90s Top Tracks

The 90s were a magical and diverse time for music. From grunge to rap to boy bands, the 90s had it all. In my opinion, the 90s were one of the greatest decades of music. This week, instead of a nostalgic glance at one album, I wanted to look back on some of my favorite songs of the 90s.

1. “Wannabe” – Spice Girls

 

 

 

 

Laugh all you want, this British band will have the last laugh in the end. Their reunion tour was a huge success (there are rumors of another one) and the song lives on (strongly) to this day as a symbol of girl power and friendship. This is a not so guilty pleasure of mine and you can catch me singing this at the top of my lungs any given day. I won’t lie, I saw the movie when it came out, too.

2.”Lovefool” – The Cardigans

 

 

 

 

 

 

This also happens to be one of my favorite karaoke songs today. When I first heard this song, it was in the movie Romeo and Juliet. Did I particularly like Shakespeare? No, but I did have a crush on the young Leonardo DiCaprio. I was also at the age where I was in love with love and this song was the ultimate love song in my eyes (not to mention the love story in the movie). Who can’t relate to being a fool for love?

3. “Freak on a Leash”-  Korn

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can you believe the album Follow the Leader, that featured this song as a single , came out in 1998? 15 years ago! I first got into the band through my brother. I thought he was cool and I wanted to mimic that. Little did I know that I could actually relate to this song. I wasn’t exactly miss popular in high school and felt isolated and bullied by my peers. Hearing a song that had a similar theme of isolation was comforting, even with that weird scat/beat box breakdown in the middle.

4. “Violet” – Hole

 

 

 

 

 

 

Courtney Love may be a hot mess but her early music was awesome. So tragically beautiful (and most likely drug fueled), you could hear the pain in her voice with this song. I’ll have to admit, while this is definitely one of my favorite songs from the era, it wasn’t during the 90s. Not until later on in life would I discover this song and if I’m not mistaken, it was during a break up. ” When they get what they want, and then they never want it again” just fueled my break up induced rage. I am a huge fan of Courtney Love’s husky voice then add that growl and it’s even better.

5.”No Diggity” – Blackstreet (feat. Dr.Dre and Queen Pen)

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t deny it, you love it, too. There’s just something so infectious and catchy about this song. Most recently, it was used in the movie Pitch Perfect and was even better A Capella. Blackstreet’s “Next Level” album was one of the very first hip hop albums I bought and still jam to out to to this day. When an album is good, it can last throughout the years and this album (and song) had staying power.

The 90s had some of the best music to this day and while I am hopeful for a repeat of such diversity of great music, I don’t think it would still come close to the caliber of these songs and others from the 90s.

 

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Written by: Katie Sperduti

 

 

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The Toast | Radiohead- OK Computer

   How do you start to talk about an album that has been considered one of the best albums of the ’90s? How can anything I say even come remotely close to describing what a masterpiece this album was? There are no words to give justice to OK Computer by Radiohead. It is definitely in my top 100 albums and I’m sure it’s in yours too but I didn’t discover Radiohead through their music.

OK Computer came out in 1997 and was the third studio album for the English rock group.  As I’ve mentioned before, when I was younger and first discovering music for myself, I would stay up late and watch MTV after my parents went to sleep. I loved music videos, of course, back in the ’90s there was something to actually love about music videos.  When I first saw the video for “Paranoid Android” I didn’t think it was a music video at first.

The video is animated, so I guess I assumed that the character in the video would start talking eventually but halfway through the almost 7 minute song, I finally figured out it was a music video.  Lead singer Thom Yorke has the most calming and strangely beautiful voice. To this day, there still isn’t anyone that you can say comes close to that sound.  What I really like about the song is the non-traditional points of it. In a typical song, it goes verse-chorus-verse essentially.  “Paranoid Android” lacks that formula, which makes it stand out in my opinion. I also really love the grandeur of it all. Starts up slow, building up tension, reaches a climax to calm back down only to pick up again. Songs that are so dramatic and tell a story remind me of Queen and Freddy Mercury.

“Karma Police” provided me with a lot of comfort in my teen years and still does to this day.  I am a firm believer in karma, and this song to me was a warning to those for didn’t believe in it or had bad karma. “This is what you’ll get when you mess with us” means (to me) this (karma) is what you’ll get when you’re cruel to other people. I don’t remember where I read it, but I do recall reading a quote by Thom Yorke that said “Karma is important. The idea that something like karma exists makes me happy. “ The video perfectly executes the idea of karma with a man running from a car. The car symbolizes karma and the man is running from it but sooner or later, good or bad, karma will catch up with you.

Besides the popular songs on the album, my favorite by far was “No Surprises”. It had such a harsh and sad topic but the music was sweet and gentle like a lullaby. “A heart that’s full up like a landfill  A job that slowly kills you Bruises that won’t heal” it sounds like a final lament or a suicide note that lulls you into a false sense of security with the soft music. I love the contrast between calm and frantic. The lyrics are about someone who just can’t keep themselves together and just can’t handle it anymore but the music wants to almost sedate you into a calm state.

This is one album that will never get old and I think will stay on everyone’s  “favorite album of all time” lists. I love the obscurity and the beauty of Radiohead’s music and those qualities shine in OK Computer. If you haven’t listened to this album yet, now would be a good time.

 

 

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Written by Katie Sperduti

The Toast | Alanis Morissette- Jagged Little Pill

       I can’t remember how old I was when I first discovered Alanis Morissette or at what age my parents actually let me listen to her music. What I do know is that at age 26, I fully appreciate the empowering feminist message that was tucked away in Jagged Little Pill. Whether is was masked by the anger in “You Oughta Know” or hidden by the insecurities in “Perfect”, this album is an example (and in my opinion, the start) of the huge girl power movement in the ’90s.

There are a lot of stories behind “You Oughta Know”, the most popular one being that it was written about David Coulier (of Full House fame).  I have to be honest, even since I heard that rumor it’s been pretty hard to watch Full House because I always think of the line “would she go down on you in a theater?” while watching.  I’m sure there have been angry songs about break ups and relationships before but this song is most prominent in my head. In my opinion, it made it okay for women to talk about how they really feel about a break up without writing some sappy, heartbroken ballad. Who is honestly just sad about a break up? You get mad, you feel wronged and it’s just not fair. Without Alanis Morissette standing up for herself and expressing how pissed off she really was about that break up (whether it was about Joey on Full House or not), this paved the way for artists like Kelly Clarkson and Taylor Swift.  Revenge was sweet for Ms. Morissette this round, her spiteful break up song became a hit and made her a household name.

“Forgiven” though not a single off the album, is another example of a feminist anthem from Morissette. The song is about the double standards put upon women, mostly about sex. The song is also based on the beliefs of Catholicism. Man or woman, you are taught as a catholic premarital sex is immoral. “I never forgot it, confusing as it was, No fun with no guilt feelings”  this clear signifies that a Catholic is suppose to feel guilty about something that is completely natural and enjoyable.  When it comes to sex and women, it is a common double standard that a sexual woman (whether it be with partners or masturbation) is a whore while a man is champion. “My brothers they never went blind for what they did but I may as well have”. It’s about praising men and their sexuality but punishing women. I can’t think of another song by a woman, other than “Like a Prayer” by Madonna that incorporated sexuality and religion, she was a pioneer again in this sense.

The song “Perfect” is one I connected with personally. The song includes overbearing parents that expect too much of their child(ren), but since I did not have parents like that, I connected to it as not being able to live up to the stereotypical standards that are expected of women. “Sometimes is never quite enough If you’re flawless, then you’ll win my love…”  We’re expected to be “perfect”;  to be the best and not show a hint of weakness or imperfections. A woman will not always be a size zero, a blonde, have large breasts or  any other ridiculous stereotypical trait that has a lot of women (including myself at times) feeling insecure.  The lyrics “I’ll live through you I’ll make you what I never was If you’re the best, then maybe so am I…I’m doing this for your own damn good You’ll make up for what I blew” are about a parents living through their child because they made the wrong choices in life. If they aren’t/weren’t successful in life in some aspect, maybe they can be if they push unrealistic goals on their children. It was a powerful message in such a soft spoken song.

 

Whether I realized it at the time the album came out or not, Jagged Little Pill was a groundbreaking album for women. Morissette busted through the boundaries of a predominately male genre ( rock) and made her voice heard.  She paved the way for female artists and started the girl power movement that is still going strong to this day.

 

 

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Written by Katie Sperduti

The Toast | No Doubt- Tragic Kingdom

It seems like the ’90s were a prime time for female musicians to make their mark on the music world. Alanis Morrisette, Shirley Manson (Lead singer of Garbage) and other powerful females were dominating the music charts and going toe to toe with the men.  Another one of those women is Gwen Stefani, lead singer of No Doubt.

Tragic Kingdom was one of the biggest albums of the ’90s and also, one of my favorites of all time. Ska music was all over the radio from bands like Sublime and The Mighty Mighty Bosstones but there was not a whole lot of ska bands with females. There are only 2 that notably stand out to me (No Doubt and Save Ferris) so when Tragic Kingdom began to blow up, it was a huge deal.

“Just a Girl” was a satiric play on how women are portrayed in society; weak and helpless. “Just a Girl” was Stefani’s way of breaking out . The song was a laundry list of grievances against the stereotypes against women. “’Cause I’m just a girl, little ‘ol me Don’t let me out of your sight
I’m just a girl, all pretty and petite  So don’t let me have any rights”. While it seems like she’s just complaining, she’s actually empowering women who have also “had it up to here”. Instead of speaking out about the issue, she wrote a hit song and made girls everyone proud to be female.

“Sunday Morning” was a single off the album, but not as popular as the other singles but it happens to be my favorite song on the album. Even though “Don’t Speak”  became the break up anthem this is another song about dealing with break ups. The way I see it, it’s two different ways of handling things; “Don’t Speak” is about taking a break up pretty hard and “Sunday Morning” is about picking yourself up and moving on from the relationship.  “Thank you for turning on the lights
Thank you, now you’re the parasite I didn’t think you had it in you And now you’re looking like I used to” is a switch of power. Maybe you got dumped and you’re all torn up about it. Suddenly, your significant other wants you back and you give them the boot, now they’re the ones missing out. Totally irrelevant to the song, but whenever I hear this song I think of the music video. Gwen Stefani had a ’50s housewife thing going on and she looked flawless…. I hate her so much for that.

 

I remember going through a break up and crying with “Don’t Speak” in the background. It’s such a simple song but what makes it so great is it just lays everything out on the table.  It’s the brutal honesty of the song that gives it so much heart. “I really feel that I’m losing my best friend I can’t believe this could be the end. It looks as though you’re letting go and if it’s real, well I don’t want to know “ We’ve all been there. Had a break up that made you think it was the end of the world and you’d never love again.  I also think it was pretty bad ass of Stefani to write and record a break up song about a member of her band… while he’s still in the band. It also says a lot about their relationship, seeing as the band is still going strong.

Tragic Kingdom is one of those albums that you can never get sick of, not just because of the quality of the music, but because of the message of the songs. Songs like “Just a Girl” and “Sunday Morning” let females know it’s OK to be a strong, independent woman and to stand up and be proud. No Doubt has had (and hopefully will continue to have) a long, successful career but  no matter what they have done or will do in the future, Tragic Kingdom will always be their stand out album.

 

 

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Written by: Katie Sperduti

Clueless

Usually when you think of the campy genre, it’s associated with horror movies (at least in my world it is) but this is not always the case. When I was younger, I discovered a little movie called Clueless.. maybe you’ve heard of it. At the time, I didn’t get the campy humor of it (pretty much took most of it serious), but the more I watch it as I get older I notice and appreciate the campy-ness of the film and why it was so good.

The story follows “average” teenager Cher Horowitz (Alicia Silverstone), who happens to have a wealthy father and lives in Beverly Hills. The intro to the movie plays out like a “Noxzema commercial,” as Cher puts it, which leads into her getting out of bed and ready for school.  She’s got it half right, like everyone else she picks out clothes and gets ready… except instead of going into the closet she has a computer program that puts an outfit together for her.  We then get to see her driving around in a fully loaded jeep (without a license) as she picks up her best friend Dionne (Stacy Dash). Fun fact about the two of them, they’re named after famous singers who now do infomercials. If you didn’t hate her enough, when you hear her speech about Haitian immigrants coming to America (and how she compares it to her father’s 50th birthday party) you very well might after that.

It may seem like this movie is about as deep as a puddle. These kids are obsessed with themselves, their own gain (as long as it involves the mall or tricking their teachers into raising their grades), but underneath the ignorance and narcissism, there’s some actual wit, humor and depth to Cher and her friends.  For example, when new student Tai (Brittany Murphy) arrives at the school dressed like a total misfit, Cher convinces Dionne to give her a makeover to make her more popular.  The only downside to that selfless charity is that Tai falls for Cher’s stepbrother Josh (Paul Rudd) who Cher unearths feelings for.

In all seriousness, Cher does actually develop some real depth and maturity as the movie goes on.  After reaching a point in her life where finds she needs to do a makeover on herself, she decides instead of doing a physical makeover, “I’ll makeover my soul.” Before you think she’s done a total 180, the new found maturity stems from her love of Josh and her need to impress him.

I love this movie because it doesn’t take itself too seriously. These entitled rich kids go through the same issues any other teenager would go through; bad grades, breakups, fights with friends and parents and growing pains.  The older I get, the more I appreciate the satire and camp put into this movie. And of course, who doesn’t like a few dumb blonde jokes here and there? Does Cher land her broth…man and live happily ever after? If you want a way to go back to high school without having to relieve those “wonder” years, make sure you watch Clueless. It’s now available instantly on Netflix.

 

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Written by: Katie Sperduti

The Toast | All-New X-Men

In the fallout the epic Avengers Vs. X-Men storyline of last summer, Marvel’s most prolific and influential writer of modern times–Brian Michael Bendis–did a switcharoo from Avengers to X-Men, ending a seven year franchise invigorating run. Now, for fansof the Mighty Marvel brand there are two schools of thoughts on the work and style of BMB–he’s the best shit ever or he’s the worst shit ever. I am more leaning towards the former if for nothing else than his ability to literally write about 700 titles simultaneously at a remarkably high level of quality and internal/external story consistency.

Bendis set up his run on X-Men quit nicely by putting the fearless leader of the X-Men in a spot that he had been teetering on for many years–public enemy number 1. In recent years, Scott Summers has become increasingly compromised philosophically as he become the de facto face of the mutant race. He’s been sleeping with reformed villain Emma Frost, taking council from reformed villain Magneto, and consorting with rogue king and first-mutant Namor, the Sub-Mariner as his inner circle of original X-Men began fleeing from him in the social equivalent of Hawking Radiation. Coming to a climax as a Phoenix Force possessed Cyclops killed Charles Xavier, the world has come to see Cyclops as that most interesting kind of villain–the kind that sees himself as the hero.

Enter Bendis’ All-New X-Men, a title in which the Beast–at the end of his rope–decides to travel back in time and pluck the five original X-Men from their ideological teenage years to try and shock some sense into the elder Summers. The bi-monthly title gives way to some interesting character interactions as the younger incarnations have to come to terms with the mighty changes that have occurred to them over the past 40 years of comics compressed-time story telling–particularly Jean Grey who is shocked to find out that the Xavier School is now the Jean Grey School, and that she is dead.

Most of all, even beyond Beat having to working scientifically with Beast, this book is about young Cyclops coming to terms with older Cyclops and the reactions people are having to him–both fearful and respectful–for things his hasn’t done yet. The idea behind the book is really resonant for readers like me who often wonder what their teenage self would say to their adult selves. Its hard to imagine–would they consider you a success or a sell out? Are you the man or have you become The Man? All the while we see that modern Cyclops is having problems of his own, and is all too aware of the compromises he’s made.

The comic book has some really worthwhile scenes, and that embedded humor that Bendis is known for. Honestly, its a really interesting direction to take, though it does bring up a load of questions about what happens when the originals go back in time–does the past and still alive Xavier mindwipe them? Does the present change? Does their return herald an alternate and divergent timeline? Bendis has managed to really kindle some intriguing questions and even managed to rekindle some interest in the Cyclops/Jean Grey romance, as she wants nothing to do with him due to their tragic future.

Any Bendis fan or X-Men fan should take a look at this book; running bi-monthly, it manages to move along quickly in general and within the borders of a single issue. It’s fresh and new, while revering current developments and over-all continuity, it also manages to be fresh and well…All-New. It makes me wonder what Bendis’ Guardians of the Galaxy is going to look like, honestly, because now that he is out of the Avengers context it seems like BMB has got a whole new team book rhythm going on–while of course keeping the style that people either love or hate about him intact.

The Toast | Rock and Roll High School

When you think of The Ramones, you don’t necessary think of them as movie stars or starring in a musical heavily influenced by their music, but you’d be thinking wrong! Though high school musicals are not very “punk rock,”  the late 70s spawned a little movie called Rock ‘N’ Roll High School starring the punk legends, which has become a cult classic among movie and music lovers everywhere.

I’d seen this movie before but I guess I never really paid attention who was starring in it (besides the band of course). When I re-watched it again, I noticed that the lead role of Riff Randell was played by none other than scream queen, P.J. Soles! You may remember her from Halloween and Carrie. Randell is a rebel at Vince Lombardi High School who’s only goal in life is to write songs for The Ramones. Unfortunately, the school has just been taken over by a new principal named Miss Evelyn Togar (Mary Woronov ) who is nothing short of a tyrant and wants to whip the school into shape. Her first order of business? Remove all Rock and Roll.

Riff’s sidekick is science nerd and goodie two shoes Kate Rambeau (Dey Young) . Even though they’re total opposites, they’re the perfect match. They hijack the PA system before school one day to play some music (Sheena is a punk rocker to be exact), but Miss. Togar shuts down the party. She gives them both detention, but that doesn’t stop the music for Riff who is always seen carrying about a cassette player playing her favorite band. She even fools her gym teacher into thinking its a hearing aid (which is pretty clever in my opinion).

Kate also has a passion for something (or should I say someone): Tom Roberts (Vincent Van Patten) the quarterback for the football team. Tom is not too suave with the ladies (which seems odd when you think of the stereotypical football player) and can’t seem to talk about anything but the weather. He also has a crush on someone but it’s not Kate… it’s Riff.

If a love triangle and a psycho principal aren’t exciting or entertaining enough for you, then surely The Ramones performing multiple times throughout the movie will fill that void for you. My favorite performance from them in the movie would have to be in Riff Randall’s room when they sing “I want you around.”  Nothing like smoking a joint and being serenaded by Joey Ramone, right?

If Grease  is for the jocks and cheerleaders, then Rock and Roll High School is for the punk rockers.  This is an unconventional musical that has everything a teen rocker would need; rebellion, music and romance. Will Kate ever get her man or will he end up with Riff? Does Ms. Togar succeed in removing rock music from the school and taming the unruly students that drove the first principal away or will rock and roll prevail? You’ll have to watch and see.  If Grease is a little too cookie cutter for you, you will enjoy  Rock ‘N’ Roll High School.

 

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Written by: Katie Sperduti