Grunge may have emerged in Seattle, but one of the biggest bands from the scene hailed from many, many thousands of miles away in London, England. Formed in 1992, Bush dropped their debut album, Sixteen Stone, in 1994. It was a sensation, propelling the band into the charts and eventually selling over 20 million records. Subsequent albums proved no less successful, turning Bush into one of the biggest bands of the 1990s. Here’s our pick of the 10 best Bush songs of all time.
10. The Sound of Winter
After an absence of ten years, Bush returned in 2011 with their fifth studio album, The Sea of Memories. It wasn’t their best effort, and if you weren’t a Bush fan before, this wasn’t the album to make you one. But dig around enough, and you’ll find plenty of nuggets, the most enjoyable being the very lovely The Sound of Winter. Released as the album’s second single in July 2011, it gave the band their fifth number-one hit single on the US Alternative Songs when it rudely knocked the Foo Fighters’ Walk off the top spot. It also managed to take the number one spot on the Rocks Songs chart – their first-ever song to do so.
9. Letting the Cables Sleep
In an interview with onesecondbush.com, frontman Gavin Rossdale revealed that Letting the Cables Sleep was written for a friend who had contracted AIDS. “A really close friend of mine discovered that he was HIV-positive, and he didn’t tell any of us for about six months,” he explained. “He lived with the shame and the stigma of it, as terrified as you could possibly feel about anything. So I wrote this song about silence. So that’s what the song is about, but it’s mostly about the need for communication.” A hushed, poignant song that, despite its quietness, ranks as one of the most important and stirring moments of The Science of Things, it’s a must-listen.
Not everything that was big in the 1990s has stood up to the test of time, but Mouth, one of the most popular songs from the band’s second album, Razorblade Suitcase, is an exception. Described by Cryptic Rock as a “one-two punch of classic grunge grit and narcotic rhythms,” it was banging enough the first time around, but the Stingray remix from their 1997 remix album Deconstructed is even better. Released as a single in October 1997, it picked up a huge amount of airplay and a number 5 spot on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart.
7. Greedy Fly
The band were at their creative peak on Greedy Fly, a down and dirty slice of grunge that stands as one of the highlights of their second studio album, 1996’s Razorblade Suitcase. Released as the second single from the album in January 1997, it became a hit, peaking at number 5 on both the US Alternative Songs chart and Mainstream Rock Tracks, and number 22 on the UK Singles Chart – their second-highest entry on the chart of all time. The video, which cost a mammoth half a million pounds to make and clocks in at an equally mammoth 7 minutes in length, is almost as good as the song.
6. The Chemicals Between Us
The moment rock bands start to get a little trigger-happy with electronics, you start counting down the moment until they morph into something completely unidentifiable, and, in some cases, completely monstrous. But on The Chemicals Between Us, Bush managed to have fun with the tech without losing their soul in the process. Released on 14 September 1999 as the lead single from the 1999 album The Science of Things, it became one of their biggest hits, topping the US Alternative Songs Chart for five weeks and reaching number 67 on the Billboard Hot 100.
5. Everything Zen
In 1995, the world was introduced to Bush for the first time with their debut single, Everything Zen (they’d actually released another single, Bomb, while they were still going under their old name of Future Primitive, but no one knew about it till it resurfaced on their debut album a couple of years later). A slow burner, it gradually inched its way up the charts until it found itself at No. 2 on the Billboard Modern Rock Chart, No. 5 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks and Canadian Rock/Alternative chart, and No. 40 on the Hot 100 Airplay. It fared less well in the band’s native UK, stalling at No. 84 on the singles chart.
Bush’s debut album, Sixteen Stone, was a massive hit, peaking at number four on the US Billboard 200 and eventually certifying 6× multi-platinum. At least a little of the credit for its success lies with the hit single, Swallowed. In Like a British Sun: The Offical Story of Bush, Gavin Rossdale rather inexplicably called it his version of the Beatles’ song Help!. We can’t really see the resemblance ourselves, other than the fact that they’re both great songs and both became huge hits. In Swallowed’s case, it spent seven weeks at number 1 on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks and peaked at number 7 on the UK Singles Chart, becoming their highest ever entry on the chart.
The fifth and final single culled from the band’s hugely successful debut album was Machinehead, a hard-driving rocker that’s impossible not to move your head to. According to Song Facts, the song was inspired by the line “Machine says I saw the best minds of my generation” in the Allen Ginsberg poem, Howl. Like the rest of the album’s singles, it went down a storm on the charts, reaching No. 4 on both the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks and Mainstream Rock Tracks chart, and peaking at No. 43 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Rossdale has said that he wrote Comedown about an ex-girlfriend, explaining “It was written in the context of half regret, half celebration and just being objective about the situation of coming down from that high and dealing with those intense emotions.” It’s one of the most heartfelt and emotionally literate songs on the band’s debut – and one of its most successful. Released in 1995 as the album’s third single, it gave the band their first top 40 hit in the US when it peaked at number 30 on the Billboard Hot 100.
In at number one is Glycerine, a standout title from the band’s debut album and one of their most enduringly popular songs of all time. From the lyrics to the vocals, the riffs to the beats, everything comes together in one, perfect moment. A huge success on its release, it peaked at number 28 on the Billboard Hot 100 to become their most successful pop hit to date.