Many years ago, I recognized the true genius of Saturday Night Live. Sure, it is a great source for comedy, satire and brilliant parody. Additionally, the show has been a show that has exposed the world to live performances from some of music’s biggest names, such as Bob Dylan, Frank Zappa, Grateful Dead, The Band, Queen, Prince, Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, Pearl Jam, Nirvana, among many others. Still, the true genius of the show lies with the fact each show is a live time capsule of American/pop culture. THAT is the genius of the long-running show.
For that reason, I wish every season of the show would be released either as a home video collection that could be sold to the public, or, as compromise, Lorne Michaels, the man behind the creation of the show, should develop his own streaming service that could handle all of his production shows in addition to SNL. That service could house the history of The Tonight Show and the Late Night shows, as well as obtaining permission to stream Monty Python’s Flying Circus, SCTV, Fridays, Kids in the Hall, MAD TV and In Living Color, for starters. The streaming service could charge a nominal monthly fee. And, Mr. Micheal would once again be proving himself to be the king of comedy, as well as pop culture.
Now, the reason I bring that idea up is that we deserve to see these little time capsules so that we can see the changes that society has undergone over the past 40-plus years. Additionally, these shows would give to us, the music fan, the ability to see live performances by some of the finest musicians in all history on these different shows.
With that said, let’s move on to the next ten songs on my countdown of My 300 Favorite Alternative Rock Songs of the 1990s. Today, I am covering numbers 31 through 40. Le the countdown begin!
31. Edwyn Collins – “A Girl Like You” (1994). This song was released in the US on a soundtrack for a little indie film called Empire Records. At the time, it was many Americans first taste of Britpop, which was just gaining steam over in the UK. Britpop, which sounded to American ears as Power Pop, never really gained a foothold in America but the movement did yield this brilliant bit of Britpop.
32. Faith No More – “Epic” (1990). At the time of the release of this song, hair metal was all the rage in the States. Then, this song was released and it captured America’s collective ears with its fusion of rapping, hip hop beats and metal guitars. Sure, the Red Hot Chili Peppers were doing a version of this but had not written a hit song…yet! Now, Faith No More was way more versatile on their albums than this song indicated. Yet, “Epic” influenced a whole new type of metal that would pop up in a few years called Nu-Metal.
33. Alanis Morissette – “You Oughta Know” (1995). Before Alanis unleashed this angry woman’s diatribe on the world, she had been a Canadian pop star in the vain of Tiffany or Debbie Gibson. Plus, the music made by women tended to be “sunshiney”, much like what The Go-Go’s or Bangles were doing. Then, Liz Phair made it acceptable for women to show their strength and anger in their music. So, Morissette took the final step by writing honest, gut-wrenching songs and, thus, breaking the chains that shackled women from being true rock stars.
34. Urge Overkill – “Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon” (1994). This Chicago band tapped into the darkness buried within the lyrics and music of this Neil Diamond classic and made the song into their own signature song. It often stands alone in its brilliance so well that many forget its a cover song. Unfortunately, Urge Overkill never could write their own hits, so their catalog is a bit thin.
35. Supergrass – “Alright” (1995). In the States, this song has reached the public’s conscience through the song’s use in many recent commercials. The song’s youthful exuberance lends it well to pushing products toward the youth of America. But, this Britpop standard is my proof that the British music movement called Britpop was nothing more than American Power Pop dressed up as a new musical movement over seas.
36. Depeche Mode – “I Feel You” (1993). Everybody’s favorite moping New Wave synth-pop band had slowly mixed in dark lyrics and sounds as the Nineties rolled around. As the band reached their commercial zenith, Depeche Mode decided to follow U2’s lead into a band make-over, only Depeche Mode kept the darkness close and incorporated grunge-like guitars to their, as perfected in this song.
37. XTC – “The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead” (1992). XTC spent the latter part of the Eighties paying homage to their Sixties garage and psychedelic pop heroes with their Skylarking and Oranges & Lemons albums, along with their alter-ego’s, The Dukes of Stratosphear, psychedelic pop releases 25 O’Clock and Psonic Psunspot. Who knew that the band would tone down the artistic tendencies and go full blown power pop on their first single of the new decade? Thank goodness they did.
38. Paul Weller – “You Do Something to Me” (1995). The Modfather has written some of rock’s most heartfelt love songs, in addition to his political observations aimed at both the dwindling English empire and the crass American consumerism. My wife and I just love his love songs!
39. U2 – “Numb” (1993). Oh no, who’s idea was it to let guitarist The Edge to mumble the lyrics to this song? Well, give them credit for the balls to let The Edge handle the most distinctive song in the band’s whole career.
40. Cake – “I Will Survive” (1996). Take an alternative band full of the snarkily dark humor that Gen X is known for and pair it with a Women’s Power disco song from the Seventies, and you get a brilliant slice of dark cynicism and hurt from the same song that meant women’s strength to the Boomers. Generation X bought it, literally and figuratively. Personally, I LOVE the trumpet/guitar interactions toward the end without the loss of the danceability of the original version.
That takes care of another ten songs in my countdown with 30 more to go! I hope everyone has a blessed day! Until tomorrow, keep on rocking in the free world!