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 1997!
Blur – “On Your Own”
Bored of Britpop, fame, and each other, Blur managed to regain control of their flailing band and record their most commercially successful album, 1997's Blur. This is the album that contained “Song 2,” the grunge parody that flew over everyone's heads as it got firmly stuck in them. Better to stick with “On Your Own,” perhaps the most accessible (non ironic) single from an album summoned from totally alien, non-pop locales from each band member.
Fiona Apple – “Criminal”
“Criminal” introduced Apple to an unprepared world, and had she been less brave, the violent response to her music might have caused her to self-destruct. The Grammy-winning song comes with a video that is both prescient and relevant in its depiction of photography trends. Apple stars, looking deathly thin with a hearty dose of Nabakov's Lolita, preening for a voyeuristic camera and singing about her moral failings and emotional needs.
Radiohead – “Paranoid Android”
Radiohead's 1997 album OK Computer is arguably (and boy, is it ever argued) their most important of all. It's also impressively timeless, as opposed to almost everything else released that entire decade. Anyway, enjoy this live performance of the song, and try not to stare too long at Thom's ridiculous glasses.
Buju Banton – “Love Sponge”
If you discovered regge from this count-up series, you might think it ended when Bob Marley passed. And you'd be wrong! Well into the '90s Jamaica's most popular music was still chiefly autonomous from the influence of popular American music, creating dubby, poppy tracks like Buju Banton's “Love Sponge,” which might be about weed, or his love for a woman. By the way, that last part, namely everyone knowing that he loved women in a sex-fashion, was always very important to Banton, judging by his constant stream of virulently homophobic remarks. He's currently serving a ten year prison sentence for drug trafficking, so he'll have plenty of time to re-evaluate all that.
Daft Punk – “Around The World”
Two Frenchmen in robot suits making electronic music became bigger than anyone predicted, starting with Homework and “Around The World.” So enduring is the track that it was almost sampled by will.i.am, but the band shot him down, to a grateful world's relief. The revolutionary, playful sounds are done justice by in Michel Gondry's music video, a stifled giggle mixed with a child's sketchbook.