Tuesday, March 30, 2010

90's Guilty Pleasures #6: Queensryche "Silent Lucidity" (1991)

Believe it or not, the mentality of Mickey Rourke's character from The Wrestler still exists, thinking Nirvana killed '80s metal, when it was actually 100% the plan of the record companies. In the first 2 years of the '90s, and just before "them Nirvana fags" killed the '80s, there was a brief period when "the next big thing" really mattered and was severely pushed by radio and MTV. Just prior to grunge, magazines such as SPIN suggested a wide-range for "the sound of the '90s," with predictions ranging as far as Danzig, Deee-Lite, Teenage Fanclub, and grindcore.

While this was happening, pop metal got soft. Different singles could have been chosen from these bands, but instead the biggest "pop metal" hits of the early '90s were "More Than Words," "Something To Believe In," "I Saw Red," and "Wind Of Change." By the time another year had passed, Metallica scored a hit with "Nothing Else Matters," and the same with Ozzy's "Mama I'm Coming Home." Soft-metal prevailed further during the first half of 1991, when the biggest rock song to come out of Seattle was from yet another attempt at finding "the next big thing," from the prog-rock of Queensryche.

"Silent Lucidity" includes many embarrassing yet intriguing characteristics, and mostly intriguing considering how huge this song became. For example, the song's acoustic guitar intro alternates between 15/16 and 4/4 measures, for absolutely no reason other than showcasing the band's technical proficiency. (Yawn.) It could have just as easily been in straight 4/4, but that's prog-rock for ya.

The lyrics themselves generate further embarrassment. Take the song's once-sung refrain for instance: "I'm smiling next to you, in silent lucidity," meaning he's sitting next to someone's bed and smiling at them while controlling their mind/dreams. Kind of a gross image, IMHO (although the subject matter is an interesting concept).

It's possible that this song wouldn't have been nearly as marketable or popular if it hadn't musically shared so many characteristics with Side 3 of Pink Floyd's The Wall. There's the intro of "Hey You," the vocal harmonies from "The Show Must Go On" (reaching a bit into Side 4), and a strikingly similar atmosphere from the first guitar solo in "Comfortably Numb."

Queensryche are also inherently embarrassing by nature simply associating with nerdy prog-rock, as their fans show off their "Got 'Rhyche?" t-shirts with pride. But technically "Silent Lucidity" is still pop metal, and along with "Mama I'm Coming Home," this was probably the best out of this genre's very last few charting singles, before bands like System Of A Down and Slipknot scored hits with metal in a completely different direction.

NOTE: Just let it be known, I'm not especially proud of this "Silent Lucidity" review because it kind of jumps all over the place and doesn't flow nicely, but I'm posting it anyway because I don't really care.

Silkworm Documentary

2010 might be the year this finally comes out...

Monday, March 29, 2010

SXSW 2010

This year's SXSW had the big Alex Chilton tribute, and Japandroids are playing 3 or 4 shows there this year... Sounds to me like it's a pretty outstanding party, but most of this information is meaningless to me, since I cannot attend due to living thousands of miles away from Texas. What's excited me the most about this year's SXSW are some of these movie trailers... I'm somewhat interested in seeing all of these... especially Trash Humpers, which appears to be Harmony Korine's proper follow-up to Gummo and Julien Donkey-Boy...

"Trash Humpers"

"The People Vs. George Lucas"


Sunday, March 28, 2010

90's Guilty Pleasures #7: S.W.V. "Right Here/Human Nature" (1993)

While nicely predicting the eventual success of mash-ups, this was also (probably) the only charting song that not only includes cameos from both Michael Jackson and Pharrell Williams, but also a co-songwriting credit from Toto, and an appearance from Free Willy himself right in the video. (Yes, the whale's full name was "Free Willy." Look it up.) Its gentle-yet-cool atmosphere is rarely heard on today's Top 40 stations, as it falls somewhere between ocean waves crashing, and a comforting hug from a loved one saying "I think it's gonna be okay." In that respect, I've found "Right Here/Human Nature" to be a fitting example of the potential power of the pop single.

SWV became unjustly forgotten when those "90's nostalgia" shows started showing up on VH1. En Vogue pretty much stole their girl-group glory, even though they never released anything as good as "Can We" or the Wu-Tang remix of "Anything." "Right Here/Human Nature" also happened to show up during a very strong period for female-fronted R&B, charting alongside Janet's "That's The Way Love Goes," Zhane's "Hey Mr. DJ," and Jade's "Don't Walk Away" among others. (Watch out for Youtube links listed below...)

As much as we do love this song, we've known people who called it "so gay" and find the MJ sample to be annoying as shit. Homophobia aside, we kinda see where these people are coming from, which is why it's included here. Also, this was one of the first mp3's I ever downloaded.

SWV "Can We" (1997) - Youtube

SWV feat. Wu-Tang Clan "Anything" (1994) - Youtube

Janet Jackson "That's The Way Love Goes" (1993) - Youtube

Zhane "Hey Mr. DJ" (1993) - Youtube

Jade "Don't Walk Away" (1993) - Youtube

Saturday, March 27, 2010

90's Guilty Pleasures #8: Londonbeat "I've Been Thinking About You" (1991)

If TimeLife's 70's A.M. Gold series ever needs a 90's equivalent to release anytime soon, I'd like to propose this idea: "Supermarket Gold," which would be songs played very often while shopping for produce. "I've Been Thinking About You" would be a strong contender for disc 1, track 1, partially because it's damn hilarious. And it's also better than 90% of early-90's UK dance-rock, combining falsetto from Fine Young Cannibals with a guitar lick clearly stolen from Johnny Marr, although I'm having trouble ID'ing which Smiths song this would have been. Ladies, if your man puts this song on your mixtape, it means he truly loves you. Gentlemen, if you sing this song for karaoke, I will buy you a tasty beer.

90's Guilty Pleasures #9: Usher "You Make Me Wanna" (1997)

It's hard to think of commentary for some of these R&B choices.. And usually this eludes to falling back on nostalgia... When I first saw this video, I was confused into thinking that Usher was a group of 4 or 5 guys, because there are 4 or 5 Ushers dancing in the beginning of this video. Eventually "Yeah!" became his trademark song, but "You Make Me Wanna" is still one of the best breakthrough R&B singles of the decade, proven by its longevity on Top 40 radio playlists, where it remains to this day. Within months after its release, "Nice & Slow" and "My Way" slayed with nearly as much punch as the first single. I'm still waiting for Usher to return to Jermaine Dupri and correctly match this trifecta of awesome.

P.S. The adlibs in this one are so fucking killer... I mean, they're not quite Michael Jackson caliber, but who is, really...

90's Guilty Pleasures #10: Van Halen "Poundcake" (1991)

So as the story goes, with one album, Van Halen changed to Van Hagar. What was once an exciting scuz-bucket-of-rock extravaganza (with some of the best guitar and drum work of any of their contemporaries) morphed into generic, boring, standard, no-nonsense AOR. About 90% of the fun (and scuz) that David Lee Roth apparently encouraged all went down the shitter. Throughout their four albums, Van Hagar's biggest moment was the annoying-as-shit and horribly overrated video for "Right Now" (which beat out "Smells Like Teen Spirit" at the '92 VMA's for "Best Video Of The Year").

Despite their newfound "maturity" and lameness, and despite the annoyance levels of Sammy's singing voice, "Poundcake" remains the one song that nearly justifies their post-Roth existence. (I guess it's kinda cool they named their album For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge, in a way that's not really cool at all...)

Friday, March 26, 2010

90's Guilty Pleasures #11: George Michael "Freedom '90" (1990)

There's a certain category of hit single that is among my absolute favorites, where a song's complexity stretches beyond simply verse, chorus and bridge. In some cases, these songs include a pre-chorus, post-chorus, multiple bridges, and/or segmented verses of some sort. It's the songwriter's attempt to stretch the boundaries of what's capable in charting pop music, to see how far the flow can possibly last while keeping the listener's attention. And when it works, it normally succeeds in helping to separate the artists from the pop-stars. As far as I can tell, the first hit song of this category was "Oh! Pretty Woman." It was perfected by "Good Vibrations," and the most recent example (as of March 2010) was "Bad Romance."

I find it revealing that George Michael would choose such complexity, with a 6-minute string of one undeniable hook after another, as his confession to the world of wanting to break free from record companies, while secretly also confessing his sexual orientation. This was something he really wanted his fans to hear, giving even more meaning to the album title Listen Without Prejudice.

The video is still overrated, but it's not bad...

Thursday, March 25, 2010

90's Guilty Pleasures #12: L.F.O. (Lyte Funky Ones) "Summer Girls" (1999)

The Guilt:: There's a strong possibility this song may have been associated with a surprisingly effective viral marketing campaign for Aberchrombie & Fitch. And the boy-band image itself, often portrayed as rich kids driving around in Daddy's new SUV, was never anything that offered much sense of pride.

The Pleasure:: "Summer Girls" is so retardedly absurd that there's almost no way to not appreciate it in some form, ironic or otherwise. Let's examine these lyrics...

You're the best girl that I ever did see / The great Larry Bird Jersey 33
When you take a sip you buzz like a hornet / Billy Shakespeare wrote a whole bunch of sonnets...

So here, they rhymed "hornet" with "sonnets," which in itself is nothing short of lyrical genius. Moving on...

Now I can't forget you and it makes me mad/ Left one day and never came back
Stayed all summer then went back home / Macauly Culkin wasn't Home Alone

After moving past the random-as-fuck pop culture references having practically nothing to do with the song's narrative (which I'm sure fans of Family Guy should be able to appreciate), this turns out simply as a sad song of love and loss...

You love hip hop and rock n roll / Dad took off when you were 4 years old
There was a good man named Paul Revere / I feel much better baby when you're near

The "dad took off" part reveals some unexpected undertones of darkness, followed immediately by the WTF "Paul Revere" line... I shouldn't need to go further. There's almost no other song more worthy of a "WTF" tag from this entire decade...

90's Guilty Pleasures #13: Phish "Down With Disease" (1994)

For a 15-month span which encompassed a decent portion of my sophmore and junior years of high school, Phish were my favorite band in the world. This is now by far the single most embarrassing skeleton in my awkward teenage closet. I never considered myself neo-hippie or white-college-cap-preppy-soccer-jock, so when I realized the kinds of people I was unintentionally associating myself with, I made the right decision to run away as fast as I could. In retrospect, a handful of Phish's attempts at standard 4-minute verse-chorus rock still sound surprisingly fresh, "Down With Disease" being one of them. And I may as well list the remainder of that handful here just so I can close this chapter once and for all.. Those would be "Lizards," "Maze," "Stash," "Waste," "Billy Breathes," "Free," "Fee," "If I Could," "Julius," "Gumbo," and their best song is probably "Llama." And despite what the unwashed burnouts have to say about it, all of these songs sound best when they're concise and sans noodling. ("Harry Hood" is one I would have included, but it unfortunately suffers from being about 7 minutes too long.) Out of 100+ songs of theirs I can recall, these are the only ones left I can still stomach. Their tendancy to lean toward lovely vocal harmonies accompanying distractingly horrendous lyrics remains their most frustrating paradox. ("Down With Disease" made the most sense for this list since it remains their only MTV video. Beavis and Butthead thought it was cool that they jumped into a fishtank.)

90's Guilty Pleasures #14: Sting "If I Ever Lose My Faith In You" (1993)

It's been suggested by many that Sting may be the best candidate for pop music's alltime "best music with worst lyrics" songwriter. Although this was correct throughout many moments in The Police, the "worst lyrics" aspect on its own was never truer than on his Ten Summoner's Tales LP from 1993, where the album's first track was probably the only one where the strength of the music actually masked his horrendously embarrassing verses. And it helps that this may have been an earnest attempt to combine his own boring contemporary-jazz-fetish with a moment as radiant as Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes." For post-Police Sting, this is probably as good as it will ever get.

Huge lolz alert: I think Sting is unironically wearing a fake-beard at 2:40...

90's Guilty Pleasures #15: Third Eye Blind "Never Let You Go" (1999)

3EB were never well-behaved puppets: When they played their hit “Graduate” at the American Music Awards in 1998, they changed some of the lyrics to “can I masturbate” instead of “can I graduate.”

In Defense of Third Eye Blind -- Vulture

Due to the genius of "Semi-Charmed Life," Third Eye Blind is forever justified. This is a fact of science, so just deal with it. Their hit songs happened to arrive around the same time as Matchbox 20, but their pop leanings sonically placed them a lot closer to Sugar Ray. This brand of pop is normally imperfect, and sometimes even soulless, but always well organized.

Their most heralded singles were the 5 from their self-titled debut. However, the 2nd album's charting status was thanks to the less-remembered "Never Let You Go," where they decided to brilliantly rip off Lou Reed's "Sweet Jane" riff for about 4 minutes, accompanying a rather carefree atmosphere in comparison to the 1st album. And after it feels like the song is about to end, get ready for it: a semi-charmed kinda rap-coda, one that was far more subdued compared to what Kid Rock was releasing around the same time. It may have been thrown at the end of the song as an afterthought, but it's somehow the key to what makes this song memorable: "I remember the stupid things, the mood rings..." Brilliant or not? You decide.

90's Guilty Pleasures: #16: Groove Theory "Tell Me" (1995)

Here's a simple, understated, and sadly underappreciated mid-decade gem from around the same era of relaxing funk-pop as LL Cool J's "Hey Lover," and slightly foreshadowing The Fugees' The Score. Groove Theory only ended up releasing this one album, and later on lead singer Amel Larrieux ended up releasing one of those late-90's neo-soul records that sounded like Erykah Badu. While neo-soul was a neat little trendy moment for R&B, it removed a lot of those raw hiphop edges that made records like "Tell Me" and The Score so compelling.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

90's Guilty Pleasures #17: Chris Issak "Wicked Game" (1990)

If there was a "man of the year" for 1990, it's gotta be David Lynch, no contest. During this year, he not only premiered Twin Peaks, but he also saved Chris Issak's "Wicked Game" from near-certain obscurity by including it in Wild At Heart (along with thrash-metal band PowerMad, among others). Not long afterward, the "Wicked Game" video (one of the greatest ever made) was on MTV constantly and gave all of us massive boners. By 1990, Roy Orbison had only recently died, but his spirit was very much alive within "Wicked Game," which became kind of an anomaly throughout the 90's, only possibly matched sonically a few years later by Mazzy Star's "Fade Into You."

90's Guilty Pleasures #18: Mark Morrison "Return Of The Mack" (1996)

One might label this as "I Will Survive" for the 90's, except that this song is about 8 billion times better than "I Will Survive." Under the surface, "Return Of The Mack" is secretly saturated with emotion, to the extent where Morrison actually needs to exclaim "OH MY GOD!" several times before the song fades away. Amazingly, this was far more popular in the UK, only reaching #2 in the states several months after topping the UK charts. And from what I've read, there are UK residents who have no idea this song is known outside of BBC transmissions.

90's Guilty Pleasures #19: Mariah Carey "All I Want For Christmas Is You" (1994)

Hardcore Mariah fanatics may argue otherwise, but "All I Want For Christmas Is You" is surely her artistic peak, surrounded by 3 other career highlights between 1992 and 1995, "I'll Be There," "Dream Lover," and her "Fantasy" collaboration with Ol' Dirty Bastard (all of which may be mostly notable for nostalgic reasons, but at the moment this seems highly accurate).

This song is a rare achievement in itself because it's not only a phenomenal artistic statement, but it's one of the only popular canonized Christmas songs from the past 20 years that actually sounds like a Christmas song, specifically an imaginary outtake from A Christmas Gift To You From Phil Spector. The song is also currently so beloved within our culture that it's almost not a guilty pleasure; however, the context surrounding holiday singles as supreme annoyances has unfortunately assisted in maintaining its perpetual guilt-status. (It would also help if Mariah Carey hadn't started placing her signature "look away from the camera" thing in every fucking video from 1996 onward.)

Saturday, March 20, 2010

90's Guilty Pleasures #20: Bush "Everything Zen" (1995) / "Greedy Fly" (1997)

I know only 2 songs have been listed for this entry, but for all intents and purposes, those 2 songs are bookends... This entry is a celebration of Bush's first 7 consecutive radio singles, released between January 1995 and March 1997, which stand as the most underrated string of radio hits from any 90's alt-rock band. The first 5 were from Sixteen Stone, an album which had 5 good songs (and let's be honest, that's better than lots of bands can say), and the first 2 singles from Razorblade Suitcase.

"Everything Zen"
Chaotic guitar sounds & mindless nonsense lyrics... I dismissed it for many years, until realizing those 2 elements were exactly what made it brilliant.

"Come Down"
This may have been their best song, noteworthy for the strength of its chorus, "I don't wanna come back down from this cloud..." In terms of song structure, it's comparable to that of Def Leppard's "Armageddon It," in that the chorus kind of overtakes the entire song and becomes that soaring anticipated moment.

"Little Things"
Four chords repeated throughout, with quiet verses and a loud chorus, kinda like this other song "Smells Like Teen Spirit" that might have inspired a few ideas...

Yet another 4-chord single, this distortion-heavy power-ballad ended up becoming Bush's signature song, thanks to its singalong-friendly vocal melody. "Glyserine" also contains an often overlooked and bizarre coda of cellos, possibly an earnest attempt to give the song more depth than it deserves, and it pisses me off when radio stations crudely edit the ending since it's probably the most interesting section of the whole song.

Their hookiest single... "Breathe in, breathe out..." Is it really the context of the band's image that turned off the most people? These guys are a pop band who enjoy distorted guitars. So what if they're they're not especially "alternative," and they tailor their songcraft with Top 40 in mind... Well, guess what? They did it a million times better than Nickelback or 3 Doors Down could have ever dreamed...

By this point, Bush were surely very rich, and Gavin Rossdale was surely making stains with Gwen Stefani on a nightly basis. They had the ability to hire any producer they wanted for Razorblade Suitcase, and so for whatever reason, Steve Albini was recruited. Albini likely did not enjoy any of the songs Bush wrote for this album, but it's still interesting to hear what a band like Bush sounds like with the classic Surfer Rosa drum sound. Unfortunately, this album's first 2 singles were its only noteworthy moments...

Teen couples getting super PDA amidst a crowd of typical 90's apathy... It's quite epic and anthemic sounding, more so than their previous singles.. and probably their 2nd best after "Come Down," thanks in no small part to a strong Pixies influence.

"Greedy Fly"
Their darkest and strangest single.. Probably their most underrated, and certainly the least popular out of the seven listed here.. With all its scattered quiets and louds throughout, all in atypical areas, it's remarkable that it received any radio airplay at all...

And then they jumped the shark. "Mouth" and "The Chemicals Between Us" didn't quite match up to their previous efforts. By the time Gavin was performing entire sets shirtless as he did at Woodstock '99, it became clear that Bush's pop elements had begun to elude them, and their first few singles continued receiving far more airplay than anything released since then (with good reason).

90's Guilty Pleasures #21: Del Amitri "Roll To Me" (1995)

This is the only Del Amitri song I've ever heard, and I know very little about their history.. In the 80's, they had at least one song that charted in one of John Peel's Festive 50's, although I've never bothered listening to this song, and I'm pretty sure they're from Ireland. (Wikipedia says Scotland... Close enough.)

The 90's were supposedly so diseased with melancholy and despair, to the point where songs such as "Roll To Me" (or "Semi-Charmed Life"), which sounded so incredibly happy, were actually written about miserable people (or crystal meth addiction). One of this song's best characteristics is definitely its brevity, clocking in just barely over 2 minutes. The world could definitely use more charting 2-minute pop singles.

Beavis & Butthead once again accurately assessed this video, appropriately torn between enjoying the chicks and getting creeped out by grown-man heads superimposed on babies' bodies...

90's Guilty Pleasures #22: Powerman 5000 "When Worlds Collide" (1999)

This only really occurred to me today, but there may be some homoerotic undertones surrounding Powerman 5000 and "When Worlds Collide" that I hadn't previously noticed. It's clearly of a sexual and dominant nature... But there's something about the name Powerman 5000, combined with that monster guitar riff, which by the way is possibly an improvement from the song's most obvious influence, Marilyn Manson's "The Beautiful People." I don't feel like giving this much more thought, but for the first time ever, this song shines with flamboyant gayness. Anyway...

This was one of those songs I didn't especially care for, until it was used in a videogame, in this case Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2. I've been a fan ever since. True story.

90's Guilty Pleasures: #23 Soul For Real "Candy Rain" (1995) / Next "Too Close" (1998)

There are many smooth R&B jams about boners. These are 2 of those jams.

First up is "Candy Rain," most likely an allusion to ejaculate (either male or female), made all the more bizarre since Soul For Real were about 15-years-old when this song charted (and yet also not bizarre at all since normal 15-year-olds SHOULD be dreaming of candy coated raindrops). And of course, there's the Kurtis Blow sampling #1 hit "Too Close," which far more literally than in "Candy Rain" clearly exclaims, "I feel a little poke coming through on you," and "you're making it hard for me." Both songs are brilliant, mostly for this reason.

"Candy Rain"

"Too Close"

90's Guilty Pleasures #24: Marcy Playground "Sex And Candy" (1997) / The Flys "Got You (Where I Want You)" (1998)

I'm sure many would call me crazy for a statement like this, but this may be the closest Pavement ever got to achieving top 10 singles. As far as Top 40 radio was concerned, these were the swan songs of slack-rock. Years earlier, it was not uncommon to switch on a Top 40 station and hear something like "Sweater Song" or "Loser" or Radiohead's "Creep," but by 1998, this was far less commonplace.

The lyrics of "Sex And Candy" are likely what turns off most of its critics, although I personally consider them intriguingly bizarre. I mean, he says right in the song, "this surely is a dream." Sometimes dreams don't make any sense. Although for clarification purposes, I'd still like to know if disco lemonade is supposed to be served with disco fries.

P.S. Both bands released equally good follow-up singles which were all undeservedly ignored. These would be MP's "St. Joe On The School Bus" and "Sherry Fraser," and The Flys' "She's So Huge."

"Sex And Candy"

"Got You (Where I Want You)" (former Katie Holmes fans will likely recall fond memories of the running part at 2:06)

90's Guilty Pleasures #25: P.M. Dawn "I'd Die Without You" (1992)

The guilt here derives from normally negative reactions towards playing this song on the radio, which has happened to me at least twice. But a great pop song is simply that, regardless as to whether Pavement fans think it's boring.

It's unfortunate there hasn't been much else quite like P.M. Dawn before or since.. Arrested Development often get lumped into the same category, who always seemed far more involved with their statement and their image, rather than generating anything truly otherworldly like P.M. Dawn. They're essentially a fusion of new age (think "Pure Moods") with smooth R&B and pop sensibilities, occasionally with a decent helping of love for 80's pop music (especially on early singles such as the brilliant "Set Adrift On Memory Bliss" and "Looking Through Patient Eyes"). Oh, and the chill lead vocalist is kind of amazing.

"I'd Die Without You" is also unfortunately associated with a really horrible-looking chick-flick starring Eddie Murphy called Boomerang, a movie I've never seen, although I enjoyed the soundtrack a whole bunch when I was 12.

90's Guilty Pleasures #26: Sophie B. Hawkins "Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover" (1992)

The shit-storm that arrived on VH1 after the success of of Alanis Morrisette makes Sophie B. Hawkins much easier to appreciate, specifically her lack of pretentiousness (or at least what seemed this way based on one song). Also, bonus points should be issued for the wise production decision to drown out mediocre lyrics with well-arranged keyboard overdubs, while keeping the catchy unrequited-love exclamations loudly accentuated for the choruses. (On a personal note, I've been told that a friend of my family played guitar on this song, although this has never been officially confirmed.. unless it was confirmed back when I was like 12 or 13 and I just forgot..)

90's Guilty Pleasures #27: Keith Sweat "Nobody" (1996) / Dru Hill "In My Bed" (1997)

I'm not sure why exactly these are tied, besides that they're both random R&B singles that charted in 1997. Smooth R&B can be kind of embarrassing for a rock kid.

"Nobody" is simply classic Keith Sweat slow jams. Keith Sweat also did this...

And the Dru Hill track has a lot more in common with R.Kelly than Keith Sweat style slow jams.. But they're both R&B, so they're both tied here. Because I said so.


"In My Bed"

90's Guilty Pleasures #28: Boyz II Men "Motownphilly" (1991)

Hugely contrasting with everything they released afterward, Boyz II Men had a huge hand from Bel Biv Devoe with releasing one of the 3 alltime iconic New Jack Swing singles, along with Bobby Brown's "My Prerogative" and BBD's "Poison," not included here as tied guilty pleasure tracks due to being far too amazing for any true guilty enjoyment, and plus "My Prerogative" came out in '88.

Just for fun, here's all 3 videos...

"Motownphilly" (watch out for Michael Bivens on the toilet at 1:33)

"My Prerogative"


And just for fun, and because I haven't seen this video in 15 years, here's Kris Kross "Jump" (not included because it was too obvious and way too awesome)...

90's Guilty Pleasures #29: The Flaming Lips "She Don't Use Jelly" (1993)

Along with the previously mentioned "Three Little Pigs," this is yet another of the best novelties that 90's alt-rock had to offer. It's also one of the rare singles that entirely owes its "charting single" status to the videos shown on Beavis & Butthead, taking about 18 months after the release of Transmissions From The Satellite Heart to earn the "Buzz Clip" tag (and their 90210 performance).

Friday, March 19, 2010

90's Guilty Pleasures #30: Sugar Ray "Someday" (1999)

After a thorough search, I'm unable to locate any internet video of Mark McGrath furiously enraged and threatening to kick some 15-year-old's ass for calling him "Sugar Gay." That's unfortunate, since it would have worked nicely to demonstrate the "guilt" factor of enjoying any Sugar Gay song (along with the horrendously off-putting alt-metal from the Floored LP). However, VH1's now-canceled Rock N' Roll Jeopardy series exposed Mark as an unlikely music nerd, adding an extra layer of context to non-album tracks such as the Weezer-influenced "Rivers" and their note-for-note cover of "Little Saint Nick."

While "Fly" is still the most annoyingly overrated Sublime ripoff ever, it still points directly toward the surprisingly well-executed singles from 14:59, especially "Someday," which somewhat foreshadowed summery 00's alt-rock singles such as Beck's "Girl."

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Alex Chilton

I'm strangely affected by Alex Chilton's death, which I just discovered about 20 minutes ago. Time for some Youtube tribute....

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Epic Beck

Time for bump n' grind with Beck.

Epic Who

Damn, I haven't seen this since I was like 16.. This is probably one of the best music performances ever shown on TV.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

90's Guilty Pleasures Half-Time Wrap-Up

It's half-way. Time to reflect...

Since the unveiling began a week ago, we've slowly realized that these songs have been making up the majority of our brain's soundtracks... This raises the possibility that the unveiling may have eluded to some form of unanticipated therapy, where the guilt-level somehow becomes somewhat lifted from our collective shoulders... Regardless, the enjoyment was never denied in the first place.

The label "guilty pleasure" was only really used here because it was convenient. These still remain all songs that go against the grain of what we would expect ourselves to enjoy, and it's still music that we're not planning on blasting from our cars anytime soon (not without irony anyway).

Here's a quick wrap-up...

60. Jesus Jones "Right Here Right Now" (1991) / EMF "Unbelievable" (1991)
59. Soul Asylum "Somebody To Shove" (1992)
58. The New Radicals "You Get What You Give" (1998)
57. Whitney Houston "I'm Your Baby Tonight" (1990)
56. Ben Folds Five "Brick" (1997)
55. Quad City DJ's "C'Mon And Ride It (The Train)" (1996)
54. Marilyn Manson "Sweet Dreams" (1996)
53. Eve 6 "Inside Out" (1998) / Eve 6 "Leech" (1998)
52. Janet Jackson "Escapade" (1990) / Janet Jackson "Come Back To Me" (1990)
51. Toad The Wet Sprocket "All I Want" (1992)
50. Positive K "I Got A Man" (1993)
49. Len "Steal My Sunshine" (1999)
48. The Wallflowers "Sixth Avenue Heartache" (1996)
47. TLC "Baby Baby Baby" (1992) / TLC "Red Light Special" (1995)
46. The Presidents Of The United States Of America "Peaches" (1996)
45. Silverchair "Ana's Song (Open Fire)" (1999)
44. Michael Jackson "Stranger In Moscow" (1996)
43. Aerosmith "What It Takes" (1991)
42. Nada Surf "Popular" (1996)
41. Montell Jordan "Get It On Tonite" (1999)
40. Metallica "Hero Of The Day" (1996)
39. M.C. Hammer "U Can't Touch This" (1990)
38. Prince & The New Power Generation "Diamonds And Pearls" (1991) / "Money Don't Matter 2 Night" (1992) / "7" (1992)
37. Crash Test Dummies "Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm" (1994)
36. Seal "Kiss From A Rose" (1995)
35. U2 "Lemon" (1993)
34. Lisa Loeb & Nine Stories "Stay (I Missed You)" (1994)
33. Jordan Knight "Give It To You" (1999)
32. Green Jelly "Three Little Pigs" (1993)
31. K-Ci & JoJo "All My Life" (1998)

More shame is on the way.. Probably starting up again sometime this weekend.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

90's Guilty Pleasures #31: K-Ci And Jojo "All My Life" (1998)

I can't think of anything remotely intelligent to say about this song, so I'm just gonna quickly comment on something I just read on Wikipedia... It claims the piano intro is an interpolation of "Cliffs Of Dover," which I refuse to believe was intentional. Although the 2 melodies are identical, there's no way in hell K-Ci and Jojo drive their pimp cars around around their hometown pumping Eric Johnson and Joe Satriani. (That would kind of kick ass if that were true... I've had similar fantasies about 50 Cent driving around Brooklyn pumping Of Montreal's The Sunlandic Twins through the boomin' system.)

Ballads with this much groove only show up once every few years, and this still receives heavy radio airplay on Top 40 stations. (A smart move, since IMHO there's no touching the dial for this one.) Also, this is a superior song to BlackSTREET's "Before I Let You Go," but I just wanna post the video for it anyway cos I like it. I'm not sure what they have in common, except for a minute or two I thought it was Jodeci.

90's Guilty Pleasures #32: Green Jelly "Three Little Pigs" (1993)

This has to be somewhere in the 5 best novelty one-hit-wonders of the 90's, and it was definitely a favorite of 3rd to 9th graders all across the country soon after its Headbangers Ball debut. But somehow it took less than 2 years for "Three Little Pigs" to become almost completely forgotten. No one has denied its stupidity, but there seems to be some accidental not-so-obvious brilliance thanks in no small part to its musicianship. Tool's Danny Carey played drums for this album, and Maynard James Keenan provided the voice of the pigs themselves. And of course, there's that heavy-as-shitman guitar riff that could potentially have made Crowbar envious, packing a mutant-strength intensity equal to that of GWAR or Mr. Bungle.

Another Tool connection: The stop-motion video was directed by the same guy who did "Sober" and "Prison Sex."

Monday, March 8, 2010

90's Guilty Pleasures #33: Jordan Knight "Give It To You" (1999)

In case the guilt factor wasn't obvious enough, it's the very context of an ex-NKOTB member reviving his career in the TRL era with some straight up teen-dance-party jams. The pleasure derives from the revival attempt itself: This one single is far better than any New Kids On The Block song, and better than at least 90% of every other charting TRL favorite in 1999, thanks to some killer fake-Timbaland drum sequencing and an otherwise brilliant bridge/chorus. The video also includes a brief non-preachy anti-smoking PSA which was a nice gesture.

With that out of the way, let's take a good look at these lyrics:

I'm the place to be and soon you'll see
I don't care who leads as long as we move
Anyone can make you sweat, but I can keep you wet
It's creepin' around in your head / Me holdin' you down in my bed
You don't have to say a word / I'm convinced you want this
Baby you know I can give it to you / I can't deny I'd do it right
Just let me know and I'll give it to you / Show me where I'll taste you there

Brain=FUCKED/Comedy-genius? Keeping in mind that Jordan Knight was 28 when this video debuted, and his career revival was based around the success of teen pop, a genre targeted toward 12-year-old girls, with a video that takes place at a fucking carnival... These were probably the most absurdly creeped-out lyrics on MTV that entire year, at least until 2Gether showed up.

90's Guilty Pleasures #34: Lisa Loeb & Nine Stories "Stay (I Missed You)" (1994)

I used to really love "Tempted" by Squeeze. I still do to an extent, but it's more difficult for me to hear after I finally saw Reality Bites a few years ago. There's one particular scene that felt like needles digging into my soul where Winona Ryder and Janeane Garofalo sing "Tempted" loudly and horribly while driving. For this reason alone, I would not feel comfortable recommending this movie to anyone. I mention this as it seemed fitting to suggest that fans of "Stay" are likely also fans of Reality Bites. However, I'm finding far more similarities between "Stay" and My So-Called Life, as they present similar paradoxes.

Pop culture history dictates this being one of those cases where song and video are very closely linked. Both are awkward, yet compellingly sincere; there's so much cuteness, and yet it's SO annoying. All these years later, I have to say I'm really happy she never took off her glasses, proving that it wasn't just a gimmick; it was really her. That was Rivers Cuomo's 1st big mistake... shoulda left on those glasses.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

90's Guilty Pleasures #35: U2 "Lemon" (1993)

As far as aging rockstars go, U2 in the early 90's did a decent job of it. After Achtung Baby, I remember seeing MTV reports about the "Zoo TV" Tour and how bizarre it all sounded. There was also that one time they had Garth Algar play drums with them via satellite hookup at the MTV Awards. Huge band + huge risks = exciting! Yay! But then it didn't take long before the risk taking actually wasn't risky at all. Because let's face it: They were U2 and by this point they could eat their own shit on stage and it would be called artistic. The risks ended up effecting their music in a big way on the albums Zooropa and Popmart. The singles from Zooropa specifically were rarely played on the radio because songs like "Lemon" did not fit at all with what was fashionable at the time. With the exception of "Numb," it is probably their weirdest single, as it's essentially a 7-minute ballad with a disco drumbeat and mostly falsetto vocals. That's really all there is to it: a very bland description in writing, but I have to admit I always thought this song was pretty fucking awesome. This period of unpredictability was the only time U2 truly grabbed my attention.

Edit: Confirmed by wikipedia... Co-written, co-produced, & backing vocals from Brian Eno. This totally makes sense.

Edit: I would imagine Beavis & Butthead probably hated this video because of all the words. It's not their best, but I'll take it...

90's Guilty Pleasures #36: Seal "Kiss From A Rose" (1995)

The guilt:: Apparently, Seal's first album is supposed to be really good, but I've never heard it. So I'm in that group who have only heard "Crazy" and "Kiss From A Rose" and a bunch of shitty covers that were released as singles (like "Fly Like An Eagle" from the Space Jam soundtrack). So as far as I can tell, this is the type of stuff that falls into the same category as 90's Sting and 90's Peter Gabriel, a.k.a. "very boring made-for-parents soft-rock."

The pleasure:: This song is fucking hilarious. And the "Batman" version of the video was directed by Joel Schumacher himself, increasing lol potential. It's not a bad song by any means (aside from the horrible oboe... GOD I hate those things..) and it's fun as shit for singing along. Anyone for karaoke?

90's Guilty Pleasures #37: Crash Test Dummies "Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm" (1994)

I still like Weird Al's version way better. I hated this song upon its release, and I should have stuck to my guns. In December 1994, Dumb And Dumber was released, and "Mmm" was used during a sequence after Lloyd and Harry get into a big argument. The filmmakers opted to use a section towards the end of the song that did not contain any of the baritone vocalist's awkwardly bizarre lyrics, and it was actually this exact moment that got me to enjoy "Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm." Based on this, I determined the voxless outro to be this song’s best moment. Soon after this, the novelty aspects of the song made more sense, and lyrics such as "wouldn't go and change with the girls in the change room" became fun for singing along. Because honestly, who the fuck sings like this dude and expects to be taken seriously? (He also sings the words "their church" very distinctly.) Realizations such as these were difficult to fathom during 1994, because bands were "sincere" in those days and I thought Crash Test Dummies were all trying to be super-serious like Counting Crows or something. One element that's often overlooked is the music itself, as the chord progressions are actually well written, although the vocal melody sounds like a really bad Broadway number. I saw this band in 1999 (yet another embarrassment for myself). Out of the 6 or so covers of "Baby One More Time" I heard during the course of 1999, Crash Test Dummies version was the 2nd worst after Korn, and yet it somehow garnered them a standing ovation.

90's Guilty Pleasures #38: Prince & The New Power Generation "Diamonds and Pearls" (1991) / "Money Don't Matter 2 Night" (1992) / "7" (1992)

This was a tough one to narrow down... If you'd like, just call this entry "all of the singles from the Diamonds And Pearls and Love Symbol LP's, but that would have been too many songs, so we just chose our personal 3 favorites... which are not normally favorites among hardcore Prince fanatics (especially "7"), being the reason why they fit here for "guilty pleasures."

We especially love the heavy drum fill in "Diamonds and Pearls" just before the "D to the I to the A to the M." Also lovin' the distorted vox in "Money Don't Matter 2 Night..." You'll never hear modern artists leaving something that imperfectly cool in a radio single. And of course, there's the brilliant a cappella intro of "7." These were the final brilliant moments of a fairly consistent 13-14 years, before changing his name to the symbol and losing his genius completely. (P.S. I kinda love that "7" peaked at #7 on Billboard. 20 years or so earlier, John Lennon's "#9 Dream" peaked at #9. Fun stuff.)

Prince pulled the videos from Youtube years ago, but somehow these stuck around...

90's Guilty Pleasures #39: M.C. Hammer "U Can't Touch This" (1990)

Before jumping into this one, we just wanted to clarity that Vanilla Ice will NOT be appearing on this list. For those who enjoy 90's pop culture, there are 2 types: Those who prefer Hammer, and those who prefer Vanilla. And there IS a correct choice between these 2. Here's what Outkast had to say: "Run up on Hammer if you want to. Hammer will beat your mothafuckin' ass." You will never hear anyone respectable in hiphop with anything positive to say about Vanilla Ice EVER and that is a scientific fact.

I shouldn't really need to explain the guilt or the pleasure regarding "U Can't Touch This." As far as I can tell, it's his only really great song... and it was strong enough to help his album sell 10 million copies... on the basis of ONE SONG, a true phenomenon that we may never see again as a result of the convenience of mp3 downloads (legal or otherwise).

And then of course, there's this...

The song is corny as shit and has a beat that you truly can't touch (honestly, who can touch "Superfreak?"), and he dances like a madman. The 90's would have been very different without "U Can't Touch This." It's the one song that needed to explode right at the beginning of 1990 in order for the remainder of the decade to correctly align itself. Hammer wins.

90's Guilty Pleasures #40: Metallica "Hero Of The Day" (1996)

Most hardcore Metallica fans in the 80's stopped caring somewhere around "The Black Album," so by the time Load was released 5 years later, the fans who they helped introduce to thrash had likely moved onto harder bands (Pantera, etc). The first two singles from Load were "Until It Sleeps" and "Hero Of The Day," the only 2 really good songs from Load and Reload, which had a lot more in common with grunge than metal. Without James Hetfield's vocals, you'd hardly know it was them. It wasn't until 2000 that "I Disappear" became their next and final great song, which was followed by several pathetic attempts to cash-in on nu-metal.

Regarding "Hero Of The Day," at least they figured out how to do grunge correctly for one song. And it comes with probably the best video posted in this list so far...

90's Guilty Pleasures #41: Montell Jordan "Get It On Tonite" (1999)

I could probably go the rest of my life without again hearing "This Is How We Do It," while "Get It On Tonite" remains his unheralded jam.. Low-key is the way to be in R&B. I thought I remembered hearing that Montell Jordan is now a Scientologist, but it turns out he's born-again Christian, which is why he's been absent from music lately. (I also thought possibly I got him confused with Montell Williams, since they're the only 2 Montells... my bad, neither are Scientologist.)

90's Guilty Pleasures #42: Nada Surf "Popular" (1996)

"Popular" can easily be considered irritating, although it's a decent original concept. Its strangeness and loudness are a great combination, but it does fall victim to college-smartass syndrome. Since "Popular," Nada Surf have remained consistent with a handful of great rock songs on each album they've released. But it's still a major bummer that 90% of those who remember the name Nada Surf immediately associate it with their one big novelty single. They deserve better.

90's Guilty Pleasures #43: Aerosmith "What It Takes" (1991)

Aerosmith fans should consider facing the hard reality that everything they released after Pump was a drop in quality. With “What It Takes” and “Janie’s Got A Gun,” it was clear they still had a few more great songs in them. By 1993, “Cryin’” got all the credit even though it’s forced melodrama with annoying saxophones, when the only thing that truly made “Cryin’” (or the 2 singles after it) noteworthy was that it inspired millions of 13-year-old masturbatory fantasies of Alicia Silverstone. In terms of musical relevance, “What It Takes” is by far their best heartbreak jam and should be canonized along with Def Lep’s “Love Bites” and Scorpions’ “Still Loving You” as among the all time greatest Monster Ballads.

Edit: The last minute of this song is actually kinda weak, and there's way too much accordion.. sooo it doesn't really live up to the 2 Monster Ballads mentioned above. But there's still some good stuff going on besides that. Too bad this video is a shit pile.

90's Guilty Pleasures #44: Michael Jackson "Stranger In Moscow" (1996)

Okay, the last few entries were way too wordy...

“Stranger In Moscow” was released after the point where Michael Jackson was a tabloid joke. There’s some reverb-soaked soprano sax towards the end of this song which is almost cringe-worthy, but with that one exception, this is the best MJ ballad of his last 20 years.

90's Guilty Pleasures #45: Silverchair "Ana's Song (Open Fire)" (1999)

Silverchair’s official missives and MySpace blog posts reveal them to be some massively huge douchebags, especially Daniel Johns. When he was 14, he wrote a song about class separation (“Tomorrow”) and 2 years later it ended up becoming the biggest song on modern rock radio for a few weeks in the Spring of 1995, just in time for them to permanently remain the official “death of grunge” marker. But you know what? They should be commended. Just think of all those anorexic teen girls who Silverchair helped guide through the tough times, all while adoring Daniel Johns as such a glorious and vulnerable public figure. This was achieved with the autobiographical melodrama “Open Fire (Ana’s Song),” soon to be made into a Lifetime Original Movie. The verses act as a fitting “binge” section to the chorus’s “purge,” with the amazingly awkward key-change separation as the part where the fingers physically enter the throat. On the plus-side (not “plus-size” you fat fuck), at least there’s any key change at all, which is more than what was offered from virtually every other modern rock radio ballad throughout the 2000’s.

90's Guilty Pleasures #46: The Presidents Of The United States Of America "Peaches" (1995)

Not long ago, I decided to label the fun, catchy, innocent, pointless rock of The Presidents as “party music,” which works just fine as long as we’re talking about a classroom’s worth of jumping 8-year-old's at a 1996 birthday party with a blaring mixtape segueing this out of “Amish Paradise,” and not so much a modern day college beer-blast. The same could be said for most of the songs in this “90’s guilty pleasures” list. This entry easily could have been a 3-way tie with “Mach 5” and “Lump,” although an additional layer of “lame” seems to coat this quirky post-grunge 2-part anti-epic, as its subject matter is literally peaches (with vague unintentional references to possibly metaphoric peaches), suggesting greater guilt-potential than a song about Speed Racer’s car, or about a man in a “boggy marsh.” Regardless, all three showcase strong crunch-bass and guitar sounds supporting a less-is-more grunge-pop aesthetic and very strong singalong hooks. I’m pretty sure one of these dudes now writes children’s books.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

90's Guilty Pleasures #47: TLC "Baby, Baby, Baby" (1992) / TLC "Red Light Special" (1995)

TLC's most well-deserved moment of praise is the sleaze-fest "Creep" (which apparently was somehow influenced by Radiohead's "Creep" according to what I once read in SPIN... But I'll take that with a grain of salt..) Their most overrated moment by far is the preachy and annoying and hugely popular "Waterfalls," which along with "Creep" assisted in helping CrazySexyCool to become one of the rare releases to sell over 15 million units (ultimately making it one of the easiest CD's to locate in "Used" bins nationwide). With the exception of "Creep," the TLC slow jams (usually sung by T-Boz) shine brighter than almost everything else in their catalog, and unfortunately have remained in the shadows of "Waterfalls" and "No Scrubs" ever since.

"Baby Baby Baby" and "Red Light Special" are essentially the same song, with the exception of subtle time-stamp production elements, and also "Red Light Special" has a guitar solo running through most of it which I always thought sounded out of place. Regardless, I don't think Marvin Gaye would have minded either of these.

"Baby Baby Baby"

"Red Light Special"

90's Guilty Pleasures #48: The Wallflowers "Sixth Avenue Heartache" (1996)

They were one of those one-album-wonder bands who were a big fucking deal on VH1 and then were completely forgotten about. And what’s up with Jacob Zimmerman using his dad’s surname of “Dylan” and then telling people that he wanted to detach himself from his father’s success? I call bullshit on that.

That's what was written about The Wallflowers for the Taste My Mixes Experiment thing that was posted here recently... I can't think of much else to say about them, except that both "Sixth Avenue Heartache" and "One Headlight" go on for at least 2 minutes longer than they should, and are both way too slow. HOWEVER! I kinda like the stoner Tom-Petty-flavored atmosphere of "Sixth Avenue Heartache," and I like that "666" appears at least twice in this song, and I also have very happy and vivid memories of Crackhead Bob dancing and singing along when The Wallflowers played this at Howard Stern's on-air birthday party. Are those good enough reasons? Whatever, I'm going with it...

90's Guilty Pleasures #49: Len "Steal My Sunshine" (1999)

I don't see how more glee could have possibly been injected into this song without risking sudden happiness-overdose related death... although it starts to get close to the tipping point when the girl spells out "L-A-T-E-R." The only part I really find confusing are those 2 odd speaking parts that occur before the 2 verses, which far surpasses the WTF-levels in the monologue of "Undone - The Sweater Song." But these hardly place a dent in this endless ray of sunshine. Dude.. "Sunshine." It's right there in the fucking song title!?! Whoever said the 90's were all about misery and gloom can shove it up their cakehole.

Friday, March 5, 2010

90's Guilty Pleasures #50: Positive K "I Got A Man" (1993)

The guilt:: Given the proper circumstances, this song could be heard as incredibly annoying. And it's by no means straight-up hiphop... Such as other 90's hits from artists like Coolio or Naughty By Nature, it's the type of hiphop that's essentially made for the pop charts. And to make matters worse, it skates along the "novelty" perimeter ever so carefully (like Skee-Lo or Sagat) while never managing to completely fall in the hole.

The pleasure:: If you weren't already aware of this very fun trivia, get ready to have your mind completely blown: Positive K performed both the male AND female vocals in "I Got A Man." (As stated so eloquently by the geniuses at Wikipedia, he used "studio technology" to raise the pitch of his voice for the girl vox.) And yes, it's annoying, but in such an amazing way! Sexual harassment in pop music never came with more smiles and sunshine! Hating "I Got A Man" might just possibly equate to hating fun... just maybe...

Thursday, March 4, 2010

90's Guilty Pleasures #51: Toad The Wet Sprocket "All I Want" (1992)

If you're a wuss-rock band who decides to name yourself Toad The Wet Sprocket, you should probably consider bracing yourself for a shit-storm of easy jokes from music critics. However, in the case of "All I Want," past the wussy flaccid surface lies the engaging pop-oriented spirit of R.E.M.'s "Fall On Me." And although the production is largely dated-sounding, this strangely ends up becoming one of the song's most compelling attributes, within the spirit of ballads from The Cure or Duran Duran.

90's Guilty Pleasures #52: Janet Jackson "Escapade" (1990) / Janet Jackson "Come Back To Me" (1990)

It wouldn't be completely out of line to label the album Janet Jackson's Rhythm Nation 1814 as one of the all time most outstanding "transition" records from a major pop artist. However, it's not the type of music I'm always in the mood for. And somehow, the context surrounding the name "Janet Jackson," with all its various scandals and controversy, occasionally creates mild lulz. Also, most of her radio songs since 1999 have proven to be largely forgettable (in comparison), making it easy to forget that Janet released legitimately brilliant singles for years.

The big significant trivia of Rhythm Nation is that 7 of the songs on this album were top 5 singles, making it mostly ubiquitous during the 1st 2 years of the 90's. "Escapade" was a 60's-Motown inspired single which became one of the huge summer jams of 1990. The ballad "Come Back To Me" is mostly noteworthy for sounding vaguely similar to The Human League's #1 single "Human" from a few years earlier (also produced by Jimmy Jam). I specifically remember "Escapade" and "Come Back To Me" more so than the other 2 huge singles this album produced during 1990, likely because they were both played heavily on the adult-contemporary stations my parents used to leave on constantly. However, since the early 90's, radio and video airplay tends to forget these two more often than they should.


"Come Back To Me"

90's Guilty Pleasures #53: Eve 6 "Inside Out" (1998) / Eve 6 "Leech" (1998)

I'd like to say my memories of Eve 6 are limited, but the more I think about them, the more I remember... I do remember that there was an annoying red-haired dude on The Real World around 2000 who looked exactly like the lead singer, and I used to refer to this guy as "Eve 6." I remember seeing the band being interviewed by Matt Pinfield on 120 Minutes around the time the "Inside Out" video was blowing up, and they said they got their name from an episode of The X-Files, cos I guess they were big fans of that show. I remember the girl from the "Inside Out" video with the braids being way cute. And I also remember enjoying their follow-up single "Leech" a lot more than "Inside Out," even though it got played significantly less on the radio. There's a lot of severely played-out radio songs from around this era that I simply cannot stand today, but somehow I still enjoy both of these. And now my attempt to break it down...

They were at least 18 when these songs were written, and the pseudo-intellectualism found within the lyrics of Eve 6's first two singles give them a distinct charm that only adolescence could have conjured, which may have been their most compelling attribute. Of course, it doesn't hurt that the songs stick in your head, they're fun for singing along, and they rock decently hard, or at least as hard as well-produced mid-tempo made-for-radio modern rock can get. (They almost rocked as hard as The Toadies, but definitely surpassed Ben Folds Five.) Had Eve 6 continued indulging their Pixies influences and continued writing singles with medium-levels of testosterone instead of resorting to the slow-dance wussy dribble of 2001's "Here's To The Night," there's a chance they might have stuck around longer. (Oh yeah, I forgot about that "Promises" song.. which was mid-tempo rock and was definitely way shitty.. Okay, so maybe they wouldn't have stuck around.)

"Inside Out"


90's Guilty Pleasures #54: Marilyn Manson "Sweet Dreams" (1996)

The late-80's had "Cure kids." The early 90's had "NIN kids." By the Spring of 1995, "Manson kids" were the new high school goth-outcasts. And this made perfect sense, since Manson was considered too dark and creepy for MTV and radio airplay at the time. Before "Sweet Dreams," it was to my understanding (as I was told by said goth-kids) that Marilyn Manson was not the name of their lead singer, but rather was the band's name, created from a combination of the names Charles Manson and Marilyn Monroe. I was told their singer's name was "Mr. Manson" and that the band included a zombie-faced heartthrob guitarist named Twiggy Ramirez. I knew all of this over a year before hearing a note of their music (with the exception of "Get Your Gunn" on the S.F.W. soundtrack which I checked out of curiosity and did not terribly impress me). However, this band clearly had world domination in mind and were VERY quick to turn their backs on the early supporters. In early 1996, their cover of "Sweet Dreams" was considered commercial enough to earn the tag "Buzz Clip," and somehow the singer's name became "Marilyn Manson," possibly because their label thought the band was more marketable this way. After the black smoke had passed, the jocks finally had their chance to tease the goth-kids for adoring a band who could produced such a terrible cover song as their breakthrough hit. 2 key elements save this song, however: #1 The guitar riff, and #2 the hypnotic, Alice Cooper-inspired vocal performance. This song was also debuted on New York's 92.3 K-Rock by Howard Stern himself, who chose this as the 1st song to air after their format flipped to modern rock in the Spring of '96.

90's Guilty Pleasures #55: Quad City DJ's "C'Mon And Ride It (The Train)" (1996)

I'm having trouble pinpointing why exactly this is a "guilty pleasure" since it seems nobody has anything really negative to say about it.. The biggest complaint I've heard is "it reminds me of middle school dances," which simply means that some may associate it with bad childhood memories... Not really a valid argument in either direction. It appears to be merely Jock Jams fluff on the surface, but there's a lot going on in "C'Mon And Ride It" that doesn't necessarily reveal itself until you listen to the individual sections that make up what really can't be described as much else besides "epic..." This is what God puts on at the party room in heaven.

Unfortunate.... The vocal version is nowhere to be found online... and the rap sections and vocal parts are so insanely key to grasp the full effect of this one... But anyway, here's the instrumental version..

90's Guilty Pleasures #56: Ben Folds Five "Brick" (1997)

The easy Elton/Joel comparisons only existed because he's a piano guy. The truth of the matter stands: Ben Folds was the only dude who knew how to do Joe Jackson just as well as Joe Jackson. Over the course of the Five's 3 albums, Ben turned out to be one of the only cases of 90's rock in which a songwriter's abilities matched his most obvious influence. For example, there's a Joe Jackson song called "Friday" that, if sung by Ben Folds, you'd never know it wasn't one of his songs. (There's another one called "It's Different For Girls" which almost surpasses this uncanny similarity.) And I think Joe Jackson was aware of this, because they collaborated when helping to put together William Shatner's last album.

So The Five's inevitable big single turned out to be "Brick," which was the song that BF5 ended up dreading. What makes "Brick" such an odd case, obviously, is the subject matter of the lyrics, which were pretty deep considering it was released as a single the same time that "Tubthumping" was the biggest song in the country. (For years I tried remembering to listen to "Brick" at 6AM on the day after Christmas, just for fun, but I ended up never being able to wake up that early, and then somewhere around December 29th I'd be like "damnit, I forgot again this year..") The fact that it was a ballad ended up turning off hard rock fans, which is why it's a guilty pleasure. Another band who suffered in a similar manner was The Verve Pipe with their one-hit "The Freshmen," which coincidentally has a similar sounding intro section to "Brick." Both were great bands who fell victim to having a sappy ballad as their one-hit-wonder. Such is life.


"The Freshmen"

90's Guilty Pleasures #57: Whitney Houston "I'm Your Baby Tonight" (1990)

There must have been a point before Whitney Houston's fame when she was more humble and less crazy. But by 1990, she was well past that point, having sold something like 20 million albums and being engaged to Bobby Brown. The groove of this particular song, while not especially present in any of her other hits, sounds like a fitting soundtrack for her ascent into complete insanity. Fifteen years on, our suspicions were confirmed thanks to reality TV.