Tag Archives: 1990s

’90s Week+!

Gripes

Marisa

There are contrarians, there are iconoclasts, and then there is SportsAlcohol.com co-founder Marisa. A contraiclast? Her favorite Springsteen album came out this century, so she is basically a controversy machine.

Also, she is totally not a dude!
Marisa
Gripes

The dream of the ’90s is still alive at SportsAlcohol.com, and during our thorough examination of the decade, we did the following:

…ranked and wrote about the top 90 songs of the ’90s in three groups (90-51, 50-11, and 10-1), and included a little behind-the-scenes about the voting process. (Before you ask: Yes, there is a Spotify playlist.) The ranked lists are worth clicking on for the era-appropriate photos of our contributors alone.

podcasted about the list so we could gripe about each other’s choices.

…defended some songs that didn’t make the list, including seven tracks that received No. 1 votes, and a few stray others that weren’t No. 1s but should have been in contention anyway.

…put ’90s music in context of music videos, movie soundtracks, and videos from movie soundtracks that specifically featured Elastica (a band that did not make our list).

…remembered that time that Chris wrote Rob an email entirely about Dana from Morphine.

…linked to some other articles that proved we’re not the only website still talking about the ’90s.

No fear.

For Further Reading (Or, We’re Not the Only Ones Who Are ’90s-Obsessed)

Gripes

Marisa

There are contrarians, there are iconoclasts, and then there is SportsAlcohol.com co-founder Marisa. A contraiclast? Her favorite Springsteen album came out this century, so she is basically a controversy machine.

Also, she is totally not a dude!
Marisa
Gripes

We just spent the last week exploring the ’90s through music. I know 2016 seems like an odd time to take on such an endeavor, but the decade seems to be having a moment right now, even outside of SportsAlcohol.com. The ’90s have officially passed through the era where they were embarrassing (which usually happens to a decade at the 10-year mark), and has come around to being cool again.

Don’t believe me? Here is how the Decade of Flannel is rearing its head around the interwebs.

My neighborhood had a ’90s fest, and the fest ignored almost all of what we at SportsAlcohol.com considered good about the decade (save Salt-n-Pepa). The A.V. Club did a good job taking apart how awkward it can be to go to a ’90s fest in 2016, while Flavorwire talks about the decade’s commodification through the event.

Still, that doesn’t stop the sisters Haim from wanting to bring back Lilith Fair.  Maybe they can get some advice on bringing back the ’90s from Sleater-Kinney.

Our Spotify playlist isn’t the only place to hear ’90s music. You can also hear what Kmart was playing in its stores, thanks to a dude who took all of Kmart’s cassettes with him and uploaded them for our pleasure.

“As the ’80s wore on, [music] got less interesting and I think things got more interesting again in the ’90s. So I think it’s just the way it goes.” Who said it? Joe Jackson in Salon.

We talked about the many reasons that “Smells Like Teen Spirit” ranked as our No. 1 song, but we missed one: science! New evidence says the Nirvana tune is the most iconic song ever. (Take that, decades-older classics like “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”.)

And yet, there’s still no talk of rebooting Dead at 21.

Reliving the ’90s Through 15 Music Videos

Gripes

Marisa

There are contrarians, there are iconoclasts, and then there is SportsAlcohol.com co-founder Marisa. A contraiclast? Her favorite Springsteen album came out this century, so she is basically a controversy machine.

Also, she is totally not a dude!
Marisa
Gripes

One of the major themes that’s emerged from our deep exploration into ’90s music is the link between music and film. Many of us first came to our favorite songs (or several Elastica songs) by hearing them used perfectly in a movie or TV show and, in turn, directors first made themselves noticed by directing some kind of calling-card music video. These intersections really stuck with us; just look over our ’90s song list and see how many of us couldn’t help but talk about the music video when writing about the song.

Now, that cycle is mostly missing a link. Music videos aren’t the cultural drivers they once were. It’s not that there are no videos anymore; it’s just that there are so many other kinds of videos, all vying to eat up our attention and go viral, that music videos no longer get prime placement. I mean, who can focus on them when there are cats vs. shadow cats? Now and then, a music video may break through to the public consciousness—I’m thinking something like the “Single Ladies” video, or “Fancy”—but it’s not like the days when people would come home and turn on TRL.

So, it’s worth going back and revisiting what the 1990s music-video scene was like. I’ve chosen 15 to look at here. I didn’t just want to go and pick out the videos from our Top 90 songs—you can see most of those right in that list. And I didn’t want to talk about the same videos that everyone talks about in the best-of video lists, basically the ones included in the Palm Pictures Director’s Label series. If you haven’t seen those, you definitely should watch all of them. They’re amazing. But you don’t need me to tell you, yet again, that Spike Jonze and Michel Gondry are the best video directors out there, and no one needs another list that says that video where the dude is running and on fire is pretty boss.

To recap: These aren’t the best songs of the ’90s (at least according to this website) OR the best videos of the ’90s. But that’s the thing about that decade: You can lop off the top of the iceberg and there’s still so much left to talk about. So, let’s begin.
Continue reading Reliving the ’90s Through 15 Music Videos

REST OF THE 1990S TRACK MARKS: “WHAT’S THIS?” BY DANNY ELFMAN

Gripes

Marisa

There are contrarians, there are iconoclasts, and then there is SportsAlcohol.com co-founder Marisa. A contraiclast? Her favorite Springsteen album came out this century, so she is basically a controversy machine.

Also, she is totally not a dude!
Marisa
Gripes

Starting next week, we’ll unveil our big list of the Best Songs of the 1990s. In the run-up to the reveal, we’re featuring some of our favorite songs that didn’t make the list through our regular Track Marks feature.

When the contributors to our upcoming ’90s list talked about how they put together their individual ballots, it was inevitable that the subject of how many avenues of discovering music there was in the ’90s came up. The radio played songs we wanted to listen to! The TV showed music videos! Just when all of that was starting to fade, we went to college and found the anything-goes world of a fast internet connection hooked up to peer-to-peer filesharing! The world was our musical oyster.

But, when going over the songs that actually made it onto our ballots, one path to discovering new music—one that’s very much still used today—kept coming up over and over: movie soundtracks. We’d discuss a song, then someone would talk about how it was used to perfection in a critical movie scene. I’m sure Rob and Jesse could write a Track Marks post about every single song on the soundtrack to Danny Boyle’s A Life Less Ordinary (see our upcoming podcast for more on this); I myself almost did this post about “A.M. 180” by Granddaddy—which has been my only ringtone since my very first cell phone—a song I first heard in Boyle’s 28 Days Later. (And, you know, non-Boyle soundtracks are pretty good, too.)

But there’s a certain category of movie soundtracks that, while I’m sure we all listened to them on a loop in the ’90s, probably didn’t make it on our individual ballots: animated movie soundtracks. My long list had a few, including “Belle” from Beauty and the Beast and “Be Prepared” from The Lion King. My short list only had one: “What’s This?” from The Nightmare Before Christmas.

It’s one of the only animated-movie soundtrack songs I still listen to today; granted, it’s because I treat it as a Christmas song more than anything else. But the fact that it could have a second life in my annual iTunes Christmas playlist also speaks to its craft—I’m pretty picky about my holiday music. (Sorry, kids from South Park, your holiday songs don’t make the cut because your voices are too irritating.) To me, this one is up there with Vince Guaraldi.

What makes “What’s This?” unique for a holiday song is that it’s about looking at Christmas from the outside. Yeah, our traditions should seem both strange and incredible to an outside observer; seeing Jack Skellington’s awe invites us all to look at the holiday as if it’s our first time.

And then, of course, there’s Danny Elfman. I bet that man could write the instrumentation for 10 perfect Christmas songs in his sleep—he seems like I’d bet he’d want to add sleigh bells to nearly everything, holiday-related or not. It’s a harder hurdle to clear to seamlessly combine the musical aesthetics of Christmas and Halloween, like he does on other songs on The Nightmare Before Christmas soundtrack. But his performance as Jack is what really makes “What’s This?” (I should be ashamed to admit that I’ve only heard Elfman sing through Jack Skellington; my knowledge of Oingo Boingo is nil.) Through his Skellington, we get the excitement of discovery, the wonderment of Christmas, the puzzlement over coming across an unknown culture, and then the burning desire to possess and control it all.

By the end of the ’90s, The Nightmare Before Christmas became shorthand for a certain kind of Hot Topic goth. But they don’t get to own “What’s This?” the way  Jack Skellington doesn’t get to own Christmas. It’s ours this time.

 

Rest of the 1990s Track Marks: “Ruby Soho” by Rancid

Gripes

Marisa

There are contrarians, there are iconoclasts, and then there is SportsAlcohol.com co-founder Marisa. A contraiclast? Her favorite Springsteen album came out this century, so she is basically a controversy machine.

Also, she is totally not a dude!
Marisa
Gripes

Starting next week, we’ll unveil our big list of the Best Songs of the 1990s. In the run-up to the reveal, we’re featuring some of our favorite songs that didn’t make the list through our regular Track Marks feature.

The 1990s was a good decade for taking punk music out of Berkeley, California and selling it to the mainstream kids across the country, all the way to the suburbs of New York (ahem). At the helm were two Armstrongs: Billie Joe of Green Day, and Tim of Rancid. For a while, it seemed like both bands were on the same trajectory: They were from the same neighborhood, signed to the same label (we’ll forget it’s the one that also discovered The Offspring), and both put out breakthrough albums in 1994. But, for whatever reason, Green Day hit first and rocketed to a level of fame that gets its songs onto best-of lists, while Rancid’s songs pick up a few bottom-of-the-list votes that don’t get it onto the final roster.

That’s not to take anything away from Green Day—I definitely had them high up on my final ballot—but, when you listen to “Ruby Soho,” you realize it’s not fair. It has all the makings of a tune that’s not just good for a punk track if you’re into that kind of thing, but a classic, love-it-forever type of song, including:

  1. Telling a sad story in an upbeat tempo. There’s yearning, there’s leaving, and Ruby is sad, but you can still pump your fist to it.
  2. It’s a song about music, and making music. He’s leaving because he’s a musician; he loves her, but he sees his name on a marquee and knows he can’t resist.
  3. The word “Ruby” in the title. As in Tuesday. Musicians from 1996 onward had to really think about naming an in-song character Ruby, since “Ruby Tuesday” and “Ruby Soho” set an almost impossible bar to meet.
  4. Random evocation of a New York City neighborhood. Even when it comes from Californians, it gives the song mystique. I don’t know much about Ruby Soho, but the name alone makes me think it’s something downtown, underground, cooler than I am, and a little worse for wear.
  5. Parts that you can split up when you sing in the car. Makes the song equally at home on road-trip mix tapes as it is on romantic mix tapes.

I won’t say that “Ruby Soho” never got its due; it’s on Rancid’s most popular album, …And Out Come the Wolves, and they played it on Saturday Night Live. It’s been covered by Vampire Weekend and Jimmy Cliff. But, as a suburban pre-teen looking to pretend like I was a California punk for two minutes at a time, I would’ve preferred meeting Ruby Soho and hanging out with musicians in the city than chilling with Green Day on their couch, doing whatever it is they were doing in “Longview.”