If you’re looking to rock out, all you really need are my top ten Hives songs. That’s all I wanna say about that.
10. “Wait a Minute”
From 2012’s Lex Hives, Second Single
Lex Hives is the Hives most recent album at the moment and this was their second most recent single so far. The band continues to tour and perform fairly regularly so one hopes there will be a sudden surprise record one day soon. “Wait A Minute” now features the killer hooks, great backing vocals and typical explosive rhythm section that are The Hives’ signatures.
9. “Main Offender”
From 2000’s Veni Vidi Vicious, Second Single
What I dig about “Main Offender” is that it has that 60’s garage band “band playing beyond the capabilities of their recording equipment” feel to it. The first handful of Hives singles were pretty different from each other (I imagine their record company was trying out which types of songs from the band would catch on with the public). “Main Offender” is a little more deliberately off-kilter than some of their later singles. Indeed, there’s a few other tracks on Veni Vidi Vicious that are a little less hard rock and a little more punk. I think the punk/garage rock aesthetic is kind of where the band’s soul lies even when they’re playing more polished tunes, but that’s just me.
8. “A Little More for Little You”
From 2004’s Tyrannosaurus Hives, Fourth Single
Please note that on this track drummer Chris Dangerous “plays almost three minutes of solid, unbroken sixteenth notes at a very fast tempo.” It took a while for this song to grow on me but once I was able to hear its clear 50’s rock roots, I really started to really dig it. There’s a moment where Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist goes into his not-quite-able-to-reach-it higher range that is just rock magic. Because, as I’ve mentioned before, he does somehow reach the note he needs to even though it sounds like it should be beyond him. Seriously, the dude is magic. I want to sing like that.
7. “Try it Again”
From 2007’s The Black and White Album, Digital Single
Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist graces the cover of the Digital Single for “Try it Again,” which is an appropriate choice. The song opens with a great simple call and response guitar riff presumably by Nicholaus Arson, Vigilante Carlstroem or perhaps both (in this video it seems like it’s just Arson). Carlstroem and Arson do, however, make up the backing vocal team together and they rock. I mean, I realize I’m overusing the word rock, but The Hives rock. It’s just what they do and we’re all going to have to learn to accept that.
6. “Die, All Right!”
From 2000’s Veni Vidi Vicious, Fourth Single
Oh, holy cats, this song. OK, the song seems to be about getting paid to let somebody do some experiment on your body and relying on science to bring you back. If you listen to this song nine times and don’t end up singing along with the backing vocals on the chorus, there may be something wrong with you. It might even be some sort of moral failing. The guitar hook for this song is a thing of dirty rock beauty. And that opening drum barrage? What is that even? But, yeah, once you get to the chorus, the song just sinks your battleship. It knows where your battleship is on the board. It’s known all along and was just waiting to destroy it. Then on the next chorus? It sinks your sub and that is the hardest one to find.
From 2007’s The Black and White Album, Second Single
And suddenly, a dance song. The Neptunes produced this crazy catchy song that is basically The Hives singing about you coming to one of their concerts. They really do spell out their name on the chorus and also remind you that “we rule the world/this is our world” when you’re at their show. The important thing to do is to listen to it live because then you’re watching The Hives sing about you watching them. Basically, Hivesception. Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist sings most of this in a perfect 70’s disco falsetto (think “Emotional Rescue”).
4. “Walk Idiot Walk”
From 2004’s Tyrannosaurus Hives, First Single
Another Hives song, another perfect Nicholaus Arson guitar hook (which, admittedly, is similar to The Who’s “Can’t Explain”). This song came out in 2004 and I admit I thought it was a comment on U.S. politics, but that, of course, is very US-centric of me, particularly since The Hives are a Swedish band. There are probably thousands of other idiots they’d sing about before they sang about George W. Bush. Indeed, it seems that the lyrics suggest that we are all the idiot (and the robot).
3. “Go Right Ahead”
From 2012’s Lex Hives, First Single
Every time a favorite band puts out a new album, I worry that it’s not going to live up to their best work. As of 2012, The Hives’ singles live up to their best work. “Go Right Ahead” uses a note progression that is similar enough to “Don’t Bring Me Down” by ELO that The Hives alerted Jeff Lynne, asked him for permission and gave him a co-writing credit. The Hives use the riff for good not evil. I kid, I kid. ELO is on my list of bands to write about. But they’re still evil.
2. “Hate to Say I Told You So”
From 2000’s Veni Vidi Vicious, First Single
This was definitely my first exposure to The Hives. I don’t think I heard it until a couple of years after they released it. I know somebody recommended the band because I was complaining that I’d not been exposed to any new decent rock for a few years (we’d just been through the age of nu-metal and everything from was Fred Durst and bro-rap). I’m pretty sure I saw the video first and I was hooked from the moment Dr. Matt Destruction and his bass take focus (about 15 seconds in). First, Dr. Destruction is the coolest looking bass player ever. If you saw his face on a train, you’d probably guess he was a middle school teacher. When you see his face in that video, he is pure, committed rock and roll. Seriously, he seems possessed by the rhythm. How can you not love that? And then there’s like a 30 second section in the middle where it’s just bass and voice and Dr. Destruction just nails it so hard – the moment in the video is great, too. The rest of the band literally goes into freeze frame while Dr. Destruction and Howlin’ Pelle easily hold down the fort by themselves. Then there’s the whole thing on the chorus where Arson takes out years of pent-up aggression on his guitar. The song is glorious.
1. “Tick Tick Boom”
From 2007’s The Black and White Album, First Single
This song was my wake up alarm for two years. The alarm started with the “I’ve done it before and I can do it some more” part of the chorus and played through “Tick Tick Boom.” Then it repeated over and over again until I woke up. Two years. Every morning. And I still can’t get enough of the song. The only reason it’s not still my alarm is because I’ve gotten like four different phones since then and its a pain in the butt for an old person like me to learn how to change the alarm every fricken’ time. At any rate, that’s how much I love this song. I love the overlapping shouts that start the song. I love the guitar hook. I love the chorus (especially how it folds back in on itself and repeats in its final form). I love every single contribution by every member of the band. Its simply one of my favorite songs of all time.
I think that just about wraps it up.
Coming Soon: Probably Radiohead but maybe Dexy’s Midnight Runners.