Our favorite grunge-alt rock-hip hop-anti-folk slacker boy has announced the upcoming release of a new album. Beck, who’s storied career has been full of critical and commercial acclaim, has his release planned for about six months after his most recent Morning Phase, which took him about six years to release. The album will contain a set of songs he considers “more boisterous” than those in Morning Phase.
As one of the most eclectic, innovative artists of the 90s, it’s only right that we celebrate his biggest moments and progression as an artist leading up to this new album.
1994: Beck’s first single, “Loser,” off Mellow Gold tops charts, jumpstarts career
Sometimes Beck still sort of feels like an underdog, maybe because his first hit started as an indie track released by Bong Load records and its music video looks like some high school stoners got bored and put it together in detention. Who knows? Despite it all, the hook is perfect, the whole laziness vibe was geniusly intentional and he makes the chorus, “I’m a loser baby, so why don’t you kill me?” sound amused rather than angry.
Don’t be fooled by his slacker façade; few people are smart enough to combine alt-rock, folk and rap into a random song called “Loser” and make it sound awesome.
1996: Odelay charts in the UK, features three hits
Two years after Mellow Gold (and its indie follow up album), Beck came out with Odelay, which was both critically and commercially acclaimed and proved he would not be a one-hit wonder. While the album features several hits, it is best as a whole, coherently stringing together twisted versions of genres including rap, country and blues. It was Beck’s first hit album in the UK, peaking at #17 there and #16 in the US.
The album had a trio of chart-worthy hits: rap-centered “Where it’s at,” pop-centered “Devil’s Haircut” and outright strange “The New Pollution.” If there’s one thing to be said about Beck’s lyrics, they make no sense half the time, even to the most thoughtful of lyric interpreters. Somehow it works, though.
1998: Mutations wins Grammy Award
Mutations wasn’t the chart-heavy album that Odelay was, but Beck proved himself as an artist who didn’t shy away from too many genres. The darkly pretty, sample-free album won a Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Album.
1999: Midnite Vultures earns Beck another Grammy nomination
Beck’s 1999 album didn’t quite achieve the critical acclaim of Mutations or the commercial success of Odelay, and its reception, while overall good, had some ups and downs.
The album was nominated for a 2001 Album of the Year Grammy Award, but was named one of Q’s “50 Worst Album’s Ever.” Confusing, but not surprising seeing as Beck’s lyrics and genre can be a little mysterious at times. Regardless, this was Beck’s party album, reminiscent of, and maybe a little wishful for the 70s.
2000–2002: Beck’s breakup inspires Sea Change
Beck and his fiancé ended a nine-year relationship 2000, sending him into a state of depression.
He began writing acoustic tracks for Sea Change, but gave it up because he wanted to share his music, not his baggage. When he decided fans could actually relate to his songs, he decided to record them, and released them on Sea Change in September 2002.
2005: Guero debuts at Billboard #2
Guero takes us back to the style Beck used in Odelay, most notably because both albums were produced by the Dust Brothers and Tony Hoffer. The album doesn’t leave too many genres out, from straight rock on “E-Pro” to R&B heavy “Earthquake Weather” and bluesy “Farewell Ride.”
2006: Releases his tenth studio album, The Information, on Interscope Records.
He took his time with this one, beginning recording in 2003 and releasing it in 2006. The album was funky and weird, reminiscent of his early days where he rose to fame as a slacker grunge alt-rock kid who could also rap.
Beck was proud of this album, saying he’d “been trying to do something like this for the last three albums.” The album was meant to be imperfect, with customizable cover art, and videos that were completely impromptu and homemade, featuring his son, nieces and nephew in front of a green screen.
2008: Modern Guilt gives Beck another chart-topper and Grammy nominee.
Modern Guilt entered the Billboard 200 and Canadian Albums Charts at number four, and peaked at nine on UK Albums Chart, giving him his first top-ten album in the UK. The album was put in several “50 Best” lists for 2008, and received a Grammy nomination for best alternative album, which he lost to Radiohead.
The album’s single, “Chemtrails,” was made popular before the album’s release by BBC Radio 1, and critics described it in many ways, including trippy, woozy, beautiful, and eerie, with a Radiohead-like ambience, bouncing basslines and crashing drums.
2014: Morning Phase is released as the “less boisterous” of his 2014 albums.
This album is mellow and comfortable, maybe on purpose, since Beck’s upcoming album is expected to give us the rowdiness we want from him. This album is considered a companion to Sea Change, using many of the same somber, quiet themes. The folk-rock album is raw and honest, and should be a great prequel to his upcoming release.
Despite Beck’s promises that his upcoming album will be more boisterous than Morning Phase, who knows exactly what the sound will be like this time? Beck is anything but a predictable artist; we’re talking about someone who can put remnants of country, folk, blues, rock and rap on one album in a cohesive way. If we can expect anything, it’ll be an incredibly savvy, eclectic concoction of multiple genres, and possibly an ode to Beck’s original anti-folk roots. I can’t wait to hear the newest addition to his storied repertoire.
Edited by Valerie Reich
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