10 Best Mike Patton Songs
Before you jump into our list of the 10 Best Mike Patton Songs, you should remember that this isn’t a list of Faith No More’s best. Yes, you’ll stumble across some great FNM tunes here, but this crooning, screaming rock ‘n’ roll shapeshifter has done more than front that band. “Eclectic” doesn’t even begin to describe the astonishing diversity he’s shown throughout his career, and In addition to Faith No More, Patton has stretched out with innovative bands and projects like Peeping Tom, Tomahawk, Fantômas, Mr. Bungle and a whole lot more. So sit back and prepare for a wild, diverse ride as we delve into Patton’s outstanding catalog.
No. 10 on our list, ‘Sun Dance,’ is typical Patton, meaning it would be atypical for any other musician on the planet. Appearing on the album ‘Anonymous’ by Patton’s band Tomahawk, it starts out with some laid-back Native American-esque chanting accompanied by guitars and keys. Patton follows that with a blast of frenetic singing before the song slips into its “ethereal” chanting mode again. It’s a wonderful way to get into Tomahawk if you’re new to the band.
‘Vanity Fair’ is an old-time bebop type of tune. Up to a point, it’s reminiscent of something you might have heard from a doo-wop vocal ensemble back in the day. But this is a Mr. Bungle — Patton’s very first band — so you can expect a few rhythmic and lyrical surprises. This upbeat musical gem runneth over with profound lyrics about religion, sexuality, the Eucharist and blessed eunuchs.
‘We’re Not Alone’
Peeping Tom, Patton’s exceptionally collaborative effort with beat-box performers (Rahzel), hip- and trip-hop heavies (Dan the Automator, Massive Attack) and famous guest singers (Bebel Gilberto, Norah Jones), produced tons of killer tracks. ‘We’re Not Alone,’ No. 8 on our list of the Best Mike Patton Songs, is a blazing rocker featuring the talented Dub Trio and plenty of beat box. Patton sings in falsetto for a good portion of the tune, but during the massive chorus, he screams his head off in a bout of crazed passion: “I’m not alone / I’ve got this microphone and I know that I ain’t gonna fool yah / We watching fear, read a magazine, just to keep our minds erased / Keep our minds erased!”
‘Ashes to Ashes’
Finally, we’ve arrived in some good ol’ rockin’ Faith No More territory. ‘Ashes to Ashes’ is a kickass groove that finds Mr. Patton singing at his best. His low, melodic vocals — broken up by intervals of soaring vocal stunts — combine with his incredible presence to make this a classic. Apparently, Patton was in Italy when the band wrote and arranged most of the music for ‘Ashes to Ashes,’ and he added the lyrics and hooks after receiving a tape in the mail. How’s that for a solid long-distance collaborative relationship?
Another Faith No More tune, ‘Midlife Crisis,’ rockets into sixth position on our list of the Best Mike Patton Songs. Ricocheting drums get this track off to a brisk start, while our hero growls like a monstrous killer in a horror movie before letting his voice loose on the rest of the song. Patton has said the lyrics are “kind of about Madonna,” since he felt overwhelmed by her media presence at the time. He reckoned she must have been suffering some kind of midlife crisis. and that her distress was the reason she inundated the world with so many different images of herself. “You’re perfect, yes, it’s true / But without me you’re only you / Your menstruating heart / It ain’t bleedin’ enough for two / It’s a midlife crisis.”
Fantômas’ exceedingly heavy ‘Der Golem’ comes from ‘The Director’s Cut,’ an album of hard rock and metal versions of horror movie and scary TV show themes. The sludgy yet circus-like ‘Der Golem’ slowly pummels the listener with incredibly thick distortion and an overlay of snarls, screams and guttural vocals from Patton. This is just another cool example of what this versatile singer can do. Traditional musical boundaries mean little to the man, which is great news for diehard fans.
Mr. Bungle’s sublime ‘Retrovertigo’ is a stark contrast to the hard-hitting ‘Der Golem. It’s laced with airy vocals that seem to hover above the clouds, and simple yet haunting guitars move back and forth until a lofty crescendo drops in for the closing bits. Patton is a master of many vocal styles, as this slightly operatic, highly infectious number attests.
‘Il Cupo Dolore’
Patton wrote ‘Il Cupo Dolore,’ an operatic Italian aria of sweeping proportions, for the film ‘A Perfect Place.’ Overall the album is an eclectic assortment of innovative songs and swinging soundscapes, and this majestic track offers a superb look at Patton’s remarkable vocal skills, strong command of the Italian language and incredible emotive abilities.
‘Mojo’ was Peeping Tom’s first major single and highest-charting release. The track makes significant use of Dan the Automator, as well as the beat-box maestro Rahzel. This tune features a killer groove and an extremely danceable beat, but if you dig down into the lyrics, you’ll find a typically Patton-esque twist and discover a story of heavy drug use and the overwhelming power of addiction. “Now roll it up and smoke it again / Now light me up and snort it again / Now fix it up and shoot it again / I can’t believe I did it again.”
We couldn’t leave ‘Epic’ off this list. This is the song that brought Patton and Faith No More national and international recognition. ‘Epic’ combined various musical styles, from metal and hard rock to hip-hop, into one great song, a unique rock anthem that defined FNM for years. The video garnered heavy MTV play, though animal rights folks decried the fate of the poor little fish seen at the end of the clip, just as the piano-based finale brings the tune to a close.