10 Best Beck Songs
Beck just announced the details about his new sheet music-only album, 'Song Reader,' but he's been pleasing critics and fans alike with his genre-bending work for years. After breaking out in 1994 with his the hit 'Loser,' Beck has infused folk, country, hip-hop, electronica and rock across 11 albums to much acclaim. With the news of his new release in the air, Diffuser.fm looks back at the 10 Best Beck Songs (so far).
Coming in at No. 10 on our Best Beck Songs list is the surf-pop influenced 'Gamma Ray,' taken from the musician's 2008 album 'Modern Guilt.' Despite sounding like something people in the '50s would be dancing to on the beach, 'Gamma Ray' contains dark lyrics about the destruction of the planet: melting ice caps, burning houses and natural disasters. If the end of the world sounds anything like the infectious bass line in 'Gamma Ray,' the apocalypse can't be that bad.
The lead single from Beck's 2005 album, 'Guero,' is a funky tune that somewhat resembles his breakthrough track, 'Loser.' The heavy drum beats dominate throughout the song, keeping the listener's head bopping while Beck sings, "I won't give up that ghost / If you take away, these tongues are twisted / The good in us is all we know / There's too much left to taste that's bitter." In a bit of trivia, 'E-Pro' features the rhythm track from the Beastie Boys' hit 'So What'cha Want.'
Beck has always been known to never pigeon-hole himself into a specific genre. 'Sexx Laws' sees Beck tap into his '60s soul side, mixing brass horns with blues guitars into a funky concoction. Beck also incorporates banjo and some electronica elements to create a unique track. The music video is another highlight of 'Sexx Laws' -- it features a young Jack Black, a Kenny G. impersonator and rampaging football players. Yeah, it looks as logical as it sounds.
The third single from Beck's 1996 album, 'Odelay,' is a hypnotically-paced masterpiece with a creative music video to match. 'The New Pollution' sounds like something out of a 'James Bond' or 'Austin Powers' soundtrack, mixing sexy bass lines, drum beats and a sax solo to great effect. The video was directed by Beck himself and features psychedelic effects, a hair metal band and sweet choreographed dance moves, and it won three MTV Video Music Awards in 1997.
Beck's tenth overall album, 2006's 'The Information,' had the singer reunite with 'Sea Change' producer Nigel Godrich. However, instead of another stripped down melancholy record, the two found Beck's groove again. Second single 'Think I'm In Love,' which makes our 10 Best Beck Songs list, drips with coolness, almost trying to hide the vulnerability that he feels realizing he's in love with a girl. "I think I'm in love / But it makes me kinda nervous to say so," Beck admits.
Beck must have been listening to the funky tunes of Prince when he recorded 'Nicotine and Gravy.' The soulful number follows the vibe of the rest of Beck's 1999 album, 'Midnight Vulture.' It's like Beck came off the mother ship to throw the coolest party the world has ever witnessed. The lyrics to 'Nicotine and Gravy' are just as out there as the production, with Beck crooning, "I think we're going crazy / Her left eye is lazy / She looks so Israeli / Nicotine and gravy." Only Beck can sing a song so ridiculous and still sound awesome.
'Loser' is the Beck song that launched his career, and it's an obvious choice for our list of the 10 Best Beck Songs. After failing to catch a break in New York City during the late '80s and early '90s, Beck returned to L.A. when he ran out of money. He started playing at local clubs and coffeehouses and spewed ridiculous lyrics to see if the indifferent audience was paying attention. This provided the backbone for 'Loser,' the rap-folk single that took modern rock radio by storm. While some declared the song an anthem for the slacker generation, Beck actually worked tirelessly for little pay to gain the success he has.
When you are driving around the city during a sunny day with the top down, Beck's 'Girl' should be a mandatory listen on your stereo. The 'Guero' track is a fun and infectious three-and-a-half-minute ditty that starts off with the chip-tune blips and bleeps of a Nintendo game. The music video for 'Girl' features folding sets and props inspired by 'MAD' fold-ins, and it includes a reference to the next entry on our 10 Best Beck Songs list.
When Beck decided to work on the follow-up to his major label debut, 'Mellow Gold,' he recruited producers the Dust Brothers for the now-classic 'Odelay.' The production team had previously worked with the Beastie Boys on their 1989 record, 'Paul's Boutique,' and the influence clearly shows. First single 'Where It's At' begins with a smooth keys intro and segues into a hip-hop beat while Beck sing-raps his way throughout the song. The track features the well-known lyrics, "Where it's at! / I got two turntables and a microphone."
Sometimes it takes a hard breakup and a simplistic approach at music to create something magical. After ending his relationship with longtime girlfriend, Leigh Limon, Beck once again called upon producer Nigel Godrich to record the introspective 'Sea Change.' 'Lost Cause' is a rare instance that features Beck singing about something so personal, which is complemented by the melodic strums of an acoustic guitar. "I'm tired of fighting / Fighting for a lost cause," Beck declares on the No. 1 pick on our Best Beck Songs list.