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Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Top 5 Alternative Hits by One Hit Wonders

So, in lieu of the missed Retro Review last week, Cale and I agreed that I would take charge of Top 5 Friday so that I could get over an illness and grace you with my opinions, yet again. Therefore, this week, as the headline states, it's my favorite alternative hits by one hit wonders. While I'm a huge fan of successful artists who produce multitudes of life altering albums , I must also pay homage to those who have fallen. Thus I present you with the magic...please behold.

5. Nine Days - "Absolutely (The Story of a Girl)"
I know what you're thinking...and you're right. It is a bit of the lighter side of alternative rock. A little more pop and a little less, "with the lights out it's less dangerous". I get that. However, the lighter side is exactly why I love this song. I can't tell you the number of times it has popped into my head and stayed there for days...ironic, huh? It's a great piece that tells about the solemness of this girl that lead singer, John Hampson, is truly fond of, and even as he lays out all her "imperfections", he claims to "absolutely love her when she smiles". "Absolutely (The Story of a Girl)" is a happy song that takes me back to fond memories of listening to and singing this song in my first car. It's cheesy, I know, but memories often play a huge part in musical selections and is the reason for this song being brought to the forefront of my mind. BTW, in case you're planning on checking, Wikipedia will list them as having 2 hits. "Absolutely (The Story of a Girl)" and some track called "If I Am"... Let's be honest, has anyone ever really heard it, and more importantly, would you remember it?

4. Spacehog - "In the Meantime"
I gotta be frank with you all... I know nothing of this band. Nada. What I do know is that "In the Meantime" is one of my absolute favorite songs ever. It's one where you may understand the lyrics as being one thing, while I'm hearing words that are completely different. It's a song where I've probably given it entirely new lyrics. However, lyrics aside, it's a great song for several reasons. The vocals are so unique that I feel if we'd ever heard more from Spacehog, it would've been easily identifiable. The song has great hooks, verses, chorus, bridge, ending...I mean, it has unbelievable structure. The ending is totally separate from this vocal/guitar driven song in that it scrapes away all other musical factors, save the piano, and plays what could almost sound like an adult lullaby. It's a beautiful melody that will always stand out in my mind as being a perfect ending to an amazing song. Seriously, if I could give "In the Meantime" a true rating, it would be an easy 10.

3. The Proclaimers - "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)"
I assume that when one thinks of Alternative Rock, the bands Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Nirvana, Red Hot Chili Peppers, etc. come to mind, but what about it's predecessors. Sure The Proclaimers (please don't confuse with The Pretenders) don't pop out as significant, or maybe even alternative rock, but you can't deny that "I'm Gonna Be (500 miles)" didn't break the mold from other bands that were around in 1988. This song was so different from anything out there at that time and was so original, that I couldn't pass up the opportunity to honor the Scots. "I'm Gonna Be (500 miles)" is a brilliantly talented, goofy song that was featured in the film Benny & Joon (why does that feel like it was 10,000 years ago?). The song is an upbeat and lighthearted display of complete devotion. The patterns of "when you do this, I'm gonna do this" make up the spirited song and make it easy to sing along with and easy to fall in love with. And let's face'll never forget the lines "and I would walk 500 miles, and I would walk 500 more" and the composed chorus of "duh duh duh duhs" that make this song worth remembering and/or hard to forget.

2. The Verve - "Bitter Sweet Symphony"
I do feel slightly guilty for listing The Verve in this category, because to be fair, I believe they've had several hits in the UK. However, if you glance up to the address bar on your screen, you'll notice we're not in Kansas anymore and being an American based musical opinions blog, I'm exercising my right to add them. I'll say this..."Bitter Sweet Symphony" is not only an awesome song, but the video is great too. I love to watch him plow through literally every person he passes down the street like they're not even there. Being that this is about the song, not the video, I'll move on. "Bitter Sweet Symphony" was not even close to being an instant favorite of mine. In fact, it wasn't even until I heard Lucas Rossi perform it on "Rockstar Supernova" that I even appreciated it as a good song, much less a favorite of mine. However, when I heard it under a different voice, I realized what an intricate composition it is, both vocally and instrumentally. It has the ability to be vocally ornamented, which is exactly what Rossi did with it. Once I heard his version, I went back and reexamined my feelings for the original...I loved it. I listened with a fresh set of ears and it was as if I'd heard it for the first time. It's a beautifully written alternative rock song that makes you feel melancholy and malicious at the same time. If you're having doubts about appreciating "Bitter Sweet Symphony", I would encourage you to find a version of Rossi's and then reevaluate The Verve's masterpiece.

1. Tracy Bonham - "Mother Mother"
So while this is my fav, it's hard for me to lump Tracy into this category because I love more of her music than just this one song. A few of them even got air play, but it's "Mother Mother" that brings home the bacon. "Mother Mother" is a sarcastic tale of a girl and her phone conversation with her mother in which she makes small talk, asks some questions, and recalls some unexpected details. In the chorus, she sings/screams "I'm hungry, I'm dirty, I'm losing my mind, everything's fine". The song's use of guitars and strings, which come prior to the chorus, don't even set you up for when she goes berserk during the chorus. It's a great surprise! Bonham is a phenomenal vocalist and with a hit like this and a voice like hers, it's a travesty that she's being classified as a one hit wonder. She's truly masterful and "Mother Mother" proves it. This song is also one of the first tracks where I had ever heard a female vocalist scream, as it was very uncommon for women during that period in music. I remember loving how pissed off Bonham seemed, especially since I felt I could relate in all my teen angst. I always swore up and down that if I was in a band, I would cover this song, as have The Veronicas. "Rockstar Supernova" alum, Dilana even performed it on the show (though not by choice) and killed it (in a good way). It's a fabulous song that deserves every bit of recognition it gets and more. It is my hope that you will enjoy it along with me.

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