The Grahammy's 90/90
Volume 4, Number 5
Thursday, January 6, 2000
"Kinda like MTV 1515 on Mad Dog 20/20 but not really"
Singles. No, I'm not alluding to Cameron Crowe's 1992 opus about
Gen X. No, I'm not talkin' bout those handy portions of Kraft
cheese you can pick up in the dairy section of your local
supermarket. And no, I'm not referencing the marriage status of
83.67346% of you on this distribution list. What I actually
referring to are those shimmering moments of music when a
particular band or artist momentarily grabs hold of the national
Zeitgeist with an anthem that makes everything at that moment in
time seem a-okay. Aka singles. Some groups have the knack for
coming up with the perfect hook, a great backbeat, or a spot-on
sample that propels their work into our collective conscious.
They represent slices of life, and thus, are exceedingly
difficult to quantify. Each song is interpreted/understood by the
individual and filtered through events and experiences uniquely
their own. As I was bemoaning on the last edition of The Grahammy's
90/90, music is SO personal that I know that some of you are
going to have some qualms about what did and didn't make the list.
That's Coolio by me. To each his/her own. Word is born. But these
are the 45 Greatest Singles Of The Decade as voted on by your
humble narrator. And in an attempt to try and best represent what
the Decade In Singles meant to me with both depth and breadth, I
limited the number of artist appearances to one. Each band or
artist mentioned below is represented by their best shot at the
heavyweight crown, the One Shining Moment They Reached For The
Stars (if you will). So, in conclusion, remember to never rub
another mans' rhubarb. And with that...
TOP 45 SINGLES OF
Think I'm In Love (Chemical Brothers Mix)", Spiritualized (`98) - When I'm not with
you, I'm not all myself.
44) "Blue", The Jayhawks (`95) - Where have all my
Too", Tragically Hip (`95)
- They say I'm fabulously rich.
Crush", Garbage (`96) -
Obsessive sensuality from Shirley (Don't Call Me Marilyn) Manson.
Rock", Prime Ministers
(`97) - The catchiest pop song from a Detroit band since Mitch
Ryder's "Devil With A Blue Dress/Good Golly Miss Molly".
40) "Go", Moby (`92) - Laura Palmer's Theme +
breakbeats = classic.
Advice", Luna (`94) -
Baaaaa baaaaa, bah b ba bah.
Soundz", Pavement (`94)
- We need secrets.
Outside A Broken Phone Booth With Money In My Hand", Primitive Radio Gods (`96) - The BB King
sample was pure genius.
36) "Violet", Hole (`94) - And the sky was made of
Lost You", Screaming
Trees (`92) - The best grunge song not by Nirvana.
Supastar", Pras feat.
Maya and ODB (`98) - Ubiquitous during the summer of `98.
In Your Soul", They
Might Be Giants (`90) - The bluebird of friendliness, like a
guardian angel it's always here.
It Together", Beastie
Boys feat. Q-Tip (`94) - Like Ma Bell, they got the Ill
All These Years", Tori
Amos (`92) - Excuse me but can I be you for awhile?
30) "Cannonball", Breeders (`93) - Contains the best bass
line of the decade.
Radiohead (`95) - Mistakenly represented as all that was wrong
with college angst in "Clueless"; it's actually
everything that's RIGHT about angst.
28) "Laid", James (`93) - She only comes when she's on
Was A Good Day", Ice
Cube (`92) - Every time I look for the Goodyear Blimp, I'm hoping
it's going to read "Ice Cube's A Pimp".
On The Phone", Saint
Etienne (`95) - Seeing them do this live at St. Andrew's Hall was
a sheer delight.
Mind's Playin' Tricks On Me",
Geto Boys (`91) - Instead
of celebrating Thug Life, this song takes you deep down into the
pitfalls of the lifestyle.
Is In The Heart", Deee-lite
(`90) - Your groove I do deeply dig.
23) "Thunderstorm", Matthew Sweet (`99) - Exquisite cacophony
meets joyously mellow harmonies through the filter of Phil
Spector's Wall Of Sound recording style.
22) "Fantasy", Mariah Carey feat. ODB (`95) - When you
walk by every night, talkin' sweet and lookin' fine, I get kinda
Wheel (`92) - The greatest single of the shoegazing era.
20) "Underwhelmed", Sloan (`92) - If the Beatles were an indie
pop band from Nova Scotia, this is what they'd sound like. "Penpals"
was a close second.
19) "Torn", Natalie Imbruglia (`98) - If there was
ever a song that was the equivalent of a Pixy Stick, this is it.
Highly addictive and ultimately pretty empty, but very, very
Underworld (`96) - Lager lager lager.
Humpty Dance", Digital
Underground (`90) - I still don't know definitively if Shock G
and Humpty Hump were two different people. And I hear Clarky once
got busy in a Burger King bathroom.
Ice Baby", Vanilla Ice
(`90) - Don't laugh and don't pretend like you don't know all the
words by heart. Contains the definitive sample in the history of
Attack (`91) - 1999 Con D Award winner for Single Of The Decade.
14) "Tender", Blur (`99) - Words cannot describe the
brilliance of this song. It's either 20 years ahead of it's time
or 30 years behind, I can't decide.
(Todd Terry Remix)",
Everything But The Girl (`95) - Probably the best love song ever
written with over 140 bpm.
Bop (Dust Brothers Mix)",
Hanson (`97) - These little bastards went out and wrote one of
the catchiest pop hooks of all-time and then promptly dropped off
the radar screen. I thought for sure that the keyboard-playing
singer (Tyler? Taylor?) was a chick.
11) "Wonderwall", Oasis (`95) - Love 'em or hate 'em, Oasis
a great singles band. I don't believe that anybody feels the way
I do about you now.
Compares 2 U", Sinead O'Connor
(`90) - Easily the hottest bald chick of all-time. One of Prince's
finest songwriting achievements was perfectly complimented by
Sinead's soothing Irish lilt and obvious emotional investment.
Love", 2-Pac & Dr.
Dre (`96) - "Fresh outta jail/out on bail/California dreamin'/Soon
as I hit the stage I'm hearin' hoochie screamin". The best
hip-hop collaboration of all-time, recorded right before the
demise of Death Row Records.
Vibe", Fountains Of
Wayne (`96) - Probably destined for nothing larger than cult-appreciation,
FOW (as they're known in fan circles) writes nothing but 3-minute
pop ditties laced with irresistable hooks. This is their triumph.
Pumpkins (`93) - Billy Corgan's anthemic dis to all the indie-rockers
who sold out during the Major Label gold-rush of the Early `90s.
Chock-full of vitriol and roaring guitars.
Goodbye", Jeff Buckley
(`94) - He was a rare-talent, more raw potential than fully-realized
artist. His voice had the uncanny ability to dive and soar across
octaves, conveying sheer emotion by changing the pitch of his
Of You", The Cure (`90)
- Though "Disintegration" hit the streets in mid-1989,
this single was not officially released until January of 1990,
thereby just squeaking into eligibility. Heartbreak and longing
and disappointment and lost love in song. With this and 1987's
"Just Like Heaven", Robert Smith bookends the polar
opposites of love, from depressive recollection to dizzying
Like Teen Spirit",
Nirvana (`91) - Like I said in my album countdown, what more can
be said about Nirvana? Essential.
My Bitch Up", Prodigy (`97)
- Will be forever connected to the out-of-control world of
illicit drug-use and endless clubbing thanks to its Best Ever
Video by Jonas Akerlund and it's appearance in "Permanent
Midnight." Guaranteed to get your blood pumping and to kick-start
your heart (without the painful hangover of Motley Crüe-ing to
worry about). Change my pitch up.
Symphony", The Verve (`97)
- A triumphant moment. Climbing from the ashes of 1995's 89X Fest
like a phoenix, Richard Ashcroft's lyrical supremacy and Nick
McCabe's guitar soundscapes used to flow seamlessly together into
sonic heaven. Forget U2, Oasis, Radiohead, and REM; The Verve are
the Best Band In the World. Too bad they don't exist anymore. At
this time, Richard was trying to "Hear some sounds that
recognize the pain in me...But the airwaves are clean/And there's
nobody talking to me now." From the first moment I heard the
thumping double beat lay down across the sweeping orchestral
melody (ripped shamelessly from the Stones but who cares), I knew
that this song was something special. Playing this song on an
endless loop one weekend at Wartinbee's former Chicago flat when
it first came out (mid-June 1997) is a great memory.
People", Pulp (`95) -
Remember when I was speaking earlier about the Zeitgeist? Well,
most of you know I'm not quite the Anglophile I used to be.
Whereas my posse and I used to try and get the inside scoop on
the British music scene in the mid-90s by endlessly pouring
through Q and NME and Select, my interest in the British music
scene has dampened. It seems that World Domination by Boy Bands
has conquered the spirit of Indie Bands on both sides of the pond,
especially those that reigned over the British charts during the
Glory Days of `94-`96 (like Pulp, Oasis, Blur, Charlatans UK, etc.).
But even a few years removed from this musical scene, it's
impossible to deny the power and emotion Jarvis and his bandmates
laid down on this Anthem to top all Anthems from 1995. Though the
subject matter may be foreign (literally) to most of you, the
underlying themes are universal. Rich snobbios must go down. As
the tension of the song builds, you feel yourself identify with
Jarvis Cocker's working-class art student who has had enough of
the female socialite out who picks him up while slumming, asking
him to try and teach her to "act like common people."
The lyrics and music start in a hushed whisper and build into a
frenetic crescendo that gives me chills to this day. When Pulp
headlined Glasto in `95 and had the crowd of 200,000 + singing
along, it must've been a magical moment. Though they only held
the public's imagination for a few short months (and never met
with any acclaim in America), Pulp's Zeitgiest-capturing single
portrayed that one moment in time so effectively that they are
proudly awarded The Grahammy Award for Best Single Of The `90s.
Thanks for your patience, until next year...
comments? criticisms? death threats?
email me and i'll see if i can cure your ills.