Music for 90s babies and fans of timeless pop music; explore the decade defined by boybands, Europop, girl groups, rap, and so much more.
- Top Story - June 2023
Playlist of a 90's Stripper
In my 20s, I loved clubbing and dancing the night away. A couple of weekends a month, I would get a babysitter for my two young daughters and hit the club scene with my girlfriends. It was a great way to unwind, socialize with old pals, and meet new people. I enjoyed getting a break from my usual mom gear (t-shirts & jeans, or sweats) to swap out for some heels, a sexy new dress, a fresh hairdo, and makeup. Oh, those sure were the days. My friends and I could move on that dance floor which caught much attention.
Many know Jeff Buckley for his triumphant rendition of Leonard Cohen’s 'Hallelujah’, but avid fans will always remember him as the Shakespearean tragedy smothered in his own timeless soundtrack. Since his untimely death in 1997 he has gathered a cult following, growing with every passing day. Ethereal and enchanting, Buckley’s music has proven to stand the test of time. Standing out in his discography, is Buckley’s magnum opus, the pivotal 90’s album Grace. This was the only studio album by the American singer-songwriter. Widely regarded nowadays by critics and listeners as one of the greatest albums of all time, it’s initial reception was mixture of poor sales and conflicting reviews. Here’s all you need to know about Grace.
It's a Bittersweet Symphony this life.
I used to really hate the song Bittersweet Symphony, by The Verve. It started in my youth. Back when I was a budding music fan, all the way in Primary school, I was too involved in splitting my fervour between By The Way by the Red Hot Chilli Peppers and Steps debut album. Looking back, perhaps my tastes weren’t as developed as I thought they were. Once I imprisoned my parents and their friends in the living room and made them listen to the entirety of STEPS, as well as my own commentary.
80’s Maybes but it’s the 90’s Divinely
It was so close. So tantalizingly torturing of what we call the final decision. I mean really. The 80’s blessed us with some heavy hitters. There was Michael Jackson, Prince, Janet Jackson, Babyface, Anita Baker, New Edition, Bobby Brown, Cameo, George Clinton, Gap Band, Guy, Al B. Sure, Quincy Jones, Rick James, Teena Marie if my fingers had a respiratory system they would be out of breath right now. That was just the R&B side of things. The MTV ushered in a new era of visual music along with some Pop and Rock & Roll. Some of my favorites like Tears For Fears, Huey Lewis & The News, Pat Benatar, Guns & Roses, Phil Collins, Genesis, The Police, Sting, Billy Idol, Queen, Culture Club, Wham!, Cyndi Lauper, Aerosmith just to name a few. Prince and Michael Jackson hit all three in the 80’s effortlessly.
Say Its Name: The 90s
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.
Why the 90's was the 'Illest'
Let’s cut to the chase. If any era of music is deserving of being played on repeat for the course of a lifetime, it’s the 90’s! You heard it right, I said the 90’s! Don’t get me wrong, I respect and pay homage to the mellifluous eras of music that came before then: Rhythm and Blues, Soul, Jazz, Rock, Pop, Electric, etcetera, but the 90’s birthed a sound unlike any other, and that was both, Hip-Hop and R&B. Although Hip-Hop’s origin is in the 1980’s, it wasn’t considered “mainstream,” mainly due to public outrage about the interpretation of its lyrics. Also, because the genre was aboriginal, there was no variation in its field, so the range of music produced was limited, calling for a very small niche. But then came the 90’s…and with it, emerged the birth of rap: an amalgamation of lyricism, conscious flow, melodic choruses and raw energy. Even to date, some of the most influential rappers in the world, coined themselves in this era. I’m uncertain of whether this was his intent, but when Dr. Dre released his first album, The Chronic, which he debuted in 1991, he set off a domino effect for aspiring rappers worldwide. I was a small child when that album was released, but I can still remember the excited energy from people blasting his cassette tape on large boomboxes in the streets of Brooklyn. It was enrapturing. After The Chronic, we only saw the creativity and highlight given to Hip-Hop, steadily increase. We had the explosive birth of East coast rappers: The Notorious B.I.G, Nas, DMX, The Wu-Tang Clan, Mobb Deep, and many others, who delivered us songs like Juicy, Hypnotize, Party Up, Ruff Ryder’s Anthem, C.R.E.A.M., NY State of Mind, and more, which exploded on the airway. And following in the footsteps of its hometown protégé, Dr. Dre, we had the rise of many West coast rappers who dominated the game with their own unique sound: Snoop Dogg, Tupac Shakur, Ice Cube, Eazy-E, MC Hammer, and others, who also brought us hits like, U Can’t touch this, Nuthin’ But a G thing, It Was A Good Day, I Get Around, Gin & Juice, and so much more, which also gained much traction. Aside from the fresh beats, and thought-provoking lyrics, my personal appreciation for 90’s Hip-Hop, stems from the voice I watched it lend to the otherwise voiceless. Prior to the 90’s, never had so many young Black men been given a platform to express their own creativity, in their way, in their words. This genre gave many young Black children something to aspire toward and allowed for mainstream society to a gain perspective into a world typically overlooked, the life of the poor. Hip-Hop offered a lens into the creativity of the streets while also fostering relatability throughout communities alike. To have music, but more specifically, Hip-Hop, serve as a platform to the pain of the underserved, undervalued, and the oppressed, well, that resonates in my spirit in a deeply profound way. Now don’t get me wrong, other genres of music have been produced during this decade, but 90’s Hip-Hop and R&B has penetrated me in a way that no alternate genre of music has been able to accomplish. (Not to mention, the fashion at the time was epic!) To support my already esteemed deference in musical choice, many young artists today, overly sample both the songs AND the fashion from the decade, solidifying the notion that there is just a little extra sauce in the nineties bowl. Now, let’s talk R&B, a genre so sexy, so cool, with the added ability to move you to tears in a heartbeat. When you think of 90’s R&B, I’m sure staple names automatically pop into your head: Aaliyah, TLC, Usher, 112, Jodeci, Boys II Men, Mariah Carey, Destiny’s Child, Dru Hill, The Fugees, Mya, 702, Sade, etc. Now after dropping these names, if not many, at least one hit record came to mind per artist, right? These artists gave us so many hit records during the decade: One in a Million, Back and Forth, Waterfalls, Creep, My Way, Nice & Slow, Cupid, Love You like I did, Bills, Bills, Bills, Ready or Not, Tell me, Always Be My Baby, Come and Talk to me, It’s All About Me, etc. I want to name more, but I’ll respectfully digress, lol. What was most captivating to me about 90’s R&B was the sheer amount of raw talent you had to expel to even become considered in the playing field. Record labels were not dishing out deals to artists of any gender who didn’t have a large base talent which made the music industry highly competitive, but also forced artists who wanted to make it big, to step their game up. So, when you look at the billboard charts from this decade, you find songs that actually show off vocal range and skill. Because of this, 90’s R&B became a powerhouse of voices: Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Lauren Hill, Sade, Brandy, Sisqo, Ginuwine, Mary J. Blige, Beyoncé, and these are just a few. R&B created a world opposite to that of Hip-Hop. It called for sensuality, gentleness, romanticism, and seduction, but also lent a lens into the raw emotions of heartbreak and pain. It allowed for myself to personally explore the depths of my imagination and paint my own perceptions of love. There were times I used to sit in my dining area with a notebook and pen, writing alternate endings to songs, or changing the endings of music videos to incorporate myself in the tale and I think that speaks to the level of creative genius produced during the time. Either that, or I’m just really crazy. But for real guys, so many high-profile artists were pushing the best out of themselves, to not only claim a spot at the top, but to maintain it as well. There was a certain level of hunger, of sheer aspiration that contributed to my desire of wanting to become a Writer. I saw minorities, both Blacks and Women, entering a filed and coming out on top. This helped me to dream about achieving in an unconventional, uncomfortable, large and explosive way, so yeah, if I were stuck on an island with nothing else to soothe me, hand me an iPhone with nothing but a 90’s playlist, I’ll be just fine. As I said before: 90’s for the win!
The Semi-Charmed 90s Had Everything I Wanted in Music
Teenage years are pivotal for anyone entering adulthood, and this rings especially true with musical taste. For most of us, our musical journey truly begins during our teenage years as it's a time for exploration, for coming into our own, for making our own decisions in life. Sure, our parents and families and upbringing influence how we choose to live our lives, the music we listen to, the books we read, and the television shows we watch, but this is when we define life for ourselves. And my defining musical decade was the late 90s.
Choice of Music from a Specific Decade
Growing up, music has become something that helps define where you came from. The ’90s was a time where genres expanded & each one got more chances to be in the spotlight. New genres emerged and boy bands became a thing. Female artists & foreign artists also became more widespread. Genres branched out more & new styles emerged as well. So if you can only listen to music from a specific decade, the 90s might be the choice to go with.
Musical Decades: The Best of the 90’s
The year of 1997 was when I entered the beautiful world. Not only was the 90's the generation I was born in. The 90's was an interesting generation in which technology was gradually developing and genres like rap and hip hop became popular among teenagers and young adults. As a child growing up in the 2000's, I would become exposed to the most well-known 90's hits and listen to them regularly. My family always kept CD's in the house and in the car. One of the CD's that I recall my mother keeping in her car was a CD with a collection of popular 90's dance and rock hits. My brother and I loved listening to the songs while we were in the car. Some of the songs that were on the CD's were songs that I would dance to during flagpole, which was a morning event in which kids and counsellors would gather and dance on the field before athe camp day started. Throughout my youth, I continued to listen and dance to 90's music, regardless of the genre of what other kids were listening to. As an adult, I still admire all the rap, techno, rock, alternative, heavy metal, hip hop and indie hits from the 90's.
THE 90s: MUSIC THAT TRANSCENDED, THE PERFECT MIDDLE GROUND
It seems as if everyone and anyone these days looks back at the 80s as their favourite decade, even if they weren't born in it, in part because of the wave of nostalgia seen in pop culture in recent memory. And even though I admire music from that period, I'll be quick to say upon my recent reflection of it, that even though most jams have a feel good element to them (think anything by A-ha or Duran, Duran and the such). There is very little in terms of conversation going on there. And by this I mean the umbilical cord between the listener and the performer and the world around them.
One Chevy Suburban and a Rand McNally To Go, Please.
When I was a kid, they used to make those massive Rand McNally maps of the United States. You might still get them at a local Barnes and Noble, but there’s no business in hard copy maps anymore due to the easy access of GPS on our phones and in our cars. That big book detailing all the roads and parks was entertainment for me living on our homestead in the countryside of Kentucky. We didn’t have a computer or television – in fact, we didn’t have electricity. My entertainment was either my imagination fighting dragons in the woods with wooden swords, listening to Eddie Vedder belt out “Even Flow” (1991) on the radio, or reading the many books from the shelves of our home. But most of all, I remember the maps, and I dreamed of roaming the countryside, following the highlighted curves of the road in a Chevy Suburban I’d call home.
Musical Decades: 1990's
Looking back I think everyone thinks the music of their teenage years is the best, its the soundtrack to growing up and every song lyric bores deeply into your soul because it sounds like your favourite bands are talking directly to you.