ItsNotYouItsMe Blog: ItsNotYouItsMe Throwback The 69 Best Alternative Rock Songs of 1999!!!

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

ItsNotYouItsMe Throwback The 69 Best Alternative Rock Songs of 1999!!!

ItsNotYouItsMe Throwback thee 69 best alternative rock songs of 1999!

"1999 essentially marked the end of the alternative dream floated by punk bands in the ’80s, sold by record companies in the ’90s, and eventually rebooted in the Garden State ’00s.

Five years earlier, alternative-minded Gen-Xers made Woodstock ’94 their own by throwing mud (Green Day) or wearing mud (Nine Inch Nails). Woodstock ’99 was, in turn, its Altamont, marked by sexual assaults, wanton destruction, macho aggro-rock and greed. Lollapalooza was benched for a second summer. The focused anger of Rage Against the Machine birthed the unfocused anger of nü–metal. Grunge had been watered down to something unidentifiable. The electronica boom had performed nicely but hopes of faceless knob-jockeys being the next Nirvana in America had long been dashed. Moby released Play, which would be licensed all over—a move that was criticized at the time but would ultimately prove to be the new normal. Napster began the internet’s two-decade quest to explode genre entirely. Boomer icons like Santana, and covers of classic rock nuggets like “Another Brick in the Wall” and “American Woman,” were appearing on the Modern Rock chart. What was alternative or modern about Buckcherry? Why was Axl Rose on the cover of SPIN? Even Pavement broke up.

If alternative rock is going to be indistinguishable from regular rock, you might as well learn to love it like a pop fan. Here are the best 69 songs that charted in the Modern Rock Top 40 in 1999, running the gamut from “brilliant” to “actually enjoyable” to “this website is clearly staffed by millennials.”

69. Lenny Kravitz – “American Woman”
Lenny Kravitz’s cover of the Guess Who’s iconic 1970 single “American Woman” is glossy, big and fun—more reflective of how people remember the ’60s and ’70s than how they actually were. Kravitz’s edition was tied to the Austin Powers sequel The Spy Who Shagged Me, complete with a video featuring the film’s co-star Heather Graham. Its easy to get on Kravitz’ case for gesturing at a sort of idealized, empty vision of classic rock, but his charm and ability to craft a stylish, enigmatic pop record is impressive. Sometimes being fun is enough. — ISRAEL DARAMOLA

68. Everlast – “Ends”
“Ends,” the second single from Everlast’s debut solo album Whitey Ford Sings the Blues, is transparently a second-rate replica of the former House of Pain member’s own “What It’s Like,” the first single from that album and the one Everlast song that everyone knows. In both songs, Everlast sketches a catalog of down-and-out characters, sing-rapping about their travails over plodding acoustic guitar. “What It’s Like” was a plea for empathy for its pregnant teens and alcoholic beggars, and “Ends” begins that way too. But it soon devolves into finger-wagging, framing each character’s downfall as the result of their own avarice or hedonism. In the second verse, Everlast indulges in the misogynistic cliche of a woman who uses sex to fund a flashy lifestyle she can’t otherwise afford: “Shopping sprees get her on her knees… if you’re broke she’ll spit, and if you’re rich she might swallow.” By the third, he can’t even be bothered to come up with a satisfactory ending for his “two homeboys who made a lot of noise,” announcing abruptly after eight bars that “one disappeared and one got robbed.” The chorus is all about the various nasty things people will do “for the ends,” with a little twist in its last line. “So before we go any further,” he sings, “I want my ends.” Maybe that’s the one good thing you can say about “Ends”: for a few brief moments, Everlast recognizes that he’s no better than the people he’s singing about. — ANDY CUSH

67. Smash Mouth – “All Star”
The second hit single from a band who seemed destined to be one-hit wonders, “All Star” exploded in 1999, peaking at No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was originally conceived when the label sent the band back to the drawing board when they didn’t hear a single off second LP Astro Lounge. “One night I sat Greg [Camp, guitarist] down, opened up a Billboard magazine, and said, ‘Dude, let’s just go through this. I want a little piece of each one of these songs.'” The band’s manager, Robert Hayes, told Rolling Stone in a recent oral history. “The Top 50, at this time, was Smash Mouth, Sugar Ray, Third Eye Blind, Vertical Horizon, Barenaked Ladies, Marcy Playground, Chumbawamba. He left, and two days later he walks into my office with a cassette tape.” “All Star,” famously, was propelled to another level of omnipresence by the success – and eventual meme-ification of – 2001’s animated ogre biography Shrek. It has since gone on to have a life of its own, transforming, as few songs do, into its own kind of cultural artifact. — TAYLOR BERMAN

66. Ben Folds Five – “Army”
In his commercial glory days, Ben Folds’ potty mouth and irreverent whine distinguished him from the baby boomers’ unfashionable piano men—this was our edgy ivory tickler, who sang about punk rock, getting wasted and being totally pissed at ex-girlfriends! However, when Folds lapses into raconteur mode, pounds a baby grand and sings from the perspective of a slacker bitching about joining the army it does veer a little close to Billy Joel’s “Captain Jack.” “Army,” with its modernistic chord changes and ragtime dream sequence, is Ben Folds’ most musically ambitious single—the ethos is prog as much as anything—and also one of his best. — WINSTON COOK-WILSON

65. Taxiride – “Get Set”
One of the year’s most uncontroversial, prettily harmonized, Savage Garden-y, shamelessly Beatlesesque hits—right down to an extended, gratuitous sitar intro. The edgiest these Australian rockers get on “Get Set” is a mumbled verse, or perhaps its spot soundtracking nihilistic Tammy from Election. “Get Set” sets a very specific aim, to be genial, and at that it succeeds. — KATHERINE ST. ASAPH

64. The Living End – “Prisoner of Society”
Australia’s the Living End were clean, pretty, and professional punks. “Prisoner of Society” snuck a bit of rebellion (however clean, pretty, and professional) into a radio chart dominated by Dudes With Shitty Attitudes. Their debut single has more fist pumping hooks per minute than should be allowed. — SEAN MALONEY

63. Marvelous 3 – “Freak of the Week”
The members of this Atlanta power-pop band had been around rock’s block by the late ’90s, with stints in bands of varying renown, including Headbangers’ Ball C-listers Southgang. Marvelous 3 kept that band’s sheeny, anthemic choruses intact, adding chunky riffs and low-slung grooves as well as, in this particular case, a bridge that had the oh-so-’90s one-two punch of distorted vocals jokingly singing about sellouts. “You’d have to be a Nazi not to like it,” frontman Butch Walker joked when SPIN asked him to describe the song’s appeal in 1999. — MAURA JOHNSTON

62. Sevendust – “Denial”
After the 21 months of touring and the slow-building success of their 1997 debut LP, Sevendust rushed out their second record, Home—yielding “some songs that will never get played again,” as they told CMJ New Music Monthly. But Home also spawned what may be the band’s signature hit, the churning, soaring “Denial,” a pure charge of Korn-gone-Stevie-Wonder adrenaline in an era where their peers were getting by with disco-metal or Eighties covers. “Denial,” the band told MTV News, is based on an argument that guitarist Clint Lowery recorded at a show. Many of its lyrics come straight from the tape. — CHRISTOPHER R. WEINGARTEN

61. Our Lady Peace – “One Man Army”
Toronto quartet Our Lady Peace were narrowly edged out by Barenaked Ladies as the biggest Canadian band to cross over to the American alt-rock scene in the ’90s. At the end of the decade, they faced the challenge of following up their most successful album, 1997’s Clumsy. The song they chose to come back with, “One Man Army,” had a rubbery bass-driven groove and a nasal, high-pitched vocal that would do fellow Canadian Geddy Lee proud. “The chorus was kind of like this weird anti-chorus,” frontman Raine Maida told Asbury Park Press in 1999. “We really fought for that song to be the first single because of that.” While it wasn’t one of their biggest hits, the gutsy single choice gave the band one of its signature songs, befitting the lyric’s call to maintain your individuality. — AL SHIPLEY

60. Harvey Danger – “Save It for Later”
The 1982 hit “Save It For Later” by second wave ska innovators the Beat (or the English Beat as they were known on this side of the pond) is one of the greatest alt-rock songs ever written, covered by the likes of Pete Townsend, Pearl Jam, and Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs. Harvey Danger of “Flagpole Sitta” fame scored a minor hit with a string-heavy version of the introspective classic, which the band recorded for the quintessentially late-’90s ensemble flick 200 Cigarettes. — MAGGIE SEROTA

59. Shootyz Groove – “L Train”
Shootyz Groove were a sticker band: Go to enough record stores, all ages venues, or skateparks, and you could spot their tribal wildstyle logo from a hundred yards. It was an underground ad campaign, a trail of evidence proving that SG were one of the hardest working bands to emerge from the early-’90s NYC underground. By 1999 these ambitious aggro-fusionists had gone from DIY band to major label act to indie act and back again and, like many of their peers, they were wrestling with pop vibes and corporate expectations. Those pressures certainly polished the edges off their sound, but left us with this chart-anchoring earworm, a love letter to pre-avocado-toast Brooklyn. — SEAN MALONEY

58. Filter – “Welcome to the Fold”
“You think you’re precious / and I think you’re shit.” Fair enough, Richard Patrick! After the success of the Nine Inch Nails alum’s first album, Patrick’s Filter moved beyond being the type of band that was perfect for projects like the Spawn and The Crow: City of Angels soundtracks. The debut single from their sophomore album Title of Record split the difference between TRL-friendly nü-metal and the less-compromising work of former mentor Trent Reznor. The key to its modest charm is the dichotomy between the soaring chorus melodies and the strangled screams of the verse. Title of Record’s second single, about Patrick blacking out on an airplane, would make Filter known far beyond the sphere of alternative rock radio the following year. But it was “Welcome to the Fold” that set the course toward bigger things. — WINSTON COOK-WILSON

57. Smash Mouth – “Then the Morning Comes”
The third single from Smash Mouth’s smash Astro Lounge was a shimmying cocktail-rock about the tour grind. “Well, the first thing you hear is an alarm clock, then it’s like Groundhog Day,” guitarist Greg Camp told SongFacts. “You open the door to your bus and you walk out into the club or an arena or whatever it was, and try to figure out where you are and what you did the night before and with who. So that’s what that song is, just sort of a circus feel.” — CHRISTOPHER R. WEINGARTEN

56. Semisonic – “Secret Smile”
The Minneapolis band’s warm and buttery third hit single is nearly forgotten in the states, lingering in the shadow of “Singing in My Sleep” and the indelible “Closing Time.” “Secret Smile” supposedly came to lead singer Dan Wilson in a dream. The song—a UK juggernaut—is probably about what it seems to be about: a dodgy, self-pitying sort of bloke in need of validation from an absent lover. With a different beat and more soulful vocal melisma, it could have been Jamiroquai’s handiwork. — WINSTON COOK-WILSON

55. Godsmack – “Whatever”
As Seattle grunge spread across the country throughout the ’90s, it reached decade’s end in a somewhat different place, both geographically and spiritually. A quartet of Massholes from a suburb of Boston, Godsmack named themselves after one of the bleakest Alice in Chains album tracks about heroin, but wrote macho songs about whiskey. Still, their debut single “Whatever” was an irresistible hard rock jock jam with screeching guitars and vocalist Sully Erna bellowing “go away!” As guitarist Tony Rombola told Loudwire last year, the lyric was, “Sully’s answer to his girlfriend when we were going through the whole struggle between rehearsing five nights a week, and trying to keep a relationship going at the same time.” — AL SHIPLEY

54. Jimmie’s Chicken Shack – “Do Right”
Alt-rock also-rans Jimmie’s Chicken Shack of Annapolis, Maryland, started off by making vaguely antisocial funk-metal in the vein of early Incubus, before shifting to the more affable slacker-party-guy vibe on their second album. “Do Right,” their lone brush with radio airplay, is a charming sing-along about disappointing your loved ones—leader Jimi Haha wrote it about his then-girlfriend years before it was recorded for Bring Your Own Stereo—and the auditory equivalent of a lager with a lime shoved in it. In the Annapolis area, “Do Right” has had an extended life at backyard parties, and as a go-to cover for the sort of bands whose lead singers wear shorts and play Ovation acoustic guitars. For everyone else, it probably passed through your life briefly and unmemorably, but not unpleasantly. There are worse things in the world than Corona Light. — ANDY CUSH

53. Buckcherry – “Lit Up”
By the time 1999 lurched around, grunge had started to curdle into its sullen post-peak form. But the Los Angeles cock-rock revisionists Buckcherry took off in the other direction with their debut single, a riff-heavy paean to getting utterly trashed off yayo (“I love the cocaine, I love the cocaine,” its swaggering—and extremely bleepable—chorus went). “It’s not a song that’s telling people to do a lot of cocaine,” frontman Josh Todd informed SPIN in 1999. “It’s just a song about getting loaded, you know?” — MAURA JOHNSTON

52. Citizen King – “Better Days (And The Bottom Drops Out)”
This Milwaukee, Wisconsin, crew were consistently misidentified on file-sharing services as “Sublime” thanks to their dusty hip-hop drums, breezy acoustic guitars, dancehall-inflected delivery, and the distinct sense that the singer had a bottle opener on the sole of his flip-flop. The song was inspired by leader Matt Sims’ days working at a dollar store. “I decided music had to be all or nothing,” he told Billboard. “Not much has changed though. I’m still pinching pennies.” — ANDY CUSH

51. Bare Jr. – “You Blew Me Off”
“You Blew Me Off,” a bubble-grunge sorta-hit about conflicted hetero sexiness, made a minor impact on the charts but major impact on its hometown. The song is a sort-of-blueprint for the hook-heavy garage rock that would elevate Nashville’s underground scene to an international concern in the 21st Century, all shouty chorus and flailing fuzz. Bandleader Bobby Bare Jr., son of country star Bobby Bare, would mentor dozens of musicians over the years, including folks in the liner notes of your favorite new country acts, eventually joining Guided By Voices. Guitarist Mike Grimes would start Grimey’s New & Pre-Loved Music, one of America’s best record shops. The twang-scream “You Blew Me Off” stands as a reminder that Southern Rock was under-appreciated during the Clinton era. — SEAN MALONEY

50. Joydrop – “Beautiful”
This rollicking commentary on beauty and the jealousy from Canadian alt-rockers Joydrop is a clever record of the sort you might expect from a band that named their album Metasexual. “As a woman, I think the song gives a message that we can identify with pretty easily,” Joydrop singer Tara Slone told MTV News. “We’re so socialized to all of this beauty stuff – with all of the magazines and television. I think it’s empowering for women to hear another woman say that it’s OK to be who you are. It’s a subject I feel strongly about.” — ISRAEL DARAMOLA

49. R.E.M. – “Lotus”
After longtime drummer Bill Berry left R.E.M. in 1997, the band started working with keyboards, drum machines, and an occasional session drummer, continuing their departure from the career-defining jangle-rock of Document and Out of Time. Up’s second single, “Lotus,” is about as safe and straightforward as it gets for R.E.M. during their Nineties run. Over a steady pulse of Rhodes chords, Michael Stipe sings about a psychedelic comedown, freely associating about “crowbar spines.” Even in the context of an otherwise eccentric album, the track pales in comparison to the narrative aspects of the bigger hit “Daysleeper.” If anything, “Lotus” is a snapshot of one of the biggest bands in the world at a time when they were still willing to experiment. — ROB ARCAND

48. Static-X – “Push It”
By 1999, nü-metal had pushed alternative into heavier, darker depths, offering commercial opportunities for hard rock bands who’d been kicking around with little recognition during alt’s sunnier summers. Distinctively coiffed singer/guitarist Wayne Static formed this L.A. industrial-pop group after his band Deep Blue Dream broke up—his bandmate, Billy Corgan, had decided to pursue more lucrative musical options. On Wisconsin Death Trip, Static was more of a gonzo goofball than most of the aggro emoters storming modern rock, and the band’s stripped down pummeling made “Push It” a natural fit for video game soundtracks. Its chorus offered as pure a distillation of rock’s covetous id as you could ask: “I see it, I need it.” Sadly, Static died in 2014, but the band’s soldiering on with a 20th anniversary tour for their breakthrough album. — KEITH HARRIS

47. Bush – “The Chemicals Between Us”
Gavin Rossdale had a talent for arriving late to the party: Flowing locks, hair metal balladry, whiskery Cobain timbre, Steve Albini—the Bush singer-songwriter acted as if he could drink everyone else’s beers, not caring that he didn’t bring any. Realizing that everyone from Madonna to Smashing Pumpkins had started programming their beats and calling the results “electronic,” Rossdale and crew released The Science of Things in 1999, a critically panned, commercially underperforming record that didn’t even sound as fresh as David Bowie’s two-year-old drum’n’bass record. However Science did boast a decent ringer in “The Chemicals Between Us,” a Garbage-style grungetronica anthem. A nifty chord change announces the part where he quotes T.S. Eliot. — ALFRED SOTO

46. Limp Bizkit – “Re-arranged”
“Re-Arranged,” Limp Bizkit’s only No. 1 on the Modern Rock chart, was the perfect slithering, brooding follow-up to the tantrum that was “Nookie.” The same ex-girlfriend that inspired that song was still Durst’s muse. “We broke up, like, two years ago,” Fred Durst told Spin in 1999. “But I’m hurt, and I kind of can’t get over it.” The video was a bit more playful, with the band on trial for inciting riots, a nod to their role in the Woodstock ’99 debacle. Matt Pinfield, in the greatest music video cameo of the MTV vet’s career, plays the judge who sentences the band to death by drowning in milk, for some reason. — AL SHIPLEY

45. Train – “Meet Virginia”
“Meet Virginia” does not have the effortless intergalactic liftoff of “Drops of Jupiter (Tell Me),” which would leave its indelible mark on our culture a few years later, nor does it quite betray how remarkably annoying this band would become a decade into its existence circa “Hey Soul Sister.” Instead, it’s mostly a signpost marking alt-rock’s journey from grunge to adult contemporary. Singer Pat Monahan, whose voice evokes the specific feeling of being on hold, sings about a bewitching rebel girl with messy hair, his voice straining to break free from the chorus’ sludgy guitars. It’s a nice enough tune, but even without the benefit of hindsight, you get the sense that the launch sequence is still only in its planning stages. — JORDAN SARGENT

44. Third Eye Blind – “Anything”
A string of singles kept the San Francisco quartet’s eponymous debut on the charts well into 1999. A better-than-average ear for hooks and singer Stephan Jenkins’ gentle sneer distinguished Third Eye Blind from the competition. “Anything,” the first single from followup Blue, was a tease: four seconds of acoustic love-buzzed twaddle (“Anything for you / Turn my castles blue”) before launching into a 1:56 of sun-blasted Cali punk, Go-Go’s style. — ALFRED SOTO

43. Khaleel – “No Mercy”
New York City native Bob Khaleel, a.k.a. Bronx Style Bob, was a breakdancer and fixture in the ’80s downtown NYC art and club scenes before he collaborated with the likes of Ice T, Afrika Bambaataa, and Grandmaster Melle Mel. After years of touring the world in various hip-hop groups, funk bands, and breakdancing crews, he tried his hand at writing radio-friendly pop songs, and scored a hit with “No Mercy,” a dreamy, steel drum-heavy, sadly prescient meditation about a world on the precipice of an environmental disaster. — MAGGIE SEROTA

42. Lit – “Zip-Lock”
Lit were SoCal anti-heroes whose sawtooth hair defied gravity, who enjoyed jumping three feet into the air to windmill their guitars when their choruses hit. Dressed like dirtbag show-offs haunting your local bowling alley, they were always the coolest guys at MTV Spring Break. “Zip-Lock” was the connective tissue between breakthrough pop single “My Own Worst Enemy” and 2000’s “Miserable,” which gained traction with its stuttering wordplay and a video featuring the band as Incredible Shrinking Men traipsing all over giantess Pam Anderson. It was the year of Blink-182, and in an expert cross-branding exercise, Lit featured them in the video for “Zip-Lock”—a song that Mark, Tom and Travis could easily have recorded themselves. — WINSTON COOK-WILSON

41. Chris Cornell – “Can’t Change Me”
The late Chris Cornell’s remarkable career included fronting three platinum bands, recording a handful of classic soundtrack cuts, and performing plenty of scene-stealing guest vocal turns. Yet his four solo albums remain the most unsung part of his career. Even Euphoria Morning, the debut he released in 1999 during the gap between Soundgarden’s breakup and Audioslave’s formation, got a relatively muted response from the public. That might be due to the Beatlesque vibe of the lead single “Can’t Change Me,” which Cornell told SPIN in 1999 was “a conscious decision to break with the Soundgarden sound.” Still, the chorus “She’s going to change the world/But she can’t change me” is a very Nineties battle cry of a romantic slacker who knows he’s going to let down a woman he doesn’t deserve. — AL SHIPLEY

40. Luscious Jackson – “Ladyfingers”
By 1999, Beastie Boys offshoot Luscious Jackson had shed keyboardist Vivian Trimble and released their album Electric Honey as a trio before quietly disbanding in 2000. The band, known for their hypnotic basslines, entrancing harmonies, and hip-hop beats, struggled to find a lasting place in the broad musical landscape that, by decade’s end, consisted of boy bands, pop stars and nü-metal acts with questionable chin braids. Luscious Jackson’s last hurrah was “Ladyfingers,” Electric Honey’s seductive, understated lead single, which carved out a prominent place in VH1’s rotation and was featured in a Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode—a high honor for any ’90s band. — MAGGIE SEROTA

39. Fountains of Wayne – “Denise”
On “Denise,” Fountains of Wayne rhyme “Liberty Travel” with “heart made of gravel,” pausing mid-line as if to remark at the sheer cleverness of the writing. That is the litmus test for “Denise,” or really Fountains of Wayne in general, and maybe power-pop as a whole: Does such a songwriting trick capture your heart? Or fill it with stone so leaden one wishes it were just gravel? That line is also, as the band admitted, pretty much the reason “Denise” was written. But the rest is no-brainer stuff: a gushing homage to ’80s power-pop and women with offbeat quirks (here, a lavender Lexus, which, of course, rhymes with “Texas”). The band would refine this dynamic further with “Stacy’s Mom” a few years later. — KATHERINE ST. ASAPH

38. 311 – “Come Original”
“Come Original” marks the moment when the cool kids stopped caring about 311 and 311 stopped caring about the cool kids. After a decade of grinding it out as your favorite skater’s favorite rap-rock band, 311’s fifth album, Soundsystem, traded slam dancing for noodle dancing and never looked back. Now, 20 years after 311 jumped the S.S. Alt Rock for Hippy Island, they are elder statesmen of their own reggae-rock subculture and one of the only bands on this list that managed to age gracefully. — SEAN MALONEY

37. Beth Orton – “Stolen Car”
Beth Orton’s career is a bit of an anomaly. After breaking out as a vocalist with the Chemical Brothers and William Orbit, she carved out a vaguely folk, downtempo, and alt-rock niche that never totally resembled her singer-songwriter peers, whether poppy fare or Lilith Fair. But Beth Orton definitely didn’t resemble the sweatier, bro-ier stuff on the Modern Rock charts that “Stolen Car” cracked. Why is this here alongside the Bizkits and Bawitdabas? Even Orton was bemused, as she told Billboard: “[Ben Harper’s part] is a nice piece of guitar, and Americans love guitar, right?” It is a nice piece of guitar, processed and fuzzed to sound uncannily like a cello even during its solo; it lends its own kind of rock heft to an otherwise placid folk track, going big by getting wistful. And Orton’s line, while precisely observed—”it’s little things like this that matter to me,” is the opposite of 75% of this list—has plenty of its own forward momentum and internal percussion. — KATHERINE ST. ASAPH

36. Pearl Jam – “Last Kiss”
A band whose quixotic impulses endeared them to fans, Pearl Jam was, by 1999, nevertheless shedding the mass audience that had made Ten the best-selling rock album of the Cobain Era. A quickie Wayne Cochran cover recorded for a Kosovar refugee benefit album became their first—and only —Top 5 hit. “You can try album after album to write a hit and spend months getting drum sounds and rewriting lyrics,” guitarist Stone Gossard told The Boston Globe, “or you can go to a used record store and pick out a single and fall in love with it.” Like Bruce Springsteen recording “Dancing in the Dark” out of pique – a hit that also peaked at #2 – Pearl Jam were convincing under pressure. When Eddie Vedder wonders, “Where, oh, where, can my baby be?” it trembles with an adolescent yearning that’s the match of Backstreet Boys’ “I Want It That Way,” also a hit that summer. — ALFRED SOTO

35. No Doubt – “New”
Return of Saturn, the album No Doubt would eventually release in 2000, was their final before becoming a fully-fledged pop act, and it presents a band still deeply rooted in ska and punk despite their obvious mainstream sensibilities and ambition. “New,” which came out the year prior on the soundtrack of the Doug Limon film Go, was produced by The Talking Heads’ Jerry Harrison, and is a raw but satisfying pop-punk number led by sawtoothed riffs and garbage can snares. At the center is a yearning Gwen Stefani, begging to be able savor to savor the taste of something new. Here, she is singing about a boy, of course, but two years later came “Hey Baby,” the delectable synth-heavy chart smash that made pop too irresistible for No Doubt. — JORDAN SARGENT

34. Powerman 5000 – “When Worlds Collide”
Michael Cummings is Rob Zombie’s younger brother—and he sounds like it. As frontman of the industrial-metal band Powerman 5000, he too has a silly-awesome stage name—Spider One—and a thing for the sound of sleazy hard rock riffs rubbing up against slick dancefloor drums. Putting aside any notions you may have about ’90s hairstyles and squelchy synths, “When Worlds Collide,” by far P5k’s biggest hit, holds up. The band finds a sweet spot between headbanging and hip-shaking, and Spider is a campy and charismatic presence. — ANDY CUSH

33. Marilyn Manson – “I Don’t Like the Drugs (But the Drugs Like Me)”
Marilyn Manson’s Mechanical Animals, his Bowie-esque glam-rock space-opera concept album, gets its version of the Thin White Duke’s funky “Fame.” This strutting, chicken-scratching tune also features a guitar solo from Dave Navarro and Young Americans-style soul-singer backing vocals. “We wanted to do a song that captured that era: that ’70s disco rock cocaine music, with Bowie and the Stones,” guitarist Twiggy Ramirez told Guitar World. “When all the rock bands went disco. Aerosmith did it. Kiss’ Dynasty. It was a weird era of Studio 54, cocaine, “boogie nights” and rock music turning disco that I remember growing up in.” — WINSTON COOK-WILSON

32. Nine Inch Nails – “Starfuckers Inc.”
True to its title, the fourth single from The Fragile is an anthem of undisguised contempt for the rich and famous and their various hangers-on. In our era of treacly celebrity worship and everyone loving everyone, its sentiment feels distinctly of another era, in ways both good and bad. (The literal personification of a starfucker as a “whore” who will “suck you off [and] not a drop will go to waste,” and the patently insane grunted “ASS KISSER!” ad lib before the second chorus, fall solidly in the latter category.) The verses are full of jungle breakbeats and IDM vocal chops, the instrumental breaks are all searing noise, the chorus is a power-chord punk shout-along, and the bridge, out of nowhere, offers a brief ambient-electro interpolation of a Carly Simon song. If the lyrics to “Starfuckers Inc.” are a touch old-fashioned and obvious, the music still sounds like an unpredictable future. — ANDY CUSH

31. The Cranberries – “Promises”
The Cranberries first performed this raucous guitar-driven jaunt at the 1998 Nobel Peace Prize Concert in Oslo, before it was eventually released as the lead single for the band’s underappreciated 1999 album Bury the Hatchet. A straightforward and angry rock song about the dissolution of a marriage, “Promises” lets the late great vocalist Dolores O’Riordan show off her incredible range and power. — MAGGIE SEROTA

30. Sugar Ray – “Someday”
After “Fly” became an unexpected hit, Sugar Ray wanted everyone to know that they didn’t care if you thought they were cool. “We know what we’re doing,” frontman Mark McGrath told OC Weekly in 1998. “We’ll pull out our Sebadoh records if you want us to. We’ll talk indie, but it doesn’t interest us.” The title of their subsequent album, 14:59, joked that the band was past its sell-by date. But there’s nothing defensive or ironic about this beachy number, which rolls along on a sunny acoustic guitar part as McGrath muses wistfully about the future. — KEITH HARRIS

29. Kid Rock – “Cowboy”
On the song that established “country rap” as a pop-viable signifier with baggage, Robert Ritchie concocted a gun-slinging alcoholic pimp character “straight out the trailer” who hates sheriffs, cusses like a sailor, and drives his truck from Detroit to California to start an escort service on the Four Seasons roof and purchase a yacht with a flag reading “chillin the most.” The absurdity is hip-hop, if nothing else. And now Kid Rock supports Donald Trump. — TOSTEN BURKS

28. Counting Crows – “Hanginaround”
Whether or not it was intentional, “Hanginaround” made stasis sound pretty chill. Sunny looped piano, shakers, tambourines, handclaps, and diet Beach Boy harmonies lent Adam Duritz’s sofa malaise all the anxiety of a barbecue—at which, in the right company, it still holds up. Duritz said the song was about “thinking I had not future, wondering what the hell was going to happen” during his stoned mid-20s. The earnest pop arrangement offered burnouts hope. — TOSTEN BURKS

27. Moby – “Bodyrock”
“‘Bodyrock’ was the song both of my managers tried to get me to take off the record,” Moby told Rolling Stone in 2009. “They thought it was really tacky.” “Bodyrock” is indeed a splendid tackiness, released in the era when moms nodded along to Fatboy Slim. But in the spirit of his Mission of Burma cover three years earlier, “Bodyrock” upset expectations about what exactly constitutes a “Moby track” anyway, banging along like a Big Beat song with samples of Spoonie Gee and the Treacherous Three. Play and Moby would earn their reputation for bluestronica tracks like “Natural Blues,” and “Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad?” eventually getting the LP to double platinum certification. But “Bodyrock” is a great anomaly, and the highest charting Play track on the U.S. Dance charts. — ALFRED SOTO

26. Creed – “Higher”
Creed’s breakthrough single spent a whopping 57 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 and practically changed the course of rock radio in its wake—a “Smells Like Teen Spirit” for an era loosened from underground didacticism. The song refashioned everything cool about ’90s flannel-and-Docs counterculture into a husky, full-throated appeal to the transcendent power of rocking out, as frontman Scott Stapp sang about golden streets and Earthly sacrifice. In their 2000 SPIN cover story, Stapp explained the song is about lucid dreaming: “You’re physically asleep, but you’re awake in your mind.” After teaching himself how to lucid dream and writing the song, Stapp said he rid himself of a reoccurring nightmare. — ROB ARCAND

25. The Offspring – “The Kids Aren’t Alright”
Following the success of “Pretty Fly (for a White Guy)” and “Why Don’t You Get a Job,” the first two singles The Offspring’s 1998 album Americana, “The Kids Aren’t Alright” felt like a much smaller song at the time. But while the gimmicky nature of those first two tracks – the Beatles-aping of “Job”; the cringeworthy lyrics of “Pretty Fly” – may have had more initial appeal, “The Kids Aren’t Alright” has grown into one of the band’s biggest songs, with current day streaming and YouTube numbers topping any of their other ’90s hits. It’s easy to see why: The familiar driving punk vibes and hopeless lyrics evoke feelings of adolescence that are more timeless. — TAYLOR BERMAN

24. Goo Goo Dolls – “Black Balloon”
Buffalo’s finest had quite the run in the mid- to late-’90s. Starting with 1995’s “Name” and peaking with the inescapable “Iris” from the City of Angels soundtrack, Johnny Rzeznik and Co. had nine songs hit the Modern Rock charts between 1995 and 2000. The fourth single from 1998’s Dizzy Up the Girl, “Black Balloon” appeared near the end of the streak. Rzenik’s ode to a romance doomed by heroin addiction is classic Goo: somber, over-produced and saccharine half-nonsense that’s also remarkably catchy. — TAYLOR BERMAN

23. Everclear – “One Hit Wonder”
By the time they released this single, Art Alexakis’ post-grunge trio had dodged the dismissive pop tag the title refers to: Their third album, So Much for the Afterglow, alone had already birthed three modern rock hits. The Everclear frontman was characteristically acerbic about his industry-skewering song. “They said, ‘Don’t do that, that’s bad luck,” is how Alexakis summed it up to SPIN in 2017. “This song is kind of a ‘fuck you,’ so a ‘fuck you’ is always kind of bad luck. But sometimes you’ve just gotta live with it and go with it.” And, yep, that’s a young Christina Hendricks in the video. — KEITH HARRIS

22. Limp Bizkit – “Nookie”
Misogynist, unsubtle, ridiculous, and completely unforgettable, “Nookie” will forever be the “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” of nü-metal. The lyrics—leader Fred Durst raging about being under the spell of a cheating girlfriend—apparently come from real life. The slick beat, however, came from a jam session: DJ Lethal had a groove that guitarist Wes Borland told SongFacts was “sampled off of an Italian porn movie from the ’70s or something,” and the title came before the lyrics. — CHRISTOPHER R. WEINGARTEN

21. Live – “The Dolphin’s Cry”
This indisputably ridiculous power ballad imagines love as some sort of airborne hallucinogen, emanating outward from a woman’s “rose garden of trust” and working on singer Ed Kowalczyk’s senses until he hears marine mammals weeping and sees roads hovering in the middle distance. He moves from the bedroom in the second verse (“You wrap your legs around me / All I can do to try and breathe”) to the geopolitical stage in the bridge, observing as, “This phoenix rises up from the ground / And all these wars are over.” Unbelievably, his dumb-man’s-Leonard-Cohen schtick kinda works, thanks to Kowalczyk’s messianic devotion to his own blather. With a little suspension of disbelief, you may find yourself convinced that getting laid is the key to achieving world peace. — ANDY CUSH

20. Santana feat. Rob Thomas – “Smooth”
The crown jewel of Frankenstein celebrity collabs, “Smooth” absolutely should not have worked out, but went on to break records: As a standalone single, the pairing of Rob Thomas and Santana has charted higher than any Madonna, Michael Jackson or Beatles song, officially becoming the second biggest single of all time. Something about its outright shamelessness has endured in the face of changing trends. From Santana’s over-the-top guitar to Thomas’ egregious attempt at sex appeal, it’s just about the furthest thing from a subtle earworm—though its lyrics about falling in love in the summer heat are surprisingly complex. Santana recently recalled to Rolling Stone, “They said, ‘Why don’t you guys go to the studio and record it at the same time?’ As soon we went to the studio and I heard this sound, it was like, ‘Oh, my God, this is on a whole other level of trueness.’ It sounded true, all the way through. I knew this was very different.” — ROB ARCAND

19. Nine Inch Nails – “We’re In This Together”
Trent Reznor said that, originally, this triumphant churner was out of place for his ambitious, moody, 103-minute concept opus The Fragile. “I didn’t want a song that was too obviously the hit single,” he told German music channel Viva Zwei. “[T]he vocal track I would have thrown out that was out of tune and my voice was breaking up was the one that I needed to use, because it added a desperation that made the whole mood of the song feel right.” Though the anthemic chorus borders on “hit single,” the song still grinds with crunchy noise, whining guitars and a trash-can-sounding snare drum. — CHRISTOPHER R. WEINGARTEN

18. Beastie Boys – “Alive”
At a time when rap-rock was growing in popularity and proving to be extremely divisive, there were few artists who effectively melded the two genres as well as the Beastie Boys. While it’s not as flashy or seminal as singles like “Intergalactic” or “Sabotage,” the understated majesty of “Alive,” from their two-CD anthology, showcases the consistent brilliance of the crew as talented MCs, feeding off each other like they share one brain. Its also a record that makes sure to announce just how much they actually pioneered the idea of bringing rap and rock together: “Created a monster with these rhymes I write/Goatee metal rap, please say goodnight,” Ad-Rock spits. With great power comes great responsibility. — ISRAEL DARAMOLA

17. Lo Fidelity Allstars ft. Pigeonhed – “Battleflag”
After the Seattle punk-funk duo Pigeonhed, made up of producer Steve Fisk and vocalist Shawn Smith, released 1996’s The Full Sentence, their A&R rep masterminded the remix album Flash Bulb Emergency Overflow Cavalcade of Remixes, which contained the self-proclaimed “punk-paste” outfit Lo-Fidelity All Stars’ strobe-lit reworking of basement-show roof-raiser “Battleflag.” Its heavy grooves, casually violent video and Smith’s manic-preacher vocal helped propel it to No. 6 on the Modern Rock chart. And it all happened virtually: “I’ve never met the Lo-Fidelity All Stars,” Fisk said in a 2014 interview where he described the song’s genesis. “They tried to sue us for the publishing when the song became a hit. … It’s a very, very interesting situation where they tried to launch their career based on the remix. Of course, they didn’t have Shawn Smith in the band, so they needed a vinyl of his vocals, and went around the country doing the remix with Shawn off of a disc. I respect the old-school technology, but … they’re kind of sleazy.” He added, “I’m very happy that the song did that well, and I wish it didn’t have to be acrimonious.” — MAURA JOHNSTON

16. Sugar Ray – “Every Morning”
Perhaps no band on this list screams 1999 quite like Sugar Ray, an act fronted by a hot guy with a goatee and frosted tips who basked in the smooth breeze of jangly acoustic guitars and canned DJ scratches. Their music’s Clinton-era optimism is most apparent in “Every Morning,” where Mark McGrath sings about having his heart ripped out despite sounding like he’s also having a nice afternoon riding a skateboard. Of the band’s iconic singles, this one is the saddest, but it also might be their most audacious. The catchiest parts of the song are the verses, while the chorus features a long wordless exhale, with disembodied voices floating in and out of the mix. If the whole song’s a hook why bother writing one, I guess. — JORDAN SARGENT

15. Blink-182 – “What’s My Age Again?”
“What’s My Age Again?” is a song about Mark Hoppus being a piece of shit and living in fear that society won’t let him be a piece of shit forever. After declining sex from his girlfriend so he can watch TV and then later prank calling her mom, he’s left single and pleading, though only half-heartedly: “No one should take themselves so seriously / with many years to fall in line,” he sings, “Why would you wish that on me?” Alas for Hoppus, this death-grip on immaturity is belied by he and his band’s insanely good songwriting, which pairs this tantrum to an arrangement that shifts back-and-forth from gentle shimmer to pop-punk snicker as smoothly as the sports cars they surely ended up driving after Enema of the State went five times platinum. — JORDAN SARGENT

14. Korn – “Freak on a Leash”
Korn’s whiny guitar line, life “always be messing with me” grievances, and exorcistic beatbox interlude helped smuggle mid-tempo rap-conscious gruel rock to the upper reaches of the Hot 100. Nu-metal’s biggest hit went so mainstream that conservative pundits are performing it on television two decades later for laughs. Jonathan Davis said the song was a critique of the music industry, but the band abbreviated the most interesting part, that beatbox-and-guitar breakdown, to make it more palatable for the radio. Brian Welch explained the decision to SPIN: “I want a bigger house.” — TOSTEN BURKS

13. Garbage – “When I Grow Up”
SPIN described Garbage’s Version 2.0 as a “nonstop singles aggregation that’s going to make the crap glutting Modern Rock radio suck even worse.” Four singles in, “When I Grow Up” was the shiniest yet: a pulsating dance-pop song about, as Shirley Manson told the Independent, “that delirious state of wishing and hoping and dreaming for things, not giving up.” It’s also about golden showers and unprotected sex and irrational rages and being in the middle of enough mistakes to fill a juggernaut – and, more importantly, how those things, if properly arranged into the right hooks, can sound full of life. Butch Vig, as always, fills “When I Grow Up” with studio tricks, drowning every hook in distortion and frippery. (No worries: the hooks are good enough to pierce through anyway.) At the time, it was remarkable how poppy, Pro Tools-y, nearly-Spice-Girls-choreographed “When I Grow Up” was, even for Garbage. The band even called it “sci-fi.” Now, it’s standard stuff for pop stars like Avril to indie rockers like Charly Bliss to Sir Babygirl to Colleen Green, whose I Want to Grow Up recasts this for another generation’s longing to grow up and turn the tables. — KATHERINE ST. ASAPH

12. Kid Rock – “Bawitdaba”
Bob Ritchie made his first demo in the late ’80s and spent a decade in the white rapper wilderness before finally finding his redneck rock star voice on 1998’s Devil Without A Cause. The album was slow to catch on, crawling to gold in its first 8 months in stores. Then he released “Bawitdaba” and went supernova, riding the song’s explosive power chords and Busy Bee-indebted chorus of nonsense to diamond-certified sales, winning over crackheads, critics, and cynics in the process. On the song’s original demo, the lyric “get in the pit and try to love someone” was the considerably edgier “try to kill someone.” When Kid spoke to The Baltimore Sun in 1999, he seemed glad that the radio-friendly change reflected the supportive environment of the mosh pit: “You fall down, someone helps you up. It’s showing some love.” — AL SHIPLEY

11. The Chemical Brothers – “Let Forever Be”
Unabashedly copping the Beatles banger “Tomorrow Never Knows” and accompanied by Michel Gondry’s kaleidoscopic Busby Berkely video, “Let Forever Be” was a burst of psychedelic Big Beat that snuck onto rock radio during its final flirtations with electronica. Noel Gallagher on vocals may be a little too on the nose, but in a decidedly ungroovy year, it was a welcome relief from pissed-off post-grungers and hip-hop hybrids. — SEAN MALONEY

10. Hole – “Awful”
“I am not there to be their Patti Smith. That is Polly Harvey’s job,” Hole leader Courtney Love told SPIN in 1998. “I’m going to make music for the people.” The band’s third album, Celebrity Skin, indeed featured their biggest singles, but it was also Fleetwood Mac-gone-Big-Black, a pop confection about the crumbling and decaying of the L.A. myth. Third single “Awful” is Love basically saying teenage angst does not exactly pay off well if you’re a woman, a world-weary thirtysomething looking back at punkier, more optimistic days after being put through the wringer of life and the music industry: “And they royalty-rate all the girls like you / And they sell it out to the girls like you.” — CHRISTOPHER R. WEINGARTEN

9. Foo Fighters – “Learn to Fly”
The Foo’s biggest hit from their most dramatic decade earned its MTV spins with the help of Tenacious D, but it earned its radio play with one of the band’s stickiest hooks, a punchy backbeat, and characteristic soft-verse-loud-chorus structure that didn’t alienate anyone in either direction. The lyrics were centrist, too, but more memorably strained between extremes: angels and devils, salvation and complication, flight and death. In the end, Grohl made his way back home for answers. — TOSTEN BURKS

8. Red Hot Chili Peppers – “Scar Tissue”
The first single from 1999’s Californication, “Scar Tissue” represented a commercial comeback for the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Returning from the bleak, Dave Navarro-assisted/hindered years of the mid-’90s, the group was reunited with John Frusciante, guitarist on the band’s landmark 1991 album, Blood Sugar Sex Magik. As with many great Chi Peps tunes, Frusciante provides a cover for all of the band’s worst instincts here: His guitar and background vocals manage to make Anthony Kiedis’ lyrical gibberish ring true and forlorn, transforming the track into a classic of late ’90s rock ballads. “Scar Tissue” spent 16 weeks at No. 1 on Billboard’s Modern Rock Chart and broke the Top 10 on the Billboard 100, propelling the band to a new level of commercial success they’ve largely sustained in the two decades since. — TAYLOR BERMAN

7. Lit – “My Own Worst Enemy”
Pen15 musical supervisor Tiffany Anders described the coming-of-age show’s use of Lit’s “My Own Worst Enemy” as “stepping into the next level of growing up.” It’s perhaps the only time someone has used “growing up” to reference a song about getting debauchedly punted onto the lawn, a song that the band self-admittedly “just burped out,” a song recorded with one guy naked in the studio. “Can we forget about the things I said when I was drunk?” A. Jay Popoff sings with whining-pleading snottiness. Crucially, the song never specifies what exactly was said – not just because the singer probably has the functioning memory of a hard drive dunked in Jägermeister, but because it lets the listener project their own desired levels of assholery onto the guy. By the second verse, as he breaks the meter to curse himself out, he’s almost sympathetic – though a large guitar riff and soaring melody go a long way toward provoking emotion. The whole thing sounds thoroughly and irremovably of its alt-rock time, but perhaps not. The song predates a lot of fratire that is very much still around, and these days Lit are making country, a genre more than amenable to large riffs, soaring melodies and tales of kicking the living shit out of oneself. — KATHERINE ST. ASAPH

6. Beck – “Sexx Laws”
Five years after Beck turned slide guitar, a hip-hop beat and stoned-soul lyrics into a Top 10 single, he still seemed impossible to pin down. Fans awaited the official follow-up to 1996’s double platinum Odelay; Beck gave them an art-damaged white funk album called Midnite Vultures in which he lavished songs called “Peaches and Cream” with falsettos so transparently ridiculous that no one, not even a lesbian, screamed. The video for “Sexx Laws,” directed by Mr. Hansen himself, depicted a charming hookup between a hot oven and a dashing refrigerator: Is this what Comte de Lautréamont meant when he defined surrealism as the chance meeting of a sewing machine and an umbrella on a dissecting table? The chance meeting between Beck’s weedy vocals and the Stax-indebted horn hooks produced its own weird, wonderful result. — ALFRED SOTO

5. Fatboy Slim – “Praise You”
This ecstatic slice of dance-pop has a lot of moving parts. The vocal’s sampled from Camille Yarbrough’s “Take Yo’ Praise,” the piano bit’s lifted from a JBL-released album intended to help you test you stereo equipment. There’s also snippets from the Mickey Mouse Disco LP and the Fat Albert theme percolating in there as well. With “The Rockefeller Skank” having established Norman Cook among the best-known proprietors of Big Beat in the U.S., the cheeky British producer enlisted Spike Jonze to direct a video. Jonze commandeered an L.A. street for a memorable flash-mob style free dance performance. Word is that the clip only cost $800 to produce, but helped the single break the pop Top 40. — KEITH HARRIS

4. Len – “Steal My Sunshine”
Toronto siblings Marc and Sharon Costanzo had, with the help of some pals, put out a couple of alt-rock records under the moniker Len in the 1990s. For their third album, You Can’t Stop the Bum Rush, the collective shifted to what Marc Costanzo called “some white boys from Canada hip-hop” in a 2016 interview with Stereogum – the result of a trip to Nova Scotia where he met local rap outfit Hip Club Groove. “Some of it’s terrible. A lot of it’s terrible,” Marc said about Bum Rush, but hit single “Steal My Sunshine” was huge with fans and critics alike. It spins a sample from Andrea True Connection’s disco-era jam “More, More, More” into a fuzzed-out backdrop for the siblings’ syllable-heavy, altered-mind ruminations (“My sticky paws were into making straws out of big fat slurpy treats / An incredible eight-foot heap”) and a brain-Velcro chorus that proved irresistible, hitting the Top 10 on both the Hot 100 and Modern Rock Tracks charts. — MAURA JOHNSTON

3. Eminem – “My Name Is”
This, by all measures, should not be here. Thanks to America’s long love affair with both novelty songs and internalized racism, the one non-Beastie rap song to chart in the Modern Rock Top 40 in 1999 was—surprise!—by a white guy. The year wasn’t exactly lacking in great rap and R&B singles that felt “alternative” (Mos Def, Common, the Roots) or quirky (Rahzel, Busta Rhymes, Quasimoto) or angry (Dead Prez, Public Enemy, Kelis). But Em was, of course, a sensation. Plus, he name-checked Primus and Nine Inch Nails and had an alt-rocker’s sense of self-deprecation. “[F]or it to become a rock and alternative thing, they just let the song lead, they let the energy lead,” ex-Interscope staffer Joe Greenwald told Detroit Free Press. “And when they saw there was potential at those outlets, [the company] pushed us hard. Sometimes when a rocket ship takes off, you just kind of hang on.” For Eminem’s part, on next year’s single “The Way I Am” he was already lyrically grousing about being “pigeon-holed into some poppy sensation / To cop me rotation at rock ‘n’ roll stations.” — CHRISTOPHER R. WEINGARTEN

2. Blink-182 – “All the Small Things”
“Ramones-style song” is how an early demo referred to the bratty pop-punk trio’s first Modern Rock chart topper, maybe because of its nonsensically unforgettable “na na na” chorus. It was a last-minute addition to Enema of the State – with that album poised to break the band to a wider audience, Tom Delonge knew what he had to do. “The label’s gonna want a song for the radio – so here’s one,” he said of writing this sunnily unpunk celebration of domestic romantic contentment. But the band soon realized they were dealing with more than a trifling commercial toss off. “We knew [it] was going to be a gigantic thing,” according to Delonge. “I don’t know how, but we just felt it straight away.” The inspiration was his longtime girlfriend Jennifer Jenkins – whom he’s been married to for the last 18 years. And yes, she really did leave him roses by the stairs. — KEITH HARRIS

1. Fiona Apple – “Fast As You Can”
The lead single from Fiona Apple’s second album takes the tension that made her 1996 debut Tidal a sensation and shoves it into the listener’s ears. “I wanted to explore different moods, the ups and downs of a relationship,” Apple told The Philadelphia Inquirer in 1999. Frantic drumming (courtesy of journeyman drummer Matt Chamberlain), precision-grade sonic detailing by producer Jon Brion, and Apple’s full-bodied wail, create the sort of claustrophobic atmosphere that resembles a consciousness-altering lovers’ quarrel – until the bridge, which is marked by a heavy groove that doubles as a fleeting reminder of romance. “When you get to the middle [of the song], that spell of confusion takes you out of the element for a minute, which is, of course, what happens emotionally,” Apple said. “But the beat never changes.” Neither did Apple’s commitment to throwing all of her energy into her art – a work ethic that makes this song sound like a live wire until its keyboards sputter out. — MAURA JOHNSTON" -

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