Sunday, August 9, 2009

iTunes Running Diary - Sunday, August 9, 2009 - 1990s Edition

This week's artists.

In an attempt to spice things up a bit, I've decided to focus on solely 1990s music. In ad parlance, this would be “speaking to my demo,” since the majority of my readers are between 18 and 30, and thus were -1 to 11 when the 1990s started. Blog follows henceforth:

- “The Battle Of Who Could Care Less” by Ben Folds Five, 1997. Oddly enough, this was my first exposure to Ben Folds, since it was the first song they played from the band on WBRU. It is off of Whatever and Ever Amen, his first big commercial release, but most people (incorrectly) think “Brick” was his first big hit.

Incorrect! The whole CD is good, and “Brick” is indeed the biggest hit on the album, but the first single was the seemingly upbeat “The Battle Of Who Could Care Less.” I say seemingly upbeat, because while that is the tone, the actual lyrics of the song are pretty cynical. “Well I've got this great idea / Why don't we take it to the Franklin fucking mint?”

- “Molly (Sixteen Candles)” by Sponge, 1994. First, 1994 seems way too early to me – I was only 10 when this song came out? However, I trust that the person who offered this song up knows more than I do about its release date.

And second, I wonder why Sponge didn't come out with more stuff, and if they did come out with more stuff, why didn't I hear it? They had this song and “Wax Ecstatic” as their big hits, and I think their music sounds like a unique combination of grunge and smooth, refined vocals. They could clearly sing well and have a smooth sound, but there was just a tinge of rawness to this song that I liked.

- “Adam's Song” by Blink 182, 1999. It just barely slips into the 1990s, but I do enjoy it, even if the lyrics are about a teenage kid committing suicide. (Well, rather, I believe that is the backstory of why this song was written, in response to a teenage Blink fan committing suicide and imagining the suicide note that he wrote.)

Despite the Debbie Downer song lyrics, I find myself in the odd position of always tapping my foot along when the song comes on. The guitar crescendos for the chorus are really quite good, and the song is catchy as all-get-up, like every other Blink song ever released on mainstream radio. I do like that Blink, and even the band member's side projects like Boxcar Racer, kept a consistent sound.

- “Glass Vase Cello Case” by Tattle Tale, 1995. I really know nothing about this artist, because this song never played on the radio. It is famous (if it can be called that) for being in But I'm A Cheerleader, which is an indy, artsy film about a lesbian cheerleader forced to go to “straightening out” camp. I think this song plays during the love scene, but as its title implies, the cello in it makes it have an ethereal feel, and an acoustic guitar makes it decent to listen to on its own.

However, since I've brought it up, I think more people reading this probably want to know about the lesbian cheerleader. I'm sorry to disappoint, but it is not like a Cinemax or Hustler production; the cheerleader is a kind-of-attractive blonde, much like actual cheerleaders when I went to high school. (Most of the hot girls at my high school did sports or art; thanks Title IX for killing stereotypes!)

In an odd thing for me, I can't remember the circumstances of how I watched this, except that it happened when I went to visit Salve Regina on a random night to see my friend Meg and (maybe) her friend Anne or Lynn. It was a rather random film selection, but I always liked going to Salve, because the dorms were converted mansions, and the school was still mostly all-women.

But I'm A Cheerleader did provide benefits for me later on though, as I used my familiarity with it to do a paper on it for a Women's Studies course. (For those unfamiliar with my slacker-like five years at the University of Rhode Island, I was one course away from a minor in Women's Studies and even got a letter to join the honor's society for it there; I originally took them because they counted as English credits and were a LOT easier.) The teacher hadn't seen it, and it comes off (obviously) as a very trendy choice for a 20ish-year-old white guy to do a research paper on.

- “Breathe and Stop” by Q-Tip, 1999. This is another artist, like Sponge, that I'm not sure what happened to. Q-Tip was the best performer in A Tribe Called Quest in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and his solo project had two hits: “Vivrant Thing” and “Breathe and Stop.”

Both were solid songs, although I did like “Breathe and Stop” a bit better. As the song name implies, there is some intentional stopping with the beat and lyrics to simulate the song title. Q-Tip's lyrics are a bit quick and indecipherable at certain points, but all-in-all, I thought the song did a good job at combining some of the traits of 1980s lyrical hip-hop with some slicker, late 1990s production.

Then again, that might have been the problem. Within a few years, super-over-the-top gangsta music from 50 Cent and Lloyd Banks was popular, guys who made Ludacris and Eminem seem like the Albert Einsteins of their day. Roughly 30 and 40 years after The Beatles, you got bands like REO Speedwagon. In the same time frame, rap went from Grandmaster Flash, The Sugarhill Gang and Public Enemy to Chingy.


  1. i love enema of the state. I wish I could've seen Blink in concert when they were here last week.

  2. They were here in concert? I'm kinda lame in that I don't really do concerts that much, both for lack of money and lack of interest. I would love to see McCartney, Ben Folds and the Beastie Boys at some point. (And if all three were on at the same time, even better!)


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