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August 30, 2010 3:16 PM   Subscribe

Pitchfork counts down the top 200 tracks of the 1990's this week. Strippertweets invites you to play pretend Pitchfork editor and predict the songs and order of the top 10 in their Pitchfork Pool.

Research for the gambler: Pitchfork thought God Only Knows by the Beach Boys was the best song of the 1960's. OutKast had the number one song (B.O.B.) in Pitchfork's list of the 2000's. The number one album of the 1990's was Radiohead's OK Computer, according to Pitchfork. Aphex Twin apparently had the best video of that decade, they say.
posted by incessant (161 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
I would like to talk about Arcade Fire again. Is this a good place to do that? I like their music a lot.
posted by jessamyn at 3:19 PM on August 30, 2010 [10 favorites]


Well, jessamyn, if you can phrase your Arcade Fire enthusiasms in the form of bands that aren't them from the 1990s sucking and Pitchfork not knowing what the fuck it's talking about and arbitrary Top Whatever lists being the worst kind of clickthrough fodder, I think you'll be okay.

Your favourite band, however, does suck. But you knew that.
posted by gompa at 3:24 PM on August 30, 2010


A list of the top tracks of the 1990's? In this case your favorite decade sucks.
posted by 2bucksplus at 3:27 PM on August 30, 2010


My favorite band is Johnny Suck and the Hoovers.
posted by cortex at 3:27 PM on August 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Talkin' 'bout my generation....

Here, via the magic of The Wayback Machine, is my list (written on July 25th, 1999) of my 25 favourite singles of the '90s. Eleven years down the road, I'm not sure why Garbage and The Smoking Popes are on there, but it could be worse...
posted by The Card Cheat at 3:32 PM on August 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


C+C Music Factory vs. Insane Clown Posse vs. Korn?
posted by benzenedream at 3:33 PM on August 30, 2010


The top 50 songs already leaked.
posted by ND¢ at 3:35 PM on August 30, 2010


Bonus points, The Card Cheat, for propping "Hobo Humpin' Slobo Babe". That song is bitchin'.
posted by Bookhouse at 3:37 PM on August 30, 2010


I've already figured out what they're going to pick as the best song of all time.
posted by hellojed at 3:38 PM on August 30, 2010




If you don't enter that list in the pool, The Card Cheat, I will.
posted by incessant at 3:41 PM on August 30, 2010


I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that for at least the first few pages I've clicked thru (pitchfork, one more reason to hate you: give me the whole list, or at least more than ten per page), I haven't heard of a good many of these songs/artists. I lived thru the 90's, I listened to commercial and college radio, I read Exclaim! magazine, Rolling Stone, Billboard (okay, rarely, but still). I'm just not as hip as I thought I was....
posted by ashbury at 3:41 PM on August 30, 2010


This is a bit of a tangent, but my favorite blogger in the world right now is Pitchfork Reviews Reviews, which it's entirely possible to love even if you don't read Pitchfork regularly (I haven't for a long time) or don't really give a shit about this list. He does reviews of all the Pitchfork reviews every day, but he also does long form writing about a slightly broader range of topics. Here is a post called "how downloading music has literally saved my life," here is a post about meeting Barack Obama and telling him about Pitchfork, here is a post about DJing, and once you have read those three you will either never want to read the blog again, or, more likely (I think), you will want to read every post.
posted by raisindebt at 3:41 PM on August 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


Musically, the 90s ended in the spring / summer of 1994.

Between that time and the 2003 VMA awards, it was neither the 90s nor the 2000s -- call it TRL Mob Time.

Since 2003, it's been an amorphous mass. It has neither a name nor a singular sound.

I'm really afraid it will be like this forever.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:42 PM on August 30, 2010 [6 favorites]


Go for it, incessant, but I suspect you won't win because there aren't any Radiohead songs on my list...
posted by The Card Cheat at 3:43 PM on August 30, 2010


Tooling down the list of fifty provided, I was pleased to see that I recognized an entire eleven tracks. My usual Pitchfork track recognition is a bit lower than that. And now with bands I can identify! I'm a little iffy on Pitchfork because I cannot decide how much of their selections are "we picked this because it is obscure" and how much of it I have simply missed out on, but this was different.

I tend to be iffy on the "Best Ofs" for just about anything because of how massively time-dependent those lists tend to be. Just look at the score of a movie on IMDB — you'll frequently see this huge burst as the film opens, then later on the score approaches something more reasonable. A few decades later, the Classics boost lets still-remembered films, albums, or what have you slide on up, like on a sled named "Rosebud," as nostalgia goggles make everything better.

My rule of thumb breaks things out into five year intervals. A decade is too long. And then simply avoid evaluating the current interval or the previous interval, as objectivity is so hard to reach. With at least a decade to evaluate the 90s as a whole, I like this list. I wonder what came in 500 through 201, though.

I heard a pretty good Arcade Fire tune yesterday. I could not figure out what the song title was, as the HD information was scrolled away by some annoying station identification bit. I suppose it is time to give them a shot again.
posted by adipocere at 3:44 PM on August 30, 2010


I am honestly really surprised by the abundance of 90s electronic music already on this list. None of their other lists ever have anything like this. They're not a UK publication. This was probably not what most of the contributors were actually listening to in the 90s.
posted by azarbayejani at 3:44 PM on August 30, 2010


The Card Cheat: now that's a list I recognize! Every single song/artist. WTF?

Oh, and just for the record, since I'm spouting my opinions now, Arcade Fire's The Suburbs I found to be very uninspiring. Sorry Jessamyn, not that my thoughts really count.
posted by ashbury at 3:45 PM on August 30, 2010


> That song is bitchin'.

It certainly is.
posted by The Card Cheat at 3:45 PM on August 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Pavement, Beck, Weezer, or Nirvana, probably.
posted by LSK at 3:48 PM on August 30, 2010


Sorry Jessamyn, not that my thoughts really count.

As with most things, I only like things on MeFi which make other people annoyed. I like Arcade Fire a normal amount and was being cheeky. I do, however, like this post and should have said so earlier. And I have been informed that Arcade Fire was not around in the 90s...
posted by jessamyn at 3:49 PM on August 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't necessarily agree with the choices, but at least in giving us some thought about the specific songs they chose, it at least gives me an idea about where they're coming from with it.

I'm actually impressed at the amount of music I recognize, given that I listen only to R&B and hiphop, and that they're not just pulling the most mainstream stuff you see on the "Best hits of the 90's" kind of mixes.
posted by yeloson at 3:49 PM on August 30, 2010


I'm with ashbury. Out of the first 5 pages (50 entries), I've heard of 10 artists.
posted by desjardins at 3:50 PM on August 30, 2010


I must have lived through a different nineties, I've heard exactly one song on Pitchfork's list ("Interstate Love Song") and I hate it.
posted by octothorpe at 3:51 PM on August 30, 2010


I haven't heard of most of the songs on The Card Cheat's list either. Apparently I spent the 1990s in a cave... which contained my high school and college.
posted by desjardins at 3:52 PM on August 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Smells Like Teen Spirit" is too trite, I suppose.
posted by Houyhnhnm at 3:52 PM on August 30, 2010


PM Dawn's 'Looking Through Patient Eyes' and isn't even close. Suck on that haters!
posted by PenDevil at 3:52 PM on August 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's too soon to be definitive about that decade. You don't really know if a record stands the test (pro or con) for at least fifteen years. So yeah, anything up to 1995 we've got a pretty good idea if it's worth dipping in gold. Anything after that, I don't even want to discuss it with a straight face.

Except Neutral Milk Hotel. They stand. And that 1999 Sigur Ros album, that's never even hinted at showing rust.

As for that Top 50 leak, that's gotta be a joke. Silverchair, Bush, Wallflowers, SpinFUCKINGdoctors ... and that's just from the first ten on the list.

Unless PitchFork were all stuck in perpetual middle school in 90s, which is entirely possible. Not exactly a bunch of overachievers.
posted by philip-random at 3:55 PM on August 30, 2010


It's not a bad list. Although occasionally willfully obscurist in the normal Pitchfork vein, I like that they would list a great song ("Would?") from a not-critically-lauded group like Alice in Chains.
posted by Bookhouse at 4:00 PM on August 30, 2010


Now y'all are gonna pretend that "MMMbop" never happened.
posted by Joe Beese at 4:03 PM on August 30, 2010 [9 favorites]


> I like that they would list a great song ("Would?") from a not-critically-lauded group like Alice in Chains.

And "Interstate Love Song" by Stone Temple Pilots.
posted by The Card Cheat at 4:03 PM on August 30, 2010


I'll go ahead and be the representative for all of us (and you all know who you are) who saw this post and immediately had the following word flit through our minds:

Radiohead.
posted by Windigo at 4:03 PM on August 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


My guess? #1 will be a Guided By Voices/Throwing Muses split b-side that was released only in Japan, stapled to the front of a 'zine. "It sounds a lot like a more frantic Magnetic Fields improperly recorded over Elliot Smith's live cover of Fugazi's take on 'Break My Body'" oh shut up Pitchfork.
posted by turgid dahlia at 4:10 PM on August 30, 2010 [11 favorites]


I feel like at least one truly idiotic throw-away track will be among the top 20 -- my current pick is Snow's Informer or maybe Digitial Underground, but if it's PM Dawn, PenDevil, you're my new favorite person. Neutral Milk Hotel and Radiohead will surely be among the top 10, and probably some Pavement song I don't like very much. Pitchfork's love of OutKast seems to suggest at least one song among the top 20, if not the top 10. Surely Nirvana will get a nod. Notorious BIG and Tupac could grab a couple of the slots. I dunno -- I'll bet the top 10 will mostly be artists who're instantly recognizable, rather than the songs at 200-150, which seem a competition for who can be more eclectic. (Dillinja? Noreaga? The Auteurs? Though it is nice that I've now heard of people I hadn't heard of.)

And if it isn't already obvious, I think the list is stupidity, but predicting the list is lots of fun.
posted by incessant at 4:11 PM on August 30, 2010


This was probably not what most of the contributors were actually listening to in the 90s.

If I was making a list of what I think the 100 best songs of the '90s are, I can't imagine more than like ten or fifteen of them would be things I was actually listening to then. I'm guessing most Pitchfork contributors have similar listening histories. (That said, I'll be pretty disappointed if this song doesn't show up this week at some point.)

Also we had Amp on MTV, so it's not like Orbital was totally unknown here. I definitely knew about "Chime" in high school, even if I didn't know it when it came out.
posted by jackflaps at 4:11 PM on August 30, 2010


Pavement, Beck, Weezer, or Nirvana, probably.

My money is on Pavement's "Gold Soundz."
posted by porn in the woods at 4:12 PM on August 30, 2010


Man, it was a 50/50 shot if I could have downloaded Aphex Twin videos overnight on my 56k. Now? Anytime, all the time.
posted by wcfields at 4:19 PM on August 30, 2010


Now y'all are gonna pretend that "MMMbop" never happened.

MMMBop is an entirely solid bit of bubblegum pop. That chorus hook is undeniable major-key ear candy. A lot of people hated it because it got overplayed, or because hating it became the thing to do for a while, or because they just don't like bubblegum, and, well, all of that is just gonna happen when you take an ephemeral pop song and explode it on the public consciousness. But it's not a bad song.

But it's not a great song either. The verses are forgettable filler. No one remembers them. The song may as well start and end with the chorus. And as much as it's a fun scat novelty tune in that chorus—with the loving to hate it and the hating to love it and the wormiest of earworms burrowing in whenever it came on the radio—there's nothing to latch onto emotionally beyond a sense of abstract pop joy. There's no text, no story, not even a sense of place other than the disembodied bouncy castle of basic human manic experience.

So, eh.

Now, slow it down to one eighth its original speed...
posted by cortex at 4:19 PM on August 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


I listened to that Pavement record they're always going on about precisely once, and I know tastes differ, but that is one objectively, universally underwhelming record. I also dislike Sonic Youth, principally because of the fact that over a career spanning, what, fifty albums?, the law of averages dictates that they should have accidentally strung together an actual tune by now. Further unsolicited opinions available upon request. Songs About Fucking is great btw.
posted by turgid dahlia at 4:20 PM on August 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


A better game (for me) is guessing how many of the top 20 songs in this list I will have ever heard!
posted by Justinian at 4:20 PM on August 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


I was born in '74 and I'm familiar with nearly every one of these songs. I'm guessing it must be either the techno or the rap/R&B throwing people off? At any rate these were major parts of the musical landscape at the time, so it's not like they're pulling obscurities out of their ass.
posted by squeakyfromme at 4:20 PM on August 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


I lived under a rock.
posted by Justinian at 4:23 PM on August 30, 2010


I live to rock.
posted by ND¢ at 4:25 PM on August 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


I will just drop in here to say that Webb Wilder better be in there somewhere or your flawed idea of alt-country was Wilco's "Being There" and your 90's were just another set of 80's.

Remember kids, wear glases if you have to...
posted by 1f2frfbf at 4:26 PM on August 30, 2010


At any rate these were major parts of the musical landscape at the time, so it's not like they're pulling obscurities out of their ass.

Basically. It's not like they're pulling out Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprosy or Source of Labor or anything.

I'll be interested to see if they pull out anything out of 90's West Coast hiphop beyond Pharcyde or gangsta rap - The Nonce, Souls of Mischief or Heiros had some underrated influence.

On the R&B tip, there definitely needs to be some Quincy Jones, Sounds of Blackness and Kirk Franklin. And it's really just a question of WHICH Aaliyah, Mary J. Blige, SWV, and TLC songs they pick.
posted by yeloson at 4:29 PM on August 30, 2010


I never appreciated it at the time but now I really like "In the Meantime" by Spacehog. I was wrong not to love this song when it first came out but I am making it up to this song by liking it way too much now.
posted by I Foody at 4:30 PM on August 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: not even a sense of place other than the disembodied bouncy castle of basic human manic experience.

/low-hanging fruit
posted by gompa at 4:33 PM on August 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


> I listened to that Pavement record they're always going on about precisely once, and I know tastes differ, but that is one objectively, universally underwhelming record.

Yeah, man, but you know, it's, like, underwhelming on purpose!
posted by The Card Cheat at 4:33 PM on August 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


And as much as it's a fun scat novelty tune in that chorus—with the loving to hate it and the hating to love it and the wormiest of earworms burrowing in whenever it came on the radio—there's nothing to latch onto emotionally beyond a sense of abstract pop joy.

Sometimes that abstract pop joy is everything the world requires. My experience of mmmbop was hearing it a few times in the background (peoples' radios, store sound systems etc) and slowly starting to identify it as a current pop hit that reminded me of Motown in its prime. I liked it. It had an earworm aspect, but it was good earworm. Imagine my surprise when I finally saw the vid (rather stoned at the time as I recall) and saw it was the work of three blond haired boys from Oklahoma City.

That, I will never forget.
posted by philip-random at 4:33 PM on August 30, 2010


But it's not a great song either. The verses are forgettable filler. No one remembers them.

I think it's an absurd term, but rockist actually seems to apply here. Do you listen to James Brown and think about the lyrics? How about something like "Mashed Potatoes Popcorn?"
posted by raysmj at 4:34 PM on August 30, 2010


Also, if I was giving out a personal Pitchfork Top Ten nod to a song I wouldn't have touched with a ten-foot pole (or played as DJ at the bar where I'm betting Card Cheat first heard "Hobo Humpin' Slobo Babe" back in '95 or thereabouts), it'd be a two-way tie between "Common People" by Pulp and "Summer Babe (Winter Version)" by Pavement.

The latter does have a title so pomo cutesy-clever it almost justifies my twentysomething refusal to give Pavement a second listen, but damn if that ain't one sly little lo-fi masterpiece . . .
posted by gompa at 4:37 PM on August 30, 2010


I have a nice little Pavement EP that has done it for me, but in the lulls between songs I can still hear Beavis and Butthead: "Try harder, dammit! Try harder!"
posted by adipocere at 4:38 PM on August 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


turgid dahlia, you're sort of right about Pavement, completely WRONG about Sonic Youth and, like pretty much everyone I know who's even heard of Songs About Fucking, you're over-rating it.

But what do I know? If I was laying down a Top Whatever list for the 90s, the Boo Radleys would crack the Top Ten.
posted by philip-random at 4:39 PM on August 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh, and what the hell, while we're favourite-band-suxing . . . this?

I also dislike Sonic Youth, principally because of the fact that over a career spanning, what, fifty albums?, the law of averages dictates that they should have accidentally strung together an actual tune by now.

Man, that's a one-line summary of missing the entire point of Sonic Youth right there. Plus also if you can't hear the actual tune in "Teenage Riot" (to name but one), I probably don't want to know what you mean by "actual tune."
posted by gompa at 4:41 PM on August 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't know, in my experience, anyone willing to write off an entire decade of music as inferior to some other decade is unfailingly basing their opinion strictly on Top 40 fodder, in which case their opinion is pretty pointless to begin with.
posted by squeakyfromme at 4:43 PM on August 30, 2010


Sometimes that abstract pop joy is everything the world requires.

I don't disagree. But MMMBop is hardly the zenith of abstract pop joy creations. It's good. Killer earworm chorus. But it's not unique or first-among-equals on that front. The Jackson 5 put out half a dozen songs that are as balls-out infectious as that and that had nominal lyrical hooks to go with them. MMMBop itself could have been rebuilt with new parts from a horribly damaged J5 demo tape or something, when you get right down to it.

Do you listen to James Brown and think about the lyrics?

Not a whole lot, but if we're going to compare James Brown's raw vocal chutzpah to Hanson's the only thing the latter can crow about is that they didn't die seven or eight times in 2006. Hopefully it's not rockist to think that Brown was a giant and Hanson isn't.

Anyway, I'm not trying to have a teardown fight over MMMBop. I just wanted to go on the record about it not being forgotten or buried as just not all that goddam durable as a Greatest Song Ever sort of entity. Good pop with no legs, that's all.
posted by cortex at 4:46 PM on August 30, 2010


I'm '74 too and don't know most of this stuff. Although I live under a rock, I was quite into music at the time, and listened to college radio religiously. But yeah, 90s-era techno/r&b would not have been on my radar at all, so that would explain it I guess. PM has a track record of being obscure for the sake of it, but I'll concede it could just be a genre thing.

I would pay good money if it'd convince them to make#1 MMMBop.
posted by cj_ at 4:47 PM on August 30, 2010


Man I don't even care about y'all's opinions I'm going to listen to some god-damned Harvest.
posted by turgid dahlia at 4:49 PM on August 30, 2010


Keeping my fingers crossed for Zip Code Rapists and Faxed Head to claim the top spots.
posted by wcfields at 4:49 PM on August 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Predictions based on what's aged best (not including stuff that's been talked about above):

Only Shallow - My Bloody Valentine
Don't Sweat the Technique - Eric B. and Rakim
Free Fallin' - Tom Petty (I know, I know, but it's a pretty decent song)
Say it Ain't So - Weezer (tossup, could easily be the Sweater Song, or a "controversial" pinkerton take
Killing Me Softly - The Fugees (the fugees made some amazing covers)
3 different Wrens songs - (Rest your head, I've made enough friends, jane fakes a hug)
A Beck song, perhaps a b-side
Cake (tossup, it's going to be off Fashion Nugget, I'd prefer Stickshifts and Safetybelts, but I doubt that thats a leader.
Organ Donor - DJ Shadow (pretty much has to be on there, you still can't go to bboy event and not hear it, the better pick in my mind would be Stem/ Stem 2/ Transmission cause that one blew my mind when I first heard it)
Reel Big Fish (some song from sell out, allows the writers to comment on the punk/ska fad. Like 'em or not, Reel Big Fish pretty much nailed to credibility/sell out coin in a pretty witty, off the cuff way (calling your first major label release "sell out" for example.
Sublime (not a bad choice for random number one, but sublime receives
Something from Hello Nasty by the Beastie Boys
Gone Til November - Wyclef Jean (he once made really awesome music)
Something by Air
posted by cyphill at 4:57 PM on August 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Actually and I'm just going to say this and then shut up, but actually the best album I've listened to recently is Fabio Frizzi's Zombi 2 soundtrack so stick that up your Molinas.
posted by turgid dahlia at 4:58 PM on August 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Here are my actual guesses:
10)Evenflow by Pearl Jam
09)Buddy Holly by Weezer
08)Army of Me by Bjork
07)Don't Look Back in Anger by Oasis
06)Karma Police by Radiohead
05)Basketcase by Greenday
04)1979 by Smashing Pumpkins
03)Juicy by the Notorious BIG
02) Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana
01) New Pollution By Beck

my list is too mainstream and too white pitchfork will have literally twice as many black people in it's top ten and probably one straight up pop hit with no guitars or anything. My list represents my attempt to get as many right as possible by loading it with strong/obvious choices from genres that I am comfortable with.
posted by I Foody at 5:07 PM on August 30, 2010


...IN THE COLD NOVEMBER RAIN
posted by robocop is bleeding at 5:09 PM on August 30, 2010 [7 favorites]


Bookhouse: ""Hobo Humpin' Slobo Babe""

Haha, this is fantastic: In the late 1990s a presentation of the band on its official website stated that its original name was Southern Whale Cult 1987, and that several albums had previously been released in that name. This was later admitted to have been a joke - the band had copied a presentation of The Cult and simply changed the name of the band in the text.
posted by boo_radley at 5:12 PM on August 30, 2010


Whenever Pitchfork does a retrospective, they cease telling me how I could be cool and start describing exactly why I wasn't back then. It's like they've turned on me.

Also, thanks to this thread, I just discovered that mrs. betachat, born in 1980 and otherwise quite secure in her musical taste, has never heard of Jane's Addiction.

Mind.

Boggled.

posted by felix betachat at 5:13 PM on August 30, 2010


Well, uh, I recognized #181.

Guess I'm going to go listen to Run-around now.
posted by thejoshu at 5:14 PM on August 30, 2010


I was born in '74 and I'm familiar with nearly every one of these songs. I'm guessing it must be either the techno or the rap/R&B throwing people off?

I was amazed to find that I know 9 of these 50 tracks - much higher than my usual pitchfork strike rate - and it's actually 'the techno and rap/R&B' which account for almost all those 9.
posted by Slyfen at 5:18 PM on August 30, 2010


The Village Voice critics poll (Pazz and Jop) had "MMMBop" as the top single of 1997. People were making fun of the single even then, but the critics didn't care--or realized the snobbery aimed the song's way, and gave it the nod based on the fact that it works as a single is supposed to work. I'm quite sure that the majority of the critics involved would agree on the long-term merits of JB vs. Hanson, for god's sake. That's not the point.

Anyway, I kind of think of it as a less self-aware forerunner to "Hey Ya," (much more of a throwback in its sound, but also in a self-aware way that makes it sound new) where the key phrase after an ode to a failed relationship is (I'm not looking at the lyrics) end where the gloriously bonkers stuff begins is, Y'all don't wanna hear this, you just wanna dance. Is "Hey Ya" a better song for being self-aware? Sure, I think so. But most people dancing to it never gave a damn about the lyrics, only that the song was catchy as hell and danceable, and had those hilarious shout-outs to Lucy Liu and Beyonce at the end, the Polaroid picture hook, etc.

And if some 2020 version of Pitchfork picks something other than "Hey Ya" as the best single of the 2000s, I hope their editors die in a fire.
posted by raysmj at 5:25 PM on August 30, 2010


I know Pitchfork is more pretense than actual substance, and I opened up the list expecting to encounter some things I found questionable, but seriously: Your Woman by White Town? There is not a single damn thing about that track that makes it anything more than a novelty, and a pretty annoying one at that. And yet, there they are, blathering on "oh, it was so out of step with every musical trend."
posted by weston at 5:36 PM on August 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Raysmj, "Hey Ya" was #12 on their top tracks of 2000's. Here is an easy-to-digest list of the tracks.
posted by incessant at 5:38 PM on August 30, 2010


Okay, here's my best guess:

01. Neutral Milk Hotel - In the Aeroplane Over the Sea
02. Nirvana - Smells Like Teen Spirit
03. Radiohead - Paranoid Android
04. Beastie Boys - Sabotage
05. LL Cool J - Mama Said Knock You Out / Outkast - Rosa Parks / 2Pac - California Love
06. Daft Punk - Around The World
07. Oasis - Champagne Supernova / White Town - Your Woman / Cornershop - Brimful of Asha
08. DJ Shadow - Organ Donor
09. Breeders - Cannonball
10. REM - Nightswimming / Sting - Fields Of Gold

Rationale:

01. Aeroplane famously got the perfect ten only on its re-issue. It's basically the ideal Pitchfork record: obscure yet catchy, timeless, singular. "Holland, 1945" is terrific, but "In the Aeroplane" is more concrete in its musings upon mortality, and therefore more timeless.

02. They can't get past this one. Can they? If it's overplayed, does it matter for a list such as this? No. No, it doesn't. For better or worse, it defined an era, and at least they'll be Pitchfork enough to resist putting it at #1. Won't they?

03. Now, there must be something off OK Computer in there. But will it be this track? It might as well be "No Surprises", or if we're emphasizing radio hits, "Karma Police". But if "best of all time" lists are to be believed (see "Child In Time", "Bohemian Rhapsody"), magnum opuses are where I'm putting my money.

04. I can think of exactly zero people who hate this song.

05. I am going to guess that there will be at least one "black" hip-hop track in there. Although hip-hop was by the 1990s well developed as a major cultural force, we tend to forget that it wasn't as widely distributed or accepted as it was to be in the following decade, and it didn't get into the charts as easily. If I understand correctly, Pitchfork itself did take some time to take the genre seriously. But it won't fall into the Eminem trap, will it? No. "Stan" was released in 2000, and if we've already got the Beastie Boys in there, we need to have a black hip-hop classic. Not committing to a single track might be a cop-out, but I'd put even money on all three: the classic rap star who was already famous in the 80s, the duo who'd grow into greater fame in the 00s, or the fallen martyr? Your guess is as good as mine.

06. There's going to be a techno/dance track, and it isn't going to be Fatboy Slim. Otherwise it might as well be Venga Boys.

07. Now, there has to be something in there from the British Isles that is not Radiohead. And superficially, I'd say that Oasis has the best cards. But if it were "Wonderwall" they'd run the risk of emphasizing chart hits. Not that that is a bad thing per se, but I doubt it's what they want. So either it's going to be a revered album track like "Supernova" or they're going left-field with a one-hit wonder like White Town or Cornershop. On which note, I'd wager there won't be an MBV track in there. Not in the top ten. Because this is top tracks, not albums, and Loveless is too much of an album album.

08. Let's be clear, DJ Shadow was very innovative for his time. Just to counter the magnum opus trend, let's put an under-two-minutes track in there, why don't we.

09. They'll have some half-hearted tripe about this being the indie pop classic that defined the vibe of the decade or whatnot. Either this or "Buddy Holly" (although instant disqualification for inclusion on the Windows 95 CD), and either way they'll be right.

10. Lastly, this is shaky ground, but I will venture a guess that Pitchfork will attempt to wear their wrinkles on their sleeves somehow, that is put something high on the list that is unashamedly wistful and nostalgic, under the banner of "we're getting older too". Automatic for the People plays well with the Pitchfork crowd (and rightly so), although "Nightswimming" is, sappy as it is, easily dismissed. Still if they have any balls, they would put in something along these lines, and if they have bigger balls, "Fields of Gold". Because it's a great song, and I will acknowledge no dissent in this matter.

In closing, I wouldn't be terribly surprised if there were to be some kind of pop pop gem in the top ten, but to be frank I can't figure out which one, so I left them out. Barring "Macarena", which is great but I mean come on, the best I have is "Genie in a Bottle", which doesn't leave me quite convinced either.

The views expressed in this comment are the ones I imagine the Pitchfork editorial staff to have. They are not mine.

</highfidelity>
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 5:38 PM on August 30, 2010 [5 favorites]


04. Beastie Boys - Sabotage
04. I can think of exactly zero people who hate this song.


I can think of several. A couple of whom could not be paid to stay in a room where it was playing. I can also think of many people under the age of 40 who wouldn't recognize it if it bit them on the ass. Some of whom read Pitchfork and even go to their festival!

All of which is to say, opinions are like assholes. . . .
posted by crush-onastick at 5:45 PM on August 30, 2010


04. Beastie Boys - Sabotage
04. I can think of exactly zero people who hate this song.


I can only think of one or two people I know who would like it but seeing as I only know it from the Star Trek movie, I've apparently lived under a bigger rock than most.
posted by octothorpe at 5:53 PM on August 30, 2010


Pitchfork is telling me that a Stone Temple Pilots song is better than "Red Right Hand"? And I could almost -- just about -- almost believe that if it were "Dead and Bloated," but it's not? Is this a hoax of some sort?
posted by kittens for breakfast at 5:58 PM on August 30, 2010


Jesus Christ, Green Day is ahead of Jane's Addiction?!? What the...godDAMNit!
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:00 PM on August 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Either this or "Buddy Holly"

I don't dare try to put together a full set of guesses, but I'll say that I have to think Say It Ain't So edges Buddy Holly narrowly if only for being just as good and riffy and catchy a song but darker and a little less hyper-ubiquitous first-on-the-scene Happy Days Video etc etc.

And it's a better chorus for yelling along with semi-ironically in the car at two in the morning, half-sick on cheap beer and cigarettes while your bassist-cum-girlfriend-cum-designated-driver pilots you back to the shared apartment where you will throw it all up starting a couple feet before you reach the toilet, and it'll rattle through your head in bits and pieces as you pant over the bowl, spitting and wondering how you're going to make it to work alive in the morning, and when you finally get to bed, trying to second-guess the aftershock hints of spins, the bridge kicks in and she rolls over and pretends she doesn't hear you whispering and belching "this bottle / of Stevens / awakens / ancient feelings..."
posted by cortex at 6:02 PM on August 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


In other new Pitchfork gives music a 6.8.
"Coming in at an exhausting 7,000 years long, music is weighed down by a few too many mid- tempo tunes, most notably 'Liebesträume No. 3 in A flat' by Franz Liszt and 'Closing Time' by '90s alt-rock group Semisonic," Schreiber wrote. "In the end, though music can be brilliant at times, the whole medium comes off as derivative of Pavement."
posted by Tavern at 6:07 PM on August 30, 2010 [5 favorites]


I was amazed to see Flagpole Sitta so far down the list. I still love that song. And thanks to the Card Cheet for reintroducing me to the Hobo Humping Slobo Babe. That song rocks.
posted by msali at 6:09 PM on August 30, 2010


This was so much more fun when Lala was around, since you could just give each track a quick listen...
posted by ph00dz at 6:12 PM on August 30, 2010


"Say It Ain't So" is an awesome song, don't get me wrong. I just think we must not confuse "great songs from the 90s" with "songs from the 90s Pitchfork will put in the top ten", which is what I was getting at with my comment. Hence the disclaimer. I may well be wrong, but this is a fun game, and I felt like playing.

If it turns out we are playing "great songs from the 90s", may I mention that "Hobo Humping Slobo Babe" was the very first single I purchased? Thank you.

*Runs off to YouTube "Say It Ain't So"*
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 6:12 PM on August 30, 2010


I kinda don't think it deserves it, but I would not be upset to see "Hobo Humpin' Slobo Babe" at the top of such a list.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:14 PM on August 30, 2010


if we're going to compare James Brown's raw vocal chutzpah to Hanson's the only thing the latter can crow about is that they didn't die seven or eight times in 2006

funniest thing i've read in weeks
posted by Kwine at 6:16 PM on August 30, 2010


I may well be wrong, but this is a fun game, and I felt like playing.

Oh, no doubt, and I think you're likely to play it way better than me. Hence my desire to lapse into tangents.
posted by cortex at 6:22 PM on August 30, 2010


> 01. Neutral Milk Hotel - In the Aeroplane Over the Sea

That would be a good choice.

> 02. Nirvana - Smells Like Teen Spirit

Please, no.
posted by stp123 at 6:22 PM on August 30, 2010


I hope their editors die in a fire.

There was so much better music from the 90s that its absence confirms the toxicity of Pitchfork and its undue influence over music discourse. Were this the last Pitchfork thread ever on the Internets, it would be a beautiful day.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:32 PM on August 30, 2010


04. Beastie Boys - Sabotage
04. I can think of exactly zero people who hate this song.

I can think of several.


I think we're at the point where you have to name names, or other suitable evidence. I put Sabotage with the likes of T-Rex's Bang A Gong, ACDC's You Shook Me All Night Long, Beatles Come Together, Rolling Stones Tumbling Dice --- songs that may not be anyone's faves, but too much fun to hate ... unless you just hate fun.
posted by philip-random at 6:38 PM on August 30, 2010


Pitchfork is telling me that a Stone Temple Pilots song is better than "Red Right Hand"? And I could almost -- just about -- almost believe that if it were "Dead and Bloated," but it's not? Is this a hoax of some sort?

There's no doubt that "Red Right Hand" is an awesome song.

Let me quote from AMG: Stone Temple Pilots were able to turn alternative rock into stadium rock; naturally, they became the most critically despised band of their era.

ahem....

STP's Purple is a pretty awesome cd. In my opinion, most of it rocks in all the right ways. Yeah, sometimes on the album they wore their influences on their sleeves, but for the most part it has all the necessary requirements of a classic piece of work: bombastic, grandiose, requisite acoustic number, hidden song showcasing vocal talent, sometimes more than half-decent lyrics, hooks galore.

So, that said, there might be some pretty fantastic songs on Purple. Nick Cave has some pretty amazing tracks himself, one of which is the incredible Red Right Hand. Anything STP has done cannot be comparable with Nick Cave. They live worlds apart in the rock'n'roll world. Two completely different beasts.

Not that STP or Nick Cave are in the same league, but comparing the two is like comparing Led Zeppelin with The Beatles.

And you simply can't compare
posted by ashbury at 6:41 PM on August 30, 2010


Number 12 single of the 2000s? Sheesh.
posted by raysmj at 6:48 PM on August 30, 2010


But unlike OutKast's subsequent number one singles ("Ms. Jackson" and "Hey Ya") "B.O.B." is too disorienting and exhausting an experience to ever succumb to over-saturation

Allow me a second "sheesh." Over-saturation of a great single is enough to knock it down a few notches. How conventional, though, is a Top Whatever List of Anything?
posted by raysmj at 6:57 PM on August 30, 2010


I think STP was as despised as they were because they kinda invited the fratboys back into the hard rock scene. It was clear that Nirvana, et al, didn't want them -- Kurt Cobain actually said they didn't want those fans -- but STP was all, like, chicks and beers, bro. The guys who were left high and dry when Motley Crue fell off the charts embraced them first. Nevertheless, it's hard to say that they failed to bring it, as embarrassing as it was to admit anything but total loathing for them in the '90s. I would argue that their lyrics are laughably inane even by hard rock standards, but there's no question that Weiland sang them like they meant a lot, which to him, who knows, maybe they did. But that's not really the point: They were sometimes a good, loud band that sounded good in a bar. Nothing wrong with that.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:59 PM on August 30, 2010


To all the haters:
The Boredoms rock, and are probably responsible for about two-thirds of the terrible noise bands you've ever heard of, and four fifths of the ones you haven't. I know I almost started one at some point...
posted by kaibutsu at 7:00 PM on August 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


"Big Empty" is a good song. The rest of the debate is a silly clique bitch session.
posted by jonmc at 7:02 PM on August 30, 2010


I actually really hate that song, but it may be due to just oversaturation. They're best at their least whiny.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:05 PM on August 30, 2010


Tavern: I think that onion article hit the nail on the head. Pitchfork is basically the hipster blog that won against the other hipster blogs and is now a webzine or something. I suppose they're a better critical authority than Rolling Stone because they don't just hop on the popularity bandwagon and shower praise over whomever is topping the charts, but I still don't like the music.
posted by hellslinger at 7:11 PM on August 30, 2010


comparing the two is like comparing Led Zeppelin with The Beatles

So it's like comparing an extremely successful but short-lived White English four-piece rock band that started out in the 1960s playing covers of Black Southern American rhythm & blues before eventually heralding a new era of drug-fuelled and lavishly produced orchestral rock, one member of which (John) would die in 1980, to...?

So, anyway, it's pretty obvious that the number one slot on Pitchfork's best songs of the nineties list will be occupied by Rednex's "Cotton Eye Joe." I mean, duh.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:12 PM on August 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


"Mass Appeal" was Gang Starr's mission statement. In Guru's world, crass cash-ins were aesthetic betrayals.

And 16 years later, the song was only 171 on the exalted Pitchfork list, crass hip-hop cash-ins were so humdrum as to be irrelevant, and Guru was dead and gone.
posted by blucevalo at 7:25 PM on August 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


I feel like at least one truly idiotic throw-away track will be among the top 20 -- my current pick is Snow's Informer or maybe Digitial Underground

i suppose now next yr gonna say "Bop Gun" or "Hollywood Swingin" are idiotic throwaway tracks and not classics. Forgetting Pitchfork, I long for the day that DU get their due.
posted by orville sash at 7:31 PM on August 30, 2010


I feel like at least one truly idiotic throw-away track will be among the top 20 -- my current pick is Snow's Informer

Oh, dude, you are so getting your boom-boom licked for that.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:45 PM on August 30, 2010


really nice

I would like to certify this list as "not revisionist"
posted by nervousfritz at 7:48 PM on August 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


I listened to that Pavement record they're always going on about precisely once, and I know tastes differ, but that is one objectively, universally underwhelming record.

Given that you know tastes differ, what do the words "objectively" and "universally" mean in your world?

Also: I knew 6 of these 50, but the 6 I knew are solid: you make a little mini-CD of "Everybody Everybody," "Here's Where The Story Ends," and one song off "that Pavement record" and you've got a pretty fine document of what was great about the 1990s.
posted by escabeche at 7:57 PM on August 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


I was born in '74 and I'm familiar with nearly every one of these songs. I'm guessing it must be either the techno or the rap/R&B throwing people off? At any rate these were major parts of the musical landscape at the time, so it's not like they're pulling obscurities out of their ass.

Took out a notebook and ticked off that recognized 50% of the songs, 75% if you include artists I knew but the song didn't ring a bell (like I'm sorry, but I've seen Nick Cave live and listened to several of his albums but the tracks all blur together in my mind so I don't recognize any specific songs, same with Mogwai).

The thing that threw me off the most were indie bands I'd never heard of (Halo Benders? Lambchop? Helium?) and I've never DJed so I'd have no idea which jungle track is which.

And my guess for #1 song, I'd guess a dance track like Stardust's "The music sounds better with you" on the strength of the song and partially because of the Daft Punk pedigree.
posted by bobo123 at 8:12 PM on August 30, 2010


Lists are always good for debate, but the debates usually centre on either a) what's missing or b) what's too high/low compared to some other track. For me, what's surprising about this one is that it includes some absolutely bizarro-universe oddities I can't imagine ever making a list in the first place. White Town, Harvey Danger, Green Day, En bloody Vogue and the ultimate WTF, Destiny's Child - just bizarro choices, disposable hits of the moment that were largely reviled when they appeared (besides being monster hits, of course). I mean, I can't imagine a single critic voting for these, let alone a panel reaching a consensus that, yes, we absolutely gotta have Flagpole Sitta on there or I walk. Might as well queue up the Goo Goo Dolls or Matchbox 20 at that point.

I'm eager to see what gets left off for these.

In Pitchfork's defense, they're damned if they do ("oh look, Smells Like Teen Spirit at #1? How predicatable.") and damned if they don't ("of course they didn't put Teen Spirit at #1. That would be too predictable, and Pitchfork wouldn't dare let themselves be thought of as that").

Ah well, each to their own I suppose.
posted by Palindromedary at 8:12 PM on August 30, 2010


If Unfinished Sympathy by Massive Attack isn't in the top 10, I'll eat my hat.
posted by zsazsa at 8:15 PM on August 30, 2010


I don't know when I got too old to kick the kids off my lawn, but honestly, I just want to see what stuff I recognize on the list, and more importantly, where the songs I really liked land on the list. Hi, "Only Happy When It Rains" by Garbage, too bad you only got a supporting mention even though I listened to you for, like, six months in high school, and that's a LONG TIME when you're in high school! Oh hey, "Pat's Trick," I remember when I tried to get better at drawing people for art class, so I printed out low-res concert photos of Mary Timony and went to town. How's it going, "Echo's Answer"? You're not "Until Then," the song my then-girlfriend thought was the creepiest song ever made (she was wrong, that's Lisa Germano's "A Psychopath"), but you're just as ominous and eerie and I love you for it.

I dunno, man, maybe I'll get angrier as we get closer to #1, but so far this is just a fun trip down memory lane for me. Y'all are thinking too hard about this.

P.S. the triumvirate of "Flagpole Sitta," "Sucked Out" and "Popular" is pretty much perfect as far as bitter one-hit alternative wonders go. It was the soundtrack for a month or so of our disaffected high school art class. So yeah, we absolutely gotta have Flagpole Sitta on there or I walk.
posted by chrominance at 8:31 PM on August 30, 2010


Smells Like Head and Shoulders
posted by i_have_a_computer at 8:31 PM on August 30, 2010


I read this thread before looking at the actual list and got excited when bobo123 mentioned the Halo Benders made the list. I'm even more excited that "Virginia Reel Around the Fountain" was the song (though Built to Spill's live version, which excises the Calvin Johnson parts, is a million times better).

I'm sure the people that lived in the apartment next to mine hate that song.
posted by The Hamms Bear at 8:45 PM on August 30, 2010


"Flagpole Sitta" is the theme tune for Peep Show (from Series 2 onward, anyhow). The main riff of "Flagpole Sitta" is remarkably similar to Eric's Trip's "View Master." "View Master" is a perfect (if slightly on-the nose) match for Peep Show, and if Channel 4 ever package the show for Canadian consumption, they'd do well to jam that little bit of CanCon in there in lieu of "Flagpole Sitta." Of course, they'd probably have to pay off Fisher-Price...
posted by Sys Rq at 8:55 PM on August 30, 2010


Ok. This was harder than I thought, and I'll be surprised if 5 of my top 10 actually end up on the Pitchfork list. But here goes:

Wild Card: Bikini Kill -- "Rebel Girl"

10.) Nas -- "N.Y. State of Mind" -- Yeah, I know. Fat chance. But a lot of chart-topping hip-hop from that decade hasn't aged well (Hi Puff Daddy) so maybe this (or something like it) will sneak in.

9.) Chemical Brothers -- "Setting Sun" -- Just listened to it on YouTube and it's aged far better than anything by The Prodigy.

8.) Pavement -- "Summer Babe" -- I know this track spawned 100,000 damaged art pop bands and I don't care what anyone upthread says, it's a fuzzed out gem.

7.) Ol' Dirty Bastard -- "Shimmy Shimmy Ya" -- The Wu-Tang's masterpiece, 36 chambers, lacks a standout pop hit. This is the closest the Wu came to a crossover. And it's great.

6.) Nirvana -- "Heart-Shaped Box" -- Because I think Pitchfork will not do what everyone expects and pick Teen Spirit.

5.) Pulp -- "Common People" -- Probably my pick for Single of the Decade (and that would be different than Song of the Decade-- but let's not get into that right now).

4.) Missy Elliot -- "The Rain" -- There has to be at least one Missy and/or Timbaland track. And this one is both brilliant and well-known.

3.) Beck -- "Loser" -- Expect some ruminations on how unfortunate it was that this song came to be such a generation-defining manifesto because that caused so many to overlook the fact that it's a pitch-perfect mashup of blah blah etc. etc.

2.) Radiohead -- "Fake Plastic Trees" -- The 90's didn't get much more epic than this. And this song also spawned thousands of annoying imitators.

1.) Dr. Dre -- "Ain't Nuthin' But a G Thang" -- It's great. So why not?

I don't know a whole lot about 90's R&B and pop so I'm probably missing a few from those genres. I'm guessing Mmmmmbop lands somewhere between 11 and 20.
posted by mcmile at 8:58 PM on August 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


i suppose now next yr gonna say "Bop Gun" or "Hollywood Swingin" are idiotic throwaway tracks and not classics. Forgetting Pitchfork, I long for the day that DU get their due.

Serves me right for inserting Digital Underground in that sentence without realizing I was painting it with the "idiotic throw-away" title. Considering I was 15 in 1990 in Oakland, I have great, great love and respect for DU.
posted by incessant at 9:19 PM on August 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Okay, I'm going to go out on a limb and predict the "mainstream" pop song that cracks the top 25, the one that nobody's supposed to see coming: Mark Morrison's Return of the Mack.

Now, I actually like the tune well enough, but I can't make the argument that it's deserving. Nevertheless, it hits that sweet spot of the once-popular song -- not exactly forgotten but not exactly anyone's favorite, by someone who's largely faded from public view in the US -- that they'd love to champion. Populist but "deep-digging" at the same time; this trying to have it both ways just strikes me as a typically Pitchfork-ian move.
posted by .kobayashi. at 9:26 PM on August 30, 2010


I love pitchfork, so much music that I might not like but usually wouldn't get to hear otherwise, so hey, they don't have to be perfect.

And what's the point of a music blog that only talks about common music? Music you already know about? Come on. You might as well put your itunes on shuffle and bullshit about it with your roommate.
posted by the young rope-rider at 9:29 PM on August 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


No mention yet of Bittersweet Symphony (the best song ever written according to whatzizname)

No mention of Verve even.
posted by philip-random at 9:34 PM on August 30, 2010


I don't get the reaction of people who see a "Top X Somethings of the 'XXs" list like this and then become pop culture martyrs: "I don't even now most of the entries! Hell if I'll let a snobby website dictate what's cool to me!"

Pitchfork isn't saying, "If you don't already know these 200 songs from the '90s intimately, or agree that they're good, you're not cool and never will be." It's saying, "Here are 200 songs we love from the '90s -- and why. If you don't know them, maybe read the description or click through to the YouTube video. You might like a few."

Of course there'll be a lot of weighting on a list like this -- some indie stuff, some REALLY indie stuff, some mainstream, some obvious choices, some controversial dark horses, some radio pop, some butt-rock, some electronic, some hip-hop. I doubt any individual Pitchforkian loves all 200 of these. But that goes for any list-by-committee.

(Disclaimer: my husband occasionally writes for Pitchfork and wrote a handful of these. He's not an elitist who'll shun you for having different taste. He has opinions and likes to discuss music he thinks is interesting. And I was a pretty devoted fan of indie/underground/eclectic music in the '90s, and I don't know many of these songs either. Curious to check them out.)
posted by lisa g at 9:38 PM on August 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'll put $5 on at least 2 of these dance gems in the top 150, and they belong there.

Jaydee's "Plastic Dreams"
Robin S "Show Me Love"
X-Press 2 "London X-Press"
The Good Men - Give It Up
posted by BillBishop at 9:41 PM on August 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


[now -> know]
posted by lisa g at 9:42 PM on August 30, 2010


All is forgiven, Incessant
posted by orville sash at 9:48 PM on August 30, 2010


...IN THE COLD NOVEMBER RAIN

Sorry, robocop, that song comes in at #140 apparently. I agree with you, though. Top 10 on my list. In fact, three of the ten slots are taken up by the song, and then two more slots by all three guitar solos. And also, another slot for Stephanie Seymore's wedding dress.
posted by incessant at 10:13 PM on August 30, 2010


Hoping The Insides made it on the list somewhere. They're obscure enough for Pitchfork and their minimalist electronic pop feels like it could have been written yesterday.

Crash Worship should also be on there somewhere, even if their recorded output is a pale shadow of their live bacchanals. That tribal wave of noise in an Austin thunderstorm in 95 was, for me, the highpoint of a fractured decade.
posted by honestcoyote at 10:29 PM on August 30, 2010


04. Beastie Boys - Sabotage
04. I can think of exactly zero people who hate this song.

I can think of several.

I think we're at the point where you have to name names, or other suitable evidence
Hello, Sabotage hater here! I hate every single fucking thing done by the Beastie Boys after Licensed To Ill. Viscerally.

I am not sure how to explain it in a rational way, but I will give it a shot, since I am apparently a rare creature. L2I came out when I was in junior high (this is what the youngsters call middle school these days more or less) and first discovering music as something that existed beyond my parents collection of Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Doobie Bros., et al LPs. I absolutely love this album. I can -- to this day -- sing every song on L2I despite not having listened to it in years. The thing is though, it is ironic from beginning to end. They aren't real rappers. This band started out as a really shitty punk band. The whole thing is dripping with satire, irony, and well -- they just don't take themselves seriously. It's silly, fun, over-the-top, and awesome.

Ill Communication came out nearly a decade later and it is polished, with popular DJs doing the backing. They take themselves seriously now. The fun that was inherent in their original music is all gone, at least from the perspective of someone in love with their older work. So I am forced to consider their music from that perspective (serious musicians), and I just find the vocals and style grating in that context.
posted by cj_ at 10:45 PM on August 30, 2010


Hi, cj_
I like Licensed To Ill, and I'ma let you finish, but Paul's Boutique is the greatest hip-hop album OF ALL TIME!!1!
(seriously, though, it's really great, still funny and light hearted but with craft, attitude, production and lyrics that hold up 21 years later. It can be listened to in its entirety and hold it's own with music of the same genre that has 20 years of history to draw on. Srsly, dude, it's a really good album)
posted by BillBishop at 10:59 PM on August 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


Ill Communication came out nearly a decade later and it is polished, with popular DJs doing the backing. They take themselves seriously now.

It never occurred to me to take the song Sabotage even remotely seriously. It's simply (and amazingly) a party rocker that doesn't seem to offend anyone ... except maybe you and 49 other people, 17 of whom have Mefi memberships. Another 6 write for Pitchfork. The rest all belong to an obscure Bible study group based out of 100 Mile House, British Columbia, who also believe that Adrian Grenier is the anti-Christ.
posted by philip-random at 11:01 PM on August 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


It's just, like, my opinion, man.
posted by cj_ at 11:08 PM on August 30, 2010


Oh, sorry, I actually don't hate Paul's Botique (though I think L2I is better) so that was me being sloppy with the chronology. It's really Ill Communication onward that I start to get annoyed with. It probably doesn't help that Sabotage was played mercilessly by everyone who got the licensing to it -- radio, tv, movies, commercials -- while their earlier stuff more "belonged" to me and my friends when the popular music at the time was garbage. I fully acknowledge this is not a rational reason to discount any song, but there you have it.
posted by cj_ at 11:15 PM on August 30, 2010


Ill Communication a few gems (and Check Your Head was also really influential for its' moment and still has tracks that hold up) and then their oeuvre does kind of tail off...such is life. But the Dust Brothers/Beastie Boys combo coming out of 1988-9 with those lyrics and that production always blows my mind.
posted by BillBishop at 11:26 PM on August 30, 2010


Any chance someone could post the whole list? For some reason my work PC won't open more than half of each page (IE or Flock).

This would be my list, if I were compiling it at this second:

In the Aeroplane over the Sea – Neutral Milk Hotel
Unfinished Sympathy – Massive Attack
Waiting for a Superman – The Flaming Lips
Smells Like Teen Spirit – Nirvana
Opus 40 – Mercury Rev
I Think I Need a New Heart – The Magnetic Fields
Higher Than The Sun – Primal Scream
Bird Dreams of the Olympus Mons - Pixies
Bittersweet Symphony - the Verve
Soon – My Bloody Valentine
posted by Infinite Jest at 12:59 AM on August 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't think there's a full list yet. They posted 50 but it's out of 200 and will be released over time in a way that maximizes their page view/ad revenue.
posted by cj_ at 1:04 AM on August 31, 2010


Fear Factory - Demanufacture
Meshuggah - Destroy Erase Improve
Opeth - Orchid/My Arms, Your Hearse
Godflesh - Streetcleaner
Ministry - Psalm 69

Yeah, I know.
posted by vanar sena at 1:15 AM on August 31, 2010 [3 favorites]


If you've never heard Good Morning, Captain by Slint then you really should.
posted by waraw at 6:39 AM on August 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


I was an MD at a college station in the early '90s, just before and during Nirvana's explosion, so I recognize a few of these. Maybe it's because it is confirming how cool I was back then, but I like this list. I'll be surprised if further entries don't contain these forgotten gems from earlier in the decade:

Folk Implosion: Natural One only because Daddy Never Understood WASN'T MADE FOR YOUUUU, MAAAAAAAAAN
A Homeboy A Hippy & A Funky Dredd:- Total Confusion -- this song in the club was like a dare not to get on the floor
Helmet: Unsung -- dated now only because countless lesser talents aped their sound
Kyuss: Demon Cleaner -- srsly, Kyuss are timelessly awesome
Masters of Reality: Domino -- metal groove machine
Paris: Break The Grip Of Shame -- angry consciousness hiphop hit its peak with this track
Tool: Sober -- Amazing that no one has mentioned this one, probably the greatest track Tool ever made, plus the video is amazing and its creator's early death is still tragic
Tori Amos: Winter -- her middling followups have not diminished her amazing debut; people disagree on their favorite track off it, this is mine
My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult: A Daisy Chain 4 Satan -- DFFL, baby
and finally, I don't give a rat's ass what anybody else thinks, Groove Is In The Heart is fun and happy and excellent.
posted by waraw at 7:32 AM on August 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


> And also, another slot for Stephanie Seymore's wedding dress.

And another slot for that scene in the video where that one dude is in such a hurry to get out of the rain that he dives through the wedding cake.
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:47 AM on August 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


First, my #1 pick for best Metafilter comment fragment goes to “if we're going to compare James Brown's raw vocal chutzpah to Hanson's”.

Second, I can’t be the only one who's had whatever memories may have been etched to Hanson’s MMMBop forcibly erased by Craig Ferguson and dancing puppets.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 8:04 AM on August 31, 2010


You all are absolutely INSANE if you don't think something from Air's "Moon Safari" is going to crack the top 10, probably top 5. Personally, I would have no problem with "La Femme D'Argent" at #1.
posted by squeakyfromme at 8:08 AM on August 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ill Communication came out nearly a decade later and it is polished, with popular DJs doing the backing. They take themselves seriously now.

Yes. Because this is completely fucking serious. Especially those wigs and moustaches. Too serious! Don't even get me started on later stuff like "Intergalactic" and "Body Movin'." Too serious!

Never mind that the backing on "Sabotage" is not by any DJ at all (well, a little, but it's just a couple scratches here and there), but the aforementioned shitty punk band band playing actual instruments. (Heck, they even rereleased their shitty punk shit and put out an EP of new shitty punk shit shortly after Ill Communication. They are both great and I wish there was more of it.)

Now, all that said, I actually feel exactly the same way (which is to say, the opposite way, i.e. they've become too goofy) about their output post-Aglio for pretty much the same they-were-best-when-I-was-in-junior-high reason. I guess the Beastie Boys just take root in junior high, and that's that.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:20 AM on August 31, 2010


Amazing that no one has mentioned this one, probably the greatest track Tool ever made, plus the video is amazing and its creator's early death is still tragic

I agree. Great, great, great song. A lot of other Tool songs, I totally understand why (non-me) people don't like them; they're either too prog-wanky or too dick-wavy. "Sober" is neither of those things. Really, Johnny Cash should've covered it. It's that kind of song.

(It's slightly ruined for me by the teenage garage band across the street who are apparently so desperate to get it into their set that they attempt it several times a day to no avail. Sigh. I'm trying to read comics over here, guys!)
posted by Sys Rq at 8:33 AM on August 31, 2010


I didn't really ever, ever listen to the Beastie Boys until my early-mid twenties and so Hello Nasty is my definitive point of reference for them. I've gone back to some of the earlier stuff and like it as well, and have fallen after the fact in love with Paul's Boutique as this weird wonderful artifact, but it's interesting not having any kind of real elemental connection to the band, and certainly not to their initial movement onto the scene.

The only context I had for them as a kid was a couple of Dr. Demento tracks that made fun of them: Stutter Rap, and some bit that I can recall nothing from except someone saying "you gotta fight for your right" "yeah, to vomit. But that's the only kind of context I had for a lot of pop and rock as a kid; I wasn't a curious listener to actual commercial radio etc until my late teens, and so was introduced in childhood to stuff mostly via parodies on Dr. D or from Weird Al.

Every song in the Polkas on 45 medley was new to me listening to Weird all in 3D again and again and again as a kid. Those polkafications were my initial pop-literacy education. And so every single one of those was, later on (some times many, many years later) a "holy shit, is that how that actually goes?" moment. It's possible this all had a profound effect on my musical perception of the world. I still kind of want to hear a yodel break in Hey Joe.

If anyone has any idea what that Beastie Boys skit I'm remembering is, I will be thrilled.
posted by cortex at 8:40 AM on August 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


Is it safe to assume that the songs falling under the "see also" tag won't be making the cut? I would think so, since the feature would only be self defeating if those songs later made the list. But if this is the case there are already some controversial songs getting left by the wayside.
posted by squeakyfromme at 8:52 AM on August 31, 2010


Every song in the Polkas on 45 medley was new to me

I thought for the longest time (like, until about three years ago...facepalm) that "King of Suede" was a brilliant Weird Al original. Turns out, not so much.

The reason for this misconception, I think, is that I wrote off the Police as Sting's old band. And Sting, to me, was nothing more than a pretentious tantric-sexer who plays the lute -- something like a spiky-haired Michael Bolton who fancies himself an intellectual.

The ultimate irony here, I think, is that I have been a big fan of Klark Kent -- knowing full well who Klark Kent was -- for a period of time that overlaps significantly with my ignorant contempt for the Police.

I tell you, those junior high first impressions are a tricky bunch!
posted by Sys Rq at 8:57 AM on August 31, 2010


I'm willing to bet that Pitchfork's list won't include Elvis Hitler, which is a shame, because Supersadomasochisticexpialidocious was the soundtrack to 1992.

(Anyone who was on my MeFi CD swap from a while back got their cover of Yummy Yummy Yummy, and I'm sure it was a life changing experience.)
posted by quin at 8:57 AM on August 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


10). Randy Described Eternity by Built to Spill
9). Unfinished Sympathy by Massive Attack
8). Nighswimming by REM
7). Rez by Underworld
6). Dig Me Out by Sleater Kinney
5). All Apologies by Nirvana
4). Two-headed Boy by Neutral Milk Hotel
3). New York State of Mind by NAz
2). I Only Said by My Bloody Valentine
1). Karma Police by Radiohead
posted by Bookhouse at 10:36 AM on August 31, 2010


haha... I had that album, quin. Haven't thought about that in years....

'Course, for me, the 90s were all about California Love.
posted by ph00dz at 10:37 AM on August 31, 2010


Now that I look at that, it's way too rockist. Sub out Built to Spill with Daft Punk (or Stardust, as someone suggested above).
posted by Bookhouse at 10:37 AM on August 31, 2010


1. Nirvana - something
2. Radiohead - something
3. Neutral Milk Hotel - something
4. K.L.F. - 3 a.m. Eternal*

…and the rest.

* no, not really.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:55 AM on August 31, 2010


Agree that there will be probably 2 hip-hop tracks on this list.

Predictions/candidates for those 2 tracks:

Wu-tang - "Protect ya Neck" or "CREAM". Definitive East Coast 90s rap. Nas is a good choice too but you think of him more as producing a great album (Illmatic) than great singles in the 90s.

The Native Tongues crew produced several great albums (De La Soul is Dead, Low End Theory) but not too many big singles.

Dre/Snoop might be a bit too mainstream for Pitchfork. NWA's Niggaz4Life came out in 91, and was a great album but didn't really produce a huge single.

Sleeper pick for west coast hip-hop would be Souls of Mischief's "93 Til Infinity". Just a great song and strikes the right balance between obscure and popular. Exactly 0 people do not like it.

Actually, "Lady Don't Tek No" by Latyrx was probably released in 98 or 99 and exactly 0 people do not LOVE it.

I still think Aquemini is Outkast's best album and "Rosa Parks" is the obvious pick from that album and from Southern hip-hop in the 90s in general, but "Spottieottiedopalicious" could be a dark horse.

Sleeper pick from the dirty is "My Mind's Playing Tricks on Me" by the Geto Boys. "Back dat azz up" would be the mainstream sleeper.

Then from the midwest, the obvious pick is Common's "I Used to Love HER". Probably the most poetic use of the word "titties" ever.

Other joints that I would love to see on it but have no shot:

MF Doom "Rimes like Dimes"
The Grouch "Simple Man"
Kool G Rap "Streets of NY"
Pharoahe Monch "Simon Says"
MOP "Downtown Swinga"

And then for a random non-rap pick Portishead's "Glory Box"

Anyway, damn there was a lot of good hip-hop in the 90s!
posted by AceRock at 12:22 PM on August 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


Pharoahe Monch "Simon Says "

It's already on the list.
posted by Bookhouse at 1:45 PM on August 31, 2010


Oh so it is. I guess I was thinking no way it makes top 10.
posted by AceRock at 1:53 PM on August 31, 2010


In a surprise finish, the top 18 tracks will all be from "Cobra and Phases Group Play Voltage in the Milky Night' to atone for this piece of shit review.
posted by GalaxieFiveHundred at 2:29 PM on August 31, 2010



First, my #1 pick for best Metafilter comment fragment goes to “if we're going to compare James Brown's raw vocal chutzpah to Hanson's”.


Except for one little fact: No one actually compared their vocals!
posted by raysmj at 2:34 PM on August 31, 2010


I'm guessing you'd be totally down with comparing the Dust Brothers production oeuvre to James Brown's (although JB's would still win--I was talking about the over-importance accorded to lyrics by certain critics, not comparing vocals), however, and then ... oh, never mind.
posted by raysmj at 2:40 PM on August 31, 2010


For what it's worth, I understood that you were talking about the notion of overvaluing lyrics; my rejoinder way up there (and I was really really leaving it alone but if it's gonna come back up I'll put in one final salvo here as well) was intended to point out that even if you throw lyrics out the window so as to sidestep that handicap to MMMBop's credentials somewhat, referencing James Brown's hardly-lyric-centric vocals does Hanson no favors because James Brown did so much fucking more than Hanson with his vox that the reference becomes as much an indictment of the latter as a defense.

Yes, music can be about something other than the text and be totally, totally valid and great. Music that isn't about the text can also be more robust, if certainly not a whole lot more pure-sparkly-pop-candy, than MMMBop was. That's why I'm saying, not that it sucks, not at all, but that it's not really a durable, superlative pop composition so much as a great little pop hook that got more hate than it deserved as a result of getting more play than it really earned.
posted by cortex at 3:18 PM on August 31, 2010


Sys Rq, I sorta meant "take themselves seriously" musically. The videos are indeed pretty whacky. Maybe a little too whacky? It all feels forced to me, and the whole thing has a level of polish and higher production than what I associate with their earlier work. I'm not saying it's bad, just that I don't like it. And actually, I sorta dug Ill Communication when it came out, but it was so grossly overplayed that I just got sick of it.

I never claimed this was a rational position.
posted by cj_ at 11:02 PM on August 31, 2010


Let's see here, Imma gonna hit the ol' Ctrl-F on my keyboard and just type in the letters u n r e s t. *Enter. Huh...nothing. Not a single mention of Unrest in a thread about music from the 1990s. This makes me sad. Imperial ffrr is such an amazing album. Please, people, run out and buy it right now. You will make the world a better place if you do.
posted by NoMich at 7:42 AM on September 1, 2010


This was probably not what most of the contributors were actually listening to in the 90s.

I think one of the issues is that Pitchfork itself has changed pretty dramatically over the last decade. It's kind of funny to think about now, but do you guys remember the old Pitchfork? I used to think of them as this provincial little operation that was a) really angry for some reason and b) only really useful for a strict subset of indie rock. As they grew, though, they started writing longer, more thoughtful reviews instead of two-paragraph rants, and they also expanded and changed their staff a lot. Hiring Jess Harvell and Dominique Leone, in particular, really raised their consciousness level about electronic music -- I remember it being a pretty dramatic shift in how much I trusted a Pitchfork review.

Pitchfork seems to recognize this also, hence some of the revisionist history on display here: note that Basement Jaxx's Rooty got a 3.8 when it came out in '01 but was later deemed one of the top 50 albums of the 2000s. Awkward!

Similarly, Remedy got panned even worse (3.5?) but that review has actually been deleted, and in a review of Jaxx's best-of album from 2005 the reviewer called Remedy "an unexpected explosion of fecundity from sorry old house music."

(Still waiting to see if Goldie and/or Adam F make it into the list!)
posted by en forme de poire at 9:23 AM on September 1, 2010


En bloody Vogue and the ultimate WTF, Destiny's Child - just bizarro choices, disposable hits of the moment that were largely reviled when they appeared

I have the feeling Pitchfork is picking mostly from a) influential artists, but b) going with obscure songs for cool-factor. En Vogue and Destiny's Child both had a pretty big influence on later R&B (though, I think younger folks are more likely to point to Jodeci, Mary J Blige and Aaliyah as the big turning points).

Also: There had better be some Prince on that list. 90's Prince has some fucking brilliant and underrated music.
posted by yeloson at 1:24 PM on September 1, 2010


Porn in the Woods, congratulations: Pavement's Gold Soundz is proclaimed the #1 song of the 1990's by Pitchfork, as you guessed.

McMile and Gompa, nicely done, Common People came in at #2.

McMile, your list was impressive -- you had Dre's G Thang at #1, Pitchfork called in #3.

Good News was the only one who called Paranoid Android, which fell to #4 according to Pitchfork.

The top 5 includes 2 hip-hop tracks, and it was AceRock who called Wu-Tang's Protect Ya Neck's inclusion. Well-guessed, sir.

Cyphill nicely predicted MBV's Only Shallow, which shows up at #6 on the list.

Amazingly, no one called NMH's Holland 1945, although Good News did mention it during his explanation for why he was choosing In The Aeroplane.

Yeloson was the only one who mentioned Aaliyah here, and her song Are You That Somebody hit #8 on the list.

McMile continued his streak - Beck's Loser was #9 on the list. Pitchfork didn't say it was a genre-defining manifesto though.

Cyphill, your prediction that Weezer's Say it Ain't So would be in the top 10 proved correct.

Air didn't crack the top 10, only coming in at #85 with All I Need, Smells Like Teen Spirit was #13, Outkast didn't show up until #16 (!), and the Mazzy Star song that made me hate Mazzy Star is apparently the 19th best song of the 1990's, says they. Massive Attack's Unfinished Symphony (one of my all-time favorites, and apparently a fave of many others here), hit #44. November Rain? #140, aw yeah. Unrest, NoMich, #131. Digital Underground, #127.

CJ_, you'll be heartened to know Sabotage didn't show up... until #38.

And it would seem MMMBop didn't show up anywhere as far as I can tell. Shocking!

As for the Pitchfork Pool over at strippertweets, 2/3 of a snowman received 22 points, and maura (mefi's own) and Joe Posnaski each had 21 points.
posted by incessant at 11:05 PM on September 2, 2010 [3 favorites]


Ha! Any pleasure I can take in being 3 for 10 is mitigated by the fact that I was wrong about several things.

Namely: that a track from Wu-Tang's 36 Chambers wouldn't crack the top 10, that Pitchfork would see picking Nirvana's "Teen Spirit" as too predictable and my prediction as to how they'd describe Beck's "Loser."

Lesson learned: when making bold predictions, brevity is your friend.
posted by mcmile at 6:11 AM on September 3, 2010


AAHHH I LOVE THIS LIST

Everlong, yay! I forgot about that song!

Is Liz Phair on there anywhere? I was browsing my collection of 90s stuff and remembering how much I love Johnny Sunshine, Flower (one of the best dirty songs ever), The Divorce Song...Exile from Guyville, what an album.
posted by the young rope-rider at 6:30 AM on September 3, 2010


Oh man, they chose Fuck and Run? That's one of my least favorite songs from that album. Booooo. Oh well.
posted by the young rope-rider at 6:33 AM on September 3, 2010


Weezer's Say it Ain't So

Ha!

MMMBop didn't show up anywhere

Ha!
posted by cortex at 7:10 AM on September 3, 2010


Common People by Pulp at number 2? What??!? Why not Barbie Girl by Aqua? What a joke.

Notable Omissions or Bad Choices
No Cake on this list at all, horrific omission
No Doug E. Fresh, or Rakim or really much classic hip-hop, just Atlanta and gangster rap
No Organ Donor, absurd, this song was and still is omnipresent in the street scene.
posted by cyphill at 8:50 AM on September 3, 2010


My money is on Pavement's "Gold Soundz."

W00T! I'm buying a lottery ticket this weekend.
posted by porn in the woods at 11:02 AM on September 3, 2010


Common People by Pulp at number 2? What??!? Why not Barbie Girl by Aqua? What a joke.

***slaps glove across cyphill's face***

Outrageous! I demand satisfaction, sir! Pistols at dawn!
posted by Rangeboy at 12:39 PM on September 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


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