I am on a mission.
You can disagree with my methods.
Disagree with my results.
Disagree with the way I'm using my time.
(I'll probably agree with you on that last one there)
But you cannot dissuade me.
There is important work being done here.
Life-changing work, probably.
This a question the world needs an answer to.
What is the most 90's song of all time?
The first round of candidates:
Lou Bega – “Mambo #5” (1998)
90’s Band Name: Solo artist with foreign name. (2/10)
90’s Musical Stylings: Mambo isn’t a particularly 90’s musical style, but the 90’s were a period where old dance styles like swing suddenly resurrected themselves for a brief moment in the sun. (4/10)
90’s Cred: Was annoying in that “God, can’t this craze just be over right now” way. The LA Times broke a story that the girls names mentioned in the song were all references to the “street names” for drugs, despite the fact that it’s a cover of a Cuban song from the 40’s. (2/10)
Pop Culture: Ended up being covered and played on Radio Disney and Bob the Builder, with the names of the girls changed to Disney characters. (4/10)
Music Video: Bega is wearing a fedora (+1) and has historically bad facial hair (+1). All the girls are wearing high-waisted, belly-baring outfits. (+1) (3/10)
Final Score: Clearly terrible, but doesn’t seem particularly 90’s in how it goes about its business. (15/50)
Bloodhound Gang – “The Bad Touch” (1999)
90’s Band Name: Referential, slightly but not excessively hip-hop (4/10)
90’s Musical Stylings: Features white people rapping, references to Siskel and Ebert, “Tool Time,” “X-Files,” and Coca-Cola stock. (8/10)
90’s Cred: The song was remixed by a number of artists, including Eiffel 65. The band was also a very 90’s thing: a one-hit wonder. (2/10)
Pop Culture: Was once used in the soundtrack to MTV’s “Daria.” (3/10)
Music Video: Features the band wearing monkey suits (+1), shooting women with tranquilizers and caging them (+1), capturing a dwarf (+2) in a net and later killing him with a car, and beating a gay couple unconscious (+3) with a loaf of French bread. There is also an “uncensored” version judged too hot for TV (+2). This video could only have been made in the 90’s. (9/10)
Final Score: A mostly forgettable song bumped up by its very 90’s details and music video. (26/50)
Right Said Fred – I’m Too Sexy (1990)
90’s Band Name: A dumb and illogical band name gives them extra points. Plus, there’s something very 90’s about the name “Fred.” No one after 2000 was ever named Fred. That’s why Fred Durst disappeared so quickly. (7/10)
90’s Musical Stylings: It’s recognizable as a 90’s track, but the synth and drum machine makes this song feel like a product of the 80’s, which really, it is. (4/10)
90’s Cred: Right Said Fred was an incredibly successful British band that failed to make a lasting impact on American soil, which is a pretty 90’s thing to be. (1/10)
90’s Pop Culture: Was used in an episode of “Designing Women,” an episode of “Baywatch,” an episode of “The Simpsons,” and the movies Encino Man, Grumpy Old Men, Blank Check, Beverly Hills Ninja, That Darn Cat, and BASEketball. Now, that’s a murderer’s row of pure 90’s delight right there. (9/10)
90’s Music Video: The lead singer is alternately wearing a mesh tank top (+1), or wearing no shirt at all, throughout the whole video. One of the band members is shirtless except for a giant silver medallion (+2). There’s a lot of unnecessarily bad handheld camera work. Girls in bikinis are given professional jobs for some reason, like being photographers (+1). One guitar still has the price tag on it (+1). It’s bad and it’s memorable, but there’s still a lot of 80’s to this video. (5/10)
Final Score: A not-particularly 90’s song with massive pop culture relevance puts the song solidly in the middle of the pack. (26/50)
LFO – “Summer Girls” (1999)
90’s Band Name: LFO stands for “Lyte Funky Ones”, which is a band name it sounds like I made it up, but which I promise you I did not. (10/10)
90’s Musical Stylings: White people in unbuttoned button-down shirts rapping over an acoustic lick, then harmonizing on the chorus. So 90’s it hurts. (10/10)
90’s Cred: Three lame-looking white dudes with frosted tips, named Rich, Brad, and Dow (Dow?) formed Lyte Funky Ones, a band that had only one hit and yet was somehow always on TRL. The song references a good bit of 80’s and 90’s pop culture as a way of connecting with teenagers who would think “hey, I grew up with that same stuff!” 90’s references include Macauley Culkin in Home Alone, the Beastie Boys, Fun Dip, and of course Abercrombie and Fitch. (7/10)
Pop Culture: Permanently remembered as “that Abercrombie and Fitch song,” which is an awfully 90’s thing to be remembered as. Still, didn’t seem to be featured in any 90’s movies or TV shows. (2/10)
Music Video: The band members all have their hair spiked or gelled (+2). One – I’m assuming this is “Dow” – is wearing large earrings in both ears. There are numerous pairs of baggy cargo pants (+1), bright orange shirts (+1), and wife-beaters (+1). One guy wears his hat backwards (+1) and spends the whole video nodding at the camera with the expression of someone planning a date rape. Most of the girls are in belly-baring shirts and high-waisted shorts (+1). None of them look like a girl from Abercrombie and Fitch.
All of this seems to be have shot on the New Jersey boardwalk, and there’s an extensive break dance sequence (+1) before they all end up at a seaside campfire. It’s impossible to watch this video and not hate these people. (8/10)
Final Score: I wouldn’t think of this as the prototypical 90’s song, but it gets high marks in most categories. I resent this band all over again. (37/50)
Aqua – “Barbie Girl” (1997)
90’s Band Name: Peppy and light. Very 90’s. (5/10)
90’s Musical Stylings: Standard 90’s bubblegum pop. Features band members talking over the instrumental parts and the female lead singing in a little-girl voice. (6/10)
90’s Cred: Mattel filed a defamation suit against the band for “sexualizing” Barbie. The judge threw out the suit, concluding in his ruling, “the parties are advised to chill.” That is the greatest thing ever. (5/10)
Pop Culture: Was not featured in any movies, but Rolling Stone readers did vote the song “the number one most annoying song of the 1990s.” (3/10)
Music Video: The band all has excessively gelled hair (+2), some of it bleached (+1). Their names are printed in Japanese characters for no reason (+1). Wipes – including star wipes – are used for no reason. The male singer has earrings (+1) and a hairstyle that defies description. Someone is playing the bongos at one point. (5/10)
Final Score: I’m only surprised this song didn’t rank higher. (24/50)