Why 1994 Matters to Me: Part 2

Following up last week’s nostalgia trip is the last ten albums of 1994 that really stir up memories for me. This part of the list made me a little misty eyed again thinking about life and death. Thinking about mortality really gets to me sometimes and it’s been a hard week for me personally. 

1. Ill Communication by the Beastie Boys

Everyone remembers the video to “Sabotage” because of its inherent Spike Jonzeness. I remember watching that video on repeat. When I finally heard the album, I was enamored with the Beasties’ sound. I had not really heard much of them before this album. Most of my exposure to Hip Hop was limited to Vanilla Ice and MC Hammer. Tangentially, I am sure I had heard Snoop, Dre, etc. Since my parents were kind of strict on what music was owned in my house, most of the music I listened to at home was the Beatles and classic rock. While Paul’s Boutique and Hello Nasty remain the top Beastie albums for me, I have a soft spot for this one. My favorite track is probably “Sure Shot.” I also loved the B-side to that single, “Mullet Head.” RIP, Adam Yauch

2. Grace by Jeff Buckley

An amazing album in its own right, it has grown immensely following Buckley’s death, in part because his cover of “Hallelujah” is the one of the most haunting things ever laid to wax. It seemed to mirror his life in some ways, a short haunted one.

3. Ready to Die by The Notorious B.I.G.

One of the top 5 best Hip Hop albums ever, Biggie’s debut album came into my life around junior year of high school. I began to explore a lot of the music that I had missed by being stuck in my classic rock roots.  I really really love Biggie’s flow and his lyrics. Though Diddy produced the album, I still loved it. My favorite song is “Things Done Changed,” which I assume was never released as a single given how hard it would be to censor it for radio play.

4. CrazySexyCool by TLC

I love me some TLC. I am still sad that Left-Eye passed. I knew all the words to “Creep” and “Waterfalls.” I remember seeing the “Waterfalls” video and just being enamored with it. I am sure my parents got tired of me singing that song.

5. Sixteen Stone by Bush

Bush’s debut and best album, Sixteen Stone can be seen as the first real post-grunge album. Drawing from grunge and British rock history, Gavin Rossdale and crew made it hard for other bands in the post-grunge era. “Glycerine” is an amazing song. “Everything Zen” still appears regularly on rock stations. But I am posting my favorite song off the album, “Alien,” which was actually not named on the original pressing of the CDs for some reason.

6. Definitely Maybe by Oasis

Britpop royalty and Sara Habein’s favorite band debuted strongly to combat Blur’s claim to the Britpop throne. Lately, when I have been feeling depressed/wanting to self harm/suicidal ideation, I have been blaring “Live Forever.” It seems to help. This was an album I came to listen to fully only a few years ago because of Ms. Habein’s instance that Oasis was actually a good band. I mean, I liked {What’s the Story) Morning Glory?, but I never gave the full discography a shot until about two years ago.

7. MTV Unplugged in New York by Nirvana

This may be the saddest entry on this list as this was the last thing recorded by Nirvana before Kurt Cobain’s untimely death. As we know, I am a Kurt Cobain fangirl. Not only is this album a fitting tribute to Cobain and Nirvana, it helped launch the idea of all-acoustic concerts into the pop culture landscape. It certainly helped MTV get any band possible to do unplugged stuff. “All Apologies” cracks my all time top 10 favorite songs and this version is my favorite.

8. Stranger than Fiction by Bad Religion

A much maligned album by punk fans because it was Bad Religion’s first release on a major label after parting ways with the label they founded, it’s actually not a bad album. It is not my favorite Bad Religion album but contains one of my favorite songs by them, “Infected” as well as a reworked version of another one of my favorites, “21st Century Digital Boy.”

9. Motorcade of Generosity by Cake

Another strong debut by one of my favorite bands. “Rock ‘n Roll Lifestyle” is a great song but I have a soft spot for “Jesus Wrote a Blank Check” because my friend Mike and I used to laugh at the title. He had the album and we used to listen to it after Weezer a lot.

10. There’s Nothing Wrong With Love by Built to Spill

This is my favorite BTS album. Doug Martsch proves that not all things from Idaho are bad. I got into Built to Spill thanks to a random lyrics in The Ataris’ “Song for a Mix Tape.” I had to pretty much listen to every band mentioned that I hadn’t heard before. I dedicate my favorite song to myself since I kind of am my own “Distopian Dream Girl”


So there is 1994 in music that mattered to me the most. Listening to a lot of these albums has brought back the blood, sweat, and tears of my childhood. Sometimes its hard to reconcile the fact I was raised as the wrong gender, but I got some amazing musical moments out of my dark life. I still am getting those moments. Thank you for being a long for the ride, Peresephoneers.

By Alyson

Queer Pop Culture Junkie in the Northwest. Addicted to Coffee, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Fantasy Sports, The Mountain Goats, and Tottenham Hotspur.

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