Ten Great Songs from 1995

I didn't plan it this way, but this list turned out to be one strong on songs that are party compatible in terms of music, but have melancholic or glum lyrics. Also, with the exception of #1, this is very conventional, like the result of some students' magazine's "best songs of 1995" poll, magnifying a general feature of playlists in this series. This is in part because Deezer's not so strong on the far-out stuff and in part because, well, I just happen to think that Blur's "The Universal" is just a better song than Guided by Voices' "Motor away" (for example). Before you complain along these lines, consider that I left out both Oasis and Björk.

The usual: To listen, go here and click on the "play" icon next to the first song. Alternatively, use the player below, but some songs are going to get faded out after half a minute.

1. Chavez: Peeled out Too Late I distinctly remember seeing this band in 1995 and the singer ironically thanking the audience "for sticking around." Well, what do you expect of a crowd that's waiting for Guided by Voices and Tocotronic and Ash and you're holding up traffic?

2. Smashing Pumpkins: Tonight, Tonight George Martin famously urged the Beatles to release only a single record from the white album recording sessions. Would they have done that and selected the right tracks (and I would guess Mr. Martin's and my opinions diverge with respect to which those are), it would have been the greatest album in the history of music. Would the Smashing Pumpkins have filled only one CD with the best material from the Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness sessions, they would certainly have made my top 30. A different title might have been a good idea, too.

3. Ash: Girl from Mars I used this song as an excuse to tell a longish story of sexual frustration in relation to the aforementioned concert here (scroll down to #14).

4. Tricky: Black Steel In preparing this post, I realized that I don't own Tricky's Maxinquaye album, which, contrary to other evidence, may suggest I wasn't alive in 1995. The special charm of this track, a cover version of Public Enemy's "Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos", is that a clearly British female sings, in a can't-be-arsed-to-put-in-effort style, about how she wouldn't do nothing for the US government because they don't give a damn "about a brother like me" to an ever-intensifying instrumental track. Come to think of it, I probably was alive in 1995, but not owning the album explains why I couldn't get laid. I mean, who'd want to fuck someone who's that out of touch? Can't blame 'em, really.

5. Tocotronic: Drüben auf dem Hügel The ultimate alternative summer song.

6. Ramones: Life's a Gas One of the three great songs from the Ramones' underwhelming last album, Adios Amigos.

7. Lagwagon: Sleep I've never been a Lagwagon man, but on this one they do their usual, only a little better and with surprisingly grownup, melancholic lyrics.

8. The Cardigans: Rise & Shine I'm a sucker for these kinds of chep contrasts, and "Rise & Shine" wins the grand prize by setting lyrics about suicide against the most upbeat, "All Summer Long"-type music.

9. Pulp: Disco 2000 There are too few genuinely pop songs about ageing and adulthood.

10. Blur: The Universal To continue talking about lyrics, for all my writing most of this blog in English, watching films undubbed et al., I don't usually get much of a song's text except for the chorus if it's in English and I don't concentrate. So I was surprised this one (at least as I read it) is a pretty gloomy comment on the modern world. I mean, this could have been a great hopeful love song: "Yes, it really, really, really could happen..."

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