Song of the Day #3,917: ‘I Don’t Know’ – Teenage Fanclub

These Decades weeks usually turn up a couple of artists I feel like I should like, whether or not that ends up happening.

For 1991, the lucky winner is Teenage Fanclub, the Scottish alternative pop act that released its breakthrough third album, titled Bandwagonesque, that year. Influenced by bands like The Beatles, The Byrds and Big Star, Teenage Fanclub paid as much attention to melody as the grunge guitar sound of the time.

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Song of the Day #3,916: ‘When You Sleep’ – My Bloody Valentine

Continuing my latest Decades installment, focusing on the year 1991, brings us to Irish band My Bloody Valentine’s sophomore release, Loveless.

My Bloody Valentine is considered the pioneer of the shoegazing genre, a type of alternative rock featuring heavy guitar distortion and muffled vocals. In fact, they might be the first, best and last example of a shoegazing band because the genre quickly fizzled out and branched into grunge on the one hand and Britpop on the other.

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Song of the Day #3,913: ‘I Wanna Kill Sam’ – Ice Cube

Ice Cube had an ugly break-up with N.W.A. in 1989, followed by his well-received solo debut, AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted in 1990. A year later, his Death Certificate dropped to even better reviews.

The release also generated a lot of controversy, with Ice Cube’s lyrics (deservedly) called out as misogynistic, racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic. Let’s just say the Oscars won’t be tapping him to host anytime soon.

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Song of the Day #3,912: ‘I’ve Been Waiting’ – Matthew Sweet

Power pop seems to transcend trends and find an audience no matter the decade. From The Beatles in the 60s through Todd Rundgren and Big Star in the 70s, into a legacy carried on by R.E.M. and others in the 80s and 90s.

Matthew Sweet is solidly in that tradition, and his 1991 album Girlfriend is considered one of the definitive albums both of the year and the genre.

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Song of the Day #3,911: ‘Check the Rhime’ – A Tribe Called Quest

I definitely prefer the rap and hip-hop artists of the 80s and 90s to the ones we hear today. I regret not being more into the genre back then, because every time I spend a little time with what are now considered throwbacks, I love it.

A Tribe Called Quest released their second album, The Low End Theory, in 1991, to critical raves. The Queens-based trio took hip-hop in a new direction, introducing elements of jazz to their low-tempo sampled beats and call-and-response lyrics. It’s a great sound.

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Song of the Day #3,910: ‘Safe From Harm’ – Massive Attack

Massive Attack released its debut album, Blue Lines, in 1991, essentially inventing the trip hop genre. The British band’s music is a blend of hip-hop and electronica with a dash of soul. It’s quite an adventurous mix.

While this sort of music isn’t exactly my cup of tea, I totally see the appeal. Unlike heavy metal, exemplified by yesterday’s featured Metallica album, I find this interesting and ground-breaking and actually listenable.

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Song of the Day #3,909: ‘Enter Sandman’ – Metallica

After counting down my own favorite albums of 1991, I’ll now turn my attention to the years’ most celebrated and important releases that somehow escaped my radar.

Kicking things off is Metallica’s self-titled fifth studio album, often referred to as The Black Album. This record is considered one of the greatest heavy metal albums of all time, and is one of the best-selling albums of all time. In fact, only Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon and Carole King’s Tapestry have spent more weeks on the Billboard 200.

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