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I Was There: ’90s Music

This picture was taken in October of my freshman year in high school. This bummed and kinda bored expression lasted for at least the next four years.

I Was There: ’90s Music 

When the tweens in my house start showing a preference for Nirvana t-shirts and platform boots, begging for septum piercings, and saying things like “the ‘90s were awesome,” I know I have come full circle.

My first reaction is to find this both delightful and woefully misguided. I mean, good god, does anyone else remember Ugly Kid Joe?

But when my older sister points out that she can absolutely understand why someone who did not live in that decade would be drawn to it because there was an innocence about it that was not possible after the turn of the century, I must agree.
We were born in the mid-to-late 1970s and entered high school in rural Central Maine in the early ‘90s. From my perspective, if ever there is a time period frozen in a crystalline composite of nostalgia and teenage angst, it is this one. I didn’t own a cell phone until I was 25 and didn’t own a computer until I was 29. There was nothing else to do in my young adulthood but ponder memories. Of course, it was different after we were all online, had cellphones, and collectively lost our parents as we knew them to the post 9/11, twenty-four-hour news cycle.

And there was a lot of truly great music.

This conversation is in the back of my mind when Itunes keeps suggesting and I keep ignoring a ’90s Alternative Essentials playlist. I opened it today out of curiosity, and finally, I find I must weigh in. For the children.

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Where Were My Parents?
On Watching Headbangers Ball as a Fifth Grader, and Other Topics

Where Were My Parents?

On Watching Headbangers Ball as a Fifth Grader, and Other Topics

This list. Christ, this list. It’s bad. It’s really, really bad. I mean, the eyeballs of my sixteen-year-old self would not be recoverable, they would have rolled back so hard. It’s not alllll bad but collectively, it sucks. It’s also really long, so I guess I am going to have to screenshot it. I am too lazy to type out all of these shitty songs and give them even that much more legitimacy. We can deal with them in chunks, shall we?

1. Smells Like Teen Spirit – Nirvana (Nevermind, 1991, DCG Records)
Okay, so I know I am probably literally quoting Jack Black’s character from High Fidelity here (a character I very much identified with btw), but come on. It’s a little obvious no? It’s a good song sure, but there are better ones. I like Nirvana. I liked them then, and I still like them (not so much on Foo Fighters though, my apologies. Dave Grohl seems like a truly wonderful human). I bought Nevermind on cassette tape in the 7th grade sometime after this video came out. I watched Headbangers Ball, and I remember them being on it, and that Kurt Cobain wore a ballgown in a joke that seemed kind of lost on the host, and probably most of the at-home audience. That seemed as good a reason as any to spend what little money I had on their album. Music was the only thing I ever spent money on. I guess I used to babysit because I can’t think of any other way I had any at all. There is no way my parents would have given me money to buy records. I don’t know.

Anyway, I liked Nirvana, and for a couple of years, I loved them because the boy I loved from 8th grade, all of my high school years, and probably a few years after that even, loved them. Incidentally, one of the only letters I have ever received that would approximate a love letter even quotes a Nirvana song. I still have it. I was always writing him these long, intense letters asking why he would not give me the attention I so craved the answer, as painfully obvious then as it is now, was that I was fourth on a list of priorities that ranked as follows: drugs, skateboarding, other girls).

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Some of you might be asking what have I done to prepare for the final word on such a list, and I will have you all know that I have as of late re-watched all the seasons of Seinfeld to get myself in the right frame of mind; I am wearing a t-shirt and boxers as outwear, and on Sunday, I re-watched Point Break (it holds up).

Highlights: Neutral Milk Hotel, Yo La Tengo, Elliott Smith, and Tool. Bonus: More Remembering Headbangers Ball

6. One – U2 (Achtung Baby, 1991, Island)

Okay, this next segment is quite a doozy, and I don’t have a lot of good things to say about it. It features one of my most-loathed bands of all time, and a host of other sub-par picks, so let’s dive in.

U2 has absolutely no business being on this list. By 1990, they had like 4 hit records, played at Live Aid, a movie and a double album based on the movie. Their inclusion on any list regarding “alternative” anything is astonishingly oxymoronic.
Also, I do not like them, but it doesn’t matter because again they do not belong here.
Final Verdict: No. Every song I have ever heard by U2 sounds like a song you are kind of supposed to like, maybe even want to like, but just winds up annoying you.
Replace With: Initially, I was going to try to limit to only songs from the 1990s that I knew in the 1990s, and not later but I broke that rule with the very first song. So, let’s bump Bono the f off of here with one of my favorite bands Neutral Milk Hotel – Everything Is from The Hype City Soundtrack (1993, The Egg as a Whole Music). I have never found an actual copy of this soundtrack, but it is really good and on YouTube.

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