January 2012

Semisonic, "Closing Time"

14 years later, it's still stuck in my head
The song "Closing Time" hit the scene in 1998, and became a runaway success. I would be willing to bet that a lot of people still have the song's chorus stuck in their head, tucked away back in those recesses. Isn't it amazing, the way a song can do that? Lurk there, undiscovered for decades, only to reappear with a sudden lurch? Someone mentioned the song to me a week ago, I hadn't heard it in at least ten years, and I have been humming it ever since.

PDAs

Less functional than a cell phone or a laptop, grayscale, and without a digital camera - but man, we went nuts for 'em!

 

There was a weird in-between time in the 1990s when what everyone really wanted was a PDA. For kids today, the PDA stood for Personal Digital Assistant, which is pretty much the dorkiest and most earnest phrase ever. The Palm Pilot was your quintessential PDA, and I bet it's what most 90s survivors think of when they hear the phrase.
 
PDAs were an oddball evolutionary branch on the technology ladder. It wasn't until late in their evolution that they could make phone calls. And they existed along with laptop computers. Although laptops were relatively small and bulky then, they were still pretty ubiquitous, especially in the business world.

MST3K's Turkey Day

A shared geek experience that shall be forever enshrined in the 90s Geek Hall of Fame!
Mystery Science Theater 3000 is another hallmark of the 1990s. Either you have never heard of it, or you have seen pretty much every episode, and just the thought of "Manos, Hands of Fate" makes you smile. MST3K was a touchstone of geek culture in the 90s, before the internet exploded and global snark levels reached epic proportions. Back then it was just you - maybe some friends - watching TV late at night, bad movies with a man and his robot pals.
 
For five years, from 1991 to 1995, every year on Thanksgiving Comedy Central aired the "Turkey Day" marathon. This was clearly just a cynical attempt to exploit the otherwise gaping hole in their programming. Because who watches television on Thanksgiving? Losers and geeks, that's who. And what do losers and geeks want to watch? Meh, why not just give them 15 or 16 episodes of MSt3K?

Backpacks

Later in the 90s, the backpack sifted through pop culture and came up on the other side, in the form of tiny leather backpacks worn by fashionable you
As with so many things about the 1990s, backpacks are something I hadn't even thought about until I saw someone mention them as a quintessentially 90s item. Oh hey, that's right! Everyone wore backpacks of one kind or another. And in the 2000s we all mysteriously stopped wearing them. (And started wearing messenger bags instead, but I digress.)
 
Backpacks tied in well with the early 90s grunge aesthetic. They were old school in the literal sense. The hippest backpack was the beat-up old model that you had in high school, perhaps repurposed for college textbooks. Perhaps repurposed to carry your poetry notebooks, your spare pair of Doc Martens, or your Pearl Jam tablature books.

Worst Song of the 90s?

If there was a problem, yo I solve it / Check out the hook while my DJ revolves it

 

Today on Buzzfeed the kids are trying to figure out which was the worst song of the 90s. In any discussion of this sort, you have to start with Rolling Stone. They pretty much locked this up last September with a reader poll list that covers all the hits that everyone loves to hate:
  1. Aqua, "Barbie Girl"
  2. Los Del Rio,"Macarena"
  3. Billy Ray Cyrus, "Achy Breaky Heart"
  4. Vanilla Ice, "Ice Ice Baby"
  5. Chumbawumba, "Tubthumping"
  6. Hanson, "MMMBop"
  7. Celine Dion, "My Heart Will Go On"
  8. Baha Men, "Who Let The Dogs Out?"
  9. Right Said Fred, "I'm Too Sexy"
  10. 4 Non Blondes, "What's Up?"