Rating Top 90s Music Trends
Its No Doubt the 90s was a crazy time for all things pop culture. From TV shows like Friends and The Fresh Prince of Belair to Furbies, beanie babies and frosted tips, the 90s broke the mold for self-expression and cultural experimentation. Leading the way for this strange “Anti-culture” movement was, of course, music. The music world began to diversify in terms of artists and genre. Here’s a few of the top music genre trends ranked out of ten. The list is based on the perspective of someone who missed out on living in the culture, but is still feeling the impact of 90s music today.
Hip Hop/R&B- 8/10
There’s a reason why this era of hip hop was referred to as “The Golden Age.” The late 80s left off with the likes of The Beastie Boys and Run DMC. They set the stage for trail blazing 90s artists like Tupac and Notorious B.I.G. The 90s rap scene paved the way for today’s hip hop music. The only reason this category doesn’t get a 10 from me is because R&B/soul queen Mary J. Blige doesn’t get near enough credit for her impact. Mary J. Blige has been setting trends since her start and has accomplished 9 Grammy awards along the way.
Girl Groups- 10/10
Three words: Waterfalls, Wannabe, Jumpin.’ TLC made themselves prominent figures of the 90s with their wild fashion looks and personas. According to Dalton (2017), “TLC’s message was also very clear and unapologetic. They promoted safe sex and female empowerment from the jump.” How can you not get behind this music? Next came The Spice Girls. Riding the wave of TLC’s female empowerment, The Spice Girls owned the phrase “Girl Power.” Their pop power paved the way for stars like Brittany Spears, Christina Aguilera and, of course, Destiny’s Child. Headed by none other than Queen B herself, Destiny’s Child carried the female music powerhouse into the 2000s.
I can’t give the grunge genre a 10/10 because of it’s drug adjacent culture. Grunge music icons from Mover Love Bone, Alice in Chains, Soundgarden and Nirvana have tragically passed away at the hands of drug overdose. Musically though, grunge music was the perfect representation of where society was at the time. Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit still resonates with young rockers rebelling against the system. Grunge music was a strange flash between 80s hair metal and punk rock. It’s difficult to describe the straining guitar sounds and ominous lyrics that define grunge music. Kurt Cobain’s sound on Nirvana’s rendition of “My Girl,” is arguably one of the best vocal masterpieces to exist.
Even though I am not 100% on board with the darker side of grunge culture, I am 10/10 here for the return of plaid and combat boots.
Okay, I may be a little bias here. Blink182 just happens to be one of my favorite bands of all time. Their recent reunion sparking the potential to get to see them live might be the only thing getting me through 2020. All jokes aside, the 90s pop punk scene further fueled the teen spirit with wild mohawks, studs and frantic guitar playing. Although there were tons of pop punk bands who came and went during the 90s, the ones that stood the test of time include Greenday, The Offspring, Sublime, Weezer, and Blink182. In the words of Hodgson (2018), “At its heart, the origins of punk began with a passion to achieve something undeniably real. Punk responded to the gritty realism of the politics and socioeconomic cultures of the day. It grabbed society by the head and shook it into taking notice with bright colours, crude remarks, and insane hairstyles.”
Before sitting down to write I called my grandpa to hear his voice, to listen to his tone, to feel like I was young again sitting in his lap, listening to the hits of the 1940’s on a static radio. Summer hail storms pounding on the roof, sipping sweet lemonade, is where my grandpa shared his life stories. Some were funny, some serious, about life, determination and just being a badass.
You’re never too old to set goals.
My grandpa’s father died in his 50’s, before being able to experience the retirement he wishfully envisioned and dutifully saved for. Determined to avoid this unfortunate circumstance, my grandpa retired at 58 after a dedicated career in the telephone industry. Now 93, my grandpa has been retired for 35 years, a unicorn amount of years in today’s workaholic world. However, a monotonous life of idleness was not on my grandpa’s retirement agenda.
Snorkel in tow, goggles sucked to his face and flashing $300 Speedo swim bottoms, my grandpa swam like a fish. Always seeking a competitive edge, he persuaded my grandma to buy him top-of-the line swim trunks as they promised to make him faster during his morning laps. Completing his final 5k at 87, he participated to claim the trophy each year for his age bracket. Albeit the fact he was often the sole competitor in his age group.
While his physical feats are notably impressive, his competitive and goal setting mindset is what continually motivates me today. My grandpa set an annual goal to swim a mile on his birthday each year, swimming his final birthday mile at the ripe age of 92. Short term goals were always realized as he set out to fix the plumbing by March and the deck by May. Looking ahead, he set goals to be present at all major family milestones. My grandpa was 86 years old when I entered high school. Consciously choosing to ignore statistics, my grandpa concluded he would be there to watch his youngest grandchild of six walk across the stage at her high school graduation. Looking out at the bleachers as I received my diploma, his smile radiated from the acknowledgement of both our accomplishments.
The takeaway? Strive to always progress and stay in motion. Whether it be professional, personal, or desire-driven, setting goals force one to constantly evolve and grow.
There is always time to make someone smile.
“I sure hope the rain keeps up.”
“So it doesn’t come down.”
“Is that your face or did your pants fall down?”
If I have one regret from my childhood, it’s not recording every witticism that spewed unfiltered from my grandpa’s mouth. Butte, America born and bred, his jokes were rooted in the rough-and-tumble yet celebrated era of the small mining town in the 1940s. His clever, and sometimes inappropriate sayings left family, friends, and strangers clutching their gut with uncontrollable laughter. While writing his jokes is an injustice to their effect, his timely delivery made for fits of giggles, regardless of repetition.
Most everyone can think of someone who is immediately liked, can talk to anyone, and befriends everyone who breathes the same air. For me, that’s my grandpa. He always set aside time to get to know someone, share stories, and swap jokes. In our day to day routines it’s too easy to be buried in our phones, focused only on getting from A to B, uninterested in those around us. Before my grandpa left a restaurant, airplane, or any other public space, he knew most everyone in the room. He knew where they were from and who their parents were. My grandpa’s infectious personality is one I always admired and it is the reason he remains unforgettable to so many.
Food for thought: How much better would our days be if we set aside time to simply make someone smile every day?
Show your swagger.
“I’m the finest guy that ever put on a pair of shoes.”
The signature phrase of his 92nd birthday, my grandpa is a man with unlimited confidence, using his high self-esteem and healthy ego to wow others, show humor, and exercise his charm. On a short visit to the ER last year, he falsely convinced the nurses he rostered for the Chicago Cubs back in the day. Now, this isn’t entirely untrue. In his twenty-year-old prime, he played for the Cubs Farm League (Minor League) based out of San Francisco. At a pay of $113 a month, not including room and board, my grandpa left the Farm League after a short time unable to make due on his measly salary. Sharing his fabricated story with his nurses, the nurses doted heavily on him, captivated by his athletic history. Without a doubt in my mind, my grandpa received the best medical care in the ER that day.
His contagious confidence has appeared on multiple occasions, with family events being no exception. At the time, my grandparents had been married for 67 years. In front of all 200 wedding guests, the DJ asked for the key to a long-lasting marriage to which my grandpa simply responded, “She knew she had a winner.” Never ashamed of his best features, my grandpa boasts about his “pretty feet”, a compliment given by a war nurse decades ago. His baldness is even a source of confidence for him, constantly reiterating, “God made a lot of beautiful heads. The rest he covered with hair.” To his credit, my grandpa does have some good-looking feet and has always rocked a naked head. Lesson to take away? Find your source of swagger, whether it be baldness or pretty feet and work it.
“Getting old ain’t for sissies.”
One of my grandpa’s all-time favorite quotes, his youthfulness always seemed to make this quote irrelevant; but today, his hands hurt. He can’t see well. Each time he gets up from his chair, he wobbles like he is going to fall, and he occasionally does. His personality has stiffened with his joints and his laughter is harder to find, buried underneath self-induced guilt of being no longer able to take care of his lawn, race me in the backyard, or swim a mile. Some of this piece is written in the past tense, as age has hardened him and a lack of physical freedom has contained his once free-flowing spirit. But, no matter what age has done to my grandpa, he remains my hero, my unshakable source of faith and my continual motivation to succeed.
At the end of our phone call, like he does every time, my grandpa hangs up with, “I love you sweetheart, more than you’ll ever know.”
1. Being a responsible adult. Used by immature 20-somethings who are proud of themselves for paying a bill.
Technically, I am not “adulting” yet. But May 13th is approaching fairly quickly, and that is when I am SUPPOSED to (apparently) embark on this next chapter of my life. In order to prepare myself for this whole “adulting” thing, I asked some of my “adulting” friends to offer some advice for all those in my shoes. Here are the most important (and some hilarious) responses that I got:
ONE: “Junk food and beer make you fat”
But how do you adult without those?? Especially the beer… AMIRIGHT?!
TWO: “We’re all just pretending to know what the eff we’re doing.. no one reallyyyy knows”
OOOOH, thank god.. But can everyone stop pretending because you’re making me feel like shit?! Thanks.
THREE: “You will have to work 10 x harder than everyone around you in order to prove that you’re not just another millennial with a degree & a dream”
FOUR: “Marrying someone rich isn’t a bad idea”
I’ll never admit who said this… let’s just say she didn’t marry rich 😉
FIVE: A little disagreement among some adulters:
Adulter 1: “Don’t settle down until you know yourself”
Adulter 2: “Sort of agree but I think people focus a lot on feeling ready and I don’t think you ever have that completely ready feeling.”
OK, go with whichever one you like better. Adulter 2 is my sister sooo, I’ll go with her 😉
SIX: “Bills are real”
Some of us learned this in college, but if you didn’t. WARNING: bills are real and due every month… bummer!
SEVEN: “Having good credit is everything in adulthood”
Not really sure what this means, how to do this, or why it’s “everything” …
But one of my more “mature” adulters gave this piece of advice… so let’s make sure we have good credit people.
EIGHT: “Start saving for your 75-year-old self.”
Ok, this is boring, seems kinda lame, but I guess we’ll thank ourselves later.
NINE: Adulter 1: “Your fridge gets disgusting if you don’t wipe it down 1-2 times a month.”
Adulter 2 added: “Pay special attention to the veggie drawer. A lone zucchini left at the bottom can ruin your Sunday”
TEN: “Little things happen all the time and they add the f up. You can pretend you have your adult budget figured out but until you are knee deep in adulting, you have no clue how much it costs to adult.”
ELEVEN: “The dentist isn’t an option….”
I mean…. Was it ever an option? But ok, yes.. go to the dentist adults.
TWELVE: “You are going to turn 30 wayyy sooner than you think and for some reason at age 30 if you don’t have your shit figured out, you WILL go into panic mode… Be ready”
THIRTEEN: “Don’t ask too many people for their opinions. It gets too fuzzy. Trust your gut. Have two really close friends that you trust.”
FOURTEEN: “You are actually busier post college. I was excited to not juggle work and school. In reality, I had way more time for friends and hobbies when I was a student. Can’t explain why or how, but it’s true. Life only gets fuller and busier as ‘adulting’ takes over!”
Yikes….. not really what I wanted to hear. This is reality though, people.
FIFTEEN: “You can’t decide if you admire someone until you have had a peak into their whole world. If someone seems successful at work, look at their non work life. If they are living in a way you admire there too, then they are the type of person to look up to. If you spend your time admiring: Person A) because they are bad ass at their job and loaded or Person B) because they are at all of the school events and soccer games you’re going to feel like a failure in your own life you can’t do all of those things. Find people who have a work/life balance to look up to. They are the people who are truly successful.”
WOAH. Shit just got real. But some really solid advice!
SIXTEEN: “Just because you’re done with school, doesn’t mean you’re adulting”
PHEW!!!! That’s what I like to hear…. I’ll hold off on the adulting then.
Thanks to all the ADULTERS who contributed. You all are kicking ass. To those of you about to start adulting, good luck & let’s be bad ass adulters together!