I would, as Claire said in Monday’s post, like to say these are not, repeat, absolutely not my favorite 90’s songs. I do like a few of them, but generally they’re songs that I had forgotten existed and occasionally wished I had never remembered.
“Flagpole Sitta” by Harvey Danger
That is definitely not true for this song. I loved it when I was in middle school, and hearing it again now is awesome. It has everything you want from a 90’s song: too-blunt counter-culture references (“publish zines and rage against machines”), intensely self-conscious lyrics, and just enough distortion pedal with a little too much feedback. The video is also fantastically hilarious. It’s also got that 90’s sense of rebellion and naiveté – they’re angry about something but don’t have the wherewithal and age and experience to be righteously angry. This is also called being a teenager.
“The Way” by Fastball
Man, I forgot just how annoying this song is. We get it, you like sweep arpeggios. If you’re not a classical guitar master or Mark Knopfler, we don’t need to hear you do it every two seconds. But this song had an odd reaction on the radio: I heard it on both the top 40 station in Baltimore (that being Mix 106.5, back when they wouldn’t play anyone with too much melanin) and the “alternative” station (either HFS or DC101). I’m not sure what made it appealing to both sets…it’s not that good.
“Scream” by Michael and Janet Jackson
Jesus, this one is a blast from the past. This came out a little after the first round of sex abuse scandals, remember? It was a musical response, and obviously an attempt to have a family circle-the-wagons moment. “I support you, brother,” says Janet, “Maybe we should do a really creepy and weird and almost incestuous song and video together to show the world how normal we both are?” “Oh Janet, you always know what to say to cheer me up. You even did your nose up like mine!”
“You Always Get What You Give” by The New Radicals
The video is halfway to the next Fox special: When Flash Mobs Go Wrong. It could also be, When Pop Singers Think They’re Way Cooler Than They Actually Are, and Would Never Be Accepted By The Groups of People They Have Dancing Around In This Video. (Maybe Fiona Apple named that show.) Despite that, I rather like this song. It’s pretty dumb but it’s fun in spite of itself. And I have a soft spot for one hit wonder bands….mostly because I’d love to be one.
“Scatman (Ski Ba Bop Ba Dop Bop)” by Scatman John
This is one of those songs that gets stuck in your head for days, for so long that you think you may kill yourself from the annoyance, but once it’s gone, you almost miss it. You’ll never admit to yourself that you like this song – mostly because it’s just god-awful – but you do. At least, I do. I don’t consider it a guilty pleasure because I hate the song, but there’s something about it that I find so endearingly hilarious that I never stop myself from putting it on at a party. Doing that tells you a few things about the party-goers: Those who dance to the song have no problem looking like an idiot or are drunk (or both) or have seen Baseketball and loved it or will dance to anything (or all three!). Those who walk off the dance floor muttering under their breath about killing the DJ are fools, fools who don’t know the simple pleasure of the Scatman. Side note: Maybe this was a case of faulty association, but I always thought Scatman John was black. Evidentially he’s not.