With our top ten Matthew Sweet songs we look at some of the best work of one of the most prolific singer-songwriters of the past thirty years. He was part of the Athens, Georgia music scene during the late eighties before establishing himself as a solo artist. Sweet went to Athens after graduating from high school to attend college, in which there was a large scene happening, with a certain band called REM leading the forefront. Sweet had met them a year previously when they played a show in his hometown of Lincoln, Nebraska. He collaborated with their frontman Michael Stipe in a duo called Community Trolls and also played guitar in a band called Oh-OK who featured Stipe’s sister Lynda Stipe on guitar.
Matthew Sweet is easily one of the most underrated artists of the past thirty years. Although many of his albums have received generally positive reviews from critics, he has never been able to quite match this success commercially. Although he is a moderate success, he has not had many records that have been really massive and as a result he has always been somewhat confined to the status of a cult performer. This has been the case all throughout his career. Both of his first two albums received good reviews but did not sell very well which led to him being dropped by A & M Records.
Sweet’s biggest period of success came with his third album Girlfriend released on Zoo Entertainment in 1991, the title track of which is his most well known and high charting song. Much of the album was inspired by the breakup of his marriage which happened around the same time that his previous label dropped him.
Since then, Sweet has continued to be a consistent and prolific performer despite remaining on the fringes of the mainstream. Hopefully for those who are unfamiliar with his work, this list will act as a good starting point in discovering an artist who needs more recognition.
# 10 – Save Time For Me
Kicking off our Top Ten Matthew Sweet Songs List is this song this that is taken from his debut album released in 1986 titled Inside. This is a track that is much more pop and middle of the road compared to his later more alternative-driven work. The album was not a very successful debut and Sweet was dropped from Columbia Records after its release. He would go on to release his second album through A & M.
# 9 – Sunshine Lies
Next up is the title track of Sweet’s tenth album released in 2008. His wife Lisa provides backing vocals. It is one of many albums in the Matthew Sweet catalogue that received good reviews but low chart success. The album features several of Sweet’s regular contributors such as Rick Menck on drums, Ivan Julien on Guitar and Greg Liesz who also plays pedal steel guitar.
# 8 – Alone Again Or
This is a cover of a song by sixties Psychedelic Rock band Love which is taken from Sweet’s collaborative covers album with The Bangles‘ singer Susanna Hoffs titled Under The Covers Volume 1. It was released in 2006 and came about due to both artist’s mutual love for song writing from the sixties, the era of which all of the songs covered on the album are from.
# 7 – Cats Vs Dogs
This track is taken from Sweet’s ninth album Living Things released in 2004. This is one of several Sweet tracks to have appeared on a movie soundtrack Upon the year of its release this track was featured on the soundtrack to Garfield The Movie which also released the same year. Despite this, the record itself did not reach a very high level of commercial success.
# 6 – I Love You
At number six on our top 10 Matthew Sweet songs list track is the title track of an album that was released exclusively in Japan before being given a wider release. The album’s title is actually in Japanese as “Kimi Ga Suki.” The reason for this is because it was a “thank you” to the Japanese fans. It was written in just one week and saw the reunion of Sweet’s Girlfriend era bandmates. It was also recorded by Sweet himself at his own home.
# 5 – Faith In You
Entering the second half of our Top 10 Matthew Sweet songs list we present the song “Faith In You.” This great track is taken from Sweet’s seventh album In Reverse released in 1999. This song, which is rather reminiscent of REM was featured on the soundtrack to the movie “Drive Me Crazy” which was released the same year. However, the movie itself was a largely forgettable flop, so the soundtrack did not have much success either.
# 4 – Hollow
Here we have yet another song that was part of a movie soundtrack, this time ti The Game staring Michael Douglas. It was taken from the 1999 album Blue Sky On Mars which was yet another album that was more successful critically than commercially. This song definitely shows the best side to Sweet’s song writing talents, as it is a rather dark and soulful number.
# 3 – Sick of Myself
Here we have a song that is the opening number of Sweet’s fifth album 100 % Fun released in 1995. This song, which was later covered by Bowling for Soup was one of Matthew Sweet’s most successful singles reaching number two on the Billboard Modern Rock Chart. “Girlfriend” is only more successful because it charted on more than one chart. The album is also one of his more successful outputs, receiving high critical praise and moderate commercial success.
# 2 – The Ugly Truth
Just off the top spot is this track taken from Sweet’s fourth album released in 1993. The album features several notable guest musicians such as Mick Fleetwood, Jody Stephens from Big Star and Pete Thomas who has played with Elvis Costello. Unlike a lot of Sweet’s albums, this record was met with a rather mixed critical reception.
# 1 – Girlfriend
At number one we have the song that is Sweet’s most famous song and the title track to his third album released in 1991. As the lead single from the record, it is Sweet’s highest charting song reaching number four on the Modern Rock Tracks and number ten on the Mainstream Rock Tracks. The album is also his most successful both critically and commercially, although it did only reach the position of 100 on the Billboard 200.
Top 10 Matthew Sweet Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2021
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