Every word I said was true and that you'll see
How could it be I'm the only one who sees
Your rehearsed insanity? Yeah
I still refused all the methods you abused
It's alright if you're confused, let me be
I've been around all the pawns you've gagged and bound
They'll come back and knock you down and I'll be free
Originally intended as a one-off side project, the album garnered a ton of support from popular artists such as Tom Petty and Eddie Vedder, leading Grohl to hire a full band out of former Nirvana tour guitarist Pat Smear and the bassist and drummer from the recently disbanded Sunny Day Real Estate. The album had three successful singles, "Big Me", "This Is A Call", and "I'll Stick Around", along with "For All the Cows" in Europe, and the radio-only "Alone + Easy Target".
A lot of the songs feature nonsensical lyrics, disparate song style shifts, and even minimalist 8-track recording. Grohl has stated that this was intentional, since he mostly recorded these songs to help himself get through the depression he felt after Kurt Cobain's suicide. While the songs do resemble Nirvana's style, Grohl did things that set himself apart from Cobain's songwriting such as double- or quadruple-tracking his vocals, adding happier tunes such as "Big Me" or "Floaty", and introducing Punk Rock influences, as heard in the songs "X-Static" and "Wattershed".
The album was a commercial hit, going Platinum in the United States and United Kingdom. It peaked at #3 on the Official Charts Company album chart. While the singles didn't qualify for the Billboard Hot 100 due to Billboard's rules at the time regarding non-commercial singles, "Big Me" hit #13 on the Billboard Hot 100 Airplay chart. All three US singles hit the Top 10 of the Alternative chart, and all four UK singles were Top 40 hits on the UK Pop chart, with "This Is a Call" peaking at #5.
Foo Fighters became extremely popular thanks to its humble beginnings, and it allowed the band to continue to carry on Cobain's legacy through his influence. It was even nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Rock Album, and it lost to MTV Unplugged in New York, Nirvana's acoustic album released the previous year, which Grohl and Krist Novoselic accepted on Cobain's behalf.
- "This Is A Call" (3:53)
- "I'll Stick Around" (3:52)
- "Big Me" (2:12)
- "Alone + Easy Target" (4:05)
- "Good Grief" (4:01)
- "Floaty" (4:30)
- "Weenie Beenie" (2:46)
- "Oh, George" (3:00)
- "For All the Cows" (3:30)
- "X-Static" (4:13)
- "Wattershed" (2:16)
- "Exhausted" (5:45)
Japanese Bonus Tracks:
These tracks were later featured on the EP 00959525, released in 2020.
- "Winnebago" (4:13)
- "Podunk" (3:04)
- "How I Miss You" (4:54)
- "Ozone" (4:16)
Well, I troped about it, let it out, never was it true:
- Author Vocabulary Calendar: Or maybe just about anything Dave Grohl saw he made sure to include in the lyrics."Have you ever seen the lyrics to the first record? They're so dumb. They're so bad. For the most part if was nonsense. 'This Is A Call'? 'Fingernails and Minicine'? Minicine is a fucking acne medicine!"
- Bland-Name Product: "Footos: the Fresh Fighter", the satire of Mentos in the music video for "Big Me", is one of the most memorable ad parodies of The '90s.
- Break the Haughty: "Big Me" is about how Grohl's new wife would keep him humble when his ego would get the best of him. (the less we think about how they broke up during the following album, the better)
- Break Up Song: "X-Static" seems to be about a breakup and being unable to reconcile with a partner.
- Buffy Speak: Overlaps with Limited Lyrics Song in that most verses, particularly in "This Is a Call" and "Alone + Easy Target", are effectively repeated with slight variations and nonsensical lyrics. From "This Is a Call":Them balloons are pretty big
And say they should
Ever fall to ground
Call the magic marker
- Cover Version: The B-side "Ozone" is a cover of an Ace Frehley song.
- Dual-Meaning Chorus: "Alone + Easy Target" references the refrain, "I'm alone and I'm an easy target", indicating that there are two conflicting identities with which narrator struggles in the song.
- Functional Addict: "Weenie Beenie", amid the screaming verses, seem to reference this.I'm molasses hung in rent
Read a sponsor one shot no post-show
Tear it off, but not a lot, it's not enough to debate
As if you blame real and stagnate
- Grief Song: While the album as a whole counts, given Dave wanted to record the songs to escape his post-Nirvana depression, the songs themselves aren't straight examples given only four, none too sad to fit the trope, were written after the disbandment: "This Is a Call", "I'll Stick Around", "X-Static" and "Wattershed".
- Grunge: This has a lot more grunge elements than subsequent Foo Fighters albums. The songs "I'll Stick Around," "Weenie Beenie," "Wattershed," and "Exhausted" are prime examples, as they wouldn't sound out of place on a Nirvana album, minus Dave's vocals.
- I Am the Band: Grohl did all but one guitar part, and named the record "Foo Fighters" to make it seem like it was a group effort.
- Indecipherable Lyrics: Pretty much every song, but the worst offender is "Weenie Beenie" given the vocals are distorted and modulated.
- In the Style of:
- Most of the songs are based on Kurt Cobain's minimal, unpolished style. This caused some critics to assert that Dave Grohl was band-wagoning off of Nirvana's fame, despite the fact that this wasn't the case at all.
- "Wattershed" is an homage to Mike Watt of Minutemen, with a Punk Rock style similar to that of Minutemen.
- Last Note Nightmare: "Exhausted", the final track on the album proper, has an ear-shattering, two-minute long distorted guitar note held down.
- Lead Drummer: This album took many people by surprise, since no one expected Dave Grohl to have songwriting chops that could rival those of Kurt Cobain. Tom Petty even invited Grohl to drum for The Heartbreakers full time after a concert with him, though he decided to instead endorse the Foo Fighters after Grohl told about it.
- Longest Song Goes Last: The main album ends with "Exhausted", the only song that breaks the 5-minute mark.
- Love Will Lead You Back: The B-side "How I Miss You" in particular seems to reference this:If you're leaving
Come back soon
That's not easy to say
I'll wait here
Dream of you
All alone as I ache
- Metal Scream: Dave has a few moments of the screaming he would master in the next albums, such as the chorus and Title Drop of "I'll Stick Around". Songs that run on this are "Wattershed" and "Weenie Beenie".
- Mood Whiplash: The album's entire tracklist can be seen as making prominent use of this, since it was constructed without a specific trajectory in mind.
- The first three songs are most frequently cited under the trope, from the moderate "This Is a Call", the intense "I'll Stick Around", to the Surprisingly Gentle Song "Big Me" (which in turn is followed by "Alone + Easy Target", another intense song).
- "Floaty," the softest song on the album besides "Big Me," is followed by "Weenie Beenie," which can be considered the album's heaviest song.
- Non-Appearing Title: "Weenie Beenie" and "Oh, George". Counting the B-sides, "Podunk".
- The Not-Remix: "Winnebago" originally appeared on a cassette tape Grohl recorded as a one-time deal in 1992. He re-recorded the song for the Foo Fighters album, but it ended up being a B-Side exclusive to the album's Japanese release and the 2020 EP 00959525.
- One-Word Title: "Floaty", "Wattershed", "Exhausted", "Winnebago", "Podunk" and "Ozone".
- Phrase Salad Lyrics: "Winnebago" has a bunch of conjoined phrases that don't seem to make sense in any context together, but appear to reference a "Well Done, Son" Guy who seeks approval.
- Ray Gun: The Buck Rogers gun on the cover, which fits the science-fiction theme raised by the title of the album/band Foo Fighters (a reference to UFOs and other phenomena World War II pilots would see).
- Self-Backing Vocalist: Not only Dave is the only singer, but his voice is doubled and at points quadrupled given he didn't feel secure about it.
- Shout-Out: The title of "Wattershed" is spelled this way as an homage to Mike Watt, who invited Dave to play in one of his albums and was even the opening act of the Foo Fighters' first tour.
- Silly Love Songs: "Big Me". It was so sunny and calm compared to Nirvana's songs that Grohl made the video a spoof of the Mentos commercials, which is supposed to represent the "ridiculously candy-coated pop tune".
- Special Guest:
- The aforementioned solo on "X-Static" was done by Greg Dulli of The Afghan Whigs, a friend of Grohl's who was visiting the studio.
- "How I Miss You", even if not as straight an example (it was an old recording, not done in the Foo Fighters sessions), has Dave's sister Lisa playing bass.
- Stock Rhymes: "For All the Cows" plays this up:I'm called a cow
I'm not about to blow it now
For all the cows
It's funny how
All to browse
And be endowed
- Surprisingly Gentle Song: "Big Me", "Floaty" and "For All the Cows". If the B-sides are included,"How I Miss You" counts too.
- Surreal Music Video: "I'll Stick Around", intentionally. The band wanted a Devo feel, and hired Jerry Casale to direct because who better to imitate his band? Grohl even went so far as to suggest that the video feature a bloated female heroin addict in order to represent Courtney Love, but management stepped in and sampled some stock scientific images (of an HIV virus, no less).
- Take That!: "I'll Stick Around" was written about Courtney Love and her ongoing dispute with Nirvana's management about releasing demos or unreleased songs from Cobain's archives. Grohl confirmed it years later in 2009 in an interview with Paul Brannigan.Grohl: "I've denied it for fifteen years, but I'm finally coming out and saying it. Read the fucking words!
- Three Chords and the Truth: The sound is fast-paced and punk-like as the band would only sporadically do in the following two albums (One by One went for heavier things).
- Title Drop: Happens in most tracks, even if "Alone + Easy Target" is "I'm alone and I'm an easy target", "Floaty" doesn't use the exact word (only "floats" and "float"), and "X-Static" is "All the static".
- Verbed Title: "Floaty", which references the reiterated "He floats/she floats/we float/they float" lyrics throughout the song.
- Wanderlust Song: "Oh, George" seems to be about those wanting to escape their old lives, opening right away with leaving on a train.
- Word Salad Lyrics: A lot of the lyrics were written on-the-spot or ad-libbed, which explains the often nonsensical lyrics such as "Fingernails are pretty, fingernails are good, seems that all they ever wanted was a marker".