NE2022 enters into a strange ‘rerelease zone’ for these next three entries. I can’t remember if I did this intentionally. It’s difficult to consider ‘classic’ albums alongside newer material. You need to balance out any nostalgia and the unfair ten year start that some records have had to burrow into your subconscious. Yet you don’t want to go too far the other way, and fail to remember the original spark and energy that was originally locked within a song you’ve heard fifteen thousand fucking times already. You can’t give too much weight to cultural importance… but you certainly can’t just blindly ignore it. It’s an extremely complicated equation that I honestly don’t believe anyone reading this will be intelligent enough to fully grasp. Or, I just realised there were a lot of amazing rereleases this year and didn’t want them all clogging up the top ten, so parked them all just outside. Two releases still escaped and made the top ten. There are five records in the top 15 that weren’t released in 2022. Shut up. Ah do warra want!
Heeeeeeeeey, when did people start saying “Nice” after they say “69”? This isn’t a ‘bit’, I know that recent posts may have lead you to believe that I am a master wordsmith full of devilish literary tricks to evoke all sorts of thoughtful commentaries, but this is an actual serious question. There is only one response to a sudden appearance of the number 69, and that is to shout “SIXTY NINE DUDE!” and then air guitar. It’… it’s… it’s… it’s just how it’s done!
Have we as a society already forgotten ‘Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure’?? What a damning indictment of the social media frazzled attention spans of modern culture, how we’re so quick to move on from a shared touchstone that was only released…
Aaaaargh! Eeeesh! Oooof! Concerned faces! Furrowed brows! Isn’t the internet just awful?! Social media! SOCIAL FUCKING MEDIA! Facebook and Myspace and shit!! They’ve ruined the world! They’ve destroyed a whole generation!! That teenager who you follow on Instagram who keeps posting pictures of her pert young tiddies straining against a tight vest provided by Shein’s new line? Don’t you just hate her?? Her narcissism is destroying society! Havea look at the next photo. Eugh! I’ve never seen such a narcissistic bitch! Scroll down. My God! Look at those tight narcissistic abs and those horrendously self-absorbed nipples visible through that egotistical Pretty Little Things top! Let’s see how bad the next photo is…
Some people really rate ‘The Life of Pablo’. Not me, personally. I think it has cheeky splashes of genius amongst its giant conceptual mess, but if we were to compare it to an actual Picasso it would be a part way beautiful Les Demoiselles d’Avignon only with each of the women’s faces replaced by flaming poo emojis, some pencil sketchings still unfilled and a blank canvas for the unfinished bottom third. I did and do really rate ‘Ye’, which is a wonderfully concise and incisive record concerning West’s mental struggles and his first emotionally raw and conscious presentation of his bipolar disorder. But not everyone agrees. Few people agree. And it was largely ignored at the end of year back slapping events, with it still today scoffed at as a undercooked and uninspired minor addition to his canon. Everyone hated ‘Jesus is King’ because that was a fetid pile of donkey faeces. We all agree on that. It’ll soon be nine years since West released a largely agreed upon classic record. Apart from everyone loved 2018’s amazing ‘Kids See Ghosts’ album, but let’s ignore that or lay it 100% at the feet of Kid Cudi, because otherwise my snappy and incisive introductory paragraph doesn’t make sense.
(these are all fan made versions of the ‘Donda’ album cover, by the way, because I thought you all deserved to see what a bit of fucking effort looked like)
So it’s time to say goodbye to my already world renowned list of the greatest Manic Street Preachers songs by providing a statistical breakdown of the scientifically peer reviewed list that literally dozens of people are still buzzing about. Why? I don’t fucking know, I feel like I just have to by this point. Plus Necessary Evil 2021 will be starting in December (put yo hands in the aye-yer!!) and I feel that if I don’t conduct this largely meaningless counting exercise done before then, I might end up never doing it. And you know what will happen then, my friend? That’s right: Arma-fucking-geddon.
Also, with delightful serendipity, unbeknownst to me when I began planning my list the wonderful New Chart Riot blog began compiling votes for their quinquennial (there you go, your new word today) top 50 of the greatest Manics songs, so along with putting the top half of my list forward for suggestion, I have also used data collected by the blog so far to reach some conclusions toward the end of the post. Are those conclusions sweeping? Why, yes. Are they unfair? How could they not be? Are they needlessly offensive? My dear, what would be the point otherwise?
Quick note: this post is unlikely to be 30’000+ words.
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.
(*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.
‘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?
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!!
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 noticeme mentiona 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.
Firstly, let’s just fuck the room’s elephant in the ass and admit that there is really no deep logical point in this reissue. ‘Gold Against the Soul’ may have been released on June 21st, but that release came in 1993, and I don’t think there is a wider habit among the music industry for rereleasing albums on their 27th anniversary. This is a legitimate and gorgeously packaged celebration, yes, but the intentions of its release are simply financial- the band knows that they still have a pathetic, rabid and obsessive fanbase, who will jump at the chance to buy a lavishly packaged and expanded edition of one of the band’s less well regarded albums. Yes, including me. But let’s just stop and look at the optics here- here are the most viewed pages on the Necessary Evil blog this year:
(*fuck, I am so old. Like, properly, well-adjusted and responsible adults were born after this album was released. Your bossat work was born after ‘Gold Against the Soul’ was released! Your weird uncle Freddy’s girlfriend was born after this album was released, and she’s the oldest girlfriend he’s has since his 1998 divorce!)
This can mean only one thing: time to pander to all those pathetic Manics fans again!
Shit’s really going down, ain’t it? You know shit’s going down because some big shops are shutting down. These shops didn’t shut down during a virus that’s currently been responsible for 376’000 deaths worldwide (watch this space!!), because, seriously, fuck these people, right? But now these multimillion dollar companies that have long built their success on the suffering and oppression of others are actually losing products on a scale absolutely insignificant to their wider wealth. So this shit’s important, yeah? COVID-19 testing centres are also being shut down in some areas because, well, some people don’t deserve to be safe, do they? In 2020, you really have to earn the right to not die, and we have to make it clear that certain people don’t deserve that right, yes?