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Soundgarden is a Seattle Grunge/Alternative Metal band formed in The Eighties and popular in The Nineties. Their name comes from a sculpture in Seattle, "A Sound Garden". The band was recognized as one of The Big Four of Grunge (along with Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains), though they didn't become successful until the genre fully took off with the release of Nirvana's Nevermind and Pearl Jam's Ten. Their 1994 album Superunknown is considered a masterpiece of the movement.
The group broke up in 1997 due to internal conflict, leaving Cornell to form the Supergroup Audioslave with the former members of Rage Against the Machine, and later a solo career with polarizing results. Cornell also co-wrote You Know My Name with David Arnold for the James Bond film Casino Royale. He's also headed in a more pop/hip-hop-oriented direction recently, causing much backlash among the fanbase. Cameron currently drums for Pearl Jam, and has since the Yield tour (he wasn't involved with the Temple of the Dog reunion mentioned below). Thayil played with Jello Biafra and Krist Novoselic as the "No WTO Combo" after the Seattle riots of November 1999, and has contributed to Dave Grohl (ex-Nirvana, current Foo Fighters)'s side-project Probot.
Rumours of a possible reunion are circulating after the band appeared together for the first time in years at Pearl Jam's 4-Night Stand performance (this was also the first Temple of the Dog reunion in years when Cornell joined Pearl Jam on-stage to perform "Hunger Strike").
As of January 2010, Cornell has officially announced through his website that "The Knights of the Sound Table ride again" and are reportedly working on a new album.
- Chris Cornell: Vocals; previously played drums until the band hired Scott Sundquist to play drums, allowing him to focus on just singing. He also contributed rhythm guitar to their songs later.
- Kim Thayil: Lead Guitar
- Ben Shepherd: Bass; replaced Hiro Yamamoto in 1989.
- Matt Cameron: Drums; replaced Sundquist.
- Screaming Life EP (1987)
- Fopp EP (1987)
- These two were later compiled into Screaming Life/Fopp in 1990.
- Ultramega OK (1988), the debut they weren't very happy with, thanks to recording outside of Seattle with an outside producer (Drew Canulette) instead of Jack Endino (famous for working with every grunge band, ever, at the start).
Cornell: With Ultramega OK we really liked the songs on that record but we were disappointed in the production.
- Louder Than Love (1989), a somewhat less stressful recording in spite of Hiro Yamamoto's isolation and eventual departure. Received good reviews but sank on the charts due to distribution problems and Moral Guardians throwing a hissy fit over "Big Dumb Sex" and slapping it with a Parental Advisory sticker. This and their next album were produced by Terry Date.
- Loudest Love EP (1990)
- Badmotorfinger (1991), marks the debut of Shepherd and is their first really successful album thanks to being synchronized with the Grunge explosion of the same year.
- Satanoscillatemymetallicsonatas (1992), released as a special edition second disc of Badmotorfinger sold only during Lollapalooza tour, 1992.
- Superunknown (1994), the band's breakthrough and biggest success, going straight to #1 on the charts. Contains their biggest hits and Signature Songs "Black Hole Sun" and "Spoonman". Cornell didn't like working with producer Michael Beinhorn because of his obsession with capturing the perfect sounds (commenting that by the time they had recorded a song they'd already rehearsed it to death), but admitted the sound created by him and engineer Brendan O'Brien played a part in the album's success.
- Songs From the Superunknown EP (1995)
- Down on the Upside (1996), their last album. This time Soundgarden opted to self-produce to avoid the tediously slow frustration of Superunknown. It didn't have anywhere near the same impact as their predecessor but was reasonably well-received.
- A-sides (1997), a greatest hits album rushed out after the band disbanded.
- Telephantasm (2010), another greatest hits album, including some unreleased songs. The two-disc version features all of their videos.
- Live on I-5 (2011), a collection of live tracks from a 1996 tour, and a few covers.
Soundgarden provides examples of:
- Album Title Drop
- Badass Beard: Kim Thayil's ZZ Top Beard
- Black Sheep Hit: Count how many tropes there are for "Black Hole Sun"...
- Cluster F Bomb:
- The chorus of "Big Dumb Sex": "Heeeey, I know what to do! I'm gonna fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck you!"
- The chorus of "Ty Cobb" uses "Hard-headed, fuck you all!" repeatedly.
- Common Time: They use it rather less frequently than might be expected.
- Crucified Hero Shot: "Jesus Christ Pose"
- Defictionalization: Pearl Jam's bassist Jeff Ament created a made-up set list for the Fake Band in Singles, and Cornell decided to pen songs to match each title. One of those was "Spoonman" (which even has an early version in the movie).
- Eldritch Abomination: Featured in the video for "Black Rain".
- Everything Is an Instrument: "Spoonman." Take a guess. Based on a Seattle musician, Artis the Spoonman.
- Green Aesop: "Hands All Over"
- Humongous Mecha: The band pilots a strange version of one in the video for "Black Rain"
- Impaled Palm: The crucified woman in the video of "Jesus Christ Pose".
- Important Haircut: Cornell cutting his hair.
- Intercourse with You: "Big Dumb Sex", a parody of such lyrics present in Hair Metal (unfortunately, it became popular with them anyway due to Guns N' Roses).
- I Read That As: Superunknown's title came from Cornell misreading a VHS cover titled "Superclown".
- Lyrical Dissonance
- Metal Scream: Cornell, in his prime, had a four-octave range, making him one of the most versatile singers in rock music. One of these abilities was his famous belting-style choruses.
"Save me... with your HA-A-A-A-ANDS!"
- His roar at the end of "Jesus Christ Pose" and the prechoruses and choruses of "Slaves and Bulldozers" have to be heard to be believed.
- Let's also not overlook the verses of "Superunknown".
"If this isn't making SEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEENNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNSE, that doesn't make it LIIIIIIIIIIIIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEESSSSSSS"
- New Sound Album: With Superunknown, the band took on more psychedelic influences and a more accessible sound.
- Nightmare Fuel/Surreal Music Video: The highly notable video to "Black Hole Sun" featuring a Stepford Suburbia filled with Stepford Smilers whose faces twist and contort (using Visual Compression) to form Massive Grins and gigantic eyes. As you can imagine, this quickly crosses far into Uncanny Valley. Eventually, as the lyric goes ("till you all just disappear"), the world of the video gets sucked up into a literal Black Hole during a storm.
- Nose Yodeling: On occasion, though not as much as other Grunge acts. Usually it's when Ben Shepherd sings.
- Number of the Beast: Parodied and played with in "665" and "667", including a Subliminal Seduction about Santa Claus (as opposed to metal bands singing about Satan).
- Performance Video: "Flower", "Hands All Over", "Loud Love", "Outshined", "Rusty Cage", "My Wave", "Fell on Black Days"
- Pop Star Composer
- Portmanteau: The band's name, and the albums Badmotorfinger, and Superunknown (which manages to make a quadruple "S" portmanteau: Soundgarden - Superunknown, "Superunknown", "Spoonman").
- Precision F-Strike:
- Signature Song: "Black Hole Sun"
- Surreal Music Video: "Jesus Christ Pose"
- Title Track: Superunknown is the only straight example.
- Uncommon Time: The band claims that most of their examples of this ("Rusty Cage", "Spoonman", etc. etc. etc.) were actually accidental — for example, they didn't realize that the verses in "Spoonman" were in 7/4 until they were done writing the song. The explanation was that they just went along with Cameron's grooves without consciously thinking about what time signatures they were in.
- Walking Shirtless Scene: Cornell pre-Superunknown.
- Word Salad Lyrics