13 Songs from 13 Beck Albums
    • WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 11, 2017

    • Posted by: Annie Brinich

    Beck has released 12 studio albums. For reference, that's 2 more than Garth Brooks, the second best-selling musician of all time (the Beatles, the first best-selling artists of all time, had 23 studio albums, which is going to be a little harder to beat). In celebration of Beck's 13th album, Colors, being released this week, we've picked out one song from each of his albums for you to listen to, in chronological order.

    1. "Schmoozer" - Golden Feelings (1993)

    If you listen hard enough, in between the distorted guitar and the experimental vocals, you can hear Beck writing the prequel to his later hit "Loser". Golden Feelings is an experimental album (read: mostly unlistenable) but it's an interesting look back at a Beck who was not yet interested in commercial success.

    2. "Satan Gave Me a Taco" - Stereopathic Soulmanure (1994)

    Another silly, playful album from Beck, who tries out a few different styles for this album. This time, you can recognize his voice in tracks like "Satan Gave Me a Taco", which is a not only a great title, but a decent bluegrass song.

    3. "Loser" - Mellow Gold (1994)

    Beck's first hit, "Loser" stands the test of time. It's hard to believe that this song is over 20 years old--if this were to come out today, it would still be considered a genre-bender. Beck never lost his love for experimenting and crossing musical boundaries, somehow always churning out something supremely likable.

    4. "I Get Lonesome" - One Foot in the Grave (1994)

    After Mellow Gold, Beck released the enormous acoustic album One Foot in the Grave, which features eight bonus tracks, for a total of 24 songs. In "I Get Lonesome", there's some distinct, sparse drum and guitar that will show up two years later on albums like Modest Mouse's Interstate 8.

    5. "Devil's Haircut" - Odelay (1996)

    This is a pure alt-rock revelation. There are some other tracks on Odelay that are just as good as "Devil's Haircut", especially "Hotwax", the track that comes right after "Devil's Haircut", but the nonsensical first track on the album is a good representative of the entire album, which just sounds cool from start to finish.

    6. "Tropicalia" - Mutations (1998)

    Mutations and Midnite Vultures, the album after it, both deal in a certain kind of nostalgia, which makes me wonder if Beck realized he was too close to getting cornered into rock music stardom with Odelay. Though this isn't a purely acoustic album, it is significantly more downtempo and psychedelic than Odelay.

    7. "Milk & Honey" - Midnite Vultures (1999)

    This is Beck's sexy album. I really don't know what else to call it. I think he was trying to mimic some of the more seductive songs of the 60's and 70's. I don't know if he was trying to ridicule them or not, because I really genuinely love the songs on this album, especially the upbeat "Milk & Honey", and "Debra" which has falsetto vocals, saxophones, and just an all-around Prince feel.

    8. "Lost Cause" - Sea Change (2002)

    If Midnite Vultures was an album full of tributes bordering on parody, Sea Change is an album that 100% more sincere and 100% less fun. Which isn't to say that it's a bad album, and Beck has not lost his fascination with experimentation. But he has stepped, for maybe the first time, into writing very personal, reflective lyrics.

    9. "Que' Onda Guero" - Guero (2005)

    Among the genres Beck dipped into on his previous albums, hip-hop was always present. But with samples of conversations and a lyrical landscape of the street, Beck gives us an actual, pure hip-hop song. And it's great. The rest of Guero is just as good, with songs like "Scarecrow" blending beats and guitar.

    10. "Cellphone's Dead" - The Information (2006)

    "Cellphone's Dead" was released over ten years ago. That makes it one year older than the first iPhone. But even in 2006, Beck was writing dystopian songs about the effect of technology on the entertainment industry. Or something. The lyrics of this song are pretty hard to parse. The Information is a return to the catchy but hyper-experimental, nonsensical Beck of his pre-Sea Change years.

    11. "Profanity Prayers" - Modern Guilt (2008)

    This is a dance track for distortion lovers on an album that plays with rock n' roll nostalgia the way Midnite Vultures played with nostalgia R&B. The album was made with artistic input from members of Gnarls Barkley and Cat Power, blending energy with dreaminess, and stamped with Beck's vague, evocative lyrics.

    12. "Heart is a Drum" - Morning Phase (2014)

    Morning Phase was Beck's true return to a Sea Change-like sound, with soft acoustics over soft vocals, not a whole lot of percussion, and just a calmer, more understandable feel altogether. Which may or may not be what you're looking for in a Beck album.

    13. "Dreams" - Colors (2017)

    "Dreams" was released over two years ago. He gave us a two-year teaser for the album that's slated to come out this week. And if the other singles he's dropped on the path to this album are any indication, it's going to be a good one. Happy listening.

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