A glimpse into the music-obsessed world of mine. I, riddled with ADHD (not diagnosed, not really ADHD...just sayin') read music reviews obsessively. Like tiny packets of dopamine to my system, these wastes of time and energy are. But I just can't stay away.
Since 1989 was far and away the most pivotal year of my young life (best and nearly worst, for a variety of reasons), I decided to look at the top 100 pop songs of that year. Yeesh...what a wasteland. Put thusly: if Milli Vanilli 1) has a firm hold on this list, and 2) I actually find MV's contributions among the better songs in this list, you know something is wrong. No wonder I soon found my way out of the mainstream.
So here's a fun little exercise: commentary on various of the top 100 alternative albums (back when the term actually meant something, you spoiled little upstarts!) in 1989, as proposed by the biased-but-still-awesome blog Slicing Up Eyeballs.
The Cure - Disintegration: Meh...didn't grab me so much, but you can't deny it's an awesome album. Maybe I'm not as goth as I'd like to pretend. I did get it years later, figuring it'd be a great breakup album to have as my relationship with Mr. Man was seriously on the skids. Fortunately, we stayed together, and I got to keep Disintegration. Huzzah all around.
Pixies - Doolittle: Discovered this a few years after the fact. And again, for some reason, the album as a whole didn't grab me, but individual songs stuck in my cerebral sulci, and to this day, they're on reliable rotation. Nirvana, and by extension virtually all of 1990s rock would've been DOA without this one. "La La Love You" has to be one of the coolest surf-punk songs ever committed to tape. (Bonus: "Debaser" inspired the referenced blog's title.)
Nine Inch Nails - Pretty Hate Machine: Good GOD, but this informed my high school experience. M. Reznor fuckin' FELT my pain, man! And the music felt so edgy and skittish. It was my entry point into industrial, for which I am forever grateful.
The Stone Roses: How the fuck did I miss this one? Only got it last year, and my conclusion: damn, I missed out on a whole lot of something back in the day. I'd have worn this one the fuck OUT. As it is, it's consigned to an occasional song on my "top rated" list. It deserves better. Mea culpa. (When I got a drum set around 15, a friend offered to teach me some tricks. Quote: "I'll have you playing the Stone Roses in no time." Would've been nice. Instead, I was stuck playing R.E.M., which wasn't exactly drummer heaven.)
Beastie Boys - Paul's Boutique: I'm seeing a miserable trend here. I'm consistently decades late to the party. But hella fun, right? "Looking Down the Barrel of a Gun" is pretty frightening, though...belongs in some warped Tarantino vehicle.
B-52's - Cosmic Thing: Phoenician rebirth, y'all. Fun, for the most part, aside from a few throwaways. I blast "Dry County" during the first real scorcher of the summer, and it feels like home. I've also sung "Love Shack" at the weddings for my brother and my sister. *hangs head in embarrassment*
The Replacements - Don't Tell a Soul: Uh, no. I meant to order "Pleased to Meet Me," but I got this drearfest instead. (This was back in the day of music clubs, kids, where you could actually buy EIGHT CDs for the price of one!) Professional, so it sounds good, but the Replacements should be anything but professional. Keepers: "I'll Be You," "Achin' to Be."
Bob Mould - Workbook: Yet another "just got this last year." I suck. Anyhow...the production here is clean and bright as a sanitized chrome kitchen. Some awfully beautiful songs here, too. And a bit of noodling that sounds...well, cool mountain stream comes to mind ("Sunspots"). Wait...all this from one of the big names in corrosive and angst-ridden punk? Yes. A major left turn from the noise that was Hüsker Dü, but a really awesome left turn.
10,000 Maniacs - Blind Man's Zoo: My entry point into this band. (Bragging rights: met them backstage at the Tonight Show during my 15 minutes of fame in 1989.) Loved 'em at the time, but this one is now about my least favorite of their albums; I can't remember when I last gave this one a spin. Someone once said that it's easy to listen to 10,000 Maniacs while you're doing household chores. I'd concur. Not exactly the most ringing endorsement.
Indigo Girls: This one hit me but HARD. While enjoying a beautiful mountain summer, I stumbled upon this album, courtesy of my sister, and "Closer to Fine" became one of my anthems that summer (I think it must have been 1990). Clean, green, sweet harmonies and simple guitar melodies throughout ensured this would be one of my favorite albums throughout high school. Heck, I even performed "Closer to Fine" with a friend during our spring concert my senior year.