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THE GRUNGE MATCH - 020

Match 020:

Alice In Chains "Rain When I Die" (1992)
Nirvana "Drain You" (1991)
Pearl Jam "Rats" (1993)
Soundgarden "Head Injury" (1988)

"Rain When I Die" is solidly a grunge song: it's slow, hard and it has themes of denial, isolation and death in the lyrics.  It's like a dying man clawing his way to the feet of his assailant and the assailant lamenting his bad luck.  "Aw man, it's probably gonna rain when I die.  That'll suck."  Not realizing that the dying man is about to make this come true as he claws his last into the apathetic scum that laid him low.  It's kinda like that, but with the cool vocal harmonies that you've come to expect from Alice In Chains.

"Drain You" strikes me as a lyrical treatise given by either a tired whore or a tired vampire.  It's their duty to completely drain you; it's not like they really want to or anything.  I guess it depends how filthy your mind wants to be to ascribe which meaning is more prevalent.

The song itself would have been a surefire single (it's that catchy) if not for the dark middle section.  That part is cool but I could see how it would freak out the normies.  I've always liked the vocal melody of the chorus; it's dark and brooding but not in a cliché way.

"Rats" is a weird funk thing kind of out of nowhere.  It's got a nice bob to it, it's a definite change of pace in the album, filling the "Deep" role from "Ten" in a way, and the chorus is cool.  The lyrics are kind of just there though, and it's probably my second least favorite song on "Vs." despite being at least a 3 & 1/3 star song.  (Also, "Lick the dirt off [Hakeem] Olajuwan's feet"?  Don't know what's up with that, but hey, whatever...)

"Head Injury" is a hard charging, fast paced ditty barreling through and past before you can really get into it.  And it kind of illustrates the flaw of this process a bit: This song isn't bad.  It's around a three star effort.  It's one of the best songs on "Ultramega OK" (though the ending gets a little annoying in the vocal department).  If this went up against less stiff competition, it would have a chance at the three point slot.  But "Ultramega OK" is going up against three of the best albums in grunge history, hell maybe in rock history (top 300 at least) and it doesn't stand much of a chance.  Point is "Not too shabby" isn't good enough at this stage of the game.

"Drain You": 4
"Rain When I Die": 3
"Rats": 2
"Head Injury": 1

TOTALS:

Pearl Jam: 67
Alice In Chains: 53
Nirvana: 50
Soundgarden: 30

Today's matchup was strange in that all four songs are a different vibe.  "Rain When I Die" is slow, contemplative grunge, "Drain You" is dark pop rock, "Rats" has funk in it and "Head Injury" is kind of toned down crossover.  I honestly thought it would be harder to rate but these songs kind of made their Nick Appeal Levels clear pretty quick.  See you tomorrow for Match 021!

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