We’ve heard some of these songs so many times that it’s hard to imagine just how ground-breaking they were. But in honor of our innovation theme this month, we celebrate the wacky and weird, the pioneering and poignant, both old and new.
1. “Boys Don’t Cry” (1979)—The Cure
The Cure front man Robert Smith slapped on some black eyeliner, messed up his hair, made some music influenced by post-punk, and the goth-rock genre was born. If that’s not innovation, I don’t know what is.
2. “Fight the Power” (1990)—Public Enemy
Back before he was finding his Flavor of Love, Flavor Flav was busy writing arguably the best rap song of all time, Fight the Power. Occupy Wall Street-ers, take note—Public Enemy created the first modern protest song and paved the way for rappers to rhyme about serious issues.
3. “Everything in Its Right Place” (2000)—Radiohead
In the album Rolling Stone named the best of the 2000s, Radiohead broke all the boundaries of conventional alternative rock with Kid A, rejecting traditional guitar riffs in favor of electronic drones.
4. “Seven Nation Army” (2003)—The White Stripes
Sure, we thought it was weird when this duo didn’t have a bass player. Then they fooled us all and made a semi-acoustic guitar sound like a bass, creating one of the most iconic riffs and best rock songs of all time.
5. “Gold Digger” (2005)—Kanye West
Ok, it may be one of the most overplayed songs of our generation. But you can’t help but give Kanye some credit for inventively mashing up a Jamie Foxx/Ray Charles sample, writing a killer hook to go along with it, and inventing a Generation X anthem.
6. “Daft Punk is Playing at My House” (2005)—LCD Soundsystem
A song by one of the most innovative modern bands, about one of the most innovative modern electronic house DJ duos? This one’s an obvious choice.
7. “Paper Planes” (2008)—M.I.A.
Who can forget the cash registers cha-chinging, guns shooting or kids singing in MIA’s smash 2008 hit? She sampled The Clash, wore crazy leggings, and we’ve never been the same since.
8. “I Stand Alone” (2011)—Theophilus London
Timez are Weird These Days is the name of this new kid on the block’s debut album, and we couldn’t agree more. Any artist who successfully combines R&B, alternative, and post-punk genres, as well as Tegan and Sara’s Sara Quin, TV on the Radio’s Dave Sitek, and Solange Knowles, is just the kind of weird we like.