WMSC Music Picks: Alternative Through The Decades – WMSC 57th Anniversary!

Written by on April 16, 2024

Welcome to WMSC Music Picks, a collaborative collection of WMSC’s music recommendations and reviews. In this installment, we celebrate WMSC’s 57th Anniversary by exploring favorite alternative tracks from the 1960’s to the present!


1960s –

“I’ll Be Your Mirror” – The Velvet Underground (1967) 

Review by Manda Martinez

A sweet love song by The Velvet Underground & Nico released in 1967, “I’ll Be Your Mirror” describes a lover singing to their partner, trying to express to them their beauty. Beginning and ending with the title lyric “I’ll be your mirror,” they tell their partner that they’ll show them their beauty and reflect it so they can understand how they’re seen by the narrator. The rock band was very influential in the punk and alternative rock movements of the 70s and 80s. Fun fact, the band nearly scrapped the song, frustrated at Nico for singing it too full for their liking. After making her sing the song over and over, she broke down into tears. Giving the song one last try, she nailed the softer, wispier voice the band was looking for.


“All Along the Watchtower” – Jimi Hendrix (1968)

Review by Chris Alberico

Most people don’t actually know this song is a cover, it was written by Bob Dylan for his 1967 album John Wesley Harding. Jimi Hendrix heard this song early and immediately covered it in his 1968 album Electric Ladyland. I believe that this is one of the most important songs of the 60s. Dylan’s ability to create such a vivid fictional story that reflected current social topics, combined with Hendrix’s otherworldly guitar skill created one for the ages. Whenever a great song gets a cover, the cover is almost always worse, but this is one of the few times where it wasn’t. That fact alone is worth celebrating, but for its time it was revolutionary, and it’s aged just as beautifully. Being able to tell a 3 act story in just over 3 minutes is extremely impressive. There aren’t enough compliments to give to this track, it’s near perfect. 10/10.


“White Room” – Cream (1968)

Review by Mia Watson

This is one of my all-time favorite classic rock songs, actually inspired by Jimi Hendrix. The lyrics are like a poem that is deeply metaphorical and difficult to interpret sometimes. The instrumental is just enchanting and grand, switching between 5/4 and 4/4 time signatures with the almost orchestra opening and ending with an extended guitar solo from Eric Clapton.


“Nile Song” – Pink Floyd (1969)

Review by Jenna Marcy

Known for their 1970s hit albums like The Wall, Darkside of the Moon, and Wish You Were Here, it is hard to believe that Pink Floyd could create anything but timeless music. Yet, like most artists, the band did not have an immediate skyrocket to fame. On a path to finding their sound that started in 1967 with the release of their first album, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, the band experimented with what they wished to create, making their first several albums a combination of experimental instrumentals and songs more reminiscent of the sound they became known for. “Nile Song,” off of the band’s 1969 album More, is one of the first glimpses of the band’s well-known sound, long before they were ever recognized for it. Sandwiched in between experimental instrumentals that can only be described as “psychedelic rock,” “Nile Song” stands out as a classic rock song, reflecting Pink Floyd’s later sound and setting the bar for what was to come for the band. As the story of a man standing by the Nile, the title explains, this track touches on human emotions of desire and the regret that may come from it. A far cry from the hectic tunes of the More album, this track serves as foreshadowing to the band’s later hits, and it is through this singular track that listeners can get an early glimpse of what was to come for the world-renowned band. It serves as a foreshadowing of their later successes that often go unnoticed.


“Living Loving Maid” – Led Zeppelin (1969)

Review by Chris Cirone

This isn’t one of their most popular tracks and maybe gets a little overshadowed since it’s on the same album as “Whole Lotta Love” and “Ramble On,” but “Living Loving Maid” gives us some classic Zeppelin sound to end off a decade that redefined rock. Led Zeppelin had its own unique sound and this track is a perfect example. Distorted guitar, a sick bass riff, a solid drum beat, and Robert Plant’s one-of-a-kind voice makes for a rock song with a hippie/bluesy twist.


1970s –

“Immigrant Song” – Led Zeppelin (1970)

Review by Rebekkah Dayon

English rock band Led Zeppelin, formed in 1968, is known to be one of the pioneers of both hard rock and heavy metal music. With their music still being loved and imitated today, Led Zeppelin is one of the most important bands of the 70s rock scene. They influenced the use of acoustic components in rock music and even experimented with the use of music from North Africa and even India. One of their most well-known songs is “Immigrant Song” off of their 1970 album Led Zeppelin III. With one of the most iconic riffs and opening notes of all time, “Immigrant Song” is still found everywhere today in pop culture and films like Thor: Ragnarok (2017). Written while Led Zeppelin was on tour in Iceland and Germany, the song takes inspiration from Norse mythology and was performed for the first time during the Bath Festival. “Immigrant Song” by Led Zeppelin is a classic that shaped the 70s rock sound and I believe will forever remain culturally impactful.


“Starman” – David Bowie (1972)

Review by Mia Savidge

“Starman” is one of those classic 70s rock songs that my parents always had in rotation growing up. It’s one of those songs that whenever it comes on, it’s always such a treat. “Starman” is a song about hope mainly and how it paints the idea of the arrival of this extraterrestrial as a good thing and something that is just pure joy. Bowie specifically emphasizes how important young people’s involvement is with the phrase that repeats in the chorus, “Let the children lose it, let the children use it, let the children boogie.” “Starman” focuses on the idea of hope, giving into the music, and having a great time. 


“Reelin’ in the Years” – Steely Dan (1972)

Review by Chris Cirone

I don’t care what anyone says, I love Steely Dan and I think they’d love me too if they knew me. These two dudes wanted to make good music and “Reelin in the Years” is the perfect example of that. This is arguably their most popular song, no question, but there’s a reason. We’ve seen a resurgence in Steely Dan in recent years because the band gives us that clean rock sound we want but doesn’t go far into grunge/metal/hard rock so it appeals to those who might not want to blast their speakers and blow out their subwoofers. Steely Dan has a unique sound that had jazz, pop, and rock fans all arguing about where they occupied on the music spectrum. But Dan never cared; he just wanted to play his music.


“New Kid in Town” — Eagles (1976)

Review by Jared Tauber

In 1976 Eagles released their best album Hotel California which kicks off with one of the greatest three-track runs of all time. Sandwiched in between its title track and “Life in the Fast Lane” is my favorite Eagles song, “New Kid in Town.” I love it so much. It has such a sweet melody and the harmonies give me goosebumps every time. I was fortunate enough to see them play it live on their final tour last year at the UBS Arena in Elmont, New York. Truly one of the most mesmerizing live music moments I have ever experienced. To me, this song completely captures the essence of ‘70s country and soft rock. The guitar playing is so smooth and subtle but is emotionally palpable in every note. Everything comes together perfectly. Great, great song.


“Life During Wartime” – The Talking Heads (1979)

Review by Mia Watson

This super high contrast song comes from The Talking Heads’ 1979 album, Fear the Music. This song drops the listener into this fictional, sci-fi-inspired dystopian reality where they have to fight to survive. The bouncy high-energy instrumental with David Byrne’s darker lyrics emulates the disorienting reality that many lived through during the Vietnam War, which ended only four years before the album’s release. Today, the song remains relevant to many across the world, as war hasn’t ceased anywhere for the last 30 years.


“Video Killed the Radio Star” – The Buggles (1979)

Review by Gen Cai

I remember that the first time I heard this iconic song was actually through my obsession with playing Just Dance 3 as a kid, and I have always found it to be a funky tune with unique radio-talk vocal modulations made to fit the theme. This new wave one-hit wonder by the Buggles was released in 1979, and was written after frontman Trevor Horn read a sci-fi story about a world where traditional audio has been replaced by “ultrasonic” music that stimulates the brain directly and renders singers and real sound obsolete. An opera singer lives in an abandoned radio station and has been rendered obsolete. This was a major commentary on the growth of video technology in the 60s as a dominating force in the music and entertainment industry at the time, usurping radio almost entirely. The song itself marries a lot of synthesizers with a gramophone-like filter to create what feels like an extended radio jingle, lamenting a lost era of simplicity and imagination to be replaced by new, flashy visuals. The accompanying music video was also ironically known to have been the first one ever shown on MTV in 1981, even though the song itself criticizes the music video takeover. I love it from a purely aesthetic standpoint, like the quirky 2-D TV/radio imagery, the production design of the studio, and the symbolism of the curious youth consuming the music and the trapped performer.


1980s –

“Crazy Train” – Ozzy Osborne (1980)

Review by Amber Bintliff

Before I begin, I just wanted to note that this music pick is specifically dedicated to my dad, who shares a birthday with WMSC and has had an extreme influence on my music taste over the last 20 years. “Crazy Train” served as the debut solo single from Ozzy Osborne after his Black Sabbath departure. It now lives on as one of the most iconic songs in rock history. I believe that I can confidently say everyone will recognize this song as soon as you hear him yell “All aboard!” and the guitar riff that kicks in shortly after. It is one of the earliest songs that I remember hearing from my parents and genuinely enjoying. There’s no denying the insane and lasting impact that both Osborne and “Crazy Train” have had on the rock scene throughout the years.


“I Melt with You” – Modern English (1982)

Review by Scott Ackerson

Time to travel back to the wholesomeness of the eighties with an anthem about the end of the world. Dropped back in 1982, “I Melt with You” is an expressly romantic anthem about the sacrifices we make in the face of a deathly onslaught in the name of our partner. The singer, Robbie Grey of Modern English, is making admissions of his desire for what can no longer be attainable with his partner because they are, in fact, moments away from the meteoric and/or atomic death of the universe. Saying, “I saw the world crashing all around your face,” Grey is watching the world fall apart for his partner. Then, with the immediate follow-up of “…Never really knowing it was always mesh and lace,” it gives me the impression that, since those are both pretty flimsy materials, perhaps Grey is saying it was easy for the world to fall apart amidst such tragedy? One can only assume, but all I know is that this song is an enduring classic that any generation can stop what they are doing and melt right along with.


“Love is a Battlefield” – Pat Benetar (1983)

Review by Mia Savidge

I seriously can’t remember a time when I didn’t love this song. It’s always been one of my favorite songs from the 80s. I remember dancing around my grandma’s living room and listening to this song on repeat. The song goes through how the act of being in a relationship and love can be a very hard thing at times when you or your partner don’t know or don’t communicate their true feelings and what they want. Throughout the song, Benetar is questioning how the other person would react if she were to display her emotions or allow herself to be vulnerable and messy. Overall, this song is such a catchy one that highlights the harder parts about romantic connections which I would highly recommend. 


“This Charming Man” – The Smiths (1984)

Review by Emily Santos

Being on the brink of summertime calls for some upbeat tunes, and a very decent example of that would be none other than “This Charming Man.” Found on the British alternative rock band’s self-titled album, this track emanates a jaunty melody with lyrics that are slightly different from the overall sound. The track depicts a lower-class man feeling out of place with an upper-class man due to his lack of material wealth. The romantic ambiguity of the song was a big part of the track’s appeal, with the two characters of the song referring to each other as “handsome” and “charming.” As one of The Smiths’ most popular songs, this track has more than 400 million streams on Spotify alone, with it being their fourth most listened-to song. Not only were they iconic in the 80s, but their significance remains strong today.


“A Question Of Time” – Depeche Mode (1986)

Review by Emily ‘Emol’ McCormack

I grew up listening to my parent’s favorite bands in the household. Since birth, I’ve been hearing bands like The Smiths, Tears For Fears, New Order, and The Talking Heads as a soundtrack to my growing up, but no band of theirs has stuck with me like Depeche Mode. When I think about my favorite band of the 80s, it is by far this band.

I have a playlist named after my parents for the days I am stuck on campus for weeks at a time and miss the music my mom plays in the car or the songs my dad plays in the kitchen after dinner. The majority of the playlist is, admittedly, Depeche Mode – Their 1986 album Black Celebration is my favorite go-to, start-to-finish album of the decade, and it’s hard to pick just one favorite. But, for the sake of only writing on music pick, I lean on my go-to favorite, standout song – “A Question of Time.” 

“Just Like Heaven” – The Cure (1987)

Review By Luke Cheplic

“Just Like Heaven” is the third single off The Cure’s album, titled Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me. The song was the first of The Cure’s songs to break into U.S. charts. This immediately launched the band further into stardom. This piece of music is a noticeable turn in the sonic trend during the late 80s. The Cure played a considerable role in the post-punk, new-wave side of alternative music. The up-tempo drum beat and joyful bassline, married by the high-pitched descending guitar riff hook, concoct a flood of sound truly infectious to the ear. The lyrics are written by the band’s frontman, Robert Smith, and showcase his creation of a double-entendre. The opening line, “Show me, show me, show me, how you do that trick,” applies not only to his childhood fascination with mastering party tricks but also to his use of romantic tactics with his lover. Rolling Stone ranked the song on their list of “500 Greatest Songs of All Time,” not once, not twice, but three times, as well as being ranked on various lists by Entertainment Weekly, VH1, Billboard, and Mojo. 


“Down In It” – Nine Inch Nails (1989)

Review by G.S. Alvarez

Known as Halo 1 in the official Nine Inch Nails release chronology, “Down In It” was initially released on September 15, 1989, by TVT Records. This was Trent Reznor’s first release under the Nine Inch Nails name, and he is listed as the only named credit of the original track. Initially intended to be a rip-off of Skinny Puppy’s 1986 “Dig It,” NIN’s debut single only just sanitizes the compressed drumbeats and over-distorted guitar that so strongly defined 80s industrial. A bouncy, uptempo synth line throughout, which is found on other tracks on Nine Inch Nails’ debut album Pretty Hate Machine including “The Only Time,” is just one element of “Down In It” that cements it as the perfect cross between 80s electronica and industrial, and it’s the perfect song to close out the 80s.


“Here’s Where the Story Ends” – The Sundays (1989)

Review by Mia Watson

This song has become the unofficial anthem to my final year of college. In October, I lost my

grandfather after a long battle with Parkinson’s, and after his passing, I asked my mom about the music he liked because so much of my music taste comes from my parents, and the vinyl handed down to me from my mom’s parents. She mentioned when she was in high school, he listened to a lot of British band, The Sundays. This song is the lead single off their 1989 album, Reading, Writing And Arithmetic, and it feels so much like what it has felt like for me reflecting on college. So much of the lyrics remind me of a lot of the things I struggled through, from starting college during peak COVID and having to adjust to a huge life change during a pandemic to looking back on the smaller, fonder things that happened then, and the people who helped me through that that are still here with me now. Does life end after college? Absolutely not, but here is where this story ends, for now.


“Kickstart My Heart” – Mötley Crüe (1989)

Review by Rebekkah Dayon

One of the most notorious bands of the 80s is the American heavy metal band Mötley Crüe who formed in Hollywood, California in 1981. Known for their absurd lifestyle, gender-bending outfits, “I don’t care” attitude, and iconic live performances that probably used too much fire, Mötley Crüe had a significant cultural impact on the 80s rock scene. If I had to pick one song that I believed summed up who they were, it would easily be “Kickstart My Heart” off of their 1989 album Dr. Feelgood. Being about bassist Nikki Sixx’s overdose where he was presumed dead for 2 minutes until he was injected with adrenaline in the back of an ambulance, “Kickstart My Heart” is the most Mötley Crüe song. With such an intense, loud, and fast sound that framed 80s rock, “Kickstart My Heart” is a classic rock song that still is admired today. It’s easily understood as to why Mötley Crüe was one of the best-selling artists of their time as everything about them was like a wave of adrenaline that you couldn’t get enough of.


1990s –

“Smells Like Teen Spirit” – Nirvana (1991)

Review by Kimberly Martinez

The 80s were ending with classic metal songs and bands with crazy hairs and the 90s were slowly approaching. But this peak of metal music would come crashing down as the world, and especially teens would be introduced to a new genre of music called grunge coming from Seattle, Washington. The first song off of their 1991 album Nevermind, the song “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” would help skyrocket interest in grunge music as it was more dark, hardcore, and more relatable to teens who were struggling to find themselves. As hardcore as this song is, the meaning and how this song came about is not that deep. Before the development of this album and song, lead singer Kurt Cobain had gone to the grocery store with his then-girlfriend and a bandmate of hers. While walking in the store, they came across a deodorant called Teen Spirit, and later that night they both jokingly commented about how he smelled very much like Teen Spirit. Fast forward a year later, Cobain ended up breaking up with his girlfriend and took his frustration out by creating an ultimate pop song. His memory of the comment came to mind again, thus allowing everything to fit into place to help create the song, “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” Now whether you like the song or not, this song arguably is considered a classic anthem and helped start the obsession in Grunge music.


“When I Come Around” – Green Day (1994)

Review by Mia Savidge

This is one of the earliest songs I remember listening to. I would always sing what I thought the lyrics were, even though most of the time I ended up singing my own language. The song goes through the troubles of when the people in the relationship aren’t or can’t be on the same page. The rock of the song highlighting the early 90s combined with the relatable lyrics are why this tune is such a hit and is attributed to the alternative-rock scene. 


“Lover, You Should’ve Come Over” – Jeff Buckley (1994)

Review by Emily Santos

What we all need is a gut-wrenching breakup ballad, and who better to provide than Jeff Buckley. The seventh track from Buckley’s iconic 1994 grunge rock album, Grace, is the perfect song to belt (or attempt to belt) after a particularly rough heartbreak. Or maybe you just want to take a seat and appreciate his proficiency in crafting melodies and lyrics. The title alone, “Lover, You Should’ve Come Over,” seeps with bitter-sweet regret. This haunting track serves as a testament to Buckley’s contrition over his past relationships as he laments, “Too deaf, dumb, and blind to see the damage I’ve done.” Accompanied by frantic instrumentals, his vocals build from a low boil to a cry of despair as he repeats, “Lover, lover, lover.” Despite his passing, Buckley remains quintessential among musicians even today, with this track alone racking up more than 100 million streams on Spotify.


“Say It Ain’t So” – Weezer (1994)

Review by Scott Ackerson

Music has a wonderful capacity to mask tragic soliloquies with toe-tappingly addicting melodies. With “Say It Ain’t So,” released back in 1994, Weezer frontman Rivers Cuomo recalls the fractured relationship he had with his father thanks to the debilitating effects of the latter’s alcoholism. Cuomo pens this song from his point-of-view in the past as well as the present day, coming to terms with the aftermath of his father’s explosive tendencies. When he says “Something is bubbling behind my back / This bottle is ready to blow,” we understand that this comes after years of pent-up frustration and resentment that Cuomo has held inside, which he is finally taking out on the page, using the obvious image of a bottle of champagne being popped open. The final section of the song takes us to current-aged Cuomo, as he appears to be making amends with his dad, but we are not sure. Lyrics like, “Things are good, or so I hear,” imply that there is still no real contact or connection between them. And finally, Cuomo’s line of, “The son is drowning in the flood,” hits and resonates so well because of how beautifully and succinctly he portrays the trickle-down effect that a parent’s poor behavior can have on their child. The metaphorical flood of rage that his father brought out was enough to “drown” the young Cuomo in its force, which in turn brought out enough fire in the future rocker to pen this song. I’ll say it actually is so; Weezer’s iconic track is truly a song to remember and connect with.


“Airbag” – Radiohead (1997)

Review by Chris Alberico

Coming right before the turn of the millennium, Radiohead wrote their third full-length LP titled OK Computer. It was a deeply personal but relevant concept album reflecting on the past and future of technology and its place in everyone’s lives. It was wildly ahead of its time because this album has aged perfectly, from front to back it is spectacular. And what a first impression it makes! “Airbag” is a first-person reflection from Thom Yorke about a car crash from when he was younger. He focuses on the fact that he didn’t survive, a machine saved him. The rest of the interpretation is up to the listener, and that very subjectivity is what gives it life. Our reliance on technology for survival nowadays is more important than ever, which is why this song will continue to be relevant. Sonically, the song uses guitar effects to drive home the futuristic but barren soundscape. Also, bonus points for using sleigh bells in the recording, which means it can be my favorite Christmas song. This song and its album will never become irrelevant, it will only ever get more true. For those reasons, it’s an easy 10/10 from me. 


“My Hero” – Foo Fighters (1997)

Review by Lara Ziccardi

“My Hero” by Foo Fighters is an electrifying anthem that encapsulates the essence of admiration and resilience. Released in 1997 as part of their sophomore album The Colour and the Shape, the song captivates listeners with its soaring guitar riffs and Dave Grohl’s impassioned vocals. Lyrically, “My Hero” explores the idea of idolizing someone who embodies strength and courage, whether it be a personal mentor or a public figure. The chorus goes, “There goes my hero, watch him as he goes,” and inspires countless individuals to find their own heroes and sources of inspiration. According to Radio X, “When Grohl performed the track on The Howard Stern Show that the song was ‘loosely based on Kurt Cobain.’” With its dynamic energy and universal themes, “My Hero” continues to stand as a timeless rock classic, empowering audiences around the world. In 2022, the band lost their drummer, Taylor Hawkins. His son, Shane Hawkins, played the drums in his father’s place for “My Hero” at the Taylor Hawkins Tribute Concert


“We’re In This Together” – Nine Inch Nails (1999)

Review by G.S. Alvarez

Released two months after its album The Fragile, “We’re In This Together” debuted as Halo 15 on December 6, 1999, in Europe and Japan only. This seven-minute epic keeps all the grime of Nine Inch Nails’ second studio album The Downward Spiral, and pushes it to the extreme with an all-out vocal performance by Trent Reznor. Alan Moulder serves as another producer of the song, and his influence can be most heard in the final, softer minutes of the track as it fades into the titular track of The Fragile. For an album so heavily focused on a descent into grim hopelessness, “We’re In This Together” is a surprisingly positive outlier of a track. It’s also emblematic of the grit that industrial developed in its competition against grunge in the 90s–to compete with more melodic acts like Alice in Chains and Nirvana, industrial as a genre developed an increased use of clean vocals and more accessible chord progressions. “We’re In This Together” is the pinnacle of this development in the genre, while still keeping the fuzz that’s so essential to industrial music.


2000s –

“Tomorrow Comes Today” – Gorillaz (2001)

Review by Mia Watson

This is one of my favorite songs from Gorillaz’s self-titled debut in 2001. This song in my opinion is simple and confusing. According to lead singer 2D, the lyrics are whatever came to his head, but according to bassist Murdoc Niccals, it’s this super deep song about how “You think you’ll ignore tomorrow and have your fun today… sounds like a great idea until you realize that you’re writing off today by taking tomorrow now.” I think it’s about losing yourself in the future before it can even happen. At the time of this song, Gorillaz creator Damon Albarn was struggling with substance abuse, so that fear and fight to not lose yourself is apparent.


“Ghost Train” – Gorillaz (2001)

Review by Jaydah Victor-Morse

The iconic virtual band’s first recorded single, “Ghost Train,” establishes their experimental sound; creepy bass synths along with the clap-like beat in the intro set an eerie mood for the track. The lyrics take us through an internal monologue of sorts, “Here they come to steal my soul, wait it out until I know.” The first verse’s sinister metal slamming noises and chaotic cowbell ringing through the first chorus feels like a haunted house–frightening, but fun. The chants of, “Come on, come on, come on, ghost train,” can be heard as cheering or begging from the members to be saved from these ghosts chasing them, with shaky vocals adding to the fear factor. The classic-rock style guitar solo ending the song is the cherry on top–breaking expectations and making their mark with one of their earliest releases.


“Ocean Avenue” – Yellowcard (2003)

Review by Mia Savidge

I absolutely adore this song. It has been such an influential one in my life because as I grew to the ages of sixteen and eighteen as the characters do in the song, I would always imagine myself in that. Throughout the song Ryan Key sings about his and his love interest’s past and how they used to have the best times. Then one day, they had to leave each other and go to separate places. However, repeated in the chorus is the hope that someday they will reunite and run away together. I don’t think I can put into words how much joy this one gives me!


“Holiday” – Green Day (2004)

Review by Lara Ziccardi 

There’s nothing like American Idiot. “Holiday” by Green Day is a fiery protest anthem that ignites the spirit of rebellion and discontent. Released as a single from their critically acclaimed album American Idiot in 2004, the song embodies the band’s signature blend of punk rock energy and socially conscious lyricism. With its explosive guitar riffs and thunderous percussion, “Holiday” serves as a rallying cry against political corruption, war, and societal injustices. Frontman Billie Joe Armstrong’s raw vocals convey a sense of urgency and defiance, urging listeners to question authority and challenge the status quo. “Holiday” remains a timeless anthem for activism and resistance, resonating with audiences as a powerful call to action against injustice and oppression. Overall, American Idiot is a concept album. It follows the story of Jesus of Suburbia, an adolescent looking for something bigger than the life he is living in an inescapable small town.


“Welcome to the Black Parade” – My Chemical Romance (2006)

Review by Kimberly Martinez

Coming off of an obsession with this new genre of music called grunge, the 2000s was a whole new century. So many people were looking for a new interest in music, and here we would see the rise of more emo, pop-punk, and alternative-rock genres. The 5th song off of their 3rd studio album The Black Parade, “Welcome To The Black Parade,” would help bring this rise in emo music and create a classic anthem with the infamous first three piano keys. This song as a whole has more of a dark musical and theatrical feel and theme to it. It fits into the whole concept of the album’s theme which revolves around making sure that all the songs are telling the stories of a character called the patient. It is believed that the album starts with talking about the death of the patient, then shifts to the thought that they died from cancer, which is also the title of the second song on the album. We then see his death kind of come to him in the form of a parade, hence The Black Parade concept. Overall, lead singer Gerard Way has talked about the song and mentioned how it was inspired by, “The triumph of the human spirit over darkness.” Many of us can come to terms with the fact that this song is very much a cult classic within the emo community and will always be.


“Me, I’m Not” – Nine Inch Nails (2007)

Review by G.S. Alvarez

Before alternate reality games (ARGs) became an online sensation, Nine Inch Nails’ 2007 album Year Zero was introduced by a years-long ARG spanning eighteen months, two tours, and a massive scavenger hunt. This staple in the Nine Inch Nails catalog–also referred to as Halo 24–was promoted with murals, hidden messages in tour shirts, and pre-recorded phone messages that could only be accessed through specific web pages. This campaign is a glimpse into the early internet era and became a blueprint for future ARGs that would later rely on digital scavenger hunts. On February 19th, 2007, at a NIN concert in Barcelona, an unbranded USB was discovered in a bathroom stall and subsequently uploaded online. This USB contained two files: an MP3 file containing static which, when run through a spectrogram, revealed a phone number; and the second track that would be featured on Year Zero, titled “Me, I’m Not.” This track, which would only be officially released as the 6th track on the album two months later, is an almost entirely electronic track featuring whispered vocals, consistent thick and groovy drums, and a bass riff that is highly reminiscent of Depeche Mode’s 1997 single “Home.” Not only is this track musically a representation of the synth-heavy direction in which Nine Inch Nails would continue to head down, but its discovery and release is also a snapshot into the 2000s mystique and popularization of the internet as a means of mysterious promotion. This is also my personal favorite Nine Inch Nails song and the one that I’ve listened to most frequently.


“About A Girl” – The Academy Is… (2008)

Review by Amber Bintliff

William Beckett may not want to waste his words on a girl, but I sure want to use a few to talk

about my love for this song. “About a Girl” follows the emotional turmoil associated with unrequited love, with Beckett starting off by saying he can’t seem to breathe when he’s around this girl. As it progresses, the lyrics begin to show the internal struggle with these kinds of intense feelings. One of my favorite lines in this song resides in the second chorus where Beckett sings “These lines so well-rehearsed / Tongue-tied and overloaded / You never notice.” It begins to feel as though he is trying to convince himself to get over his crush to avoid rejection as the song nears its end. Even though Beckett repeatedly claims that he is not in love, “About a Girl” remains as one early 2000s pop-punk track that I will always be in love with.


“New Divide” – Linkin Park (2009)

Review by Scott Ackerson

Linkin Park is a particularly nostalgic group for me personally, and they rounded off their monumental 2000s run with this ‘09 hit. Originally written for the blockbuster Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, the single “New Divide” tells the story of a seemingly unmendable rift between two people. The late Chester Bennington begins the song by painting the picture of being surrounded by black skies, lightning, and flashes–all harmful elements–before taking a step back and brandishing the phrase, “And your voice was all I heard / That I get what I deserve.” It tells us that this torrential fury is the work of someone else’s words or actions. The titular “New Divide” is the vast gap that has formed between Bennington and the other party, now that time has passed. The former is imploring the latter to “Give me reason / To fill this hole / Connect the space between,” if they so choose to join him in mending their rough patch. The power behind the song’s words, delivered with Bennington’s signature weight and conviction, round out a very enjoyable power ballad that has left fans humming its messages for years and years.


“Boring” – The Brobecks (2009)

Review by Deepak Sathish

Released in 2009, “Boring” serves as the closing track of The Brobecks’ final studio album, Violent Things. The album was recorded by Dallon Weekes (now known for I DONT KNOW HOW BUT THEY FOUND ME, and absolutely nothing in between those two projects) with the help of producer Casey Crescenzo over the course of two weeks. However, due to monetary constraints (read: being broke), Weekes views the album as never having been finished. Despite this, Violent Things is one of the unique and interesting records released in the 2000s. “Boring” in particular stands out as an epic and dramatic conclusion to the album. No other song truly captures the feeling of being so completely bored with everything around you, and the wistful yearning for anything to happen to break you out of the monotonous dredges of your day-to-day existence. Despite having been released 15 years ago, the song has been given a new life as the closer to IDKHOW’s sets on several of their tours. It’s a fascinating juxtaposition, seeing a song about boredom made for a band that never truly made it being played by a rapidly growing band in a place where boredom is nearly impossible. The song in this environment turned into a triumphant realization of the vision Weekes had 15 years prior in the basement “Boring” was originally recorded in, as his band performs it in front of the sold-out crowds The Brobecks never got to see. 


2010s – 

“Somebody That I Used To Know” – Gotye (2011)

Review by Kimberly Martinez

The 2010s were an interesting time when it came to music. There were many new up-and-coming artists and many who had never appeared on the charts that suddenly had massive hits. One would say many artists during this time were becoming one-hit-wonders, one being Gotye with his famous song “Somebody That I Used To Know.” This single, featuring singer Kimbra, was released first before being a part of Gotye’s album Making Mirrors and also included a unique music video. This song also has its lyrics that match up with the true meaning behind the song, which oddly enough isn’t very popular these days. Gotye has said that “Somebody That I Used To Know” is inspired by the experiences he’s had in past relationships and breakups. Some parts of the song are more reflective in focusing on the aftermath and the memories of all the different relationships and what could be going on in both peoples’ minds. It basically represents the full picture of a relationship, specifically the ending of it which can be seen throughout the lyrics. The song was so big and went on to win Best Pop Duo/Group Performance at the 55th Grammy Awards. Many would argue Gotye was a one-hit-wonder as he then somewhat disappeared from music after this.


“R U Mine?” – Arctic Monkeys (2013)

Review by Lara Ziccardi

While I absolutely love the Arctic Monkeys 2000s punk earlier music, I couldn’t not write about the critically acclaimed, iconic, Tumblr-wide album AM. I flipped back and forth if I wanted to write about the widely known “Do I Wanna Know?” or my personal favorite “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?” But after asking myself those two questions, I decided to go with the last question, and that’s “R U Mine?” “R U Mine?” by Arctic Monkeys has a guitar riff that has you hooked right from the get-go, one that shakes your bones and makes you feel like a rockstar. With its blistering guitar work, propulsive drums, and frontman Alex Turner’s electrifying vocals, “R U Mine?” is an adrenaline-fueled anthem that grabs listeners from the opening riff and never lets go. Lyrically, the song explores themes of desire, uncertainty, and longing, with Turner’s sharp wit and swagger shining through every word. “R U Mine?” is a testament to Arctic Monkeys’ ability to blend garage rock grit with infectious pop sensibilities, solidifying its status as a fan favorite and a modern rock classic. AM will continue to be the icon of the album that it is, even eleven years later. 


“Came Back Haunted” – Nine Inch Nails (2013)

Review by G.S. Alvarez

The much-anticipated 8th studio album by Nine Inch Nails, Hesitation Marks (Halo 28), was released and controversially received on August 30th, 2013. Its post-industrial sound marked a significant departure from their earlier, heavier work like The Fragile and With Teeth, with every track heavily reliant on programmed drums, different synthesizers, and very clean vocals. The first single off Hesitation Marks, “Came Back Haunted” introduced fans to this evolution in the Nine Inch Nails sound two months before the full album release. Being a post-industrial track, there are still traces of grit in the bass and guitar; however, the foundation of this track is a synth through-line and clean vocal droning, both of which feel heavily influenced by electronica (along with Reznor’s work on How To Destroy Angels). Personnel on “Came Back Haunted” included Reznor, Atticus Ross, electronic producer Alessandro Cortini, session drummer Ilan Rubin, and longtime producer Alan Moulder. The abstract music video was directed by David Lynch and was accompanied by a (much-needed) epileptic seizure warning. This is one of Nine Inch Nails’ strongest works from the 2010s, and rightfully represents their turn to a cleaner, more intricately developed sound.


“Robbers” – The 1975 (2013) 

Review by Manda Martinez

Robbers by the 1975 is a classic song from the 2013 Tumblr era of the internet. The song is on the English pop-rock band’s self-titled album, The 1975. It’s about a self-destructive relationship, a sort of Bonnie and Clyde hopeless romantic story. The band has been together for over 20 years now, though they only started putting out music officially in 2013. The 1975’s ability to connect with fans on a deeper emotional level makes them stand out, maintaining a cult following to this day.


“Walk Alone” – PVRIS (2017)

Review by Deepak Sathish

Serving as the fifth song on PVRIS’s 2nd studio album, All We Know Of Heaven, All We Need Of Hell, “Walk Alone” is a journey of a pop-rock song. The song opens with a layer of soft synths, but slowly builds to a dramatic chorus, with booming drums propelling the track forward as frontwoman Lyndsey Gunnfulsen sings about a relationship that was always doomed from the start. The song is a masterclass on how to build a song slowly, going from quieter synth-led moments to big drum-powered anthemic choruses without ever seeming out of place. The song closes with spiraling synths and haunted winds that slowly bring the track to an end, as though the narrator is watching this doomed relationship come to an end right before her eyes. All We Know Of Heaven, All We Need Of Hell is one of my favorite albums of all time, and “Walk Alone” is a big reason for that. It is one of the band’s best songs, with a dramatic flair and impeccably crafted instrumentation. 


“Rare” – Waterparks (2018)

Review by Amber Bintliff

From their breakthrough sophomore record Entertainment, “Rare” is, in my opinion, one of the best songs in Waterparks’ entire discography (bold statement, I know, but hear me out!). The main thing I love about Waterparks is how almost all of their songs evoke some sort of emotion out of the listener–whether that be nostalgia, anger, sadness, you name it. This song specifically focuses on reminiscing on an old relationship where lead singer Awsten Knight hopes that his ex-partner knows how special they are despite the fact he may not have done enough throughout their time together. My favorite part of “Rare” specifically is the bridge, which still gives me chills every time I listen to it even after how much time has passed since its release. This part just feels like Knight is breaking down and realizing how much he wishes things could’ve been different between the two. “Rare” has been such an important song to me since I heard it for the first time in 2018, though that feels like it was just yesterday and not seven years ago.


2020s –

“Pretty Boy” – The Neighbourhood (2020)

Review by Mia Watson

I have a very fond memory of this song, as I was fortunate to see The Neighbourhood at their penultimate concert in October 2021 before they broke up about 4 months later. This was the song they opened the live show with, and this was my first real concert coming out of the pandemic. It was my first time at an open-air amphitheater, Forest Hills Stadium in Queens, and I just remember feeling so present at that moment, and when I heard this song, I am back in that moment. This song is about feeling like the world may be crumbling around you, but you have someone you love to lean on. It doesn’t matter what is happening as long as you’re doing it together. It’s that sense of security so many of us need to feel like the big scary stuff isn’t as scary anymore, whether that’s a partner, friend, parent, sibling, whatever, it’s alright.


“I Know The End” – Phoebe Bridgers (2020)

Review by Emily Santos

There’s always one song that everyone should have the pleasure of experiencing live, and that absolutely must be appointed to “I Know The End” by Phoebe Bridgers. This song, fittingly the final track on Bridgers’ 2020 album Punisher, is her fifth most popular song with more than 100 million streams on Spotify. The only way to describe this track and the magic of it would be existential art, with its release being a relief amidst the COVID-19 lockdown. The song begins tentatively, with Bridgers’ customary eerie instrumentals. It builds to single lines of apocalyptic imagery, along with some descriptions of everyday American scenes like, “A slaughterhouse, an outlet mall, slot machines, fear of God.” The track morphs into a cacophony of description and loud instrumentals, finishing with an ear-splitting scream from Bridgers herself. This track is probably her most memorable, acting as a surrender of emotion during uncertain times.


“Fuzzy” – Waterparks (2021)

Review by Deepak Sathish

“Fuzzy” is the second track off of Waterparks’ 2021 album Greatest Hits, where singer Awsten Knight croons about nightmares and what he sees while trying to sleep. However, this might genuinely be one of the best-sounding instrumentals ever put together. The verses feature a pronounced and funk-influenced bassline, while the chorus feels specifically designed to make you jump at a live show. The stop-start nature gives way to an absolutely massive guitar riff and makes it a song that just needs to be heard. It’s unbelievably catchy and is the kind of song only Waterparks could ever make. 


“ISN’T EVERYONE” – Nine Inch Nails & HEALTH (2021)

Review by G.S. Alvarez

As Nine Inch Nails turned more into an instrumental band through the late 10s and early 20s, with Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross focusing more on film scoring than touring, other industrial groups stepped up to revive the genre. One of these groups, HEALTH, had been making a name for themselves since 2007 (and later, their 2012 work on Max Payne 3: The Official Soundtrack). Recognizable by intricate drumlines, warm but crunchy synth/guitar instrumentals, and the surprisingly gentle voice of vocalist Jake Duzsik, HEALTH seemed like the next industrial giant–and their 2021 collaboration with Nine Inch Nails, titled “ISN’T EVERYONE,” solidified their status as an industrial staple. The production on this track is otherworldly–an ominous drum and bass mix perfectly balances a more creeping synth melody, and Duszik and Reznor’s voices, despite being so different tonally, never compete in the mix. This song almost feels like a send-off for Nine Inch Nails, as it is to this day their most recent release. But passing the baton to a band as tonally distinct as HEALTH was a fantastic choice, and this track absolutely proves it.


“Not Strong Enough” – boygenius (2023)

Review by Manda Martinez

The supergroup composed of Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers, and Lucy Dacus released “Not Strong Enough” on March 1st, 2023 without any announcement. This song is by far their most popular, hitting over 100 million streams on Spotify alone. The band’s explosion in popularity throughout 2023 was rather epic, as they even won three Grammys. It’s inspiring to see such an openly queer female-led band succeed so much; their bond truly is like no other. The song itself is about not feeling strong enough (no pun intended) for your partner and feeling like you’re failing them. The repeating lyric in the bridge “Always an angel, never a god” is so bittersweetly moving but also so incredibly catchy.


“Mountains at Midnight” – Royal Blood (2023)

Review by Chris Cirone

I’ve been following Royal Blood for the past couple of years now and this track comes as the opener to their most recent album Back to the Water Below. The thing that makes this band special though is that it’s just a bassist and drummer; all of the different bass lines or distorted riffs you hear are made from the lead singer and bassist Mike Kerr’s pedal chains and amp rigs. The band is perfect for this new century as they experiment with their sound. Although they’ve been on the rock scene for about a decade now, their music remains largely self-produced and they don’t collaborate that much with other artists, keeping their unique and bellowing sound close.


“So Much (For) Stardust” – Fall Out Boy (2023)

Review by Alyssa Arroyo

From 2001 to 2023, alternative rock band Fall Out Boy has been producing charting records for the past two decades. However, on March 24, 2023, the band released their 9th studio album, So Much (For) Stardust, which kickstarted the now two-year-long tour that has swept the nation. Named after the album itself, So Much for (Tour) Dust, and So Much For 2our (Dust) have been extremely successful world tours that have gained the band a lot of attention. Between rotating setlists and varying on-stage guests throughout the tour, Fall Out Boy has managed to keep one element consistent throughout the second leg. The title track song, “So Much (For) Stardust” off the album has made its way onto the setlist and it is here to stay (yippee!).

Out of all the words I could use to describe “So Much (For) Stardust,” the one that always stands out is simply timeless. From the first listen back in 2023, I could tell this song would go down as one of Fall Out Boy’s greatest. Lead singer Patrick Stump effortlessly belts hard-hitting choruses throughout the piece; it constantly reminds you exactly why this band has stayed a fan favorite over the years. One of my favorite parts from the song is the callback to the lead single from the album, “Love From the Other Side” with the lines, “In another life, you were my babe” being repeated. Circling back to the lines in that song but now sung in a deeper and richer tone sealed my thoughts on “So Much (For) Stardust” as a track forever. The song is composed of powerful drum sections, exciting horns, and a beautiful piano medley in the background. 

Fall Out Boy has been one of my favorite bands for years, and with albums like So Much For Stardust being produced by the group still to this day, I don’t see a reason why I wouldn’t! The obvious chemistry between each member and their musical abilities truly shines within this record and the title track is a perfect example of just that. 


“The Sound of Letting Go” – All Time Low

Review by Lara Ziccardi

I wouldn’t be THE Lara Ziccardi if I didn’t write about All Time Low. I debated for a while if I wanted to write 2000s, 2010s, or modern All Time Low. And here we are! All Time Low are pop-punk veteran icons from Towson, Maryland. With the release of their debut LP So Wrong, It’s Right, the band gained popularity surrounding their song “Dear Maria, Count Me In” off the record. Eleven years and nine albums later, All Time Low are still touring and making music today. Their most recent LP, Tell Me I’m Alive, explores different themes, such as substances, heartbreak, modern love, and letting go. “The Sound of Letting Go” is an electrifying anthem that makes you want to scream this song at the top of your lungs. Alex Gaskarth’s strong vocals mixed with the powerful drum beats and piano melodies almost make you feel like life is short and to let whatever is bothering you go. When I went to photograph The Sound of Letting Go Tour, Gaskarth hopped on top of the bar at Starland Ballroom during this song. Overall, this song, the record, and TSOLG tour hold a special place in my heart. Check out my album review of Tell Me I’m Alive here! To see my All Time Low concert photos, check out the Tell Me I’m Alive Tour and The Sound of Letting Go Tour!


*These songs contain explicit lyrics.


You can check out WMSC Music Picks: Spring Break here