The 25 Best Soundgarden Songs of All Time
Mon, 15 Oct 2012 16:39:57
In honor of Soundgarden’s monumental upcoming release, King Animal [Available November 13, 2012 - iTunes link], we here at ARTISTdirect.com pick the 25 essential Soundgarden tracks. With a strikingly incredible discography like this, it was no easy task, I’ll tell you.
"Jesus Christ Pose"
Starting with a cacophony that turns into a sitar-from-hell sound, this frenetic song is Soundgarden at its most intense. The tom drums rumble and kick up dirt, while the guitars dare you to turn away. Off of Badmotorfinger, this is a sheer classic.
"Gun" packs a potent wallop. This Louder Than Love classic shakes with towering intensity and one of the most overpowering choruses in rock 'n' roll history. It blew a hole through hard rock, and no band has been able to step up with something this big and brutal since.
"Beyond the Wheel"
Coming from the band's 1988 debut, Ultramega OK, "Beyond the Wheel" cycles from a psychedelic hum into another grimy guttural riff from another world courtesy of Kim Thayil. This laid the groundwork for so much of what came next.
"Black Hole Sun"
"Black Hole Sun" is quite possibly Soundgarden's most famous and quintessential song. It's like a completely subversive ballad—with the disturbingly memorable music video to match. If aliens came to Earth, kidnapped our leaders, destroyed our nations, and asked who Soundgarden was, you'd play this song for them and they'd know exactly who they are. Then, you'd be sure to get them the full discography! It's the anthem for "Generation-X" and any generation beyond.
This was the lead single off of Soundgarden’s last full-length album until this year's King Animal, Down on the Upside. With a gnarly riff and Chris Cornell's vitriolic, yet beautiful vocals, this became a hit and stands today as one of the band's best ever.
You've got to crank this Louder Than Love gem as loudly as possible. It's gut-punching rhythm slides into another heavenly heavy refrain. It practically explodes out of even the tiniest of speakers.
Originally from the Screaming Life EP and later included on Telephantasm, "Hunted Down" is an ominous dirge-y barnburner that creeps up and kills with an insane chorus. Cornell sounds possessed in the best way possible, and this would still serve as the perfect soundtrack to any psychological thriller.
"Burden in My Hand"
Back to Down on the Upside, this was another huge hit from the band’s apparent swan song. The song tells a story, as if lifted from the best rock opera you never saw. It also has a bit of an Americana twang to it, surprisingly.
Could Badmotorfinger be any more perfect? Here's yet another indication of its greatness. "Mind Riot" teeters between blissful psychedelia and deadly heaviness. It's Soundgarden at their most experimental and expansive.
Starting with a heavy, trudging riff and exploding into an epiphany of a chorus, this song sounds like a rain storm where the sunlight breaks through. "Outshined" displays the perfect balance of heft and melody that very few songs can claim.
"Been Away Too Long"
The brand new single from Soundgarden's upcoming release has the band picking up right where they left off. "You can walk a million miles and go nowhere," Chris Cornell wails in his classic way. Fortunately, Soundgarden has walked that walk, but doesn’t have that problem.
Just keep it off my wave! This song from Superunknown has become an anthem for territorial surfers everywhere. The instructions are simple: keep calm, and stay out of my way in the ocean.
"4th of July"
Ironically, this song sounds nothing like Independence Day or the Star-Spangled Banner. It's a dark, dreary trip of a song and is hauntingly beautiful in that Soundgarden sort of way.
With an infectious groove and syncopation galore, "Spoonman" is one of very few Soundgarden tracks that make you just want to dance. It was also one of the biggest hits of their career.
"The Day I Tried to Live"
The bass line descends like a spiral staircase, as Chris Cornell’s croon grows to a howl. Equal parts evocative, ethereal, bombastic and… shoot, I lost my thesaurus. You get the picture- it's one incredible and dramatic track!
Talk about flying under the radar. Despite a flurry of punk energy that makes it sound like their early work, this frenetic gem is buried deep on Down on the Upside. If you haven’t heard it, take the two minutes and eight seconds to listen- it’s worth it! I'm sure there’s a sex joke to make here, but I'm moving on…
Featuring a call-and-response sounding riff and a chaotic pace, Cornell proclaims, "I'm going to break my rusty cage and run." Off Badmotofinger, this is a classic SG track, to say the least.
"Fell on Black Days"
This was the fifth (count 'em- fifth!) single from Soundgarden's most well-known and seminal album, Superunknown. Cornell's mid-range croon occasionally erupts into his trademark wail, and desperation never sounded so good. We all remember the classic black and white performance video- simple, yet incredibly evocative.
Chris Cornell exhibits an ungodly range- he sounds equally at home in both the lowest of registers and the most stratospheric of high notes- it's truly a wonder to behold. This track from Superunknown serves as a microcosm for Cornell’s vocal range over Soundgarden's classic styled riffs.
"Blow Up the Outside World"
The opening lyrics read like a suicide note: "Nothing seems to kill me/ no matter how hard I try." The third single from Down on the Upside, this track is grandiose and harrowingly beautiful. If "Burden in My Hand" is the modern "Hey Joe," then maybe this is the modern "A Day in the Life."
"Searching With My Good Eye Closed"
If you were searching for a truly deep rock track, look no further. It's gracefully gut-wrenching.
"Head Down" begins with a mix of Americana twang and Indian accents. What follows is one hell of a trip of ghostly vocals, eerie guitars, and swirling drums. See you on the other side.
This is another punk song towards the end of Down on the Upside, with deadly riffs and the requisite declaration of utter defiance from Chris Cornell. As he rinses and repeats, "I'll pay no attention," the song builds to an emphatic cry that (ironically) screams for your attention as a listener.
This is one of Soundgarden’s slowest tempo songs off of Down on the Upside, with a definite heft to it. It’s an incredible and poignant song.
Originally recorded during the Badmotofinger sessions in 1991, this track was released on the 2010 compilation album Telephantasm and the famous video game franchise Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock. Soundgarden worked with Adam Kasper (co-producer on Down on the Upside) to rearrange parts of the track and rerecord some of the vocals. The result was a spectacular way to reintroduce Soundgarden after a thirteen-year hiatus.
Well, I hope you're as thoroughly excited about the new Soundgarden album now as we are. Be sure to check out the entire discography for Soundgarden, since it’s worth it- and get ready for the brand new album King Animal, out November 13th.
What’s your favorite Soundgarden song? Tell us below!
p.s. Don't forget our other feature: Artists Talk Soundgarden!
Also, check out our "Been Away Too Long" Song Review!