Love Their Mess and Adore Their Failures: Manic Street Preachers’ 100 Greatest Songs

Right, holy shit, so am I actually doing this…?

“Repeat after me…”

The Manic Street Preachers are the greatest rock band ever. That’s not an opinion, it’s a conclusion that I’ve reached and am now saying it loudly and not listening to any dissenting voices, which in 2021 counts as a ‘fact’.

Their greatness is… complicated… and not easy to explain in a simple intro to a blog post… These 100 tracks aren’t necessarily the greatest songs ever. Even as a pathetically dedicated Manics stan*, even I would argue that they’ve only ever released one indisputable, stone cold classic record from front to back (see if you can guess which one after you read the list!). They may have supernatural control over melodies and how best to ensure a chorus hits just there, but at the end of the day they’re just a rock band. They have never really challenged the very boundaries of music, never pushed things forward or necessarily introduced anything new sonically. I would argue that only one of their albums is truly challenging and experimental, rather than just being a break from what the band usually produce (yeah, it’s the same album…). I mean, Jesus, they once shamelessly released a song including the lyric “The world is full of refugees/They’re just like you and just like me“. That’s unforgivably bad, isn’t it? They can’t come back from that, artistically.

“You stand there and you think about what you’ve done”

(*I may occasionally use cool, groovy, young person lingo like ‘stan’ so you think I’m a hip young gunslinger. Not, y’know, old enough to be a Manics fan)

I’m not able to explain their magic here, but over the next one hundred (!) entries you’ll hopefully all have a better idea. It’s not as dominated by the 90’s as I was worried it might be, and every album is represented (apart from one. Because their tenth album is worse than Hitler). I’ve been wanting to find the time to do this for ages, partially inspired by the great What is Music podcast covering their entire discography and reminding me of how many big veiny stonkers this band had bulging out of their collective musical swimming trunks. They’re talking about Muse on that podcast now, a band for morons, so you only need to listen to the last season. My major blind spot is I don’t think they’ve done a decent b-side since 2001. Now, I’m sure I’m wrong, so please correct my ignorance in the comments. Tell me how wrong I am. Post your top tens. Your top hundreds. The Manic Street Preachers’ fan community is one of the greatest in the world, and no other band are as connected with their fanbase and feed off their adoration as much as The Manics. So let’s celebrate that by calling me a fat slut in the comments because I didn’t choose Little Baby Nothing.

If you don’t have time for such nonsense, here’s the Spotify playlist and here’s all the songs in order on YouTube.

And, er, you might wanna bookmark this page – motherfucker’s gonna be long. Your next 500 trips to the toilet are sorted.

Continue reading “Love Their Mess and Adore Their Failures: Manic Street Preachers’ 100 Greatest Songs”

Who Needs Love Like Stat? Necessary Evil 2020 in Numbers

Finally, on the the 31st day of March in the year of our Lord two thousand and twenty one, we can officially put 2020 to bed. I like doing this post every year, as it’s mostly pictures and I don’t have to do much talking. Just to make it clear, I can’t stress enough how much I hate talking to you people. No, not the person reading this, you’re cool, all the other people, yeah? You know what I’m talking about! Fuck them, right?

We start off, innocently enough, by ranking the countries of nationality in a proven failsafe way to find the best country in the world.

Seriously though, USA always wins this by such a margin that it’s actually embarrassing, and I don’t expect different this year…

Nationality

My tip for inevitable greatness, Dua Saleh, was born in Sudan but was forced to flee the Second Sudanese Civil War in the 90s with her family, eventually being granted asylum in the USA. I have no idea what nationality she considers herself, or even if she bothers to consider it at all, but I’m calling her half Sudanese in a desperate attempt to make this list a little more diverse

Continue reading “Who Needs Love Like Stat? Necessary Evil 2020 in Numbers”

Legit Bosses pt.3: The 40 Best Songs of 2020

Hey! Top forty ! This is a nice, normal, manageable list isn’t it? Should I maybe have just limited 2020’s best songs to this workable and succinct top 40 list? What, and not mention Wock in Stock or I Don’t Know, Burn Stuff? I’m not sure I’d ever be able to forgive myself.

That’s all the introduction you’re getting, parts one and two were more than enough foreplay, there are some absolute modern classics in this final countdown, and if you’re as half as surprised as me at what comes out on top…

Maybe, I mean, I still might change it…

#40 Fiona Apple: Under the Table

A very ‘Fiona Apple’ Fiona Apple song, but that is obviously entirely a Good Thing. Lyrically, it’s untouchable, with Ms Apple taking issue with dinner party conversation and refusing to be silenced (“Kick me under the table all you want/I won’t shut up…I would beg to disagree/But begging disagrees with me”). Amongst the barbed and often hilarious response to tension, she also manages to squeeze in some absolutely amazing lyrical asides:

I’d like to buy you a pair of pillow-soled hiking boots

To help you with your climb

Or rather, to help the bodies that you step over, along your route

So they won’t hurt like mine

I’m going to be really noncommittal and say that Under the Table is definitely one of the best lyrics of the year. Don’t make me choose. No, seriously, don’t make me choose, you know I’d just give it to a 1993 Manics’ lyric and ruin the legitimacy of the whole operation.#

Continue reading “Legit Bosses pt.3: The 40 Best Songs of 2020”

Legit Bosses: The 125 Best Songs of 2020 (pt.2 #80-#41)

You want an intro? We you ain’t getting an intro! Unless, of course, you consier this little bit of writing where I explain there isn’t an into to actually be the intro, in which case… Jesus, I can’t help you, friend, just move along… We’ve already had entries #126-#81, now let’s chomp down on part two of the list.

‘Chomp down’? The fuck am I talking about? Not a good start, Alex. Not. A good. Start.

#80 Banoffee: Tennis Fan (feat/ Empress Of)

Invited you to the cinema

You said you didn’t wanna go

But I saw it on your story

As you watched Mission Impossible

Ouuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuch. It’s one thing to be palmed off with a lie, but to lose out to Tom Cruise using his mysterious Theten powers to somehow convince the watching public to give ‘Dianetics’ another chance by hanging out of aeroplanes and later cackling to Loraine Kelly about how he does all his own stunts, I really think you have to assume this is a problem with you, Banoffee.

Which Mission Impossible was it though?? You know there’s, like, a hundred of them now, right? Was it the best one (Mision Impossible 1-100) or even the worse one (Mission Impossible 1-100)? Don’t pretend you have any idea.

Continue reading “Legit Bosses: The 125 Best Songs of 2020 (pt.2 #80-#41)”

Legit Bosses: The 125 Best Songs of 2020 (pt.1 #125-#81)

‘Member 2020? Do you really?? I’m not 100% sure 2020 as a year actually took place in any official capacity. I accept that days were marked off and months were filed as ‘complete’ in admin, but it was all just a box ticking exercise to make sure that all the paperwork lined up and we weren’t caught out were the concept of the year twenty twenty be questioned in any future audit. Sure, it happened, just look at that tick of the Excel spreadsheet. Can we move on? Please?

“Fuck it, check off 2021 as well, I’ve got a feeling that’s already a goner…”

While its existence is obviously a hotly debated issue, what’s undeniable is that we saw a shovel load of amazing songs in 2020. Thirteen more than in 2019, in fact, which means that, despite everything, 2020 was actually 14.56% a better year than 2019…? I know, it didn’t seem that way, but the maths doesn’t lie. In every previous year’s Legit Bosses countdown, I was fully confident what was going to finish top before I started writing it. In 2020, however, there were so many massively different but equally stonking songs that I had no idea where it was going to to land when I ranked them last night, the one that ended up on top really surprised me, and- fuck it- I may well change my mind again whie I write this. It’s my fucking list, piss off.

Some of you might remember me previously explaining that the Legit Bosses will be published a little later in the year because I had a big immigration law exam on the 25th February to study for. Well, despite studying like an appropriately legit boss myself, a week before the exam I was rushed to the hospital with ulcerative colitis, which was serious enough for me to be kept in the hospital for eight days, miss the exam and have to reschedule for May. I could have finished this dumb fucking list before New Year Day. Ah well, not to worry, just know that, no matter how fiendishly provocative and titillatingly obtuse my writing predictably, I resent everything about having to write this list and in all honesty despise you for reading it. More after the jump!!

Continue reading “Legit Bosses: The 125 Best Songs of 2020 (pt.1 #125-#81)”

american poetry club: do you believe in your heart?!

“Yea we get sad, yeah we get lonely, yeah get scared it might go slowly, but you can always call me”

First of all:

LET ME JUST DO A BIT OF CAPITALISATION SCUMMING TO COMPENSATE FOR THAT BLOG ENTRY TITLE.

Phew, I feel better now…

New York’s american poetry club, whom you you might have notice me mention a few times, have always seemed both weirdly out of step with wider emotional leanings yet still offering completely timely sentiments. Sometimes the addition of the word ‘American’ in their name leads you to look for commentary on the wider state of their country, even if the lack of capitalisation seems to gently grasp you upper arm and say “Listen, mate, don’t break you back, yeah? It’s a lower case ‘A’, you can’t add too much weight to it. You fucking prick”. Yeah, the implied voice of american poetry club can get pretty aggressive if it wants.

Continue reading “american poetry club: do you believe in your heart?!”

Most Viewed Necessary Evil Posts of 2020

Hey, hey, HEY!! I told you when I crowned the marvelous 070 Shake as the scientifically proven best album of 2020 that I wouldn’t be finishing Necessary Evil 2020 properly until after my February Immigration Law exam. But I thought I’d do a super quick post similar to what I did with 2019 just to show you curious perverts what the most viewed posts on this glorious blog of amazingness were last year.

Hey, you like the Manic Street Preachers…?

Continue reading “Most Viewed Necessary Evil Posts of 2020”

#1 070 Shake: Modus Vivendi

2020 was a pretty incredible year for quality albums. We’ve sailed through ninety eight other examples of this fact in the past few weeks. Yeah, I know, did I do a top 100 this year? No, I did a top ninety nine because I’m freaking gangsta. Hmmm, imagine if I’d remembered to list Ariana Grande’s last album? It might have cleaned it up a bit. Ah well, no harm no foul. If you’re wondering, it would have finished arooooooouuuuuuuund… 74th. Despite the raised competition though, despite a high placing on 2020’s list being more difficult than in most recent years, there was still only ever really one record that I ever really imagined finishing top.

070 Shake is Danielle Balbuena, a 22 year old Brooklyn native of Dominican decent who has stealthily being climbing up the Necessary Evil chart in recent years. Her unmistakable, tranquil voice that seems to have been digitally uploaded from the uncanny valley and wears the scars of the distorted transition, had obviously been used recently to add certain sparkle to hip-hop tracks that nothing else was ever going to be likely to be able to do. She appeared on Pusha T’s Santeria, the 37th best album of 2018, offering a haunting and seemingly otherworldly Spanish language segment that the listener assumed would have taken all the talent of producer Kanye West to make sound quite so idiosyncratic and mystifying, not realising that was just what Shake’s voice sounded like. West was similarly enchanted by Shake as I was- as anyone would be, enough to have her guest on two tracks from his own (unfairly maligned, really freaking good) solo record that year, the twelfth best album of 2018, on album highlight Violent Crimes and of 2018 highlight Ghost Town (the 13th best song of the year).

Continue reading “#1 070 Shake: Modus Vivendi”

Necessary Evil 2020 pt.16 (3-2)

#3 Hjaltalín: Hjaltalín

Firstly: what up brothers and sisters? Put you’re hands in the air, yeah? Like you just don’t care, yeah? Can I get a ‘what what’? Respect the flex of Necessary Evil 2020! We might have finished Necessary Evil 2015 by the 13th December, but that was beginning to feel like a much missed byproduct of a far simpler time. We didn’t finish Necessary Evil 2016 until November the 5th. Of 2017. Necessary Evil 2017 didn’t come all over all of your apathetic and disinterested eyeballs until the next year again, but at least had the grace to finish by April the 8th of 2018. Necessary Evil 2018 got so close to finishing in the year it was referring to, eventually wrapping up January the 3rd of 2019. And God fucking damnit Necessary Evil 2019 managed to bow for applause just one day into 2020. This year!! Baring an absolute calamity, Necessary Evil 2020 will somehow be finished before even Christmas, as we enter the final post on December 23rd and- holy shit!- I might get to relax and enjoy my festive period for the first time in five years!!

Continue reading “Necessary Evil 2020 pt.16 (3-2)”

Necessary Evil 2020 pt.15 (6-4)

#6 Katie Gately: Loom

Yeah, I know, because of the Prince entry this is technically part 16, but I just decided the optics didn’t look right. Don’t @ me

Grief will affect everyone in different ways. And, hey, what other year have we been forced to face silly, unbiased mortality more than 2020? Firstly, there is no intimacy league table with an imaginary line drawn across it- nobody who was less than this close to you can properly affect you. Oh, and they need to be bipedal animals with recognisable hands and a proven ability to use those hands to manipulate tools, so no excessive mourning for your pet dog passing away. But I guess if you have a pet gorilla or chimpanzee who dies, that’s covered so you’re allowed to grieve for that. Aw, man, imagine having a pet gorilla just hanging around the house, like a big hairy flatmate. And then that gorilla dying! I’m getting sad just thinking about it. And maybe crows are covered. You can mourn your pet crow dying. But the fact is, every death has the potential to affect you, and the arresting smack of mortality will smack you hard even if it’s an old schoolfriend who you haven’t seen in decades or somebody you’ve never even met, even an existence that you had no concept of occurring before it was snuffed out. A human life, an existence you know as being full of thoughts and dreams and opinions and love and hatred just suddenly being stopped isn’t easy to get your head around. You might laugh, but even the death of Prince in 2016- a person I have never met, a person who I’ve never even been close enough to spit on, a person with less than no concept of my existence- hit me hard and played a part in my mental downward spiral that led to Necessary Evil 2016 starting ten months late. Hey, here was a living, breathing, organic thing that was doing stuff– stuff that affected my life– and now that thing is no more and that stuff is going to stop. It’s actually pretty fucked up.

“Mate, those dishes are really piling up…”
Continue reading “Necessary Evil 2020 pt.15 (6-4)”