Best tunes of 1990: #24 Sonic Youth “Kool thing”

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!”

Yes. TGIF!

For the rest of the Best tunes of 1990 list, click here.

13 Replies to “Best tunes of 1990: #24 Sonic Youth “Kool thing””

  1. Great choice. I’m sorta with you on Sonic Youth. I enjoy a lot of their stuff, but also just can’t dig a lot of stuff… essentially Goo is my go-to of theirs, cause it’s accessible (as you mentioned). Had no idea about the LL Cool J thing, though!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Apart from the track Death Valley 69, SY discography begins with Goo for me – I still wear the T-shirt quite a bit too.

    I listened to this track 4 times on the bounce in the car last week – it is perfection as far as I’m concerned, although I do rather like the cute video for ‘Dirty Boots’ better than this one.

    Great choice.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah. This is a great get up and go track. My friends and I would often listen to “We’re not gonna take it” by Twisted Sister just before heading out to pub, as a sort of tradition. This one was often in the mix just beforehand.

      Like

  3. I’m really going to have to invest some time in understanding why Sonic Youth are so highly regarded. I did buy “Daydream Nation” back in the day, played it a couple of times and then it stayed in my CD box for about 15 years unplayed. Now I’m trying to remember the reason I disregarded it and I can’t remember a tune from it at all.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s amazing to me. Like I say in my post, there are some bands that I just can’t seem to connect with but I’ll say it here with a proviso because there have been bands that for years, I could never get and then one day, it was like I saw the light. Slowdive was like that for me. I love them now but back in the day, I never got them.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. All that to say, it might not be worth investing the time because the answer might just be too elusive. A mystery wrapped up in an enigma or something like that.

      Liked by 1 person

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