5 It’s All Over – The Broken Family Band
As the band’s name might suggest, It’s All Over does not have a happy ending. What starts out as a sweet love song quickly devolves into a very desperate situation between a scorned lover and their ex. What’s so brilliant about this song is the process in which it devolves. As the lyrics change to from “I’ll kiss your beautiful eyelids” to “I’ll shut your beautiful eyes (with the drugs, with the drugs, with the drugs)” the actual music begins to shift as well. The song mimics perfectly the downward spiral of any romantic relationship, especially when one person doesn’t want to let go. But, in the end, the song admits that “it’s all over.” Similar to Heroin, It’s All Over becomes nearly unlistenable to if you’re not a fan of that kind of music (which, generally, would make a small child burst into tears).
4 Heroin – The Velvet Underground
One of the classic songs of the 60s, Heroin musically follows what is agreed upon as your average heroin high – complete with audible crashing low. Not only are the lyrics rather explicitly about drug use (duh), the actual music is almost grating on the ears. Genius, of course, but for those who may not appreciate the subtlety of said genius (like my grandmother, whose favorite artist was Frank Sinatra) it just sounds like terrible noise. A narrow-minded view of the song is that it perpetuates the drug culture prevalent in New York City in the 60s. When you sit back and examine it, however, you see the complexities of the song. It is, in the end, a social commentary, not just about drug use but also about society as a whole.
3 Purple Stain – Red Hot Chili Peppers
Known for slightly esoteric lyrics, RHCP’s Purple Stain is oddly blatant in its intent. “To finger paint is not a sin/I put my middle finger in/Your monthly blood is what I win.” I mean, COME ON. That line is enough to make anyone blush it is so freaking gross. But on the other hand, there is something beautiful about it. For decades, women have been taught that periods are not to be talked about. Menstruation is taboo, and seen by the general public as horrific. When on one’s period, we, women generally, abstain from sex, we get moody and self-conscious (not just because of the hormones). And it’s sort of obvious why – blood stained pants are not fun, and definitely embarrassing. But here is Anthony Kiedis to the rescue! Why shouldn’t girls have the option to be pleasured every day of the month, no matter what our uterus is shedding?! For all those who still shudder at the word vagina, this song is seizure inducing. However, to those of a progressive nature the song is just great. RHCPs classic funk sound is at full throttle, and it’s a song you want to dance to – even if you’re cramping.
2 Bad Bad Things – Andrew Jackson Jihad
For those who don’t know AJJ, they are an anarcho-folk-punk band…. Yeah. Bad Bad Things (off People Who Can Eat People are the Luckiest People in the World) details the protagonist’s bloody and brutal murder of an entire family. Though there’s no profanity (in contrast to almost every other song), it is unflinchingly gory. The whole album is full of songs looking into the darkest heart of humanity, and why people are just so screwed up. Their music alienates plenty of people, but not just because of the frequent f-bombs, but because the music makes people uncomfortable. Why? Because it is so damn honest. Bad Bad Things is one of those tracks that attempts to show insight to why people commit murder: “I looked into your eyes and I saw the reflection of a coward you and I both hate very much.” In the end, if “I don’t go to hell when I die I might go to heaven… but probably not.” How much more brutally honest can you get? Not only that, but the song is actually fun to listen to – which probably freaks people out even more.
1 Rape Me – Nirvana
If you listen to Nirvana’s “Unplugged” album, you hear a fan shout out “Rape Me!” to Cobain asking for requests; Cobain’s charismatic reply is something to the effect of “I don’t think MTV would appreciate that.” And MTV would not have. Nirvana’s classic Rape Me is a song about more than just the physical act of rape – it deals with what rape is truly about, power. As the fourth track on In Utero, the song makes perfect sense. Cobain’s desire with Nirvana’s third album was to, in a sense, distance himself from the massive fan-base who blindly swallowed his music whole. Controversy surrounded the entire In Utero process, and Rape Me is the perfect example of what Nirvana was experiencing – a taking over of their music by the label, the fans, the media, etc. It was a loss of power over their sound. And, of course, it is just effing brilliant (kudos, Nirvana).