Top 10 Faith No More Songs
A career as eclectic and risk-taking as Faith No More’s cannot easily be summed up in just ten songs. After all, you’d be hard pressed to find another band that’s experimented with, and indiscriminately combined, a more expansive and unpredictable variety of musical styles throughout their career, and still enjoyed mainstream success. So we will follow the same course as we dig into the Top 10 Faith No More Songs.
This fabulous, dumbfounding track from 1992’s multi-platinum ‘Angel Dust,’ seems as good a place as any to start our countdown of Top 10 Faith No More Songs. While some songs on the album, like ‘Midlife Crisis’ or ‘Everything’s Ruined,’ played things a little too safe by their standards, the provocatively homoerotic ‘Be Aggressive’ led the charge for weirder tracks like ‘Malpractice’ and ‘Crack Hitler.’
Faith No More’s independently released first album was recorded on a shoestring budget and went virtually unnoticed by the world at large. But it still featured a handful of tracks worthy (and indicative) of the brilliant, genre-bending music still to come. Our pick of the bunch is the cryptic ‘As the Worm Turns,’ which contrasts then-singer Chuck Mosley’s dissonant shouts against a classically inspired synthesizer melody from Roddy Bottum, over an early sighting of FNM’s trademark rhythmic foundation.
Skipping forward a dozen years we come to Faith No More’s final studio effort, the cleverly named ‘Album of the Year.’ By this time, the group’s wilder creative impulses were oftentimes concealed behind increasingly mature and subtle arrangements. However, longtime fans could still discern the beautifully inventive songwriting “edges” (not to mention ever-thoughtful lyrics) lying just beneath the coat of polish applied to stellar songs like ‘Mouth to Mouth,’ and our pick, ‘Last Cup of Sorrow.’
'Land of Sunshine' is one of the more conventional songs from ‘Angel Dust.’ But of all the singles released from Faith No More’s bestselling LP, we feel this opening track best captures the improbable confluence of catchy hooks and exotic songwriting that FNM's unique cast of musical characters seemed to mesh better than anyone in the business.
In our opinion, no song captured the sheer power of Faith No More more explicitly than this oddly named instrumental that wraps up the vinyl version of their watershed third LP, ‘The Real Thing.’ By flying without a vocal by Mike Patton, this remarkable song uniquely revealed the lunacy of their divergent influences — Jim Martin’s thrash guitar, Roddy Bottum’s classical synths, Billy Gould’s slap-bass, and Mike Bordin’s drum barrage — miraculously cooperating with each other.
We see no reason for our list of the Top 10 Faith No More Songs to shy away from the band’s stranger musical impulses, so we dive headlong into the one and only ‘Cuckoo for Caca.’ A notable standout from the spectacularly rich ‘King for a Day’ LP, this peerless mutation of metallic fury and hymnal organ topped with head-scratching lyric obliqueness achieves a dadaist catharsis rarely seen in rock and roll circles outside of Frank Zappa or Captain Beefheart.
At the opposite end of ‘Cuckoo for Caca'’s primal scream lies ‘King for a Day’s’ beautifully self-composed title track -- as revealing a study of Faith No More’s far-ranging musical contrasts as any we could think of to showcase here. With much credit going to Mr. Bungle guitar wizard Trey Spruance (who co-wrote this song before leaving FNM after this lone session), ‘King for a Day’ relies on an unusually calm and linear acoustic guitar strum over which the band can interpolate periodic metallic outbursts and Mike Patton can explore the scope of his many voices.
Patton’s predecessor as frontman, Chuck Mosley, had a highly unconventional, unruly, almost conversational tone that was something of an acquired taste. But it could produce absolute magic when his fellow bandmates crafted songs to suit his strengths. The best example of that is ‘We Care a Lot,’ which received its definitive recording the second time around, for their sophomore LP ‘Introduce Yourself,’ and then remained a mainstay of their live set throughout Patton’s tenure.
You were probably expecting us to save their signature tune for the No. 1 spot on or list of the Top 10 Faith No More Songs, but we simply didn’t think it was representative enough of the band’s broad songwriting capacities. Still, their breakthrough hit, which received a massive boost from MTV in the winter and spring of 1990, showed enough of their quirkiness to act as a springboard for those wishing to explore their more adventurous side.
So we’ll wrap up our list with the truly “epic” title track of Faith No More’s album, ‘The Real Thing,’ which finds the band moving back and forth between quiet restraint and full-on attack mode in a head-spinning display of soft/heavy dynamics. Just as remarkable are Patton’s lyrics, which depict vivid images of transcendence that, at first, suggest a deadly dance with heroin, but in fact refer to an all-out spiritual awakening.