I’ve never seen the movie “He’s just not that into you” but it sounds like a stinker. It was based on a self-help book for single women that took its name from a line from the television series, “Sex and the city”. It would also make a great title for an unwritten list I’ve got going of illustrious bands that manage to make everyone else’s favourites list but that have never managed to win me over. It includes Hüsker Dü, Skinny Puppy, Destroyer, and of course, Sonic Youth.
Yes. I fully realize that Sonic Youth is a great band, forever pioneering and highly influential to a lot of the bands that I do listen to regularly. It’s not them, it’s me. I can’t seem to swallow more than their singles. I guess I am one of those “squares” that they refer to in the (admittedly brilliant) title for their singles compilation, “Hits are for squares”. Of course, “Kool thing” has a place on this compilation, being their second highest charting single (beaten only by “100%”) and appearing on what is arguably their most accessible album: their major label debut, “Goo”.
I have friends that swear by Sonic Youth but these same friends will, I’m sure, sneer at this song choice because as far as they’re concerned, the Youth’s true discography ended at 1988’s “Daydream nation”. However, this is one track by these guys that I absolutely love and for the longest time, I had no idea that it was even a Sonic Youth tune. My only experience with it originally was hearing it played consistently on Toronto’s alt-rock station, CFNY (now EDGE 102.1), and thinking it was by some grrl rock band. It certainly had enough angst to fit that bill.
“Kool thing” features Kim Gordon on lead vocals and a guest spot by Public Enemy’s Chuck D, picking up bonus marks for nostalgia factor in my books. From what I understand, the song has roots in Gordon’s negative experience interviewing rapper LL Cool J for Spin magazine and though it doesn’t overtly mention him by name, it references a few of his songs in the lyrics. There is plenty of attitude, posturing, and the aforementioned angst. The guitars rip and shred and sneer along with Kim Gordon while Chuck D and the high octane drumming just sit back, all cool, and play second fiddle. Of course, it’s Sonic Youth so it’s loud and brash, never taking care to avoid the eggshells.
Despite (or maybe because of) its inherent rage, this track feels perfect for ushering in the weekend so let’s get rowdy and riled up and shriek along with Gordon as she sings “I don’t wanna, I don’t think so!”
For the rest of the Best tunes of 1990 list, click here.