Friday, September 3, 2010
Unsolicited Pieces for Pitchfork's "Top 200 Tracks of the 1990's"
94. Puff Daddy - Come With Me
What does it mean when such bold, genre-defying music is used to accompany such unadulterated schlock entertainment? Can we shake the fetid memory of the 247th godawful CGI retread stomping the shit out of NYC and focus solely on Puff's unfuckwithable flow, reminding ourselves that the phrase "from and inspired by" is merely a sly marketing ploy? Or do we just accept that it is impossible to remove the presence of Godzilla from what is otherwise one of the freshest hip-hop tracks of the last 20 years, and appreciate the dichotomy contained therein? All I know is that when the "BMM-KCH-BAH" beat kicks in on top of that HUGE violin riff, all considerations of pop vs. art, real vs. fake, whether or not that really is Puff in that Fine Young Cannibals video, go out the window like yesterday's molted lizard skin. In the words of Matthew Broderick, "Holy shit!"
176. Seven Mary Three - Cumbersome
Seven Mary Three are often dismissed as being merely Puddle of Mudd in chrysalis, but listen again to that chorus: "I have become cumbersome/To my girl". What always set frontman Jason Ross apart from the rest of his post-grunge peers was his sometimes shocking vulnerability, and it's never more apparent than in this track. The really incredible part, though, is that he has a crack band willing to follow him into the abyss. As the chugging guitar of the verse snags and hangs over the lyrics like an unanswered question and Ross lays bare his (really, all of our) emotional trials and tribs, you can feel it: something's about to drop.
26. Everclear - Heroin Girl
Props if you can make it through this one: picking up where Lou and Neil left off, Everclear mastermind Art Alexakis crafts one of the most harrowing drug yarns in recent memory. Even if you're not chasing the dragon (I've never sampled the stuff myself), you'll still feel drowsy and incoherent when the Black Flag-caliber punk evisceration has whirled you through every minute, wrenching detail of the lives a long-gone chick and a guy who didn't see the future coming. Everclear: pure, undiluted, straight to the gut.
2. Marcy Playground - Sex And Candy
Kurt Cobain. Mulder. Beck. Samuel L. Jackson in "Pulp Fiction." Stephen Malkmus. Not even one of those icons (or, shit, all of them combined) could step to the nonchalant shrug that this song dropped on our collective consciousness circa '98. MP's John Wozniak (this is before his solo outing as 5pyramidz, remember, he was still John Wozniak back then people) couldn't even be bothered to SING the damn thing. It's a testament to the ethos of a decade now long past that people would positively CRANK this shit like it was Daddy Yankee.
It does make some weird sort of sense: everyone knows the '90s were the most chilled out decade ever. We had a pothead for a president, Nintendo 64 had just come out, 9/11 and the Iraq and Afghanistan wars were just a twinkle in Dick Cheney's penile implant. A lot of people wouldn't rank this song as high as it is on our list (hell, "Save Tonight" only clocked in at number 41), but it can't be denied that in some way, at a remote but cherished time in our lives, this track spoke for a part of all of us. All together now: "Hangin' round/Downtown by myself/And I've had too much caffeine/And I've been thinkin' bout myself." Mama this surely is a dream, indeed.