I got up this morning filled with a furious hatred of alt-rock — I was tossing and turning half the night with Third Eye Blind's "Semicharmed Life" stuck in my head, a torment I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy (who is, as it happens, Stephan Jenkins from Third Eye Blind). Seems like a perfect time to vent my frustrations on Billboard
's Alternative Songs chart — last time I looked at it, in 2009, it was called "Modern Rock Songs," but I guess they finally decided to clue in to the '90s.
1. NEON TREES, "ANIMAL" | Before we get to the song, a few damning facts about Neon Trees: (a) they're from Provo, Utah, and Mormons; (b) they opened for the Killers on tour; (c) the lead singer has a ridiculous late-period Dandy Warhols stunt haircut that reeks of trying too hard. But what's really amazing is that the track manages to be terrible in all the ways these facts suggest: it's bland and inoffensive enough for BYU college-radio airplay, it's slightly shittier than the Killers' stuff, and the singer, for all his overzealous attempts, fails to convey any personality. How'd this hit the top? Are budget-conscious consumers choosing store-brand rock?
2. JIMMY EAT WORLD, "MY BEST THEORY" | Ten years ago, these guys looked like the best-case scenario of emo pop, but they gradually seemed to fall in with their imitators and lose their sense of tunes. This single might mark the point when it's safe to stop paying attention entirely. Maybe they're trying to modernize their steez, but it just winds up sounding a little old and corny, like Chevelle circa 2002 or something. Oh well.
3. THE DIRTY HEADS FEAT. ROME, "LAY ME DOWN" | I usually skip tracks I've covered in previous installments, but let me hate on this garbage again. It sounds like Jack Johnson, Sublime, and Slightly Stoopid stitched together into a horrifying human centipede waddling across the quad and reeking of hemp. Beware anything this mellow: it's trying to date-rape you.
4. LINKIN PARK, "THE CATALYST" | See "The Big Hurt" of August 27 — "Who Charted: New Entries in the Hot 100."
5. MUMFORD & SONS, "LITTLE LION MAN" | It's sort of heartwarming to see a quaint English folk-rock jamboree in the alt-rock charts. Heartwarming and baffling. I guess it's alternative because the dude says "fuck" in the chorus.
6. ANBERLIN, "IMPOSSIBLE" | This is pretty much your standard crypto-Christian doofus rock with plenty of big guitars and deep emotions, but I'm gonna award it five stars and my coveted Single of the Week honor because I checked out the video and the singer has a super deluxe Chris Isaak pompadour, and we need way, way more of that in the world.
7. THE BLACK KEYS, "TIGHTEN UP" | Hey, I'm pretty much down. I'm kind of medium-down, in the way we're all kind of medium-down with the Black Keys. I just listened to this three times in a row, and I can't remember a damn thing about it, but I don't regret hearing it. Maybe if I play it a few more times it'll stick. (Update: Nope!)