Why is Cake’s Fashion Nugget on my best 1,000 albums ever list?
Much like Fashion Nugget, I will survive. Yeah yeah.
Some stats & info about Cake – Fashion Nugget
- What kind of musical stylings does this album represent? Rock, Rock Music, Alternative Rock, Geek Rock, Pop Rock
- Rolling Stone’s greatest 500 albums ranking – not ranked!
- All Music’s rating – 2.5 out of 5 stars
- When was Fashion Nugget released? 1996
- My ranking, the one you’re reading right now – #703 out of 1,000
Cake’s Fashion Nugget on Spotify
What does the “best 1,000 albums ever” mean and why are you doing this?
Yeah, I know it’s audacious, a little crazy (okay, maybe a lot cray cray), bordering on criminal nerdery.
But here’s what it’s NOT: a definitive list of the Greatest Albums of All-Time. This is 100% my own personal super biased, incredibly subjective review of what my top 1,000 albums are, ranked in painstaking order over the course of doing research for nearly a year, Rob from High Fidelity style. Find out more about why I embarked on a best 1,000 albums ever project.
What does Cake’s Fashion Nugget mean to me? What does it make me feel? Why is it exciting or compelling?
I’ll start by stating that “The Distance,” arguably Cake’s best known song to date (and a huge reason why Cake and Fashion Nugget zoomed into the mainstream American pop culture conversation in the mid-1990s), is not one of my favorites. I don’t dislike it really, but I’m not that into it either.
Secondly, the cover of Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” on Fashion Nugget is my favorite Cake song by far, and a big reason why the album made the best 1,000 albums ever.
But before we get back to that, I have to take major issue with a reviewer named Stephen Thomas Erlewine from All Music. As you might note above, I take the time and energy to note where every album on my best 1,000 albums ranks on Rolling Stone’s greatest 500 albums list (if at all), and what All Music rates it out of five stars.
As you can see above, All Music and Stephen Thomas Erlewine give Fashion Nugget a paltry 2.5 out of 5 stars. And I’m gonna go ahead and call out Mr. Erlewine of a wee bit of pop culture critic snobbery here. “…suburban, melodic, white-funk-injected…” “…too collegiate and arcane for mainstream music tastes…” “…the band is smirking.” “…if they had the wit or musical skills that would make their music either funny or listenable.” “…sophomoric jokes.” And this is in a one paragraph review, mind.
But here’s the kicker: “funk, hip-hop, alternative rock” are referred to as “collegiate musical styles.”
To counter with a very 1990s, very Gen X rejoinder: as if!?
Anyway, I see Cake’s version of “I Will Survive” as a brilliant re-invention of the 1970s disco classic for an irony-soaked, jaded 1990s Gen X generation. Like all the best cover songs, the new version absolutely stands on its own while calling back to the strength of the original. All of Cake’s quirks, little herky jerky musical phrasings, use of horns, and John McCrea’s deadpan baritone voice all work magically.
And here’s the Gloria Gaynor version, also fabulous of course.
Another song that I place with Cake’s version of “I Will Survive,” by the way in terms of iconic 1990s-ness for lack of a better way to describe it, is Marcy Playground’s “Sex and Candy.” I really wish they gone with a much more minimalist, maybe black-and-white video, as aside (instead of “Losing My Religion” meets “Heart Shaped Box” or something, maybe?).
“Frank Sinatra” has a fun, quirky beat and a Beck-esque bent toward oddball word collage lyrics.
“Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps” is right in Cake’s sweet spot that includes a swinging beat, a little bit of a mysterious lounge vibe, and a Latin-influenced horn part (perhaps!).