Got your Starter jackets on? Good! How about your wallet chains? Eeeeexcellent. On with the silliness. These were the first years–fourth and fifth grade–that I was able to listen to my own radio choices and pay for my own music. Burgeoning independence ahoy! (ETA: Because my friend Sam is a pain in the ass, there are now YouTube links. Should have been there before, but I was really tired. And I don’t embed them because my computer is old and frail and it takes me forever to load a page with embedded videos. Breathe into a paper bag; you’ll live, we’ll get through this together.)
And a one-two-three-four! Let’s roll.
“The Sign” by Ace of Base. Strong start, eh? Actually my computer automatically alphabetized this list and I liked beginning with “The Sign”‘s distinctive sound, and by distinctive I mean “just like every other AoB song.” Whatevs. You know The Base when you hear it.
“I Swear” by All 4 One. Since I am simple and ignorant, I had NO IDEA the country version came first. A junior high slow-dance staple.
“Run-Around” by Blues Traveler. Go go harmonica!
“On Bended Knee” by Boyz II Men. Boyz II Men was another dance staple, but I guess “I’ll Make Love To You” wasn’t going to clear the PTA. Anyway, I think this fits early-teen angst.
“Ants Marching” by Dave Matthews Band. Do you ever laugh at people who have DMB stickers on their cars and call them dumb? *raises hand*
“When I Come Around” by Green Day. Dookie was one of my first albums, and this was my favorite at the time although I grew to love “Longview” quite a bit more.
“I’ll Stand By You” by The Pretenders. Will you? Will you stand by me? Even into my darkest hour, that hour when my banana clip clashes with my Airwalk sneakers?
“Another Night” by Real McCoy. This exemplifies, to me, the generic club beat sound of the early 90s. La Bouche would have done fine here. Be My Lovah!
“Creep” by TLC. I prefer this to “Waterfalls” even though trying the rap would be fun in the car with a friend. My friend Ann had the inspired suggestion to swap “Creep” for “Red Light Special” too.
“You Oughta Know” by Alanis Morrisette. 1995 is here, and it. Is. Pissed. Forget the hype, forget the controversy over the graphic lyrics, forget the later abuse of the word “ironic” and forget the alleged Uncle Joey bullshit and just listen to the anger in the vocals. Enjoyable stuff!
“Good” by Better Than Ezra. This song was nigh on unavoidable.
“I Believe” by Blessid Union of Souls. Aha! Social commentary! This became a Sophie’s Choice between this, the better known of their songs, and the kitsch WTF value of “Hey Leonardo.”
“Gangsta’s Paradise” by Coolio. Close your eyes. Imagine several dozen junior high students from rural Maine dancing in the school gymnasium; varying in economic status from blue collar to upper-middle class but almost uniformly white and raised in the woods. Now imagine those kids singing, with glee and gusto, “Got my ten in my hand and a gleam in my eye.” Let THAT sink in a little. That’s why I didn’t go with “1,2,3,4” here.
“Breakfast at Tiffany’s” by Deep Blue Something. Raise your hand if at the age of 12, you thought this was a nice brunch place. Anyone? Okay…cheese stands alone.
“Santa Monica” by Everclear. My favorite of Everclear’s offerings.
“Til I Hear It From You” by Gin Blossoms. This one is a cheat, actually; I didn’t think of it as quintessentially “90’s” until I was in high school and watched Empire Records eighty bazillion times. But who knows where thoughts come from? They just appear.
“Insensitive” by Jann Arden. I stumbled upon this one accidentally by researching and I remember digging it for its Alanis-lite sound.
“You Were Meant For Me” by Jewel. I recall thinking this song was very sweet and now think it’s a little pathetic, but I still feel sentimentally good toward it, much like my old Tiger Beat posters of Jonathan Taylor Thomas. JTT4eva!
“I Kissed A Girl” by Jill Sobule. Take notes, Katy Perry. THAT’S how you kiss a girl.
“Lightning Crashes” by Live. Double-dog-dare you not to imagine the sound of placenta hitting the floor. That’s what this song did to us.
“Fantasy” by Mariah Carey. You have no idea how sad I was when I recorded myself singing “Fantasy” into my tape recorder and discovered that not only could I not sing, I might be inadvertently creating instruments of torture.
“Spiderwebs” by No Doubt. The song that launched a thousand answering machine outgoing messages.
“Don’t Look Back In Anger” by Oasis. I only like a few Oasis songs, this being one of them, but damn those guys were entertaining…if you were 12. And I was. Forgive!!
“Angry Johnny” by Poe. You have to admire the thoroughness of her thought process, even if she’s scary as hell.
“Kissed By A Rose” by Seal. The summer of 1995: a time of Tommy Lee Jones and Jim Carrey devouring scenery, of Val Kilmer as Batman, and of Joel Schumacher nipple-izing the Batsuit, which I can never unsee. Thanks, JOEL.
“Strong Enough” by Sheryl Crow. From all the songs on Tuesday Night Music Club, it was this or “Leaving Las Vegas”. But the title of that song got me thinking about the movie of the same name, and would Nicolas Cage’s character actually be able to perform in his final act with Elisabeth Shue? Probably not, right? But I thought about it too much and came out of that depressive blackout a sleeve of Oreos heavier, and “Strong Enough” it was.
“I Wish” by Skee-lo. True story: when my nephew was born we put him in a backwards cap and captioned the photo “I Wish I Was A Little Bit Taller, I Wish I Was A Baller” lolcats style. It’s just a fun song to sing in the car.
“As I Lay Me Down” by Sophie B. Hawkins. This song was used in the soundtrack of my favorite movie at the time, Now and Then. What the holy fuck happened to Gabby Hoffman’s eyebrows?