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The ‘90s and ‘00s were huge decades for alternative rock bands influenced by reggae and ska – it was the soundtrack to my adolescence, but some bands were more memorable than others.
One of my absolute favorites was 311 – they always had a new trick up their sleeve, never focusing on a single genre too heavily and mixing it up with every new track.
The band was first formed in 1988 in Omaha NE, so they’ve been making music for well over 30 years now. With thirteen studio albums and a ton of epic music videos, I recently decided to revisit the band’s back catalog and break down the 21 best 311 songs in my opinion.
If you’re looking to get to know the band or simply want to join me on my nostalgic journey, read on to find out the tracks that I chose.
Here is my list of the best 311 songs of all time!
List of the Best 311 Songs
The first track on this list simply had to be Amber – it’s one of those tunes that everybody seems to know, yet nobody can put their finger on who performed it. The song really reminds me of a cooler and more down-to-earth version of Peter Andre’s reggae classic Mysterious Girl – even the video follows a similar kind of vibe.
Someday I plan to take a nice beach holiday like the bandmates in the music video, sit by the beach, and relax to the sound of this track.
As I mentioned in my introduction, 311 has always kept things interesting and versatile. Just take a look at the contrast between the last track and Down.
This track, released in 1995, is a little bit heavier and ridiculously ahead of its time in my opinion. It combines hard rock, DJing, and hip-hop vocals in a way that is synonymous with nu-metal, yet 311 were making tunes like this before nu-metal giants!
Down has got to be one of the best 311 songs in my books – I just love the vocals, you just instantly know it’s 311 playing!
3. Beautiful Disaster
Ska-rock, alternative rock, and nu-metal were all huge genres in 1997 when 311 released Beautiful Disaster, yet something about the band really stands out amongst the crowd. I was trying to put my finger on it earlier, and I think it comes down to two things – Nick Hexum’s uniquely harmonic vocal style, and the guitar scales being used.
Ultimately that all comes down to melody and harmony, it’s like the band invented their own tuning or something. Very cool stuff, it comes across as very euphoric and exotic to my ears.
4. Love Song
Next on my list of the best 311 songs is Love Song, and the sound of this track could not reflect the name any better.
The band threw away the nu-metal riffs and the metallic snare drum for this one, going for something even more chilled than Amber (if that’s even possible!). This is a very slow, romantic, and smooth ballad, glistening with Santana-esq guitar solos and a sensational music video to go along with it.
If I could go back in time, I’d have learned this song on the guitar and played it at parties to impress the ladies!
5. Reggae Got Soul
In case you hadn’t already noticed, 311 love reggae – so much in fact that they made possible THE most reggae track I have ever heard, Reggae Got Soul. In fact, this track is so synonymous with reggae and surf vibes that it was written specifically to be included in the major animated motion picture film ‘Surfs Up’.
I couldn’t think of a better song to be included in this movie, it fits the vibe absolutely perfectly.
6. All Mixed Up
Moving away from motion picture soundtracks, let’s have a listen to one of the best 311 songs, All Mixed Up. This track features the band’s signature ska guitar strumming patterns in the verses, but what really stands out is Nick Hexum’s outstanding vocal performance throughout the track.
Some might call it cultural appropriation, but I call it musical genius! The Jamaican-style vocal clearly flows off his tongue naturally, and the bass guitar riffs accompany it beautifully in a similarly Jamaican-dub style. Brilliant.
7. 8:16 A.M.
Next up is the oldest track by 311 that has been mentioned so far, 8:16 A.M. It’s featured on the album Grassroots which was recorded back in 1993, and was supposedly intended to have a ‘muddy tone’.
Hmm, that kind of sounds like a textbook excuse for bad production, but I’ll let them off as the composition totally makes up for it.
It has a really unusual jazzy style, almost sounding like elevator music. The more I listen to it, the more I’m astounded by the complexity of the jazz riffs and chord progression, very impressive stuff.
8. I’ll Be Here Awhile
Remember when every rock band in the early ’00s seemed to be going crazy with the CGI in their music videos? 311 was no exception to this trend, with the bonus music video for I’ll Be Here Awhile clearly having a pretty high CGI budget.
I never saw this video at the time, so it’s great to experience it with a fresh mindset exactly 20 years later. It’s a great track too, featuring typically chilled vibes, a relatively fast ska-style for the band, and gorgeous vocal harmonies as always.
Absolutely one of the best 311 songs of the ‘00s.
Next up I’ve chosen Champagne from the 2001 album From Chaos. The band was clearly going visual-mad this year because the artwork for this album really is something.
There are some really nice jazz influences thrown in on this track, particularly in the guitar progressions and organ accompaniment. I particularly like the way that for chilled tracks like this, the band leaves out the DJ scratching and throws in some psychedelic synthesizer oscillations. Very cool stuff.
10. Come Original
We’re about halfway through this list now, so it’s time to mention what is easily one of the best 311 songs and in my opinion, THE best – Come Original.
I absolutely love this track – it fills me with pure nostalgia when I listen to it as I used to listen to it on repeat, over and over every day after school. It’s catchy as hell and features a little bit of everything that I love about this band.
We’re talking reggae, hip-hop, nu-metal riffs, vocal harmonies, DJ scratches – it’s the holy grail of 311 tracks if you ask me!
11. Good Feeling
Skipping forward a couple of decades, this next track named Good Feeling is what I like to call a ‘grower, not a shower’.
The first time I heard it I was not happy to hear it – it was a poppy musical style that I’d never have expected from 311, even featuring a beach-house lead synth. Do you know what though, I gave it a good chance and refused to discard it as a ‘sell-out’ track, and I simply cannot stop playing it.
Always give new songs a good chance, because there’s a high chance they’ll become your new favorites!
12. Creatures (For a While)
Wow, what the heck just happened? It felt like we just time traveled from the early ’00s to the present day, so let’s take a step back to 2003 and recover.
Creatures (For a While) is yet another one of the best 311 songs from this era, featuring grunge riffs, ska breakdowns, and just about every vocal style the band ever explored.
The music video is really cool too – it’s one of those classic live-show videos, another trend all the nu-metal bands were doing at the time. 311 pulled it off best though!
13. Use of Time
I literally can’t think of a better use of my time than kicking back on the sofa and reminiscing about the best 311 songs like Use of Time… see what I did there?
Puns aside, this track is one of the more serious numbers by the band, with an opening section that holds similarities to the melancholic nu-metal of bands like Deftones. This obviously doesn’t last long though as this is 311 we’re talking about, quickly breaking into a ska-rock bridge and a euphoric chorus.
It’s certainly one of their more unique tracks, listen to it for yourself!
14. Sunset in July
That 2019 track Good Feeling that we checked out earlier definitely felt a bit like culture shock, but 311’s ’10s hit Sunset in July feels a lot closer to home.
You can definitely hear the higher production over their earlier tunes, but nothing has changed in terms of the style. It’s catchy and euphoric, the genres are all over the place, and I love it.
Seriously – take a listen to this now and tell me that you don’t have the chorus stuck in your head for the rest of the day!
15. Too Much To Think
Continuing on with some of the best 311 songs from the late ’00s, I’ve chosen Too Much To Think. This has got to be the highest budget 311 production that I’ve experienced – the music video is shot with some very fancy cameras and the music sounds glossy and poppy.
It’s a great track, but I have to say that it sounds like Nick Hexum’s vocals sound very different from the old-school stuff – that is until the breakdown before the last chorus!
16. Self Esteem
Whilst my favorite 311 tracks definitely tend towards the early ’00s stuff, the band’s 2018 cover of The Offspring’s Self Esteem has to be in my top five overall. The Offspring was another one of my favorite bands back when I was first listening to 311, so to hear their punk classic be covered in 2018 is just glorious.
Fun fact, this track was released on the same day as when The Offspring released a cover of 311’s Down. What a heartwarming collaboration!
17. Don’t Tread On Me
In 2005, 311 released their eighth album Don’t Tread on Me, and the first single of the same name is easily one of the best 311 tracks on my list.
There’s definitely a noticeable change in the vocals of this track – I’m not sure what it is exactly, but it just sounds a bit more tight and professional. I wonder whether Nick Hexum paid for some vocal training for this album… regardless, it sounds just as good as his old vocal style.
18. Friday Afternoon
Everybody loves a Friday Afternoon, and in 2014, 311 made a gorgeous soundtrack to the best day of the week on their album STERE0LITHIC.
I noticed that around this early ’00s period, the band began to experiment with a more atmospheric, spacey, and experimental sound in places. Just listen to that drop around the one-minute mark, it’s super interesting stuff.
I absolutely love this track – it’s slow, trippy, heavy yet soft. It’s a really beautiful juxtaposition from a beautiful band.
19. Don’t Stay Home
For the last couple of years, it’s been a smart decision to stay at home and avoid going out and about, but 311 had different advice back in 1995 with their wicked track Don’t Stay Home.
It’s a really unique track that encouraged everyone to get outside and enjoy the world during a time when video games and TV were taking over the great outdoors.
A really lovely lyrical concept accompanied by a typically wacky mish-mash of genres from 311, brilliant.
20. Space and Time
Remember earlier when I mentioned that I felt like 311 got a little bit obsessed with trippy, spacey vibes somewhere during the ’10s? It’s almost as if the band thought “what did 311 sound like back in the day”, and then tried to explore it further through their lyrics and music videos in the ’10s.
Regardless of what happened there, I absolutely love it, and their track Space and Time is easily the best example. Nothing has really changed musically though – it’s still just as catchy, chilled, and genre-defying as anything before.
21. Whiskey and Wine
I can’t believe I’ve reached the end of this list of the best 311 songs already – I felt like I was just getting started. It’s been a pleasure to reminisce over one of my favorite bands of my adolescence, so let’s finish things off with something really good – Whiskey and Wine from 2005.
This track is by far one of the most chilled songs by the band, there’s something very soulful, organic, and natural about it. Honestly, it makes me want to shed a tear a little, it sounds like the band had so much fun when recording it.
A 10/10 band, really.
Alex is a man of many talents. He’s been playing music since he was young, and has been the main content writer at Tone Start for the past few years. Alex loves to play around with different styles of music and enjoys listening to anything from country to classical.
Wednesday 18th of May 2022
I love this list!!
Wednesday 13th of July 2022
Love Song is a cover, originally done The Cure. You should check it out. It is pretty faithful to the original.
Friday 8th of October 2021
This is probably one of the worst lists of 311 songs ever. Reggae Got Soul at 5?? ONE Transistor song? Did you just load up 311's top YouTube songs? This is bad.
Friday 8th of October 2021
I appreciate the response Dilemma. What other songs did I miss out on that should be added to this list? I'm happy to include songs that have not been added yet.
Thursday 7th of October 2021
This list is pure shit. Did you just go to Wikipedia and look up all their radio singles?
Friday 8th of October 2021
Thanks for the comment, but please keep in mind that everyone is entitled to their own opinion. There are a few songs written by 311 that I have not listened to, which is why they have not been included on this list. As a 311 fan, would you be able to tell me what songs you would have chosen?
Thursday 7th of October 2021
Nice list, but I think it needs “Sever” added to it and several others from their “Transistor” album. Also, the lead singer’s name is “Nick” Hexum, not “Alex”.
Thursday 7th of October 2021
Thank you for bringing this to my attention Nick. I was working on this article late at night, so I must have missed that!