Scream — Michael Jackson and Janet Jackson
This might be my all-time favorite Michael Jackson song. I know, there are plenty of close contenders and people can argue otherwise, but there’s something about “Scream” that I love. That he and his sister are openly acknowledging, rather than alluding to the troubles they have living in the public eye — “Oh someone please have mercy cos I just can’t take it…” — is what makes it interesting. I do wonder what sort of music or career he might have had, if he’d lived to do his comeback shows in London.
Also, this is a great video.
California Love — 2Pac and Dr. Dre
I loved this song from the moment I watched the Making of the Video on MTV. It is everything I love about ’90s rap, even though the decision to have the ladies tied up in the video, I do not love. The song though, that grinding beat and talk box hook? Yes. This video was probably nearly as expensive as “Scream,” though it does not have the major computer effects. When this plays when I’m out somewhere, I am guaranteed to dance.
Side note: Did you know that 2Pac once trained in ballet?
When All The Stars Were Falling — Lisa Loeb
This song was never a single, so what’s available on YouTube are mainly fan-made videos, and would you look at that, someone made a Rose Tyler and Nine Doctor Who video set to this lovely Lisa Loeb tune. Of course I must include it. Tails is a really great album, and of course everyone heard “Stay” over and over (which I still love), and I’ve previously mentioned my love for “Sandalwood.” Now, let’s enjoy this one. “I could be restful / I could be someone’s home…”
Morning Song — Jewel
Oh, this is such a perfect, simple love song. There is something so beautiful about expressing the desire to just lie in bed with a person you adore and “let the world spin outside our door.” It’s about being in the present moment and setting aside the worries of everyday life. I can’t count how many times I’ve listened to this song over the past (nearly) two decades. “Let the phone ring / let’s go back to sleep.”
Trigger Happy Jack (Drive by a Go-Go) — Poe
Sometimes I wonder if I’m the only one who still remembers Poe. Her album Hello spun through my CD player countless times from the moment I bought it. I first saw her on MTV’s airing of the KROQ Almost-Acoustic Christmas, and it was love from then on. “Trigger Happy Jack” is one of my favorite songs from the album, and “You can’t talk to a psycho like a normal human being” became a longtime personal refrain. I still know every single word.
I’m Only Happy When It Rains — Garbage
Garbage’s first album was the first CD I ever bought with my own money. Shirley Manson made all the right parts of my brain light up, and it was a segment from Kurt Loder on MTV News that first introduced me to the band. The over-saturated colors in the video are so delightfully mid-’90s, as is the misery sentiment and her bandmates wearing lots of dark eyeliner. “I only listen to the sad, sad songs…”
Shirley, darling, love — Call me.
Peaches — The Presidents of the United States of America
Was there a single kid who grew up in the ’90s who didn’t know the words to this song? Who wasn’t compelled to start singing this song every time they saw or heard the word “peaches?” This band is a lot of fun. I believe they’re still around, whenever their side projects aren’t busy. Singer Chris Ballew once had a “band” called The Giraffes, which was basically a solo project “backed” by some stuffed animals. High-five dude.
Also, this video ends with ninjas. So much to love.
Head Over Feet — Alanis Morissette
I’ve talked about Alanis quite a bit in Alphabet Soup, but for all the shit people give her at times, you are bloody lying if you didn’t at some point love Jagged Little Pill. “Head Over Feet” is about that all-consuming kind of love, despite any initial resistance. I had a hard time deciding which song from the album I should include, but I decided that a happy song should be where it’s at. Even when people called her “angry,” they neglected to notice this song.
I Miss You — Björk
Björk videos are some of the best videos ever, aren’t they? The animation in “I Miss You” reminds me a lot of Ren and Stimpy, with how bizarre-yet-compelling it is. I heard the song before I saw the video, so I don’t directly associate the images with the song, but I do enjoy watching it. I also love the horns featured throughout. Lyrically, there is something very familiar about the sentiment, “I miss you / but I haven’t met you yet.”
Tonight, Tonight — Smashing Pumpkins
Both the video, with its homage to “Le Voyage dans la Lune” by Georges Méliès, and the song are gorgeous. Before I bought the album Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, I bought the CD single for “Tonight, Tonight,” which featured some enjoyable b-sides like “Rotten Apples.” I love the strings here, and the massive scale of the song. I fully believe that this song, and the whole album, is the band’s masterpiece. “Believe in me as I believe in you…”
Fake Plastic Trees — Radiohead
I really don’t know why I wasn’t more into Radiohead in the mid-’90s. They’re aces, but I only half-paid attention to them at first. It took me well into adulthood to “get” them, though I do prefer when they still involve guitars and not just the electronic beats. Y’all know I love a good drum machine, but I need the rock ‘n’ roll too. This is a beautiful song, an interesting video, and one more reminder that I really need to own The Bends.
Connection — Elastica
“Connection” is one of those songs that have been strangely used in commercials over the past decade or so, but I’m more or less able to set aside those, erm, connections. Justine Frischmann is a compelling frontwoman, and their whole debut album is pretty great.
A New Decade — The Verve
I have listened to The Verve’s A Northern Soul roughly eleventy-gerbillion times. Previously, I’ve talked about “On Your Own” and “History,” and now let’s dig on the opening track. When 2009 crossed into 2010, I played this song loud: “A new decade/ the radio plays the songs we make / and everything feels just right…” It is a woozy, consuming good time. You may only know their “Bittersweet Symphony,” but they have made so many other great songs, and singer Richard Ashcroft on his own is also fantastic. “So come on, come on, come on…”
Broken Stones — Paul Weller
“Broken Stones” is the only song in this collection of 15 songs that I wasn’t already listening to in the ’90s and early 2000s. It took me well into 2010 to really explore Paul Weller’s solo back catalog, though I’d been listening to The Jam for a little longer. This song isn’t quite a Weller Slow-Jam, but nearly, with its bluesy piano and mid-tempo. Stanley Road, as an album, has a lot of great songs like “The Changingman.” It was also during the beginning of his friendship with Noel Gallagher, who plays guitar on “I Walk on Gilded Splinters.”
Hello — Oasis
Oh, and speaking of Noel Gallagher… You’re damn right I’m talking about (What’s The Story) Morning Glory. It’s only one of the biggest albums of all time, my high opinion of it notwithstanding. I’ve already talked about “Cast No Shadow,” and I will be talking about “Wonderwall” eventually, but I decided to go with the opening song because I love it just as much as any of the singles. The studio version is full of urgent Liam Gallagher-delivery, but Noel’s Unplugged performance is excellent, and I love him, so that’s the version I’ve embedded here. I do what I want.
We live in the shadows and we had the chance but threw it away
but it’s never going to be the same
cos the years are falling by like the rain
and it’s never going to be the same
’til the life I knew comes to my house and says hello…
All right, friends and droogs, take a gander at the fantastic tunes of 1995, and tell me your favorites in the comments.