So while compiling a list of songs for an eventual post of my top 100 rock tracks of the 1990s – the pool is over 200 and still growing by one or two a day – I came across some odd tracks that I either forgot about when working on my top 40 songs of the 2000s; they probably wouldn’t have all made the list, but they were worth mentioning, and I don’t feel like writing up another post on Ulysses.
LCD Soundsystem – “Daft Punk Is Playing At My House.” Kind of an alternative novelty hit, but it is catchy enough that I’ve caught myself singing it a few days after hearing it. I’m still waiting for the sequel, “Daft Punk is Playing Settlers of Catan at My House.”
Ryan Adams – “New York, New York.” The video and the timing made it an unlikely hit, but I found this to be one of Adams/Whiskeytown’s most accessible or mainstream songs. Speaking of Whiskeytown, “Don’t Be Sad” was recorded in the 1990s but wasn’t released until 2001, so it qualifies through the back door, although it’s a little too folky for me.
Starsailor – “Good Souls.” I actually saw these guys live in 2002, so there’s no excuse for forgetting the best song from their debut album, but for some reason I mentally had them pegged in 1999. It’s just a well-constructed song – you don’t notice the great foundation from the bass guitar until it’s alone in the final few measures – reminiscent to me of the slower material on Radiohead’s The Bends.
Basement Jaxx – “Where’s Your Head At” A phenomenal video and one of the best electronica songs of the decade, but my faulty memory put it on their 1999 debut album, Remedy. And hey, isn’t that Patton Oswalt? (No – no, it’s not.)
The Beautiful South – “Closer Than Most.” Kind of a straight song from an ordinarily snarky band (“36D” and “Ol’ Red Eyes is Back” come to mind in the latter category), “Closer” features one of my favorite lyrics of any era:
You dashed pretty’s only chance of a compliment
And gave the plain the blues
Turned supermodel into last year’s pull
And got her down shinin’ your shoes
Now I don’t mean to be hod carrier
Of other folks’ bad news
But tell Miss World to fly to Mars
If she really doesn’t like to lose
Air – “Cherry Blossom Girl.” I’m not quite sure what to call Air – “Radio #1″ was sort of alternative rock-ish, but “Girl” is this soft, ethereal ballad that might fit on adult contemporary radio. I give them credit for making an X-rated video that 1) wasn’t going to get any play anywhere and 2) uses pornography in a way that seems anti-pornographic. Apparently the video was directed by a porn director noted for his idiosyncratic style, making it more impressive that he would paint such an unflattering view of his own industry.
Presidents of the United States of America – “Some Postman.” Never got into their 1990s stuff, when they were one of a dozen snotty faux-punk joke bands (Tripping Daisy, Hagfish) to infect alternative radio, but this one track from their 2004 album Love Everybody hit the mark, telling a funny story instead of throwing out ridiculous lines in search of a laugh.
BT featuring Doughty – “Never Gonna Come Back Down.” Very Crystal Method-ish, with a guest vocal from one of my favorite songwriters from any decade. “I’m just gonna … say this/To the people, not so much the people in the audience as the people sitting in my mind.”