Songs That Defined The 90s As Much As Butterfly Clips and GC-161

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Fake Plastic Trees?

Fake Plastic Trees?

I was on the subway yesterday and Robyn’s ‘Show Me Love’ was really stuck in my head. As in, short of waving my arms around and riffing ‘I’ll make sure everything will be alright’ to a bunch of strangers, I was bouncing those six stops to my destination.

Nostalgia for the 90s seems to be everywhere these days, much like 80s nostalgia was…hmm, ten years ago? To be honest, I have been catching up on the shows I didn’t see all or any of when they were on in the 90s, so between that and all of the 90s band reunions (Destiny and her child, what?), I feel I have gone through a worm hole. And came out on the other end…at Roller Kingdom, wearing a shirt with a giant butterfly on it, and karma beads, and hanging on to my new CD of Dizzy Up The Girl.

I know a lot of it has to do with my generation, obviously, and the stuff that we grew up with. As much as I listened to classic rock, oldies, etc, growing up, songs of the 90s will forever be engrained in that part of my life. And so it is…the songs that defined growing up in the 90s. For me, anyway. What were yours?

Ace of Base-The Sign

A ski trip with my best friend. This album on tape cassette. The whole way there. The whole way back. I also still find ‘All That She Wants’ to be one of those songs I sing too loudly in other people’s cars. Sarah and Laine, I’m sorry. I can’t seem to stop it. All that she wants!

The Proclaimers-I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)

I have such a strong memory of this music video, despite the fact that I did not see Benny and Joon. It seemed like everyone would shout the chorus to this song and then realize they had no idea how most of the verse went. It’s probably a good thing I didn’t know that the band members were twins, because at that age I had tried to avoid all twin things (yes, Mary Kate and Ashley) since I was one. Still am.

Jimmy Cliff (version)-I Can See Clearly Now

I have no idea why, but seven year old me thought that a) this was Billy Joel and b) this was a great song to sing anywhere and everywhere. Apologies to Mom and Dad.

Lisa Loeb-Stay (I Missed You)

Man, where did I put my denim flower print overalls? (Yes, 1994 me had these. Thankfully no photographic evidence.)

Des’ree-You Gotta Be

My, oh, my. This song and the next one…

Everything But The Girl-Missing

…were everywhere. Something about them reminded me of the other, and I can’t be sure why. Aside from the fact that they remind me of my awesome flower power leotard shirt and black and white checkered leggings. Don’t worry, I never wore them together! Yeah, because that’s what worried you about the previous statement.

Goo Goo Dolls-Name

While Dizzy Up the Girl was quite possibly 12 year old Farah’s favorite, this song stands out so much to me. Gosh, does anyone remember the store Cherry & Webb? Man, pick up a sweater there, listen to this song-BAM! It’s 1995. I wonder if we can catch Now & Then at the movie theater, and if I can bring my Beanie Baby.

Collective Soul – The World I Know

I never really followed this band, though they were one of the first concerts I attended for press, years later. However, this song was a bold imprint on the 90s for me. Just watched the music video for the first time. Well, that was sad.

Spice Girls-Wannabe

Let’s set something straight here. I never owned a Spice Girls CD, never saw the movie, tried so hard not to be girly and listen to the Spice Girls. And yet. My lunch table in fifth grade seemed to have some sort of competition of who could recite ‘Wannabe’ the fastest. (And what’s a ‘zig-a-zig-ah’?)

No Doubt-Don’t Speak

I recorded this song off of the radio with a tape, yes I did. And you could still hear the guitar scratch!

Alanis Morissette-Head Over Feet

I seemed to find myself discussing whether or not we liked Alanis Morissette’s music often enough with my peers. Well, my sixth and fifth grade peers. I’m not sure what the outcome was, but this song and ‘Thank You’ always bring big flashbacks. This song has an interesting verse to chorus key change, which can be a bit of an earworm.

The Fugees-Killing Me Softly With His Song

Roberta Flack’s rendition is awesome, but I love love loved this track. Still do. This song and a shower radio-you have yourself a sing along!

Luscious Jackson-Naked Eye

I had this song on a mix CD. This song and ‘Sherry Fraser‘ were my top picks on that CD, let me tell you. Luscious Jackson! Sherry Fraser! Where have you gone?

Primitive Radio Gods-Standing Outside A Broken Phone Booth With Money In My Hand

I think this song haunts me. And it’s always, ‘what was that band called’, and ‘what as the name of that song about the phone booth’, and I forget every time.

Harvey Danger-Flagpole Sitta

Much like the Spice Girl’s song, my desk group in sixth grade seemed to need to recite this entire song. The boy who sat next to me had the CD, along with Godsmack’s self titled album, seemingly taken from his older brother. Boy, was I at the cool table.

The Cardigans-Lovefool

I remember watching a talk show with my mom, and The Cardigans came on to perform. My mom thought they were cute. There we are!

Jewel-Enter From the East

You may tease me, but Spirit was the first CD I owned that was not a soundtrack or musical oriented album. I know Jewel had other hits, which all drag me back, but I will say I enjoy the range in this song. And yes, I still have this CD somewhere. The case is certainly broken.

LFO-Summer Girls

I did not follow boy bands and the like, but this song has a story. My first chance at a junior high dance, and I finally got a slow dance. Or so I thought. Nothing says romance like ‘Chinese food makes me sick’. Well, I certainly did not look like a girl from Abercrombie and Fitch.  Those awful flared khakis and green peasant blouse weren’t doing wonders for junior high Farah and her frizzy hair. Neither was the giant peace sign and yin yang necklace. Not only was I listening to The Wallflowers, I was one!

TLC-No Scrubs

Did you really think this song wouldn’t make the list?

Sheryl Crow

Sheryl Crow-My Favorite Mistake

It was always on the radio when I woke up to get to school. Always. Likewise…

Jennifer Paige-Crush

Always on the radio in the car on the way to school. Always always. I can smell the Daily Defense shampoo and see the sparkly jaw-clips like it were yesterday.

Third Eye Blind-Semi-Charmed Life

Totally didn’t understand what this song was about when I was ten/eleven. Nope.

Destiny’s Child-Bills Bills Bills

This is my other singing in the car go-to. Apologies again to those around me. Where are our orange and blue outfits?

There are so many more…of course it’s different for everybody. Some of these songs are like teleporters, really. I can smell my hair straightening gel (that didn’t work well), see my flared jeans and bell sleeved sweaters, and taste the snacks I would eat at my best friend’s house.

Back to Alex Mack and Buffy the Vampire Slayer! I’m outtie! (The Clueless game my friend had told us that was Cher slang for ‘I’m leaving’. Great, I’m glad we have that cleared up.)

What songs defined the 90s for you?

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One thought on “Songs That Defined The 90s As Much As Butterfly Clips and GC-161

  1. The Jimmy Cliff version of “I can see clearly now” was in my head for about 10 years straight. It was probably the first music video I saw.
    For some reason it came pre-loaded on a computer we had back then. Before Vevo, before youtube, there was low-def Jimmy Cliff!

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