gives this a fresh feeling that makes it longer in the head for me, alongside the obvious lyrical refrain that forms the bulk of the song. Fun song, if nothing overly exciting.


‘Guilty by Association’, Joe Henry featuring Madonna (1996)

The story behind this is perhaps more interesting than the song: a benefit album that aimed to raise money for a country singer paralysed in a car crash, the album featuring songs written by him but performed by others. The original version of this song had Michael Stipe on the backing vocals and the lyrics were about his awkward celebrity position that he found himself in, so there is a bit of an irony when you swap out someone as understated as Stipe with Madonna. This is pleasant, but feel it is here for novelty as much as anything.


‘A irmandade das estrelas’, Carlos Nunez (1996)

Not something I necessarily expected to say, but this is a song that is all about the Spanish bagpipes. Positioned here as a means to give a nod to the breadth and depth of music across the world, this song comes from the debut album of Nunez, a man who had played backing music for the Chieftains amongst others. This sold over 100,000 copies in Spain, the first time music of Celtic origin managed to do that. At least someone liked it…


 ‘Brooklyn’s Finest’, Jay-Z featuring The Notorious B.I.G. (1996)

Jay-Z has had enough crossover appeal that I think even people who aren’t massively into rap have a favourite Jay-Z song, yet I’ve heard a lot less from The Notorious B.IG., so have limited knowledge of what is or isn’t good in terms of their wider musical collection. This feels a lot more in keeping with the boisterous, combative rap that I expect from this time period, something backed up by some swipes taken at 2Pac in the lyrics and….well, the title. I prefer my Jay-Z from a few years later than this, but I can see the appeal.

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Dear Mama is a good song. I like the Joe Sample sample a lot and the Sadie sample in the chorus. I also love the way Tupac stresses his rhymes.

I never really got into the dance scene from this era, but that Bucketheads song is an awesome throwback to the funk & soul era, and that's a type of music that this era desperately lacks. 

That Joe Henry song was a headscratcher. 

I was impressed with Carlos Nunez' musicianship, but I thought the book steered away from instrumentals? If instrumentals are fair game, why has there been no jazz or classical music?

I've never really listened to Jay-Z. That may sound crazy, but I had stopped listening to modern music by the time he got big. The song was okay, but far from the best hip hop released that year, and they probably should have included one of Biggie's own songs instead. 


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1995 was another formative year for me. I grew my hair out, bought clothes from secondhand ops and did my utmost to emulate Eddie Vedder and Kurt Cobain just like every other guy in high school. The book makes 1995 seem like a boring time for music, but I was sure having the time of my life at gigs. 

I think they picked the wrong Bjork song. I would have chosen Hyper-Ballad. Even today I think this is an exquisitely beautiful piece of music. 

The biggest omissions were Liquid Swords and Only Built 4 Cuban Lynx, two of the greatest hip hop records of all time. I also thought they should have included a track from Radiohead's The Bends and Death's Symbolic, the latter being perhaps the most accessible mainstream Death Metal I can think of. It doesn't make sense that they included the 80s thrash bands but didn't feature any extreme metal.

Here's a bunch of stuff I liked:



Some more stuff. (I like the Tony Stark joke in the Faith No More comments section.)



One more batch:



Props to D'Anglo too.

And the absolute banger of the year:


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'Novocaine for the Soul’, Eels (1996)

Influenced by: The Tears of a Clown • Smokey Robinson & The Miracles (1967)   

Influence on: Your Woman • White Town (1997)   

Covered by: The Moog Cookbook (2005)   

Other key tracks: Fucker (1996) • My Beloved Monster (1996) • Cancer for the Cure (1998)

This was released during the time I remember first getting into music, or at least music beyond what I heard on the radio from my Mum and Dad. This was a song I recall being played on Top of the Pops and me thinking it was strange, but also alluring. I think that if you like this slow, meandering, indie sound, you’ll like this song a lot. It is just as likely that someone will find it boring. Mainly melancholy but with an oddly uplifting feeling that the book pinpoints, it deserves some plaudits for breaking out at a time when this style of music didn’t really shift records en masse.


'Ready or Not', The Fugees (1996)

Influenced by: Ready or Not Here I Come (Can’t Hide from Love) • The Delfonics (1968)   

Influence on: I Don’t Wanna Know • Mario Winans featuring Enya & P. Diddy (2004)  

Covered by: The Course (1997)

There are songs, irrelevant of genre and your own personal tastes, where you can enjoy the talent on show. For me, Lauryn Hill is an artist that I have very little interest of digging further into, but she has an undeniably cracking voice. This was also shortly before a window of Wyclef mainstream success that I particularly enjoyed, so this song has a lot going for it. Brooding and menacing, yet with Hill’s sultry delivery of the chorus adding another layer – this song is fire.


'Firestarter', Prodigy (1996)

Music is subjective. Obviously. However, I don’t quite get how people can’t find something redeeming in Prodigy. Energetic and loud, yet with an undeniably catchy underlying sound, they are by no means my favourite band, but I am rarely if ever disappointed when I throw a song of theirs on. This may not be my favourite song by them – I’m partial to ‘Out of Space’ – yet it is an absolute classic of this era.


‘Professional Widow (Armand Van Helden’s Star Trunk Remix)’, Tori Amos (1996)

CHOON! Simple really.

PS: Van Helden wanted to do a remix, Amos agreed only if it was completely different to the original. He nailed that. There you go.


'Nancy Boy', Placebo (1996)

Influenced by: Disappearer • Sonic Youth (1990)   

Influence on: Underdog • Kasabian (2009)   

Covered by: Norwegian Celery Farmers (2001)   

Other key tracks: Slackerbitch (1996) • Eyesight to the Blind (1996) • Miss Moneypenny (1996) • Teenage Angst (1996) • 36 Degrees (1996)

I’ve had different bands that I consider the most underrated or underappreciated bands of all time, but as I get a bit older, Placebo sits pretty high up that list. That isn’t to say they don’t have a sizeable following, more that they have so many good songs and singles and I forget how good they can be. Seeing them live several years ago as part of a festival, every song was another ‘Oh yeah, what an absolute tune’ moment. I get them putting this song on the list over some of their better songs – partial to Every Me, Every You or Special K – though it is interesting that Molko himself wasn’t a huge fan of the song compared to the rest of their back catalogue.

Edited by Liam
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‘Devil’s Haircut’, Beck (1996)

Influenced by: I Can Only Give You Everything • Them (1966)   

Influence on: Legend of a Cowgirl • Imani Coppola (1997)   

Covered by: Doug Munro’s Big Boss Bossa Nova (2007)

Probably shouldn’t surprise me that the only other song outside of ‘Loser’ by Beck might be the one that ends up on the list. This is admittedly from the one album I know, ‘Odelay’, and is probably a ‘better’ song than loser in terms of what it tries to do and the ambition shown between the pop sensibilities and the various other influences. Sometimes the list throws up a good song, you think ‘that’s a good song’, and then you go back to not thinking about it much in your year to year existence. That is this song.


‘I’ll Be There For You…’, Method Man featuring Mary J. Blige (1996)

A rare Wu-Tang Clan-adjacent love song, this was a song that it took me a moment to remember, but when it kicks in, it is a real banger. Apparently an attempt by Def Jam’s chief executive to get Method Man more mainstream and higher profile, the idea to link him up with Blige is excellent. There is almost a creepiness to the underlying tone of the song, possibly due to the use of reverb of the vocals at points, whilst the rapping isn’t my thing but works perfectly within this setting. The layering of two different styles creates a haunting love song and one that I really enjoy.


‘The Beautiful People’, Marilyn Manson (1996)

A few entries ago, I talked about how I didn’t get people who weren’t at least a bit into what Prodigy had to offer. Whilst I won’t say the same for Marilyn Manson, this window of his work hit the happy middle ground between being noisy and being accessible, to the point where I think it is hard not to enjoy songs like ‘The Beautiful People’ just a little bit. It is big, dumb and full of… but it is a storming rock tune for my money. The fact that my Dad liked it probably is the exact reason why people didn’t always like Manson – nothing is less cool than music your Mum and Dad might like – yet this delivers what it sets out to: an pumping, aggressive rock song.


‘Criminal’, Fiona Apple (1996)

Influenced by: Stoned Soul Picnic • Laura Nyro (1968)   

Influence on: Miniature Disasters • KT Tunstall (2005)   

Covered by: Amazing Transparent Man (2003) • Natalie Cole (2006)   

Other key tracks: Sleep to Dream (1996) • Slow Like Honey (1996) • Shadowboxer (1996)

What impresses me the most about this song is how young Apple was when she released it. She was just 18, yet everything sounds so fully realised in terms of her musical direction and the sound she wanted to create. It probably explains why she is still kicking around 24 years later, rather than being a teenage one hit and done type like many others. It doesn’t set my world alight necessarily, yet the use of the word ‘belter’ in the book does summarise my thoughts pretty accurately.


‘Crash Into Me’, Dave Matthews Band (1996)

Influenced by: Willow • Joan Armatrading (1977)   

Influence on: Why Georgia • John Mayer (2001)  

Covered by: Stevie Nicks (2005)   

Other key tracks: Ants Marching (1994) • So Much to Say (1996) • Christmas Song (1996) • Proudest Monkey (1996) • Say Goodbye (1996)

I’ve not heard a lot of Dave Matthews Band, but what I have heard makes me think I’d have liked them at a certain point and age in time. Back during a time when I was listening to The Goo Goo Dolls, Matchbox 20, Live…that type of music. However, this doesn’t do a lot for me now. I can hear the appeal, whilst the lyrics are interesting and somewhat at odds with the tone of the music, yet it is just all a bit meandering. There’s skill here, of course there is, just not something I care for really.

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‘On & On’, Erykah Badu (1996)  

Influenced by: Fine and Mellow • Billie Holiday (1939)   

Influence on: A Long Walk • Jill Scott (2002)   

Other key tracks: Otherside of the Game (1996) • Next Lifetime (1996) • 4 Leaf Clover (1996) • Appletree (1996) • No Love (1996) • Sometimes . . . (1996) • Bag Lady (2000) • Soldier (2008) • Honey (2008)

I’ve never seen an ‘Other Key Tracks’ list as long as this one, which probably speaks to Badu’s enduring involvement in the music industry. However, I can’t say for definite that I’ve ever heard anything by her until today. The book talks about this early entry being an example of neo-soul, and it certainly is smooth in a way that a lot of the other R&B and pop starlets weren’t quite doing at this time. Possibly a little bit too laid back for me; I kept waiting for things to kick in just a bit more than it ever did. Badu has a lovely voice to give her credit, but the style of music doesn’t overly excite me.


‘Woo-Hah!! Got You All In Check’, Busta Rhymes (1996)

Influenced by: Space • Galt MacDermot (1973)   

Influence on: Tribute • Nonpoint (2000)  

Covered by: DJ Sega (2008)   

Other key tracks: The Finish Line (1996) • Flipmode Squad Meets Def Squad (1996) • Everything Remains Raw (1996) • Hot Fudge (1996) • Dangerous (1997)

I remember being a ‘fan’ of Busta Rhymes in the way that only a white teenage boy can be: enjoying his more commercial work without really digging back through his back catalogue or history. I’ve always liked the sound of Rhymes’ rapping as he has a very recognisable flow and there is a bassiness and aggression that makes what he says sound cool. The quirkiness of this early offering from Rhymes comes mainly a take on a soundtrack from a 70s film called Woman is Sweeter. What it does is allow Rhymes to be the star, and he steps up and does just that. He is a hard man to ignore, full of energy and vigour even this early on.


‘No Diggity’, Blackstreet featuring Dr. Dre (1996)

You sometimes wonder whether you misjudge songs when you make sweeping statements about songs, but I honestly don’t think I know anyone who dislikes this song. A mix of rap, R&B and with music sampled from a gospel song, it all works. In a song about a temptress of sorts, the raps add that grittier urban feel, whilst Blackstreet offer up the soulful undertone to everything. The piano in particular is something that I think, for people of a certain age, you could play and they’d be able to place the song and the mostly positive memories I assume come alongside it. Absolute tune.


‘Woke Up This Morning’, Alabama 3 (1997)

I think it is easy enough to suggest that this is on the list due to its involvement with ‘The Sopranos’ more so than any real musical merit. I mean, it is perfect for the TV show and convinced the producers to stick to one song throughout the whole series, so did enough to impress those in a position of power. What I find somewhat funny is that they were based in London and largely the brainchild of someone from Wales and someone from Scotland. Not exactly what you might expect given the providence of the sound.


‘Block Rockin’ Beats’, The Chemical Brothers (1997)

Influenced by: Coup • 23 Skidoo (1983)   

Influence on: Gangster Trippin’ • Fatboy Slim (1998)  

Covered by: DJ Sundance (2007)   

Other key tracks: Leave Home (1995) • Song to the Siren (1995) • Life Is Sweet (1995) • The Private Psychedelic Reel (1997) • Hey Boy Hey Girl (1999)

Sometimes you may not like a genre particularly, but one band or artists stands above the parapet. For me, The Chemical Brothers, though peddling a style of music I largely don’t care for, are excellent. There is often a vitality and urgency to their music that I like and whilst this isn’t my favourite song by them (probably ‘Let Forever Be’ for those who haven’t asked), it is one of their earliest commercial hits so deserves a place on the list.

Edited by Liam
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