Back in January 1986, I was obsessed with The Replacements. So, imagine my reaction when I heard the band was going to be the musical guest on an upcoming Saturday Night Live. Now, the band had two personalities. In the studio, they could be focused long enough to produce brilliant songs with unparalleled songwriting. But, when the band toured, they could be a drunken mess or a brilliant tight band, many times within the same concert. With that in mind, the band’s reputation had the SNL staff on edge for the night of the show.
During a rehearsal, the band had jacked up the amps to such loud levels that the SNL soundman was yelling at the band to turn it down during the rehearsal. For their 1985 album, Tim, The Replacements had joined a major label. Being a band from the underground, The ‘Mats were constantly needling the label by saying the band would play older songs from their original indie label. So, the level of nervousness was pegged on high as the band performed during the rehearsal earlier in the evening that Saturday. The band was set to play two songs from their latest album Tim: “Bastards of Young” and “Kiss Me on the Bus”.
Between the rehearsal and the actual show, the band did two things: crank up their amps and got drunk. So, for the live show, the band kicked off their rowdy “Bastards of Young” with the sound blaring too loud for the show, which caused distortion in the picture being sent to televisions throughout the country. It took nearly half the song before the sound people got things under control. To top things off, the band came back drunk and high and performed an amateurish “Kiss Me on the Bus”. Their antics lead Lorne Michaels to ban The Replacements from any other performances on SNL.
Now, did The Replacements blow their chance. Probably. But, the band produced three more great albums before breaking up. Still, their music lives on, which is proof that the band’s influence continues to grow this day.
Of today’s five songs, four of the five artists are all part of College Rock’s hierarchy. Let’s take a closer look.
20. Joy Division – “Love Will Tear Us Apart” (1980). No other band has a reputation on the rise like this band. Much like the Velvet Underground before them, Joy Division has blossomed in influence since singer Ian Curtis’ suicide. This song is the band’s masterpiece.
19. R.E.M. – “Fall on Me” (1986). College Rock’s golden boys had stayed away from political statements until they released this pro-environmental song. I remember when my generation actually believed in climate change. Now, for some reason, many don’t. Whatever. This song explains what is happening.
18. The Police – “Every Breath You Take” (1983). The Police were one of the first and most revered College Rock bands when they released this song in the Summer of 1983. After its released, they became the biggest band in the world, transcending all genres.
17. Alison Moyet – “Invincible” (1984). Back in the early-80s, their was once a band known as Yaz (or, for a time, Yazoo). Their lead singer was a plus-sized young woman with a powerhouse, soulful voice, Alison Moyet. She released her solo debut in 1984 that set the world on fire. This song was her finest moment, Live Aid performance included. She may have been Adele long before Adele showed up on the scene.
16. The Replacements – “Talent Show” (1988). The album this song comes from, Don’t Tell a Soul, was the band’s attempt to become a commercial success. And, although, this song was never really released as a single, I have always loved the lyrics’ mission statement-like directness. Never before had the band seemed so focused.
Well, we are now ready to jump into the Top 15. The numbers are getting smaller, and the songs are getting bigger. Any guesses as to what will be number 1? Stay tuned!