|Posted on September 19, 2012 at 6:00 PM|
In 1996 I turned 20 years old. Being 20 is awesome because you're too young to realize that you're a complete idiot, which means that you find yourself doing really dumb shit like trying to set a new land speed record on a 1973 Honda CB350. Luckily, hitting my twenties in the mid 90's meant that I had what is arguably the greatest soundtrack in the history of ever by which to score my mortality-taunting stunts. I got to thinking about the good old days recently and, after unbiased reflection, can declare without hesitation that there will never be better mix-tape fodder than what the 9-ot's delivered.
"Warp Factor: Holy-Balls, Mr. Sulu."
It's not there wasn't any good music in the years preceding or following the 90's, it's just that, by comparison, those years were an auditory wasteland. If you did the math, you know that I was born in '76 - the height of the disco craze. The 70's gave us the only music white guys could dance to until Hannah Montana's dad invented line dancing. It was also when great bands fizzled out (The Beatles) died (Lynyrd Skynyrd) or were just getting warmed up (AC/DC – who can also count as having died in the 70's). There was some good stuff, don't get me wrong, but for every Led Zeppelin and Queen there's at least three Cat Stevens or Bee Gees. The 70's also gave us The Eagles, a band who put forth the ridiculous notion that drummers should sing lead and Neil Young, who is exactly as melodious as the squealing power steering belt on a 1983 F-150, so, I guess, fuck the 70's.
The 80's were better, but only just. There were some great acts, but the bad ones were some of the worst ever. Anything by Metallica (except The Thing That Should Not Be because it's stupid) or Guns 'N Roses, that song by Phil Collins where he watched some guy let some other guy drown and then totally called him out on it by singing the song to him in concert, and Michael Jackson's Thriller – completely awesome, but we also had to listen to White Lion sing about crying kids, and pretend that The Cure didn't make us want to fall deliberately into the warm eternal embrace that darkness brings. It was a mixed bag, is what I'm saying. I can sum up the 80's by saying that a junior high classmate once tried to convince me that Stryper was a kickass metal group and not just a bunch of jerkoffs dressed like bumble bees singing about Jesus. Fuck the 80's.
"Whatta ya mean 'Christian Rock is an oxymoron?'"
I really can't speak much about the music from this millennium since, other than new releases from the bands I already know I like, I pretty much just stick with NPR for the most part. I'm not gonna trash the 60's either because, well, I mean, Motown was cool and that's about it.
Which brings me back to the 90's. With a ridiculously over-priced Pioneer home entertainment system kicking out a weird mix of tunes from its thirty-two disc changer, my friends and I were primed for a good time. One of my roommates worked at the unfortunately named Jahnke Foods [ˈyoŋ-kē] and brought home several cases of expired All Sport which we immediately mixed with cheap vodka. We would fire up Super Mario Kart on the old N64 and, between gulps of our candy-colored libations, dished out the most vile video game trash talk ever heard while Sublime, Alice in Chains, The Black Crowes, Nirvana, Megadeth, Stone Temple Pilots, Dave Matthews Band, and Sarah McLachlan played on random. The cops actually showed up one Wednesday afternoon because the neighbors had reported a domestic disturbance. When I answered the door, the cop asked me if everyone was OK. I was trying to think of what we might have done for the couple next door to sic the fuzz on us when one of my roommates screamed, "I will rip you head off, fuck your eye socket and use your hollowed out skull as a toilet if you shoot one more goddamn turtle shell at me!" to the other one. We were given a warning.
Was there shitty music in the 90's? Of course there was, but it was also when bare midriffs hit their pinnacle thanks to Gwen Stefani. Hair metal had been bludgeoned to death by "Alternative" - a category that encompassed everything from Ska to Grunge, Metal got meaner and the local top 40 station played music that was mostly good.
I got married at the end of that decade, had a couple great (but strange) kids, and finally decided what I wanted to be when I grew up, but I still miss the 90's. And Super Mario Kart. And All Sport.
At least we still have Gwen Stefani's abs.