10
Dec 11

Re-living the 90s: My favourite songs from 1992

This is the third in a series of ten posts. One post for every year of the decade that was the 1990s. For an introduction into this series and why I felt like doing these blog posts, read this first.

From cheesy pop in 1990, my interest in rap music kept growing from 1991 and into 1992.

1992 music chart hits Genesis Khaled Kriss Kross Das EFX

Clockwise L-R: Das EFX, Snow, Kriss Kross, Tasmin Archer, Khaled, Genesis

John Secada – “Just Another Day”

This Cuban-American singer was fairly popular in the early 1990s. “Just Another Day” was top ten hit for John Secada, and I have fond memories of listening to “Just Another Day” in the evenings of Bahrain. Somehow, it seems to be best time to listen to this song.

Naughty by Nature – “Hip Hop Hooray

From the album 19 Naughty III, this was another favourite of mine growing up in the ‘golden era’ of hip-hop (in my opinion). This song was everything I liked (or wanted) in hip-hop. Heavy beats, the bass, slick rhymes… it was all I needed to bob my head wearing a hoodie! :)

Kris Kross – “Jump”

For every bit of the real gangsta hip-hop there was, there were the mainstream silly acts too. Kid ‘N Play had the dude with the funny hair, and then there was Kriss Kross. Two young black kids – Mac Daddy and Daddy Mac – whose unqiue concept was wearing their clothes backwards! Funny as it all sounds, “Jump” was a massive hit when it came out and Kriss Kross’ only number 1 song. “Warm It Up,” their follow up single did alright, but “Jump” is still their most memorable song. I loved it then — and I still do!

Vanessa Williams – “Save The Best For Last”

I don’t remember when exactly this song came but I remember listening to this song on chilly days, be it in early months of the year or towards Christmas. The first number one  for this former Miss America-turned-singer-turned-actress, “Save the Best for Last” is still one of the best ballads from the 1990s.

Arrested Development – “Mr. Wendal”

As a kid, I guess I always remembered this song as the one that began with the “Arrhh-ahhh-ahhhh” scream. I club Arrested Development and Tribe Called Quest in the same bucket because both groups made hip-hop with social conscious. Arrested Development’s sound was also quite different from the other hip-hop groups at the time.

House of Pain – “Jump Around”

Still regarded as one of the greatest hip-hop songs of all time! It’s the one song House of Pain will be always remembered for (also, they didn’t have many other hits). Among the few respected hip-hop groups not fronted by a black man, but instead, by an Irish-American named Everlast.

Wreckx-N-Effect feat. Teddy Riley – “Rump Shaker”

Produced by ‘new jack swing’ pioneer Teddy Riley (who is now contributing to K-pop), “Rump Shaker” is another hip-hop classic. And another one-hit wonder. Reasons for liking this song? Thumping bass, hard-ass beats and a catchy trumpet hook. Hip-hop was so simple back in the day :) No over-producing, no auto-tune.

Funny, just read up on this song on Wiki and turns out, even a young Pharrell Williams helped out with the lyrics when working with Teddy Riley then.

Das EFX - “They Want EFX”

I remember my brother owning their album ‘Dead Serious’ on cassette. (Ahhhh, cassette tapes :)) One highly influential hip-hop group, Das EFX were especially renowned for their lyrical delivery and the ending words with “-iggidy”. Loved their rapping style and the album was pretty good too. “Mic Checka” was another good song off the same album.

Snow – “Informer”

Ahh, the “a-lickey boom boom down” song! :) Or at least that’s how most people remembered it. One of the most unintentionally hilarious songs ever made. Even to this day many can’t figure out the lyrics. Snow was a white rapper and reggae performer from Canada (of all the places!) and “Informer” was his only no. 1 smash hit. If you actually read the lyrics, you will realize it is English that he’s speaking… but the song is still mostly gibberish :D

Snow disappeared for much of the 1990s, but he got my attention again back in the early 2000s when he made a comeback in his native Canada with a new musical style. Check out “The Plumb Song” and “Everybody Wants to Be Like You” — they’re both really good, and vastly different from “Informer”!

Genesis – “I Can’t Dance”

As a kid, I didn’t know much about the history and legacy of Genesis (for that matter, Phil Collins too), but I fondly remember this song and especially its video. The simple ‘walking dance’ behind the white background… it’s just iconic Gensis now. As I grew older and learnt more about Genesis, it’s only then I realized this same album produced some of my favourite Genesis songs: “No Son of Mine,” “Jesus He Knows Me” (another brilliant Genesis video) and “Hold on My Heart“.

The Shamen – “Ebeneezer Goode”

Despite the growing influence of American hip-hop, radio airplay was still mostly British chart music. And this no. 1 song was one of my favourites! I still know the lyrics to the first verse by heart and love rapping along as I listen to it :) Of course, when I was 10, I didn’t know what the song was even about. Only now did I learn “Eezer Goode, ‘Eezer Goode …” is basically saying “Es are good, Es are good”. (E = ecstasy)

Take That – “It Only Takes a Minute”

If there was one boy band that dominated the British charts in the early 1990s, it was Take That. The then 5-member group were at the early stages of their stardom and this was their first top 10 hit. The video was constantly played at night on Channel 55 (Bahrain’s local English channel) to fill up airtime before ending transmission. It’s still remains one of my favourite Take That songs, even though it’s actually a cover of a Tavares hit.

Jimmy Nail – “Ain’t No Doubt”

There were quite a few British actors and soap stars coming out with pop records in the 1990s, and this chap was one such example. I don’t know what show he was on or how famous he was back in England, but the reason I knew Jimmy Nail was because of this no. 1 hit (and his other hit “Crocodile Shoes“). This was British pop back in the day, a style of music lost in many of today’s British popstars attempting to sound American.

Tasmin Archer – “Sleeping Satellite”

A British one-hit wonder. Beautiful song though, went to no. 1 upon release and it was her first single too. Never heard much from Tasmin Archer after that.

Charles & Eddie – “Would I Lie To You”

The one hit wonders continued. This time a New York duo, who had a worldwide hit with this song. When you think about, a duo like Charles & Eddie would hardly ever get a record deal from a big label these days. Something I miss about music from decades past.

Cheb – “Khaled”

I end this post with one of the biggest hits of the 1990s… if you grew up in the Arab world in those days! :) Cheb Khaled is an Algerian singer and, man, when this song came out – it was everywhere! It was so popular, and not just among Arabs. Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Africans … everybody covered it in their own language (unofficially I’m sure). Khaled is a musical legend in the Arab world, one of the highest selling Arab musicians in history. His other great classics include “Aicha” and the phenomenal live performance of “Abdel Kader“.

—-

Other songs that came out in 1992 that I only ended up liking as I grew older were:

Red Hot Chili Peppers – “Under the Bridge”

Mr. Big – “To Be With You”

Guns N’ Roses – “November Rain”

Nirvana – “Smells Like Teen Spirit”

U2 – “One”

Richard Marx – “Hazard”

Bryan Adams – “Do I Have to Say the Words?”

The Cure – “Friday I’m In Love”

Some of the biggest names in adult contemporary and rock. I guess it would take me a few more years to finally appreciate rock music :)

Previous posts in this series:

Re-living the 90s: My favourite songs from 1991

Re-living the 90s: My favourite songs from 1990


31
Mar 11

Re-living the 90s: My favourite songs from 1991

This is the second of 10 posts. One post for every year of the decade that was the 1990s. For an introduction into this series and why I felt like doing these blog posts, read this first.

As 1991 came along, my interest in music grew. So did my favourable appreciation of rap music. As you’ll read below in my conclusion, the following songs were favourites of mine at the time — not necessarily the best in popular music 1991 had to offer.

Rap pop 1991 biggest hit artists

L-R Clockwise: Naughty by Nature, Fresh Prince & DJ Jazzy Jeff, Marky Mark, Heavy D & Wet Wet Wet

EMF – “Unbelievable”

This was one of the most memorable hits from the 1990s. A number 1 song in the US and top 3 hit in their home country UK, EMF are largely known as a ‘one-hit wonder’. Still, given how often this song is still played and used on soundtracks, the band members are probably still living off of royalties from this song.

Naughty by Nature – “O.P.P.”

Sampling the hook from the Jackson 5′s “ABC,” this song was first big hit for Naughty by Nature.  Of course, back then as a 9-year old, I assumed “O.P.P” was an abbreviation for “Other People’s Party”… until Wikipedia told me otherwise. With this song, Naughty by Nature was officially on my ever-expanding rap radar.

DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince – “Summertime”

Fresh Prince a.k.a Will Smith was one of my favourite people in entertainment during the 1990s. Not just for his music with his friend DJ Jazzy Jeff, but he was also popular at the time for his sitcom “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air“. I even memorized the lyrics to the opening intro song. “Summertime” is still a fresh ‘Good Morning’ song!

Marky Mark & The Funky Bunch – “Good vibrations”

Before Mark Wahlberg became the badass actor he is now, Mark Wahlberg was a Calvin Klein underwear model, and before that, Mark Wahlberg was rapper Marky Mark. Funny, I know. Back then, he was famous for being the brother of Donnie Wahlberg (of NKOTB) and was one of the few white rappers on the pop scene.

Heavy D & The Boyz – “Now That We Found Love

I used to love the chorus for this song! Heavy D was one of the biggest rappers back then — both literally and otherwise.

Wet Wet Wet – “Goodnight Girl”

Though rap ruled my world back then, I wasn’t incapable of appreciating melodious songs from Scottish bands like Wet Wet Wet. “Goodnight Girl” was a UK number one hit back in 1991 and one of the many good songs from the group that were hugely popular in Europe, but never made it in the US.

———–

It’s funny, when I look up some of the biggest hits that came out in 1991, I found so many songs that ended up becoming favourites as I matured into the 1990s. Songs like:

Bryan Adams – “Everything I Do (I Do It For You)”

Nirvana -  “Smells Like Teen Spirit”

Extreme – “Hole Hearted”

Genesis – “No Son Of Mine”

Chris Isaak – “Wicked Game”

Metallica – “Enter Sandman”

Roxette – “Fading Like A Flower”

The Scorpions – “Wind Of Change”

Queensryche – “Silent Lucidity”

So yeah, mostly rock. I guess I was still into easy pop and rap at the time. Many of these songs still rank as some of my favourite songs ever, but looking at the above list of songs, 1991 surely was one heck of a year for music!


20
Mar 11

Re-living the 90s: My favourite songs from 1990

Dick Clark once said: “Music is the soundtrack to your life

That statement, for sure, holds true for my life.

I was born in 1982, but growing up in Bahrain in the 1980s, me and my older brother were more interested in cartoons about transforming robots, transforming automobiles and transforming jets. Not Michael Jackson or 80′s hair metal. It wasn’t until I grew into the next decade that my interest in music slowly started to grow.

I remember my brother getting a tiny Black & Decker radio which my dad won at some company party, and that pretty much became our introduction to the music broadcast over Bahrain’s airwaves (mostly Radio  Bahrain 96.5fm). Since the radio, we moved up to a Sony hi-fi system, got cable, and then as the internet became a part of my adult life, I ended up listening to so much music that I link moments of my life to the songs from that period.

For the past few months on my Facebook profile, I’ve been sharing songs I grew up listening to under the ‘Re-living the 90s’ headline. It was pretty well received by my friends who, like me, reminisced about the music and went: “Man, I haven’t heard this ages!”.

So, this is the first of 10 posts. One post for every year of the decade that was the 1990s.

Now, these songs weren’t necessarily the top songs of the 90s, best, or even the greatest songs of the 90s — but yeah, they surely were big hits from the 1990s.  I’m including them in my selection because I remember them as “favourites”.

So here we go:

NKOTB Vanilla Ice Cathy Dennis MC Hammer Maxi Priest 1990s chart music

All of these guys (yes, even those pants) were cool... back in 1990

New Kids on the Block – “Step by Step”

In 1990, I was 8 years old. NKOTB was my favourite group at the time. Why? I don’t know, maybe it was because their songs were simple, catchy pop songs — or I thought their dancing was “SO AWESOME” at the time. They even had their own cartoon I used to watch. Whatever it was, I had their cassette tapes… and I loved songs like “Right Stuff” and “Hangin’ Tough” as a kid.

The last NKOTB song I heard was “Dirty Dawg (1993-94),” their attempt to break away from the cheesy pop that made them famous. It wasn’t a huge hit and NKOTB eventually broke up after that. Jordan Kinght and Joey McIntyre came back to the music scene in the late 90s and in 2008, NKOTB re-emerged with a new album and tour. But as I grew up in the 1990s with the Backstreet Boys and ‘N Sync, I now realize how much more vocally talented those two boy bands were compared to NKOTB.

DNA feat. Suzanne Vega - “Tom’s Diner”

Do you know that song that goes: “D0-do-doodeh, do-dodeh-do, do-de-do-do, do-dedo-do…” Yeah, that’s how I used to remember this song :)

Maxi Priest – “Close To You”

Maxi Priest‘s biggest hit. He also did a decent reggae cover of “Wild World“.

Vanilla Ice – “Ice Ice Baby”

The 1990s saw rap hit the mainstream. Unfortunately, it was through rap hits like this:

I was among the millions back then who loved this song! I have a fond memory of when we first got our Sony hi-fi stereo (with karaoke mic!) and my older brother rapped the lines while I was snuggled in excitement on our living room sofa. Oh the things that excited me back then.

Now I’m among the millions who laugh at the guy whose real name is Robert Van Winkle :)

MC Hammer – “U Can’t Touch This”

Besides Vanilla Ice, the other laughing stock of early 90s pop rap was MC Hammer. Once again, everybody loved him when he was a chart-topping success. He too had a cartoon, Hammer Man. He lived the high life, bought a multi-million dollar home, a Ferrari — and then his career fizzled out after his second album, ‘Too Legit to Quit’. Then he went bankrupt. He’s still around though.

Cathy Dennis – “Too Many Walls”

Her biggest hit — and probably the only song of hers I remember. She didn’t last too long in the public eye as a pop star. Most of you may have never heard of Cathy Dennis, but if you heard songs by S Club 7, or number 1 hits like Kylie Minogue’s  “Can’t Get You Out of My Head,” “Toxic” by Britney Spears, or Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl,” that’s all Cathy Dennis. She wrote those hits.

So that’s all for the inaugural post in this series. I know it’s not a lot of songs, but I was only going on 8 then.

Cartoons were still a bigger priority for me.

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