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”

Necessary Evil 2020 pt 3 (80-71)

#80 High Command: Beyond the Wall of Desolation

Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaars! Do you sense that? Those faint but ever rising embers of putrid hellfire? Can you feel that, underneath your feet? The unmistakable rumbles of the devil’s chord painfully calling at your wordlessly from the depths? Can you smell that? That unmistakable aroma of a Nailbomb t-shirt once used in desperation as a makeshift toilet tissue but now hurriedly discarded in shame in a Castle Donington Portaloo? You know what that is? That’s metal, son, like they used to make it in the old/Black country!

Seth Manchester joins us once again, he had quite the 2020. Except, this album actually came out in 2019. And, actually, one of his albums from part 1 was even from 2018. Whatever, I’ve had quite a 2020 belatedly realising albums that he’s produced!

Continue reading “Necessary Evil 2020 pt 3 (80-71)”

Rumble in the Bumble pt.1

Have you noticed how things are a bit weird at the moment? Like, there seems to be something in the air, doesn’t there? People seem to be a little less socially active these days; nobody came to your barbecue last Thursday; WWE crowds are drastically down; you’re pretty sure Paul should have been at school these past few weeks not that you’re going to ask the little shit and risk getting pulled into an endless conversational loop about the largest dinosaurs; and Italian mayors seem to be furious these days. Something’s… different

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“Aye! Why-a you play-a da pinga-pong?!” #CasualRacism

I don’t watch the news- if I wanted a posh voice feeding me a liberal agenda I’d just ring my parole officer- but it’s clear to me what’s happened. There’s an unmistakable stench of disappointment overlaying an aggressive smog of sadness that’s infected the whole country. They know. You know. Everyone knows.

I am now officially single.

Continue reading “Rumble in the Bumble pt.1”

8 Sharon van Etten: Remind Me Tomorrow

Considering neither The Manic Street Preachers or Lupe Fiasco were scheduled to release an album in 2019, I don’t think I was looking forward to any record this year as much as Ms Van Etten’s fifth. Her fourth, ‘Are We There’, was one of the three albums released in 2014 that were legitimate GOAT contenders and all kinda given my joint album of the year. It was such an amazingly accomplished and powerful record, one that moved the more eloquent reviewers to state that it was “an absolutely devastating Sturm und Drag bulldozer of emotion, a sharp piercing blade of hopeless heartache that is as heartbreaking and moving as any movie you’ve seen since ‘Toy Story 3“. I have to assume that Toy Story 3 was still totally a topical reference point when that prodigiously insightful yet dangerously sexually alluring reviewer wrote that. While I spend all of my time excruciatingly droning on about how artists/people should be constantly evolving and pushing their sound/personality forward, I often catch myself just hoping that artists responsible for my favourite things will just do those favourite things again! Hey, Jazz Cartier, why isn’t the new album just Red Alert ten times?? Hey, Tegan and/or Sara, why aren’t you just giving me Walking With A Ghost?? Lil Yachty!! Why are you… why are you… Why are you doing any of this…? I… I’m not sure what exactly I want from you… But do that, please. Do Minnesota again, that’ll cheer me up. Sharon van Etten! I can’t wait to see where you take your sound and evolve your music on this new album! But, having said that, please make it exactly the same record as ‘Are We There’! You can, I dunno, add a few trap beats to a couple of songs and have track eight heavily influenced by Hardware, but make sure that, at the base level, it’s exactly the same as ‘Are We There’!! Give me those exact feels! Reach into my bloodied chest and tear out all of those emotions like you did in 2015!!

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‘Remind Me Tomorrow’… isn’t that record. It’s an incredible reimagining of what weight, muscles and undeniable gall bladders* her songwriting can achieve. Synths blast all over the place like the sounds of invading forces damaging the outer wall of the claustrophobic shelter she’s built herself to evade the apocalyptic terror of her mind outside. The first line of the album is ‘Sitting at the bar I told you everything/You said “Holy shit, you almost died!” and the following songs act as almost a flashback, telling the listener exactly what these near fatal experiences were. It’s an amazing album. Look above, it’s the eighth best album of the year. It was considered for number one, but holy shit, you’re about to see how hotly contested that accolade is this year. Like I said, every top ten album is merely different levels of essential. Buy them all, you cheap fuck.

Continue reading “8 Sharon van Etten: Remind Me Tomorrow”

19 Equip: CURSEBREAKER X

On ‘CURSEBREAKER X’*, Equip step shit up massively. Previously, the less forgiving may have accused them of being more gimmick than legitimate artist. Every album, like 2018’s ‘Synthetic Core 88‘, came with the hook that it was the soundtrack to a video game that existed nowhere but inside Equip’s imagination. This inspired some incredible music, but for many the conceit would be far too ‘cute’ and even ‘eye rollingly hipster’ to bridge that gap between ‘concept you might appreciate’ and ‘music you unreservedly love’. ‘CURSEBREAKER X’ doesn’t just bridge that gap, it clears it in a single bound by casting a +50 COMPOSITIONS spell and fills the cavern beneath it with buffed power ups as it flies over. Equip breaks the game with WWE 2K20 level glitches that make it unplayable, because they’re playing something else entirely with ‘CURSEBREAKER X’.

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(*we’ve seen far too many artists recently, from awakebutstillinbed to Ariana Grande to repeat offender american poetry club, show such a flagrant disregard for proper capitalisation that I’m pleased to see Jamila Woods, Michael Kiwanuka and now Equip have fought against this by, if anything, overcapitalising their records. I’m pleased to officially announce 2019 as The Year We Won Our Capital Back)

Continue reading “19 Equip: CURSEBREAKER X”

38 american poetry club:a little light of our own

“you don’t have to be happy all the time

it is something that you practice

it’s a mountain that you climb”

Seriously, since when did we all decide that we need to be fucking happy all the time? Recently, happiness hasn’t been something you work towards, it hasn’t been treated as a welcome result of actually doing worthwhile stuff, it’s no longer something that you practice or a mountain that you climb. Now, you have to be happy as a default state of mind, you owe it to yourself to just be fucking delighted twenty four hours a day. The very concept of happiness has changed. Happiness used to be a result of your general situation, with happy friends and a happy family in a happy community. You were happy because the general situation was exceptionally acceptable. Now, you’re encouraged to simply ignore and avoid all bad feelings, to stick your fingers in your ears and ignore however your friends, family and community might feel. Just make sure that you’re happy. Now we’re encouraged to pursue and gorge on happiness for happiness’s own sake. Be happy! Be happyBe happy!

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Hooray.

 

Hey, and guess what, while I’m writing this exit polls for the UK election have just been released:

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In 2019, I’m supposed to reject all negative thoughts and ensure that I still feel happy, rather than properly react to it. There isn’t a better time to write a blog post about how all this is absolute bullshit.

Continue reading “38 american poetry club:a little light of our own”

55 Don’t Do It Neil: B/X

“Descend deep in my body
Ascend me from my body
From my body tonight
Free me from my body tonight”

OK, fair warning- maybe even a trigger warning, but I’ve got to be careful because some people get so fucking angry when you word a content warning that way*- but this post might go to some pretty dark places. I mean, I’m just going to talk about my life a bit, which is always going to be a bit dark, isn’t it? For you, I mean. I’m alright with it, I fucking live with it, but I appreciate how some people might get a bit uncomfortable. These people can just read my Princess Nokia bit again, that was pretty funny. I’m going to use the brilliant ‘B/X’ album as a jumping off point to talk about how I was ‘freed from my body’, then masterfully bring it back at the end to Don’t Do It Neil. It’ll be a fucking amazing post, and I don’t know why more people don’t read this blog, it’s fuckin’ straight fire.

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(*because some people- and I can’t stress this enough- are fucking dumb)

Continue reading “55 Don’t Do It Neil: B/X”

Stats Through the Heart (and you’re to blame) 2018

Hooray for me. A winner is me. I’m the king of the world. I am a golden God. I put the bomp in the bomp bah bomp bah bomp. I’m that star up in the sky. I’m that mountain peak up high. Hey, I made it. I’m the world’s greatest. I assume that allows me to enslave any underage girl I want, with occasional pissing privileges. What a time to be alive.

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That’s me, that is

This week 2019 officially outstripped 2018 on Necessary Evil, with the site getting more views and more individual visitors than ever before. This despite me not even starting the end of year list, which has always been the only reason any of you miserable cunts (love you!) ever visit this piece of shit site. This is, of course, an outstanding achievement which you no doubt would have heard on the news. Whatever it is that I do on this blog is more popular than ever.  Perhaps it’s due to me writing many more non-list entries this year. In 2019, I’ve written

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I’ve written a number of non-list entries, which beats my previous record of ‘a lot less’ at best and, more commonly, ‘fuck all’. I’m not going to waste much time trying to analyse why I’m so popular- just luck at that fucking face. Adorable- but such a momentous occasion deserves something of a celebration. And I couldn’t think of a better one than this. Or, more accurately, I could think of a million better ways to celebrate than this, but this is the only one I could be arsed doing. Good? Good.

You could probably guess what I’m aiming to do. As we edge towards the end of the year, it’s obvious what needs to be done, and the fact that we are about to close on a decade that has seen the arrival SnapChat, Pope Francis, Boko Harem, Transformers: Age of Extinction and Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz only makes things more imperative.

That’s right: a statistical breakdown of the best albums of 2018!!

Yeah, I know, I should have done this in January when I finished the countdown, much like I published detailed breakdowns soon after 2016 and 2017 finished. But you know what? I’ve just been busy, man, y’know? Did you not notice that it took me three entries to list the greatest Money in the Bank matches ever? If I’m spending so much time on bullshit like that how am I ever going to find time for bullshit like this? Are you going to be one of those people who doesn’t like it when things they don’t like happen?? Grow up, this is neoliberalism and you’ll accept whatever we tell you that you’re happy with.

Love you!

Continue reading “Stats Through the Heart (and you’re to blame) 2018”

Entry #4 Marina and the Diamonds: Obsessions

What is the point of this blog? I mean, really?

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Don’t answer that.

I don’t mean to say ‘don’t answer that’ as a joke, like the answer would somehow be difficult to hear, it was an entirely serious suggestion. An order, really. It would really slow this entry down to a standstill were I to pause now to open it up for reader’s suggestions. It’s pretty much the definition of a rhetorical question, see? I’m not actually expecting you to answer, merely just asking it for dramatic effect. Do you see? Good.

Continue reading “Entry #4 Marina and the Diamonds: Obsessions”

Money in the Ranked part 1 (22-11)

All 22 WWE Money in the Bank ladder matches ranked. Listen, I thought the title would work better than it does, just go with it, OK?

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The Money in the Bank (from hereon in referred to as ‘MITB’, because I’ve got a lot of writing to do and I am a very, very lazy man) ladder match is the best idea that WWE have had since Steve Austin’s turn to the dark side at the end of Wrestlemania 17 in 2001 signalled the end of the Attitude Era and drew the curtain on the last period which wrestling seemed in any way relevant or widely notable. It’s arguably the only good idea they’ve had in that 18 year period. Save perhaps having The Miz replace Ted DiBiase jnr. as the lead actor in ‘The Marine’ franchise from ‘The Marine 3: Homefront’ onward. Yeah, WWE make movies now. And yeah, they’re all terrible.

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There have seriously been 6 of these fuckers

The premise- 5-10 wrestlers battle to use ladders to reach a contract swinging over the top of the ring which allows them a shot at any title they choose at any time they want over the next 12 months- is simple but ingenious, and allows for great storytelling potential and the chance to quickly promote a wrestler into the main event picture. Of course, this potential is more often than not completely squandered, because WWE are generally incompetent and we’re not allowed to have nice things.

Ranking the matches is difficult, because save a handful of amazing bouts and a smaller, Jeremy Beadle sized handful of slightly poorer ones, they’re almost always a similar level of ‘alright, pretty good, I suppose’. However, I am perhaps the greatest blogger of my generation- the ‘Heart Blog Kid’ Blog Michaels, or ‘Stone Blog’ Steve Blogstin, if you will- so I knew I had the ability to do it. I had initially planned to write this list in the build up to the 2018 Money in the Bank pay per view, back when there had been exactly 20 matches, and it would have made so much more sense. Alas, now there are 22 and, to be completely honest, I can’t even promise to finish it in time for 2019’s event exactly two weeks from today. But it’s a cash cow that the WWE are unlikely to put down for a long time yet, so there’s always the chance of a top 24 in 2020. Or perhaps a top 26 in 2021. I mean, I’ve started it now and I’ve already realised it’s going to have to be two parts…

Let’s see how long this takes!!

Continue reading “Money in the Ranked part 1 (22-11)”