The Mix: 100 Essential Noise Pop Songs

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Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips performs at the 2012 Noise Pop Festival in San Francisco. i i

hide captionWayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips performs at the 2012 Noise Pop Festival in San Francisco.

Charlie Homo/Noise Pop
Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips performs at the 2012 Noise Pop Festival in San Francisco.

Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips performs at the 2012 Noise Pop Festival in San Francisco.

Charlie Homo/Noise Pop

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Noise Pop logo.

When we started the Noise Pop Festival in 1993, we were, to the best of our knowledge, the first to use term "noise pop" to define a certain yin and yang of melody and dissonance. We've been thrilled that it's taken on a life and culture of its own, and we're proud to present this list of the genre's Top 100 songs, as chosen by the creators and team behind the festival and the Noise Pop Podcast.

We conceived of this list chronologically, and it contains songs that we feel best represent the "noise pop" sound. We dug deep to the roots and started with the earliest examples of the '70s and early-'80s bands who expertly mix melody with dissonance, like The Velvet Underground and Big Star. Moving quickly to the '80s and early '90s, we find the real progenitors of the scene, with bands like Hüsker Dü, Dinosaur Jr., My Bloody Valentine. We then take a step forward and explore how modern artists have kept the noise-pop torch burning and redefined the genre for themselves — No Age, Cloud Nothings and The Men, among others.

While there was plenty of debate over certain elements of the list, we uniformly agreed that the golden era of the noise-pop sound comes from the bands of the late '80s and early '90s. This was the time that produced the amazing music that originally inspired us to create a special name for the sound, and to produce a festival to honor it — as seen and heard through the eyes and ears of a group of overlooked San Francisco bands.

When we started this list, it was hard to imagine narrowing everything down to 100 songs, but in the end we've come up with a solid representation of noise pop and its evolution into an anchor of indie rock.

Special thanks to Ted Leibowitz at Bagel Radio and Jamie Guzzi of Debaser for their suggestions.

If you are viewing this on a mobile device, download the NPR Music app to enjoy this mix in the Radio section.


Songs In This Mix, Chronologically

  • 1970: The Velvet Underground, "Rock & Roll"
  • 1972: Big Star, "Ballad of El Goodo"
  • 1980: The Feelies, "The Boy With the Perpetual Nervousness"
  • 1981: Mission of Burma, "That's When I Reach for My Revolver"
  • 1981: R.E.M., "Radio Free Europe"
  • 1982: The Clean, "Beatnik"
  • 1983: Violent Femmes, "Add It Up"
  • 1985: The Jesus and Mary Chain, "Just Like Honey"
  • 1985: Hüsker Dü, "Makes No Sense At All"
  • 1985: The Fall, "Cruiser's Creek (Single Version Remastered)"
  • 1985: The Replacements, "Bastards of Young"
  • 1986: Primal Scream, "Velocity Girl"
  • 1988: Dinosaur Jr., "Freak Scene"
  • 1988: Pixies, "Gigantic"
  • 1988: Golden Dawn, "My Secret World"
  • 1988: Sonic Youth, "Teen Age Riot"
  • 1989: The Family Cat, "Tom Verlaine"
  • 1989: Galaxie 500, "Blue Thunder"
  • 1989: Nirvana, "Love Buzz"
  • 1989: Pale Saints, "She Rides the Wave"
  • 1989: The Lemonheads, "Mallo Cup"
  • 1989: Yo La Tengo, "Barnaby Hardly Working"
  • 1989: The Wedding Present, "Kennedy"
  • 1990: Buffalo Tom, "Birdbrain"
  • 1990: Fugazi, "Repeater"
  • 1990: Loop, "Arc Lite (Sonar)"
  • 1990: Superchunk, "Slack Mother———"
  • 1990: The Flaming Lips, "Shine On Sweet Jesus"
  • 1990: The Afghan Whigs, "You My Flower"
  • 1991: Black Tambourine, "Throw Aggi off the Bridge"
  • 1991: Mercury Rev, "Chasing a Bee"
  • 1991: My Bloody Valentine, "Only Shallow"
  • 1991: Overwhelming Colorfast, "Arrows"
  • 1991: Polvo, "Vibracobra"
  • 1991: Slint, "Washer"
  • 1991: Teenage Fanclub, "The Concept"
  • 1991: The Magnetic Fields, "100,000 Fireflies"
  • 1992: Built to Spill, "Three Years Ago Today"
  • 1992: Flop, "Anne"
  • 1992: Pavement, "Summer Babe (Winter Version)"
  • 1992: Screaming Trees, "Nearly Lost You"
  • 1992: Sugar, "A Good Idea'
  • 1992: Treepeople, "Liquid Boy"
  • 1993: Archers of Loaf, "Web in Front"
  • 1993: Arcwelder, "Truth"
  • 1993: Belly, "Feed the Tree"
  • 1993: Liz Phair, "F—- and Run"
  • 1993: Seam, "Rafael"
  • 1993: Swervedriver, "Never Lose That Feeling"
  • 1993: The Boo Radleys, "The Finest Kiss"
  • 1993: Tiger Trap, "Words and Smiles"
  • 1993: Velocity Girl, "My Forgotten Favorite"
  • 1994: Butterglory, "Waiting on the Guns"
  • 1994: Fastbacks, "Believe Me Never"
  • 1994: Folk Implosion, "Natural One"
  • 1994: Guided by Voices, "Tractor Rape Chain"
  • 1994: Lilys, "Ginger"
  • 1994: Jawbreaker, "Boxcar"
  • 1994: Slowdive, "When the Sun Hits"
  • 1994: Sunny Day Real Estate, "Seven"
  • 1994: Green Day, "Longview"
  • 1994: Sebadoh, "Rebound"
  • 1995: Hum, "Stars"
  • 1995: Jonathan Fire*Eater, "When Prince Was a Kid"
  • 1995: Throwing Muses, "Bright Yellow Gun"
  • 1995: Belle and Sebastian, "Electronic Renaissance"
  • 1996: Girls Against Boys, "Super Fire"
  • 1996: Nada Surf, "Popular"
  • 1996: Super Furry Animals, "Hometown Unicorn"
  • 1997: Christie Front Drive, "Saturday"
  • 1997: Modest Mouse, "Heart Cooks Brain"
  • 1997: Sleater-Kinney, "Dig Me Out"
  • 1998: Creeper Lagoon, "Dear Deadly"
  • 1998: Death Cab for Cutie, "President of What"
  • 1998: Neutral Milk Hotel, "Holland, 1945"
  • 1999: The Dismemberment Plan, "The City"
  • 1999: Rocket From the Crypt, "Get Down"
  • 1999: The Wrens, "The Boy Is Exhausted"
  • 2000: Bright Eyes, "The Calendar Hung Itself"
  • 2000: Olivia Tremor Control, "Love Athena"
  • 2000: The Aislers Set, "The Way to Market Station"
  • 2000: The White Stripes, "You're Pretty Good Looking for a Girl"
  • 2001: Beulah, "Disco: The Secretaries Blues"
  • 2001: The Glands, "Livin' Was Easy"
  • 2001: The Shins, "Know Your Onion"
  • 2002: Broken Social Scene, "Stars and Sons"
  • 2002: The Velvet Teen, "Radiapathy"
  • 2003: Cursive, "Art Is Hard"
  • 2003: Sun Kil Moon, "Salvador Sanchez"
  • 2003: The New Pornographers, "The Slow Descent Into Alchoholism"
  • 2004: Rogue Wave, "Every Moment"
  • 2004: The Walkmen, "The Rat"
  • 2006: Jay Reatard, "My Shadow"
  • 2010: Deerhunter, "Revival"
  • 2010: Surfer Blood, "Swim"
  • 2010: Ty Segall, "Girlfriend"
  • 2010: No Age, "Fever Dreaming"
  • 2011: F——- Up, "Queen of Hearts"
  • 2012: Cloud Nothings, "Stay Useless"
  • 2012: The Men, "Open Your Heart"

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