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.
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:
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.
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!
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!
(*some classic Manic Street Preachers t-shirt slogans from the early 90s:
You’re the Spitting Image of Your Father When You Make That Face!
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!!