In case you were wondering, yes, the 90s were "All That". And I'm not just talking about the show. The 90s was a colorful era; a different kind of color compared to the 80s. I guess that's why we were blessed with "In Living Color". It was an era full of trendy fashion and new technology. It's an era that every 90s kid say they want to go back to. And more importantly, it was an era full of the greatest hits of all time. Every genre of music during this time was thriving; from pop to rock to hip hop and R&B. I believe a great era is defined by its music, which this decade definitely had. Of course the 70s, 80s, and even 2000s had their fair share of great music, however, in this case, the melodies of the 90s are what take it back for me. It's takes me back...ALRIGHT.
While I was born in the mid-90s, the majority of my childhood and teenage years was spent in the 2000s and early 2010s. Now my pre-teen/teenage years consisted of chatting with my peeps on AIM, sprucing up my MySpace profile, and downloading the latest songs from Linkin' Park, My Chemical Romance, and The All-American Rejects. Prior to that, my childhood consisted of playing Pokémon on my GameBoy Color, watching episodes of "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" early in the morning before school, and listening to The Backstreet Boys, Celine Dion, and Mariah Carey on my CD player. Now all of this sounds like the 2000s, because it was, but to me, it felt like an extension of late 90s. And the reason? My late father.
I won't make this sob a story, but merely a reason why as to the 90s was the decade that I will always choose to come back to.
My dad was born in the 60s, but his jams came from the 70s and 80s (probably because that was his own teenage and young adult years). But he loved the funky R&B style of Prince and gettin' jiggy with the "King of Pop", Michael Jackson. Occasionally, I would even hear him listening to old-school hip hop (i.e. Jazzy Jay). However, once my older brother and I were born in the 90s, he became obsessed with 90s style of R&B and hip hop. As a little girl, I could hear my dad playing songs in his room from Boys II Men and Whitney Houston while he was working. Most of the times, his door was closed, because he didn't want me or my brother bothering him from working. Once in a full moon, his door would be wide open that would allow for me to go and bother him. Hey, I mean, I saw it as an invitation. So in being as the loving dad he was, along with seeing how bored and nosy I was, he let me in and let me listen to his music with him. He introduced me to a range of tracks, most of them reigning from the 90s. Let's just say, I got attached to that 90s vibe pretty quickly. So, as much as the radio played those 2000s top hits, when it was me and my dad, it was all 90s.
As I got older and time passed, I still couldn't find myself listening to the music of my generation. I remained close to the past. I wouldn't find out about new music until years later, because I was stuck. I was stuck in the 90s and honestly, I didn't want to leave. That lovely feeling called "nostalgia" hits hard. At one point I started to look up 90s music on my own without my dad just because I loved it so much. I really can't explain how the music makes me feel other than it makes me feel like...myself. If I could explain it in the best way I could, I would. But that's all I can say, and I hope along with that, that you can understand how I feel. Maybe not the exact same way especially with 90s music, but in general. How can I explain something that makes me feel so nostalgic in that moment, that it feels so real? Like I'm back in the early 2000s, but yet I'm also in the 90s even though I can't even remember how that felt since I was born so late in the decade and didn't even get to really experience it? I can't be the only one, because it could be like that in every era, but in my particular case, it takes me back to my dad. Once he passed in 2007, the music was kind of like that "all I had left of him" emblem...apart from some of his actual belongings. Regardless, I turn on the jams and there he is next to me, listening along.
It's safe to say that my generation, the late Millennial/early Gen Z generation specifically, has a deep connection with nostalgia. It's like looking back at the past and reminiscing childhood has become a pastime; talking about those elementary school days, bringing up old inside jokes and stories that happened. I can get just a little taste of 90s music and I remember the time spent with my dad everyday. I remember playing games and fighting over the controller with my brother on our PS1. I remember asking my mom to buy me Wonder Balls when entering the cash register after grocery shopping. I remember the hype of having a Tamagotchi, and me being jealous, because I didn't have one. The 1990s were something else. I want to go back; I want to relive it. Technically, I want to live it, since I really didn't; it's the style, the heart, and for sure the music. The 90s melodies are the closest thing I have to going back.
I'm sure it's not just me who enjoys this era of music. Whether you were born in the 90s, or grew up in the 90s, there are so many classics that come from the generation of chokers, overalls, plaid, blue jeans, dad caps, and high tops. Many of you may know the artists, the titles, the chorus of the song, or even just the melodies of these songs, but even if that's all you remember, these songs never fail to make you get jiggy with it or have you belt at the top of your lungs. From old-fashioned moms and dads to the Tik Tok famous teenagers, even you can't resist bangin' to these slammin' bops:
- I Want It That Way (Backstreet Boys)- I mean, of course I had to put them on this list. When you think 90s, chances are you're thinking about 90s boybands. Now sing it with me. You know you want to!
- Baby One More Time (Britney Spears)- Britney will always be known as the 90s queen of pop. No one can resist the first three notes at the beginning of this song!
- All Star (Smash Mouth)- I bet some of you reading this had no idea that this song came out in 1999. But I have to give my thanks to Shrek for introducing this song to many of us.
- Say My Name (Destiny's Child)- Since I mentioned 90s boybands, I have to bring up the 90s girl groups. No matter who you were, Destiny's Child always had you feeling some type of girl power.
- My Heart Will Go On (Celine Dion)- Who hasn't seen Titanic? Everyone who's watched it knows how big this song is; no matter which generation you come from.
- Man! I Feel Like A Woman (Shania Twain)- Hey, even country had it's shine in the 90s! I think it's safe to say that Shania Twain had everybody feel like a badass woman.
- I Don't Wanna Miss A Thing (Aerosmith)- Some songs make you wanna serenade somebody. Some songs hit you right in the feels. And some of those songs are by Aerosmith.
- Black Or White (Michael Jackson)- The King of Pop is timeless! He was popular when he was in the Jackson 5 and he's popular even though he's gone. And that doesn't exclude his popularity in the 90s.
- Always Be My Baby (Mariah Carey)- Mariah is truly a queen; a legend, if I may. But 90s Mariah was on a whole different level. Her music and her essence just defines the 90s era, wouldn't you agree?
- Wannabe (Spice Girls)- This is got to be one of everyone's favorite karaoke songs of all time. If you're not singing this with your friends into the microphone, are you really living?
- No Diggity (Blackstreet)- Hip hop has been and will always be evolving, but nothing can compare to the hip hop that was playing back in the day. Once you hear this song, you're immediately brought back to simpler times.
- mmmBop (Hanson)- Honestly, it doesn't get any more 90s than this. This song just screams "Hey! I'm from the 90s!". It makes you wanna put on some overalls and do the running man.
- Return of the Mack (Mack Morrison)- Let's be honest. The majority of my generation has probably heard this song many times on the radio, have sung to it, but never remembered the name. And that's okay because that's what makes this song so iconic.
- Can You Feel the Love Tonight? (Elton John)- The Lion King is a 90s Disney classic. Many 90s kids, and even those who were just born in the 90s, could never forget a song that reminds us of a movie favorite from our childhood.
- Barbie Girl (Aqua)- I don't care who you are. You've heard of the song. You've sung along to the song. You've danced to the song. You enjoy the song. And now it's stuck in your head. You're welcome.
- Livin' La Vida Loca (Ricky Martin)- The younger generation has probably heard their mom sing and dane to this song while in the kitchen at some point. And who can blame them? It's Ricky Martin!
- Tearin' Up My Heart (N'SYNC)- You didn't think I'd forget this popular boy band, did you? Even if you were more of a Backstreet Boys fan, everyone knew these teenage heartthrobs; especially young Justin Timberlake.
- Waterfalls (TLC)- Didn't your mama ever tell you "don't go chasin' waterfalls"? If not, then TLC certainly did. And all they want is for you to "stick to the rivers and the lakes that you're used to".
- Pony (Ginuwine)- Looking for a song about getting into the mood? Well, the 90s has got you covered. And till this day, Ginuwine has one of the most iconic songs of the 90s for that kind of situation.
- What Is Love (Haddaway)- Maybe you've heard it on the radio. Maybe you've heard it in a commercial. Either way, you've heard. You love it. And you can't get enough of it.
This is only just a taste of the tracks that came out during this era. I bet there's a lot more songs you didn't realize are from the late 90s and could be surprised by other ones you find. Take a road trip back in time. We can take a nostalgia trip; get away from the "now". I guarantee you'll love it, and if not, then you can talk to the hand. 🖐