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Beck

Initially pegged as the voice of a generation when "Loser" turned into a smash crossover success, Beck wound up crystallizing much of the postmodern ruckus inherent in the '90s alternative explosion, but in unexpected ways. Based in the underground anti-folk and noise-rock worlds, Beck encompassed all manner of modern music, drawing in hip-hop, blues, trash rock, pop, soul, lounge music -- pretty much any found sound or vinyl dug up from a dusty crate -- blurring boundaries and encapsulating how '90s hipsters looked toward the future by foraging through the past. In another time, Beck may have stayed in the province of the underground, but he surfaced just as alternative rock turned mainstream, with his 1994 debut Mellow Gold launching "Loser," a hit that crossed over with the velocity of a novelty, a notion Beck quickly punctured with a succession of indie LPs delivered in the wake of Mellow Gold, including the lo-fi folk of One Foot in the Grave, delivered on the K imprint. But the album that truly cemented Beck's place in the pantheon was 1996's Odelay, a co-production with the Dust Brothers that touched upon all of his obsessions, providing a cultural keystone for the decade while telegraphing all his future moves, from the soul prankster of Midnite Vultures to the melancholy troubadour of Sea Change.

Fittingly, Beck came from a distinctly artistic background, the son of string arranger/conductor David Campbell and Bibbe Hansen, a regular at Andy Warhol's Factory whose father was a pivotal contributor to the Fluxus art movement. Adopting the Hansen surname after his father left, Beck grew up in Los Angeles, dropping out of school in the tenth grade to play as a street busker and attend poetry slams. Bashing out blues and folk, Beck wound up assembling a home tape called The Banjo Story before departing for New York, where he operated on the margins of the anti-folk scene without ever breaking into it.

He returned to Los Angeles, where he continued to play clubs, eventually gaining the attention of Bong Load Records, an independent operated by Tom Rothrock and Rob Schnapf. All parties agreed to pair Beck's fledgling folk with hip-hop beats assembled by producer Karl Stephenson, whose kitchen provided the studio for their first efforts, including "Loser." These tapes remained unreleased as Beck recorded an album's worth of material with Calvin Johnson for the latter's K label, but the first release Beck had was the Flipside single "MTV Makes Me Want to Smoke Crack" and Sonic Enemy's cassette release of Golden Feelings. But what really broke the doors open was Bong Load's 12" single of "Loser," which garnered considerable play in L.A., coinciding with increased underground attention. Soon, Beck signed with Geffen, striking a deal that allowed him to release on independent labels. One of these immediately followed -- Fingerpaint released a 10" record A Western Harvest Field by Moonlight in January 1994 -- before the Geffen debut Mellow Gold appeared in March of 1994.

Naturally, "Loser" was the lead single from Mellow Gold and it turned into an instant smash, boasting a hook that worked as an ironic underground rallying cry and a novelty crossover. Despite many positive reviews, Beck worked overtime to dispel the notion he was a novelty, quickly releasing two indie albums in succession: the noise-skronk Stereopathetic Soul Manure and One Foot in the Grave. Stereopathetic made few waves, but the stripped-back, folky One Foot in the Grave acted as a counterbalance to the gonzo Mellow Gold, illustrating the depths of his talents.

After a furious 1994, Beck laid relatively low in 1995, touring with the fifth Lollapalooza in between working on a new album with the production team the Dust Brothers, who had collaborated with the Beastie Boys on their landmark 1989 Paul's Boutique. The resulting album, Odelay, appeared in June 1996, preceded by the lanky, funky single "Where It's At," which would go on to win the Grammy for Best Male Rock Vocal. Odelay piled up acclaim and hits -- "Devil's Haircut," "Jack-A**," and "The New Pollution" all charted around the world -- and the record went double platinum, becoming a touchstone of '90s alternative rock. An outtake from the album, "Deadweight," appeared on the soundtrack to Danny Boyle's 1997 film A Life Less Ordinary, then Beck set to work on his next album with producer Nigel Godrich, who had just worked with Radiohead on OK Computer. Their collaboration, originally slated for an indie release but moved to Geffen, thereby setting a precedent where no future Beck LP would be released on an indie (something worked out in the courts the following year), traded futuristic rock -- either the joyous collage of Odelay or the dystopia of OK Computer -- for a quiet, pulsating, psychedelic folk-rock album called Mutations. Riding high on Odelay, the album charted well without turning out any major hits, although it did garner a Grammy for Best Alternative Music Performance.

Beck took another abrupt change in musical direction in 1999 with Midnite Vultures, a garish party record that was part satire and part salute to soul and funk, particularly Prince. Reviews were divided between ecstatic and skeptical, but the album had some real hits with "Sexx Laws" and "Deborah," and in some ways it was the apex of Beck's hipster prankster phase, a persona he shed with his next album, 2002's Sea Change. Recorded in the wake of a romantic breakup, Sea Change was another Godrich production, but it was gentle and mournful, lacking some of the gritty underpinnings of Mutations yet retaining the psychedelia -- and that psychedelic edge was brought out in the supporting tour when Beck hired the Flaming Lips as his supporting band. The tour was well-eceived but there were some tensions, as reported by Lips leader Wayne Coyne later.

After an extended break -- the longest he had taken between albums to date -- Beck returned in 2005 with Guero, an album that reunited him with the Dust Brothers and consciously evoked Odelay. Guero launched a few hits, including "E-Pro" and "Hell Yes," and was followed within months by Guerolito, a remixed version of the entire album. Beck continued in this direction the following year with The Information, but its Nigel Godrich production kept the album streamlined and emphasized the darker undercurrents in the songs. Some of that darkness could be heard on his eighth album, Modern Guilt, a 2008 release produced by Danger Mouse, marking his first time in 14 years that he worked with a producer who wasn't the Dust Brothers or Godrich.

Modern Guilt performed respectably -- it debuted at eight on the U.S. Billboard charts and received strong reviews -- but he spent the next several years relatively quiet.

In 2009, Beck began actively pursuing a career as a producer, collaborating with Charlotte Gainsbourg on her acclaimed IRM album; two years later, he produced Thurston Moore's Demolished Thoughts and Mirror Traffic by Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks. He also dipped his toe back into solo recording on the soundtrack to the 2010 Edgar Wright film Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. Still, between 2009 and 2010 much of his studio energy was devoted to his Record Club, where he and a loose collective of friends covered classic albums in their entirety; the albums covered included The Velvet Underground & Nico, The Songs of Leonard Cohen, and INXS' Kick.

Beck returned to original material in 2012 via Song Reader, a collection of sheet music featuring 20 new, unrecorded songs; although he didn't record versions of these songs, he did appear at Song Reader concerts featuring other musicians (and a collection of those live performances was eventually released under his name). Early in 2014, Beck released Morning Phase, his first new album in nearly six years and first album for Capitol Records. Described by the singer/songwriter as a "companion piece" to 2002's Sea Change, it was released in February 2014, preceded by the singles "Blue Moon" and "Waking Light." Critical reception was largely positive, and the album peaked at number two on the Billboard charts. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Morning Phase

1. Cycle

2. Morning

3. Heart Is A Drum

4. Say Goodbye

5. Blue Moon

6. Unforgiven

7. Wave

8. Don't Let It Go

9. Blackbird Chain

10. Phase

11. Turn Away

12. Country Down

13. Waking Light

x

Track List: Modern Guilt

1. Orphans

2. Gamma Ray

3. Chemtrails

4. Modern Guilt

5. Youthless

6. Walls

7. Replica

8. Soul Of A Man

9. Profanity Prayers

10. Volcano

x

Track List: The Information

Disc 1

1. Elevator Music

2. Think I'm In Love

3. Cellphone's Dead

4. Strange Apparition

5. Soldier Jane

6. Nausea

7. New Round

8. Dark Star

9. We Dance Alone

10. No Complaints

11. 1000BPM

12. Motorcade

13. The Information

14. Movie Theme

Disc 2
x

Track List: Guero

1. E-Pro

2. Que Onda Guero

3. Girl

4. Missing

5. Black Tambourine

6. Earthquake Weather

7. Hell Yes

8. Broken Drum

9. Scarecrow

10. Go It Alone

11. Farewell Ride

12. Rental Car

13. Emergency Exit

x

Track List: Sea Change

1. The Golden Age

2. Paper Tiger

3. Guess I'm Doing Fine

4. Lonesome Tears

5. Lost Cause

6. End Of The Day

7. All In Your Mind

8. Round The Bend

9. Already Dead

10. Sunday Sun

11. Little One

12. Side Of The Road

x

Track List: Midnite Vultures

1. Sexx Laws

2. Nicotine & Gravy

3. Mixed Bizness

4. Get Real Paid

5. Hollywood Freaks

6. Peaches & Cream

7. Broken Train

8. Milk & Honey

9. Beautiful Way

10. Pressure Zone

11. Debra

x

Track List: Mutations

1. Cold Brains

2. Nobody's Fault But My Own

3. Lazy Flies

4. Canceled Check

5. We Live Again

6. Tropicalia

7. Dead Melodies

8. Bottle Of Blues

9. O Maria

10. Sing It Again

11. Static

x

Track List: Odelay

1. Devils Haircut

2. Hotwax

3. Lord Only Knows

4. The New Pollution

5. Derelict

6. Novacane

7. Jack-A**

8. Where It's At

9. Minus

10. Sissyneck

11. Readymade

13. Ramshackle

x

Track List: One Foot In The Grave

1. He's A Mighty Good Leader

2. Sleeping Bag

3. I Get Lonesome

4. Burnt Orange Peel

5. Cyanide Breath Mint

6. See Water

7. Ziplock Bag

8. Hollow Log

10. Fourteen Rivers Fourteen Floods

11. A**hole

12. I've Seen The Land Beyond

13. Outcome

14. Girl Dreams

15. Painted Eyelids

16. Atmospheric Conditions

x

Track List: Mellow Gold

1. Loser

4. Whiskeyclone, Hotel City 1997

5. Soul Suckin Jerk

7. Sweet Sunshine

8. Beercan

9. Steal My Body Home

10. Nitemare Hippy Girl

12. Blackhole

x

Track List: Beck

1. Nausea

x

Track List: Blue Moon (Single)

1. Blue Moon

x

Track List: Defriended (Single)

1. Defriended

x

Track List: Dreams (Single)

1. Dreams

x

Track List: GameBoy Variations (Hell Yes Remix) - EP

1. Ghettochip Malfunction (Hell Yes) (Remix By 8-Bit)

2. Gameboy/Homeboy (Que' Onda Guero) (Remix By 8-Bit)

3. Bad Cartridge (E-Pro) (Remix By Paza Of The X-Dump)

4. Bit Rate Variations In B-Flat (Girl) (Remix By Paza Of The X-Dump)

x

Track List: Gimme (Single)

1. Gimme

x

Track List: I Just Started Hating Some People Today (Single)

1. I Just Started Hating Some People Today

2. Blue Randy

x

Track List: I Won't Be Long (Single)

1. I Won't Be Long

x

Track List: Looking For A Sign (Single)

1. Looking For A Sign

x

Track List: Timebomb (Radio Single)

1. Timebomb

x

Track List: Waking Light (Single)

1. Waking Light

x

Track List: Wave (Single)

1. Wave

Comments

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if my life was a song... this would be pretty damn close. love this song
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tjmiles127
JAM
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amazing
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damn good jam
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hipster is a disease
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Lol
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To whoever wrote the "about the artist" article: Regarding the term "90's hipster", there was no such thing and as person who was in his freshman year of college when Mellow Gold was released, it is offensive to be compared to the hipsters of today.
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I am quite sure you don't want to hear a thang.. Sorry tech support? ❤️❤️ idk help. I share beck!!! AMAzing
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Lost Cause is one of the saddest songs I've heard.
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I remember when loser first came out. I was obsessed! Still love beck as much as I always have.
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The lack of other teenagers in the comments section saddens me. IM THAT ONE ANNOYING GIRL THAT THINKS HER MUSIC TASTE IS THE BEST sorry
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PeePee
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Also my ex-gf was Rob Schnapf's niece, how f**king cool is that
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High 5! More dead than alive!
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Orendaine
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jemanis98
Get crazy with the cheez whiz
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M
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That was a good drum break
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in Spanish class and started singing the Spanish part the teacher joined in! lol
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Never heard of you beck...
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Geezux thats a long bio i only could read half of with my attention span.
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adam_haynes
drive by body pierce
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c'mon mutha f**ker....pu t your clothes on.....c'mon . . . . y a f**kin drunk......
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Love beck (:^)
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Mame this song
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I like it is song it is cool
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Name good songs by Air above please. ^
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Love this song
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I hope he has another album to accompany Dreams. If he does, the day he releases it my mother and I are going to go out and buy the cd! :3
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<3
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roro81210
Love it
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When you read the lyrics to this song your just like wait... What? But then when you listen to it your like wait... Whoa!
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It the time of chimpanzees I was a monkey.... That's when you know this was gonna be good lol
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Crazy with the cheese wise
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Cool song… follow 4 a follow if you like this song! ;)
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One of my favorite songs. ;)
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I'm not sure who writes the artist info, but if you simply look at release dates, "one foot in the grave" was released on K records in 1992, 2 years before "mellow gold" was released in 1994. Not after, as the writer stated.
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Soy un perdedor.... . .
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M
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Beck is bæ
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I agree with you McKenzie. Creative intelligence doesn't travel in one direction. It will ever seek new direction, obstacles aren't seen as such,just another Dead Reckoning, for unexplored agendas to be discovered. Free mind Free
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Am I the onlyone that doesnt like dreams, I guess Im the monkey in the time of chimpanzees
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Perhaps my favorite Beck song.
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In my honest opinion I think the man is very creative and doesn't have a particular sound. It grows and evolves and that's really cool!
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bdaecarr
Dreams is a cool song!!!
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c4irvin
LemonadeMout h
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Beck is genius, no diggity doubt!!!
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⚡️❤️⚡️
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fiiine
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Está chingon , Beck se la rifa. Que onda guero .
Show more

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