Everything I do, I do it for…
Certainly not fucking Bryan Adams. My 20 year high school reunion is this week. Yes, I’m going to it. Well, the Ithaca High School one anyway. I missed the Cortland one though I was invited. ACS? My graduating class was like 23 people. They generally don’t bother with reunions, except occasionally they have one for anyone’s who has ever attended the school and really, do I want to do a giant group hug with tofuheads past and future? Not unless Art Stark would be there and he died sometime in the 90s. I think. He was the awesomest teacher ever! Anyway, I’m trying to get into the spirit of ’91 by checking out some of the music… but seriously. 1991 was probably the worst year ever for pop music. 1991 was more than a rut. It was a gaping chasm of suck in the world of the top 40. The #1 song of the year was…
Yes, Bryan Adams managed to squeeze this parenthetically titled steaming pile of turds into the top 100 the longest of any other artist that year. Not only did the song suck giant blue wombat balls, but it was the theme to “Robin Hood: Prince of Dweebs”, a movie that will live in infamy at the very least for having Kevin Costner attempting to have an English accent occasionally. Not even Alan Rickman could save that movie, I’m afraid.
But really, Mr. Adams didn’t exactly have a lot of competition. The second biggest song of the year was “I Wanna Sex You Up” by Color Me Badd. (a) How exactly does one sex one up? (b) Is the act, in fact, “badd” with 2 D’s?
Ok, the third one was “Gonna Make You Sweat” by C&C Music Factory (most people know it as “Everybody Dance Now”, the song that was a minor scandal of people suing for zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz yawn). That song was at least fun, and it opened the pop charts to all sorts of vacuous dance music. This is not a bad thing. If pop music is going to be dominated by vacuous tunes, at least you should be able to dance to them!
I’m not going to dwell on each song, let’s recap some of the highlights (i.e., lowlights): Michael Bolton covering “When a Man Loves a Woman.” ::shudder:: People of my generation, we are largely responsible for this. Music wouldn’t make it onto the pop charts unless kids were buying it. What were we thinking? Really? A balding old guy with a mullet trying to be soulful? WTF people? I am embarrassed to be a part of Generation X.
The rest, let’s see… some minor songs by Paula Abdul, Gloria Estefan and Madonna. These are the songs that make it to the end of the 3rd Greatest Hits albums. “More than Words” by Extreme. That song may have been the #1 cause of teen pregnancy in America at the time. Come on, the words are so creepy– Here’s the (slightly grammatically puzzling) first verse:
Saying I love you
Is not the words I want to hear from you
It’s not that I want you
Not to say, but if you only knew
How easy it would be to show me how you feel
More than words is all you have to do to make it real
Then you wouldn’t have to say that you love me
Cos I’d already know
Come on Nuno and Gary– what example were you trying to set for the Youth of America? Like I said, anyone born around 9 months after June 1991 probably has these guys to thank:
And yeah, they’re from the Boston-ish area. Unlike most natives here, I don’t claim that Boston has produced better music than any other city. One word? Boston. I don’t even think Boston is from Boston yet they still cast a grey-tinged aura of suck around the whole damn city’s musical reputation.
“Wicked Game” by Chris Isaak. Here’s a video that got everyone all hot and bothered:
Whoa, scantily clad people stretching the limits of “rated for television”! Truthfully, neither party in the video ever did it for me. Perhaps if the song had been less awful I would have been able to watch more than the first 10 seconds of it.
“Touch Me (All Night Long)” by Cathy Dennis. Who? Cathy Dennis? That name doesn’t remotely ring a bell. CATHY DENNIS? What kind of lame name is that? Cathy Dennis probably plays bingo with Barb Johnson and Doris Murphy down at St. Mary’s on Wednesdays. Come on, Cathy, couldn’t you have thought up something cool to call yourself, like… Sting? Ok never mind. I don’t think I even knew her name at the time. The only words I ever caught from this song were:
Hold me baby, drive me crazy
Touch me all night long
which always totally cracked me up because all I pictured was sitting in the backseat of a car with my little sister screaming “DON’T TOUCH ME!” and me poking her yelling “TOUCH! TOUCH! TOUCH!” with each poke. This is what I envisioned this song to be about.
What else? Wilson Phillips, Amy Grant, Roxette– it truly was the year for lite rock.
“Losing My Religion” by REM. I loved REM but really? They had sucked for 2.5 albums already at this point. I heard this song on the radio the other day and it was kind of sad, it was their “good” period. Everything they have done since has sucked even worse. Alas.
“O.P.P” by Naughty By Nature. OK, this is one of those songs that goes in the “HOLY CRAP SOMEONE ACTUALLY WROTE THAT?” category. It belongs there with “Hollaback Girl,” “Macarthur Park” and “My Humps.” It will always make you shake your head in confusion; it did at the time and it will even more so now. I freaking love this song!
“Good Vibrations” by Marky Mark and The Funky Bunch Featuring Loleatta Holloway. Why not? This song was pretty fun in that totally dumb way. Plus, the Funky Bunch featured members named Miss ? and Hector the Booty Inspector. How could you go wrong with those monikers? Cathy Dennis, TAKE NOTE! Nobody ever thought Marky Mark would eclipse his brother Donny of New Kids on the Block fame’s shining star. Wow, I guess we were wrong. Side note: it took decades for people of My Generation to stop referring to him as Marky Mark (and probably a good half still didn’t stop). It doesn’t matter how many critically acclaimed movies he’s starred in or Academy Awards he’s won– he’s still Marky Mark to us. I guess it was a good year for Boston music.
OK ok there were a couple of songs that *didn’t* suck–
I Touch Myself” by Divinyls and two songs by Jesus Jones (“Real Real Real” and “Right Here, Right Now”)– Those were the last death twitches of New Wave. God how I loved New Wave. Hair Metal killed New Wave and I am still bitter to this day. Really now, how could
ever supplant the awesome awesomeness that was these people?:
Wow, looking at those pictures now, a casual user probably couldn’t even tell the difference in eras, styles, and general coolness by looking at the hairdos. Well whatever. *I* know, and since this is my blog post, that’s all that matters!
Back to music of 1991… Someone posted on Facebook looking for songs to play at the reunion. They asked everyone what music reminded them of high school. Half the people of course said shit like “The Grateful Dead” and “Pink Floyd” and “Bob Marley.” Fucking hippies. I went to the lamest school on earth. In a Baby Boomer dominated town all anyone listened to to be cool was classic rock. I said “the thing that reminds me most of high school was saying ‘I don’t listen to pop music. I don’t even know what’s popular these days. I only listen to classic rock.'” because seriously, that’s all anyone did. Our fucking prom theme (I didn’t actually go to the prom, partially because it) was STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN! What crack smokers came up with that? “Why?” you ask, “because it’s a song about suicide?” well yeah, but also because it was a song from our fucking parents’ generation! Way to move ahead and look to the future, morons!
But I can kind of see why people shied away from the pop charts. I mean, I’m looking over 1990 and sadly, the song that is the best is “Ice Ice Baby” probably for the kitsch factor, making a nice meaty sandwich filling between the twin white bread slices of Nostalgia and Irony.
“Do Me” by Bel Biv DeVoe comes in a close second. That was when pop music no longer needed innuendo. Even in songs like “Let’s Spend The Night Together” there’s some ambiguity. Sure we *think* we know what they’re going to get up to spending the night, but it never is spelled out. For all we know they could be spending the night playing Monopoly and having pillow fights. Maybe they’re even doing something as innocuous (in the 1990s at least) as worshiping Satan. There really is nothing ambiguous about “You can do me in the morning, you can do me in the night, you can do me when you want to do me , oh… yeah.”
Moving farther back in time to my sophomore year… Phil Collins ballads and Richard Marx. Milli Vanilli. “Toy Soldiers” by Martika– that was an awesomely puzzling and overblown song. Who would have thought that 20 years later the little chick on Kids Incorporated would be famous? (that’s Fergie, in case you all forgot). Martika had a pop song back in 1989, what happened to her?
OH GOD THAT BILLY JOEL SONG THAT SHALL REMAIN NAMELESS! Moving right along…
1988 brought us lots of Bon Jovi and Rick Astley. I was not a fan at the time. INXS was there at least.
Basically my four years of high school were a popular music wasteland. I spent a lot of time listening to Tears for Fears’ “Seeds of Love” album as well as all the 80s music I still listened to. ::sigh:: aren’t you supposed to feel nostalgic and see the music of your teenage years in the soft focus hazy light of a sitcom flashback? Maybe I would if the music hadn’t been so damn shitty.
Seriously. My generation has a lot to answer for.