This review was originally published in the December 1998 issue of Spin. On the occasion of our list of best alt-rock songs of 1998, we’re republishing it here.
Anybody got a problem with “Iris”? If so, woe betide you. The Goo Goo Dolls’ breakthrough movie anthem set an industry record as most-played single on multiple formats in any given week since stats this horrifying have been kept. “Iris” was the Dolls’s invitation to the Ball, transforming ten-year-old Buffalo road dogs into alt-rock Cinderellas overnight. And what happens to heart-sleeve punks when they become players? Having watched their evil stepsisters, the Replacements, try and fail to fit their eccentricities into the square hole of success, the Dolls prove more amenable: Dizzy Up the Girl is a marketing department’s dream, this year’s Soul Asylum with the edges filed off its power pop and metalloid stomp. The Dolls’ passionate ordinariness, once their charm, is an all-too-evident limitation here—all the more so when singer/guitarist (and burgeoning hearthrob) Johnny Rzeznik feels the moment upon him and attempts dead-beat wisdom (“See the young man sittin’ in the old man’s bar / Waitin’ for his turn to die”). In the hands of modest talents, melancholy turns colicky instead.