Throwback Thursday is your weekly concentrated dose of nostalgia, where we round up the bests and worsts of all things 90s (and the early 2000s.) This week: The top 5 iconic songs of the 90s!
The 90s were a unique and somewhat transitory period for many things: fashion, TV, but most importantly music. The 90s reflected a time of real change for the music industry, with the rise of boy bands, grunge, and rap. Who can forget some of the great American classics like Sir-Mix-A-Lot’s Baby Got Back and Christina Aguilera’s Genie In A Bottle? I remember in kindergarten, when Pablo R. (and I’m not kidding, the kid was actually Hispanic; I couldn’t be that politically incorrect on my own) taught us all how to do the Macarena for show-and-tell. But really though, whether we were off tubthumping with Chumbawamba or un-breaking hearts with Toni Braxton, music was changing in the 90s. And thus, dear internet friends, I bring you some of the most iconic songs of the 90s.
…Baby One More Time – Britney Spears
Before there was Adele and Taylor there was Christina, and of course, the incomparable Britney. The 90s saw the first of many top charting hits for the young pop start that led to her celebrity status and eventual mental break-down. Luckily she managed to pull herself together and back into the realm of superstardom—take a hint from her, Amanda Bynes! But it all started with Baby One More Time. The song itself was super catchy, although I’m still not exactly sure I understand what she means when she says “hit me baby.” Does she mean literally hit? Is it a sex thing? Regardless, what really matters is the music video, which, with the catholic-school-girl-gone-wild theme, was every fifteen-year-old boy’s fantasy come true. Plus, the girl can dance. And sing melodramatically while holding a basketball. Suffice it to say, the song was a hit that kick-started Britney’s career, and she went on to (oops) do it again many more times.
Ice Ice Baby – Vanilla Ice
A lot of great things in this universe come from David Bowie, and Ice Ice Baby may or may not be one of them. While there may be some speculation surrounding the song and its relationship to the Queen and Bowie collaboration of the previous decade, that did not stop Vanilla Ice from topping the charts, surprising everyone. Another big surprise was just how much talent Mr. Ice actually has. Sure, the song many not have a significant amount of deep meaning, but take heed, because Vanilla really is a “lyrical poet” as he claims. And yes, I’m being serious here for a change—how long did it take him to bust all those rhymes? Sure he may say things like, “Quick to the point, to the point no fakin’ / I’m cookin’ MCs like a pound of bacon,” but seriously, mega props to Vanilla Ice for his impeccable use of a rhyming dictionary.
I Want It That Way – Backstreet Boys
One Direction may tell a girl that she’s beautiful and that she lights up their lives, but the Backstreet Boys simply told it like it was—or rather, how they wanted it to be. That being said, I Want It That Way brought Backstreet back to make them once again larger than lifebecause, the so aptly named Millennium album, on which the song can be found, sold like crazy. A lot can also be said for the music video, which depicted the boy band in an airport being swarmed by Beatlemania style fans—although I don’t think that would have actually flown in a real airport (see what I did there?). The video would go on to be parodied by another great 90s band, Blink-182, and the song itself would be parodied and covered by millions, including Weird Al and two Asian kids in their dorm room.
Smells Like Teen Spirit – Nirvana
Like the Backstreet Boys, Nirvana was parodied by Weird Al, and swarmed by fans in their video, however, Nirvana was a band of a different variety, proving that the 90s was not all bubble-gum pop the way most of us remember it. While most of us were a little too busy doing flips in the gym and getting on planes, Nirvana was busy being apathetic and trying to define Generation X. Drawing upon themes from bands like the amazing early punk rock heroes, The Ramones, Nirvana was setting the stage for the grunge era. That being said, I’m still not quite exactly sure what this song was about, and unfortunately the great Kurt Cobain is no longer around to explain it. What does he mean about mosquitoes and albinos? What does that have to do with denial?
MMMBop – Hanson
The Hanson brothers may have all rocked the shaggy Kurt Cobain style haircut, but the band was just about the literal antithesis of everything grunge. The song talks about the importance of friendships, and the video depicts them dancing in front of the giant friendship flower that they plant on the beach. The song, with its repetitive nonsensical lyrics and sugary-sweetness has been mocked and judged relentlessly by a broad range of audiences from SNL to high schools that set up fundraisers under the premise of “stopping the bop”—the fundraiser was infamous, if not successful. While the song many annoying as hell, it is in fact ridiculously catchy and has a good special-snowflake type message that could only be produced by the 90s.