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”

Because I Like Stats (and That’s the Way It Is)

This is probably the only reason i still do this stupid fucking list that nobody reads and the one post that I actually enjoy writing (because it’s basically just me making lots of pretty pictures), statistical motherfucking analysis!! The numbers, the records and the science, yo! behind Necessary Evil 2019. Let’s start with with what (spit) other music journalists thought.

Metacritic Scores

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OK, we all actually agree on the nest album of the year, so the critics are actually correct for once. Chill out on Jamila Woods and Michael Kiwanuka though, yeah?

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Necessary Evil 2019 (62-57)

62 Miley Cyrus: She is Coming

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As you were no doubt taught in economics class, Joseph Schumpeter theorised that there were three distinct types of Miley Cyrus

  1. The ‘aw shucks, there do be a gorse darn boll weevil of pity in ma starched corn hat of love’ (or whatever) dull as dog’s pish Miley of 2017’s ‘Younger Now’, where Miley largely utilities bland country rock but always with the main aim of burrowing herself into the blandest playlists of the most anemic middle aged, middle class radio stations. Or whatever the 2019 version of radio is. Creepypasta subreddits, I think. This is the worst version of Miley Cyrus, artistically near worthless and so obviously desperate for commercial success. It was this version of Miley that Sebastian Piñera has attempted to introduce wholesale to Chile recently, and you can see how well that’s gone.
  2. The occasionally very rewarding, occasionally teeth grindingly embarrassing ‘Yeah bitches! Check out the rims on my pelican fly! Diddy-de check yourself before you diddy-de fleek yourself! Mofo better represent ma’ sweet ass flumes!’ Miley, where she plays with ‘urban’* tropes that’s she’s not even close to feeling like she’s earned, trying so hard to try and ensure her Disney Channel past doesn’t interfere with her quest for credibility and LOOK HOW BIG THIS MOTHERFUCKING DOOBIE IS, BRO!! BRAP BRAP BRAP! Neoplatonist philosophers refer to this as ‘Michael Govian Miley‘.
  3. When she’s not being closely supervised, we’re very occasionally treated to ‘Top of the gurning to yer! Gerbils tunnelled into my desolate Norway! Ribbitribbitribbitribbitribbitribbitribbitribbitribbitribbitribbitribbit goes the sparkly cow!’ Miley, where she’s absolutely no idea what she’s doing and releases quasi-surreal nonsense, like Frank Zappa made for preteens. Or, perhaps for idiots. Frequently both. Dullards will argue that this is the worst Miley, which, I mean, yeah, technically, I suppose, but it’s also by far and away the best, for obvious reasons. Sociologists are suggesting this Miley will soon be so rare as to be close to extinction, as it’s unlikely her label will allow her to release another ‘…Dead Petz‘ for a long, long time.

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42 Pixx: The Age of Anxiety

Anxious Geography

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“Here me/Hear me cry out/Everything is weird in/America”

America is a different country from Britain. Like, completely different: it has its own laws and everything, and is entirely full of people who are very different from the people in the UK. Not only is there a lot more of them but, let’s face it, a lot of them are probably a lot fatter, so their combined weight of humanity would be so much more that it would render Britain’s almost inconsequential.

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9 Against Me: Shape Shift With Me

Honesty, this wasn’t intentional, it just so happens that music’s two most famous ‘chicks-with-dicks-or-maybe-not-we-don’t-know-and-why-is-it-considered-appropriate-to-debate-their-genitalia-it’s-not-like-Harrison-Ford-goes-on-Letterman-and-the-entire-interview-is-solely-based-on-the-precise-make-up-of-his-genitals-and…

Fucking hell… I’m starting this again, can you delete all that?

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Honestly, this wasn’t intentional, it just so happens that music’s two most famous transexuals ended up on this list together, I’m not operating some bizarre segregation, and if you look back at the list you won’t see that I’ve grouped all the Norwegians, all the Bronies, and all the Abecedarians together

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35 Ital Tek: Hollowed

It has been said that Ital Tek is ‘the sound of Brexit’, which I’m not sure I agree with, but it offers me a good opportunity to waffle on about it

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For some reason, I thought that Ital Tek was European- perhaps it was the funny sounding name, and the desolate yet achingly beautiful soundscapes that always sound a little Scandinavian to me- so I was planning to introduce this wonderful album as the sound of the EU. The bastard’s actually from Brighton, so I had to make a late change

 

If your immediate response to Brexit is that it was simply racist, then you yourself are part of the reason for it

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