Luscious Jackson evolved just in time for the female rocker era: Veruca Salt, Hole, Letters to Cleo... everyone was doing it. They only released one album between 1993 and 2000, and "Naked Eye" was the only song that became a hit and reached the Billboard Top 40. It actually sounds like more of a funk-pop song than a rock song. It has a fast, catchy rhythm with a sexy female sing-talky chant to go along with every beat.
"What’s Up" has to be one of my favorite songs of the 90’s. It has a certain mellow, bluesy, acoustic rock feel to it that puts you right at ease and makes you want to sing along to every word. Not to mention, Linda Perry has one of those raspy, distinctive female rocker voices with a great range, so she adds some style and talent to it as well.
If you mixed both Jazz and Pop music together and then threw in some rock and roll with a dash of blues, "What I Am" would be the end result. This song was Edie Brickell’s career defining breakthrough single, and rightfully so. I still find myself humming the beat to it every now and again.
"Popular" was a strange hit song, mostly because it didn’t sound like a song. It sounded like someone talking really fast while plucking the same three notes off a guitar. Nevertheless, for some reason, people loved it.
Ahh, good old Tracy Bonham. I think she got caught in the middle of deciding whether to be an angry, female rocker or a nice, mellow acoustic artist. The reason I say that is because every verse of this song contains a mellow, acoustic beat followed by a chorus explosion of frighteningly angry screams. But once again, it was a hit!
For those of you who are big fans of the movie, "Empire Records" starring Liv Tyler, this song will bring back memories. "Sugar High" was featured in a scene at the end of this movie, where all the kids who worked at the Empire Records store got together and danced on the roof. It was a fun, fast, upbeat song, kind of like those "Rancid" punk songs that make you want to get off your seat and dance.
Another obscure 90’s song. This had to be one of the strangest songs ever made. Every word was sung in the same, monotone, followed by a chorus that contained one word: "mmm". And actually, I don’t even think that’s a word.
I would put this song in the same category as the Crash Test Dummies, and I would label it "songs that made it big and I will never understand why." The singer of the Flaming Lips was completely tone deaf and the music to the song sounded like a guitar being attacked by a cat. It was a screeching mess.
"Stars" was also sort of a strange song, but in more of a tolerable way. It starts out sounding like it’s going to be a boring, slow song, but then the distortion kicks in and the song comes to life. It’s like taking grunge rock and mixing it with the strange, obscure songs in the category that I previously mentioned, only with far more talent.
Honorable One-Hit Wonder Mentions:
Tripping Daisy: I Got A Girl: This song is borderline categorizing as strange, along with the Crash Test Dummies and The Flaming Lips, except for the fact that I kind of like it. Although it doesn’t have much musical or vocal talent, it’s a fun, upbeat song that makes you want to turn up the volume and dance around your room.
Folk Implosion: Natural One: This songs creeps me out a little because it was featured in the movie "KIDS" circa 1995, and "KIDS" was one of those movies that leaves you feeling strange after you watch it. Nevertheless, the song itself, besides the creepy factor, was different. It was also sung in a certain monotone, but it had a funky drum beat that you could groove to. It was too mellow to dance to, but you could definitely groove to the vibe.
Marcy Playground: Sex and Candy: Another song I’d put in the "songs that made it big and I will never understand why" category. But even so, I still hear it on the radio sometimes.
Honorable Two-Hit Wonder Mentions:
Days of the New: These guys were originally on the one-hit wonder list, until I realized they were actually more of a two-hit wonder. I thought their first hit song, "Touch, Peel and Stand" was their only hit single, but then I realized they also had "Shelf in the Room" as well. It’s too bad these guys broke up. I really thought they had enough of that grunge-rocker thing going on to make it big.
Veruca Salt: Another two-hit wonder. After their first hit song "Seether" made it big, it was followed by "Volcano Girls" several years later. They weren’t an angry female rock band like Hole, but more of a fun, upbeat rock band who still threw in some screams here and there. I always liked them.