The Top 10 Songs by Faith No More

By Scott Morrow
November 10, 2008

Faith No More didn’t revolutionize the rock landscape, but for much of its tenure, its members created some of the genre’s best mainstream songs while courting radio success. Along the way, Mike Patton and crew peppered other styles into their expanding repertoire, wedging lounge sounds, incoherent squeals, and even an angelic choir into songs that ran alongside pummeling rock tunes.

There is a kitschy guilty pleasure to pre-Patton songs such as “We Care a Lot,” but respectfully, they can’t compete. So with apologies to the Chuck Mosely era, here is our list for Faith No More’s best songs.

IN ORDER OF RELEASE / TRACK LISTING:

1. “Epic” (The Real Thing)

Despite being the group’s biggest hit, “Epic” makes the cut mostly due to Jim Martin‘s — what else? — epic guitar work. Keyboardist Roddy Bottum‘s pretty piano outro is memorized by rock fans around the globe.

2. “Surprise! You’re Dead!” (The Real Thing)

One of the group’s most metal creations, “Surprise! You’re Dead!” spends 2:28 ruled by Martin’s speed picking and palm-muted riffs. Patton’s vampiric lyrics further the song’s sinister tone.

3. “Woodpecker from Mars” (The Real Thing)

Though it’s the only instrumental from The Real Thing, “Woodpecker from Mars” stands out for having some of the album’s best melodies, which come via violin keyboard sounds and through an Eastern filter. Martin’s trademark thrash metal gets heads banging.

4. “Midlife Crisis” (Angel Dust)

Faith No More’s first single from Angel Dust marked the death of its slight hair-metal tendencies and gave birth to a darker, more experimental sound. The shadowy, high-contrast, choppy aesthetics for the “Midlife Crisis” video perfectly complement the song, which is highlighted by Bottum’s ambient synth lines and Patton’s vocal overdubs.

5. “Everything’s Ruined” (Angel Dust)

“Everything’s Ruined” is a microcosm of Faith No More’s golden-era synthesis. Bottum’s beautiful minor-key melody sets the tone for Martin’s chugging and perfected solo, Patton’s operatic vocals, bassist Billy Gould‘s rhythmic thumping, and drummer Mike Bordin‘s metronome-like beat keeping.

The song’s amusing video shows the band performing in front of a blue screen, employing a “made in 15 minutes” feel that sharply contrasts the cinematic nature of the video for the next song on this list.

6. “A Small Victory” (Angel Dust)

This epic rock piece is well accompanied by the WWI imagery and slick production of its video. But the real beauty in “A Small Victory” is its ability to maintain a staunch musical direction while incorporating Eastern instruments, chimes, sirens, and an industrial-sounding guitar breakdown.

7. “Get Out” (King for a Day, Fool for a Lifetime)

“Get Out” begins King for a Day… with a ferocity that matches the album’s aggressive numbers and contrasts its forays into previously uncharted waters. The intermittent, tottering riff that begins the song builds steam, and the song crescendos as Patton screams, “I don’t speak that language anymore / my blood is not that color anymore / my blood don’t shine the same way anymore / I cannot deny it anymore.”

8. “Digging the Grave” (King for a Day, Fool for a Lifetime)

The first single from King for a Day… was also one of the band’s best and purest rock efforts. No keyboards here; Bottum doubles up on guitar.

9. “Just a Man” (King for a Day, Fool for a Lifetime)

Patton sings his ass off in “Just a Man,” the powerful, dramatic closer to King for a Day. In addition to his many overdubs, Patton steals the show with his spoken-word breakdown, expounding:

“Man was born to love, though often he has sought / like Icarus, to fly too high / and far too lonely than he ought / to kiss the sun of east and west / and hold the world at his behest / to hold the terrible power, to whom only gods are blessed / but me, I am just a man.” If that weren’t enough, an angelic choir backs Patton as the song reaches its apex.

10. “Stripsearch” (Album of the Year)

Faith No More’s final album was packed with great moments but short on complete songs; however, this one does justice to the group’s catalog, and it has an excellent video to boot. Hinged on dreamy/ominous keyboard sounds and grooving bass lines, “Stripsearch” is an outstanding offering from Album of the Year.

Runners-up:

“From Out of Nowhere” (The Real Thing)
“Edge of the World”
(The Real Thing)
“Land of Sunshine”
(Angel Dust)
“RV”
(Angel Dust)
“Ricochet”
(King for a Day, Fool for a Lifetime)
“Evidence”
(King for a Day, Fool for a Lifetime)
“The Gentle Art of Making Enemies”
(King for a Day, Fool for a Lifetime)
“Star A.D.”
(King for a Day, Fool for a Lifetime)
“Cuckoo for Caca”
(King for a Day, Fool for a Lifetime)
“Collision”
(Album of the Year)
“Naked in Front of the Computer”
(Album of the Year)
“Ashes to Ashes”
(Album of the Year)

Did we leave something out? You can’t believe that “We Care a Lot” didn’t make the list? Let us know below.

By Scott Morrow November 10, 2008
  • Show Comments

  • Rob

    epic has to be one of their worst songs. And it’s sad that it was on vh1’s best one hit wonders. WTF? The only band left in my top 5 that i’ve never seen live.

  • K.

    Am I crazy or is Zombie Eaters NOT ON HERE. WTF!?

    And why isn’t “cuckoo for caca” higher!

    Otherwise, great list! 🙂

  • Danielle

    So many songs left out here…..”Underwater Love”, “The Perfect Crime”, “The Morning After”, “The Cowboy Song”……..

  • K.

    Oh yeah, and I would defend that FNM did revolutionize hard rock, not necessarily in album sales or critical love, but I would say that for, good or ill, FNM has been a major influence on contemporary heavy music from DEP to Disturbed (bleh)

    And some would say that they were a nu metal pioneer, but I don’t like thinking about that too hard.

  • Dave Musto

    I don’t have a problem with the songs on your list, necessarily. I agree with some of the commenters on some omissions. “The Perfect Crime”, “Zombie Eaters”, and “The Cowboy Song”. Ultimately, a top 10 list is too little room to confine the greatness of Faith No More. I would try to make a mix CD version. It would go:
    1. “Collision,”
    2. “Epic,”
    3. “Digging The Grave,”
    4. “From Out Of Nowhere,”
    5. “Midlife Crisis,”
    6. “Falling To Pieces,” (The Real Thing)
    7. “The Perfect Crime,” (Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey)
    8. “Zombie Eaters,” (The Real Thing)
    9. “Last Cup Of Sorrow,” (Album Of The Year)
    10. “Everything’s Ruined,”
    11. “Helpless,” (Album Of The Year)
    12. “The Real Thing,” (The Real Thing)
    13. “Stripsearch,”
    14. “A Small Victory,”
    15. “Just A Man,”

  • Scott Morrow

    Hey, I would have loved to include 20 more songs, but I think that I stretched it with all the runners-up. And dearest Keidra, please note that both lists are in order of release; “Cuckoo for Caca” is definitely one of my favorites. In fact, it was the name of my FNM cover band. Ha!

  • aaron

    you should thank your friends for rocking out to FNM in your car last weekend… i want some credit.

    yeti!
    aaron

  • Dave Hoffa

    You’ve got my jam on there: “Surprise! You’re Dead!”

  • Timmy Front

    That’s a decent list. I think that anyone could make changes based on persoanl taste but pretty solid all around. I would have put “Cuckoo for CaCa” and “Smaller and Smaller” in my top 10.

    Great to not see “We Care Alot” on that list.

  • bobek

    No “Last Cup of Morrow”?

  • Fuller

    Cool list, I’m happy people are still talking about this band, definitely one of my favourites of all time.

    How about the rarities? With Patton they do a wicked version of an old FNM song called As the Worm Turns

    They also do an awesome Al Green one called “Greenfields”.

    AND most importantly who could forget their lounge version of Let’s Lynch the Landlord (Dead Kennedys) and their version of Easy?

    Plus, Caffeine, Land of Sunshine and Smaller and Smaller have always been my favourites from Angel Dust, their best album.

    Anyways, loved it all! Thanks!

  • Fuller

    Just occured to me it might be fun to do a Top 10 list of non-FNM Mike Patton tracks. This is just off the top of my head, in no particular order: (one rule I thought of is only one track per album, to keep the diversity up)

    1) Ma Meeshka Mow Skwoz (Mr. Bungle – Disco Volante)
    What can you say about this? Total classic insanity.

    2) Sweet Charity (Mr Bungle – California)
    Sweet sweet pop melodies and vocal dubs here, just a great
    song, by any standard.

    3) Seule (Kaada and Mike Patton)
    Chillingly sad and lonesome song, a gem on a not so great
    album.

    4) Aquilas (Eyvind Kang – Athlantis)
    Be patient, the end is worth it. Great vocals, chilling.

    5) Flashback / God Hates a Coward (Tomahawk – s/t)
    Can’t choose between these two tracks, two of my all time
    favourite rockers, right up there with FNM.

    6) Capt Midnight (Tomahawk – Mit Gas)
    Again, right up there with FNM. I love the single shot of chorus,
    leaves you wanting more instead of pounding it to death.

    7) Sun Dance (Tomahawk – Anonymous)
    Not sure if this album is popular or not, but it should be. A
    masterpiece as far as I’m concerned. This is a stand-out track
    because of Patton’s full on Native American chanting at the end
    of it. Just amazing.

    8) A Perfect Twist (vocal) (Mike Patton – A Perfect Place)
    A great version of the main theme. Very cool sound.

    9) Fire in the Hole (General Patton vs The X-Ecutioners)
    Awesome tracks, with cool layered chanting vocals that never fail
    to sound cool no matter how often I hear the song.

    10) Godfather (Fantomas – The Director’s Cut)
    Tough to choose this one over all the others, but the theme is
    so classic that it never fails to impress other people who have
    never heard the band before. It’s so well done.

    Who am I kidding, I can’t stop at 10

    11) When Good Dogs Do Bad Things (Dillenger Escape Plan with
    Mike Patton)
    This EP is INSANE, plain and simple. This track almost gives me
    fits because of its intensity.

    12) Mojo (Peeping Tom)
    Not a great album, but I still like this single, and a couple of
    more tracks, a lot.

    13) Ford Mustang (Great Jewish Music – Serge Gainsboro)
    Bit of a rare gem, from Tzadik’s series of releases. Cool and
    funny.

    14) Page 7 (Fantomas – Amenaza al Mundo)
    A short one but the great vocals at the beginning always make
    me laugh, and the ones at the end send a chill up my spine.

    15) 04/02/05 Saturday National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day
    (USA)(Fantomas – Suspended Animation)
    Tough to choose one off here, as there are so many cool
    tracks, but I like this one for the crazy vocals and cool music.

    16) Slowly Growing Deaf (Mr.Bungle – s/t)
    Almost forgot this one! One of the first truly crazy albums I
    ever got into, since I was into FNM’s From Out of Nowhere
    album, I had to pick this one up. Needless to say, I didn’t know
    what I was getting myself into. Loved thsi track immediately.

    Anyways, I’m sure there’s more, but this is all I can manage right now. Any other suggestions?

  • gbowles

    can’t believe you guys put epic on there! so many better songs than that one! if you want to stick with the real thing, I like From Out of Nowhere a lot lot more… or you could just pick the 10 best songs off of Angel Dust and you would have the top 10 right there

  • David Metcalfe

    “Faith No More didn’t revolutionize the rock landscape…” – au contraire, Faith No More gave Patton the public profile he needed to get bands like Secret Chiefs, Mr. Bungle, etc. a foot in the door.

    This also lead to John Zorn becoming more popular outside the New York avant-garde jazz scene and probably upped his sales quite a bit when people who got into Mr. Bungle via Faith No More saw Zorn as producer and started buying his stuff. I believe, Mr. Morrow, that even you were among this group of music patrons.

    Dan the Automator gained more popular appeal by working with Patton, Blur’s Damon Alburn got more credibility by working with Patton/Dan the Automator, Kool Keith gained a wider audience, Dillinger Escape Plan was able to recreate their sound and find new markets, and Gogol Bordello should probably pay Patton royalties for having such a sly long term vision of market penetration since their sound wouldn’t have a market if it wasn’t for Secret Chiefs.

  • MARCUS K

    All you guys left out their best song and one of the greatest songs of all time-Cafeine(Angel Dust). So much variation in that song, the keyboards, the guitar, the drums and of course Mike Pattons vocals. Need I say anymore?

  • Walls

    UH.. Ugly in the Morning and Gentle art of making enemies !!

  • girlscoutheroin

    patton sucks, FNM was WAYYYYYYYYYYY better with the first guy.

    you fail.

    miserably.

  • JoannaT

    WHY IS JIZZLOBBER NOT ON HERE?!?! GAAAH!

  • Scott Morrow

    I’m still trying to figure out whether “girlscoutheroin” — which reads like “girls couth eroin” — is serious.

  • Vell

    This has been one of the most entertaining reads I have enjoyed in a long time.
    And omitting “Malpractice” is either criminal or maybe I just remember it too fondly. Easy to agree that picking 10 is damn near impossible.
    Who else remembers FNM doing From Out of Nowhere on SNL? Great saturday night moment, up there with Talking Heads doing The Artist and

  • Lipton

    This is one of the worst lists I ever seen, Midlife Crisis is no 1 for a start.

  • Jeff

    My list:

    1. From Out of Nowhere
    2. A Small Victory
    3. We Care a Lot 😉
    4. Midlife Crisis
    5. King for a Day
    6. Underwater Love
    7. Caffeine
    8. Smaller and Smaller
    9. Ashes to Ashes
    10. Everything’s Ruined

    🙂

  • Karim

    The song “Epic,” okay it’s pretty cool,the first time you hear it, but it gets old so quickly. I much prefer their cover of Sabbath’s War Pigs. I don’t think Epic is their number 1, they’ve done much better work.

  • Matt Fudge

    Caffeine… The best song of all time.

  • Tech Tip Beetle

    Wow, I’m shocked that The Gentle Art of Making Enemies didn’t place on the top ten and was only a runner up. That song displays who they are nice and neatly both implicitly and explicitly. In any case, other than that it was a good list. Epic needed to be #1 since it was their most well-received song and has stood the test of time.

  • Scott Morrow

    I would just like to reiterate that these were written in order of their release / track listing!

  • fnm fan

    pristina! such a perfect song . home sick home is also one of my favorites .

  • David

    I left out cover songs cause it made it easier also left out Epic just because its the most well known doesn’t make it the best.

    Land Of Sunshine
    Stripsearch
    Evidence
    Midlife Crisis
    Everything’s Ruined
    The Real Thing
    Ashes To Ashes
    What A Day
    A Small Victory
    Falling To Pieces

  • Pumpkin Farmer

    PAttons live rendition of Marc Bowen in the Dload Festival needs to be in the worthy mentions list! 🙂

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