1. Portishead, "Sour Times." I don't know a lot about trip hop, so someone needs to correct me … was this the biggest trip hop song of all time? It sure seemed ubiquitous back in the day, still makes an impact on me when I listen to it, and I figure if it's made that much of an impression on me who's not a big fan, it must have really crossed over. I confess I don't think I can name another Portishead song off the top of my head.
2. The Murmurs, "You Suck." This was a minor hit at the time (with the immortal lyrics "right now there's dust on my guitar you fuck, and it's all your fault. You paralyze my mind and for that you suck"), but it's the after-story that gets interesting. The Murmurs were a female duo that played alternative pop/folk/something. One of the members was Leisha Hailey. Hailey later gained fame as k.d. lang's girlfriend, and then as Alice Pieszecki, my favorite character on The L Word. Wikipedia tells us that Hailey was named the sexiest woman in the AfterEllen Hot 100. They'll get no argument from me … for all the sex and nudity and beautiful women on The L Word, nothing makes me happier than when Alice is involved.
3. Offspring, "Self Esteem." Another classic in the "This Song Is All About Me, Steven Rubio" catalog. "Well I guess I should speak up for myself, but I really think it's better this way. The more you suffer, the more it shows you really care. Right?"
4. Stone Temple Pilots, "Interstate Love Song." Yes, they sound like Pearl Jam. Yes, this song got played to death. You know what? I like this song better than anything Pearl Jam ever recorded. Great guitar line, too.
5. Nine Inch Nails, "Closer." Let's face it. I'm a sucker for songs with ominous music and lyrics like "I want to fuck you like an animal, you get me closer to god." You won't want to miss the video link.
6. TLC, "Creep." "I creep around because I need attention, don't mess around with my affection."
7. Craig Mack, "Flava in Ya Ear (Remix)." Mack's name is on the track, but this is one time when the superstar guests take over the song, most particularly Biggie Smalls. It's also a case where the remix overwhelms the original … actually, I'm not sure I've ever even heard the original.
8. Alison Krauss & Union Station, "When You Say Nothing At All." One of the most beautiful voices of our time, and this is her best song, originally recorded for a Keith Whitley tribute album.
9. Bush, "Glycerine." Not sure why this is, but a lot of the "modern rock" songs of this period feel like guilty pleasures to me, as if I'm not supposed to like songs like this or "Interstate Love Song." Don't let the days go by. The video's an award-winner.
10. Nirvana, "Where Did You Sleep Last Night?" And we're left with this. Kurt Cobain singing a Lead Belly song as if he'd learned it from Huddie while visiting the bluesman beyond the grave. Hell, Cobain sounds like he's SINGING from beyond the grave. As Wikipedia notes, after playing this song for MTV Unplugged, the producer asked the band to do an encore. "I can't top that last song," Kurt replied.