Breaking News: “Motownphilly” Was Exactly the 194th Best Song Released in the 90s

08/30/2010 9:02 AM |

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Well, this ought to be fun. Pitchfork is using this week’s relatively weak slate of new releases as an excuse to break from their normal schedule and instead count down the Top 200 Tracks of the 90s. Today we get numbers 200-151, as well as an introductory essay from the staff. Whatever uncredited writer is responsible for it points out that the 90s list is a little different than any other decade list they’ve published.

For the first time, the age of the writer being polled had a huge impact on how he or she understood the music of the decade at hand. When Nirvana hit in late 1991, a couple of us were in our early 20s, while more than a few others were still in grade school. That gap proved to be an interesting puzzle. The further we got into voting, the more it became apparent that there were so many sides to the 90s story that it made sense to tell as many of them as possible. So unlike any big list we’ve ever done, we’ve only included one song per artist in order to take in as much as we can.

Now, first of all, the one song per artist thing is a questionable decision—to think that in all likelihood, nothing from In Utero will make the list because of the broader cultural significance of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” is a total shame. Second, I know they cite the age of their contributors as playing a big role here, but it still strikes me as uncharacteristically short-sighted (short-hindsighted?) to intimate that the 90s were the first decade that isn’t neatly summed up by one style or movement. It comes off more like, “This is the first decade we actually know some shit about.” Also, “Stop!” over “Jane Says“? No way.

2 Comment

  • Well, technically, Nothing’s Shocking came out in the late 80s… though the Kettle’s Whistle live version of “Jane Says,” which I think all reasonable people can agree is the best and quite possibly definitive version, was performed/recorded and released in the 90s… So I guess I don’t really know what my point is?

  • The one-artist-per format also means that of the first fifty I like, maybe, 7 of those songs. One of them being White Town’s “Your Woman” which, unlike its radio saturating-contemporary “How Bizarre,” sounds awesome lately.