Jeepers, this was a mistake, wasn’t it?
Depeche Mode – I Feel You: I feel like with these posts I’m learning more about Depeche Mode. I didn’t know they had so many hits and I had not heard many of those hits. Solid riff and just as it merges on being annoyingly repetitive, there’s enough industrial chaos to spice things up. It’s very noisy, messy. Much of that covers up how simple and dull the key melodies are. So, I can appreciate the artistry but it doesn’t do a lot for me. I don’t think I’d ever enjoy the vocals enough to be a fan of the band. Even so… my group winner.
Sash Ft Shannon – Move Mania: This is a new one. As cheap as Sash music is, I did usually enjoy the melodies they created. This is very ‘I bet this is what computer games will sound like in the future’, and as such sounded dated a few weeks after release. Actually, I do remember this chorus. The production is decent but the sounds are ridiculous. Verses are crap, chorus is solid.
Suggs – Cecilia: I can’t stand Madness or their music, and it seems I must say the same for Suggs. This was a fairly hefty hit when it dropped, and while it’s jolly and bouncy I couldn’t stand it.
Mantronix – Take Your Time: A bit dance, a bit R’n’B, a bit girl band. None of it is very good. Vocals are fine but the music is such a non-entity.
Finlay Quaye – Even After All: He had that one song. I can’t think of the name but I’m sure it’ll come up elsewhere. This one is completely new to me. It’s not very good, it’s just sort of… there, floating past in the background and leaving no trace.
Mr Big – To Be With You: It’s super cheesy and it’s the only song anyone will ever know by Mr Big. But, as a sucker for power ballads and as a sucker for anything with guitars when I was a lad, this has always retained a soft spot in my brains. My group winner.
U2 – Even Better Than The Real Thing: I’ve likely mentioned it before on the blog, but I’ve never listened to an entire U2 album. Growing up in a pseudo traditional Protestant house, U2 was a bit of a no-no with them coming from ‘the South’. I never really understood that given that my dad’s favourite genre of music seemed to be a mixture of fiddly-dee Irish and Country. And marching bands. On top of that, I never felt any desire (rebellious or otherwise) or seek them out. By the time I made friends who were big fans, and by the time I started hearing their songs on the radio I learned enough to assume that I would probably enjoy the band but still not to the extent of going to buy their discography. This song sparks about 2% of possible memories in my mind. It’s fine
Tori Amos – Pretty Good Year: I love Tori most when she’s either at peak emotion or peak snark. This is somewhere in between and if I’m honest it’s never a song which leaps out at me in terms of Tori’s extensive discog. But I love it every time I hear it. It just misses the peaks which I yearn for in her work.
Ace Of The Base – The Sign: One of the two big Ace Of Base songs. They’re both fine songs, catchy pop, but there was something off-putting about them – an overly airy, tepid vocal and tone.
Pato Banton Ft UB40 – Baby Come Back: Fuck all the way off. One of the worst songs of all time, never mind the 90s. HOWEVER, I am known to frequently shout ‘buh-duh-by-by-by-by, buh-duh-by-by-BY-BY’.
Belinda Carlisle – We Want The Same Thing: Ah yes, this one. I never knew what it was called, which seems strange given the title is the chorus. Given her history before being a solo artist the verses have a bit of a rock vibe which offers something different from the standard pop of the era. It’s still a fun pop song with a big summery chorus.
MJ – Blood On The Dancefloor: A weird song for a very weird album. It’s not too different from his History dance pop output, but it felt flat set against all of the more innovative dance music of the era as well as not really being melodic enough to appeal to the pop crowd. Still, it’s MJ so it’s my group winner.
Kylie Minogue – Step Back In Time: I thought I had no memory of this and yet it sounded so familiar, mainly because of it being a melodic pastiche of so many other songs. But once I heard the chorus those memories came flooding back. It’s remarkable how songs you were very familiar with can entirely leave your brain. That said, I don’t have any particular association with this song – I just remember hearing it around the time it was released. My group winner.
Beautiful South – Perfect 10: Ugh. I know people love them, I know they have appealing qualities, but I can’t get past the image and the twee vocals. They’re what I assume Mumford & Sons are, but I haven’t heard anything from them. They’re the sort of band who wear cardigans in the summer. It’s commercial quirky. It’s Record Execs saying ‘there’s a niche for slightly odd, slightly cutesy, slightly more intellectual than general pop so we’ll allow Beautiful South because they’re not too weird and won’t avert your more straight-laced listeners’. This is annoyingly catchy. Like COV-ID.
Chaka Demus & Pliers – She Don’t Let Nobody: As expected, any of that Jamaican nonsense instantly became a no no upon first listen. Take that out of the song and it’s less memorable, but also better. Perfectly nice pop song until the crap starts.
Blur – On Your Own: As we’ve talked about already – I wasn’t too invested in the Britpop popularity wars but would have picked Oasis over Blur any day of the week. I don’t believe I’ve heard this one, even though it was apparently a big single by one of the biggest bands of the decade right around the time I was actually listening to them. It’s a bit to yelly and talky for my tastes.
Scum Squad – We’re Gonna Do It Again: Nope.
Paul Weller – Peacock Suit: Yet another song I don’t know. Paul Weller is any interesting one… I like some of his solo stuff, I like some of The Jam, but by the same token I can’t stand some others. Based on this first listen, this is one I could like more given time – decent song. My group winner.
Pulp – Sorted For Es And Wizz: Another one of those annoying Pulp songs which makes me think of terrible clothes and hair and singing.
Wet Wet Wet – Yesterday: Is this seriously going to be a Beatles cover? Yes. What’s the point? It’s a decent cover, but it’s basically identical, just with the singers switched out.
Two Cowboys – Everybody Gonfi-gon: I don’t know if that violin mess is familiar to me because it’s a traditional piece I’ve heard elsewhere, or because it was written specifically for this song. In any case, it’s utter trash and represents the worst of dance music; cheap, one repetitive simple melody played over and over with the occasional drop in beat before bringing it up again. As formulaic as it is possible to be.
Soup Dragon Ft Junior Reid: I’m Free: A pill- influenced slice of Madchester guff. To its credit, it at least changes the original enough to be its own thing. The original is good, this is good, but neither are exactly to my tastes or ever going to be something I choose to listen to, especially when they chuck in the Jamaican rant.
Partners In Kryme – Turtle Power: What an awful group of songs. I’m Free is the best song here, but it’s a cover so I’m not going for it. Turtle Power is bad, but at least it reminds me of the hype all us kids felt when we heard there was going to be a Turtles movie. My group winner.
Various Artists – Brits 90 Dance Medley: Absolutely shocking stuff. Have you seen the video for this? What the absolute F?
Will Smith – Miami: A smooth song. Can’t say I’ve ever been to Miami, but I’ve seen enough movies. It’s another song which makes you think of Summer. Yes, even Summer in Northern Ireland which is basically the same as Winter, but yer ma makes you wear shorts even though there’s icicles hanging off yer nuts.
Shaft – Roobarb & Custard: It’s the theme tune to a 70s cartoon, steeked up. Steeked, you ask? A steek is the Northern Irish word (or one of the words) for a Chav. Chav, you ask? Look, Steeks predominantly only listen to dance music – bad dance music. Clearly someone took a pile of drugs and thought this would be a good idea. I remember the show being shown in the 90s – I’m not sure if that was as a result of this song’s popularity, or if the show’s reappearance inspired the song. Either way, someone must pay.
Ride – Leave Them All Behind: I don’t remember this at all, but it has that shoegaze, washing guitar production sound that quite a few bands had back then, but it feels more Brit-pop infused. Credit for sounding huge and expansive, but like a lot of songs in this ilk it’s ultimately aimless and one-note. There’s not much crescendo of emotion or melody to go with the wall of sound – certainly not for an 8-minute song. I enjoy this stuff if I’m in the mood for it, but I’m rarely in that mood.
Opus 3 – It’s A Fine Day: No clue what this is based on the name. Once the vocals kick in… yes, I do know this. I remember mocking it when I was a child. Kids would sing like they were yawning ‘it’s going to be a fine night tonight’… etc. Even as a 10-year-old I knew it was ridiculous and was making fun of the lyrics. It’s not great but there’s a lot worse out there. Melody is fine, but after the 3rd of 4th time you’ve heard it, you never need to hear it again.
G’n’R – Since I Don’t Have You: One of the few bright lights IMO of The Spaghetti Incident. A cover from a covers album, it was the start of the end of the road for the band in terms of chart success. My Group Winner.
Divine Comedy – National Express: Do I like The Divine Comedy? I liked this and a couple of other songs around the same time but I felt like they were a hipster band, even though that was not a term back then. They were the music snob’s band, and hearing this you could only respond with ‘it’s not that good, right?’ It’s fine. Quirky. Normally it would be interesting enough to encourage me to seek out other songs by them, except for the fact that all their fans were twats and I therefore did no further seeking.
Buffalo Tom Ft Liam Gallagher – Going Underground: As far as I can remember I had no idea this existed. This would have been around the time I was into Oasis and assume I would have known what Liam was up to, but this rings no bell. It’s a cover. Not very exciting.
Capella – Move On Baby: Another dance track, another thing I’ve never heard. It’s precisely by the numbers 90s wank – woman belting out some inane repetitive chorus, broken up by an even more repetitive synth riff, and every so often some bloke will interject with a ‘rap’. It’s exactly like the others.
Scatman John – Scatman: A legendary dance song. My group winner.
DJ Quicksilver – Free: We all remember this one, sadly. You always had that one guy in school who would answer DJ Quicksilver, or worse, Ministry Of Sound when you asked what music they were into. Then you would never talk to them again. There’s no reason on this earth that this song needs to be longer than 30 seconds. Don’t get me wrong, that 30 seconds would be perfectly fine. But as a song, it’s so simplistic, so childlike that it’s an embarrassment on our species that this became any sort of success.
KLF Ft Tammy Wynette – Justified & Ancient: What a weird… everything. KLF and… Tammy Wynette. Sure. I don’t have any specific memories of this one – I don’t really remember the verses but the chorus was another one which I continued to song long after I’d forgotten who it was by or where I knew it from.
Ken Doh – Nagasaki: Never heard this before. More generic 90s dance, at least it has a bit more effort than others, an attempt to not be so repetitive. Then again, it features the lyrics ‘I need lover tonight/I need a lover who’s gonna treat me so right’. Sigh.
Robert Palmer Ft UB40 – I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight: Abso-fucking-lutely not.
Mr Hankey – The Christmas Poo: A delightful festive romp.
The Grid – Swamp Thing: Until the banjo came in, I didn’t know what this was. Another song which doesn’t need to be longer than a minute long. Everything outside of the banjo is junk.
Nirvana – Come As You Are: An obvious group winner.
Chef – Chocolate Salty Balls: A delightful culinary romp.
Erasure – Chorus: Never liked Erasure. This one sounds like the other one.
MJ – History: There was so much hype around the release of History the album, that the title track got lost in the mix. It’s not the most obvious choice for a single and it’s all a little on the nose with lyrical retreads of previous songs. But it’s still good, angry verses, neat enough chorus. My group winner.
KLF – America What Time Is Love: These guys again. A weak Ace Of Spades bit, lots of sirens, dodgy rapping, crap drums, solid chorus. Meh.
Tom Jones & The Cardigans – Burning Down The House: Known as one of my spud-pickin’ songs. Another cover. I don’t think I’ve heard a Talking Heads song yet that I’ve liked, but I could be wrong. Spud pickin’, you say? Well, I used to work at a farm on Saturdays when I was in school. Cash in hand. Spuds in hand. Both types. For whatever reason, this song was always on the radio when had grabbed some lunch in the shed. I would also turn on the space heater and throw potatoes into it. I’m still alive.
Toni Braxton – Breathe Again: Before hitting play I was really trying to remember how this song went, because I knew I knew it, but the best I could come up with was humming that Whole Again song. Who was that? Atomic Kitten? Some shite like that. It came back when I hit play. It’s a solid ballad. I liked it then, but it ain’t no Unbreak My Heart. It’s a crap group, but this is my group winner.
Martine McCutcheon – Perfect Moment: The one Martine song everyone remembers. It’s sort of Christmasy. It’s fine.
Josh Wink – Higher State Of Consciousness 95: Didn’t we have this one already?
Mase – Feel So Good: Completely new to me. It’s certainly funky enough. A bit too nasal.
Peter Andre – Kiss The Girl: Yes, yes it is Peter Andre singing a song from The Little Mermaid.
The Course – Ready Or Not: The Fugees sampled The Delphonics for their chorus, and barely a year later these Clampets took one line of that chorus and made a 3 minute abomination. This is the story of that abomination. You don’t need to hear it. It’s one line and melody repeated for three minutes with some shitty drum sounds.
Prodigy – Smack My Bitch Up: Dance music done right. And the video is… memorable too. An easy group winner.
Dr Alban – It’s My Life: No.
3T ft Herbie – Gotta Be You: First time I’ve been exposed to this. It sounds like every other 90s boyband, but I guess it’s kind of funky.
Simply Red – For Your Babies: I could never stand Simply Red. I remember this one, never liked it at the time and I never understood why the band got the commercial push that they did. But, it’s a sweet, tender little song. Not for me.
Queen – A Winter’s Tale: Another crap group without a single song I’d ever choose to listen to. But I enjoy Queen ever so often and I like Christmas songs. This one isn’t very Christmasy. It’s not the best song in the world but it’s a typically strong Freddie vocal. My group winner.
Blackstreet – Fix: Yet another completely new song for me. More utterly generic boyband R’n’B trash with nothing to recommend it unless boyband R’n’B is your thing.
Michael Bolton – Can I Touch You There: It’s the eternal question… not the question posed in the song title, but the question of why would you ever give your song this name? Bolton was always a strong singer – I’m no fan of his voice but there’s no getting away from the porno vibes of the lyrics and music.
New Kids – Hanging Tough: NKOTB have a lot to answer for, being the prototype of the modern boyband and ushering in a new era of shite which has dominated popular music ever since. Sure, there were boybands before them, but they were the first and most successful to have everything set in stone – the look (a manufactured street toughness yet feminine enough to not scare the female audience away), the sound (cheap mass-market production devoid of creativity), the dances (simplistic and easy to follow), and the gloss (throwing money at image over everything else). You see this right the way through the 90s and up until One Direction – they set a winning formula which everyone has followed since. It goes without saying that the song is trash and deservedly mocked – the irony being that many of those who will do the mocking are also lapping up their modern day counterparts with devotion.
Space Ft Cerys Matthews – The Ballad Of Tom Jones: The 90s was also a delightful time for offbeat, one of a kind nonsense. Space was one of those bands who had a lyrical flair and delivered songs which nobody else could. Every era needs bands and songs like this. My group winner.
What do you think?