Music

Definitely Maybe the Top 200 Tracks of the 1990s

Half the fun of lists like this is tearing them down immediately after they’ve been built up.

Two weeks ago, Pitchfork published its list of the top 200 hundred tracks of the 1990s. The list is a fascinating read. The selections are fairly well-balanced, and the emphasis on music videos, though unevenly explored in the capsule reviews, provides an interesting context for the various ways that music was consumed just over a decade ago.

As always, some of the tracks that made the cut were a bit bizarre. For instance, giving props to something as flimsy as Len’s “Steal My Sunshine” (number 119) seems the rough equivalent of championing Kings of Leon’s “Use Somebody”, which, we all know, is something that the P-fork folks would never do. Similarly, Dinosaur Jr.’s “Start Choppin’” (number 93) is belittled in every way by “The Wagon”—and, even more so, by “Whatever’s Cool with Me”. Also, as great as Elastica’s “Stutter” (number 98) might be, it’s really difficult to hear that song as anything more than this track’s echo (that might not be an anachronism depending on where you were when “Stutter” was actually released as a single, and when Elastica was released as an album).

But hey, half the fun of lists like this is tearing them down immediately after they’ve been built up. Below, in no particular order, are a few additional tracks that the Pitchfork staff overlooked. Please include your exclusions in the comments section. Oh, and feel free to quibble with my selections as well.

It might merely be a cover song, but there might not have been a better soundtrack for getting under the covers in the entire decade. Super sexy, for sure.

For better or worse, The Public at Large will forever see “Song 2” as Blur’s crowning achievement, as opposed to anything off of Parklife. Maybe I’m in the minority here, but that’s a good thing.

We could go round and round for 120 minutes or so about whether or not Throwing Muses should have garnered a more prominent spot than a “see also” under the Breeders “Cannonball” (number 22). It seems to me, though, that the fuzzy math works something like this: early 1990s indie/alternative rock minus Tanya Donelly equals something quite unlike early 1990s indie/alternative rock.

Just so you know, the 1990s found bands—some even from places outside of North America and the UK!—recording this music called metal. The above clip represents merely one of the genre’s killer tracks. Be sure to take a listen before it, and tracks very much like it, are, um . . . pitched into the dustbin of history. The official video can be found here.

If Mark Richardson, on behalf of the entire Pitchfork staff, can sign off with a nod to Pavement at number one, then I hereby reserve the right to fly my own fanboy flag with Catherine Wheel’s “Crank” at the end of this tiny list. After releasing its shimmery shoegaze-esque debut Ferment, the Wheel polished its sound and honed its delivery to frighteningly muscular ends on its second outing Chrome. If only all elevator music sounded like this.

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