The 10 Best Sonic Youth Songs of All-Time

Sonic Youth

Sonic Youth was formed in 1981. Over the years, they performed a number of shows that encompassed several different genres of music. The band has long since stopped performing together, but over the course of their career, they generated quite the fan following. Below are 10 of their songs that people often consider to be their best, ranked from 10 to one. Check out the YouTube links and see if you like some of their material. Here’s the list.

10. Mote (1990)


The lyrics to this song have confounded listeners for a number of years. People have even taken to the internet to try and ascertain what they mean. It’s one of the band’s more popular songs, to be sure. That said, people haven’t always had the easiest time figuring out exactly what the band is talking about. Today, most people agree that the song refers to focusing on something that most people would consider completely insignificant, yet becoming so focused on that one thing that it essentially causes one to stumble deeper and deeper into a state of sheer madness.

9. Dirty Boots (1990)


This is another song that many people have argued about when it comes to determining the meaning. Most people feel like it refers to getting high and having sex, along with making other decisions that one might come to regret later on. However, it’s also told with a less serious atmosphere, being told from the point-of-view of a boy and a girl who attend a concert, kiss and then begin a relationship. Perhaps it depends on your own point of view in order to sort out the meaning of this particular song.

8. Sugar Kane (1992)


This is a popular song, but also a rather strange one. The entire song centers around the belief that some people feel a need to save others who are on the edge of self-destruction, namely those who are famous. It’s not such a hard leap to understand why someone would want to save someone close to them who is exhibiting self-destructive behavior. It’s another thing entirely to understand why that would be important to someone just because another person is famous.

7. The Diamond Sea (1995)


At its core, this is a song about finding out what really matters. It’s all about allowing everything to fall away that you thought was important and realizing what is genuinely important to you, thereby allowing everything else to go so you can focus on what matters. It’s funny how a lot of people put emphasis on material possessions and big bank accounts when those aren’t the things that actually matter. This is a song that discusses these types of things. The lyrics then go on to discuss how the things that truly matter are the things that are often overlooked, such as spending a special moment with someone you genuinely love or stopping what you were doing for just a couple of minutes in order to take in something that could potentially increase the bond that you have with someone else, especially if it’s a moment that is fleeting and can never be enjoyed again.

6. Bull in the Heather (1994)


The lyrics in this song discuss rebelling against things that you don’t agree with, but doing it in such a way that you’re not overtly attracting attention to yourself. At its core, it’s about not wanting to be controlled or told what to do at every turn, but instead being allowed to make those choices for yourself. It’s also about the types of things that someone might do who doesn’t want to have a direct confrontation, yet also wants to stand up against these types of things when unfair control is thrown directly in their face.

5. Tunic (1990)


This is actually a very sad song. It was written to honor Karen Carpenter, another famous musician who sadly passed away from anorexia. It’s something that’s missed by a lot of people that listen to the song, especially those who hear it today. However, the song was always meant to serve as an elegy and it’s something that members of the band are still very straightforward about whenever someone asks them about it, even all these years later.

4. 100% (1992)


Although this is a song that’s told from a very rock and roll state of mind, it is a song about falling in love with someone and then experiencing the type of damage that can be done when that relationship suddenly dissolves. It’s not always easy to get the meaning of the song the first time you hear it, but at its core, it’s actually a song about loneliness more than anything else.

3. Incinerate (2006)


If you remember studying metaphors in high school, you’ll get the meaning of this song. The lyrics are about feeling extremely passionate about something, even to the point of feeling that burning type of passion that drives you in the middle of the night when you haven’t had any sleep and you should have been doing so hours ago. The title of the song comes from the idea that you are so burned up with passion that you might actually incinerate. It’s definitely an interesting take on things, but it’s one that also works.

2. Kool Thing (1990)


Anyone who has ever become frustrated with the idea that men have to demonstrate an exorbitant amount of machismo in order to be considered important will understand the lyrics to this song. It basically serves as the antithesis for the idea that men have to be overly macho, especially when it comes to refusing to show their genuine feelings about something or the idea that being loud and controlling everyone around them makes them more important.

1. Teen Age Riot (1988)


In reality, this is a very dark song that talks about people losing their sense of spiritual awareness, especially the younger generation. The lyrics talk about not having any sense of this awareness and more alarmingly, not having a desire to find it. It’s a very dark song that’s even disturbing at times, but it resonated with fans a great deal. Perhaps the reason it resonated is because it is so alarming.

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