The Young Adult CD collection is, on the whole, about what’s hot in the popular music world. However, CDs that are just about ready to sit NCEA exams shouldn’t necessarily be sniffed at as something only your parents would bother listening to; some of them are pretty special really.
- Nirvana, Nevermind (1991). When Nirvana released ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ (their first commercial hit) they created a stir that hasn’t really been seen since. The song even made a weird, cabaret-style guest starring appearance on Moulin Rouge!, the movie, in 2001. But never mind ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’; there’s also ‘Come as You Are’, ‘Lithium’… Nevermind is a truly classic rock album.
- Massive Attack, Blue lines (1991). The first hip hop masterpiece. Massive Attack was cutting edge and they’ve been hugely influential in the hip hop, dance, electronica, dub scene.
- Rage Against the Machine, Rage Against the Machine (1992). Critics say this is their best. It’s got ‘Killing in the Name’, which is what Rage is best known for… Zack de la Rocha sounding really annoyed and Tom Morello doing weird things with his guitar without – he is quick to point out – pedals and stuff like that.
- Stone Temple Pilots, Stone Temple Pilots (1994). ‘Vasoline’ and ‘Interstate Love Song’ are awesome – Allmusic.com calls ‘Interstate Love Song’ “a concise epic as alluring as the open highway”. Scott Weiland’s got a great rock voice, which you can also hear in Velvet Revolver, the band he formed with the Guns n’ Roses musicians.
- Soundgarden, Superunknown (1994). You can’t beat Soundgarden; shame about the break up. Soundgarden fans must despair of Chris Cornell doing things like the movie theme for Casino Royale (the Bond movie with Daniel Craig). “How can you sing that after stuff like ‘Spoonman’, ‘The Day I Tried to Live’, ‘Fell on Black Days’ and ‘Black Hole Sun’?” they must ask while crying into their Starbucks coffees and wiping their noses on their plaid shirt sleeves.
- Blur, Parklife (1994). ‘Parklife’ the song was really incredibly irritating, because a lot of marginal Blur fans liked to sing it and the only words they knew were ‘Parklife’… over and over… The album is about British life in the early 1990s, so maybe in a couple of years it’ll be a set text for History courses.
- The Cranberries, No need to argue (1994). Had to put this one in because it has a girl singer! So, there’s no need to argue…
- Shihad, Killjoy (1995). Will be getting its YA card some time this year. Go Wellington music!
- Green Day, Insomniac (1995). I was going to put Dookie but someone lost the young adult copy… for shame! Dookie has ‘When I Come Around’ on it of course, but Insomniac is also pretty good. You’ll know Green Day for songs like ‘American Idiot’ and ‘When September Ends’ on the American Idiot album (2004).
- Smashing Pumpkins, Mellon collie and the infinite sadness (1995). I could have put Gish here (1991), and critics think that Siamese Dream is their best (1993), but Mellon Collie’s got ‘Tonight, Tonight’ on it, one of my favourite songs ever, and this is my list! It’s a double album with a gazillion songs on it, including ‘1979’ and ‘Bullet With Butterfly Wings’ to name the other well known ones.
So that’s my list. You should check them out, for an education if nothing else.