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Top 20 best Minnesota musicians: #10-1

Top 20 best Minnesota musicians: #10-1

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10. Babes in Toyland
Origin: Minneapolis | Active: 1987-2001 | Songs: "Bruise Violet" and "Sweet 69
Kat Bjelland is one of the nastiest female vocalists, period. Although the woman who adeptly howled, growled, screeched, and cooed through the band's three studio albums was a transplant from Oregon, Babes in Toyland's sludgy punk was born here in the Twin Cities. In the early- to mid-'90s, Bjelland and co. helped launch the trend of pairing babydoll dresses and Doc Martens, and really there was no more apt attire for the Babes' subversive anthems. This band was so badass that they kicked Courtney Love out of it, and Beavis and Butthead were admittedly huge fans. -Reed Fischer

Top 20 best Minnesota musicians: #10-1

9. Hüsker Dü
Origin: St. Paul | Active 1979-1987 | Song: "Makes No Sense At All"
Hüsker Dü perfectly captured the raw energy and restless urgency of the Twin Cities in the '80s, churning out one boozy, blistering anthem for the underused after another. Infighting and drug abuse didn't keep the trio from recording some truly memorable thrash albums, and their shambolic live shows added to their growing local mystique. While their less abrasive later material would help lay the groundwork for the alternative scene that would follow in the '90s,Zen Arcade and New Day Rising were potent and tempestuous. -Erik Thompson

Top 20 best Minnesota musicians: #10-1

8. Information Society
Origin: St. Paul | Active: 1982-1997, 2006-present | Songs: "What's on Your Mind (Pure Energy)," "Peace & Love, Inc.," and "Walking Away
If Depeche Mode had spent more time listening to Kurtis Blow, maybe they'd have beaten Information Society to the punch. Seeded in mastermind Kurt Harland's Macalaster College dorm room, this sample-heavy new wave act proved to be a local blue light special on truth, and fueled countless retro dance parties since the mid-'80s. The sheer fact that a clip of Leonard Nimoy uttering, "Pure energy," lifted from an episode of Star Trek made it into the band's calling card hit shows that this rotating cast of synth-pop provocateurs weren't playing by anyone else's rules. -Reed Fischer

Top 20 best Minnesota musicians: #10-1

7. The Time
Origin: Minneapolis | Active: 1981-1985, 1990-1991, 1995-present | "Cool," "Jungle Love," and "Jerk Out"
"You all want to learn a new dance?" Morris Day boastfully asked his audience during the classic track "The Bird." Who knew that generations later we would still wouldn't be too fat to fly? Originally another creative outlet for Prince and his compulsive songwriting, the Time ended up being a touring rival of the purple one, and one of the most entertaining bands this city has seen. Numerous artists have sampled or covered Time songs over the years to much success. Plus you have Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, who made the careers of Janet Jackson, the S.O.S Band, and even Kevin Garnett. - Lars Larson

 

Top 20 best Minnesota musicians: #10-1

6. Atmosphere
Origin: Minneapolis | Years Active: 1989-present | Song: "Trying to Find a Balance"
Atmosphere is the Prince of his decade. Now that your coffee is spilled on your pants and your jaw is at your collar, let me explain. Slug and the Purple One don't have much in common on the sonic front, but both have come to embody our region to an obnoxious degree. You know the drill, Minnesotans. You're on vacation, you strike up a conversation with a native who finds out you're from Minneapolis. You either get asked about Prince, snow, or Atmosphere. Having now successfully pulled the Rhymesayers brand up from their own bootstraps, Slug and Ant are now free to take the rest-of-career victory lap that comes with being living legends. It's a luxury that puts many great artists' noses in the air. But something tells us Atmosphere's will stay closer to the grindstone. -Mark Brenden

Top 20 best Minnesota musicians: #10-1

5. The Suburbs
Origin: Minneapolis | Active: 1977-1987 | Song: "Love Is the Law"
Has Minnesota ever produced a cooler bunch of guys than the Suburbs? Probably not. The 'Burbs were stylish, a little offbeat, and had personality to spare. You couldn't help but want to be like them, but then again, that was easier said than done: Between Beej Chaney, resident wild man, and Bruce Allen, the not-so-secret secret weapon, the 'Burbs encapsulated everything great about the Minneapolis Sound, from middle-finger punk rock to chic New Wave dance beats. That was never clearer than on Love Is the Law, their career-defining credo and the album that, in an ideal world, should rightfully have made them stars. -Jeff Gage

Top 20 best Minnesota musicians: #10-1

4. The Replacements

Origin: Minneapolis | Active: 1979-1991 | Songs: "Color Me Impressed" and "Bastards of Young"

List-making be damned! We all know who we'd cheer for the hardest, and when it comes to the Replacements, that's all that ever mattered. "Beautiful losers" doesn't tell the half of it; these four street rats were sloppy, crass, sometimes downright stupid, and invariably at their best when they came unglued. Paul Westerberg may have fixed the band's heart firmly on his sleeve, but it was Bob Stinson's loose-cannon behavior that warmed its soul. The 'Mats made getting shitfaced in public an art form, their piece de resistance a bratty, but endearing, style of self-sabotage. They never made it to the big time, but that's probably for the better. If they had, they wouldn't be ours to cheer for. -Jeff Gage

 

Top 20 best Minnesota musicians: #10-1

3. The Andrews Sisters
Origin: Minneapolis | Active: 1925-1967 | Songs: "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B," "Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree," and "Bei Mir Bist Du Schön"
For anyone under the age of 65, it might be a surprise to see this group make it to the top three. But back when swing and boogie-woogie ruled the airwaves, the Andrews Sisters were bigger than Destiny's Child. Over the course of their squabble-ridden career, the three-part harmonies by

Top 20 best Minnesota musicians: #10-1

2. Bob Dylan
Origin: Born in Duluth, raised in Hibbing | Active: 1962-present | Song: "Like a Rolling Stone," "Tangled Up in Blue," and "The Times They Are a-Changin'"
No other musician born in Minnesota has had Bob Dylan's enduring cultural impact

Top 20 best Minnesota musicians: #10-1

1. Prince
Origin: Minneapolis | Active: 1976-present | Songs: "Purple Rain," "Kiss," "When Doves Cry," and "Little Red Corvette" (blocked on YouTube) 
Prince Rogers Nelson was "born" in Minneapolis, but he's actually a space alien. Simply put, there has never been a showman quite like him on this earth, and his adventurous blend of soul, funk, and blues (and eventually hip-hop) is worthy of that unpronounceable symbol he briefly adopted in the '90s. Adventurous albums like Sign o' the Times and Diamonds and Pearls smashed innumerable social and artistic taboos for the mainstream, and showed this guy didn't ever want to get pinned down -- unless, perhaps, in the bedroom. Prince built a purple empire here with Paisley Park, taught us what it means to be purified in the waters of Lake Minnetonka, wrote the ultimate doomsday song ("1999") and then topped himself ("Let's Go Crazy"), and put on the best Super Bowl halftime show of all time. Have you listened to Prince today?  
-Reed Fischer


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