Staff Top 10
Top Ten Filler Tracks

half-songs. Failed experiments. Band in-jokes. Stupid rants. Inappropriate genre pastiches. Ah, filler. Ever since the pioneering of the album format, bands have used such dross to pad albums of theirs that simply didn’t have enough good songs to go around. People will often rant about how a 45-minute long album “would’ve made a good EP” or how a 140-minute monster of a double album “would’ve made a good single album.” People pick on records like The Clash’s Sandinista!, because it is made pretty much entirely out of such filler. Well, I pity these people. They are missing out and some of the most enjoyable stuff of these bands’ careers. Such songs might not be worth anything in substance, but a lot of them are just loads of fun. So, here are the ten best songs that by any reasonable judgement should have been left off of their respective albums. But thank god they weren’t.

10. “You Fucking Die!...I Said”- Surfer Rosa- The Pixies

The Pixies saw fit to give an entire track on their debut full-length, Surfer Rosa, to this priceless exchange between head honcho Black Francis and some other unidentified member. It's basically a minute-long dialogue with Frank exclaiming, “You fucking die...I SAID YOU FUCKING DIE!” and then trying to explain the faux pas to everyone. “Naw, I was talking to Kim...she said ‘don’t touch—anybody touches my stuff,’ and I said “you fucking die”...I was finishing her part for her. You know what I mean?” The song ends with a feedback squall, as if Black had just told a really corny joke. Which he just had, I guess.

See also: “I’m Amazed.”

9. “Punk Love”- 69 Love Songs- The Magnetic Fields

It’s probably inevitable that such a refined pop tunesmith as Stephen Meritt would fail at his first attempt at a punk tribute, but what the hell was he thinking with this song? It sounds more like Alvin and the Chipmunks covering the Beach Boys than The Buzzcocks. It’s quite a novelty tune, though, basically just consisting of various voices chanting “Punk love punk love punk rock love punk love” over an increasingly fast and increasingly annoying beat. Truly weird, but in its own irritatingly cute way, a fitting inclusion on the album.

See also: “Love is Like Jazz,” “Experimental Music Love”.

8. “My Friend Goo”- Goo- Sonic Youth

Goo goo ga ga. This is probably the stupidest song Sonic Youth ever wrote. A lot of Youth fans hate Kim Gordon, and I wouldn’t be surprised if most of them heard this song of hers first—Kim never sounded more grating than on this song. She rambles nonsense about her friend Goo, who “can play the drums in two,” and “likes to wear green underwear,” and listen to her sneer on “I know a secret about Goooooo and youuuuuuu!” And then, then comes the chorus, with Kim calling “and all the boys say,” a disinterested Thurston Moore responding “Hey Goo, what’s new?” Most lyric sites list the next line going “My friend Goo just goes ‘hey you,’” but I’d wager my Dirty: Deluxe Edition on Goo saying “P.U.,” which is just too funny for words. But the sound has an awesome bass line, and damned if you don’t find yourself chanting along (you’ll probably know all the words by about the second listen).

7. “Hare Krsna”- Zen Arcade- Hüsker Dü

Popular opinion these days favors the pop sheen of New Day Rising over the ambitious punk opera Zen Arcade. One of the complaints levied against Arcade is the amount of filler. They’re wrong, though—there are only two songs that can be construed as filler here, the forgivable “Dreams Reoccurring” and this. But WOW, is this filler. For some reason, the Huskers thought it wise take a detour on their magnum opus about teenage angst and general misery to chant “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare” over the bass line to Bow Wow Wow’s “I Want Candy” and what sounds like a buzzsaw, buzzing for the whole song. The song’s inclusion on Zen Arcade is indefensible, but it’s still worth a relatively loud chuckle or two.

6. “The Crunge”- Houses of the Holy- Led Zeppelin

The Cringe, for many. Following an album that is more or less the definition of a 10.0 (Led Zeppelin IV), Houses of the Holy bats 7 out of 8, which is still pretty good. But god, this song does not belong here. “The Crunge,” following the mighty epic “Over the Hills and Far Away,” has Zeppelin sounding like The Average White Band, a love song of sorts that is basically complete gibberish. But boy, does Plant have fun with his James Brown impression, and John Paul Jones is right at home with that funky-as-shit bass line. And to this day, Zeppelin fans are still searching for that confounded bridge.

See also: #3 on the list.

5. “Waitress in the Sky”- Tim- The Replacements

I can see the headlines now: INDIE ROCK LEGENDS STRIKE OUT AGAINST INHUMANE TREATMENT OF PASSENGERS BY BARBARIOUS STEWARDESSES, AIRLINE EMPLOYMENT DROPS 65 PERCENT. You really have to wonder what was going through lead singer Paul Westerberg’s head when he wrote this, probably the most ill advised and non-topical protest song in rock history. “Pay my fare, don’t wanna complain, when you get to me you always out of champagne,” Paul sneers, closing with the rallying cry of “you ain’t nuthin’ but a waitress in the sky!” Winona Ryder loves it, though, and it’s one of the most swinging songs of the band’s discography. Few bands ever made the distinction so clear between their hits and their filler as The Replacements, but fewer still made their filler as enjoyable.

See also: “Seen Your Video,” off Let it Be.

4. “Mad Lucas”- Last Splash- The Breeders

Last Splash is one of the greatest summer albums of the 90’s, bouncy, catchy and irresistibly hummable. Which makes the inclusion of “Mad Lucas” all the more puzzling, as it is arguably the slowest song ever recorded. “Mad Lucas,” technically in terms of beats per minute, might not be that slow, but the pacing certainly is. Whether it’s the minimal, shuffle beat, or the stuck-in-molasses bass line, or Kim’s tuneless, chopped up vocals, this song drags more than any other I’ve ever heard. Musically, it’s downright hysterical, and up there with The Fall’s “Eat Y’self Fitter” for the best shaggy dog joke-of-a-song ever.

3. “Brinx Job”- Wowee Zowee- Pavement

After the near-mainstream breakthrough Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain, Pavement went sideways with Wowee Zowee, one the most bizarrely eclectic album of the band’s career. Nowhere is this new attitude on better display than on the Ween-esque funk of “Brinx Job,” maybe the strangest song thing the band ever recorded. Leader Stephen Malkmus memorably squawks, “WE GOT DA MONEY! WE GOT DA MONEY!” in his worst falsetto, at one point even turning the speed dial on his voice up to “squirrel,” over liquid guitars and inconsistent drums. The song barely lasts a minute and a half before collapsing in on itself, surreally transitioning into the most gorgeous song on the album, “Grounded.” But man, what a hilarious minute and a half that is.

2. “I Think I Smell a Rat”/”Aluminum”- White Blood Cells- The White Stripes

“Oh, I think I smell a raaaaaaaaaaaat......oh, I THINK I SMELL A RRRRRRRRAT!!!!” The lyrics, which go on to accuse kids of “thinking [they] know just where it’s at,” and “using [their] mother and father for a welcome mat,” seemingly just because they both rhyme with “rat,” are probably the worst Jack White has ever written. But if you somehow resist the urge to headbang along to this song (DUH NUH NUH-NUH NUH!!!!!) well, then what were you doing listening to White Blood Cells in the first place? To me, this song is inseparable with the one that follows, the appropriately titled heavy-metal instrumental, “Aluminum,” where Jack and Meg scream “AAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!” at the top of their lungs over the sludgiest guitar riff since Bleach. Totally. Fucking. Awesome.

See also: “Little Room.”

1. “Wild Honey Pie”- The Beatles- The Beatles

One of the most famous half-songs in history (simply for its inclusion on a Beatles album), the one-minute rant “Wild Honey Pie” was left on The White Album simply because George Harrison’s girl Patti liked it so much. Well, god bless you, Patti, because by no other logic (and on no other album) would this song have made the cut. It’s just 60 seconds of The Beatles shouting “HONEY PIIIIIEEEE!” at the top of their lungs over some painfully discordant guitar. But have you ever tried getting together with a group of friends and tried singing along to this piece of insanity? It’s an unparalleled experience, really. The White Album pioneered for the next 35 years the way bands would use filler to pad their albums, using half-baked ideas and songs that well, must’ve sounded good at the time instead of just lesser recreations of the good songs on the album. And there is no better example of this than “Wild Honey Pie,” the greatest piece of filler to ever clutter an over-ambitious double album.

See also: "Piggies", "Why Don’t We Do it in the Road", "Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey", "Yer Blues", "Martha My Dear", "Revolution 9", "Savoy Truffle", "The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill"

By: Andrew Unterberger
Published on: 2003-06-06
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