Top 10 Grunge songs
Before I go in my next list, just wanna qualify what I would deem as worthy of my list. The song has to make me perk up (not an easy thing =D), listen through and at least make me ponder at the lyrics or marvel at the music. The best songs usually feels like an electric jolt - either you want to twitch your body to the music, or just stare into space in "shock".
Anyway, I'm starting with genres that have a specific time frame, like the top 15 modern rock list where most songs come from the late 1990s to this decade. These are easier to compile.
So we have grunge, which specifically belongs to the early 1990s. This is the era when alternative rock met mainstream rock, when punk met metal. The result is a superb collection of songs culled from some top-notch rock bands. Most grunge songs are gloomy, but they portray an honest view of life that was sorely lacking in the mainstream at that time.
Since the actual time-span of grunge lasted about five years, there are not much songs to choose from. So there's only 10 in this list.
10 Days Of The New - Touch, Peel And Stand
A very quaint band, led by a young, depressed man called Travis Meeks. After their debut album, containing this song, was released, he sacked the whole band, and produced two more albums all by himself. All three albums are eponymous. Weird guy. This song stands out because amid all the electric guitar murk of grunge, this is completely acoustic. Not to say it's not heavy - in fact, this tale of seething anger is more chilling with the acoustic guitars banging away. Spine-tingling moment: The beautiful guitar solo, a rarity in grunge.
9 Mudhoney - Overblown
The prime jokesters of grunge, Mudhoney's sarcasm knows no boundaries. This one, on the Singles OST, gives the finger to all the posers who hopped onto the grunge bandwagon. It's hilarious, and scathing in its attack. Spine-tingling moment: The final verse: "Everybody loves us, everybody's getting kind of old, couldn't hold a regular job, long live rock and roll!"
8 Temple Of The Dog - Hunger Strike
A supergroup before the members became famous. This one-off project brought together members from Soundgarden and Pearl Jam to cut a tribute to Mother Love Bone's lead singer Andrew Wood, who OD'ed. The treat is listening to Eddie Vedder and Chris Cornell, two of the best rock vocalists of all time, trade lines and pushing each other. Spine-tingling moment: Vedder's baritone intoning "I'm not hungry" in the chorus, then Cornell's lung-bursting scream to repeat the phrase.
7 Alice In Chains - Would?
Alice In Chains leaned towards metal more than any grunge bands, but their economical riffs and utterly depressing songs never sat well in the hair metal bands. This one is their triumph in their desperate and desolate "Dirt" album, surely the most abject grunge record. A simple riff, coupled with thundering drums, sets the pace for the only optimistic song written by the band. Spine-tingling moment: The coda, where the guitars become more brutal, as Layne Staley asks: "Am I wrong, have I gone too far to get home?" Sad. RIP Layne.
6 Pearl Jam - Love Boat Captain
Ironically, the band who were treated as sell-outs became the genre's longest-lasting band, still churning out top-notch albums. A load of rubbish really, the sell-out claims - Pearl Jam are the flagbearers of honest, emotional grunge. This song, coming 10 years after their first album, is so naked, so assured, that it is still a treat for a long-time fan like me. Spine-tingling moment: When Eddie Vedder whispers: "I know it's already been sung, can't be sang enough. Love is all you need, all you need is love." Simple, yet devastating.
5 Hole - Violet
I never liked Courtney Love, and she's long worn out her welcome on the celebrity stage. But this song, made when her band meant something, is a spellbinding piece of fury. Grunge is noted for its acceptance of women rock vocalists, and Love is positively snarling throughout. Spine-tingling moment: Top-notch bile as Love spits: "Go on, take everything, take everything, I want you to!!!"
4 Nirvana - Smells Like Teen Spirit
Yeah, it's the song that changed the music scene forever. But in truth, it's not the best song on earth. Just happened to be released at the right time. Yes, it's insanely catchy, but that's it. The lyrics don't cut it for me, no matter how many times I headbanged to it. Spine-tingling moment: Plenty, but the clean intro still aptly sets up the thrills to come.
3 Soundgarden - Jesus Christ Pose
Armed with far more musical chops than any grunge band, Soundgarden created albums of wondrously noisy rock. This is one brutal track - feedback-drenched, killer riffing, murderous drumming, and of course, Chris Cornell's majestic wail. It hits you upon first listen, and never lets go, as the dense layers of music form a pummelling sheen for Cornell to spit out his sneering lyrics. A smack in the face, no less. Spine-tingling moment: From the opening feedback, it's a hellacious ride in primal, feral guitar rock.
2 Pearl Jam - Corduroy
Pearl Jam have made better singles, but this is their hidden jewel in the crown. Tucked deep in their "Vitalogy" album, it's the most disarming statement of intent of staying true to one's roots. Guitars intertwine as Vedder screams his list of declarations - "I don't wanna take what you can give, I would rather starve than eat your bread", "I don't wanna be held in your debt, I'll pay it off in blood", "I'll figure I'll be damned, all alone like I began". Tremendous, affecting stuff. Spine-tingling moment: The instrumental coda, no solos needed to ram home Vedder's point.
1 Nirvana - All Apologies
The last song on Nirvana's final studio album, this is the closure to grunge, a monumentally sad song that becomes even more unbearable following Kurt Cobain's demise. Pained resignation emits throughout the gentle song, as Cobain sounds weary of all the pitfalls of fame. Add a spidery guitar line, and it sounds like a goodbye to a wonderful era of music. Spine-tingling moment: "What else should I be, all apologies/What else should I say, everyone is gay" The heartbreaking opening lines.