They’re shiny, they’re tuney, and we’re all a little looney for overlooking these not so big jams from MuchMusic’s BST empire.
In honour of 20 years of Big Shiny Tunes, we’re trudging through this massive 14 instalment series (not including the ’80s/’90s comps) to find standout cuts from every single go-around and blab about them for a bit in the name of JUSTICE. Some tunes are shinier than others, but all of these songs are marvels in their own way. Well, aside from the ones you tell us are “SHIIIIIIIIIIIT” in the comments. We’re doing one overlooked track per compilation, so results will vary.
Sideplug: AUX contributor and former Associate Editor Mark Teo is also writing a book about Big Shiny Tunes. We can’t wait to read it.
The Killjoys – “Rave + Drool” (Big Shiny Tunes, 1996)
The original Big Shiny Tunes was the best offering in the series, right? I’m saying this because I’m old and moldy and need to validate my existence by screaming THIS TAPE IS STILL GOOD while sobbing and drinking vodka in the tub. Nostalgia horniness gives BST 1 a seductive glow, but it’s also a pretty good value meal for what people were making a fuss about when shops used “alternative” as a goofy genre catch-all. Additional Perk: You’ve got the hazy Hamilton power-pop glory of The Killjoys’ “Rave + Drool” nestled between the skin-peeling menace of Poe’s “Angry Johnny” and the fizzy thrills of Pluto’s “Paste.” It’s the sort of battle-damaged rock anthem coated with a brand of sweetness that pulls weird monologues out of you at the bathroom sink. Plus that “ooh ooh” bit is fun to do, isn’t it? This sure as shit has aged better than Bush
Stone Temple Pilots – “Lady Picture Show” (Big Shiny Tunes 2, 1997)
Closing up shop on Big Shiny Tunes 2 is this bloated but still enjoyable dollop of modern rock excess from STP’s Tiny Music… era. “Lady Picture Show” is a precariously built Jenga tower of gauzy aura and vaguely pilfered traits. We’ve heard this tune elsewhere, but this parlour trick holds up pretty nicely thanks to being oddly efficient in its excesses. Did we mention this thing sounds like drugs? Just a colossal snow fort of dad drugs.
Monster Magnet – “Space Lord” (Big Shiny Tunes 3, 1998)
Did the series have a unifying umbrella after BST 2? After “alternative” dried up as a CD Plus brand for “I dunno, more white people?” the series sort of scurried further into the cave of Modern Rock™. The results were mixed, but we did get a Monster Magnet sighting. If “Lady Picture Show” was a snow fort of dad drugs, “Space Lord” ranks as an intergalactic space castle made out of criminal uncle drugs. THE MOST DRUGS, basically. Press blank pages against your speaker as “Space Lord” lumbers along and you’ll end up with like six old issues of Heavy Metal. “The time has come for me to kill this game,” sings Dave Wyndorf as stadium stoner metal punches you in the schnozz. Bonus points awarded for that awesome Ma$e homage/parody video that accompanied it.
Sugar Ray – “Someday” (Big Shiny Tunes 4, 1999)
Talk shit about “selling out” all you like, but Sugar Ray were 10000000000000(NOT ENOUGH 0s)00000000% better after they gave up on being funk-metal turds and EMBRACED Mark McGrath’s knack for writing gooey pop tunes that hit on your mom through Lite FM radio. (Imagine Mark trying to impress you as your stepdad. “PS4 eh? Y’know, me and the bassist from Smash Mouth had a threeway with someone in a Crash Bandicoot costume at Daytona Beach. Real fleek times.”) Merrily doing the backstroke in a sea of adult contemporary cheese, our boy Mark muses about romance, mortality and the human condition. The results are marvellous.
Kid Rock – “Only God Knows Why” (Big Shiny Tunes 5, 2000)
FUCK YEAH! CAREFULLY ORCHESTRATED DIRTBAG BALLAD ACTION AHOY! Arriving in a cloud of Combos dust on the track list after that j. englishman song you haven’t thought about since Chrétien was PM, “Only God Knows Why” is one of those beautiful country-rock moans about how hard it is to be famous written before the dude got proper famous. It’s a bit like someone writing a movie about how frustrating it is to use an Apple Watch even though they don’t own one yet. Of course, Kid Rock did manage to become remarkably famous so this gripe session sort of evens out in a silly way. As far as big greasy self-indulgent power ballads go, you could do worse than “Only God Knows Why.” Rock wailing “TAKE ME TO THE RIVER” will still make you want to claw through your own living room floor out of embarrassment, though.
Sum 41 – “Fat Lip” (Big Shiny Tunes 6, 2001)
Occasionally you’ll come across a lady leaning into this song hard at karaoke. It’s more than bratty hoser-punk to her, IT’S HER LIFE DUDE. She’s a skid, no one knew her by name, and she trashed her own house party because nobody came, but she’s standing tall with her middle fingers raised and Sourpuss on her breath. You will weep when you experience her performance because it’s glorious and awesome and you’ll want to wave a flag with her face on it for the rest of the night. She exists in every town and it’s your job to stumble across her majesty at a karaoke night near you.
Danko Jones – “Lovercall” (Big Shiny Tunes 7, 2002)
Mango Kid sighting! Danko Jones is here to be your guru, guide, Hitch, coach, enabler, mentor, and whatever else you can brand him in the name of getting some sweet lovin’. Armed with a fully maxed out strut meter, Danko gives a TED talk wrapped in rock machismo aimed at paying tribute to the “Lovercall.” Unlike some Mystery type pick-up artist shitcanoe, Danko’s advice is pretty reasonable. Learn the lovercall, dress sharp, act right and know that “no woman in her right mind is gonna waste her time, if you ain’t on time.” (Although he’d prefer if you don’t dig too deep on that last point.)
Simple Plan – “Addicted” (Big Shiny Tunes 8, 2003)
Shit yeah! The non-threatening stylings of Simple Plan. Even compared to 5 Seconds of Summer, Simple Plan come across like 5 Neat Guys from SCTV AND THAT’S PERFECTLY ALRIGHT! A passable dick joke stretched into an agreeably sweet guitar-pop lament, “Addicted” feels like the tune that’d be busted out during the crowning “Battle of the Bands” moment of a CTV TV movie. “Guess what, Principal Muckquake? We’re gonna use our winnings to save Shawinigan’s #1 orphanage/juice bar!” Christ, what I wouldn’t give to be able to stir this song into my hot chocolate.
The Hives – “Walk Idiot Walk” (Big Shiny Tunes 9, 2004)
THE HIVES ARE LAW, YOU ARE CRIME. One fun spin-off of rock’s post nü metal era was the goofy-ass “New Rock Revolution” gold rush. It was a wild and wacky time where Swedish garage-punk heels The Hives were pegged as a genuine contender to be an arena-packing band. As you can tell by the lack of enormo-sized Randy Fitzsimmons monuments around your local sporting complex, that projection never came to be. The upside? The tunes were first rate. “Walk Idiot Walk” still prowls around like a leopard in a smoking jacket. Charisma for decades, these guys.
My Chemical Romance – “Helena” (Big Shiny Tunes 10, 2005)
There were roughly 82 different sub-genres of rock bumping up against each other in the mid ’00s (HA! GET BACK IN THE FUCKING VAN, SHROOMEDELICA!) and the carefully lit burden of being THE THEATRICAL BAND fell squarely on the shoulders of My Chemical Romance. They postured a tiny bit like they’d be sorting out “the real problems” while smoking cheap cigs in the school parking lot, but Gerard Way’s value was a guy that dorked it out with MAXIMUM feelings. AND MAY DRACULA BLESS HIM FOR IT! He was Llewellyn Sinclair with a worse wardrobe and a Halloween fetish, plus he was armed with these home run swings of angsty wuss-punk fury that sounded like they designed for a school play that could never get made.
Wolfmother – “Woman” (Big Shiny Tunes 11, 2006)
“She’s a woman, know what I mean?” Not really, Wolfmother. “Woman” sounds like it’s sung from the perspective of someone that’s never really met a woman before. You could sub out all the “Woman” bits of the song with “Tiramisu” and the track wouldn’t be much different. A stampeding brute of a dad rawk anthem, you’re getting a square meal out of this 2006 track. It’s nothing flashy or spectacular, but “Woman” has enough oomph in its bones to reign head, shoulders, and torso above its Big Shiny Tunes 11 peers. (Come at us, Blue October bros!) By the way, Wolfmother and Buckcherry were both nominated for Best Hard Rock Performance at the 49th Annual Grammy Awards because they’ve got some silly Sams at the Recording Academy. Wolfmother ended up winning.
Marianas Trench – “Shake Tramp” (Big Shiny Tunes 12, 2007)
Just because the lyrics are about the Big Bad Recording Industry, doesn’t mean I feel comfortable singing them within 50 feet of anyone that can hear me. (Proposal: Let’s pack the “take it like a whore” trope a nice lunch, strap it into a rocket ship, shoot it out into space and blow up the ship before it reaches any other civilization so no one has to trot ‘em out every again.) That said, it’s a fucking tune! Surprise! The guy that helped knock out “Call Me Maybe” knows his way around a catchy ass anthem. It’s a vibrating punk adjacent pop-rock confection wrapped up in Fueled by Ramen garb. It’s a shame the lyrical device is gross Gross GROSS.
Panic! At The Disco – “Nine in the Afternoon” (Big Shiny Tunes 13, 2008)
Remember when the “I Write Sins Not Tragedies” goobers decided they’d just “do a Beatles” on their next album? The bulk of Pretty. Odd. was about as warmly received as an anthrax fart, but we did get majestic nonsense like “Nine in the Afternoon” out of the deal. This is the sound of a band that’s sort of getting away with something until they’re not.
Nickelback – “Burn It To The Ground” (Big Shiny Tunes 14, 2009)
Hands down the best offering tucked into this lackluster final installment, this song has the dignity to be the stadium-sized asshole rock anthem it wants to be. It’s a buttchugging, dickswinging, arson-beckoning rock colossus with an eye on having sloppy sex in one of Boston Pizza’s handicapped bathroom stalls. Burn it to the ground.