#10. #1 Crush
Album: Romeo + Juliet OST (1996)
I will burn for you, feel pain for you,
I will twist the knife and bleed my aching heart...
And tear it apart.
This is a song about love. It's about love so strong, simple words like devotion, affection, passion and infatuation lose all meaning alongside it. It's about a love that cuts deep. It's exhilarating, intoxicating and consumes all that you are. It's a love that you're willing to compromise anything for, sacrificing every part of who you were until there's nothing left. This is a song about love... and obsession. '#1 Crush' fascinates me. Each line in the verses is a desperate promise from a lover intent on showing their (supposedly) former flame exactly how much they mean to them. "I would die for you." "I will cry for you." "I will pray for you." Innocent enough in the lead up to section B (can we really call it a chorus), but there is a dark turn coming ahead. It wouldn't be a Garbage song without one, yeah? She sees his face everywhere, hears his voice everywhere and she is convinced their love is still alive. "And I will never be ignored." We've got confirmation that this relationship is a little one-sided these days and from here on in, Shirley loses any illusion of innocence and heads down a terrifying road. She'll burn and feel pain for you, lie, beg, steal and do jail time for you. Shirley Manson is determined to show you that you belong together and she'll do anything to show you that you're just like her. Finally we come to section C; what I call 'the list.' Manson recites all the things she'll do for her love and in a bittersweet and heartbreaking moment confesses that she believes in him. "Cause I believe in you, I believe in you, I would die for you." When I named '#1 Crush' the thirteenth greatest song of the 1990s, I said, "the way Manson goes into some sort of guttural growl the last time she decries, "I would die for you," is half terrifying, half captivating, all amazing. Just like the rest of the song." This is a song about love and obsession... and I love it and I'm obsessed with it. (Matt Bond)
Album: Garbage (1995)
I can't stop when it comes to you...
It seems appropriate that the debut single from Garbage contained the lyric, "I came around to tear your little world apart" which is exactly what they did in 1995 with their debut self-titled album. The interesting thing and proof of what an incredible band Garbage are and were is that this track is still so strong, seventeen years later. Beginning with the warped guitar sounds and Shirley’s raspy lyric, "I can’t use what I can’t abuse," its lyrics take you on a journey of anger and detest while simultaneously being completely vulnerable; "I can’t stop when it comes to you." It’s a dark but catchy journey, like so many of Garbage’s songs. It’s poppy without being bubble gum, rock without being self-absorbed. 'Vow' combined electronic sounds with heavy guitars before most others; before it was commonplace and Garbage changed the path popular music was taking right when it needed changing. I can remember the first time I saw this clip, stunned by Shirley’s red hair and alternative beauty, the star pendant necklace and shaggy red coat she wears, the band playing around her (watching it again the flashing blue screen monitors take me straight back to long nights in front of the TV waiting for it to appear on Rage in the early hours of the morning), it’s now almost a tribute to the 90s, the epitome of what was cool back in the day. Maybe I’m sentimental because it’s from their first album, but I still love this song and it’s one of my favourites. Let’s politely ignore the fact that I say that about a lot of Garbage songs, ok? I like Garbage. What of it? (Jo Michelmore)
#8. When I Grow Up
Album: Version 2.0 (1998)
Don't take offense, better make amends,
Rip it all to shreds and let it go.
Garbage have two songs in their catalogue that should have been #1 hits, especially in Australia. 'Cherry Lips' is the one you'd think of first. 'When I Grow Up' is most likely what you'd go for after that. This is as fun as music gets, catchy and lacking in a lot of the depth and darkness Garbage is known for. Mentioning that last bit is important. Depth and darkness aren't always synonymous with chart topping success stories. Anyway, does anyone really think this is a band that cares about that kind of 'success?' No? Great, moving right along. Nope, not done. In a perfect world 'When I Grow Up' would have been a #1 song. Instead, when it was released in 1999, classic songs like Cher's 'Believe,' Will Smith's 'Wild Wild West' and Enrique Iglesias' 'Bailamos' were topping the charts. This is clearly not a perfect world. (Matt Bond)
Album: Garbage (1995)
But I'd be love and sweetness,
If I had you.
I love that Garbage leave much of the interpretation of their songs to the listener. It gives everyone a different perspective and when you listen to each track, you go to a place you feel is reserved for only you and the band. Well, I do. When I try to unravel the story behind 'Milk,' two words immediately come to mind; loneliness and abandonment. The sadness prevalent in the words are reinforced by the tone of the music, working together to suck any and all hope from around you. I can just picture Shirley and the boys staring at a missing person on a milk carton, concocting the line, "I am weak, but I am strong, I can use my tears to bring you home," in their pretty little heads and smiling at how perfectly haunting it is. Do they even have pictures of missing people on milk cartons in America any more? Manson sums up the song perfectly saying, "To me 'Milk' is the darkest, most hopeless of the songs. People say 'Oh, it's lovey-dovey, so therefore it's a love song'. But it's a very bleak song, it's about loss and the fear of loss; about things you can't have and things you will forever wait for." Bleak doesn't do it justice, but you wouldn't want it any other way. An incredibly risky choice for a debut album's closing track could only be expected of Garbage and 'Milk' further serves as a predecessor of sorts to Version 2.0's closing number, 'You Look So Fine.' (Matt Bond)
#6. I Think I'm Paranoid
Album: Version 2.0 (1998)
Heaven knows what a girl can do,
Heaven knows what you got to prove...
This one, this one is amazing. This song is so Garbage, so perfectly Garbage, if I were to have to sum up their career thus far in one song, this could be the one I would choose. Taken from their second album, Version 2.0, it’s got everything Garbage are good at; the quiet intro and quirky menacing verses, the catchy sing-along, angry chorus in combination with aggressive guitars, the way the verses lull you into a sense of safety and the chorus shocks you back into reality, the warped vocals and the sudden end, this is everything Garbage is good at and more. The loud “steal me, deal me” refrain right before the song leaves you on the floor begging for more, this is Garbage so good it’s almost upsetting. Oh and here you go, another Garbage song where you get to learn a little bit too much about my complex/simple personality. I love the lyrics, I relate to the lyrics, I sing the lyrics loudly in the car whenever this song pops up in my roadtrip playlist; “....bend me break me, anyway you need me, as long as I want you baby it’s alright…” at what point did they start reading my thoughts? This is a song that’s addictive, I can play it numerous times over without tiring of it, I can hear the first note and know exactly which song it is and know the next three and half minutes are not going to be mine. Beside all of that, the black and white clip features sex bomb Shirley with short hair dancing around in boots and wearing a mini polka-dot print strapless dress. Is there something more you want? (Jo Michelmore)