Grunge, Post-Grunge, Alternative, and Hard Rock – Candlebox have been labeled as all of these at one point or another. This band came out of Seattle at a time when anyone who hold a tune was getting a record deal. But this is a band that stood out for fusing multiple styles into one cohesive sound.
Candlebox’s first album was an incredible debut release full of energy and passion, as is so often the case. They followed it up with two more in the 90s before that decade closed the door on their style of music. So, what are the Top 10 Candlebox songs that they put out from that period until today? I’ve got my list!
Candlebox Band History
This band got started in Seattle, Washington, in 1990. Yes, right in the middle of the so-called “Grunge movement.” But were they a Grunge band? While they shared elements of Grunge Music (like using heavy distortion, detuned guitars, and angsty lyrics), this isn’t all they did. They also blended sounds from Blues, Rock, Glam, and Metal whenever it suited them.
Candlebox has seen quite a few line-up changes over their 30+ year history…
The only consistent member of the band is lead singer Kevin Martin, and that has helped keep a consistent sound, at least to the vocals. He was originally joined by Peter Klett on guitar, Bardi Martin on bass, and Scott Mercado on drums.
This line-up released the first full-length Candlebox self-titled album, which was tremendously successful. Candlebox sold over four million copies and got to the #7 position in the album charts. The band got tons of attention and quickly started to book tour dates.
In 1995, they followed up with Lucy, but this album wasn’t nearly the hit their debut had been. 1998’s Happy Pills rounded off the band’s trilogy of 90s albums and featured drumming by ex-Pearl Jam drummer Dave Krusen. The album had some great songs but didn’t perform well.
Musical tastes were also shifting…
And the band started to feel the strain. Bardi Martin and Dave Krusen left to be replaced by Rob Redick and Shannon Larkin, respectively. Then the band officially split up in 2000.
In 2006, however, an upcoming “Best Of” album inspired the latest and original members to reunite and tour. They’ve released four new albums since then, the most recent, Wolves, in 2021. The project is now Kevin Martin with all new members. But there’s still a lot of the classic Candlebox sound left in it.
Top 10 Candlebox Songs
“Far Behind” (1993)
I’ll just come out and say it. The very best Candlebox album was, hands down, their 1993 self-titled debut record. This album saw the band expressing their musical vision openly at a time when Seattle could do no wrong.
So, it’s no surprise that 6 of the songs from my list of Candlebox’s Top 10 songs come from this release alone. The first to mention is widely regarded as Candlebox’s best song of all time.
I’m talking, of course, of “Far Behind”…
The song got to #18 on the Hot 100 charts and is one of the band’s most memorable songs. It’s all about dealing with the tragedy of two friends of singer Kevin Martin who died, one of which was Mother Love Bone’s Andrew Wood, who died from a heroin overdose.
This is definitely a Rock song, with a great beat and wavering, distorted guitars. Martin’s voice comes off strong and clear on this track, pointing to his great singing talent.
“Cover Me” (1993)
Next up on our list, “Cover Me” is one of Candlebox’s most complex songs. There’s almost a Glam Rock, big hair power ballad feeling about it, especially with the initial interplay of acoustic and electric guitar sections.
But halfway through, this song starts to rock hard with a flaming solo courtesy of Peter Klett. And that lets you know that this is a modern Rock band taking their inspiration from all over the musical map.
There has been a lot of speculation on what this song is about. What is covering this broken man as he stumbles through such a difficult life? Some think a good friend or partner who can always take care of him. Others say it’s a song about a humbling relationship with god. And, still, others think it’s about the unbearable weight of drug addiction. Or, perhaps it’s just whatever you hear in it.
“Change” is another one of my favorite Candlebox songs and one I think is well-deserving of a place in the Top 10 Candlebox songs. This song has an energy that comes screaming out of nowhere. The verse is slow and quiet, with the guitar tone making it almost sound like you’re listening underwater.
But then the chorus explodes in a gritty, heavy Rock blast. And, in the middle, there’s a superb bridge, almost a jam section where the band really lays it down. This song isn’t talking about Sam Cooke’s kind of social change.
It’s a song about a relationship, and the change that’s coming is the axe that’s going to fall. The song reads like a warning from the singer to his partner that he’s about to leave.
The song “You” seems to have predicted the major sounds of 2000s Nu Metal, without the rap, that is. You’ve got a cool 6/8 beat with staccato guitar and bass over top in the verses. Then, the chorus rocks with the bass going heavy and the guitar screaming.
This is a strong, rocking song that’s all about drug use. The song comes from Kevin Martin’s experiences with drug addiction and beating it when he was 18. But, it’s sung to other addicts, telling them he understands and pities them. He also needs them to leave him alone because he’s done with that life and refuses to get dragged back down into it.
Candlebox can do a slow jam. Well, at least, for part of a song. But that change in dynamics is what makes them awesome. “Blossom” starts light and trippy. The beat is slow and basic. The bass sails around, and the guitar plays jangly finger-picked arpeggios. And the vocals are light, too. But, of course, they can’t resist blowing it up into a hard rocking, drum-slamming explosion.
Kevin Martin sings about love slipping away in this song, which is about a partner “blossoming” and growing apart from him. So, there’s love here but also some sadness, anger, and even desperation. And also, a screaming guitar solo to knock your socks off.
The last song from the 1993 debut album Candlebox is also the bluesiest. And, maybe, the coolest. This is “Rain,” which, of course, evokes tears and sadness. You know, the Blues!
This is a song about a lover leaving and wondering where she will go. The band starts with a slow, traditional Blues treatment with this song, and it’s amazing how well Kevin Martin’s voice works in this genre. And Peter Klett’s guitar, for that matter. He gives us an incredible Blues solo after the first chorus.
But that’s not all that’s going on here. There’s a big, double-time hard Blues-Rock section, and a smooth, fast section, too. The whole thing works so perfectly, especially for a band that’s not normally known for playing the Blues.
“Best Friend” (1995)
Candlebox followed up their incredible debut with a passable sophomore album. This was 1995’s Lucy, which just didn’t seem to have the same punch as the previous album. However, one song from this album stands out and deserves a place in the Top 10 songs by Candlebox. This is “Best Friend,” one heck of a rocker from this new album.
This song represents a real change in direction for the band. The song is fast and powerful. It’s Alt-Rock bordering on a Punk sound, definitely leaving Grunge behind. It’s also very fun and sweet, with Martin singing to a partner who is also his very best friend.
“Happy Pills” (1998)
The band gave it one more try in the 90s with their 3rd major label release, Happy Pills. The title track for this album was big and full of power and a lot of metal elements. The drums by Dave Krusen are heavy and very creative. The bass is deep and driving. The guitar is at times chugging, at times screechy and dark, creating an interesting texture in this song.
And we can’t forget the vocals…
Kevin Martin’s voice is high and soaring here. It reminds me of Rush, (perhaps not) coincidentally a band they toured with in the early 90s. But there’s still some early Candlebox to be found in the melody of the chorus.
“Sometimes’ also comes from 1998’s Happy Pills. But this is a very different type of song. Furthermore, it’s different from anything Candlebox had done before. This is a quiet, soft song that’s pure and nice. It has a sadness to it, but also a beauty that’s hard to ignore.
This is a song about the trials of life, love, and relationships. It’s the band saying that sometimes things don’t go the way you planned, but things still work out. This song features Martin with some of his best vocal work, and Klett playing the perfect guitar part every time.
“A Kiss Before” (2008)
One more song before we go? How about “A Kiss Before” from the 2008 reunion album Into the Sun? This song is pretty close to the band’s original sound but produced with much better quality. The sound is hard-edged but not as heavy as Happy Pills. The guitar work sounds like it did on their first album, and so does Kevin Martin’s voice.
This is a very powerful song with intense music. And the lyrics are just as intense. This is a song about hitting rock bottom and trying to go on, but knowing you probably won’t; that’s why it asks for just one more kiss before…
Looking For More Great Music From The 90s and 2000s?
If so, check out our thoughts on the Best Counting Crows Songs of All Time, the Best Barenaked Ladies Songs of All Time, the Top Staind Songs of All Time, the Best 3 Doors Down Songs, the Best 90s Rock Songs, and the Best 90s Rock Bands for more incredible song selections.
Also, you’ll need to hear those tunes. So, have a look at our reviews of the Best Headphones for Music, the Best Headphones For Rock & Metal Music, the Best Headphones Under $200, the Best Sound Quality Earbuds, the Best iPhone Earbuds, and the Best Cheap Earbuds Under $100 you can buy in 2023.
The Top 10 Candlebox Songs of All Time
Candlebox saw big success with the release of their 1993 debut album. They made a huge splash, and then the ripples slowly faded away. But that was more to do with changes in popular music than the band itself. If anything, they got better and tighter over time. But their glory period was definitely the mid-90s.
While they never had the massive hits that other Seattle bands did, they went their own way. They experimented with all sorts of styles and showed themselves to be exceptionally talented musicians and songwriters. So, while singer Kevin Martin is the only original member left on the project, I hope we’ll continue to hear more of the distinct Candlebox sound in years to come.
Until next time, enjoy the music.