(*yeah, that song isn’t actually included. It’ll be on Legit Bosses 2022 though! I’m just a bit slow with these things…)
So, only 121 this year, a marked decline on 2020’s 125. So was it a notably worse year? Absolutely chuffing not. Despite the 2.928% drop in numbers, the quality on show is outstanding. Never mind the weight, feel the quality. The top maybe twenty songs especially are on some next level shit, and you haven’t seen so many GOATs since you traumatically happened upon Weird Uncle Colin’s problematic porn collection back in 92. I also shaved a few songs last minute, mainly because they were from albums due to be released in 2022 and I decided to make them Next Year Alex’s problem. Also, one or two I realised… weren’t… actually… that… good… So that just means the 121 that made the cut are all of such spectacular quality that you may want to warn the people around you before you start reading this list, as the floor between your legs is about to get soaked.
No, no, hey, maybe it’s you that’s too gross, ever considered that??
Anyway, let the festivities begin, here are the playlists:
Nick Cave album number three and a half! Or is it just number three? Do the last two doublet albums instead just count for one whole one? Whatever, it’s Cave’s twelfth Necessary Evil ranking album that he’s featured on, which I’m going to assume is a record seeing as The Manics (his only feasible challengers) only have a pitiful nine. Yeah, he’s been sneakily boosting his stats this year with multiple albums, but then The Manics boosted their stats with rereleasing ‘This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours‘ and ‘Gold Against the Soul‘, so no need to create a fuss, we’re all friends here. Warren. Warren! Put the knife down, yeah? It’s Christmas
Did you notice that thing that erupted in 2020? No, not Zandaya, though isn’t she just wonderful? Not Tiger King, no, come on, that meme’s been dead a long time. And, no, I am not about to make another Emily in Paris joke, I made one of those in my Big $ilky review and – honestly? – I feel that may already be too many. I mean the coronavirus, or COVID-19, the sickness so good they named it twice. Then kept naming it: Delta, Omicron, The Global Bastard, The Big Stink, The Worldwide Whoopsie, The Wuhan Cunt, and many more. Didn’t notice? Take a look out the window.It’s still happening. Haven’t seen Granny in a while? Yeah, because she’s dead, mate.Merry Christmas.
Don’t think aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah know?? Y’only tryna sa-ha-haave, yourself! Fuck, yes! I motherfucking love this shit! And I’m not only referring to the original songs on Sharon van Etten’s original 2010 album, her second release and one that indisputably catapulted her into that vaunted selection of artists you should perhaps, maybe, kinda care about. A lot.
While we’re here, can more artists do this please? I have a deeply psychological issue where I will only listen to records released in the same calendar year as when I’m encountering them, with the odd annual exception if you’ve died or if you’re, erm, Yeasayer. Or Prince. If you’re an artist that I’ve discovered in the past five years or so -when this strange affliction really started to take hold and become near dictatorial – then I’m just never going to have the chance to go back and appreciate your earlier stuff unless you rerelease it. Ideally encased with as many bells and whistles as possible, making it an official reissue and eligible for that year’s list. Like, Lupe Fiasco, I’ve fallen in love with you, but only since 2014, so can you rerelease your older stuff that people say is, actually, much better? Kid Cudi, you too, I only started appreciating your majesty as recently as 2016. Could you rerelease that terrible rock album you did, I am beyond curious. But not, like, curious enough to disobey the list.
Ha! Trust me, Ms Rodrigo, if I died before I first drank, it would have made a lot of people’s lives easier! Your not missing anything, I promise. Have you ever tried Methylenedioxymethamphetamine though? That’s some good stuff, get it down you.
Christ, it’s a minefield trying to search for Olivia Rogrido photos. Like, is she twelve years old in that one?? I’m I accidentally turning this whole post into paedofodder? There’s also a lot of gifs of her doing something like sticking her tongue out but looped, which I’m pretty sure are just weird masturbation fodder for 40 year old men. OK, not many years until I’ll greatly appreciate all that pandering, but right now it’s still officially gross, OK? Jesus, this woman turned eighteen in February of this year, and this is her life now. Listen, maybe just read my Jordana piece and, like, amplify it.
Jesus Christ, more Manics?? Their fourteenth album, their ninth appearance on this year end list which has only run for thirteen years itself, I’ve ranked the albums, I’ve ranked the songs, I’ve shamelessly juiced the clicks because – glimpse behind the curtain, between you and me – any Manics post gets roughly ten times the hits of the rest of nonsense I churn out on this Bullshit Blog™, surely there’s nothing left for me to say??
Ha! Fucking idiot, this is the Manic Street freaking Preachers! I’m always going to have stuff to write about! That list of the greatest songs was about 40’000 words, but I’m still planning to go back and edit it, add new facts I’ve learned, new theories I’ve had, new philosophies uncovered. Plus, their new album, ‘The Ultra Vivid Lament’ wasn’t featured in that album ranking, and I’d only heard the marvellous lead single Orwellian when I made my ranking of Manics songs (I had actually planned to finish it before the new album was released but – ha! – no…) so it was the only one to feature. This is all fresh content, my friends!! Hit that ‘subscribe’ button as hard as you can!!
Ah, fuck, am I including B-Side collections now?? I guess that shouldn’t be much of an issue, considering that there’s only a tiny, Jeremy Beadle handful of artists I would even considering purchasing a B-Side collection of. Just so you know, Manic Street Preachers‘ last B-Side collection was back in 2003. The Bad Seeds released ‘B-Sides and Rarities’ part one in 2005, so the Manics are already embarrassingly behind schedule. Sort it out, Wire. Although, to be honest, I was all ready to announce that the inherent importance of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds have lead to them releasing the first B-Sides collection to be featured on Necessary Evil, until I remembered that Carly Rae Jepsen’s 2016 B-Side collection made #31 that year, so there really is no rhyme nor reason to it. Also, the featured image to that blog post is Al Pacino shoving cocaine into his face in Scarface, so let’s not pretend any of us has any idea what’s going on around here.
What a collection though, aye? Ammi right? Ammi right? I’m right. ‘B-Sides and Rarities’ part one was no slouch at all, containing a smattering of wonder that showed how harsh the band’s quality control had been during the first two decades of their existence considering the excellence of some of their cast-offs. It was clear that the bar to entry onto a Bad Seeds album was more stringent and difficult to pass than the best American colleges even if your mother used to be in Desperate Housewives. There were also other bits and bobs that settled debates such as whether Shane MacGowan did the best version of Lucy. He did. Debate over.
Yes! For the eighth straight year* the highlight of everyone’s festive season is back. And what a year. What a couple of years. Personally, I mean, I’ve no idea what’s been going on in the wider world. I’ve noticed masks have come back into fashion, but that seems to have had its moment and is wearing off, bit of an embarrassing fad it seems, like scrunchies or caring about the environment. Remember when we all did that?? Mega cringe.
(*I am absolutely fucking definitely stopping this after the tenth year, you have no idea how much freaking work this meaningless piece of work takes. Or I might just turn it into a Google Sheet that I release on Christmas eve. Or a TikTok. I’ll just do a TikTok where I take my shirt off and tell you what I thought of the latest Shamir album. I’ll do a dance and shit. It’ll go viral)
So, when I did Necessary Evil 2019 I had never met my my future wife. Then I met my future wife on Bumble while I was doing a series about how much nonsense dating apps were. We really hit it off, but then she realised that I was writing a blog series about it (I didn’t mention her because, y’know, I kinda liked her. I know, mega cringe, right? Epic fail) so she cut off all contact with me, blocking me in ways I never previously knew were digitally possible. Then I wrote a post about the whole mess. She read the post, didn’t hate it, approximately five months later we were married. So, yeah, when I wrote Necessary Evil 2020 I was living with my new wife.
And as I start Necessary Evil 2021, to the excitement and joy of all five or six of the people who read this, I am back to living with my Mum, applying for an annulment of a marriage to a wife who has again blocked me on every digital avenue possible. It’s quite a journey. It’s, like, 92% my fault. I’m sure it’ll come up again. Entry #35 for example, I’ve no idea what I’m going to write for that, so might just do some primal scream therapy. The band Primal Scream, unfortunately, do not feature this year.
But what a year for music, ammi right?? We’ve got a Manics album (click click click click), we’ve got the continuing Prince journey and a ‘new’ Prince album, we’ve got Kanye (as always) and, fair warning, we’ve got a lot of Nick Cave. Three and a half albums. Too much Cave? No such thing. There are six former winners. Or perhaps seven. I think I proved in my stats regarding the Manics top 100 that countingreally isn’t my strong point. I’m more, like, holistic when it comes to numbers, yeah? There’s eighty one albums, because I can’t do anything right. I’m going to try and brush through numbers 81-41 in groups of ten, then give the top forty their own dedicated posts, even though, as amazing as all the albums are, I can’t think of anything to say about most of them. I’ve also reluctantly made my peace with Spotify. I hate it, you hate it, it’s going to be the death of the entire industry, but I understand that it is the industry. I link to each artist’s BandCamp (the light side of the force battling Darth Ek) page but also host the album on Spotify, as I understand most people can’t be arsed to stream it on BandCamp, will never pay for music, and Spotify streams at least mean something.
Yeah, so I’ve sold out, but what have you done this year? That’s right, you’ve just drooled over that paparazzi photo where you can kinda see Billie Eilish’s cleavage again and again, haven’t you? Grow up, she’s young enough to be that woman that your third wife divorced you over!! I have two ex-wives now, so I can make those jokes.
Anyway, we’re gonna have a lot of fun, yeah?? Once again, the reason that album you like isn’t featured is because it’s shit and you’re an idiot.
I honestly love you all. Heart emoji. I don’t know how you do that on WordPress…
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.