I remember the first album i bought; i purchased it sometime in 1999 at the (now defunct) Music World chain in Northwood Mall (now Northgate Shopping centre) for nineteen or so bucks. That album was:
I share that deeply embarrassing information in hopes of making you the reader happier about some of your life choices. After all Europop is home to the now classic ditties Blue (Da Ba Dee) and Move Your Body, so i feel confident saying any other choice you made was a probably a better one.
My memory fades with time, though considering the date of its release in November of 2000, it is highly likely that the 3rd CD i bought was Big Shiny Tunes 5 (3 Doors Down’s The Better Life was probably the 2nd album i procured). In other barely relevant anecdotes, i lost my copy of Big Shiny Tunes 5 along with a number of other beloved ( Stone Temple Pilot’s: No. 4, the first disc of The White Album) and not so beloved albums (Europop, The Better Life) when my cd case fell out of my bag on the way home from school.
It was a bit scarring as i really loved those albums and didn’t have the money to replace them (it wasn’t the same to just download them). But hey, sometimes we lose things.
Lets get to the tracks shall we?
once again this isn’t a review per se, just a track by track breakdown with some personal context put in. If you want a recommendation BST 5 is a lot better than BST 6
THE SHINY TUNES… FIFTH EDTION OR AT LEAST SECOND ON THIS BLOG
In stark contrast to the gloomy Big Shiny Tunes 6 BST 5 is characterised by a much more light and airy tone. The track list is filled with far better (hookier) tunes from the respective bands, and starts the ball rolling with one of Matchbox 20’s most successful singles Bent. With its soaring guitar line and awesome sing along chorus i find it as catchy as when it first played (endlessly yes) on the radio. Tracks 2 – 4 reveal a more alt rock/post grunge slant to the compilation, giving the album a much more cohesive beginning than 6.
Matthew Good Band’s Load Me Up picks up the ball Bent left and continues on with a catchy and (love it or hate it) undying Canadian Alt Rock sing along. Kryptonite has certainly lost much of its personal appeal to me (not as much as Blue (Da Ba Dee) admittedly) however it succeeds in continuing with the poppy distorted guitar atmosphere of the album, and i certainly loved it at the time of release. Stone Temple Pilots’ Sour Girl‘s deep and rich guitar tone, subtly changing song structure, and memorable music video has it remain unreservedly as one of my favorite songs.
I think track five is a result of the compilers given a list of successful singles for the year and having to find a place to put them; The BloodHound Gang’s bizarre dance song of The Bad Touch comes out of left field tonally and i’m baffled that this song managed to make it to #1 on multiple charts. Post post puberty me can only describe the song as a mix of the offensive and humorous. It’s like a fart whose humour is dependent on context, timing, and (most importantly) volume. It’s certainly not to everyone’s tastes, and remains a curious oddity of the late 90’s.
Treble Charger gets the album back on track with its shiny and damn catchy Pop Punk entry American Psycho, i personally think their later single Business was their best, and it’s a justifiable national tragedy that no one remembers it.
The middle section of 5 is notably more chilled out and sober than the opening 6 songs, easing into it with the acoustic strums and airy vocals of Filter’s Take a Picture, which is a formula they would take to its zenith with their future single Where Do We Go From Here. Everclear’s Wonderful is a (despite its lyrical content) feel good pop song that builds itself up with an effective crescendo and payoff. Blink 182’s Adam’s Song continues the more somber (though ultimately not harsher) atmosphere, which isn’t ruined by Limp Bizkit’s Re-Arranged whose slow burn structure and total absence of Durst’s chipmunk yodeling/tough man posturing make me like the song quite a bit.
Wheatus’ Teenage Dirtbag is often cited as the album highlight, and i can see where that comes from. I was an awkward loser back in Junior High and this song provided a sense of comfort and community in knowing i wasn’t the only one; and while i disagree with the fantasy peddled out by this song now (that the girl i was crushing on would notice me without ever attempting to talk to her), i thankfully grew out of all of that and i still sing along with it when i spin it from time to time. Otherside is one of my favorite songs from The Red Hot Chili Peppers, and once again serves to chracterise the compilation’s more somber middle section.
Sum 41’s debut single Makes No Difference precedes the ending lap of the compilation, and breaks up the prevailing gloominess with its catchy harmonies and fast paced riffs that would characterise the band’s next two albums. And thank God it does liven things up, as a child i don’t think i would have been able to make past Teenage Dirtbag, Otherside, and Change (in the house of flies) without curling into a ball and crying. The latter serving as my first introduction to The Deftones and their unique brand of shoegaze inspired Alt Metal, and they remain one of my favorite bands (my vote for their best album goes to Diamond Eyes and i know that will ruffle feathers).
As an example of how important sequencing is to a compilation album (and why 5 is head and shoulders better than 6 in this regard) Disturbed’s Stupify would feel out of place with its abrasive Nu Metal sound, but comes on quite easily after The Deftones’ similar(ish) wall of sound production. It would also quickly drag the album further down to BST 6’s glummy depths if it were placed beside Re-Arranged, however the sequencer gave the tone and pacing of the compilation’s tracks great care to chop up the darker tracks and place them between the more livelier ones.
To be totally honest i regularly stopped listening to Big Shiny Tunes 5 after Stupify, as the home stretch of the album is populated with its share of the mediocre and abysmal. J. Englishman’s More isn’t awful but i never liked it then and don’t care for it now. The only thing positive i can say about Kid Rock is that they were the best paying band that i set up for in my IATSE days (i got a cheque for 400 bucks for something like 6 hours of work), as for Only God Knows Why it is an auto tuned abomination that wears out its welcome long before its 5 minutes is up.
Then there’s the album closer: Nickleback’s Breathe. This might shock some people but there was a time when no one knew about Nickleback, with Breathe being their second single off of their second album The State. The song is as inoffensive as it is forgettable and illustrates how important timing is to success, as no one gave a shit about them before 2001’s This is How You Remind Me. Honestly they seem more adventurous in Breathe with an odd electronic intro that doesn’t sound like anything else they charted with, and a slightly different song structure then they have used for their singles since.
LIVES UP TO THE NAME?
Comparing them side by side makes why i dislike BST 6 so much when compared to BST 5 pretty much obvious. The sequencing here in 5 is more even and the songs are better overall. I want to stress that gloominess is not a bad thing, but i find that Stupify and Re-Arranged are head and shoulders better than Control or My Way.
I want to take the time to address the elephant in the room and talk about Big Shiny Tunes 2 which is considered by many to be the best (in so much as compilation albums can be ranked against one another) of the series. The best of the series for me is at this point unsurprisingly Big Shiny Tunes 5, for a number of reasons, the first of which is its timing in relation to my life.
Releasing in 1997 when i was the age of ten BST 2 came far too early for me to be aware of it in anything but a passing way. I began purchasing and/or experiencing music for myself in and around 1999 at the age of 12. Sure i had heard music on the radio before, but i never took an interest in it until i heard and liked Blue (Da Ba Dee) enough to blow my allowance on it. The track list of BST 2 is filled with solid songs, but i didn’t get into any of those bands until after i purchased 5. That’s the context of my experience with Big Shiny Tunes, and context is everything when it comes to compilation albums.
In the end i view Big Shiny Tunes 5 as the soundtrack to my time in Junior High. A time in my life that i view with equal parts nostalgia, embarrassment, and at times contempt. BST 5 is one of those items i view in favorable light, and i will continue to do so for as long as i remember those awkward teenage years.
I’m glad i didn’t venture farther into the series past 6, as looking at the track list for Big Shiny Tunes 7 makes me cringe. If i thought 6’s opening 5 tracks gave it an uneven start, 7 looks to be a goddamned nightmare.