"bunch of crazy white people... "

Every Billboard Modern Rock Chart #1 through 2005, listed in order of preference.  

1. The Cure, "High"

April 11 - May 8, 1992

Esoteric choice, perhaps, but this pretty lil' morsel aw-shucked its way past the competition - I simply couldn't pretend that I'd rather hear any other song on the list more (though "Just Like Heaven," which hit before the chart began, as well as over 25 modern rock non-#1 hits from '88 on, would have topped it). Fat Bob mewling multi-tracked euphoria over glistening arpeggios, gurgling his orgasmic vagina metaphors all Carrollesque, thanking God that he's still getting some despite himself. Giggly, glowing sexual gratitude from an alleged mopemeister is a fittingly contradictory high point (no pun intended) for a list of the most popular weirdos in rock.

and when i see you kitten as a cat
yeah as smitten as that
i can't get that small
the way you fur
the how you purr
it makes me want to paw you all


2. Linkin Park, "In The End"

December 22, 2001 - January 25, 2002

Synthetically combining Depeche Mode and Alice Cooper with hip-hop in order to create the ultimate in adolescent catharsis, winding up with America's biggest selling album of 2001. No rock band has achieved such a rank since (the last before them were Hootie & The Blowfish), and I wouldn't be surprised if they wind up the last.

One thing, I don't know why
It doesn't even matter how hard you try
Keep that in mind, I designed this rhyme
to remind myself how I tried so hard
In spite of the way you were mocking me
Acting like I was part of your property
Remembering all the times you fought with me
I'm surprised it got so far


3. Crazytown, "Butterfly"

February 17 - March 2, 2001

Modern rock sucks! The Red Hot Chili Peppers keep topping this ridiculous, blase countdown with increasingly grandiose ruminations, and yet the son of an industry weasel, blessed with an ungodly amount of body modifications and a fondness for being called "Shifty Shellshock," can sample one of their guitarist's stray noodles, recite a rap about his lady love, and instantly beat 20 years of musically skilled (so I hear) melodofunkrock stylings from the once and future champions of the scene. Harsh proof that modern rock is lamer than Vanilla Ice on Valentine's Day. End the fucking thing already.

You filled that empty space with the love I used to chase
And as far as I can see, it don't get better than this
So butterfly, here is a song and it's sealed with a kiss
And a thank you, miss


4. Hoobastank, "The Reason"

April 17-23, 2004

The circular riffs are set atop a evenly spaced chord progression, building in volume with a mathematical precision; if songs have shape, this one is a pyramid. Singer Doug Robb gives the track necessary humanity with his earnest, open whimpering over his regrets and newfound strength, but he sacrifices grammar (you can't change who you used to be, you can only change who you are) to keep the structure as exact as possible. People frequently use "pure pop" as a compliment for music that sounds neither like Cole Porter or any other vintage of extremely popular music. If this blockbuster weeper - the kind of manufactured miracle that outlives its mortal makers and self-conscious music fans resist until time provides the necessary distance and kitsch (maybe it will soundtrack a key scene in the Boogie Nights of 2023) - doesn't earn the term more than anything by the New Pornographers, it's definitely "pure power ballad."

I'm sorry that I hurt you
It's something I must live with everyday
And all the pain I put you through
I wish that I could take it all away
And be the one who catches all your tears
That's why I need you to hear


5. Green Day, "Basket Case"

August 20 - September 23, 1994

A three minute sear about feeling fucked in the head that sets a stadium off better than "Born To Run." Punk: whatever doesn't kill rock only makes it stronger.

Do you have the time
To listen to me whine
About nothing and everything
All at once
I am one of those
Melodramatic fools
Neurotic to the bone
No doubt about it


6. P.O.D., "Youth Of The Nation"

March 30 - April 12, 2002

Opens with schoolyard chatter, followed by what could be a sample from the Cure's Pornography and a rapped verse from a parent-loving skate-rat who sympathizes with the kid that shot him in school today. Several harrowing anecdotes later, Pink Floyd's children choir shows up to join the band in a "row your boat" round of the chorus. If you're cynical enough about adolescence in America to find this trite and unaffecting, good for you.

Who's to blame for the life that tragedies claim?
No matter what you say it won't take away the pain
That I feel inside, I'm tired of all the lies
Don't nobody know why
It's the blind leadin' the blind


7. Better Than Ezra, "Good"

April 29 - June 2, 1995

By the time Charles Thompson was ready to write a bittersweet break-up ode, he'd lost the fresh, jagged energy that made the Pixies such a worthwhile template for the bands that followed. He also had stopped making funny sounds with his mouth. One of those defiantly joyful songs that sound as perfect between innings as it does on a cathartic late night drive.

Well, maybe I'll call or write you a letter.
Now, maybe we'll see on the Fourth of July.
But I'm not too sure, and I'm not too proud.
Well, I'm not too sure and I'm not too proud to say...


8. Evanescence feat. Paul McCoy, "Bring Me To Life"

March 28 - April 16, 2003

"I wanted to make sure everyone knows that I do not have any music in 'The Chronicles Of Narnia'. I did write music for it, that I love very much, but it was rejected for the movie because it was 'too dark' and 'too epic.' My darlings, if I can't write dark, epic music, I can't live." - Amy Lee, on the band's message board.

how can you see into my eyes like open doors
leading you down into my core
where I've become so numb
without a soul, my spirit sleeping somewhere cold
until you find it there and lead it back home


9. Nirvana, "All Apologies"

January 22 - February 4, 1994

Half-formed (he should be saying "I'll proceed from shame") and already disintegrating (he isn't going to proceed from anything), swinging from casual epiphanies to nonsensically grandiose make-it-rhymes, attempting to wrangle an anthem out of his contradictory emotions but shrugging off of the fine tuning; he knows there's enough drama on tape to beat the competition.

I wish I was like you
Easily amused
Find my nest of salt
Everything is my fault
I'll take all the blame
Aqua seafoam shame
Sunburn with freezerburn
Choking on the ashes of her enemy


10. U2, "One"

April 4-10, 1992

Nothing makes me worry about my sanity more than my inability think about Bono without noting all the signs that, if there is an antichrist in the world today, he's it (and the former Paul Hewson's PARENTS called him "the antichrist" when he was a kid, so don't accuse me of viciousness). Most of the parallels are clear after viewing The Omega Code (starring Michael York as a glad-handling, camera-hogging philanthropist who declares himself our new messiah after ending world hunger), but there's also the fact that U2's greatest songs collectively tell the story of Lucifer and his fall from grace. He was God's most faithful ("I Will Follow") and most powerful warrior ("Sunday, Bloody Sunday"), until he began to indulge in the sin of pride (in the name of love), finally deciding that he couldn't live with or without God ("you give it all but I want more...she's got me with nothing to win, and nothing left to lose"). His dissatisfaction with God's love ("I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For") eventually led to a climactic battle in which he's cast out of heaven ("Bullet In The Blue Sky").

"One" represents Lucifer's final rebuke to God. He's begun to accept his new role ("Will it make it easier on you now you've got someone to blame?"), but remains resentful about the lack of compensation he's received for his efforts ("You act like you never had love, and you want me to go without"). He's seething, bitter, spiteful ("Did I ask too much? More than a lot? You gave me nothing, now its all I got"), but also pained and desperate to be understood. His screams for recognition unanswered, he abandons the quest and identifies himself with the rest of God's subjects ("One life with each other - sisters, brothers"), in hopes of gaining a flock of his own. It's Paradise Lost in the shape of a power ballad, and nobody in rock is more qualified to give it voice.

You say "love is a temple,
Love a higher law.
Love is a temple,
Love: the higher law."
You ask me to enter,
But then you make me crawl.
And I can't be holding on
To what you got
When all you got is hurt


11. Linkin Park, "Faint"

August 9 - September 19, 2003

Simon Reynolds, a former SPIN editor who pushed the electronica lie top-down in the nineties, wrote a piece a year or so ago questioning why the revolution failed, based on the lack of interest in the U.S. for recent Fatboy Slim. Fact is, rather than settle for an IV of Amp comps, gradually accepting Paul Oakenfold in his pure state, America incorporated the ChemBros/Prodigy techniques they liked into rap and rock, accepting the musical & technological advancements, if not the idea that gawky trancemasters should be superstars (though you can't say we didn't give Moby a chance). Linkin's teary-eyed and pro-tooled kung fu chop for a parent's attention would be unthinkable if not for Fat Of The Land (or at least the Spawn soundtrack), and its acceptance and popularity in the rock world is one of the few positive signs of evolution angry young men have offered in recent years.

I am a little bit insecure, a little unconfident
'Cause you don't understand
I do what I can, sometimes I don't make sense
I am what you never wanna say
But I've never had a doubt
It's like no matter what I do
I can't convince you for once just to hear me out


12. The B-52's, "Love Shack"

September 16 - October 7, 1989

Despite my raised-in-the-'80s bias, I can see how Rocks beats Pump and why Every Picture Tells A Story smokes Out Of Order. And yet I prefer Cosmic Thing to The B-52's. As much as I can appreciate the naive-surf drive of Ricky Wilson, their 1989 breakthrough is a more varied, and more consistent pop hook waterfall. Less unique, perhaps, but it's not like anything featuring Fred Schneider could sound commonplace. "Love Shack," the primest of examples, is one of those fucking amazing songs that almost sacrifices any chance of being called fucking amazing because everybody on earth knows it. Like "YMCA" and "Louie Louie," it sells illicit hedonism to small children and geriatrics alike by presenting it at its most benignly infectious.

I got me a car, it's as big as a whale
and we're headin' on down to the Love Shack!
I got me a Chrysler, it seats about twenty
So hurry up and bring your jukebox money!


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