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Music

The Foo Fighters song inspired by Britpop

Dave Grohl tends to wear his inspirations for the Foo Fighters on his sleeve: Pixies, Husker Du, Bad Brains, Naked Raygun, and mostly punk-infused acts. Once the band began playing to larger and larger audiences, stadium rock from the likes of Queen and Led Zeppelin began to take over, but Grohl made sure to keep the band’s hard-edged catchiness the primary focus. These days the band has put out records inspired by dance, pop, R&B, go-go, desert rock, and just about any genre under the sun, but they all manage to sound like Foo Fighters songs.

Except a select few. During the recording of 1999’s There Is Nothing Left to Lose, Grohl allowed himself to be influenced by less aggressive music, resulting in a much lighter tone. Songs like ‘Generator’ and ‘Headwires’ were based primarily on 1980s synthpop and new wave, while tracks ‘Aurora’ and ‘Ain’t It the Life’ had a pronounced soft rock feeling that was in stark contrast to the band’s previous output. Surely this was as far removed from the raw punk of the band’s debut as you could get.

But those that had been paying attention since the very beginning would have found a connector to less distortion-heavy sounds. That comes courtesy of ‘Floaty’, the sixth track from Foo Fighters. While sitting down with producer Barrett Jones in outtakes for the documentary series Sonic Highways, Grohl explained how a dreamy acoustic number found its way onto the band’s debut.

“I was really into that band Lush,” Grohl told Jones. “Remember Lush? They had all these really pretty songs, and I found one chord. I was like ‘Wow, if you move it around you can just play everything.’” Taking Lush’s signature mix of dream pop, shoegaze, and Britpop, Grohl layered in his own brand of punk and hard rock to create the dynamic ‘Floaty’.

Grohl pours over a series of outtakes with Jones, all recorded in the months following Kurt Cobain’s suicide in 1994 and Grohl’s own aimless direction in the wake of his friend’s death. Grohl had no deadlines and no expectations, so he was largely messing around with Jones just to entertain each other. There’s a track with a prominent sample from ‘90s crank callers The Jerky Boys, a track about street prostitutes called ‘The Hooker Song’, and a track that prominently features the lyric ‘Watered It Down’, which is isolated by Jones much to Grohl’s embarrassment. 

Check out the early version of ‘Floaty’, plus the finished track as it appears on Foo Fighters, down below.