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Marker, Manson, Erikson and Vig

Garbage are an American Alternative Rock group from Madison, Wisconsin. They basically play alternative rock with heavy pop, electronic, and industrial influences.

Garbage was formed in 1994 by famous Record Producer Butch Vig, known for his work on with famous alternative rock acts like Nirvana (Nevermind), Sonic Youth, The Smashing Pumpkins and L7. Vig took up the position of drummer and brought in some old bandmates and fellow producers, guitarist/keyboardist Steve Marker and bassist Duke Erikson. The lineup was completed with the recruitment of Scottish vocalist Shirley Manson, formerly of alt-rock bands Angelfish and Goodbye Mr. Mackenzie. Their bandname comes from somebody commenting that Vig's remix work sounded "like garbage", a quote frequently attributed to Trent Reznor for some reason.

After gaining a bit of attention through demo tapes, the band signed to Mushroom Records and began to work on its debut, the self-produced Garbage. Released in 1995, its hybrid electronic-alternative-industrial-rock sound was favourably received and quickly gained a large audience, managing to come up with a few hits in the process such as the Stealth Parody (or open parody, really) of grunge angst "Only Happy When It Rains", "Vow" and the Clash-sampling "Stupid Girl" (not the Pink song, though lyrically similar).

For their follow-up, Version 2.0, Garbage continued with the same electro-rock sound but added a denser production, more techno and trip-hop influences and more Ear Worm melodies. 2.0 became another well-received success and gave them a few more hit singles as well, such as the technoey "Push It", the super-heavy Epic Riff-driven "I Think I'm Paranoid", and the ballad "You Look So Fine". Around this time, they were recruited to perform the theme to The World Is Not Enough, on which they worked alongside composer David Arnold.

The band's gravy train slowed down somewhat after The Nineties ended, thanks to record label problems and a mixed reception towards beautifulgarbage that frequently included charges of both They Changed It, Now It Sucks and It's the Same, Now It Sucks, reception that translated into poor sales. They nearly broke up due to intra-band tensions in 2003, but managed to regroup and record another album, Bleed Like Me, which once again suffered a mixed reception but did slightly better on the charts. They went on a hiatus for five years afterwards. Manson announced in October of 2010 that the group had reformed and was working on a fifth album, with plans to tour in 2011.

Their discography as of 2012:

  • Garbage (1995)
  • Version 2.0 (1998)
  • beautifulgarbage (2001)
  • Special Collection (EP, 2002)
  • Bleed Like Me (2005)
  • Absolute Garbage (Greatest Hits Album, 2007)
  • Not Your Kind Of People (2012)


  • Garbage Video (VHS, 1996)
  • Absolute Garbage (DVD, 2007)

Garbage provide examples of the following tropes:

  • Anti-Love Song: "I Hate Love" surprisingly enough.
  • Appropriated Appellation / A Good Name for a Rock Band: Someone told Vig that their new songs were garbage.
  • Awesome McCoolname: "I read that I'd made it up as a mixture of Shirley Temple and Charles Manson - and I wish I had - but, yes, it is my name." (three guesses on how this is Hilarious in Hindsight)
  • Bigger Is Better in Bed: Shirley may or may not believe in this.
  • Bifauxnen/ Bishonen: The "Androgyny" video, which was kind of the point.
  • Black Sheep Hit: "Cherry Lips".
  • The Cameo: Dave Grohl plays drums in "Bad Boyfriend".
  • Concept Video
  • Cover Version: One of their B-sides is an electronic cover of "Thirteen" by Big Star.
    • They've also done the Velvet Underground's "Candy Says".
  • Creepy Child: Shirley Manson's persona is the grown-up version of this.
  • Downer Ending: Every album they ever made throws a depressing ballad at the end: "Milk", "You Look So Fine", "So Like a Rose" and a few others.
    • "Happy Home", the final song on Bleed Like Me, is especially depressing, as the lyrics seem to imply that the song is the narrator's suicide note.
      • Or the band breaking up, as the group were quite open about how, at the time, they didn't know if the band would continue.
    • Now we have "Beloved Freak" closing Not Your Kind of People. (except for the deluxe edition, where closer "Show Me" is far from depressing)
  • Eye Scream: "Blood for Poppies" has Shirley's left eye beling slit open in a shout out to the 1929 film Un Chien Andalou.
  • Fan Service: Oh yeah.
  • Fiery Redhead: Shirley.
  • Hello, Nurse!/ Hospital Hottie: The video for "Bleed Like Me".
  • Hey, It's That Guy!: Shirley Manson is a playable character in Guitar Hero 5 with the song "Only Happy When It Rains" and played Catherine Weaver in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.
  • I Call It Vera
  • Important Haircut: Around the time beautifulgarbage was released, Shirley Manson cut her long red hair short, spiked it and dyed it platinum blonde. Watch the videos for "Cherry Lips" and "Breaking Up the Girl" compared to their others, the difference is quite striking. However, nowadays it's back to the way it was before.
  • Intercourse with You: At least half of Version 2.0[1] are pretty blatantly about sex. "Temptation Waits" and "You Look So Fine" are about sexual attraction, and "When I Grow Up" has references to unprotected sex and "golden showers". "Alien Sex Fiend", "Bad Boyfriend"
  • The Invisible Band: The video for "Cherry Lips", but that's actually a literal example.
  • Keep Circulating the Tapes: The B-sides (one was even a single in the UK). The band even wanted to compilate them in an album, but the sales of their former labels (Almo Sounds and Mushroom Records) prevented this.
  • Kiss of Death: The video for "The World Is Not Enough"- the android Shirley Manson kills people by kissing them.
  • Long Runner Lineup: A very rare Type 1 and Type 3
  • Loudness War: Bleed Like Me's been roundly bashed by audiophiles the world over for its lifeless, dynamic-deficient and horribly clipping sound. A real bad moment considering three of the band members are producers and their previous albums had dynamics despite all the distortion and loudness.
    • It should be noted that this is done in the mixing and mastering phase of production, not the recording phase. It's out of the producer's hands by that point.
    • Bleed Like Me isn't alone. I've analyzed the waveforms for Absolute Garbage and the original album versions and found that AG pretty much deserves to be burned. The album version of "Special" has no clipping, whereas the Absolute Garbage remaster contains three or four dozen instances of clipping.
    • NYKOP" hasn't fared much better in the war either.
  • Lyrical Dissonance: "Cherry Lips", "Bleed Like Me", "I Think I'm Paranoid", "Stupid Girl"
  • Lyrics Video Mismatch: Garbage's "Special" looks like a clip out of Crimson Skies and it has nothing to do with the song.
  • Mind Screw: The video for "Cherry Lips (Go Baby Go!)".
  • Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: Usually ranges from 1 (such as "So Like a Rose" and "You Look so Fine") to 5 (such as "Why Do You Love Me" and "Subhuman"), with a couple songs being a 6 (such as "Vow" and "Battle in Me").
  • Obsession Song: "#1 Crush", "Cup of Coffee", "Vow".
  • Obligatory Bondage Song: "Supervixen". And "Queer". And, well, quite a lot of the first album.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: In the video for "Bleed Like Me", Shirley Manson plays a nurse. In one scene, she breaks into a room, still wearing the uniform with a black mask serving as her only disguise.
  • Playing to The Fetishes: The video for "Androgyny". Quoted from the Fetish Fuel Music page: "It has men who look like attractive women, women who look like attractive men, Shirley Manson wearing a rather sexy outfit that looks like a weird hybrid between suit and a dress, Shirley Manson wearing suspenders and the aforementioned androgynous people, in various states of undress, doing vaguely hinted at things with each other in a tightly-packed environment. Something for everyone, really."
  • Record Producer: The band is always credited for producing its own albums. Of course, in this case "the band" pretty much translates to "Butch, Steve, and Duke", since they were producers to start with.
  • Religion Rant Song: "As Heaven is Wide" is a Type 1.
  • Rhyming with Itself: "Drive You Home"

 Walk on shells tonight/Can't do right tonight

  • Sampling: They used the beat from "Train in Vain" by The Clash for "Stupid Girl". "Don't Worry Baby" was originally sampled for "Push It", but the sample is not present in the final version of the track; Shirley sings the lyrics herself.
    • "Special" samples Pretenders' "Talk of the Town". Chrissie Hynde's lawyers denied the band permission to use the sample, but Shirley got Chrissie on the phone and got Chrissie to write a letter giving the band permission to sample "my music, my lyrics; indeed, my very ass".
  • Self-Deprecation: They admit "Only Happy When it Rains" is a dig on their pechant for darker themes.
  • Signature Song: "#1 Crush" and "Only Happy When it Rains" for the early years, "Cherry Lips" for the later ones.
  • Singing Voice Dissonance: Shirley drops her Scottish accent when she sings.
    • Resulting in a case of Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping in "Stupid Girl", where she pronounces the word "stupid" as "stju-pid" as opposed to the American pronunciation as "stoo-pid."
  • Stalker with a Crush: "#1 Crush".
  • Stupid Statement Dance Mix: A very early example, "I'm Really Into Techno"
  1. "I Think I'm Paranoid", "Hammering in My Head", "Push It", and "Sleep Together"