What came first? The Nirvana Nevermind 20 year remembrance or Pearl Jam’s PJ20? Whichever, it doesn’t really matter, seeing as I found both albums illustrated a movement in time and a style of music that translated through fashion and lifestyle. Both iconic. Both worth remembering. Kudos.
However, colour me shocked when, a couple of weeks ago, I hear how U2 is jumping on the 20-year-bandwagon with a documentary and PR campaign for Achtung Baby. U2’s seventh (yes, seventh) studio album. An album fairly inconsequential and background noise in comparison to those that began a Seattle Grunge era. But From the Sky Down isn’t about us or the time it came out during. It’s about them. Their change as a band during the recording of the album. Yet another documentary from them (*cough* Rattle and Hum, circa late-80s *cough * ). Yawn. It is just me, or does the whole thing seem a bit… self-serving?
Which isn’t to say I hate U2. Or even the album. I fairly enjoy the song “One” (side note: accolades to the one who reminded me to not trash that song along with the rest.. kind of like not tossing out the baby with the bathwater, to coin a really bad cliché. A fair point. Nicely played.).
What I loathe is a desperate ploy to remain relevant. There wasn’t anything noteworthy about the album. Decent, sure. But it wasn’t iconic the way Ten or Nevermind were. It was solid, mainstream pop. Why can’t that be enough and leave it in the nostalgic memories of the 30-somethings that will hear “Mysterious Ways” and remember how cool they found it in Grade 10? Why the bandwagon jump?
As one who grew up having her music tastes formed by the likes of Cobain, Vedder, Staley, Cornell, et al, U2 was removed from the vibe of the decade. They sang nice songs that played well on the radio. Pretty music that sometimes struck a chord. Not something I want to dwell on as a changing force in music during the late 80s and 90s. Again, is this album truly relevant in comparison?
In the spirit of pop-y 90s goodness, I have my own offering: Top 5 Songs I Won’t Overdose on Nostalgia For. Also known as, “Here are some songs I will mock myself for knowing the words to.”
#5: Time, Love and Tenderness, Michael Bolton
Oh, early 90s. The time when it was okay to see a long haired mullet on a balding man, in tight jeans crooning to millions of… wait. Did anyone really listen to this? I remember it on the radio. Hell, I can even sing the words, but did anyone really admit to being a Michael Bolton fan even when he was popular? It was mock-worthy then. The only documentary I want to see will be entitled, “I’m Still Balding”.
#4: OPP – Naughty By Nature
It was one of my first CD’s I ever purchased (along with Temple of the Dog.. actually, that is kind of ironic and funny). It played at every high school dance I attended. Many, many young white boys wearing embarrassingly baggy pants, doing the “pee dance” and occasionally being brave enough to attempt some Kid N’ Play moves.
It goes along with those multicoloured jeans I loved to wear – best left in a bag which was sent to Goodwill 10 years later. Given away with a wave and a small embarrassed smile that I ever owned either of you.
#3: I Wanna Sex You Up – Color Me Badd
Hmm. Colour IT Bad. Perhaps they were the pioneers of the Boy Band. Except they weren’t really boys. They were a bit more like pervvy old men. Only to teen girls they had pretty voices (which I’m certain weren’t really theirs, but courtesy of computer enhancements…), pretty clothes and looked pretty dancing ’round. And the song used the word, “sex”. Which I’m sure made my 14 year old self giggle a bit in her head.
And all of that made one forget completely how terrible the song really was. Blame the hormones.
Honourable Mention here goes to Gerardo for being able to pull off the same feat, but as a solo act. And in Spanish. With about triple the cheese factor.
#2: Shiny, Happy People – REM
A song so insipid and full of innate goo that even Michael Stipe refused to sing it ever again.
But, hey. The B52s chick sang along. And it was featured on Sesame Street. It must have been a classic.
And not one of us got that the whole thing was ironic. So cute. Not so smart.
#1 Groove is in the Heart – Dee Lite
My fashion icon circa 1991. I wanted to be her. Dress like her. Babydoll dresses, big shoes and lots of 60s retro and bold colours. More than the others, this song actually holds a lot of memories for my first year of high school.
But like any good one-hit wonder of the year and any short-lived fashion trend, it is a song best left in my memory and for the days I leaf through old photos and wonder just what the fuck I was thinking. More like a year-long acid trip. A good one, no doubt, but one that does not bear repeating. Ever.
Hit us up with all your other 1991 classics, people. We want the cheese.