My older son has a dry, acerbic sense of humor, probably developed from his early exposure to Monty Python. The other day, I texted him about any input on this two-day blog entry I was doing on the music of his youth. Before giving me a detailed assessment of the values of two songs by Sum 41, along with his words of wisdom covering artists such as Andrew WK, Panic! At the Disco and Jimmy Eat World, he simply replied with a use of a term from Lester Bangs’ character in the terrific film Almost Famous. He simply said, “Sounds like a real think piece.” I have been literally been laughing my butt off for two days. He has always had the ability to cut through my pretensions, from turning coaching awards into the butts of jokes or the loud sound of my voice at inappropriate times [I literally have the ability to be heard from one end of a track to the other, against the wind, without any doubt of my instructions to an athlete. That has been a source of jokes from my boys forever. And, it IS funny!].
So, today, I will be presenting my Top 20 portion of this countdown. No, it’s not a think piece at all. It is the usual ramblings of an over-the-hill man still trying to hang on to a portion of his youth, though, I will be using some insights from Graham just to spice some things up a bit. Let’s get going!
20. “Celebrity Skin” – Hole. I am going against Graham on so many levels with this one, but I do enjoy Hole’s albums from the Nineties. Personally, I never really considered the band to be grunge, I think those two albums in the post-Cobain marriage of Courtney Love may have benefited from Kurt’s pop sensibilities. And, this is the best example of Hole’s work.
19. “Fell in Love with a Girl” – The White Stripes. The White Stripes were so much more than a pop-punk band. Arguably, they might have been the last true rock stars. But, this song, which broke the band commercially, is a terrific pop-punk song.
18. “Hate to Say I Told You So” – The Hives. Maybe, in hindsight, The Hives were more neo-new wave, but that’s splitting hairs. This song was a breath of fresh air at the time.
17. “Mr. Brightside” – The Killers. Once again, probably more new wave than punk, yet The Killers were the new millennium’s Cars. And as Graham once said, “Dad just loves the Eighties sound of The Killers.”
16. “Ocean Avenue” – Yellowcard. What a great, aggressive song. But, like Matt Damon on SNL, I prefer Weezer.
15. “Last Nite” – The Strokes. When The Strokes burst on the scene, they were heralded as the newest great hopes for rock music. Well, that never materialized. But, they did leave us with this song and their fantastic debut album.
14. “Flagpole Sitta” – Harvey Danger. I feel like this is really a guilty pleasure of mine, but I don’t care! It’s just about perfect.
13. “The Boys of Summer” – The Ataris. These guys are from just up the road from my hometown, so it was pretty cool that they had a hit song. But, what those guys did with an aging hippy song from the Eighties is nothing short of outstanding!
12. “1985” – Bowling for Soup. These Gen X-ers touched upon the zeitgeist of a now-aging group of people who grew up with MTV. What a great song!
11. “Buddy Holly” – Weezer. Along with Green Day, Weezer unwittingly kicked off this whole genre with this big MTV hit.
10. “The Girl Got Hot” – Weezer. This gem is found on the universally panned Raditude album. The album is horrible, but for some reason, I just love this slice of pop-punk, regardless of whether Rivers was pandering or not.
9. “In Too Deep” – Sum 41. Graham wanted me to pick “Fat Lip” mainly because he felt “Fat Lip” was made for teens to headbang to and had the innovative use of rap in the song. So, of course, I chose the poppier song, which he predicted. Either way, you can’t go wrong.
8. “I Write Sins Not Tragedies” – Panic! At the Disco. From my point of view, this was an innovative pop-punk take on Queen’s musical vision. Graham just calls it one of the last great pop-punk songs.
7. “All the Small Things” – blink-182. Like I said, blink deserves a place in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame for their true artistic vision starting this whole genre. And, I still love this song, no matter how annoying my younger son tried to be with his devotion to blink-182 while in fifth and sixth grade.
6. “Last Resort” – Papa Roach. As Graham said, this song holds up surprisingly well. Plus, it walks that fine line between pop-punk and nu metal in a brilliant way. Plus, that guitar riff is just so tasty.
5. “Basket Case” – Green Day. “Do you have the time to listen to me whine?” One of the greatest opening lines! Just fantastic!
4. “Stacy’s Mom” – Fountains of Wayne. The greatest MILF song in the history of rock and roll. Plain and simple.
3. “Party Hard” – Andrew WK. I remember Graham bringing this CD home and just laughing about the album’s title, I Get Wet. The song is just perfect for teenagers. Graham simply stated that Andrew WK is a national treasure. How can you argue with that? Also, he wants to get Andrew WK to speak to his daughter’s graduating class. This time, I think him might be serious. HAHAHA!!!
2. “Flavor of the Weak” – American Hi-Fi. I loved this song way more than either of my boys did, but do I care? Hell no! I know a great song when I hear it. Plus, the chorus is just hilariously killer! “He’s too stoned/Nintendo.” Just brilliant!
1. “The Middle” – Jimmy Eat World. I don’t know how many times that opening guitar riff of this song has come on the radio or stereo and someone says, “I just love that song.” No kidding! This song is awesome! And that opening riff just might be pop-punk’s “Sweet Child O’ Mine” riff, it’s that good. This song should be put in a time capsule for future generations to learn about this genre.