(Stats, Not War) Just the End of the List

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.

Continue reading “(Stats, Not War) Just the End of the List”

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.14 (10-8)

Yeah, that’s right, I’m rolling on through!! I’ve promised myself that I can play a bit of the Resident Evil 3 remake after I finish this entry, so don’t expect me to be 100% focused…

#10 Charli XCX: how i’m feeling now

Oh, so she uses proper capitalisation on the album cover, but not in the official stylisation?? Seriously, Charli, what the WTF?

There is no better artist in recent times at embracing the everything than Charli XCX. Her genius has always been to encompass pretty much every facet of modern pop music and modern sound into bite size chunks and serving them up for the aimed consumption of literally every single person on Earth. She has always liked to do this through bridging as many connections with as many people as possible. She is an insanely public artist, connecting to all of her fans on every social platform and ensuring that they are always explicitly aware of how important they are in whatever success she has, leading to live performances that can feel more like a mass therapy session mixed with the prelude to the greatest mass orgy all thousand people present have ever experienced mixed with the purest exhibition of Arthur Janov‘s treatment of primal screaming. She’d also do this by collaborating with as many other artists as she could, ensuring that so many of her fans were introduced to slightly more challenging acts such as Cupcakke, Dorian Elektra and Tommy Cash. You have to imagine that Charli hugs each and every person she passes on the streets and tells them that she loves them, and to never stop being awesome. It makes every trip to the Post Office last about an hour and 45 minutes. For this most hyper-interactive, hyper-communicative, hyper-compassionate and hyper sharing artist- one who thrives on the maddening stimulation of modern life- to suddenly find that you’re not allowed to meet with anybody and, really, shouldn’t even leave your freaking house might have come as a defeating blow, like if you’re a My Little Pony fan and the government suddenly announced all swastikas were now illegal.

Continue reading “Necessary Evil 2020 pt.14 (10-8)”

Necessary Evil 2020 pt.13 (15-11)

#15 Burial: Tunes 2011-2019

Yeah, you know how JPEGMAFIA’s album was just a collection of singles from the previous year? Well, Burial sees that effort and raises it by releasing a collection of singles and EPs from the better part of the last decade. Might have made sense to split the two albums up on the list. This list isn’t about aesthetics and sensible ordering though. It’s pure science. And if the science states that they should be placed next to each other, perhaps both fitted with a secret microchip so Bill Gates can track their movements, then who are we to argue?

Sigh… I’m going to have to start with an embarrassing confession. I know, many of you reading this already think all the things I write are shamefully embarrassing, but this is a distressing mark against my musical knowledge which, come on, up until now was unimpeached. In November of 2019, roughly a month before this collection came out, I wrote this:

Continue reading “Necessary Evil 2020 pt.13 (15-11)”

Cheap Tarnished Glitter: Manic Street Preachers’ Gold Against the Soul 27th Anniversary (??) Deluxe Reissue, Inspection and Reevaluation

“I like bands with a lot of fuck-ups, who flirt with disaster, it just shows that they’re fallible. All humans are fallible, after all. And we’re just a reflection Of that.”

Nicky Wire, The List, 1993

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 boss at 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!

Continue reading “Cheap Tarnished Glitter: Manic Street Preachers’ Gold Against the Soul 27th Anniversary (??) Deluxe Reissue, Inspection and Reevaluation”

79 MARINA: Love + Fear, 78 Billie Eilish: When We Go To Sleep Where Do We Go?

Yeah, that’s right, motherfucking double entry. Pssssshow! Did you hear that sound? That’s the sound of your tiny BRAINS being blown, yo! Don’t like it? Wanna lay down? Come at me, bro! COME AT ME!!!!

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Ahem… We enter the top 80 [EIGHTY] with an artist whom I’ve long loved who has never achieved the commercial success her AMAZINGNESS deserves, and a debut album by an artist* doing a lot of Marina’s old tricks and the obvious inheritor of the Welsh/Greek Queen’s mantle of master (mistress?? No, can’t use that word, the perverts have ruined it) of pitch perfect pop music that’s unafraid to be a little weird- frequently A LOT weird- and can hide quite profound sentiments behind its bubble gum pop aesthetics, playfully ironic one second but emotionally sincere the next. Yet, rather than challenging Marina for the title of ‘Favourite Cult Alt-Pop Act Who Sells Fuck All Records’, somehow her debut album has sold 1,304,000 equivalent album units (343,000 physical sales), which, yeah, it’s no ‘This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours’ (five. Fucking. Million?!), but it’s about as much as albums sell these days, and was the biggest selling album of 2019 for a long time. It might still be. What am I, Mr. Research? Get fucked. Released a month after Eilish’s debut, Marina’s first album in four years was going to set up a brutal battle between the master and the jumped up apprentice who has managed to commercially outperform her influence more than a hundred times over. Marina officially removing the ‘…and the Diamonds’ suffix from her name was like her removing all shackles, ready to go to war. She even stylises it as ‘MARINA’, like she’s screaming her name to remind these little upstarts who the real OG is! Billie’s gonna get pwnnnnnned!! Grab your popcorn, kids, this is sure to be brutal!

Continue reading “79 MARINA: Love + Fear, 78 Billie Eilish: When We Go To Sleep Where Do We Go?”

The Best Albums of the Tennies (kind of…) Part Two

Y’know what? This really didn’t need to be a two parter. Sure, Part One spilled over 4’000 words, but’s that’s just because Arctic Monkey’s shameful behavior presented me with the chance to go off on a wrestling tangent, and that’s a guaranteed extra twenty five hundred words right there. I reckon I’ll bang through the rest of these in around 2’000 words, as I’m almost certain The Sport of Kings is unlikely to make an appearance. 6’000 words is a not at all ridiculous length for an entry. My ‘50 Song Memoir‘ entry was, if memory serves, 7,296,586 words, and that’s one of my most popular posts of all time. You. Whores. Love. Length.

Smash

But, twice the content, yeah? Twice the clicks, twice the sweet, sweet advertising dollar. I mean… technically, yeah… Double zero is still zero, maths fans. Could be worse, I could be giving each entry it’s own individual page and forcing you to click ‘next’ each time, like those fucking awful lists you see on the internet, like… like… well, like this dumb blog that nobody reads every year end, I suppose. We’ve got some motherfucking stonkers coming up, mind, so ready your tiny minds to be blown like you were the window cleaner’s penis and this list was your mum (oooooooooooooooh!!). This pointless intro only exists because I hate the entries being scissored by a page break. Besides, I couldn’t let you know what no.5 is before I’ve got your delicious clicks. Clickety-click!

Continue reading “The Best Albums of the Tennies (kind of…) Part Two”

The Legit Bosses:136 Best Tracks of 2018

This is officially the end of 2018! And it’s only the 5th January [EDIT: Still only the 6th!]! Although there’s freaking one hundred and thirty six  tracks to get through, so this may well take until mid May! Happy Cinco de Mayo! No time to talk! A shit load of songs to get through!!

136 Candace: Rewind

Gorgeous, innit?

135 Epic Reflexes: Cha Cha

While Z-Tape’s ‘Spring’ collection was veritably busting at the seems with Legit Bosses, as you’ll soon see, this is the only similarly legitimate position of authority from their ‘Summer’ collection. They’re all still great though, as is the Epic Reflexes’s album ‘ChaChaChinatown‘.

134 The Carters: Apeshit

I had a lot of problems with ‘Everything is Love’, the surprising debut release from Beyonce and Jay-Z. Part of the reason I struggled with it was that I wasn’t sure how canonical it is. Like, is this it, Bee? Is this underwhelming collection of occasionally very entertaining rap boasts officially your actual follow-up to one of the most acclaimed albums of the 21st century? It’s an album about how two very rich people love each other but probably love their money more, that includes the line “My grandchildren’s grandchildren already rich” which, despite Kanye’s crisis of publicity, is by far the line from 2018 that Donald Trump is most likely to high five in a men’s locker room. Also, there’s a moment on the opening track where Mr Carter drawls out “Let it breaaaathe, let it breaaaathe” like JB Rockefeller basking in the glory of a fart he’d just released under the bedsheets, which marks the first time in more than two decades that I’ve thought to myself that I don’t think I really like Jay-Z. However, he often wins me back with the later claim that he’s “Good on any MLK boulevard”. This song’s pretty great though

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Fucking hell, Jay, that haircut though… One hundred and thirty three more after the jump!

Continue reading “The Legit Bosses:136 Best Tracks of 2018”

55 Manic Street Preachers: Resistance is Futile (and the Manics albums ranked)

You might not believe this- considering it sounds so much like a slogan that would have been scrawled over the shirt of an awkward looking Sean Moore in 1991*- but the Manic Street Preachers haven’t actually released an album (or even song) called ‘resistance is futile’ before!

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thankfully, it says ‘broken algorithms’ on the inner sleeve

(*some classic Manic Street Preachers t-shirt slogans from the early 90s:

  • Bon Apetit Benito!
  • Pol Pot Luck!
  • Atrophy is Ecstacy!
  • She Had a Honky-Tonk Badonkadonk!
  • Burn Your Kindling!
  • You’re the Spitting Image of Your Father When You Make That Face!
  • (poo emoji)!
  • Mao That’s What Zedong Music!
  • Rick and Morty Reference That I Honestly Believe Makes Me Smarter Than You! Seriously, What The Fuck Is Up With That Shit?! It Makes Me Want To Hate the Show Because Its Fans Are Such Cunts!
  • USSR! Fuck Yeah!

OK, we’re done here…)

‘Resistance is Futile’ is absolutely a treading water, ticking boxes, Manic Street Preachers album. And that’s absolutely fine, not just because the absolute riproaring success of ‘Futurology‘ means the band are allowed to put their feet up for an album or two (you Millennials don’t appreciate how much doing something decent really takes it out of you at a certain age), but also because the lack of talking points means it’s given me a chance to finally rate all the Manics albums!!

Continue reading “55 Manic Street Preachers: Resistance is Futile (and the Manics albums ranked)”