August 23rd, 2011

Celebrity Grunge Playlist No. 1: TAYLOR MOMSEN

Eighteen-year-old Taylor Momsen, who played 
Jenny Humphrey on the first four seasons of Gossip Girl, recently announced she’s quitting acting to dedicate her full attention to her band the Pretty Reckless. A self-described “massive Chris Cornell fan,” the rock provocateur shared her list of Top 10 grunge songs (in no particular order), with this caveat: “I’m talking ’90s bands, ‘cause grunge doesn’t really have a definition. It’s rock without the cheese, I guess.”

Listen to Taylor’s playlist at Spotify.

1. Nirvana - “Heart-Shaped Box”
"All Nirvana songs are awesome, but this one in particular I’ve loved forever. The lyrics are so great. Not every song has lyrics about ‘meat-eating orchids.’”

2. Alice in Chains - “Rooster”
"An awesome song. No, I don’t know the backstory [about guitarist Jerry Cantrell’s father and his Vietnam experiences]—I’m not ‘that guy’ who can tell you about that. I just like the song and the lyrics."

3. Soundgarden - “Jesus Christ Pose”
"Chris Cornell at his finest. The vocals are just insane. We play this backstage before we go on—it gets us revved up.”

4. Rage Against the Machine - “Killing in the Name”
"This song has got one of the most amazing intros ever. You know it’s coming—its force is coming."

5. Smashing Pumpkins - “Disarm”
"The production is great. The lyrics are great. The song is really well-written. It’s close to a masterpiece."

6. Soundgarden - “Like Suicide”
"It’s about a bird hitting a window and dying. It’s so amazingly written and about something so simple."

7. Neil Young - “Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)”
ts not technically from the grunge era, but he’s known as the godfather of grunge. I’m a massive Neil Young fan. He doesn’t write a bad song.”

8. Pearl Jam - “Alive”
"It’s about a guy whose dad is dead and another guy’s pretending to be his dad. I think it’s dark, somber, though I can see how people would think of it as uplifting. It’s like ‘Born in the U.S.A.,’ which is actually a protest song, but people think it’s an uplifting anthem."

9. Temple of the Dog - “Hunger Strike”
"One of the best songs ever written. The lyric about ‘farming babies’—that’s a great line, it says so much. And the very end, when Chris Cornell and Eddie Vedder’s voices come together, is great."

10. Nine Inch Nails - “Hurt”
"It’s a song I wish I wrote. It’s a succinct, simple idea—about pain—done so well. And the Johnny Cash version is amazing, too."

Stay tuned for next week’s grunge playlist: Community/The Soup funnyman Joel McHale! Everybody Loves Our Town: An Oral History of Grunge purchase info here.

May 11th, 2011

EXCLUSIVE! Taylor Momsen on getting dropped from Gossip Girl: “I’m fucking free!”

I just interviewed 17-year-old Gossip Girl star/Pretty Reckless singer Taylor Momsen about her favorite grunge songs for a new celebrity playlist feature that will be debuting on this Tumblr soon. While I had Taylor on the phone, I figured I’d ask her about yesterday’s report that after four seasons playing Jenny Humphrey on Gossip Girl she’s been dropped as a series regular.

"I’m not commenting on that yet, but I’m going to,” said Taylor, who’s made no secret of the fact that she prefers rocking over acting and only appeared in a handful of Gossip Girl episodes in season four. “But I’m free, I will say that much. I’m fucking free! [Laughs.] I guess that was a comment, technically, so that’s my comment: I’m fucking free!”

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Official Tumblr for Everybody Loves Our Town: An Oral History of Grunge, a Time magazine book of the year. (Now in paperback; purchase info here.) The blog is run by the author, freelance writer/editor Mark Yarm; he is of no relation to Mark Arm of Mudhoney.