Fans of Garbage haven’t been this excited since 2005.
It was then that the rock band released their last album, Bleed Like Me. This year, however, the freshly reunited quartet is back to inject some grunge into the mainstream.
On May 15, Garbage will be releasing their fifth studio album, Not Your Kind of People (via their own record label, Stunvolume). For those unfamiliar, Garbage are the musicians behind such monster ‘90s hits as Only Happy When It Rains, Stupid Girl, and the theme song to the James Bond film, The World Is Not Enough.
At 4 PM (EST) this afternoon, the iconic rockers participated in a live Ustream chat to talk about the upcoming record with fans and debut their music video for the album’s lead single, Blood For Poppies. Watch below…
Before you go see them on their nearly sold out spring tour, check out the list I’ve compiled of the band’s top ten essential tracks. Whether you’re a lapsed Garbage fan or a new one looking for a jumping on point, this list has got a little something for everyone. And be sure to share your favorite Garbage tracks in the comments section below!
One of most the most mellow and subdued single choices in Garbage’s playbook is Milk, a haunting song about lost love. Laced with a slow dripping trance backbeat, it also paved the path for the band’s future expanded experimentation with electronica.
“It’s a dichotomy, a paradox,” Garbage front woman Shirley Manson told British music newspaper Melody Maker in 1996 about the song. “The thing I really like about ‘Milk’ is the fact that it’s been dismissed by people as the ballad at the end of the album. To me, ‘Milk’ is the darkest, most hopeless of the songs. People say ‘Oh, it’s lovey-dovey, so therefore it’s a love song’. But it’s a very bleak song, it’s about loss and the fear of loss; about things you can’t have and things you will forever wait for.”
Nominated for Breakthrough Video at the 1996 MTV Video Music Awards, the music video for Garbage’s Queer stirred quite the controversy upon its initial release. Shot on a hand-held camera, the (mostly) black-and-white music video depicts the first-person perspective of the cameraman as Manson holds him hostage, takes off his clothes and shaves his head.
For a song about liberating your inner-freak, the accompanying music video for Queer couldn’t be more brilliant. It perfectly matches the song’s message about embracing one’s “strangeness” as what makes them individuals rather than social misfits. The “be yourself” moral of the track is not one seldom found in music, but its unique execution is one that makes Queer a real standout in the band’s career.
8. BLEED LIKE ME
from Bleed Like Me
There was a time not too long ago when songs like Ke$ha’s “We R Who We R, Katy Perry’s Firework, P!nk’s Fuckin’ Perfect and Lady GaGa’s Born This Way dominated the radio all at once. Inspired by the horrifying increase of suicides amongst homosexual adolescents, these songs were written with the hopes of inspiring people to not only remain true to themselves, but to also be at peace and be comfortable with their identities.
Taken from their 2005 album of the same name, Garbage’s Bleed Like Me has a similar message but with a different approach. Instead of focusing on the “it gets better” dreams of a future, Bleed Like Me is about the present pains of waiting for that future to happen.
The verses of Bleed Like Me are split into vignettes that tell stories about people suffering from eating disorders, gender confusion, depression and substance abuse as a form of escapism. The message? Even though you might feel disconnected from the world at a low-point in life, your feelings are never isolated. Even though it may seem like nobody understands, people cope with growing into themselves in countless ways, many of which are unfortunately self-destructive.
And while saying “you’re not alone” may not be the saving advice that drags the characters Manson has described out of the funk they’re in, it’s at least a comforting reminder that there is still a sense of hope out there, no matter how unattainable it may temporarily seem.
7. PUSH IT
from Version 2.0
The lead single off of Version 2.0, Push It showcases a part of Manson rarely seen in Garbage’s music: the glass-half-full, positive-spin-on-things side.
“I want to see you happy/I want to see you shine,” Manson seductively purrs on the track. “Don’t worry baby/We’ll be alright.”
Describing her lover’s pain as causing pain to her, Manson begs and persuades her lover to forgive her for whatever she’s done. A true love song, Push It is a battle cry to save a relationship that might be headed towards its end. And Manson is unafraid to fight until her lover is convinced that what they have is worth saving.
Set against a pulsing wave of electronica-backed percussion, it’s a track that injects a welcome shot of adrenaline to what might otherwise be written off as a somewhat generic plea for a second chance.
from Version 2.0
Nominated for Best Rock Song and Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group at the 2000 Grammy Awards, Special remains to be one of Garbage’s most adorned hits to date.
Inspired by a tumultuous breakup, Special depicts the crossroads lovers face when they realize they’ve grown in opposite directions and no longer satisfy one another’s expectations. In the song, Manson sings about her disappointment and her decision to embark on a solo journey – one in which she’s not restricted by the failed promise of a symbiotic relationship with her lover.
“Do you have an opinion?/A mind of your own?/I thought you were special/I thought you should know/But I’ve run out of patience/I couldn’t care less,” she croons as she kisses her lover goodbye.
Manson masterfully relays the feelings of exasperation and frustration that come with discovering your lovers’ true colors don’t blend well with your own. Acting like a canvas of sorts, Special pinpoints exactly what happens when these colors run parallel to one another – they may seem pretty at first, but they’ll ultimately never meet.
5. TEMPTATION WAITS
from Version 2.0
Although originally a track on Garbage’s album, Version 2.0, Temptation Waits reached its true immortality when it was included on the official 1999 soundtrack to the television show, Buffy The Vampire Slayer. One of that record’s biggest hits, the song has since been associated with the cult phenomenon TV program in the same vein that Wheatus’ Teenage Dirtbag is linked to Dawson’s Creek or Snow Patrol’s Chasing Car is attributed to Grey’s Anatomy.
Gritty, sexy and upbeat, Temptation Waits tells the story of undying love and thus expertly compliments Buffy’s tone. And no, I never played the song on loop while writing fan letters to Sarah Michelle Gellar. How dare you even ask?
4. WHEN I GROW UP
from Version 2.0
As an adolescent, everyone thinks about how different their lives will be when they “grow up.” For little kids, growing up means things like being able to have ice cream for dinner if you want without getting in trouble. For teenagers, it means things like not having a curfew or paper assignments about historical events you’ll never care about. There’s that ideal notion that after we’ve “grown up,” we’ll have complete control over the reigns of our lives.
Characteristically, Garbage’s take on this concept looks at it through a no-bullshit lens. Almost like a retaliation to the critics who dubbed Garbage as child’s play, When I Grow Up sticks up a middle finger to those who enforce social expectations of adulthood.
Manson has never been shy about having a dominant wild side. In this synthpop fortified grunge banger, she dares her haters to try to silence her from voicing her opinions or to stop her from partying and engaging in what are commonly regarded as defiant acts of sexuality. And while her suggestions of keeping life spicy with golden showers and helicopter rides may not make Manson a parent’s ideal role model for their child, it certainly makes her one of the most bold, unapologetic and interesting women in the industry.
3. #1 CRUSH
from Absolute Garbage
Like the flawless soundtrack to Cruel Intentions, the tracklisting for the soundtrack for Baz Luhrmann’s film adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet reads like a Now! That’s What I Call Music installment of greatest hits from the 90s. Featuring songs like The Cardigans’ Lovefool, Des’ree’s Kissing You and Everclear’s Local God, the album undoubtedly acts as a time portal for anyone who paid attention to contemporary music in 1996.
Garbage’s contribution to the soundtrack, #1 Crush, was originally released as a b-side to their single, Vow. The song was then remixed by producers Nellee Hooper and Marius de Vries for Luhrmann’s film and ended up hitting #1 on Billboard’s Hot Modern Rock Tracks chart. And as it’s written from the perspective of a stalker Manson had, it remains arguably the creepiest song Garbage has ever record.
“I would die for you/I would kill for you/I will steal for you/I’d do time for you/I would wait for you/I’d make room for you/I’d sail ships for you/To be close to you/To be a part of you/’Cause I believe in you/I believe in you/I would die for you,” Manson growls over the song’s trip-hop beat.
Perhaps the song’s definition of self-sacrifice for forbidden love doesn’t match Shakespeare’s definition, but its alarming display of being blinded by desire fits perfectly into Luhrmann’s twisted interpretation of his source material, and into the airwaves of mainstream radio.
2. I THINK I’M PARANOID
from Version 2.0
Three years after the release of their enormously successful debut, Garbage released their sophomore album, Version 2.0, in 1998. Another collaboration with Nirvana producer Butch Vig, Version 2.0 was more than just the eagerly anticipated follow-up to a successful rock band’s first album. It was a statement on how rapidly evolving technology was influencing the music industry – and why that wasn’t such a bad thing.
Blending acoustic live instruments with newly available digital resources, Version 2.0 paid homage to classic rock while simultaneously ushering in a new era of pop/rock. As Billboard put it, the record put “a late ‘90s spin on ‘60s pop varieties.” The result was a multi-platinum album that continued to chart from the time of its release into the new millennium.
Version 2.0’s second single, I Think I’m Paranoid perfectly exemplifies this marriage between the “new” and “old” sounds that the album set out to combine. With a stomping percussion background accompanied by an electric guitar and thrashing electronica, the unique structure of the song raised the bar for its peers and crowned Garbage as an innovative band that not only challenges convention, but sounds damn good doing it.
Although never the smash single it deserved to be, Supervixen is a landmark track in Garbage’s repertoire. The opening track off of the band’s eponymous debut album, Supervixen rolled out the red carpet for Shirley Manson and co. when they entered the scene in 1995.
It makes sense that Supervixen acts as the introductory cut in Garbage’s catalog as it’s a song that perfectly represents the band’s sound. It’s an up-tempo shake-the-glitter-out-of-your-hair alternative rock track built out of a soaring pop hook, sprinkled traces of electronica and a heavy serving of the classic grunge Garbage helped define as the signature of ‘90s music.
Combine that with Manson’s deliciously raspy vocals and cut-throat lyrics like “I can take you out with just the flick of my wrist,” and the repeated commands of “bow down to me,” Supervixen is like the college guy you dated in high school: sexy, smart and with a enticing rebellious attitude. And that makes for the ultimate Garbage track.
Check out my previous post and enjoy 10 Essential Tracks from Fiona Apple.