I think to kick off this discussion, I have to share a quick anecdote. The other day, my husband and I were eating dinner over at my parents' house. Dad was trying to decide what to play on his speaker and he started wondering out loud about different decades of music. We were both shocked to hear him say, "Was there even anything good to come out in the '90s?" John (my husband) and I just stared at him open-mouthed in silence.
The answer, of course, is that there was so much good to come from the '90s in terms of music. We might be biased since it was what we grew up with, but it's the one music genre that John and I can both agree on (when we're not listening to '90s alternative, it's Motown for me and Post Punk for him), and whenever one of us pulls it up on Spotify, things end up spiraling into a mini jam session in the living room.
As the songs cycle through our favorite '90s station, we inevitably start recalling stories from when we were carefree (me) and reckless (him) teenagers. One of us will probably end up air-drumming on the coffee table, and the other will vocalize the guitar solos, both pairs of eyes closed tight.
The memories this music brings back are absolutely magnetic. I can practically feel the wind running through my fingers as they hang out the open window of my first tired old green Honda Civic on the way home from school. And now I get to listen to it while sprawled across the shag rug in our dream house. Life has changed a lot since I first started falling for '90s music 25 years ago, but it still makes me feel the same way.
And we can't have a discussion about '90s music without calling out all of the amazing variety, too. I love the cool '90s blend of hard rock instrumentals alongside full orchestra (think: The Verve, "Bitter Sweet Symphony"), and the sort of haunting melodies of songs like "Runaway Train," by Soul Asylum. I know I'm going to sound ancient and oh-so-cliche when I say this, but they just don't make music now like they used to.
Bottom line? I'm making it my new mission to open my dad's eyes to the head-bopping, foot-tapping, hairbrush-singing wonder that is '90s music.
Follow You Down, Gin Blossoms
If you asked me to name a single favorite from the '90s era, this one would be a top contender. The upbeat drums, smooth harmonies, and ultra-catchy melodies are my fail-proof solution to a bad mood. I appreciate the band even more now that I'm in my 30s. Every single song is a hit in my book.
"Run-Around," Blues Traveler
I dare you to listen to this song and not move your hips to the peppy percussion and guitar. I remember challenging myself as a teenager to learn every single word of the lightning-fast lyrics, and I'll admit I'm still working toward that goal, but it's still fun to sing along. Oh, and three cheers for that harmonica solo!
"Runaway Train," Soul Asylum
I swear they hoarded all the good notes for this song. It's unlike anything I personally have ever heard before, and whenever it comes on randomly at our house, it sort of lulls me down and I just sit there to really listen. That raw grungy sound is what I love most about '90s music. It's a quintessential addition to my playlist—no question.
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