Oct 072013


We know a 1-hit wonder when we see one, but are there instances where, for you, a single song adequately represents an entire genre?

Six Pack

As ill-informed and narrow-minded as this notion can be, that’s how I feel about Black Flag‘s “Six Pack” adequately representing the entire genre of hardcore punk. The song begins with mildly threatening intro before exploding into a furious rush of tongue-in-cheek, self-deprecating, faux-angry humor. It’s the perfect response to a state of being for many American, middle-class, intelligent, slightly off-center dudes in their late teens and early 20s. To my hardcore punk–limited sensibilities, “Six Pack” says it all for the genre. There are easily a half dozen other hardcore songs I could see myself compiling on my iPod, but, for me, “Six Pack” is a 1-hit genre.

Is there a genre you don’t normally appreciate that is is positively encapsulated in just 1 song?


  18 Responses to “1-Hit Genre”

  1. This exercise is sure to tick off and marginalize fans of a particulary genre — who rightly recite all the great nuances of a scene. But it’s fun to think about!

    My contribution is pretty obvious — Mazzy Star’s “Fade Into You” for Slowcore. Dreamy, female vocals — check!

    P.S. My favorite Black Flag song is “TV Party.”

  2. Suburban kid

    For me, Smiley Culture’s “The Original Smiley Culture” six-track compilation is all the 1980s UK dancehall I need. I love the entire record (actually, cassette) and have listened to it hundreds of times, but I really don’t need to listen to anything by Pato Banton or Tippa Irie.

    I like more hardcore punk than you, but Six Pack is a good pick for if you were going to restrict yourself to one track per genre and I have a friend or two who would agree with you.

  3. Suburban kid

    Is there a category for artists who were great (or very good) on everything they did prior to releasing their first full-length album, at which point they stopped being great? I’d put Black Flag in that category.

  4. I wish I liked Black Flag because their logo is one of the best, but Six Pack gets a shotgun from me. It does encapsulate an entire genre quite well, but all hardcore sounds the same to my ears, so you could easily substitute any number of other songs and they would have achieved the same result.

  5. 2000 Man

    I was thinking that same thing – how can you tell what hardcore song you’re listening to? Isn’t pretty much one enough anyway?

    I’m good with one reggae song. They all sound the same, too. So I’ll pick Cherry Oh Baby by The Stones, but I’ve heard reggae people say they do a shitty job of it. I don’t know why, it sounds pretty much like the original to me. I’ve never really understood the appeal of reggae. I like a lot of reggae-ish things, though.

  6. misterioso

    Yeah, hardcore is a “none for me, thanks” genre. But I’ve gone from zero reggae tolerance to very very low reggae tolerance as long as its on The Harder They Come. That lp is my reggae 1hit wonder. Probably Yes “Seen All Good People” is it for prog.

  7. 2000 Man

    Dave Brubeck’s Time Out is all the jazz I need.

  8. Bluegrass: Amazing musicians playing songs which, although very intricate, all sound the same to me.

  9. machinery

    I agree the best thing about Black Flag is the logo.

    Don’t hate on Hardcore though. Good hardcore is great. Much better when you have a drummer who can drum and a singer who has the perfect amount of teenage expressiveness.

    The best, IMO is Minor Threat. Hey, here’s the whole album 🙂


  10. diskojoe

    I have the deluxe 2-CD edition of the Harder They Come soundtrack, which has a CD of essential 1969-72 reggae singles such as the original version of “Cherry Oh Baby” & “Israelities”. That & a MOJO Trojan Records sampler from the 2000s is enough for me.

    As for 80s hardcore, I was never into it, although I remember one of the members of SS Decontrol hanging around Emerson College in the days of “This Is Boston, Not LA”. However, I did enjoy the side of a Black Flag comp (“Before It All Went Black”?) that was nothing but commericals for their gigs, which were funny.

  11. misterioso

    I admit, I have both the 1 disc and 2 disc versions. The two disc is right on the edge of too much, though it has some great stuff as well. I also have the best of Desmond Dekker but it is unclear to me if that counts as reggae or ska, or what he difference is, or how much it should matter to me.

    I used to have a tape of This is Boston, Not LA about a million years ago! I can’t even remember what was on it. Which probably means I listened to it once and then stowed it away. I suspect liked the idea of it more than the thing itself.

  12. I have both versions as well and agree with misterioso that the second disk begins to pile on with a bunch of tracks I already owned from other collections. All in all, the 2-CD version is a great start to collecting that period of reggae.

    I got into that whole genre way late in the game. I must have been near 40 by the time I finally got turned onto Bob Marley’s Burnin’. For years the only reggae I liked was The Harder They Come soundtrack and the punk-era takes on it: The Clash, The Specials, etc. I still don’t know what era(s) I like best, but I find a lot of stuff that’s pretty much an extension of Curtis Mayfield & the Impressions with traces of earlier ska. Just about every month I listen to clips of artists I’ve barely heard about (usually name checked in Clash songs) on eMusic and end up downloading 3 new winners. Some of the songs I grab are tremendous; some offer little more than the simple joys of a ’60s bubblegum-garage record. I’m cool with that.

    I seem to hit a wall whenever I get into the late-’70s, when reggae seemed to get more “muscular,” for lack of a better word. The Impressions influences have washed away. The lyrics are more insular. My interest in Jah and Marcus Garvey are mild, at best. There is a point where hearing countless songs praising Jah and Marcus Garvey are a major waste of my time; however, that Marcus Garvey album (is it by Burning Spear?) is pretty cool. The theme of those songs sticks together.

  13. machinery and other Townspeople who get hardcore, what constitutes “growth” in that genre? I hear the difference in quality of the rhythm section of Minor Threat compared with early Black Flag, for instance, but did Black Flag’s move into Black Sabbath territory show signs of growth or that awkward thing where an artist finally gets good enough to sound like the stuff that turned them on, becoming kind of boring in the process? Personally, stuff like My War made more sense to my ears and made me laugh, so it wasn’t all bad, but I don’t know that real Black Flag fans celebrated that achievement.

    Minor Threat is the roots of Fugazi, at least by virtue of Ian McKaye, right? I never liked the former, but I got what they were about. They were hard-hitting and energetic. Whenever I hear Fugazi I think I’m hearing a bad version of Killing Joke, or something like that. I never longed to hear even real Killing Joke. Is Fugazi an outgrowth of hardcore, or is it something else?

    What about bands that came up through hardcore but never spent much time going through the motions I find so distinctive in a song like “Six Pack”? I’m thinking of Husker Du and The Minutemen, for instance. Were they actually an extension of hardcore, or are they mostly associated with that genre through their record labelmates?

  14. Maybe not 1 song, but I’ve got enough Cali hardcore with the Repo Man soundtrack (“TV Party”, “Institutionalized” “Let’s Have a War”, etc). The Harder They Come worked for Reggae (non-Marley division) until I got a bit deeper into it.

    For 1 song only, how about “Born Slippy” off the Trainspotting soundtrack? I like that one well enough and don’t need any other house/techno/whatever.

  15. I was never much into hardcore, but “TV Party” and”Gimme Gimme Gimme” are pretty good too. I like “Wasted” too, but the Camper Van Beethoven version makes me laugh more.

    I don’t hate all disco, but “More More More” by Andrea True Connection is about the only tune in that genre that I absolutely love.

  16. machinery

    I don’t think there’s anything to “get.” Minor Threat and early Minutemen and Husker Du are just perfect when you want something fast and loud. I can see why suburban youth would latch onto them as an outlet for aggression. I do think Minor Threat grew a bit and certainly the minutmen and husker went way beyond their hardcore beginnings. I owned a fair amount of Black Flag in my day … but never really dug them, to be honest.

  17. machinery

    Talk about judging an album by its cover. In college there was a kid AndyR and ChickenFrank lived with who had a stack of albums on the floor and that This is Boston album was always in front. Though i think I said two words to that guy (he moved out before I moved in) I thought he was THE COOLEST just because of that album artwork. Go figure.

  18. BigSteve

    We reach, cdm. The Beverly Hillbillies theme song is all the bluegrass I need.

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