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Match 034:

Alice In Chains "No Excuses" (1994)
Nirvana "Son Of A Gun" (1992)
Pearl Jam "Better Man" (1994)
Soundgarden "Outshined" (1991)

MAN there's some stiff competition.  "No Excuses" is one of Alice In Chains's biggest hits, and...just listen to it!  It's catchy as fuck!  The lyrics are so-so, but the vocal harmony makes up for any flaw you can find in it.  The contrast of having Staley bust in with the chorus after Cantrell sings the verses is pure icing.  The lead work's damn tasty too.

"Son Of A Gun", decent little tune it is, has such a tough hill to climb today.  It'll get your head bobbing and put a smile on your face.  I can kind of hear an analog tape flaw in the recording during the chorus when the cymbals get crazy.  It's subtle, but you can really tell this was AAD.

For all the FUCKING times I've heard this song (hell, in 1995 alone)...I still love "Better Man".  I don't know why I'm such a sucker for it.  It must hit that sweet spot of nostalgia, angst and not quite conventional note choice.  Also, despite being a love song, it doesn't get too cheesy.  It's rll, rll gud, you guys.  No matter how sick we all are of it, it's so well put together.  I'm glad they finally decided to record it instead of leaving it off for being "too commercial".  (It also helps I keep thinking this song is over five minutes, but is only four and a half.  Time flies.)

"Outshined" is also one of my favorite Soundgarden songs.  It may be the first Soundgarden song I ever heard.  I can almost guarantee it was on Headbanger's Ball.  If "Rusty Cage" was the kick in the door to make you pay attention to the album, "Outshined" is the balls on the table moment to let you know they are NOT fucking around.  Hell, this might be the perfect Soundgarden song.  It has enough of their early qualities of odd time and harsh grit combined with the harmony and songwriting chops that were yet to come.

So now we know who gets mystified:

"Outshined": 4
"Better Man": 3
"No Excuses": 3
"Son Of A Gun": 2


Pearl Jam: 105
Alice In Chains: 91
Nirvana: 80
Soundgarden: 66

It was an impossible decision between "Better Man" and "No Excuses" for second place.  I really couldn't decide after listening to them both.  I thought the fight would be between "Better Man" and "Outshined" but that was no contest.  So there you go: three great songs and one pretty good one.  I'm diggin' it, and I hope you are too.


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