As we scrolled through our 100 Best Songs Of The 1990s, we naturally started thinking about the musical moments from that decade that are better off forgotten.
Bad solo careers
It was the decade that produced the boy and girlband templates which pop bands now live by, but there were also repercussions. And those repercussions were really, really bad solo careers. Gary Barlow and Geri Halliwell took what made them exciting in a communal setting and squeezed all the joy of it when they dropped their solo careers on a unsuspecting public.
The big ballad became even bigger
The 80s had their fair share of terrible ballads (‘Move Closer’, ‘The Power Of Love’) but there was something about the ballad in the 90s where everything got more bloated (well longer) and generally morphed into an all-conquering beast of a thing. ‘I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That)’, ‘Everything I Do (I Do It For You)’ and any number of Celinehits just seemed to go on and on and on (just like her heart).
If you found yourself on a dancefloor in the 90s, the chances were that you would have been roped into doing the dance ‘moves’ to the Macarana or Whigfield’s ‘Saturday Night’. 1-2-3 step on each others feet/ bump into one another/ make horrifyingly inappropriate physical contact with a stranger. The fact that your gran knew all the steps made it even worse.
In the 90s pop stars didn’t really like real words. So they invented a whole new dictionary. A meaningless jumble of vowels and consonants together produced phrases like ‘Mmmbop’, ‘Tubthumping’ and ‘achy breaky’. We have one thing to say to that and it’s ‘Mswwwhsfasfasfasgljlsg’.
Blame Milli Vanilli. They popularized ‘Ceggae’ – or ‘cod reggae’ to you and I – back in the late 80s. The 90s was a ceggae fest thanks to offerings from Ace Of Base, Peter Andre and others. Ready for that awkward ‘bopping up and down’ feeling yet?
Ill-advised genre collisions
B*Witched teamed oirish fiddles with kiddie pop and Rednex (them of that perennial ‘Cotton Eyed Joe’), smashed together rave and fiddle-bothering country. And the less said about Lou Bega’s ‘Mambo Number 5’, the better.
Strange things happened after grunge
Grunge was a brilliantly creative time in alternative music, but after it hit the big time a fetid trail followed in its wake. Bands like Creed and Limp Bizkit paired singing in really weird voices with swathes of awful guttural guitar. It wasn’t pretty.
‘Landfill Indie’ began
Britpop was a brilliant stroke of Albionic glory and yet, after it faded out we had the dull-ass likes of Embrace and Shed Seven to contend with. Come back Echobelly, all is forgiven…
Duets got weird
Natalie Cole duetted with a dead guy (ok, it was her dad, but still…), Elton John kicked Kiki Dee to the curb for RuPaul, and Bryan Adams got into musical bed with…everyone: Mel C, Barbra Streisand, Rod Stewart and Sting (at the same time) for a series of risible hits.
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What looked good in the 80s looked bad in the 90s
Although they all began the decade in fighting form, the biggest stars of the 80s, pop’s Royal Family (Prince, Madonna, Michael Jackson), Whitney Houston and George Michael all came unstuck in the 90s, flailing about uncomfortably with the musical shifts that the new decade brought.