Thursday, April 17, 2008

1. Alanis Morissette - You Oughta Know

Found On: Jagged Little Pill (1995)

The big hit on the big album of the decade, its rage was as unbridled as its success. Wherever the guy is who inspired such anger, he’s probably still smarting. - RN

2. Lisa Loeb – Stay (I Missed You)

Found On: Tails (1994)

What's might be most impressive about Stay is that it doesn’t have a chorus. And yet nearly anyone who was in high school or college when it came out can sing the entire song flawlessly.

Bonus points for appearing in a quintessential 1990's film, Reality Bites.

3. They Might Be Giants – Birdhouse In Your Soul

Found On: Flood (1990)

Not to put too fine a point on it, but this ode to a nightlight is TMBG’s best song. It's full of non-sequiters and SAT vocabulary words, but still manages to be affecting.

Picked By: MT

4. Deee-Lite - Groove Is In the Heart

Found On: World Clique (1990)

Because groove IS in the heart. - EE

5. Nirvana - Smells Like Teen Spirit

Found On: Nevermind (1991)

The most influential song ever inspired by a deodorant.

Picked By: MT

6. Smashing Pumpkins - Mayonaise

Found On: Siamese Dream (1993)

Siamese Dream had more songs nominated from it than any other album on the list. Mayonaise, unlike its differently-spelled namesake, is not heavy but does bring a different flavor to the album.

Picked By: DH

7. R.E.M. - Losing My Religion

Found On: Out Of Time (1991)

I was mildly scandalized by the song's title and chorus when I first heard it. I was a good church-goin' boy and it felt wrong to enjoy the song so much. Now that I've learned that the lyrics are actually about a huge hidden crush and not spirituality, I like it both less and more.

8. Radiohead – Creep

Found On: Pablo Honey (1993)

Great one-hit wonder from the early 1990's. Whatever became of this band?

Picked by: MT

9. Ice Cube – It Was A Good Day

Found On: The Predator (1993)

Ice Cube’s idea of a perfect day (a game of basketball followed by craps and dominoes, a Lakers win, drunk driving, the Goodyear blimp displaying that you are, in fact, a pimp) may differ slightly from mine, but his enthusiasm is contagious.

Picked By: MT

10. Green Day – Basket Case

Found On: Dookie (1994)

In olden times I actually discovered new music via MTV. When I saw the video for Basket Case one night I knew that I had to get the album right away. The song gave a voice to my teenage alienation while at the same time deflating it ("Do you have the time / to listen to me whine / About nothing and everything all at once?").

11. Sinead O'Connor - Nothing Compares 2 U

Found On: I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got (1990)

Prince wrote this tune in 1985 for The Family, a band featuring Wendy's sister and some members of The Time.

But it took Sinead’s impassioned version to make it the classic it is now.

12. Weezer – Buddy Holly

Found On: Weezer (1994)

I’m going to admit this here: As a high schooler I had a big crush on Mary Tyler Moore. Not the single-gal-in-Minneapolis version, but the sassy-wife-of-Dick Van Dyke version. So this song always made perfect sense to me. And the video is my favorite ever.

13. Sting - Fields Of Gold

Found On: Ten Summoner's Tales (1993)

Reflective, gentle, and vaguely sensual, it's also the Sting litmus test. That is to say: If you like Fields of Gold you'll probably like his other stuff. If you don't, you won't.

14. Counting Crows - Mr. Jones

Found On: August And Everything After (1993)

Adam Duritz name-checks Bob Dylan and Pablo Picasso while anticipating reality television: “When I look at the television, I want to see me staring right back at me!” The Crows would have many more hits, but none touched the sheer bliss of this. - RN

15. Freedy Johnston - Bad Reputation

Found On: This Perfect World (1994)

I’d be more convinced of Mr. Johnston’s alleged “bad reputation” if this song weren’t so pretty. A sweet musical yin to Joan Jett’s sassy yang (in her different song of the same name).

16. Toad The Wet Sprocket - Walk On The Ocean

Found On: Fear (1991)
Picked By: MT

The song is not about Jesus, but it's still very pretty.

17. The Jayhawks - Blue

Found On: Tomorrow The Green Grass (1995)

My grandfather bought this CD for me at a Venture department store in Decatur, Illinois. How had I heard of it? That detail is lost to time. All I know is that as a college freshman who supposedly hated country music, it sounded pretty sweet to my ear.

18. Fiona Apple - Criminal

Found On: Tidal (1996)

She may have been a bad, bad girl—the video for this song was downright naughty—but this is a remarkable song. “I’ve been careless with a delicate man?” Perhaps—but there isn’t a careless or misplaced note or word here. - RN

19. Beta Band - Dry The Rain

Found On: The 3 E.P.s (1998)

You might remember this song from the scene in High Fidelity where John Cusack’s character says “I will now sell 5 copies of The Three E.P.’s by The Beta Band.” Why were the patrons of Championship Vinyl compelled to buy a copy of this album? Because this song is fucking good, that’s why. - EE

20. Backstreet Boys - I Want It That Way

Found On: Millennium (1999)

While the European version makes more sense, lyrically, than the slightly schizophrenic version that ruled American charts, there’s no question that this was one of the catchiest songs of this or any decade. - RN