Thursday, April 17, 2008

1. Alanis Morissette - You Oughta Know

Found On: Jagged Little Pill (1995)

Do I need to tell you about this song? The big hit on the big album of the decade, its rage was as unbridled as its success. Wherever the guy is who inspired such anger, he’s probably still smarting. - RN

2. Lisa Loeb – Stay (I Missed You)

Found On: Tails (1994)

You know, Stay doesn’t have a chorus to speak of, and yet nearly anyone aged 25 – 35 can sing large portions of it, if not the entire song. How does THAT happen?

3. They Might Be Giants – Birdhouse In Your Soul

Found On: Flood (1990)
Picked By: MT

Not to put too fine a point on it, but this is TMBG’s best song, an ode to a nightlight that is full of non-sequiters and SAT vocabulary words, but still comes off as oddly touching .

4. Deee-Lite - Groove Is In the Heart

Found On: World Clique (1990)

Because groove IS in the heart. - EE

5. Nirvana - Smells Like Teen Spirit

Found On: Nevermind (1991)
Picked By: MT

The most influential song ever inspired by a deodorant.

6. Smashing Pumpkins - Mayonaise

Found On: Siamese Dream (1993)
Picked By: DH

Dave wanted to nominate the entire Siamese Dream album, and I wouldn’t let him. Still, it had more songs nominated from it than any other album. Mayonaise, unlike its differently-spelled namesake, is not heavy, but it does bring a different flavor to the album.

7. R.E.M. - Losing My Religion

Found On: Out Of Time (1991)

I was mildly scandalized by the song's title / chorus when I first heard it. I was a good church-goin' boy and it felt wrong to enjoy the song so much. Now that I've learned the song is actually about a huge hidden crush and not spirituality, I like it both less and more.

8. Radiohead – Creep

Found On: Pablo Honey (1993)

Did I beat Richard in suggesting this? – MT

Yes, you did.

9. Ice Cube – It Was A Good Day

Found On: The Predator (1993)
Picked By: MT

Ice Cube’s idea of a perfect day (a game of basketball followed by craps and dominoes, a Laker win, drunk driving, the Goodyear blimp displaying that you are, in fact, a pimp) may differ slightly from mine, but his enthusiasm is contagious.

10. Green Day – Basket Case

Found On: Dookie (1994)

In purer times I actually discovered new music via MTV. When I saw the video for Basket Case one night I knew that I had to get the album right away. Like the Sex Pistols and Ramones before them, Billie Joe and the boys expressed teenage alienation flawlessly.

11. Sinead O'Connor - Nothing Compares 2 U

Found On: I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got (1990)

Can Prince write a song or can Prince write a song?! This tune was first performed by a group called The Family in ’85 and it wasn’t until Sinead’s impassioned performance that it became the classic it is now.

12. Weezer – Buddy Holly

Found On: Weezer (1994)

I’m going to admit this here: As a high schooler I had a big crush on Mary Tyler Moore. Not the single-gal-in-Minneapolis version, but the sassy-wife-of-Dick Van Dyke version. So this song always made perfect sense to me. And the video is my favorite ever.

13. Sting - Fields Of Gold

Found On: Ten Summoner's Tales (1993)

Reflective, gentle and vaguely sensual, this song knocks my socks off.

14. Counting Crows - Mr. Jones

Found On: August And Everything After (1993)

Adam Duritz name-checks Bob Dylan and Pablo Picasso while anticipating reality television: “When I look at the television, I want to see me staring right back at me!” The Crows would have many more hits, but none touched the sheer bliss of this. - RN

15. Freedy Johnston - Bad Reputation

Found On: This Perfect World (1994)

I’d be more convinced of Mr. Johnston’s alleged “bad reputation” if this song weren’t so pretty. A sweet musical yin to Joan Jett’s sassy yang.

16. Toad The Wet Sprocket - Walk On The Ocean

Found On: Fear (1991)
Picked By: MT

As far as I can tell this song is NOT about Jesus.

17. The Jayhawks - Blue

Found On: Tomorrow The Green Grass (1995)

My grandfather bought this CD for me at a Venture department store in Decatur, Illinois. How had I heard of it? That detail is lost to time. All I know is that as a college freshman who supposedly hated country, it sounded pretty sweet to my ear.

18. Fiona Apple - Criminal

Found On: Tidal (1996)

She may have been a bad, bad girl—the video for this song was downright naughty—but this is a remarkable song. “I’ve been careless with a delicate man?” Perhaps—but there isn’t a careless or misplaced note or word here. - RN

19. Beta Band - Dry The Rain

Found On: The 3 E.P.s (1998)

You might remember this song from the scene in High Fidelity where John Cusack’s character says “I will now sell 5 copies of The Three E.P.’s by The Beta Band.” Why were the patrons of Championship Vinyl compelled to buy a copy of this album? Because this song is fucking good, that’s why. - EE

20. Backstreet Boys - I Want It That Way

Found On: Millennium (1999)

While the European version makes more sense, lyrically, than the slightly schizophrenic version that ruled American charts, there’s no question that this was one of the catchiest songs of this or any decade. - RN