Hello, and welcome to my blog post for “Throwback Thursday 90s Week – Part Two.”
Let me start off by saying how hard it was to actually narrow down the list of 90s songs I had to just the 17 songs that made this playlist. I have so many favourites from the decade, many of which there wasn’t room for in the two hours allotted for our show Throwback Thursday. But, I hope that you enjoy the songs that I finally picked! Without further ado, I bring you my thoughts on the 17 songs I choose from the 1990’s (plus some spiffy fun facts!)
All Star – Smash Mouth
Smash Mouth’s “All Star” is a song that I felt would be the perfect start to a playlist about music from childhood, specifically music of the 90’s. For me, this is one of those songs that I hold close to my heart. It is also one of those songs that I don’t openly admit to having on my IPod, but totally do and avidly still know all of the words, despite being almost 20 years old now. The reason I say I harbor a secret love for this song is the fact that it is undeniably cheesy, one of those songs that became popular simply because of the fact that it is a feel good song, one with a chorus that everyone can sing along to, even if you don’t know the rest of the words.
I grew up hearing this song everywhere. In school, fellow classmates would sing this song while mimicking the “L” shape on their forehead. And even after the 90s came and went I still found myself hearing this song at sporting events and school functions. “All Star” was a standard for junior high pep band – one I always secretly looked forward to playing.
Fun Fact: On July 11, 2006, this was played to wake up the crew of the Space Shuttle Discovery.
All The Small Things – Blink 182
I can’t say that I remember when I first heard this song, but I do remember hearing it on the radio whenever I got in the car to go to elementary and middle school. “All The Small Things” was one of those songs that frequented the radio, and it is easy to see why. While considered a pop hit, it also has elements of alternative, with a heavy guitar part and the punk voice of lead singer Tom Delonge.
I love this song because it has that punk/alternative aspect to it, something that I gravitated towards when it came to 90’s music. I also love it because it has such a catchy chorus – who doesn’t love a good na,na,na,na,na,na?
Fun Fact: Lead singer Tom DeLonge wrote “All The Small Things” as an ode to his then girlfriend (now wife) and the Ramones. He included the ‘”na, na, na’s” specifically as a dedication to the Ramones.
Blue (Da Ba Dee) – Eiffel 65
Now, this song, I cannot say enough about this song. This was the “Gangnam Style” of my childhood. I remember when I first heard this song; my dad pulled up the video for it on the computer. And fun fact: the video was not hosted on YouTube, for YouTube wasn’t invented until 2005 (wow, I feel so old now). For me, the thing I remember was seeing the music video, something which was amazing to me, even though when I look back at the computer when had then I can’t help but realise what a dinosaur it was. From the moment I saw the music video, I was hooked on the song – I couldn’t get enough of ‘da ba dee, da ba di.’ To this day, “Blue (Da Be Dee)” still makes me reminisce… and dance.
Fun Fact: The vocals on “Blue (Da Ba Dee)” were distorted using a device called a vocoder. The vocoder is still used today, one of the most notable examples being by the musical duo Daft Punk.
Every Morning – Sugar Ray
Ah, good ol’ Sugar Ray. For some reason, after finding out the lead singer Mark McGrath was the guy from the 2002 Scooby-Doo movie, I just can’t listen to any Sugar Ray song without picturing McGrath’s crazy spiked hair. Anyway, onto the song!
“Every Morning” was definitely one of the most popular songs during my childhood. It was on the radio all the time, people sung it school, and I even admit to having one of those Now That’s What I Call Music CDs and playing “Every Morning” on repeat to learn the lyrics. For me, it was the guitar that really sold me. The melody at the beginning has a ‘feel good’ air about it and it’s catchy. I also really like that it shows how genres started to be experimented with in the 90s. Although it is considered a pop song, “Every Morning” has elements of early 90s rap, hip-hop, rock, and an almost Spanish feel to the guitar.
Fun Fact: The ‘scratching’ or spinning record sound was actually recorded by a DJ Homicide, along with the lines “Shut the door baby, don’t say a word.” DJ Homicide is a professional DJ who, apart from working with Sugar Ray, works independently at nightclubs across the United States.
How Bizarre – OMC
The only thing I can say about this song is that it never failed to make me dance in my seat, bobbing head included. It just has so many fun elements worked into one song. The lead singer Pauly Fuemana’s voice has a unique sound and that combined with the backing female vocals, wicked trumpet, solid harmonica, and gentle guitar make for a great song.
Fun Fact: The band’s name OMC actually is an abbreviation of the full name, Otara Millionaires Club. Otara is a suburb of Auckland, New Zealand – the homeland of OMC.
Bonus Fun Fact! : THIS BAND IS FROM NEW ZEALAND = MIDDLE EARTH (what! What!)
Super Bonus Fun Fact! : New Zealand natives are called Kiwis.
I Want It That Way – Backstreet Boys
What can I say? This song is one of the songs that essentially defined the 90s. Although I became much more of an NSYNC girl than a Backstreet Boys girl, this was my first boyband song that I feel in love with. Nearly every girl in my grade had a favourite Backstreet Boy and whenever this song played, no one failed to sing along.
Fun Fact: This song was actually parodied in Blink-182’s music video for “All The Small Things”
Bonus Fun Fact! : On August 19, 2011, China’s Ministry of Culture released a list of 100 songs that were required to be removed from the Internet – “I Want it That Way” was one of those songs.
MMMBop – Hanson
This song is definitely in the top of songs I secretly have on my IPod. It’s just so catchy! Besides that, I don’t really know why I liked it so much. I still, to this day, don’t know any of the words besides the ‘mmmbop.’
Fun Fact: This song was originally record and released as a ballad – that’s right, a ballad.
Bonus Fun Fact! : This song was nominated for two, that’s right two Grammys. (Why, you ask? Because 90s.)
Never Let You Go – Third Eye Blind
This was actually a hard pick for me. Why? Because Third Eye Blind was the bomb in the 90s! I had three or four of their songs on here and had to cut it back to just one. So, I picked “Never Let You Go.” I think that this song is one a good example of the types or genres of songs I gravitated toward during the 90s. I liked the prominence of guitar matched with an alternative feel. It also has a bit of a hip-hop feel toward the end when the lead singer Stephan Jenkins goes into a more free-style, spoken form of singing.
Fun Fact: “Never Let You Go” spent three weeks as #1 in Canada (pretty good, eh?)
One Week – Barenaked Ladies
So, I have to admit something. The Barenaked Ladies (giggles) is one of my favourite bands that came out of the 90s. They are, to me, a band that produces a lot of feel good and funny songs, and I think those descriptors can definitely be used to describe “One Week.” Apart from the upbeat nature of the music, it is the lyrics that I have always loved about this song, even when I was little and didn’t quite get all of the pop culture references (like Leann Rimes being mentioned at one point). The lyrics are, when you really listen to them, quite funny – Aquaman makes an appearance as well as Harrison Ford, X-Files and Snickers, “guaranteed to satisfy.” So, if you haven’t Googled the lyrics, you definitely should! It will make you smile and maybe appreciate the comical nature of the song (and perhaps of most of the Barenaked Ladies songs).
The other part I love about this song is the fast pace of the words. I made it my goal when I was younger to try to learn all of the lyrics and to then be able to sing them even half as fast as lead singer Steven Page – more times than not resulting in fumbled words, a twisted tongue, and snorts of laughter.
Fun Fact: The song includes a total of 12 pop culture references.
Real World – Matchbook 20
This was one of the songs that frequented the radio when I was younger. There are three main factors that make this a winner for me: guitar, lyrics, and Rob Thomas. The dominant presence of guitar, as you may have noticed, is something I like in a song (I have always been a sucker for guitar, from soft acoustic to the classic rock of Led Zeppelin). The lyrics are some of my favourite lyrics from the 90s. In “Real World,” the protagonist of the song imagines himself in different scenarios as a way to escape the reality of the world. Listening to this song now, being a student in college and not a kid in the 90s, I relate even more to this song – At times, the ‘real world’ can feel colossal, like the whole of the world is on your shoulders. Sometimes a little escape from the weight is just what one needs, whether it is imagining oneself as a superhero or a rainmaker. My third factor is the lead singer, Rob Thomas. Why? I just like Rob Thomas – his voice is smooth but also rough…I dunno, I just dig it.
Fun Fact: The music video for “Real World” starts with lead singer Rob Thomas walking through a bowling alley with a camel (a camel!).
Roll To Me – Del Amitri
“Roll To Me” is one of those songs that is fun to sing. It is upbeat and has fun, running lyrics to sing to. Two things I really like about this song are the break from the main melody (which features castanets in the background) and also how the lyrics “Roll to Me” play on the music; the way the lyrics are sung give the illusion that they are literally ‘rolling.’
Fun Fact: The song was featured in the 1996 remake of Flipper (the one where Frodo Baggins befriends a dolphin)
Bonus Fun Fact: This song came out the year I was born (woot! Woot! )
Run-Around – Blues Traveler
Blues Traveler is another of my all-time favourite bands from the 90s. They have upbeat songs, with good lyrics and instrumentation, plus a great lead singer John Popper. When I had to choose a Blues Traveler song for this playlist, it was a toss-up between “Hook” and “Run-Around.” But, I have always had a fancy for “Run-Around.” The lyrics are good, the vocal is ‘on point,’ and the best part, in my opinion, a killer harmonica. I have an odd love (and appreciation) for the harmonica – I blame the Beatle’s “Love Me Do” and Bob Dylan. But anyway, I just love “Run-Around.”
Fun Fact: Lead singer John Popper also plays the harmonica for the band.
Bonus Fun Fact! : Every other line of the song makes a reference to a famous literary work or cliché.
Mega Bonus Fun Fact! : A friend of mine bought me a harmonica in high school and joked that I’d never learn to play it. To prove her wrong I learned Beethoven’s 9th Symphony on harmonica (drops mic).
Send Me On My Way – Rusted Root
Let me start by saying that I honestly have no idea what half of this song is saying – and yet I still really like it. The first time I heard “Send Me On My Way” was in the 1996 movie Matilda. From that moment on it became one of those songs that I think of when I think of my childhood. It has a certain lightheartedness and optimism about it, and I think that is the main reason I like it.
Fun Fact: NASA engineers chose “Send Me on My Way” as “wake-up” music for the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity
Tubthumping – Chumbawamba
This is one of those songs to sing when you want to feel empowered; the chorus of “I get knocked down, but I get up again,” is one that I have always found uplifting. When I was younger this was big song at sporting events and also on MTV – back in the good ol’ days when MTV actually played music. I like it because it is catchy and also because it has multiple melodies woven throughout it. Also, THAT TRUMPET SOLO. I am a brass player (trombones power!) and so I may or may not have a slight preference for brass features. And the trumpet solo is really well done in “Tubthumping.”
Fun Fact: To be a ‘tubthumper’ is to be a vociferous supporter (of a cause)
Bonus Fun Fact: The band’s name is Chumbawamba – which sounds like a Lion King lyric.
Two Princes – Spin Doctors
This song has a lot of the elements I have mentioned I like in 90s music: upbeat, good lyrics, and strong backing guitar. One specific thing I like, with concern to the lyrics, is that the song tells a story, one of a girl having to choose between two princes. Another element of this song I like is when the guitar actually drops out midway through – it really exposes the vocals and also lets you focus on the lyrics of the chorus. A final element is the vocals; I love the almost scatting style at the beginning of the song (I’m a sucker for scatting – boys take note).
Fun Fact: A modified version of “Two Princes” was performed on Sesame Street, emphasizing the importance of sharing.
When I Come Around – Green Day
I choose to end with “When I Come Around” because Green Day is my favourite band of the 90s (even though they technically started in 1986!). I can’t place my finger on what exactly it is I love about Green Day, but I know that songs like “When I Come Around” and “Basketcase” never cease to bring joy to my ears. I love the alternative rock/punk feel to “When I Come Around” and I can’t help but rock my head to it each time I hear it. It’s just a good song.
Fun Fact: Inspiration for “When I Come Around” came from the frustrations lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong felt when away from his girlfriend while one the road.
Bonus Fun Fact: This song is from the album Dookie, which won a Grammy in 1995.
Looking back at these 17 songs makes me feel really nostalgic, and also really old. I hope you’ve enjoyed both this really long blog post and my picks of tunes of the 90s.