Third Eye Blind are a band that helped to define the 90s rock sound, and then stuck around and continued to evolve and make good music in the decades that followed. Formed in San Francisco in 1993, it took them a few years to get things moving, but once they found a home at Elektra Records in 1996 it was off to the races.
Their self-titled debut album was released in 1997 and it is filled with back-to-back hits that dominate this list of the best Third Eye Blind songs.
1999 saw the commendable follow-up album, Blue, but not long after its release founding member Kevin Cadogan was fired by the band, and the following years were rocky for them.
Led by the exceptional songwriter Stephan Jenkins, Third Eye Blind have released some compelling material after those first two albums, but nothing that has matched their success.
The strength of Third Eye Blind is their ability to mesh pop arrangements with dark lyrical subject matter. During a light listen, you might not realize the true meaning of the lyrics, because the catchy music has your attention instead.
This is true of all their biggest hits, but the band also has many lesser known gems that are more straightforward about their dark lyrical content, matching it with a similarly emotional arrangement.
In this list, you will see both their catchy hits and some of their lesser known, touching and dark songs.
So without further ado, let’s dive into our rankings for the best Third Eye Blind songs.
10. “About to Break” (Ursa Major, 2009)
To start off our list we have one of Third Eye Blind’s later releases, “About to Break”, off their 2009 album Ursa Major. This song may be lesser known in the catalog, but all you have to do it turn it up loud and wait for the big drop after the gentle buildup in the verses and you’ll understand why it deserves a spot on this list.
9. “Crystal Baller” (Out of the Vein, 2003)
“Crystal Baller” is a banger off Third Eye Blind’s 2003 album Out of the Vein that has many elements of their earlier hits. It has a pop-rock, driving arrangement with lyrics about desire and uncertainty in a relationship.
Not quite as dark of a theme as you’ll find in other places on this list, in “Crystal Baller” Jenkins sings about how he wants to be the crystal ball that shows his lover how the relationship ends.
8. “God of Wine” (Third Eye Blind, 1997)
“God of Wine” is the tear-jerking closer to Third Eye Blind. The song depicts how alcoholism and addiction can tear apart a relationship, and focuses on the disconnect from reality that comes with the desire to numb your pain with substances.
You can truly feel the pain in Stephan’s voice, and if this one catches you in the right (or wrong) mood, you may find yourself with a sudden chill as your mind goes deep down the rabbit hole.
7. “The Background” (Third Eye Blind, 1997)
Another gripping emotional song from Third Eye Blind is “The Background”, which deals with the experience of loss and the inability to let go. The relationship may have ended, but Jenkins carries around the memory of his lover, and it haunts him every day.
There is another thread in this song that suggests what happened in this relationship may be more than just a breakup, as the lyrics make reference to a hospital. Perhaps death was the cause of this ending, and Jenkins is dealing with a grief that cannot be resolved by reconciliation.
This song should come with a trigger warning for anybody who is heartbroken, because it is almost certain to make you cry if you’re feeling some type of way.
6. “Graduate” (Third Eye Blind, 1997)
“Graduate” brings us back to the banger department, with one of the most energetic songs in the Third Eye Blind discography. As the second single from their debut album, this song deals with wanting to grow up and “Graduate” from the less than ideal phase you’re currently stuck in.
5. “Slow Motion” (A Collection, 2006)
“Slow Motion” is an interesting one, and it certainly takes the cake for the darkest Third Eye Blind song. Initially planned for release on 1999’s Blue, the lyrics were deemed too controversial to make the album, so the band recorded an instrumental version that closed out the record instead.
Years later, in 2006, Third Eye Blind released a greatest hits compilation called A Collection, and included the version of “Slow Motion” with lyrics. The song depicts suburban degeneracy, drug addiction and domestic violence, from the perspective of a narrator who is perverted enough to find it beautiful.
We find the song beautiful, that’s for sure. So maybe this narrator was onto something…
4. “Motorcycle Drive By” (Third Eye Blind, 1997)
Peak Third Eye Blind catharsis comes from “Motorcycle Drive By” off their debut. Not released as a single, this song is sandwiched between “The Background” and “God of Wine”, and takes us on a ride that is deserving of the title.
It starts out slow, with a cruise that gradually builds until the band steps on the gas pedal around the two minute mark, with a passionate crescendo that offers listeners the emotional release they’re looking for.
3. “How’s It Going To Be” (Third Eye Blind, 1997)
This sweet-sounding, nostalgic tune was the third single from Third Eye Blind and is one of the band’s most popular and memorable songs. “Hows It Going To Be” looks back on the end of a relationship, that is beyond needing to end, and wonders how things will be after the pair become strangers.
While the arrangement is mostly soft and easygoing, the relationship that Jenkins describes is tumultuous and chaotic, thus drawing a contrast between the singer’s optimistic hopes and the grim reality of the situation.
2. “Jumper” (Third Eye Blind, 1997)
The final single from Third Eye Blind, “Jumper” is one of the best examples of the band’s signature sound. “Jumper” is nothing but catchy and upbeat, yet the lyrics are plainly about suicide.
Suicide is a difficult topic to approach, as it is something that many people simply would prefer not to think about. By creating a song on the subject that was set to an irresistible melody, Third Eye Blind were able to broach the difficult topic of mental health in a way that was accessible to the masses.
1. “Semi-Charmed Life” (Third Eye Blind, 1997)
“Semi-Charmed Life” is the song that made Third Eye Blind famous. As the lead single from their massively successful debut album, this song is about crystal meth addiction and it was a number four hit in the USA, taking the radio by storm in the summer of 1997.
With a melody that’s as addicting as the drug that controls the life of the song’s narrator, “Semi-Charmed Life” defined the sound of Third Eye Blind and became one of the most memorable songs of the late 90s. It’s mercilessly catchy, and it takes a close listen to decipher the song’s true meaning.
It becomes exceptionally clear once you hear Jenkin’s belt the line, “doing crystal meth will lift you up until you break!”