College Countdown: 90FM’s Top 90 of 1996, 32 and 31

32. Various Artists, Beautiful Girls soundtrack

I’ve tended to denigrate the various soundtracks that have cropped on this list, implicitly–okay, sometimes directly–questioning the judgment of the on-air personnel that played them enough to necessitate their inclusion on this list. But in the interest of accuracy, I have to confess that I owned a shiny CD copy of the Beautiful Girls soundtrack at the time. Looking at the track listing now, though, I’m not entirely sure what motivated me to buy it in the first place. It’s a reasonably good collection of the safer sort of alternative acts from the time, featuring the likes of Chris Isaak, Pete Droge and Ween in well-behaved mode. Even still, there doesn’t seem to be anything especially vital on there. It’s possible that moody twentysomething boys were snapping up the CD as some of desperate tribute to Natalie Portman, whose thirteen-year-old character was the subject of a crush held by a sideburned, existentially scuffling cool guy in the film, not in a Lolita way but rather a stirred desire to wait patiently for a few years at the prospect this precocious youth would turn into an amazing woman. That crush transferred to more than a few viewers in my age range I knew. She would have been more like fifteen at the time the film was made. I know that doesn’t necessarily make it better. More than a few folks probably bought the disc because it included a couple of those older songs that everyone seemed to want to have in their collection but couldn’t bring themselves to buy full-scale releases from the artists in question. Having them nestled deep in the track listing afforded some plausibility deniability about whether it was the motivation for the acquisition. That includes Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline,” which drove the middling Ted Demme film’s best scene, if only because its the first instance I know of a film or television accurately depicting the necessity of including the horn stings in any sing-along of the song. Truthfully, I probably had the soundtrack for the Afghan Whigs cover of Barry White’s “Can’t Get Enough of Your Love, Babe,” which is exactly the sort of thing I would have put onto mix tapes with tiresome frequency back then.

31. Greg Koch and the Tone Controls, Strat’s Got Your Tongue

I’m going to be completely honest and note that I’m totally guessing about which Greg Koch and the Tone Controls is slotted into this spot on the chart. The listing I have doesn’t include the title, so for all I know it could have been a rerelease of the Madison blues rock band’s self-titled debut, which I know was a major hit at the station, thanks in no small part to the group playing the then-annual concert that kicked off the week leading up 90FM’s Trivia weekend. The online discographies for Koch are a little wonky, but I believe Strat’s Got Your Tongue was the band’s sophomore effort, originally released in 1995. Given the station’s intense devotion to Wisconsin-based bands, it would stand to reason that it took up residence on the weekly charts long enough to carry over with significant plays into the following year. It certainly seem to have the sort of lean, straight-ahead, catchy rock songs that I can imagine deejays returning to repeatedly. It appears Koch has had the sort of long, steady, under-the-radar career enjoyed by a lot of local hero musicians, with enough of a fan base that he can even release as cookbook/CD combo pack.

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
–58 and 57: Brain Candy soundtrack and Pinkerton
–56 and 55: Sublime and Count the Days
–54 and 53: Wild Mood Swings and The Cult of Ray
–52 and 51: Bringing Down the Horse and Crash
–50 and 49: No Talking, Just Head and New Adventures in Hi-Fi
–48 and 47: Lay It Down and Pogue Mahone
–46 and 45: I’m with Stupid and XTORT
–44 and 43: Tango and …finally
–42 and 41: Good Weird Feeling and Mint 400
–40 and 39: Happy Nowhere and Not Fade Away (Remembering Buddy Holly)
–38 and 37: Turn the Radio Off and Electriclarryland
–36 and 35: Naughty Little Doggie and In Blue Cave
–34 and 33: Eventually and Schoolhouse Rock! Rocks

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