Best of the 90s

Monday, April 04, 2005

I'm getting old. I know it. Starting to get nostalgic about the 90s now! So, in that grand tradition of lists, I present my best songs of the 90s. I believe that this list is probably incomplete, in which case, feel free to complete it for me.

The list is in no particular order. It was already difficult enough to pick them out. Don't ask me to rank them.



Boys and GirlsBlur
Quintessential party song, heralding the cool sexually ambiguous identity of the late 90s.

LongviewGreen Day
At that time, a staunch brit-popper, I found myself caving irresistably to Green Day’s California Happy Punk. I don't remember any of the lyrics, just the down thrust of his hand.

Cut Your Hair - Pavement (also Summer Babe)
I already blogged about Pavement… I love Pavement. If you don’t, too fucking sad.

I’m in love with a girlBig Star
Beautiful and perfect love song.

On Such FavoursSam Prekop
When I moved to France, I took around 10 albums with me. This one was the first one I picked. This whole album is incredible. The whole damn thing. Put it on on a Sunday morning.

She don’t use jellyThe Flaming Lips
The Flaming Lips are still around, and still kicking ass, proving your pop career doesn’t have to end at 40. "I know a girl who thinks of ghosts/she'll make ya breakfast/she'll make ya toast/she don't use butter/she don't use cheese/she don't use jelly/she uses vaseline."
When I hear this song, I remember certain people, especially Rodger, and our trip to New Orleans.

His first big hit during the grunge era. Strange, funny and sloppy, and it didn't hurt that Beck was every middle class white girl's wet dream.

No RainBlind Melon
Ok, that bee girl video alone merits this entry. But, you know, if you really pay attention, past the carefree summer breeze of the song, is a bottomlessly dark soul.

Lover, You should have come overJeff Buckley
This is the song you put on the mixed tape you never sent to the person you loved, and couldn’t have.

Come as You Are and Smells like Teen SpiritNirvana
You waited for this one. I hope I didn't keep you waiting too long. I remember Ferzana and I use to scoff at those grunge heads, because I didn’t want to wear long sleeve t-shirts and a toque, but secretly, those two songs made me scream. Kurt was a real golden ponyboy. I was in HMV on Yonge Street when I heard he had died. I remember even which aisle I was in. The icon of that time, and throw out all those other awful grunge records, like Pearl Yuck and Alice gross my Chains out.

That thunderous guitar broke me in two. Their guitarist had the most amazing fringe in the video, which he flung around… made me love bad teeth, intensely. Like a dam breaking.

Killing me SoftlyThe Fugees
C’mon, fess up. Mainstream and such a voice. Soul sister and getting the honies together for a emotional bomb shelter music.

She Bangs the DrumsThe Stone Roses
I was a young’un, a teenager, and I bought this album on a cassette, to take with me on a road trip, the final road trip, to the Grand Canyon, with my parents. Even they bopped to this song. Dance, rock, obscure, mythological… they made us wait while they self-destructed.

Murder was the CaseSnoop Doggy Dogg
I avoided Snoop for awhile, because, well, I was more emo and brit-pop and he was forbidden fruit. But then I saw him perform on the Grammies, where he came out on a wheelchair to perform this song, complete with rising coffin. Made me cream, those crippled styles, coupled with his dead eye glance. So slick, so smooth. Snoop is still one sexy dogg.

Big PoppaNotorious B.I.G.
Ooo-waaaa-oooo, another case of being too smooth to resist. “cause I see some ladies tonight who should be havin’ my baby… baby.”

Waltz #2 - Elliot Smith
This is from the XO album, which I played so many times I scratched the vinyl in numerous places, and had to buy another copy. I mean, there are so many songs on this album that can kill you with melody and arrangement… heartbreaking. I cried when I heard he committed suicide. Pure delicate soul.

She Talks to AngelsThe Black Crowes
I never dug their look, all bohemian and drippy hippy. But this song… when you love someone who you can’t protect, you can't hold back, you can't change, but you love them, just the same.

Metal MickeySuede
Bernard Butler, who only played on their first two albums, was my first full-blown guitarist crush. His guitar rocks all over the first album, which somehow makes Brett Anderson’s whining bearable. In this song, his guitar announces itself in the first run with a shrieking intro, followed by thunderous almost Bach guitar riff. Blitzkrieg! It was also the first real concert I went to, where I was crushed against the stage, could barely play, and was physically moved from side to side by the sea of fans. If you watched the FAX (Muchmusic news program) report on this concert, you saw me and Ferzana, side by side. We didn’t know each other then. Two months later, we were best friends.

Into Your ArmsThe Lemonheads
Ok, Evan Dando. He’s a paradox, and a bit of a twat. He has the build of a woodcutter, or a barrel chested mechanic, but in his yellow pajamas, he became the king of indie rock. The Lemonheads wrote some of the most perfect pop songs when they first came out.

Rebirth of Slick (Cool like Dat)The Digable Planets
One hit wonder, but what a sweet one it is. Nice sampling of Miles and cool as ice rapping. "We be to rap what key be to lock...Yo, Cleopatra Jones." I know y’all forgot this one.

One (with Horace Andy)Massive Attack
I feel compelled to add something from these buggers, though they have become so uncool, in my books. The voice of the girl, on that Tricky song, is so cool. Like she’s hiding all her hurt in that breathy steely voice. The music, a masterpiece eaking from the cold air in a subterranean tunnel.
And One is still the song I hold onto with Massive Attack. “I believe in one love.”

CannonballThe Breeders
I saw the Breeders at Lollapalooza and they rocked. This song rocks. It just fucking rocks! Kim Deal was so cool, and that touching coquette like guitar opening, backed by fuzzy guitar.… Back when Sassy was still the coolest girl magazine.

Track #3 on Selected Ambient Works IIAphex Twin
I made a photo project a long time ago, where I went back to the suburbs of my adolescence. Those photographs, my empty schoolyard, the bus on the forgotten corner, the apartment complex, the suburban windows all closed with their patterned windows and neat lawns, I played this song to go with it.

Liquid SwordsGZA
“Lyrics are weak like clock-radio speakers.” Bow down to the Genius.

Around the WorldDaft Punk
You must dance… robot style. French pop dance… we knew things had changed and the economy was better, computers were better, and something very chill and zipppy was blowing from across the ocean.

Kelly Watch the StarsAir
More evidence that France was breeding some very sweet stuff. The whole Moon Safari album is as sweet as a slushie on an August afternoon. Made me want to dress more like a french princess and less like an artist.

Windowlicker and Come to DaddyAphex Twin (VIDEO!!!)
Yes, I was a huge Aphex Twin fan. But these two, their videos, made by Chris Cunningham, who later went on to do some of Bjork’s videos and that Event Horizon film, rock rock rock. Especially the beginning of the windowlicker video, with the 2km long limo. Tap dancing virus that makes us all look like Richard D. James on drugs. And Come to Daddy, the monster screaming into the granny’s face is the funniest thing ever in a video.

On a side note, Richard D. James actually saved my life, literally. I was a music reporter for my university at that time, and I had blagged my way to getting an interview with him. We were preparing to cross the street across from the Opera House, and, so star struck I was, that I walked right in front of a speeding cab. Richard grabbed my anorak and pulled me back. "watch yourself there!" There are witnesses.

Professor BootyThe Beastie Boys
“Professor, what’s another name for pirate treasure… Why I think it’s booty!…”

Tears are CoolTeenage Fanclub
Emo kids cream all over this one. But it’s true, a man who can cry, who can see his girl cry and not turn away, that’s cool. Sympathy for the breakable.

Justine! Donna! Matt! Donna! Jabber bullet guitar jag! And the classic dipping bass boom.

Casper the Friendly GhostDaniel Johnston (when I discovered him on the Kids Soundtrack… another good one is that song by Folk Implosion, Jenny’s Theme)
Yeah, normally I don’t buy into those whole soundtrack things, which are basically somebody else’s top ten, but this soundtrack kicks ass. Which makes sense. Because the film is a classic. It showed, finally, what we were doing when we wore our extra-flared pants. Should make your parents melt with fear, but whatever.

And after that… I discovered Daniel Johnston, which deserves a whole separate post. He’s in the top 5 of my favourite musicians, right next to Wendy Carlos.

FantasyMariah Carey
So sue me! Fuck off! It’s a shake yer bum and smile sweetly pop song. Watch out everyone… Coming out of the closet! I am a Mariah fan! C’mon, even ODB was down with her!

Shimmy Shimmy YaODB
ODB was a mad genius… roiling around like a drunken man on a tempest-borne tall sailed ship. He bounced his own way, and this song makes you want to get the booty on the move. A real dirty bastard… “ooooh, baby, I like rawwww!”

Don’t Look Back in AngerOasis
The Gallagher boys make good on this one. I hate Oasis. I always have… I’m not much up for their antics, nor the over-bearing big stadium sound they like to carry. But credit where credit is due. This song, and that Wonderwall song, have some of the most beautiful and affirmative chord progressions. The real bittersweet symphony with ample reworking of all some classic Beatles chords. Hands in the air… “and soooo Sally can wait… but don’t look back in anger, I heard ‘ya say!” And yes, it is nice that their lyrics don’t make any sense. Even grannies will get their lighters in the air for this one.


Jump - Kris Kross
How the hell did I forget this? Before Lil' Bow Wow, and all that baby rapper nonsense, we had the Mac Daddy, and the Daddy Mac. Explosive, jumpin' and ages so well. You can still listen to this shit! And blew up that whole, "wear your pants backwards" fad.
"Cause I'm the miggida miggida miggida Mac Daddy
Miggida miggida miggida Mac
Cause I'm the miggida miggida miggida Mac Daddy"
How many people tried to say that... tried and died!

Under the Bridge - Red Hot Chilli Peppers
This song introduced us to the genius of John Frusciante. I don't care for Keidis and his crew, though I always loved Flea's pants in that video Higher Ground (no surprise since the Yetis make me scream!)... Anyways, good ole' John was a guitar prodigy, and he caved under the subsequent pressure, heroin, wooden teeth, dressing like a woman from the 40s, an amazing if incomprehensible solo album, suddenly, he's back five years later, having lost all his baby boy looks and jumping straight into the dirtbag 35s. This song is testament to the boy before he lost his virginity.

no R.E.M., no U2, no Bjork, no Pearl Jam, none of that shit… and don’t bother me about it.
whew... lots of work... now I'm gonna listen to my Monteverdi... getting ready for my geriatric styles.