Big Shiny Tunes Trivia

Last night I listened to Big Shiny Tunes 11 for the first time.  It’s the latest entry in the enduring alternative hits compilation series.  Despite the lack of star power, it’s loaded with strong material.  I enjoyed 14 of the 19 songs on the 72-minute album after only one listen, which is pretty amazing since I was only familiar with a handful or so of the tracks before picking up the CD yesterday from the library.  (That being said, I won’t be adding it to my CD collection.  I prefer studio albums.)
The series began in earnest back in the fall of 1996 and after its remarkable success, follow-ups have been popping up at the end of every year like clockwork.  It’s not easy putting these albums together.  What listeners don’t realize is that it takes many months of phone calls and meetings with bands, label heads, A&R people and MuchMusic executives to make it all happen.  First, MuchMusic, in association with 3 major labels – Warner, EMI and Universal – come up with a list of artists and songs they would like to have for their annual compilation.  Then, it’s a matter of getting permission from the artists and their labels to include their tracks on the CD and to work out royalty deals.  Lesser known artists are probably more likely to say “yes” to the idea of allowing one of their songs to get exposure through the BST series.  It can be a major boost.  (Just ask Mobile.)  Bigger acts might be a harder sell, depending on their status and what the labels involved want.  Plus, some bands would rather give away a unreleased song that can’t be heard anywhere else instead of a hit single.  Others give their blessing to the use of remixes or even album cuts.  Another factor to be considered is Canadian content.  How many Canadian alt-rockers should be included? 
Once everything is sorted out, all that’s left to do is to decide on the album’s artwork and to master all the accepted songs.
Last year, after I listened to BST 10 (which I also enjoyed), I decided to borrow copies of the earlier 9 compilations so I could hear them over the holidays.  (The library had every installment except number 4.  Order a replacement, pronto!)  As I was going through the records, I thought about doing something very nerdy.  I decided to list all the artists that ever appeared on these albums (excluding the Big Shiny 80s and 90s double CDs, which are separate releases and not part of the annual ongoing series) along with all their songs that made the cut. 
I learned some interesting things. 
Let’s start with this.  What do the following bands have in common?
U2, R.E.M., The Strokes, Interpol, The Tragically Hip, The Offspring, Green Day, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Oasis, Depeche Mode, Alanis Morissette, Metallica, Hole and 54-40. 
Stumped?  The answer is none of them have ever appeared on any of the annual, year-end Big Shiny Tunes compilations.  (Yes, I know, a lot of these acts have hit songs on the Big Shiny 90s releases.  As I said before, those are separate from the main series.)  Why not, you wonder?  Probably because they refused permission (for whatever reason) or the labels preferred the participation of other artists.
Let’s try another one.  What act has appeared on more BST albums than any other?
That would be Nickelback who have quite a hit streak happening.  Including their appearance on BST 11, they have been on 6 of these releases.  One of their earliest hits, Breathe (from their second album, The State), marked the band’s BST debut when it was featured on the fifth album.  Ever since Too Bad (from Silver Side Up) appeared on BST 7, they’ve had one song on every follow-up to date.  Add it up and you’ll realize they have been on 5 consecutive BST CDs.  Pretty amazing for a group that has its fair share of detractors.  They’re the Grand Funk Railroad of the new millennium.  Universally loathed by critics but well regarded by their legion of fans who keep them popular.
Sum 41 is in second place with 5 appearances.  Before Nickelback broke the record, they had songs on 4 BST releases in a row.  (BSTs 5-8)
Next in line with 4 songs on 4 separate albums are Blink 182, The Tea Party and The Red Hot Chili Peppers.
After those bands are Weezer, Radiohead, Lenny Kravitz, Theory Of A Deadman, Coldplay, Billy Talent, Alexisonfire, Sugar Ray, Matthew Good Band, Stone Temple Pilots and Sam Roberts each with 3 appearances.  Speaking of Radiohead, they’re the only band in the history of the series to appear on the first three albums consecutively.  No one has been able to get songs on all 11 albums.
The following performers have appeared twice:  Not By Choice, Queens Of The Stone Age, Yellowcard, Three Days Grace, The All-American Rejects, Puddle Of Mudd, 3 Doors Down, Third Eye Blind, Mobile, AFI, Moist, Matchbox 20, Marilyn Manson, Linkin Park, Limp Bizkit, Kid Rock, The Killers, My Chemical Romance, Goo Goo Dolls, Smash Mouth, Sloan, Simple Plan, Garbage, Foo Fighters, Filter, I Mother Earth, Gorillaz, Bush and The Chemical Brothers.  Disturbed would’ve made this list as well had the song Stricken not been ultimately excluded from the BST 11 track listing.  (For some strange reason, it’s still advertised as track 18 on the MuchMusic BST 11 website despite its official omission.)
The remaining 81 performers have only managed to appear once and that includes Korn, Franz Ferdinand and The Smashing Pumpkins, believe it or not.
Moving on.  How many bands have broken up since the series began 10 years ago?  Let’s go through the list of 14.  There’s The Age Of Electric, Big Wreck, Blink 182, Bush, Serial Joe, Stone Temple Pilots, The Killjoys, Pluto, Moist, Porno For Pyros, Econoline Crush, Treble Charger, Jane’s Addiction (who briefly got back together before disbanding a second time), I Mother Earth, and The Tea Party.   
There has also been 1 reunion since the start of this franchise.  The Smashing Pumpkins (who allowed the inclusion of Ava Adore on BST 3) broke up in 2000 but reunited 5 years later.  Hopefully, we’ll see a new album next year. 
2 BST bands had to change their names in the last decade.  Bush, the defunct British group led by Gavin Rossdale, had to change their name to Bush X in Canada because another band from the 70s had dibs on it.  However, this only applied to the first Big Shiny Tunes CD.  The following year, they were back to being plain old Bush again after a deal was made with the former (and now, deceased) lead singer of the Canadian band who threatened to sue them in 1995.  Canadian band Pilate (who had a song on BST 9) had to change their name to Pilot Speed in 2006 because of similiar circumstances.
The music business is like politics.  Longterm stability is rare and uncertain, and that’s one reason why certain performers end up making music under more than one name.  Here are a number of performers like that who’ve made multiple appearances on Big Shiny Tunes albums.
After the national success of his “Band” (who appeared on BSTs 3-5), Matthew Good scored a solo hit with Weapon on BST 7. 
Perry Farrell appeared on the very first BST with his second big band, Porno For Pyros.  When his old band, Jane’s Addiction, reunited for a new studio album in 2003, Perry made his second BST appearance with the song, Just Because, which you can hear on BST 8.  Speaking of Jane’s Addiction, guitarist Dave Navarro (who played that killer lick on Just Because) also played guitar on the song, Aeroplane, by The Red Hot Chili Peppers, another track that ended up on the first BST.  Navarro was one of a number of guitar players who were called on by that band to replace the troubled but brilliant John Frusciante for most of the 1990s.  Thankfully, John cleaned up his act (he had a nasty drug habit which he finally kicked) and he was welcomed back to the fold by the end of the decade. 
Chad Kroeger, the frontman for Nickelback, recorded a famous duet with Saliva’s Josey Scott for the Spider-Man Soundtrack entitled Hero.  That song appeared on BST 7 along with Nickelback’s Too Bad, marking the only time that the same singer has appeared on two songs on the same BST release.  He’s also scored commercial success as a producer, thanks to working with Theory Of A Deadman (BSTs 7 & eight) and Default (BST 6).
Dave Grohl’s post-Nirvana outfit, The Foo Fighters, have appeared twice on these compilations (BST and BST 3).  Dave also played the drums for Queens Of The Stone Age on the song, Go With The Flow, which appeared on BST 8. 
Ian Thornley was the only Canadian member of Big Wreck, a Boston-based quartet which had one monster album, In Loving Memory Of… (a fitting title), which spawned That Song (BST 3), before petering out in the new millennium after a failed sophomore release.  (I would still love to hear it.)  Far from defeated, Ian formed a new outfit entitled Thornley and made his return to the BST series with the song Come Again (BST 9). 
Besides his solo work, Sam Roberts helped out K-OS on the song, Dirty Water, which is on BST 10. 
Besides appearing on 2 BST records with Moist, lead singer David Usher has had a thriving solo career.  His lone solo appearance on BST occurred in 2001 when his track Alone In The Universe was included on the sixth album in the series. 
Damon Albarn, best known for leading Blur, has also had success with Gorillaz.  Interestingly, he’s made more appearances with the latter than with the former.  (Song 2 was featured on BST 2.  Clint Eastwood and the Grammy-nominated Feel Good Inc. were on BST 6 and 10, respectively.)
In between the two Age Of Electric studio releases, the Dahle brothers (Ryan and Kurt) formed a side project called Limblifter.  Each of these bands have had one song included on a BST album.  (AOE’s Remote Control appeared on BST 2 and Limblifter’s Tinfoil was on the first BST.)
And finally, Tom DeLonge, a former member of Blink 182 (who have made numerous appearances in this series), formed a new group called Angels & Airwaves who are on the eleventh album.
Of all the bands who’ve appeared on these CDs, I Mother Earth is the only band to feature two lead singers on two separate singles.  Original singer Edwin can be heard on One More Astronaut, the very first song on the very first BST.  And replacement vocalist, Brian Byrne, takes over singing duties for the song, Summertime In The Void, which is on BST 4.
Another question.  How many cover songs have appeared on a BST set?  The answer:  3.
Orgy’s version of New Order’s Blue Monday (BST 4), Marilyn Manson’s re-working of the old Eurythmics’ hit, Sweet Dreams (BST) and Lenny Kravitz’ cover of The Guess Who’s American Woman (also on BST 4).
How many alternate versions (meaning remixes) of hit songs have there been on these albums?  Let’s see.  There was the Tom Lord-Alge Mix of Temptation by The Tea Party, a remix of Collective Soul’s Precious Declaration (which didn’t seem much different from the original), The Hot Rod Herman Mix of Rob Zombie’s Dragula and the TLA Mix of Breathe by Moist.  So, the answer is 4.  There hasn’t been a remix of any kind on any BST release since number 4.
How many album cuts have appeared?  There was Beck’s Novacaine, Ophelia by Moist, Three MCs And One DJ by The Beastie Boys, and Nickelback’s Flat On The Floor, bringing the grand total to 4. 
What about BST songs that were released before the studio albums they would later appear on?  How many times has that happened?  I count 3.  Weapon, the first single from Matthew Good’s 2003 solo debut, Avalanche, was previewed on BST 7 in 2002.  Econoline Crush’s You Don’t Know What It’s Like (from their 2001 swan song, Brand New History) popped up as the last song on BST 4 in 2000.  Mobile’s catchy single, Montreal Calling, appeared on BST 10 in 2005.  It would later show up on the band’s debut, Tomorrow Starts Today, which finally was released in the spring of 2006.
There has been exactly one B-Side on a BST release:  Heaven Help Us by My Chemical Romance (BST 11).
What was the most successful single from the series?  One Week by The Barenaked Ladies.  It was number one on Billboard’s Hot 100 Singles Chart in 1998 for, you guessed it, one week. 
And finally, how many acts have actually appeared on all 11 records?  Would you believe 126? 
Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
10:03 p.m. 
Published in: on December 20, 2006 at 10:26 pm  Leave a Comment  

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