As the new year draws closer, we’ve decided to take a look the music that’s gotten us to where we are today. So in an effort to broaden our musical horizons and our understanding of contemporary artists, we’re counting down 2012 by counting up from 1952, taking a look at a handful of songs from a different year every day until January 1st. You can find the full list here. Today we’re heading back to 1996!
2Pac feat. Snoop Dogg – “2 Of Amerikaz Most Wanted”
Having both been actually charged with very serious crimes, Snoop Dogg and 2Pac gave a new breath of credibility to the usually outlandish claims of most gangsta rappers. Here they’re aping a scene from Scarface in allusion to the failed attempt on Pac’s life in ’94, though it would only be a few months after making this video that he would be murdered. “2 Of Amerikaz Most Wanted” was a number one hit, an enduring watershed moment in the careers of both rappers, even posthumously: here’s HoloPac performing the track with Snoop Lion to an ecstatic reception at Coachella.
Sloan – “Autobiography”
Sloan’s One Chord To Another was created while the band was on the brink of break-up, but it captured them at their strongest. Charmingly lo-fi production, Beatles-esque harmonies, charmingly self-aware songwriting (see above), and a dabble of psychedelia makes this undoubtedly one of Canada’s best, truly independent releases ever.
Nada Surf – “Popular”
In terms of best remembered songs, Nada Surf could do a lot worse than “Popular.” The popularity of Weezer’s Blue Album from two years prior was still fresh in people’s minds, and the song’s ironic and despondent punk resonated. Matthew Caws sneers and rages against the content of their own lyrics, clinical and myopic suggestions for popularity taken from an actual advice book published in 1964. Damn. (Also, is it just me, or is this song basically everything The Teenagers ever wrote?)
Beck – “Sissyneck”
Ohh god, The Dust Brothers. The production duo behind Paul’s Boutique. Odelay. This goddamn website (they approved it, anyway.) They’re great. And their work on Beck’s Odelay is some of their highest esteemed, both in sales and critical acclaim. We love “Sissyneck” because it just doesn’t care what we think, from the opening whistle to the hayseed hip hop vibe. Total creative class.
Weezer – “Across the Sea”
As the lyrics document, a depressed Rivers Cuomo received a fan letter from a Japanese girl and he instantly fell in love. His words capture that all-too-familiar longing for a better life that must exist, somewhere where the grass is greener, while his composition exhibits some of the most complicated chord changes in the entire Weezer oeuvre.