We're all familiar with the scenario - you're driving, and a certain song comes on, and you get this sudden surge of adrenaline, and once you're really getting into it, you look at your speedometer and think "Oh shit, I'm going 90... and this is a school zone." For this week's list, I wanted to go over what those songs are for me, the ones that kick so much ass that they just seize you and pump you so full of energy that you don't even notice your foot planted flat on the floor... or at least that's how I tried to explain it to the officer. So let's get on with it, shall we? Streetlight Manifesto - Everything Went Numb
While I love Reel Big Fish and Goldfinger as much as the next guy, I think Streetlight Manifesto's first album was probably third wave ska's crowning achievement, with this song being a perfect example of why. Starting out with an almost flamenco sounding horn section, the song crashes in with Tomas Kalnoky's rapid-fire shouts, along with some frenzied guitar playing and a fantastic bassline (in a genre known for fantastic basslines, no less). And it's so hard not to shout along with, too. Ski mask! CHECK! Sawed off! CHECK! Guilty conscience, fear of death! CHECK CHECK CHECK!!
Incubus - Priceless
An under appreciated gem on what is easily their least popular album, Priceless feels like a dash of S.C.I.E.N.C.E. in the middle of A Crow Left of the Murder's jam rock stylings. The momentum to this song is so great that even the rather random bridge does little to halt it; Brandon Boyd's vocals are fast and furious, Jose Pasillas gives his most intense drumming on the album, and the band's overall energy is incredibly palpable.
Public Enemy - Rebel Without a Pause
I was a lover of It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back long before I bought Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, but I'd be lying if I said I had already loved this track as much as that game taught me to. The turntable tricks that were mindblowing back when golden age hip-hop was in its prime may be a bit dated now, but it speaks volumes just how great this track still sounds. Chuck D is his usual raging-but-eloquent self, making the chorus' turntablism sound ten times better merely by shouting "Terminator X!" Flava Flav gives another example of just why his goofy persona worked so surprisingly well with those frantic pre-choruses. Everything that made Public Enemy great really comes together here, and even without running down people on motorcycles and pulling drive-bys, this is still damned fun to drive to.
The Hives - No Pun Intended
As interviews revealed, they were easily the most pretentious and obnoxious group out of the garage rock boom in the early noughties, but damn if they didn't know what they were doing. The convoluted yet ridiculously catchy hook here grabs the listener viciously from the track's very beginning, and doesn't let go until the scant 2:20 flies by. While they never enjoyed the popularity of the White Stripes, the Strokes, or (insert random 'the' band here), these guys had a real way with injecting every song with seemingly endless energy.
Anthrax - Caught in a Mosh
Anthrax never gave us a Master of Puppets or Reign in Blood, but they did give us this, which could well be the best thrash metal song ever written. It's not just relentless, it doesn't just have riffs that are as crushing as they are catchy, it's just a fun song. The chorus has such a great sing-a-long quality, and every time I hear Joey Belladonna rush through the line "Now get the hell out of my house!" I can't help but smile. It reminds me of that episode of Married with Children they were on... ah, those were the days. Incidentally, I didn't realize this until I actually sat down to type this, but this song is another GTA staple! Well, how about that.
Beastie Boys - Sabotage
Boasting one of the most legendary videos EVER, Sabotage is not only one of the most fun songs of the decade, but easily one of its most defining. The Beasties do a masterful job of blending punk and rap, throwing random turntable scratches (and even making a chorus out of them, for god's sake) over an infectious bassline and relentless, fuzz-ridden guitars. And let's not forget the Beasties themselves; like much of their catalogue, Sabotage is stuffed with far too much personality for just one song, and that's why we love them.
Digitalism - Jupiter Room
One of the progressive house acts that popped up a few years back along with Boys Noize, Simian Mobile Disco, and Justice, Digitalism came across as an even more experimental Daft Punk who were more hesitant than their contemporaries to fall back on simple, catchy beats. Which is not to say that they weren't catchy of course, just a bit more challenging. Jupiter Room takes a while to build up, but provides a steady beat underneath a plethora of interesting sounds up to its incredible climax at around 2:55, where a futuristic and furiously pounding beat takes form and thrashes away for the better part of three minutes. When the track slams back in to the song's original beat at the end, it sounds a bit different, not necessarily weaker, but after the song's raucous peak barely anything is going to sound as aggressive by comparison.
Adam and the Ants - Beat My Guest
This is about as fun as punk-inflected new wave ever got. The wonderfully obnoxious yodeling, the maddeningly addictive guitar hooks, the fact that it was these fruits you're looking at up there actually making the music, these things all make up one of the best guilty pleasures to ever come out of the early 80s. Not to mention that it provides the soundtrack for one of the coolest moments in SLC Punk!, the ill-fated interstate beer run.
Outkast - B.O.B.
Deserving of Pitchfork's 'best song of the decade' title? Maybe not... but it's still pretty fuckin' great. It's really saying something about the duo's abilities that with such a busy and quick on its feet beat, the most relentless thing about the song is the MCs themselves. Andre 3000 and Big Boi are godlike on B.O.B., sporting impossibly fast flows that upon closer inspection reveal surprisingly clever wordplay. It's a bit cliché, but few songs merit it more than this one: If this doesn't get you dancing, you might want to check your pulse.
Ministry - Burning Inside
One of the earlier - and best - industrial metal songs. Ministry was my introduction to the genre, and the first thing that grabbed me was just how fast paced, heavy, and generally intimidating the music sounded, with Burning Inside being a prime example. It captures everything great about industrial; it's dark, pounding, fast, and just ruthlessly aggressive. It also says something that though the hook is merely two distorted notes, it reels you in just as well as any complex guitar riff could. With how Al Jourgensen continues piling electronic effects on the guitars throughout the song's five minutes while shooting off that distorted roar over all the ruckus, the line "It kicks you in the face and suck you dry" is extremely appropriate.