Skip to main content

12 by Beck

12 by... aims to summarize an artist's career in 12 songs. This one features...













The best way to describe Beck? Kitchen sink. If you are looking for an artist who embraces electro-funk, bluegrass, folk, hip-hop, blues, R & B, psychedelica, pop and other genres that don't even have names, he's your man. I'll admit, this was a hard list to pick. Someone who defies definition is hard to define. 


1. "Asshole" (from One Foot in the Grave, 1994) 
This was released a matter of months after Mellow Gold, but it was recorded before, so I'm putting it first. Besides being a good example of Beck's lo-fi folk beginnings, it's a song so good that Tom Petty decided to cover it (on 1996's She's the One). You can't a better endorsement than that.

2. "Loser" (from Mellow Gold, 1994) 
Of course it's got surreal, evocative lyrics and a keenly memorable chorus, but I think most people at the time expected to see Beck go the way of Dishwalla, Primitive Radio Gods, Deep Blue Something and every other mid-'90s alternative one-hit wonder. Who really knew? 

3. "Where It's At" (from Odelay, 1996) 
Beck grabbed sample kings Dust Brothers and decided to show us what hip-hop would have been like if had been invented in the deep south. 

4. "Sissyneck" (from Odelay, 1996) 
Nashville on acid, featuring the line: "I got a beard that'll disappear if I'm dressed in leather." 

5. "Dead Melodies" (from Mutations, 1998) 
Slightly more conventional musically, if not lyrically. By the way, the title is ironic, considering the song sports such a strong melody. 

6. "Mixed Bizness" (from Midnite Vultures, 1999) Earth Wind & Fire circa the 30th century. 

7. "Get Real Paid" (from Midnite Vultures, 1999) 
Beck only appears on the chorus of this song. Speaking of getting paid, that's sort of like a professor getting full salary while a TA handles his classes. But it's still a good tune. 

8. "Guess I'm Doing Fine" (from Sea Change, 2002) 
The logical extension of Mutations, except this time he's lucid on on the lyrics, which are honky-tonk-at-closing-time worthy. I love the ennui of the title statement, which you know clearly is a lie. 

9. "Lost Cause" (from Sea Change, 2002) 
This one is a little more honest... 

10. "Rental Car" (from Guero, 2005) 
I love this one for the "yeah, yeah, yeah" chorus. Add those handclaps and the dirty guitar and it sounds like it could have been on one of those '60s Nuggets compilations. 

11. "Hell Yes" (from Guero, 2005) Basically a remake of Where It's At. Seriously, listen to them one after the other. 

12. "Clap Hands" (from Guerolito, 2005) 
Okay, so this should really be a live version, but the studio recording still gets the point across. Though it feels like it could have something to do with the Tom Waits song of the same name, it doesn't. 

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

12 by Weezer

Here's the drill: 12 songs to summarize an artist's career, in chronological order (of course). This one features... I decided to take an unconventional route for this 12 by, and pretend Weezer have already released a "greatest hits." Here's what I think that would look like:  1) "Buddy Holly", 2) "Undone - the Sweater Song", 3) "My Name Is Jonas", 4) "The Good Life", 5) "El Scorcho", 6) "Hash Pipe", 7) "Island in the Sun", 8) "Dope Nose", 9) "Keep Fishin'", 10) "Beverly Hills", 11) "We Are All On Drugs", 12) "Pork and Beans".  Here's a different take: 1. " Say It Ain't So"  (from Weezer , 1994)  A little bit heavy, a little bit catchy, quiet-loud dynamics. So basically, it's Pixies lite. The song is interesting lyrically because it's basically nonsense until the "Dear daddy..." bridge, which lets out a t

2022: The Album

Since 2003 I've made a mix of some of my favorite songs of the calendar year. Here's the cover art and track listing for the 2022 edition. 1. BODEGA - "Pillar on the Bridge of You" 2. Harry Styles - "Late Night Talking" 3. Vicious Vicious - "Evolution" 4. Hot Freaks - "Lovely" 5. Carly Rae Jepsen - "The Loneliest Time" 6. Tears for Fears - "End of Night" 7. Spoon - "Wild" 8. Death Cab for Cutie - "Here to Forever" 9. Citrine and GUKKO - "Feel Better" 10. Rhett Miller - "Fascination" 11. Broken Bells - "Fade Away" 12. Leah Marlene - "Flowers" 13. Robbie Williams - "The World and Her Mother" 14. Jimmy Eat World - "Something Loud" (acoustic version) 15. Sloan - "Dream It All Over Again" If you have Amazon Unlimited, you can listen at this link . 

12 by Matthew Sweet (2002 - 2021)

Sometimes a huge part of an artist's career has not been summarized. Case in point... Matthew Sweet has a couple of compliations out there, but neither of them cover the past couple of decades, a span that has seen him release 8 albums of original material and 3 albums of covers.  I followed Sweet's career religiously early on, with my ardor gradually diminishing after the magnificant one-two punch of In Reverse (1999) and The Thorns (2003) That's not to say he hasn't produced some great work since then, it's just that it requires bit of effort to pick out the gems. Here's my college try: (Two of these albums are not available on streaming servies, so here's a slightly modified version of the playlist on YouTube .) 1. "I Can't Remember" ( The Thorns , 2003) The Thorns was a rootsy, close-harmony early-aughts version of Crosby, Stills, and Nash, featuring Shawn Mullins (of "Lullaby" fame) and Pete Droge (of "If You Don't Lov