Wow! What a new music release day for Friday, October 13! Out of all the exciting releases, perhaps the two best were MASSEDUCATION by St. Vincent and Beck’s first album since his shocking Grammy win for Album of the Year almost five years ago for his brilliant album Morning Phase. His new album is called Colors, and it seems that he has thrown away his artistic pretensions and just followed his dance/rock muse. To me, this new album is much more gratifying than many of his other releases since he did less pretentious music and just let go.
Beck blasted his way onto the music scene during the Lollapalooza heyday of alternative music with his Gen X anthem “Loser”. The song, with its pastiche of neo-folk, hip hop and blues setting the stage for rapped lyrics concerning a young person’s view of him- or herself through the eyes of Baby Boomers. The sarcastic lyrics went past most except for the group at whom this was aimed. And, now, the song is Beck’s calling card and a rock classic.
So, how did Beck follow up that first album? He created his classic album, Odelay, that has always seemed like a tribute to the Beastie Boys and their method of using kitsch from the Seventies to forge a post-modern rock/hip hop classics. So, Beck followed suit to create his own rock heaven on this album. And, rightfully so, this is the album to which Beck’s whole career will be measured. This album follows the neo-folkie and hip hop attitude of his first album and carries through to fruition. Beck and his producers, the Dust Brothers, stuff the album full of samples from every kind of source, much like the brothers did for the Beasties on their classic album Paul’s Boutique. This album gave Beck his first Album of the Year Grammy nomination.
After that artistic breakthrough, Beck has been following his muse whenever it takes him. His has gone through Brazilian rock music on Midnite Vultures to stripped down folk rock on Sea Change and Morning Phase, and nearly all spaces in between. That is until Colors, which includes two previously released songs, “Dreams” from 2015 and the funky “Wow” from last year. Now, he has a great and versatile band, upon whom he relied to help create this seemingly simple yet complex pop/rock sound he has created on this album.
So, in honor of Colors release, I thought we would take a quick look back at My 25 Favorite Beck Songs. Let ‘er rip, Keller!
25. “Ray No Mind (Snoozer)” (Mellow Gold, 1994)
24. “The New Pollution” (Odelay, 1996)
23. “Strange Apparition” (The Information, 2006)
22. “Beercan” (Mellow Gold, 1994)
21. “Nobody’s Fault but My Own” (Mutations, 1998)
20. “Gamma Ray” (Modern Guilt, 2008)
19. “Lost Cause” (Sea Change, 2002)
18. “Hell Yes” (Guero, 2005)
17. “E-Pro” (Guero, 2005)
16. “Tropicalia” (Mutations, 1998)
15. “Defriended” (single, 2013)
14. “Jack-Ass” (Odelay, 1996)
13. “Bogusflow” (DGC Rarities Vol. 1, 1994)
12. “We Are Sex Bob-Omb” (Scott Pilgrim vs. The World OST, 2010)
11. “Whiskeyclone, Hotel City 1997” (Mellow Gold, 1994)
10. “Sexx Laws” (Mutations, 1998)
9. “Girl” (Guero, 2005)
8. “Devil’s Haircut” (Odelay, 1996)
7. “Blue Moon” (Morning Phase, 2013)
6. “Dreams” (Colors, 2017)
5. “Asshole” (One Foot in the Grave, 1994)
4. “Debra” (Midnite Vultures, 1999)
3. “Where’s It At” (Odelay, 1996)
2. “Loser” (Mellow Gold, 1994)
1. “Wow” (Colors, 2017)
I know! I tripped you up on that choice! “Wow”?!?! Indeed. I’ve been hooked on that song for the better part of a year, and it still makes me want to rave in the house. I don’t know why but it speaks to me way inside myself that none of his other songs really have before. So, now, “Wow” is my favorite Beck song. As he says in the song, it’s like “standing on the lawn doin’ Jiu Iitsu, girl in a bikini with the Lamborghini Shih Tzu.” And, in these moments, I like to quote Jack Nicholson’s Joker from the 1989 Batman movie when he says, “I don’t know if it’s art, but I like it!”
My advice is to pull out all of your old Beck CDs and just bask in the greatness of his music. I’m betting that we will be seeing his name on a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nomination list next year. Raise your glass to Beck!Ho