College Countdown: 90FM’s Top 90 of 1996, 58 and 57

brain candy
58. Various Artists, Brain Candy soundtrack

I saw Brain Candy, the sole feature film offering from the fantastic Canadian comedy troupe Kids in the Hall, in an otherwise empty theater at the old University Square 4 in Madison, Wisconsin. The film, centered on the creation of wonder drug that creates happiness, is a bit of muddle, bearing telltale evidence of a performing team in a state of discord. My enduring affection for it, however, was cemented at the appearance of Bruce McCulloch’s Cancer Boy, still one of the most fearless bits of black comedy I’ve seen in a major studio movie. Befitting the film, the soundtrack is an engaging mish-mash, including songs from the disparate likes of Pavement, Matthew Sweet, the Tragically Hip and Stereolab, with the occasional dialogue snippet or Kids in the Hall song tossed in for good measure. It’s not a soundtrack that anyone’s going to hold up as a pinnacle of the form, but its fine variety made it ideal for filling out a show’s playlist, exactly the sort of release college radio kids could always appreciate.

57. Weezer, Pinkerton

Later, when Weezer became a truly horrendous band, their sophomore album, Pinkerton, developed a reputation as an undervalued masterwork. It was viewed somewhat differently at the time of its release. Following the sizable success of their self-titled debut (and it’s immediately iconic singles), expectations were high as can be for the band’s next effort. Pinkerton proved to be more confounding that endearing, fully embracing the weirdness that served as an intriguing undercurrent on their debut. I don’t know the intricacies of the album’s course on the 90FM charts, but I’d wager that it had a extraordinarily strong start followed by a precipitous fade. That would roughly mirror how it played out in the more commercial sphere, with the album eventually struggling so mightily that Rivers Cuomo, the chief creative force behind the band, publicly joined the chorus lamenting its quality, a stance he retracted several years later when the consensus opinion on the album started to shift. The whole thing was humbling enough that it helped push the band into a fairly lengthy hiatus, with Cuomo pursuing his studies at Harvard instead of toiling over music. It would be five years before another Weezer album, another self-titled effort widely referred to as “The Green Album.” From there, the band was fairly prolific, releasing albums of steadily depreciating artistic merit.

An Introduction
–90 and 89: Antichrist Superstar and Three Snakes and One Charm
–88 and 87: No Code and Unplugged
–86 and 85: Greatest Hits Live and Gilded Stars and Zealous Hearts
–84 and 83: To the Faithful Departed and God’s Good Urges
–82 and 81: Billy Breathes and Sweet F.A.
–80 and 79: The Process and Test for Echo
–78 and 77: Supersexy Swingin’ Sounds and Breathe
–76 and 75: Bob Mould and Walking Wounded
–74 and 73: It’s Martini Time and Trainspotting soundtrack
–72 and 71: Aloha Via Satellite and Fever In Fever Out
–70 and 69: Hi My Name is Jonny and One Mississippi
–68 and 67: Everything Sucks and The Aeroplane Flies High
–66 and 65: First Band on the Moon and Razorblade Suitcase
–64 and 63: Comic Book Whore and Peachfuzz
–62 and 61: All Change and Rude Awakening
–60 and 59: 12 Golden Country Greats and Songs in the Key of X

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