Great songs, according to me (Part 39)
381. Next Year (by Foo Fighters on the album There Is Nothing Left To Lose, 1999): Dave and the boys are surprisingly good at writing ballad-like pop songs, and this is one of them. I'd like to say it's off one of their better albums, but all FF albums are good, so it's hard to say where this one ranks. This song, however, is great, as the gentlemen do a wonderful job with soaring melodies and music that uplifts without being schmaltzy. It's a marvelously hopeful song that manages to be mature but not dull. Grohl's lyrics are nice, too: "Into the night we shine/Lighting the way we glide by/Catch me if I get too high/When I come down/I'll be coming home next year." Like a lot of Foo Fighters songs, the first time you hear this you feel like you've always known it. It's quite odd but wonderful how that happens.
382. New Jack Hustler (by Ice-T on the album O. G. Original Gangster, 1991): I'm not sure if I've ever written about this before, but a few of my college friends and I went to see New Jack City in the theater in State College when it was released. We enjoyed it, but that's not the story. This was when people were rioting during screenings of the movie, and although State College is a pleasant little college town, we didn't know what we were in for, going to see the movie. It was pretty interesting, because white people were definitely in the minority, but I didn't feel like anyone was going to beat me up because of it. It was just a weird episode in my life, because it's very rare that I find myself in the minority when it comes to skin color. I reckon that's probably true for most white people - we don't often end up someplace where most of the people aren't white. I don't know why white people wouldn't want to go see New Jack City, because it's a damned good movie. Okay, maybe not damned good, but pretty entertaining. It was also the first time I had ever heard Ice-T's music, in the form of this anthem that plays during a chase scene. Later, I heard the entire song (the movie version is truncated) and absolutely loved it. it has a great groove, which propels the song along, and Ice's lyrics, which cut to the core of why so many poverty-stricken people don't care about the system and just look to get paid, are devastatingly honest. It's certainly not an excuse for criminal behavior, but when someone from the street raps, "The end justifies the means, that's the system; I learned that in school then I dropped out," you can't help but listen. But Ice also understands the cost: "Every dollar I get, another brother drops." That makes the allure - "So many hos on my jock, think I'm a movie star/Nineteen - I got a fifty thousand dollar car" - more tragic. Ice often thinks that there's a conspiracy against black people, which borders on the silly, but otherwise, he gives us a fascinating look into what's going on in the minds of young African-Americans. That he can lay it over such a funky track makes it great.
383. New Way Home (by Foo Fighters on the album The Colour And The Shape, 1997): Hey, look! it's another Foo Fighters song! What do you know? This song ends the boys' best album (although the new one challenges it, I'll tell you that much), and like a lot of Fighters songs, it's melodic but rocking all at once and fills you with a strange kind of nostalgia. Eventually, of course, it builds into a primal scream of defiance, as Dave sings "I'm not scared" over and over, altenating it with the two lines, "I felt like this one my way home" and "I pass the boats and the Kingdome." Maybe evoking the old stadium is why we get that sense of nostalgia. I don't know - all I know is that it's a great song.
384. Nice To Know You (by Incubus on the album Morning View, 2001): I only own this one Incubus album, even though it's pretty good, but there are a few great songs. This song opens the album, and it's a weird little tune that sets the stage well for the rest. Lyrically, it's a bit odd, but musically it really shines, with a strange meandering vibe that ramps up into a heavy beat for the chorus. As a mood setter, it previews the album's swing between surfer sensibility and metal grinding. You can't help but bang your head, and then you lurch back to laid-back. It's a weird mix, but it works well.
385. Nicotine & Gravy (by Beck on the album Midnite Vultures, 1999): Beck's 1999 album is so funky and weird, and this song is one of its standouts. Beck lazily drawls through oddball lyrics like "Her left eye is lazy, she looks so Israeli," but the Seventies vibe carries it through, and it becomes a charming love song. If it's just weird, it probably wouldn't work, but as with a lot of Beck songs, the foundation is solid.
386. Nights Of Mystery (by the Georgia Satellites on the album Georgia Satellites, 1986): Krys mocks me for liking the first Georgia Satellites album, but I do. Most of it I like despite it not being all that good (the songs rock, but they're not that good), but "Nights of Mystery" is a nice country-fried rocker that begins quietly and cranks up nicely. It's a strangely sweet song, too, as we get nice lyrics like "I got this genius of a heart that shines wild and free ..." Every Georgia Satellites song has this kind of vibe to it, but this song manages to be deeper, and therefore better.
387. 1999 (by Prince and the Revolution on the album 1999, 1983): "I was dreamin' when I wrote this, forgive me if it goes astray ..." Sing along, people! Do I really need to write any more about this? Prince at perhaps his peak (although he has had a lot of peaks, but let's call this his first one), his band kicking ass, and a elegy about nuclear war. "But life is just a party and parties aren't meant to last ..." Get out your vinyl and fire it up!
388. Nitro Burning Funny Cars (by The Dead Milkmen on the album Bucky Fellini, 1987): A simple guitar hook and hilarious lyrics. That's all that's needed sometimes, and while a lot of the Dead Milkmen songs fall into this category, some are simply more hilarious than others, and those reach greatness. Like this one: "This world is full of people who think a lot about bowling balls" and "This world is full of people who look a lot like Gavin McCloud" are eerily true. What's up with that? Just a great, great song.
389. No Further Damage (by P. M. Dawn on the album Dearest Christian, I'm So Very Sorry For Bringing You Here. Love, Dad, 1998): As usual with P. M. Dawn songs, this features some beautiful lyrics about love and why it's important. It's a typically lush song, as well, and simply takes you along into that strange world that P. M. Dawn inhabits. I just don't have much else to say about it.
390. No Man's Land (by Billy Joel on the album River Of Dreams, 1993): Joel's "last" album gets off to a rollicking start with this anti-capitalism screed which stands as a companion piece to "Allentown" - where that was contemplative and sad, ten years later Joel is pissed off, and with good reason. Joel does a good job blending trenchant lyrics and throbbing music, and this song proves, for the last time, that he can rock out when he wants to. It sets the tone for the album, which is somewhat melancholy. It's not his best album, but it features some great songs, and this is one of them.
Well, that was fun. I've had this post sitting around for almost a year, and I finally got it finished. I don't know why it took me so long; that's just the way it is, I suppose. Anyway, that's ten more great songs for your iPod! You know you fill it based on my recommendations!