Tag Archives: 90s music

The 90 Best Songs of the 90s (Part 1)

Jesse

Jesse is a cofounder of SportsAlcohol.com even though he doesn't care for sports or alcohol. His favorite movie is Ron Howard's The Paper. I think. This is what happens when you don't write your own bio. I know for sure likes pie.

We here at SportsAlcohol.com can get down with a good list, but we’ve never attempted one quite so expansive before: a list not just of a band’s best songs, but the best songs of an entire decade: the ’90s, which have been experiencing a major nostalgia boom over the past five years or so, and which we hope to cash in on in a major way with this very undertaking; we just haven’t worked out the specifics of how that will work. In the meantime, you can send us personal checks.

While we wait for those to clear, let me reiterate: yes, this is the biggest list project yet undertaken by this organization. As it turns out, though, even a big list of 90 songs can feel too short when you’re dealing with a whole and particularly eclectic decade. Over 500 songs received votes, and plenty of favorites were left off the final list. Participants were asked to send their ranked lists of the 40 best songs of the ’90s, and the votes (weighted by ranking) were diligently counted in Excel to come up with the list that kicks off today. No adjustments were made for any reason beyond math. No fudging the rules to include a song by a particularly important artist or to cut down on the number of songs by an over-represented ones. This is the list of 22 children of the ’90s, though many of us approach that designation from different ages, directions, and backgrounds.

Today we’ll unveil songs 90 through 51. Tomorrow, we’ll hit 50 through 11. And on Thursday, we’ll get to the top ten. Look for other Best Songs of the ’90s content on SportsAlcohol.com all week, including our biggest podcast ever where a bunch of us got together to hash out this list.

And before we get started on list itself, I’d like to introduce your Best Songs of the ’90s voters. The panel included beloved SportsAlcohol.com mainstays, editors, and contributors whose biographies and past contributions are available at the click:

Chris Adams
Sara Batkie
Jeremy Bent
Jason Forman
Jesse Hassenger
Craig Iturbe
Rob Kuczynski
Marisa LaScala
Sabrina Lauzon
Bennett Morrison
Nathaniel Wharton

Plus these great people I’ll introduce here:

Shelly Casper is an artist, photographer, and teacher.
Sara Ciaburri is a librarian and former DJ.
Kerry Cullen is a fiction writer and editorial assistant.
Derrick Hart is a music fanatic and librarian from Boston by way of Upstate New York.
Michelle Paul is Director of Product Development at Patron Technology.
Lorraina Raccuia-Morrison edits textbooks and makes pottery.
Cristin Stickles is a book buyer for McNally-Jackson who makes New Jersey look good.
Erin Styne is a teacher and mother.
Alex Templeton is a middle school teacher, voracious reader, and writer in Philadelphia.
Bayard Templeton is a teacher, Mets fan, and theater enthusiast.
Jennifer Vega is a birder, administrator, and Mariah Carey scholar.

I am especially proud of two things about our contributors:
1. The gender makeup is majority female.
2. None of us are professional music critics.

Now then:

The 90 Best Songs of the 90s (Part One of Three)

Continue reading The 90 Best Songs of the 90s (Part 1)

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.