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Best Third Eye Blind Songs: 10 Rays Of Pop-Rock Sunshine
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List & Guides

Best Third Eye Blind Songs: 10 Rays Of Pop-Rock Sunshine

From The Golden State’s brightest, the best Third Eye Blond songs expertly smuggle dark lyricism into catchy alt-rock tunes with poppy zeal.

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Mixing hip-hop-inspired rhythms with Britrock-style guitar riffs, Californian rockers Third Eye Blind dominated the US charts in the late 90s with sunny pop-rock nuggets of radio-friendly gold. Akin to the bursts of power-pop perfected by Weezer, the best Third Eye Blind songs helped set the scene for emo, with singer Stephan Jenkins’ lyrics – often tackling relationship angst, depression and suicide – neatly disguised within tunes that sounded like upbeat summer bops. With the combined talents of Jenkins, guitarist Kevin Cadogan, bassist Arion Salazar and drummer Brad Hargreaves, Third Eye Blind proved that it was possible to make music that’s lyrically deep and meaningful while still dabbling in melodies that can conquer the pop charts.

Listen to the best of Third Eye Blind here, and check out our best Third Eye Blind songs, below

10: Deep Inside Of You (from ‘Blue’, 1999)

Don’t let the fact that Deep Inside of You was the last single to be released from Third Eye Blind’s second album, Blue, fool you into thinking it can be safely overlooked. With its unashamedly poppy chorus and jangly hooks, this evocative ballad about the breakdown of a relationship peaked at No.69 on the US Hot 100 in October 2000. Obvious sexual innuendos aside, the lyrics hint at the depressive cloud that can descend when the flames of romance start to die out (“Something’s gone, you withdraw and I’m not strong like before I was”).

9: Blinded (When I See You) (from ‘Out Of The Vein’, 2003)

As the lead single from the band’s third album, Out Of The Vein, Blinded (When I See You) mixes the influence of jangle-pop godfathers R.E.M. with the stalker-ish lyrical sensibilities of The Police’s Every Breath You Take. Hitting No.35 on the US Modern Rock Tracks chart, the lyrics see Stephan Jenkins sing about a man who sneaks into his ex-girlfriend’s house and spies on her while she’s getting ready in the bathroom (“I see you fogging up the mirror/Vapor round your body glistens from the shower”). Creepy yet undeniably catchy, it’s one of the best Third Eye Blind songs for burying dark lyrics under cheery pop melodies.

8: 10 Days Late (from ‘Blue’, 1999)

Though it seems unlikely that a song about menstruation would ever become a hit, Third Eye Blind released 10 Days Late as a single in April 2000, proving everybody wrong. Charting at No.21 on Billboard’s Modern Rock Tracks chart, the song tackles the topic of a girlfriend’s late period as a springboard to male angst – but, as always with Stephan Jenkins, there’s a bigger story behind it. “The song is about what goes on in a guy’s mind when faced with an unexpected pregnancy,” the singer told Billboard. “It is ultimately about this one guy’s journey into responsibility.” As one of the best Third Eye Blind songs from Blue, 10 Days Late demonstrated the band’s flair for crafting tremendous pop-rock hooks.

7: Graduate (from ‘Third Eye Blind’, 1997)

Set to a wobbly, see-sawing riff, Third Eye Blind’s 1997 single Graduate sees Stephan Jenkins wondering if he’ll ever get his “punk-ass off the street”, setting the question to a call-and-response refrain (“Can I graduate?”) that echoes his desire to be successful in life. Featured in the 1998 teen romcom Can’t Hardly Wait, starring Jennifer Love Hewitt and Seth Green, the song reached No.26 on the US Mainstream Rock chart and remains a fan favourite during live shows. Fittingly, Stephan Jenkins graduated from University Of California, Berkeley with an English Literature degree. It’s no wonder his lyrics are so acutely observed.

6: Anything (from ‘Blue’, 1999)

Kicking off Blue, the turbo-charged Anything was Third Eye Blind at their most punky and raucous. A No.11 Modern Rock Tracks hit, the song clocks in at under two minutes and sees Stephan Jenkins imploring a love interest with the promise that he’d do literally anything to be by her side again (“A king’s horse for what’s been broken/I’ll bring back even what’s unspoken”). It also sees him spell out the concept behind Third Eye Blind’s sophomore record (“Anything for you/Turn my castles blue”), giving his fans even more of the hyper-emotive pop-rock which characterised many of the best Third Eye Blue songs.

5: Losing A Whole Year (from ‘Third Eye Blind’, 1997)

Opening Third Eye Blind’s self-titled debut album, Losing a Whole Year is a rousing rocker that gives a nod to F Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, with lyrics about an idle rich girl from San Francisco’s Bernal Heights (“I remember you and me used to spend/The whole goddamn day/In bed”). Bassist Arian Salazar considers it one of the best Third Eye Blind songs: “That’s the song that gets me excited every time I hear it, still. Eighty million-gazillion years later,” he said. Peaking at No.13 on the Modern Rock Tracks chart in early 1998, Losing A Whole Year was one of the catchiest alt-rock songs of the late 90s.

4: How’s It Going To Be (from ‘Third Eye Blind’, 1997)

From its beguiling autoharp introduction, How’s It Going To Be seduces the listener as a touching pop-rock ballad that peaked at No.4 on the Billboard Hot 100 – and it ranks just as highly on our list of best Third Eye Blind songs. Ostensibly exploring the aftermath of a romantic relationship, with the song’s narrator caring little for what the future holds, the song ponders “the soft dive of oblivion”. “I think it’s sort of a song about the emotional side of mortality, as played on a zither,” Stephan Jenkins told HBO.

3: Never Let You Go (from ‘Blue’, 1999)

Like many of the songs on Blue, Never Let You Go was reportedly written following songwriter Stephan Jenkins’ split from his actress girlfriend Charlize Theron. Aiming to record a song chock-full of power-pop hooks that would be played to death on the radio to “freak her out”, the single reached No.14 in the US and yet again proved Third Eye Blind’s credentials when it came to bringing some sparkle back to the Hot 100 – even on break-up songs. With a deeper meaning woven into its glittering pop melodies, Never Let You Go sees Jenkins reflect on the ending of his relationship with a shrug of his shoulders (“If there’s a reason, it’s lost on me/Maybe we’ll be friends, I guess we’ll see”).

2: Jumper (from ‘Third Eye Blind’, 1997)

Released as a single in August 1998, Jumper – the fifth and final single from Third Eye Blind’s self-titled debut album – saw the band leap into the alt-rock history books. Taking a stand against homophobia with a manifesto for anti-bullying, the song was, according to Stephan Jenkins, inspired by “a guy who jumped off a bridge and killed himself because he was gay”. An important LGBTQ+ song to this day, Jumper peaked at No.5 in the US thanks to its marching beat and exhortative chorus. “Jumper is really about understanding,” Jenkins told PBS in 2015. “Everyone carries demons around, they carry some sort of scar around. The message of Jumper is that there comes a time when you have to put the past away.”

1: Semi-Charmed Life (from ‘Third Eye Blind’, 1997)

With a perky power-pop melody and its homage to the “doo, doo-doo” refrain from Lou Reed’s Walk On The Wild Side, Third Eye Blind’s debut single, Semi-Charmed Life, remains the band’s signature anthem. From the choppy optimism of Kevin Cadogan’s guitar riff to Stephan Jenkins’s rap-inspired vocal delivery, it’s a bona-fide pop-rock classic with refreshingly intelligent lyrics, though the sunny melody disguises the fact that the song is about addiction to crystal meth. “In terms of the dark lyrics and the catchy tune, I was just messing with whatever the paradigm was,” Stephan Jenkins told Songfacts. “I’ve always had a mischievous nature in that way.” Upon its release, in February 1997, Semi-Charmed Life reached No.3 on the US Hot 100, instantly becoming one of the best Third Eye Blind songs and fully deserving its spot at the top of our list.

Looking for more alt-rock classics? Check out our list of the best 90s songs.

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