Tuesday, October 20, 2009


From top to bottom: Michael Stipe of R.E.M., Fiona Apple,
the Stone Roses, Saint Etienne, Richard Ashcroft of the Verve

I miss the '90s. There, I've said it! While everyone and his mother continue to obsess over '80s music, I'm equally, if not more, enthralled by the less-hyped-and-sort-of-all-over-the-place sound of the 10 years that followed, perhaps partly because it neatly contained the Clintonian era, during which I was in a considerably better overall mood. TLC and an assorted few others aside, it was a pretty dismal time for commercial pop and R&B (guilty-pleasure Eurocrap like Ace of Base and airbrushed middle-of-the-road soul like Boyz II Men, for the most part, ruled until later in the decade), but '90s rock -- particularly the poppier UK brand -- rocked. Grunge had it's moments (mostly from Soundgarden and Stone Temple Pilots), but for me, it was all about Britpop: Blur, Gene, Happy Mondays, Radiohead, Ride, the Stone Roses, Suede, Texas and the Verve. (Sorry, I never really got into Oasis.)

So in the middle of celebrating the best of the '00s, I salute 30 hot '90s singles that are still in regular rotation on my iPod (minus remixes, which might otherwise overwhelm the list, as this was the decade of killer remixes saving mediocre songs). Why 30? Because that is how old I was at the end of the decade -- plus I kept wanting to add more songs but had to cut it off somewhere. I don't have time to post music or links, but you should be able to find all of them on iTunes, Amazon.com or YouTube.

  • The Stone Roses "Fools Good" (1989, 1990, 1992, 1995, 1999)
  • Pet Shop Boys "Being Boring" (1990)
  • Chapterhouse "Pearl" (1991)
  • Roxette "Spending My Time" (1991)
  • Siouxsie & The Banshees "Kiss Them For Me" (1991)
  • Soundgarden "Outshined" (1991)
  • Curve "Fait Accompli" (1992)
  • Leonard Cohen "Closing Time" (1992)
  • R.E.M. "Drive" (1992)
  • Ride "Leave Them All Behind" (1992)
  • Wynonna Judd "She Is His Only Need" (1992)
  • The Breeders "Cannonball" (1993)
  • Smashing Pumpkins "Cherub Rock" (1993)
  • Grant Lee Buffalo "Mockingbirds" (1994)
  • Kristine W. "Feel What You Want" (1994)
  • Mary Chapin Carpenter "Shut Up And Kiss Me" (1994)
  • Stone Temple Pilots "Interstate Love Song" (1994)
  • Elastica "Connection" (1995)
  • Live "All Over You" (1995)
  • Pulp "Common People" (1995)
  • Saint Etienne "He's On The Phone" (1995)
  • Abra Moore "Four Leaf Clover" (1997)
  • Depeche Mode "Barrel Of A Gun" (1997)
  • Olive "You're Not Alone" (1997)
  • Patty Loveless Ft. George Jones "You Don't Seem To Miss Me" (1997)
  • The Verve "Bittersweet Symphony" (1997)
  • Sixpence None The Richer "Kiss Me" (1998)
  • Tricky Ft. PJ Harvey "Broken Homes" (1998)
  • Fiona Apple "Fast As You Can" (1999)
  • TLC "No Scrubs" (1999)

I'm still making a list -- and checking it twice -- of my 100 favorite albums of all time, which, as anybody could imagine, is no minor undertaking. Until I unveil the final countdown, which is likely to be dominated by albums released between 1990 and the end of the millennium, here are 15 '90s albums you have to listen to before you die. (Yes, '92, which happens to be the year I fell in love for the first time, was a very good time for music.)

  • George Michael Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1 (1990)
  • Pet Shop Boys Behaviour (1990)
  • Annie Lennox Diva (1992)
  • The Black Crowes The Southern Harmony And Musical Companion (1992)
  • k.d. lang Ingenue (1992)
  • Neneh Cherry Homebrew (1992)
  • R.E.M. Automatic For The People (1992)
  • Sarah McLachlan Fumbling Towards Ecstasy (1993)
  • Joni Mitchell Turbulent Indigo (1994)
  • Morrissey Vauxhall And I (1994)
  • Radiohead The Bends (1995)
  • Linda Perry In Flight (1996)
  • The Cardigans Gran Turismo (1998)
  • Elvis Costello & Burt Bacharach Painted From Memory (1998)
  • Fiona Apple When The Pawn... (1999)

And for your viewing pleasure, my favorite video of the 1990s, if not all time.

Bjork "All Is Full Of Love"

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