So why is The Beavis and Butt-Head Experience on this best 1,000 albums ever thing?
Okay, so this is one of those albums that some people – and perhaps many – will squint at with a quizzical eye* based simply on the album title and its association with a certain juvenile-meets-hysterical animated TV show that exploded into popularity in the early 1990s.
* My wife may or may not have been one of the people in this cohort.
I reference of course the magnificently ludicrous and ludicrously magnificent TV series, Beavis and Butt-Head. More on the show, but let’s get to why The Beavis and Butt-Head Experience is eminently worthy of inclusion on the best 1,000 albums ever project.
Exhibit A is what I would argue to be a Top 10 – and if pressed, perhaps a Top 5-6 – song by a band called Nirvana. If that’s not odd enough for you, the song title is… let’s say, not an uplifting one considering the fact that this is the soundtrack of a comedic television show and the eventual fate of lead singer and guitarist Kurt Cobain.
I’m talking about “I Hate Myself and Want to Die.”
Now, I’ve always taken the song as simply a magnificent explosion of noisy punk rock that is perfectly executed by one of the very best bands of all time, and I’m glad that my take is corroborated, for what it’s worth:
Despite the song’s title, the lyrics of “I Hate Myself and Want to Die” contain no obvious reference to suicide. In The Rough Guide to Nirvana, Gillian G. Gaar called it an “upbeat, friendly thrash-along” with “nonsense lyrics” whose title lacked a connection with its music.
Side note that I don’t have a problem with good old Beavis and Butt-Head commenting on the songs as little interstitials as it tracks with the concept of the TV show. I do however have a big problem with the fact that the comedy bits aren’t set aside as separate tracks from the actual songs. In any event, I won’t “penalize” the songs on that basis.
The rest of the album is both eclectic and surprisingly strong.
Anthrax, a metal band that has a unique ability to incorporate hip hop elements, turns in a really strong cover version of the Beastie Boys’ “Looking Down the Barrel of a Gun.”
Speaking of metal, the following statement will likely rile up some true metalheads but I’ll go ahead and throw it out there anyway: I’m pretty sure Megadeth’s “99 Ways to Die” is by far my favorite song from that band.
Sir Mix-A-Lot’s “Monsta Mack” is not my favorite song from that hip hop artist (I’ll bet you can guess which one is), but it’s really fun.
I’ve gotten this far and haven’t even mentioned the contributions from the likes of Run-D.M.C., White Zombie, Primus, Cher(!), and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Of these, I’ll call attention to “Deuces Are Wild” by Aerosmith, which is right in their 1990s power ballad wheelhouse.
Pop culture stuff that’s somehow related to The Beavis and Butt-Head Experience
I’m a mega fan of a comedy podcast called Fly on the Wall, hosted by Saturday Night Live alumni and comedy legends Dana Carvey and David Spade. Often their interview guests are fellow SNL alums or have some kind of hook into the show relating to having hosted it or auditioned for it at some point in time.
Last summer, they had Mike Judge on the show. Judge is the creator of Beavis and Butt-Head, along with a bunch of other iconic shows and movies, including Office Space (which endures to this day as one of the most quoted and referenced movies of my generation), Idiocracy, and King of the Hill.
I was struck at how soft-spoken and humble Judge seemed, even as you could get a sense of his immense intellect and creative powers through the stories he told. The kernel of what would become Beavis and Butt-Head is as fascinating as it is simple: Judge was in high school and overheard the snickering huh uh huh uh huh laughter of two knuckleheads in the back of the class making fun of the substitute teacher.
And from that tiny moment, the seed was planted for a comedy franchise that endures to this day.
Personal stuff that’s somehow related to The Beavis and Butt-Head Experience
I don’t have a fully fleshed out story here, but simply a memory of watching Beavis and Butt-Head with my college girlfriend in the mid-1990s. It’s totally possible that she watched it with me in deference to my tastes in TV and music, but I do recall us both enjoying it quite a lot.
I mention this in part because I do also recall thinking at the time that while this “should” be a TV show more people of a teenage age range and worldview, the comedy and construct of the show is really and weirdly universal.
Which is to say, it’s just a good TV show that’s funny and entertaining and contains some really good (and/or really hilarious!) music videos that are kind of incredible time capsules to look back on these days.
Some stats & info about The Beavis and Butt-Head Experience
- What kind of musical stylings does this album represent? Compilations, TV Soundtracks, Rock Music, Heavy Metal, Hip Hop, Rap
- Rolling Stone’s greatest 500 albums ranking – not ranked!
- All Music’s rating – 3 out of 5 stars
- When was The Beavis and Butt-Head Experience released? 1993
- My ranking, the one you’re reading right now – #484 out of 1,000
The Beavis and Butt-Head Experience 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.