Our top 10 Tracy Bonham songs list digs deep into the music of a two-time Grammy Awards nominee who rose to fame in the mid-‘90s with the hit “Mother Mother.” Tracy Bonham established her career at the height of the flourishing alternative rock scene. While alternative rock was her mainstay, Tracy Bonham still managed to feature heavily post-grunge and classical music influences. At the beginning of her music career, Tracy Bonham was compared to the leading-edge female artists in the alternative rock scene Liz Phair, Aimee Mann, and Alanis Morissette.
However, the singer maintained her angst-influenced singing taking on contemplative lyrical content with almost every hit she released. Her urbane eccentricity to the female alternative rock scene catapulted her to stardom in the mid-‘90s. While her star would soon fade, alternative rock enthusiasts can never seem to get enough of Tracy Bonham’s unique vocal versatility and songwriting.
Tracy Bonham’s Career Beginnings and Breakthrough
Inspired by Jen Trynin and Sam Phillips, Tracy Bonham took up rock and roll in the early ‘90s. Tracy Bonham released her debut EP, The Liverpool Sessions which featured the hits “Dandelion” and “The One.” The two hits received massive airplay locally, catapulting Tracy Bonham to popularity. Thanks to her good start with The Liverpool Sessions, Tracy Bonham won the Boston Music Awards’ Best Female Vocalist and Best New Artist accolades. However, this was just the start of her breakthrough with more success coming her way, especially with her debut album release.
Tracy Bonham’s Album Releases over the Years
Tracy Bonham rose to become an influential singer-songwriter in the alternative rock scene following the release of The Burdens of Being Upright, her 1996 debut album. “Mother Mother,” the album’s first single brought critical acclaim to Tracy Bonham’s musical pursuits. “Sharks Can’t Sleep,” “Navy Bean,” “The Real,” and “30 Seconds” are other best Tracy Bonham songs from the album that just proved her seasoned songwriting skills of Tracy Bonham. Her hard-rocking debut album also featured her successful single “The One,” a song initially featured on her debut EP, The Liverpool Sessions.
The Burdens of Being Upright saw several of its hits receive massive airplay on VH1 and MTV. As a result, the album’s reputation in the mainstream grew, helping it rise to the fifty-fourth spot on the Billboard 200. The album was also a mainstream success in Australia where it made it to position thirty-eight on the Albums Chart. Tracy Bonham saw the album nominated for the Best Alternative Music Album in the 1997 Grammy Awards ceremony. However, she lost the award to Odelay, the fifth studio album by Beck. Other albums that were nominated for the same award that year include Boys for Pele by Tori Amos, New Adventures in Hi-Fi by R.E.M., and Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness by The Smashing Pumpkins.
In 2000, Tracy Bonham released her sophomore studio album, Down Here. Down Here blended the singer’s alternative rock sound with a bit of post-grunge. Unfortunately, the album failed to match the commercial and mainstream success of The Burdens of Being Upright. However, it still manages to feature some of the best Tracy Bonham songs including “Behind Every Good Woman,” Fake It,” and “Cold Day in Hell.”
The singer returned in 2005 with her third studio album, Blink the Brightest. Blink the Brightest was co-produced by Tracy Bonham, former Beck and R.E.M. drummer Joey Waronker, and record producer Greg Collins. Greg Collins is best known for his successful production work with Gwen Stefani, Kiss, U2, Matchbox Twenty, and No Doubt. Blink the Brightest managed to feature musical gems including “Something Beautiful,” “Shine,” and “Eyes.”
Tracy Bonham’s 2010 album Masts of Manhatta and 2015 album Wax & Gold barely earned her acclaim. However, the two albums add to her music catalog songs evocative of her alternative rock influences. That said, Tracy Bonham’s major moves in the alternative rock scene remain her hugely acclaimed debut studio album, The Burdens of Being Upright. Here we usher in the ten best Tracy Bonham songs of all time.
#10 – Luck
Opening our top 10 Tracy Bonham songs list is the stunning hit “Luck.” Of course, this might feel far-fetched for fans of Tracy Bonham’s earliest work. However, “Luck” paints the singer’s 2015 album, Wax & Gold with glamour. The song fits the definition of a masterpiece thanks to its charming lyrical content, splendid vocal delivery, and incredible melody. Tracy Bonham released a music video for this song, her first in nineteen years.
#9 – Dandelion
Very few women in the mid-‘90s alternative rock scene were as hard rocking as Tracy Bonham. “Dandelion” is enough proof of this claim, having the song feature some heavy guitar riffs with a slightly aggressive yet alluring delivery. The song is among the top musical gems by the artist from her debut EP, The Liverpool Sessions.
Drew Parsons of the rock band American Hi-Fi played the bass guitars on this hit. Together with “The One,” “Dandelion” received some local airplay. The song was voted the Boston Music Awards Outstanding Rock Single in 1995.
#8 – Devil’s Got Your Boyfriend
Coming in at number eight on our top 10 Tracy Bonham songs list is the stunning hit “Devil’s Got Your Boyfriend.” The song is featured on the singer’s 2010 fourth studio album, Masts of Manhatta. “Devil’s Got Your Girlfriend” alludes to a cheating boyfriend whose girlfriend is unaware of his infidelity moves. The song features some mellow vocals by Tracy Bonham which complements the song’s moody texture.
#7 – Navy Bean
“Navy Bean” is among the songs by Tracy Bonham that ooze raw musical energy. The song is among the best cuts off the singer’s critically acclaimed debut studio album, The Burdens of Being Upright. Tracy Bonham and her fellow bandmates tear through this hit unleashing strong musicianship on this hard-rocking ballad. The song features a slamming hot bass rhythm with transcendent drumming which sets its tune on fire! Be sure to experience the vocal versatility of Tracy Bonham on this hit.
#6 – Fake It
Number six on our top 10 Tracy Bonham songs list is the terrific hit “Fake It.” The song is featured on the singer’s sophomore studio album, Down Here. While the song might not have made quite an impact like most of the cuts off her debut album, it still brought Tracy Bonham’s rich and more distinctive talent. “Fake It” introduces us to richer songwriting skills by Tracy Bonham seeing her go even deeper into her angst-ridden lyrical content. The song’s hook might not be as strong as that of hits like “Navy Bean” but it still manages to rise above the competition settling for a solid sixth spot on our ten best Tracy Bonham songs.
#5 – Something Beautiful
Long waits can be hard to take but sometimes worthwhile, just like the case of Tracy Bonham’s third studio album, Blink the Brightest. The album feels more adventurous and her singing sounds even more confident, especially in the song “Something Beautiful.” Amazing vocals and distinct lyrics make up the greatness of this wonderfully tuned hit. “Something Beautiful” is still evocative of the singer’s ‘90s alternative rock sound influences, only that her artistic inspirations seem to have grown from the basic PJ Harvey and Pixies influences. Unfortunately, her star started dwindling owing to her delayed releases having her lose touch with her fanbase.
#4 – Sharks Can’t Sleep
“Sharks Can’t Sleep” is among the musical gems by Tracy Bonham that get a little personal. The song came at a time the singer was facing a thorough period of personal development. Tracy Bonham reveals that the song takes a look at how our animal instincts can drive us towards noticing that things might be taking a wrong trajectory.
The singer revealed that she wrote the song while contemplating what it meant to fall in love/ be in companionship with another soul. “Sharks Can’t Sleep” was among her favorite tracks on the Lilith Fair. Tracy Bonham released a new version of this hit on her 2017 album Modern Burdens featuring Tanya Donelly, a former member of Throwing Muses and The Breeders.
#3 – The One
At the third spot on our top 10 Tracy Bonham songs list is the jaunty hit “The One.” The song was among the few successful hits featured on the singer’s debut EP, The Liverpool Sessions. Eventually, the song was featured on Tracy Bonham’s debut album, The Burdens of Being Upright. This catchy hit alludes to Tracy Bonham’s one-time ex-boyfriend and her life in the relationship. The singer revealed the inner details of the relationship terming it to have been destructive and abusive.
#2- Behind Every Good Woman
“Behind Every Good Woman” is a powerful gem that finds Tracy Bonham bringing to us her contemplative pieces of lyrical art. The song is built upon the typical saying, “Behind every man, there’s a great woman.” Tracy Bonham rises above the bias in this empowering phrase reminding the world that behind every good woman lies a trail of men. Probably, this was a great move towards reminding the world to respect the roles played by both genders in the success of their respective opposites. “Behind Every Good Woman” is featured on the singer’s sophomore album, Down Here.
#1 – Mother Mother
Number one on our top 10 Tracy Bonham songs list is the striking hit “Mother Mother.” The song is her best cut off The Burdens of Being Upright. “Mother Mother” is an angst-ridden ballad that has its lyrics alluding to the singer making a call to her mother. The song brings out the frustrations of her daily life.
Tracy Bonham revealed that the song was inspired by her personal experiences, specifically her bad choices that she would never communicate to her mother pretending that all is well. “Mother Mother” topped the Billboard Alternative Airplay, rising to number eighteen on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Chart. The song has been covered by The Veronicas and Off the Beat.
Feature Photo: Tammy Lo, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Top 10 Tracy Bonham Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2022
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